Scriptures on Fearlessness

The true disciples of Jesus Christ, when they are fully trained, become fearless because He was fearless (Luke 6:40).  Here are some verses which help us to meditate on the fearlessness that Christ practiced and that He commands [emphasis, and occasionally comments, added]:

Matthew 25:24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
Matthew 25:26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Matthew 25:28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

Note that the master in this parable does not see the servant’s fear as a reasonable excuse but rather as part and parcel of the failure.

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John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

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Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Note that Paul is making no allowance for fear whatsoever: “Be anxious FOR NOTHING…”  That doesn’t leave any room for any fear.  That’s being fearless.

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1 Peter 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;
1 Peter 3:6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

Peter makes no allowance for fear.  He wants to see it all driven away, as you will see again in 1 Peter 5:7 (that is, later in this same letter).  Peter was one who ought to know the negative effects of fear as it caused him to sink when he was walking on water (Matthew 14:28-30) and to deny Jesus the night before He was crucified (Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75).  Knowing the debilitating effects of fear, Peter wanted those he taught to learn from his mistakes and avoid it.

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1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Notice that it’s not some of our anxiety that we can and should cast upon Him, but rather all of it.

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1 John 4:17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The presence of fear anywhere in our hearts is a sign that love has not yet taken dominion.  Let us let His love displace all fear within us.

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Revelation 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Cowardice and unbelief go hand in hand.  A believer, by contrast, should be courageous.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as courage and zeal, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Courage

The true disciples of Jesus Christ, when they are fully trained, become courageous because He was courageous (Luke 6:40).  As part of this study, we are including references to “encourage” and its cognates since they mean to “give courage.”

Here then are some verses which help us to meditate on the courage that Christ demonstrated for us and that He wants to see us demonstrate [emphasis, and occasionally comments, added]:

Joshua 1:5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.
Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

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Acts 23:11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”

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Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

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2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight–
2 Corinthians 5:8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

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Philippians 1:12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,
Philippians 1:13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,
Philippians 1:14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

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1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

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1 Thessalonians 5:14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

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Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

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Hebrews 6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as fearlessness and zeal, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Believing-Unbelieving Continuum

Let us draw a continuum to help us understand faith.

On the right end of this continuum we can place faith.

On the left end of this continuum we can place unbelief.

The middle of the continuum would therefore be occupied by doubt.  Doubt is uncertainty.  It a wavering between faith and unbelief.  It is therefore double-mindedness.  It refuses to make a choice…and therefore never arrives at faith.

Here’s some more detail:

Left side:  Unbelief  

Related words include belligerence, hardness of heart, hostility, rebellion, and rejection.

Middle:  Doubt

Related words include hesitating, uncertain, and wavering.

Right side:  Faith

Related words include acceptance and trust.

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See also:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

What Is of Faith, and What Is Not of Faith

Faith (including its cognates and synonyms, such as belief and trust) is accompanied by certain characteristics and not others.  What follows are examples of each.

Words That Fit with Faith

Assurance, Assured  –  Romans 4:21; Hebrews 10:22; 11:1

Boldness  –  Ephesians 3:12

Certain, Certainly  –  Acts 24:14-15; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; 2 Peter 1:10-11

Composed, Composure  –  2 Thessalonians 2:2

Confidence, Confident  –  Acts, 4:13, 29; Ephesians 3:12; 1 Timothy 3:13; Hebrews 4:16

Convicted, Conviction  –  Romans 14:22-23; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; Hebrews 11:1

Convinced  –  Romans 14:5; 2 Timothy 1:12

Established  –  Colossians 1:23

Firm, Firmly  –  1 Corinthians 16:13; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 5:9

Immovable  –  Colossians 1:23

Not Moved  –  Colossians 1:23

Not Shaken  –  2 Thessalonians 2:2

Overcoming  –  1 John 5:4-5

Persuaded  –  Luke 16:31; Acts 17:4; 19:26; 28:24

Stability, Stable  –  Colossians 2:5

Steadfast  –  Hebrews 6:19

Sure  –  Hebrews 6:19

Unwavering  –  James 1:5-8; 3:17

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Words That Do Not Fit with Faith

Afraid  –  Mark 4:40

Cowardly  –  Revelation 21:8

Double-minded  –  James 1:5-8

Doubt, Doubting  –  James 1:5-8

Fearful  –  Luke 8:25

Hesitate  –  1 Kings 18:21

Overcome  –  2 Peter 2:20

Shaken  –  2 Thessalonians 2:2

Timid  –  Mark 4:40 (NASB 1973)

Uncertain  –  1 Corinthians 9:26 (KJV); 14:8 (KJV)

Unstable  –  James 1:5-8

Unsure  –  inferred from Hebrews 6:19

Waver, Wavering  –  Romans 4:20; James 1:5-8 (KJV)

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For more on faith, see Scriptures on Faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Scriptures on Righteousness

Jesus Christ is righteous.  And He power, as it works within us, makes us righteous.  Here are some verses of Scripture to ponder with regard to righteousness [emphasis added]:

Matthew 3:14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him.

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Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

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Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

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Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

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John 7:18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

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Romans 7:12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

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2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

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Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as godliness and righteousness, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Holiness

Jesus Christ is holy.  And through Him, we can be holy.

Be aware that holy, holiness, saint, sanctify, and sanctification are all cognates in the orginal language.

Here are some scriptures to help you think about that [emphasis added]:

Romans 7:12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

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Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

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1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
1 Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

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1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as godliness and righteousness, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

How Could the Apostles Be Sure They Were Living in the Last Days?

The apostles could be sure they were living in the last days because of the testimony of Israel’s prophets through the holy Scriptures.

Isaiah had written:

Isaiah 2:2 Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
Isaiah 2:3 And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 2:4 And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.

In this passage, Isaiah is describing what will happen in the last days.  Therefore, if the disciples were observing those things happening, they could be sure they were living in the last days.  (This sort of assurance is the same sort Jesus gave to John the Baptist in his moment of weakened faith; see Matthew 11:2-6.  That is, the Scripture is a more sure word of testimony than anything else; in this regard see also Luke 16:31.)

The apostles knew that “the mountain of the house of the Lord was established as the chief of the mountains” when Jesus was raised from the dead and taken to the right hand of God according to Psalm 2:6 and Psalm 110:1-2.  That is, Jesus was installed as the Messianic King in the Zion of heaven – heaven being God’s “holy mountain.”  No first-century Jews had been expecting a heavenly Zion to replace the earthly one they knew…but the resurrection and ascension of Christ made the true meaning of the Scripture undeniable – and altogether preferable, to those who truly understood its import.

The apostles knew that “the nations were streaming into it” by their own testimony in Acts 15, especially when they cite Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:15-18 as being fulfilled in their experience.

The apostles knew also that the glorified Jesus was pouring out the Holy Spirit on those gathered in His name (as in Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12-14), making known to them God’s words and teaching them God’s ways.

The apostles also knew that Jesus had taught them that the ways of war, practiced by ancient Israel, had become obsolete.  Thus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) He put forth a way of life that would not resist evil (see especially Matthew 5:39).  As if to dramatically prove the point, He told Peter later in the same gospel to put away his sword when His own life was threatened, saying, “All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”  Thereby, Jesus “hammered swords into plowshares.”

It was the nonviolent approach of Jesus – after centuries of fighting by Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, and all the kings of Israel – that dramatically marked an undeniable turning point in Israel’s experience.

Therefore, enough of Isaiah’s prophetic signs were being fulfilled that the apostles could indeed be fully assured that they were living in the last days – the days just before the coming of the Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Scriptures on Obedience

Here are verses which speak of obedience.  Included are references to disobedience, for the clarity of contrast.  As you read and ponder this list of verses, think about how Jesus set an example of obedience for us [emphasis, and occasionally comments, added]:

Genesis 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Of course, this verse prophesies Jesus.

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Luke 1:17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

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Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

While this verse does not contain the word “obedience” or any of its cognates, it nonetheless defines the essence of obedience.

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John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

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Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Romans 1:2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Romans 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
Romans 1:4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,

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Romans 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
Romans 2:8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

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Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
Romans 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Romans 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Everyone is obeying.  We’re either obeying God or we’re obeying our lusts.

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Romans 10:21 But as for Israel He says, “ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.”

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Romans 16:19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

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Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
Romans 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
Romans 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

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2 Corinthians 9:13 Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,

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2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

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Galatians 5:7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

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2 Thessalonians 1:8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

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Hebrews 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
Hebrews 5:10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

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1 Peter 1:2 …to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…

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1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
1 Peter 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

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1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

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1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

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1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
1 Peter 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
1 Peter 3:3 Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
1 Peter 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;
1 Peter 3:6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

When I read this passage I most focused on what it can teach us about being submissive to Christ and obeying Him.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as diligence and discipline, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 28:16

Is 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Jesus Christ was the king installed in Zion according to Psalm 2:6.

God was the one who raised Jesus from the dead; therefore, God “laid the stone.”

Jesus was the stone that was tested by rejection according to Psalm 118:22.

The cornerstone was costly, for God would not give a gift that cost Him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).

Jesus was made the chief cornerstone, also according to Psalm 118:22.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Scriptures on Steadfastness

[Emphasis added]:

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

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Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Colossians 1:10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Colossians 1:11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

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2 Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

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Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
Hebrews 6:20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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Steadfastness is but one of the virtues of Jesus Christ.  Here are others.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Foundation

The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus Christ as “the foundation” here:

1 Corinthians 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

He alluded to this idea in a later writing:

2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

How may we be sure that this “firm foundation” refers to Jesus Christ?  Consider the source of Paul’s thinking:

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Is Jesus not “the foundation, firmly placed” spoken of by Isaiah?  Why then do church leaders try to make the church the foundation instead?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Scriptures on Endurance

[Emphasis, and occasionally comments, added]:

1 Corinthians 4:12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;

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1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
1 Corinthians 13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
1 Corinthians 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
1 Corinthians 13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

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Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

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Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
Hebrews 11:25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
Hebrews 11:26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Hebrews 11:27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

Of course, Moses was not just a great man of God.  He was a type of Christ.  He therefore foreshadows the great endurance we see practiced by Jesus our Lord.

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Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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James 5:10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
James 5:11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

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Endurance is but one of the virtues of Jesus Christ.  Here are others.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Heir

Jesus told a parable to the chief priests and elders of the people in Matthew 21:33-41.  It was about an heir who was murdered in order that his inheritance might be taken from him.  Jesus followed up by relating the parable to Psalm 118:22 which states that it would be “the rejected stone” which became God’s “chief cornerstone.”  Thus Jesus was telling these learned people what would happen to the Messiah – what they themselves would do to the Messiah – in just a matter of days – and yet they did not grasp His meaning.  They did not recognize what was happening before their eyes and through their hands even though the Scriptures had described it all long ages before (Acts 13:27; 26:22-23).

“The Heir” is a messianic title.  That is, it’s a name that refers to Messiah – the descendant of David according to the promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-16 who would inherit all things (Psalm 2:8; Hebrews 1:2).  To receive his inheritance, the Messiah would have to die…so that he could be raised to heaven and receive that inheritance.  Thus Jesus “went out not knowing where he was going.”

Jesus was referring to this inheritance when He said, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (Matthew 11:27).  Thus He is the Messiah.  Thus He is the Son.  Thus He is the Heir.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Grammatical Equivalencies

What follows are simple statements in Scripture where one thing is equated to another.

Romans 14:23  |  whatever is not from faith = sin

1 Corinthians 12:3  |  Jesus = Lord

Hebrews 11:1  |  faith = the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen

James 4:17  |  knowing the right thing to do and not doing it = sin

1 John 3:4  |  sin = lawlessness

1 John 4:8, 16  |  God = love

1 John 5:17 |  unrighteousness = sin

Related posts:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Truth v. Lies

“Truth” (including its cognates and synonyms) is shown in bold, while “lie” (including its cognates and synonyms) is shown in italicized bold.

Proverbs 11:18 The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

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Proverbs 12:17 He who speaks truth tells what is right,
But a false witness, deceit.

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Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.

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Proverbs 14:25 A truthful witness saves lives,
But he who utters lies is treacherous.

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Proverbs 21:28 A false witness will perish,
But the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.

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Jeremiah 9:3 “They bend their tongue like their bow;
Lies and not truth prevail in the land;
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 9:4 “Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor,
And do not trust any brother;
Because every brother deals craftily,
And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
Jeremiah 9:5 “Everyone deceives his neighbor
And does not speak the truth,
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves committing iniquity.

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Jeremiah 28:15 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.

To trust in a lie is tragic; to trust in the truth is salvation.

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John 8:43 “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
John 8:46 “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?
John 8:47 “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

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Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
“THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS,
AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”
Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)
Romans 3:6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?
Romans 3:7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?

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Romans 9:1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit,

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2 Corinthians 6:8 by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true;

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Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

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2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,
2 Thessalonians 2:12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

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1 Timothy 2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

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1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4:2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
1 Timothy 4:3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

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James 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

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1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

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1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

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1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

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1 John 2:21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

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1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

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See also:

And for other contrasts in the Scripture, see:  Clarity Through Contrast

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Proverbs 30:4

Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!

Surely we do.  He is the Lord Jesus Christ; He is God Almighty.  He is the one who descended to earth from the glories of heaven (Philippians 2:5-7) in order to become a man, and then through death and resurrection become the son of man (Daniel 7:13-14).

As this man became the son of man, so He as God became the Son of God.  He is one.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Scriptures on Human Will

The following scripture verses mention, or allude to, the human will [emphasis added]:

Genesis 24:5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?”
Genesis 24:6 Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!
Genesis 24:7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.
Genesis 24:8 “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.”

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Exodus 2:21 Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.

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Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.

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Exodus 35:5 ‘Take from among you a contribution to the LORD; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the LORD’S contribution: gold, silver, and bronze,

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Leviticus 26:21 ‘If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins.

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Deuteronomy 1:26 “Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God;

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2 Samuel 6:10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of the LORD into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.

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2 Samuel 12:4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;
Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

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2 Kings 6:3 Then one said, “Please be willing to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I shall go.”

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1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

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1 Chronicles 28:21 “Now behold, there are the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God, and every willing man of any skill will be with you in all the work for all kinds of service. The officials also and all the people will be entirely at your command.”

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1 Chronicles 29:17 “Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.

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Ezra 7:13 I have issued a decree that any of the people of Israel and their priests and the Levites in my kingdom who are willing to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.

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Psalm 54:6 Willingly I will sacrifice to You;
I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good.

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Isaiah 1:19 “If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;

The King James Version of this verse renders the phrase for “consent and obey” as “willing and obedient.”

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Isaiah 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,

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Isaiah 42:24 Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned,
And in whose ways they were not willing to walk,
And whose law they did not obey?

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Ezekiel 3:5 “For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel,
Ezekiel 3:6 nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you;
Ezekiel 3:7 yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate.

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Ezekiel 20:8 “But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not cast away the detestable things of their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.

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Matthew 8:2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Matthew 8:3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

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Matthew 11:14 “And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

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Matthew 18:30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.

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Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’
Matthew 21:29 “And he answered, ‘I will not‘; but afterward he regretted it and went.
Matthew 21:30 “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.
Matthew 21:31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.
Matthew 21:32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

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Matthew 22:3 “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

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Matthew 23:4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

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Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

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Matthew 26:15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.

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Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

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Matthew 27:34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

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Mark 6:26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her.

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Luke 15:28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.

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Luke 18:4 “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,
Luke 18:5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'”

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Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

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John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

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John 5:35 “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

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John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
John 5:40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

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John 7:1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.

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John 7:17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.

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Acts 7:39 “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt,

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Acts 18:15 but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.”

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Acts 25:9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?”

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Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

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Acts 28:18 “And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.

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Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

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2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

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Ephesians 6:7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

This and Philippians 1:15 (below) are the only two occurrences of “good will” in the 1995 NASB New Testament.

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Philippians 1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
Philippians 1:16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
Philippians 1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.

This and Ephesians 6:7 (above) are the only two occurrences of “good will” in the 1995 NASB New Testament.

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2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.

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Philemon 1:14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.

This is the only occurrence of “free will” in the 1995 NASB.

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Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Hebrews 10:27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

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James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

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3 John 1:13 I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;
3 John 1:14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.

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Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

The last portion of this verse in the King James Version reads “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Learning Christ Means Discipline

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.

Here are scripture verses which mention discipline [emphasis added]:

2 Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.

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Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
Hebrews 12:5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
Hebrews 12:6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
Hebrews 12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Hebrews 12:8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

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Revelation 3:19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Learning Christ Means Training

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.

Here are scripture verses which mention training [emphasis added]:

Luke 6:40 “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

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2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
2 Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Perfection Requires Practice

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.

This post is also part of a series on Practicing the Virtues of Christ.

We’ve all heard that “practice makes perfect.”  We can also know that there can be no true learning of the ways of the Lord without practice.  The practice of what is learned is essential to the true disciples of Jesus Christ.  Here are some scriptural references to that practice [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

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John 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
John 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

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Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
Philippians 3:16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.

This passage implies continual practice for the sake of maintaining or achieving perfection.

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Philippians 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

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1 Timothy 5:4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

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Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

The sufferings provides the practice.

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Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

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2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
2 Peter 1:11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Letting Scripture Interpret Scripture

It’s a good idea to let Scripture interpret Scripture.  This is a time-tested maxim – and deservedly so.

More specifically, it’s a good idea to let the apostles interpret the prophets.

Another corollary of this maxim is that we should let the New Testament interpret the Old Testament.

What this central idea embodies is a way of applying the guideline Moses gave when he wrote the first books of the Bible:

Deuteronomy 19:15 “…on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”

Thus we are letting two or three different scriptures settle an issue.  This keeps us from putting too much stock in one individual scripture for which we can find no corroborating scripture.  God knew that the writings of His prophets would have to stand for the ages, and be understood through many languages.  Misunderstandings can be kept to a minimum if we can find two or three verses that point the same direction.  Also pointing to the benefit of multiple attestation is this verse:

Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

Any single verse might be misunderstood or even mistranslated.  Once you have multiple verses making the same point, especially if they involve different languages, it makes more sense to be confident that you have rightly understood the meaning of God’s word on that subject.  Letting Scripture interpret Scripture can also bring meaning to a single verse that might otherwise not be understood at all.  Here’s an example of how to apply and benefit from this rule of thumb in just such a case.

The Scriptures were written by God’s prophets and apostles.  No one knows what one of them means better than another one of those same people.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Faith: Strong or Weak, Small or Great

Faith is living force.  It grows.  It can be strong or weak, great or small present or absent, planted or unplanted, employed or not employed.  The following verses demonstrate this [emphasis, and occasional comments, added]:

Matthew 6:30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

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Matthew 8:10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

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Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

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Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”
Matthew 17:20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

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Luke 8:22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out.
Luke 8:23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.
Luke 8:24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.
Luke 8:25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

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Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.

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Acts 6:5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.

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Romans 4:19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
Romans 4:20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
Romans 4:21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

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Romans 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

God gives each of us a measure of faith.  What we do with it determines whether or not that measure will increase.

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Romans 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

“Proportion,” of course, speaks of size.

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2 Corinthians 10:15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you,

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2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

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Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

This is faith that is so little that it is not present at all.

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James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

To be double-minded is the equivalent of being without faith (see Hebrews 11:6 above).

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For more on the general subject of faith, see Scriptures on Faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Ezekiel 37:24

Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.

Of course, it was not the literal David, who himself had died long before Ezekiel was born, who was made king in fulfillment of this prophecy.  Rather, it was Jesus who, in the spirit and power of David, was made king over Israel from the Jerusalem that is in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-25).

Thus we see Jesus Christ in this scripture.  God kept this promise that He had made through Israel, just as He kept all the promises He had made through all the prophets.  And all these promises were of Jesus.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Scriptures on Falling Away from Faith

Alas, some who grasp faith do not cling to it.  Consider these verses [emphasis, and occasional comment, added]:

Matthew 13:20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
Matthew 13:21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

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Matthew 14:26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
Matthew 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Matthew 14:29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?

It’s obvious Peter had sufficient faith to walk on the water, but lost it to doubt when fear took hold along the way.

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Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

Jesus is here referring to the time described in 1 John 2:18-19 below.

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Mark 4:16 “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
Mark 4:17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

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Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

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John 6:66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
John 6:67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

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2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

Paul is reiterating the prophecy of apostasy (“falling away”) that Jesus made in Matthew 24:30 (see above), and that John lived long enough to witness in 1 John 2:18-19 (see below).  For more on this great apostasy, see The Apostasy.

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1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4:2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
1 Timothy 4:3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 above.

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1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

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1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”–
1 Timothy 6:21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.  Grace be with you.

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1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

This is the time prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:10, and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 (see above for both).

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The lesson is: Don’t let go of faith!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Correlating Biblical Concepts: Truth and Faith

Faith” and “truth” are key biblical concepts.  How do we correlate them?  That’s simple.  Faith is the appropriate response to truth.

Here are some scripture passages which demonstrate this connection [emphasis added]:

John 8:45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
John 8:46 “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?

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John 19:35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.

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Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

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2 Thessalonians 2:11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,
2 Thessalonians 2:12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

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1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4:2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
1 Timothy 4:3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

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Correlating other key biblical concepts with truth:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Faith: Its Allies and Enemies

There are things that with faith…and things that go against it.  This includes more than just synonyms and antonyms.  We must cultivate the environment in which faith can flourish.  That means cultivating those things consistent with faith and avoiding those things which work against it.

Here are some sample verses which show conditions supportive of faith as well as synonyms of faith, and sometimes both in the same verse [emphasis added]:

Things Consistent with Faith

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

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Isaiah 30:15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,

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Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.

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Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

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1 Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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Things Inconsistent with Faith

1 Kings 18:21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.

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Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

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James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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See also this post of Scriptures on Faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Doubt

We study doubt only to better understand its opposite: faith.

Here are some verses that help us see what faith is not [emphasis added]:

Matthew 14:26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
Matthew 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Matthew 14:29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

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Matthew 21:21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.
Matthew 21:22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

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Mark 11:22 And Jesus *answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Mark 11:25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
Mark 11:26 [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

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Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

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James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Faith

In English, “faith” and “belief” do not appear to be cognates.  However, in Greek they are.  Therefore, whenever we see the following words, we should recognize them all as cognates from one root word:  belief, believe, believing, faith.

It is clear from the New Testament that faith is a necessary virtue for those who would please their Creator.  Therefore, it behooves us to study and understand it, that we might practice it.  Here are some scripture verses to help us do that:

Mark 11:22 And Jesus *answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Mark 11:25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
Mark 11:26 [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

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Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

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Luke 8:23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.
Luke 8:24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.
Luke 8:25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

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Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
Romans 4:18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.”
Romans 4:19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;
Romans 4:20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
Romans 4:21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Romans 4:22 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Romans 4:23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,
Romans 4:24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
Romans 4:25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

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Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

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Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

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1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

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1 Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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Colossians 2:5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
Colossians 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Colossians 2:7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

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Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

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1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

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1 Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

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1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

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1 Timothy 1:18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
1 Timothy 1:19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

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1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

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Hebrews 4:2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

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Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

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Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
1 Peter 1:7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
1 Peter 1:9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

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2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

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1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.

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Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Related posts:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Ezekiel 34:23

Ezekiel 34:23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.

This scripture was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  By His resurrection from the dead, Jesus was “set over” Israel.  He was their shepherd. He led Israel in the spirit and power of King David.  Of course, it was Jesus – not David – who fed us Himself (John 6:49-53).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Outcomes of Prayer

This is the third in a series of three posts on prayer.  The first two are:

This post consists of scriptural meditations on the sort of outcomes we ought to expect from prayer, as well as the behaviors we ought to practice going forth from prayer.  [Emphasis occasionally added.]

Peace

That we experience peace should certainly be an outcome of prayer to God.

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Strength

Prayer ought to give us strength – strength of heart.

Psalm 119:28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

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Psalm 138:3 On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.

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Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

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Ecclesiastes 10:17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time–for strength and not for drunkenness.

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Luke 18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,

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Romans 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

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Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
Ephesians 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
Ephesians 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
Ephesians 3:18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
Ephesians 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

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Joy

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,
But a good word makes it glad.

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Isaiah 56:7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer…

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Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…

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Blessing

The one who prays effectively should receive the blessing of the Lord on his soul.

Numbers 6:22 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Numbers 6:23 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
Numbers 6:24 The LORD bless you, and keep you;
Numbers 6:25 The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
Numbers 6:26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Numbers 6:27 “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”

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Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!

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Galatians 4:15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had?…

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Fullness

Luke 1:53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.

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Ongoing Obedience

Of course, we should obey what we’ve learned in prayer.  Otherwise, what’s the point of praying?

Ecclesiastes 12:13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptural Meditations on The Lord’s Prayer

This is the second of a three-part series on prayer.  The first was Preparation for Prayer.  The final one is The Outcomes of Prayer.  This post on the Lord’s Prayer is the heart of this series.

In Luke 11:1, Jesus was asked, “Lord, teach us to pray…”  What follows in Luke 11:2-4 has come to be called “the Lord’s Prayer.”  A longer version of it appears in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7).  More precisely, the Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13.

Comparing the two versions, we see that Luke’s version is a subset of Matthew’s – almost a verbatim subset.  The variation in words used is slight.  And Luke’s is a true subset – that is, there are no concepts found in Luke’s version that are not present in Matthew’s.  Though the study below is based on Matthew’s version, Luke’s version is also referenced where the words or phrases match.

Since Matthew’s version is fuller, we will use it below.  Each word is singled out so that it can be thought through.  To help. verses or passages are listed which shed light on each word of the prayer.  Although a snippet or summary of each verse or passage is given, you can also gain insight by reading each verse its context when you have more time.  To aid this process, the verses are listed in scriptural order.

Our  (Matthew 5:9)

The most striking thing about the first word of the prayer is that it is plural rather than singular.  Thinking about it at the most fundamental level, we are to pray to a God whom we are sharing.  And just as He is ours to share, so our interests must take in all those who interest Him.

    • Job 42:10  “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends”
    • Ecclesiastes 4:8  “and he never asked, ‘And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?'”
    • Jeremiah 45:5  “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself?  Do not seek them”
    • Matthew 5:44-45  “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”
    • Luke 11:5-6  “lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”
    • 1 Corinthians 10:24  “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor”
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:15  “always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men”
    • 1 Timothy 2:1-2  “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men”

Father  (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2)

Your father is the one who precedes you in life.  Certainly, Jesus precedes us for we are born from His seed – born from heaven, born from above.  He came first.  He is the adult and we are children who must humbly imitate and follow if we are ever to be conformed to His image.

    • 1 Kings 3:7  ” I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.”
    • 2 Kings 2:12  “My father, my father” (said Elisha to Elijah as the latter was ascending in a whirlwind)
    • Matthew 18:3  “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    • Matthew 18:4  “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
    • Luke 15:18-19  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'”
    • John 5:19  “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
    • John 13:33  “Little children, I am with you a little while longer.”
    • John 14:18  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
    • Galatians 4:6  “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'”
    • 1 John 5:21  “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

who is  (Matthew 6:9)

To believe that God is, is the fundamental requirement for effective prayer.  For if you doubt that He is, your prayer is not based in faith.

    • Exodus 3:14  I AM WHO I AM
    • Psalm 16:2  You are my Lord”
    • Psalm 140:6  You are my God; give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.”
    • Isaiah 25:1  “O Lord, You are my God”
    • Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.”
    • Jeremiah 10:6  “There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is Your name in might.”
    • John 8:58  “before Abraham was born, I am.”
    • Hebrews 11:6  “he who comes to God must believe that He is
    • James 1:6  “But he must ask in faith without any doubting”

in heaven,  (Matthew 6:9)

    • Esther 1  (Ahasuerus’ feast)
    • Job 1-2  (The backdrop of Job’s story was what was going in heaven – behind the scenes)
    • Mark 6:21-29  (Herod’s feast)
    • Luke 15:18  “I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight”
    • Luke 18:13  “the tax-gatherer…was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven”
    • Luke 15:10  “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”

Your name be hallowed,  (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2)

I’ve altered the word order in this phrase to match the two phrases that immediately follow it.  There’s an undeniable parallelism in the three phrases.  The traditional English word order tends to obscure this, though it can be observed in a Greek text.

    • Psalm 115:1  “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory”

Your kingdom come.  (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2)

    • Matthew 6:33  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”
    • Matthew 16:23  “you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”
    • Philippians 2:21  “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus”

Your will be done,  (Matthew 6:10)

    • Matthew 26:39  “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
    • James 4:15  “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'”

on earth as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:10)

    • Hebrews 12:1  “since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us” 
    • Isaiah 65:17  “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth”
    • Revelation 21:1  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”
    • Psalm 115:16  “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.”

Give  (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3)

    • Matthew 7:11  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
    • Luke 11:13  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
    • Psalm 84:11  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
    • Hebrews 4:16  “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”
    • Psalm 123:2  Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.”
    • Mark 11:24  “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
    • Matthew 7:7-8
    • Luke 11:9-10
    • 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
    • 1 Timothy 5:8
    • Philemon 1:14
    • James 1:5-8
    • 1 John 5:14-15
    • Psalm 31:19
    • Palm 34:10

us  (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3)

    • Luke 11:6  “for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”  
    • Jeremiah 45:5  “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them”
    • 1 Corinthians 0:24  “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
    • Jeremiah 29:7  “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:15  “seek after that which is good for one another and for all people”
    • 1 Corinthians 10:33  “not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

this day our daily  (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3)

    • Matthew 6:34  “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
    • Psalm 118:24  “This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
    • Psalm 19:4-5  “…the sun… rejoices as a strong man to run his course.”

bread.  (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3)

    • Matthew 15:26  “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
    • Matthew 4:4  “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.”
    • Job 23:12  “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
    • Jeremiah 15:16  “Your words were found and I ate them”
    • John 4:34  “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work”

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4)

    • Matthew 18:21-22  “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  …I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
    • Matthew 18:35  “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

And do not lead us into temptation,  (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4)

    • Matthew 26:41  “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
    • Luke 22:40  “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
    • Luke 22:46  “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray…not enter into temptation.”
    • Galatians 6:1  “each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
    • 1 Corinthians 10:13  “God is faithful…with the temptation will provide the way of escape also”
    • James 1:14  “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
      • 1 Peter 4:2  “no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
      • Luke 8:14  “choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life”

but deliver us from evil  (Matthew 6:13)

    • Hosanna (Save us!)
    • Salvation from our enemies
    • give your life to you as booty

[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]  (Matthew 6:13)

    • Psalm 145:11  “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom  And talk of Your power”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Preparation for Prayer

This is the first of a three-part series on prayer.  The next two are:

Effective prayer normally requires preparation.  Such preparation includes living a life in pursuit of righteousness, finding a time and place free from distractions, and quieting one’s heart from the noises of the world.  What follows are some scriptural meditations on those preparations.  [Emphasis occasionally added.]

A Life of Righteousness

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

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Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

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Proverbs 28:9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.

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John 9:31 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

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Acts 10:34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
Acts 10:35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

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1 Peter 3:10 For,
“THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS,
MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
1 Pet 3:11 “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD;
HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
1 Pet 3:12 “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS,
AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,
BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”

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A Devoted Time and Place, Free of Distraction

1 Corinthians 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

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1 Corinthians 7:35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

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2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

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Humility

James 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

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A Quieted Heart

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

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Ecclesiastes 9:17 The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.

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Psalm 131:1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Psalm 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Ps 131:3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

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Faith

James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
James 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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Having prepared to pray, consider:

Scriptural Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer

The Outcomes of Prayer

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

“…in the spirit and power of…”

Malachi prophesied:

Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.

Was he being literal?  That is, was he saying that the Elijah we read about in 1&2 Kings is going to come back?

Fortunately, Jesus made comment on this very verse when asked about it by His disciples:

Matthew 17:10 And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
Matthew 17:11 And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things;
Matthew 17:12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”
Matthew 17:13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

Jesus makes clear that Malachi’s prophesy didn’t speak of a literal return of Elijah, but rather someone “Elijah-like,” if we can use that term.  And indeed Luke helps us with this when he writes the account of John’s birth:

Luke 1:17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Thus, John the Baptist came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” boldly calling Israel to repentance in the face of coming judgment.

This is an example of “letting Scripture interpret Scripture.” More specifically, it’s an example of letting the apostles interpret the prophets.

Armed with this understanding, we can better understand the following two verses from the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 34:23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.

Ezekiel is not prophesying the literal return of King David to rule Israel.  Rather he is saying that someone will arise “in the spirit and power of” David.  And we know who that someone turned out to be: Jesus of Nazareth, of course.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Who Is Following the Apostles?

All three major branches of organized Christianity claim to be following the instructions of the apostles of Jesus Christ.  The word “apostle” means “sent one.”  Thus the apostles are the ones sent by Jesus.  We have no record that Jesus ever produced any writings of His own.  Therefore, we are dependent on the writings of His apostles to know His teachings.

The Eastern Orthodox Church claims they are following the apostles because they are maintaining churches under the authority of bishops set up by the apostles.

The Roman Catholic Church claims it is following the apostles because Peter was chief among them and that their pope can trace a line of succession all the way back to Peter.

The Protestant Churches claim they are following the apostles because they ignore the bishops and popes, substituting their own leaders who, it is claimed, adhere more closely to the teachings of the apostles than the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic do.

The remarkable thing is that none of these three churches interpret the Bible in the radical Christocentric way that the apostles did.  Even more remarkably, none of these three branches of organized Christianity believe one of the boldest, clearest, and most frequent proclamations that the apostles made: that the Second Coming of Christ would occur in the apostolic generation.  So much for organized Christianity being faithful to the apostles’ teaching.

It is strange indeed that these organizations would claim legitimacy from apostles that they do not think were right about a central tenet of the faith they proclaimed.

If you want to truly follow the apostles, repent and follow Jesus – for that’s what they did.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

All the Promises of God Converged in Christ

God made promises through Isaiah and the rest of the prophets about what He would do in the last days.  Before that, God made promises to David about a descendant.  Before that, God had made a promise to Moses about a prophet that would one day arise.  Before that, God had made promises to Abraham – and confirmed them to Isaac and Jacob – about a descendant.  The first recorded promise that God made was also about a descendant and was made to Eve (Genesis 3:15).

So many and so varied were the promises that God had made, that first-century Jews were confused about how these promises would all be fulfilled.  Some Jews even thought that multiple individuals were being promised.  That is, in addition to a king in the mold of David, there might also be a prophet like Moses and a priest like Samuel.  And there were even variations on these expectations.  It was particularly hard for Jews to correlate the expectations of suffering (such as those found in the prophets and some of the psalms) with the expectations of royal glory that would naturally be associated with a descendant of a great and glorious king like David.

All the confusion was swept away, however, for the disciples of Jesus in the aftermath of His resurrection.  Jesus explained to them how all the promises were really about Him.  That is, all the promises came together in Him -especially in His resurrection from the dead.  Thus He could say that the Christ would suffer first…and then enter into His glory (Luke 24:25-27).  The resurrected Jesus was also in a position to make clear what He’d said to His disciples in the days of His flesh:  that all the promises and prophecies of Scripture were centered on Him (John 5:39).

The apostle Paul put it just this succinctly:

2 Corinthians 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in [Jesus Christ] they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

Thus in Christ all the promises and prophecies “hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

This is the way we should read the Old Testament: looking for its various threads of prophecy and hope to come together into a tapestry portraying the Son of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Lists of Longer Than Three

One of the recognizable patterns of speech employed in the Bible is a description using verbal pairs or triplets.  Of course, it also includes lists of descriptions which are longer than these.  All of these patterns aid our understanding of the ideas being taught.  They show us ideas which go together, and thus help us distinguish ideas which go together from those which do not.

Here are some of those longer lists (four items or longer) [emphasis added]:

DESIRABLE CONDITIONS

Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’

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Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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Philippians 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

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1 Timothy 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

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2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

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James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

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1 Peter 3:8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

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2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

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UNDESIRABLE CONDITIONS

Romans 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
Romans 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
Romans 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
Romans 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
Romans 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

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1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
1 Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

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Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
Galatians 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
1 Timothy 1:9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
1 Timothy 1:10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
1 Timothy 1:11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

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2 Timothy 3:1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
2 Timothy 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
2 Timothy 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2 Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

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Revelation 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

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Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

“He went out not knowing where he was going”

In Hebrews 11:8, we see Abraham foreshadowing a journey into the unknown that Jesus would take when He entered death.  Jesus’ posture on the eve of His crucifixion was breathtakingly – and literally – death-defying.

Jesus knew that God had promised in the Scriptures that through death Messiah would be raised to the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1), and that in the clouds of heaven He would receive the eternal kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14) that God had promised to the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16).  These are the messianic promises to which Jesus knew He was heir.  However, it still took faith in those promises for Jesus to be willing to face certain death.

Someone might argue that Jesus preexisted His life on earth and therefore “knew” where He was going in that sense.  Well, Jesus certainly did know that He was going back to the Father from whence He had come (John 13:3).  But He had never “gone this way” to the Father.  No one had – He would be the first to rise from the dead and ascend into heaven (John 3:13).  And for this reason He is called the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).

Jesus was therefore truly stepping out into the unknown.  Only faith could have motivated Him…and propelled Him to take that first step.  When Satan tempted Him to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus refused because He had no command of the Lord to do so (Matthew 4:5-7).  In accepting the cross, however, Jesus was fulfilling the suffering required of the Messiah (Luke 24:26)  that He might enter into messianic glory.    (Remember: messianic suffering was earthly but His glory was to be heavenly; the only way for Him to get back to heaven was through death…and the promise of God.)

Because Jesus was the first to rise permanently from the dead, the writer of Hebrews calls Him our “forerunner” (Hebrews 6:20).  We need to reflect on just how much faith Jesus had to exercise in God in order to follow through on that final trip to Jerusalem where the cross awaited.  If we reflect on it long enough and deeply enough, we’ll have no problem understanding why He expects us to follow.  It was the first one who crossed that greatest of all divides who exercised the most faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Scriptures on Purity

Jesus was pure in heart.  And thus He demonstrates to us that we should be pure in heart.

Here are some scriptures to help us think about what it means to purify ourselves [emphasis added]:

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

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2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

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Philippians 1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
Philippians 1:16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
Philippians 1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.

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Titus 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.

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James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

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James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as godliness and faithfulness, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Scriptures on Ambition

We might not normally associate the virtue of ambition with Jesus of Nazareth, but would you consider Him lazy?  Would you consider Him lacking in direction or motivation?  Certainly He was ambitious – but not for His own sake.  That is, He was not “selfishly ambitious,” as you see we are warned against below.  His was a holy ambition.  As Jesus  was ambitious to please His Father, so we should be ambitious to please Him.  Related to ambition are His qualities of discipline, diligence, zeal, perseverance, and excellence.

Here are some scriptures to help us think about summoning our ambition for the sake of serving His cause [emphasis added]:

Romans 2:8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

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2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

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Philippians 1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
Philippians 1:16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
Philippians 1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.

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1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
1 Thessalonians 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,

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James 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
James 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
James 3:15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as love and self-control, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Scriptures on Excellence

Jesus lived in pursuit of excellence.  Note carefully that it’s moral excellence He sought – not worldly excellence.  Worldly excellence is as close as well-produced television show, but it is likely to be providing content that is morally contaminated.  Moral excellence is possible on any budget.  Jesus achieved it with hardly any worldly wealth at all.  His diligence, zeal, and discipline led Him to it.  Should we not follow in His steps?

Here are some scriptures to help us ponder the excellence we have been inspired by Christ to pursue  [emphasis added]:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

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1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.

The phrase “excel still more” occurs twice in the NASB: here and 1 Thessalonians 4:10.

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1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
1 Thessalonians 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,

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2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as godliness and generosity, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Scriptures on Perseverance

Perseverance is found in Jesus Christ.  It is found in abundance.  Therefore, if we are to be conformed to His image, we must become persevering.  Here are some scripture verses to help think about that virtue [emphasis added]:

Luke 8:15 “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

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Romans 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

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Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Romans 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

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Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

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Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

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1 Timothy 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

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James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

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2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as diligence and discipline, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Zeal

Zeal is undoubtedly a virtue of Christ.  His disciples noticed how zealous He was for the interests of God (see the context of John 2:17).  Those who want to be like Christ ponder virtues like this so that they might become more like Him.  Here are some scriptures to help with that process [emphasis added]:

1 Kings 19:10 [Eijah] said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

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Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

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Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

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Isaiah 37:32 “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”‘

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Psalm 69:9 For zeal for Your house has consumed me,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.  [quoted in John 2:17]

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Psalm 119:139 My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.

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John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”  [quoting Psalm 69:9]

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Titus 2:14 [Christ Jesus] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

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1 Peter 3:13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

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Revelation 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
Revelation 3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

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Revelation 3:19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as gratitude and joy, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Diligence

Jesus was diligent; therefore, diligence is undoubtedly a virtue of Christ.  Therefore, we ought to think about it so that we might practice it.

Here are some scriptures to help you do that [emphasis added]:

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the slack hand will be put to forced labor.

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Proverbs 12:27 A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence.

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Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

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Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

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Romans 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

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2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
2 Peter 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
2 Peter 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

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2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
2 Peter 1:11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

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2 Peter 1:15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

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2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

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Other virtues of Christ, such as godliness and generosity, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Discipline

Jesus Christ was disciplined.  Otherwise, He could never have gone through the last week of His life as He did.  (His patience, perseverance, and forbearance were part of that discipline.)  Jesus both accepted the discipline of His Father and, as part of that process, disciplined Himself.  We must see discipline as an essential element of Jesus’ character if we are to successfully imitate His life.

Here are some scriptures to help us embrace the discipline that Jesus embraced so that we might eventually be as disciplined as He was…and is  [emphasis added]:

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Proverbs 13:1 A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

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Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline,
But he who regards reproof will be honored.

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Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

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1 Corinthians 9:27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

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2 Thessalonians 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you,

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2 Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.

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1 Timothy 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
1 Timothy 4:8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

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2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

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Other virtues of Christ, such as patience and kindness, are listed in this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Hebrews 11:8

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Here we have Abraham as a type of Christ.  We know that because he lived by faith, Abraham was a type of Christ.  More specifically, Abraham’s “going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance” was a type of the course Jesus would take.  Jesus  prayed to be delivered from death (Hebrews 5:7).  It is clear that Jesus was not praying to be kept from dying (for if that were the case, it could not be said that His prayer “was heard”).  Rather, Jesus was praying to be resurrected from the dead, completely free from death’s power.  This is the prayer that was heard.  In praying it, Jesus was “going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance.”  It was complete trust in God for what would happen in the unknown.

Jesus was truly headed for uncharted waters, and Abraham foreshadowed this.  Let us learn from Abraham that we might imitate Jesus!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

On Becoming Spiritual

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

Perhaps the chief benefit of understanding the distinction that the Bible makes between that which is flesh and that which is spirit is that it helps us become more spiritual.  After all, we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and this means growing up spiritually – becoming spiritual people.

Jesus came to live in the flesh and then was raised from the dead that He might take our attention which was already on the flesh and redirect it to the spiritual.  That is, His transition from flesh to spirit enabled the transition of our attention from flesh to spirit.

Here are some passages which help us understand this maturation process wherein we start out fleshly and end up spiritual [emphasis added].

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
1 Corinthians 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
1 Corinthians 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

Note the growth trajectory from “natural” man to “spiritual” man.

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1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Note the vocabulary of the growth process: in the beginning we are “men of flesh” or “infants in Christ” or “mere men” or “fleshly.”  If our growth process is successful, we will become “spiritual men.”

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1 Corinthians 14:36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?
1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.
1 Corinthians 14:38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Note that spiritual can recognize things that less mature people cannot.

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Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Becoming spiritual means becoming able to help others who are caught in sin.  Until we become spiritual, it’s all we can do to keep ourselves out of sin.

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Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Although the word “spiritual” does not explicitly appear in this passage, we can infer it as the modifier of senses since it is surely not the physical senses to which the author is referring.

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For more on becoming spiritual, see these posts:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

References to Flesh or Spirit Where One Is Explicit and the Other Is Implied

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

What follows are explicit references to “flesh” where a contrast with “spirit” is implied,or explicit references to “spirit” where a contrast with “flesh” is implied.

John 4:21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus is implying that worship before Him had been “in the flesh.”  That is, there had been a physical temple in an earthly city where animal sacrifices were offered.

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John 8:15 “You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.

The implication here is that only God is able to judge according to the spirit, because only God can see the heart.  Human beings (that is, those who are “in the flesh”) cannot see into the soul of another).

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Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

The implication here is that whereas in times past Israel worshiped according to the flesh (that is, by burning animal sacrifices in a physical temple) now the time had come to worship God spiritually.  (See John 4: above.)

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2 Corinthians 1:17 Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?

The implication here is that Paul is being spiritual, even though it may appear he’s thinking in a fleshly way.

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2 Corinthians 11:18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also.

Paul is implying that only spiritual accomplishments really matter.

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Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

The implication here is that the one caught in sin has been fleshly, and that help from folks who are not fleshly is required for his restoration.

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Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
Ephesians 6:6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Paul is wanting slaves to serve their Master “in the spirit,” who is, of course, the Lord Christ.  (And he says so explicitly in Colossians 3:22-25.)

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Colossians 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
Colossians 2:19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Of course, Paul is wanting his disciples to adopt spiritual minds instead.

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Colossians 2:23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Fleshly indulgence can only be overcome by spiritual power – not by focusing on the flesh.

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1 Peter 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

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1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

Fleshly lusts can be contrasted with spiritual or holy desires.

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2 Peter 2:18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,
2 Peter 2:19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

Same as 1 Peter 2:11.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

References to “Flesh” That Mean Human Existence

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

The “flesh” sometimes is simply the Bible’s way of referring to human existence, as in the following cases:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

Romans 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
Romans 9:5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
Philippians 1:23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
Philippians 1:24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

Colossians 1:21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
Colossians 1:22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–

Hebrews 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
Hebrews 2:15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Hebrews 5:7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;
1 John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit)

To read and understand the Bible in our age it is essential to understand how the Bible uses the terms “flesh” and “spirit,” and how it distinguishes these terms.

The Bible speaks of “flesh” as that dimension of life that we can see.  It speaks of “spirit” as that dimension that we cannot see.  For our modern purposes, “flesh” refers to physical creation (that which science can detect and measure), while “spirit” refers to the invisible realm (which science has no way to detect or measure).  Of course the spirit and the flesh are closely connected for you are a spirit dwelling in flesh.  Who can tell where the flesh stops and the spirit starts?  They highly integrated and only God can tell the parting (Hebrews 4:12).

Here are some posts on this very important subject:

Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh

The Flesh-Spirit Distinction

References to Flesh or Spirit Where One Is Explicit and the Other Is Implied

Alternative Expressions for the Flesh-Spirit Distinction

Allusions to the Flesh-Spirit Distinction

“The Flesh” Is Not Always Bad, and “The Spirit” Is Not Always Good

References to “Flesh” That Mean Human Existence

Examples of Reading the Bible in a New Light

The Flesh-Spirit Distinction Was Always Known, but Became Pivotal Through Jesus Christ

The Change

On Becoming Spiritual

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“The Flesh” Is Not Always Bad, and “The Spirit” Is Not Always Good

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

In distinguishing flesh from spirit, it is important not to get the idea that “flesh is automatically bad” and “spirit is automatically good.”  Rather, flesh refers to the world we can see; and spirit refers to the world we cannot see.  When the Bible says that Jesus was born “according to the flesh” it is not saying that He did something bad.  Neither is Paul being critical of Abraham when he calls the patriarch his “forefather according to the flesh” (Romans 4:1).  (See References to “Flesh” That Mean Human Existence, where this and similar passages are listed.  And, conversely, everyone knows that there are evil spirits as well as good ones.

To live according to the flesh only becomes bad when it ignores the spiritual dimension.  Therefore, when you read references to flesh or fleshly, check the context to see whether the author is simply describing the visible dimension, or if he’s suggesting that the spiritual dimension (where God resides) is being ignored.  For example, in Colossians 1:22 Paul uses “fleshly” to describe Jesus’ earthly (and obviously sinless) body, but then in the next chapter (Colossians 2:18) he writes pejoratively of people who rely on their “fleshly” minds. In the first case, Paul is using “flesh” simply as a description of reality, whereas the second case implies a focus on the physical world to the exclusion of the spiritual one.  Therefore, let context be your guide.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Allusions to the Flesh-Spirit Distinction

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

The Bible often alludes to the distinction between flesh and spirit without using either of those terms explicitly.  Here are some examples:

Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Matthew 6:4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

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Matthew 6:16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Matthew 6:17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face
Matthew 6:18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Matthew 6:20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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Matthew 23:5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men…

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John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

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John 12:42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;
John 12:43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

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Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

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Ephesians 6:7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

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Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Flesh-Spirit Distinction Was Always Known, but Became Pivotal Through Jesus Christ

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

The distinction between flesh and spirit was not introduced by Jesus Christ.  Through Him, however, it became all important in relating to God.   Therefore, we need to recognize this distinction in the various ways that Scripture describes it.  And we particularly need to understand how it enables us to understand the transition from the kingdom of man to the kingdom of God which was brought about through Jesus Christ.

Let us therefore first remind ourselves that the flesh-spirit distinction was know throughout Old Testament times, as is evidenced by the following Scripture verses:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 Kings 6:15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
2 Kings 6:16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
2 Kings 6:17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:10 “I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Examples of Reading the Bible in a New Light

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

Jesus Christ taught us and enabled us to read the Scriptures in a new light.  What follows are some examples of how we would read the Scriptures in the light brought to us by and through Jesus Christ.

Consider this Old Testament verse:

Psalm 119:97 O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

A Jew, say, in Daniel’s time, would have read this verse with a view to the law that had been given through Moses to the physical descendants of Abraham.  With Jesus, however, the law ceased to be the words on the page and became the life He lived which embodied those words (for He was “the word made flesh” – John 1:14).  For this reason Jesus said:

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Therefore, the “law” for us is the life that Jesus lived.  This does not abrogate the words Moses wrote with ink; rather, it fulfills them.  Thus Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Therefore, “the law of the Lord” is understood most fully in the life of sacrifice to God and His fellow man that Jesus of Nazareth lived.

Another example of reading the Bible in the new light brought by Jesus Christ has to do with a essential component of the Law of Moses: circumcision.  Listen to how Paul reinterprets the idea of circumcision through the gospel of Christ:

Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Romans  2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul is emphasizing what the readers already knew: that through Jesus Christ, circumcision in the flesh had been rendered meaningless in the light of circumcision as a spiritual operation.  Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a full-scale exposition of this point, ending emphatically with:

Galatians 5:12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.

I encourage you to read the entire letter as a treatise on the superiority of spiritual interpretation of the Bible through Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Change

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

Jesus Christ changed the way that the Bible should be read.  Prior to Him, the Bible spoke to the physical dimension; since Him, however, the focus has become entire spiritual.  (To understand this better, see Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh and Alternative Expressions for the Flesh-Spirit Distinction.)

The Scriptures speak of this change in a variety of ways, but most explicitly in Hebrews 7:12 where it takes heed to the “change of law” that came through Jesus Christ.  This “change” was not one of departure from the original meaning, but rather intensification and expansion of that original meaning.  That is, the descendants of Abraham had been commanded in the Old Testament to love, but the spiritual interpretation of Jesus Christ took that love to the limit (laying down one’s life for the sake of others) and expanded it to all humanity.  This change took the Bible from being a book for Jews about preserving the Jewish way of life to being a book for everyone about preserving the godly way of life.

Here then are some of the scripture verses that refer to this change.  No attempt is made to include them all.  For example, every reference to “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven” can be considered a reference to this change since it is implying the transition from a human rule over the people of God (through leaders like Moses and David) to a divine rule over the people of God – that is, direct rule by God Himself through Jesus Christ.

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached…

Jesus is here speaking of the change that came with the ministry of John the Baptist.  This is the beginning of the eternal change of which we are speaking.  (See also Matthew 11:12-13 and compare it with John 18:36.)

Here are more scriptures which speak of the change wrought by God through Christ [emphasis, and occasionally comments, added]:

Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father…”

All that was the Father’s was being given – bequethed as an inheritance – to the Son.  In this regard, see also Hebrews 1:1-2 below which speaks of the Son being made the “heir of all things.”  All that the Father had became the Son’s.  (See also John 3:35.)

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John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

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John 3:35 “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.

See also Matthew 11:27 above and Hebrews 1:1-2 below.  While this “hand-off” caused no change in the physical world, it caused enormous change in the spiritual world – so much so that it was appropriate to describe the change as “a new heavens and new earth”  Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

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John 4:21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Jesus is here saying that the time had come for men to cease worshiping according to physical things and begin to worship  in an entirely spiritual way.

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Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

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Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
Rom 4:17 (as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

Paul is here contrasting the way of the Law, which would refer to the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, with the way of grace (the new way), which refers to the descendants of Abraham according to the spirit – that is, those have faith in the way that Abraham did.  This is “the change” of which we are speaking.

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Romans 7:6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Paul is saying that the Bible is no longer to be read according to a physical understanding (“oldness of the letter”). but rather according to a spiritual understanding (“newness of the Spirit”).

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Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Bible has ceased to be a manual of instruction for Jewish living, and instead become a record of Jesus Christ – the greatest Jew who ever lived.

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2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
2 Corinthians 3:8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
2 Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
2 Corinthians 3:10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.
2 Corinthians 3:11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

Paul is saying that the old covenant is the literal interpretation of the Scriptures – that is, application to the physical.  By contrast, the new covenant is a spiritual understanding of the Scriptures – that is, application to the unseen dimension.

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2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
2 Corinthians 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul is saying that in times past, Jews would have looked to the flesh – that is, how are things with the physical temple in physical Jerusalem?  Through Christ, however, focus is now on inward and heavenly things – the root and foundation of all physical reality.

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2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.

In times past, Israel might have taken pride in its armies or the glory of its king before the nations ( as the Queen of Sheba admired Solomon in his day), but in Christ all earthly glory fade away in the presence of the spiritual glory that has come in the kingdom of Christ.

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Galatians 2:21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

There had to be a change, for the Law alone could never make us righteous.  The Law prepared the way for Christ, and it is Christ who makes us righteous.  At that point, the Law ceased to be an instruction manual for Jews according to the flesh and instead became a witness to Christ (Romans 3:21).

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Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

From the time of Moses until Christ, the descendants of Abraham were under the Law.  The change that came with Christ was that of “being led by the Spirit.”

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Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
Hebrews 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

In times past, God spoke through the prophets.  However, once His Son came, all speaking was through that Son.  This was another way of describing the great change that occurred through Jesus Christ.

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Hebrews 7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

Be sure to read this verse in the context of the verses that come before and after this.  This will result in a greater appreciation of how Jesus Himself effects this great change we are describing.

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Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,
Hebrews 12:19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.
Hebrews 12:20 For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.”
Hebrews 12:21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.”
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”
Hebrews 12:27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
Hebrews 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Note both the similarities and contrasts between the Exodus led by Moses and the one led by the Messiah.

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Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.
Hebrews 13:12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
Hebrews 13:13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Hebrews 13:14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

This passage paints a picture of contrast between the old way of the fleshly worship and the new way of spiritual worship brought by Jesus Christ.

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1 Peter 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:6 For this is contained in Scripture:
“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
1 Peter 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,”
1 Peter 2:8 and,
“A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

This passage is painting the same picture of contrast that we see in painted in Hebrews 13:8-16.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Alternative Expressions for the Flesh-Spirit Distinction

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

We find variations on these phrases in Scripture, and there are also synonymous expressions used to point to this all critical distinction.  Here is a catalog of most those phrases so that you might pay particular attention to the Bible’s references to this all-important point.  [References to the physical dimension are shown in bold, and references the spiritual dimension are shown in italicized bold.  Sometimes the reference to one is implied by the other.]

1 Samuel 16:7 …”Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Matthew 23:28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Romans 2:28-29 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 7:6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Romans 9:8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

Romans 15:27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.

1 Corinthians 9:11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians  3:7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
2 Corinthians 3:8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
2 Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
2 Corinthians 3:10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.
2 Corinthians 3:11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
2 Corinthians 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.

2 Corinthians 10:7 You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.

Galatians 4:23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

Philemon 1:15-16 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Hebrews 11:27 By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of [pharaoh]; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

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Related to this distinction between flesh and spirit is the Bible’s change from a focus on the physical dimension during the time leading up to Christ, and on the spiritual dimension ever since then.  This change is addressed in the post The Change.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Flesh-Spirit Distinction

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

The biblical expressions “according to the flesh” refers to that dimension of creation which we can discern with our five physical senses, while “according to the spirit” refers to the spiritual dimension – that is, what is not physical and therefore cannot be physically discerned.  The flesh-spirit distinction, therefore, is a distinction between the physical and spiritual dimensions of creation.  For more on this critical distinction, see Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh.

The phrase “according to the flesh” occurs 18 times in the Bible (all in the New Testament), and “according to the spirit” occurs 4 times (again, all in the New Testament).  Samples of these and similar expressions can be found below [References to the physical dimension are shown in bold, and references the spiritual dimension are shown in italicized bold.  Sometimes the reference to one is implied by the other.]:

Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38 “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

John 3:6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Romans 1:2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Romans 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
Romans 1:4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Rom 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
Rom 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Rom 8:5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Rom 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
Rom 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Romans 8:12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh
Romans 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 

1 Corinthians 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
1 Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1 Corinthians 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
1 Corinthians 1:29 so that no man may boast before God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

2 Corinthians 10:2 I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
2 Corinthians 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

Galatians 4:29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.

See also Alternative Expressions for the Flesh-Spirit Distinction and Allusions to the Flesh-Spirit Distinction.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh

Science is overrated as a method for studying creation.  This is because science can, at best, explain half of creation: the half that is seen.  It cannot explain the unseen part of creation, and that part is just as vast as the seen part – and far more lasting.  In fact, that which is seen of creation is temporal, but that which is unseen is eternal.  For example, the body without the spirit is dead.  That’s how we know a person is dead: the unseen part is no longer there to animate the seen part.  The body decays but the spirit lives on.  Science is valid and important – just not adequate to explain all of creation.

Creation exists in two dimensions: seen and unseen, physical and spiritual, visible and invisible, flesh and spirit.  An over-reliance on science causes us to ignore the spiritual dimension which is even more important to our well-being.  Society today shows little evidence that its individuals walk in the spirit.  On the contrary, walking in the flesh seems the dominant mindset.  Why?

Most sin is committed in secret.  That is, when we humans do wrong we generally try to do it when no one is looking.    However, God sees what humanity does not see, for humanity can see only the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.  Therefore, while the sin might be secret from other people it is not secret from God and therefore it is not secret in the realm that really matters.  That our sin was kept secret from everyone else in the world does not mean that God will not judge it. This is all deemed to be of little importance to the mind set on walking in the flesh.  By disallowing God and the spiritual dimension in which He dwells, such a fleshly mind is free to indulge in whatever pleasures it wants.  But the mind that wants to please God can overcome temptation by walking in the spirit, thinking every thought in the watchful eye of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – Jesus Christ.

The thief has no problem resisting the urge to shoplift when he’s in full view of an armed guard.  If that thief were to walk in the spirit he would see Jesus Christ as the armed guard everywhere he went – and he would become an honest man in the process.

If we believe there is a world of the spirit, why do we still walk in the flesh?  Probably because it’s easier to conform to the way everyone else is thinking.  But this is your fork in the road: walking in the flesh like the mass of humanity will keep you in bondage while walking in the spirit gives you freedom from sin because you never want to disappoint the One who gave His life for you.  Which road will you take?  Which road leads to the better life?  Which road was paved with the blood of Jesus Christ?

(This was originally posted here.)

This post is part of a series on Flesh v. Spirit (Understanding How the Bible Distinguishes Flesh from Spirit).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Example

Peter wrote that Jesus left us an example (1 Peter 2:21).  This begins with imitating His thoughts and motivations (1 Corinthians 2:16).

One of the hardest things to grasp when considering how to imitate Jesus is that He lived with the same sorts of limitations that we face.  That is, He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  It is more natural for us to think that He had some sort of “leg up” or “free pass” that allowed Him to live the way He did.  It seems almost inconceivable to us that the only significant difference between Him and us is the sin.  And He even gives us a way to overcome that.

At the foundation of Jesus’ life was not His identity but rather His faith.  It was this faith that made Him righteous in the sight of God.  This is the place for beginning to imitate His example.  His thinking – and thus all His words and deeds as well – were shaped by the word of God He heard…because He trusted what He heard.  The word made known to Him was that He was the descendant of David who would lead the people of God to the full glory of God.  That is, Jesus believed what the word of God said about Him – and lived His life according to that understanding.

Therefore, we should believe what the word of God says about us…and live our individual lives according to that understanding.  Then we will be following His example.  And we will love people as He loved people.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

The Righteous One

Jesus is called “the Righteous One” in the New Testament.  Of course, this title had been given to Jesus in the Old Testament.  Consider what the prophets wrote [emphasis added]:

Isaiah 53:11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

Habakkuk 2:4 (HCSB) …But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Thus the New Testament disciples of Jesus came to call Him the Righteous One because the Old Testament prophets had.

Habakkuk tells us that the Righteous One lives by his faith.  Therefore, if we are to become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21), seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), then we must imitate the faith by which Jesus lived.  If we do, we become little “righteous ones,” and can give thanks to His name.

Psalm 97:12 Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.

Thus may Jesus be the firstborn of many righteous ones – that is, conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).  It all starts with seeing how He walked by faith.  And then walking in those same steps (1 Peter 2:21).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

“Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses”

This principle – “Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses” – is itself confirmed in several passages of Scripture.The phrase appears first in Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15.  It is then quoted four times in the New Testament:  Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthans 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; and Hebrews 10:28.

The idea, of course, is that something important needs confirmation, lest there be misunderstanding or error about the issue.  Note that one witness is too few; and more than three is superfluous, and possibly even distracting.

Some people hear a single person say something, or perhaps they read a single verse of Scripture, and build a whole new understanding on what they heard or read.  It is easy for one person to be wrong or misunderstood, or for a single verse of Scripture to be taken out of context.  Obtaining multiple attestation of what we think we have learned is a prudent way of accumulating knowledge.  On the other hand, some people need so many witnesses to something that they can’t believe anything unless almost everyone believes it!

God has given us a way of being sure without being obsessive.  It is the way of multiple (two or three) attestation.

Related to this idea, is the repetition we find in the Scriptures.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Repetition in the Scriptures

Repetition in the Scriptures is a good thing.  It makes us more sure about what we’ve read.  For one thing, “every fact is to be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”  And it was Paul who said:

Philippians 3:1 …To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

What forms of repetition do we see in Scripture?  Here are some of them:

Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) instead of one, although each has its own perspective.

1 & 2 Chronicles generally covers the same history as 1 & 2 Samuel plus 1 & 2 Kings, but, as with the Gospels, offering some different perspective).

The parallelism of Hebrew poetry, which is based on repetition of the main idea being conveyed.

Teachings in which pairs or trios of words are used (there’s the two or three)

God would never engage in meaningless repetition (Matthew 6:7).  If He’s repeating something, there’s a good reason for it.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Antidote to Spiritual Slumber Is Keeping Alert

Some fall asleep…spiritually speaking.  Of course, “sleep” is a metaphor for death – whether physical or spiritual.

The solution to the spiritual condition of sleep in staying alert.  Thus we have these sorts of exhortations and admonitions in the Scripture:

Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

Revelation 3:2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Sleep Is a Metaphor for Death

Sleep is a metaphor for death – both physical dead and spiritual death.  This can be seen in the scripture verses that follow below.

By the way, that sleep is a metaphor for physical death ought to strike you as wonderful since it implies that that those who have died will rise again.  And indeed everyone who dies rises to heaven.

If someone is spiritually asleep they in the same position as some who is spiritually dead – that is, such a person is obvlious to the life of God.  Therefore, we should seek to stay spiritually awake just as we seeking to stay spiritually alive.  See how Paul makes this very point in Ephesians 5:14 below.

Consider these verses [emphasis added]:

Psalm 13:3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

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Isaiah 26:19 Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust,awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

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John 11:11 This He said, and after that He *said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”
John 11:12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
John 11:13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.
John 11:14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,

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Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it says,
Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

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1 Thessalonians 5:4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;
1 Thessalonians 5:5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;
1 Thessalonians 5:6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
1 Thessalonians  5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Thessalonians5:10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.

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Revelation 3:2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

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Of course, Christ wants us to ward off spiritual sleep by staying alert instead.

For more on such metaphors in the Scriptures, see Metaphorical Themes.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Metaphors of Hearing

Just as we have the ability to hear physically, we also have the ability to hear spiritually.  In the Scriptures, God uses physical hearing as a metaphor for spiritual hearing.  Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Psalm 81:13  –  “Oh that My people would listen to Me”

Isaiah 6:9-10  –  He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Matthew 13:16-17  –  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

John 8:43  –  “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.”  [Jesus was saying these words to people who had no problem hearing Him physically.]

Hebrews 5:11  –  “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”

Revelation 3:22  –  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Metaphors of Sight

The Scriptures often refer to “seeing” and related terms from a spiritual point of view.  That is, the Bible’s authors use familiar physical realities to explain unfamiliar spiritual realities.  Here are some examples when it comes to the faculty of sight [emphasis added]:

Isaiah 6:9-10 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Daniel 12:3  –  “Those who have insight will shine brightly”

Matthew 13:16-17  –  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Mark 6:52  –  “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened”

2 Corinthians 3:14-16  –  a “veil” lies over the hearts of the unbelieving as they read the Scriptures, but it is removed when they “turn to the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 4:3  –  The “gospel is veiled to those who are perishing”

2 Corinthians 4:4  –  “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel”

Revelation 3:17 “you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”

Revelation 3:18  –  “and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Metaphors of Wealth and Poverty

The metaphorical contrast of rich and poor is employed frequently in the Bible to explain important aspects of the spiritual dimension.  We all know what wealth and poverty look like in the physical dimension.  Through that understanding, God seeks to make known to us the realities of spiritual riches and spiritual impoverishment.

Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Isaiah 33:6  –  “And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge”

Matthew 6:20-21  –  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 19:21  –  “give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”

Luke 12:21  –  “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”

Luke 15:14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.”

Luke 16:11  –  “if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”

Romans 2:4  –  “do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience”

Romans 10:12  –  “the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him”

Romans 11:33  –  “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”

Ephesians 1:7  –  “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”

Ephesians 1:18  –  “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

Ephesians 2:4  –  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us”

Ephesians 2:7  –  “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 3:8  –  “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ”

Ephesians 3:16  –  “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man”

Philippians 4:19  –  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 1:27  –  “God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”

Colossians 2:2-3  –  “attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”

Colossians 3:16  –  “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you”

2 Timothy 1:14  –  “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you”

Hebrews 11:26  –  “considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

Revelation 3:17-18  –  “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Metaphors of Life and Death

Just as there is physical life and physical death, so there is spiritual life and spiritual death.  Since the physical versions are quite familiar to all of us, the Bible uses them as metaphors to help us understand the spiritual versions.  Here are some examples of the Scripture speaking of life or death from a spiritual, not a physical, perspective:

Matthew 8:22  –  “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead”

Luke 9:60  –  “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 2:1  –  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”

Ephesians 2:5  –  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ”

Ephesians 5:14  –  “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

Revelation 3:1  –  “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Metaphors of Clothing

There is a theme in Scripture wherein human clothing is used metaphorically to describe spiritual realities.  Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Job 29:14  –   “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban.”

Psalm 132:9  –  “Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your godly ones sing for joy.”

Isaiah 59:17  –  “He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.”

Isaiah 61:10 –  “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness”

Matthew 22:11  –  “he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes

Matthew 22:12  –  “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?”

Galatians 3:27  –  “clothed yourselves with Christ”

Titus 2:10  –  “showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

1 Peter 3:3  –  “Your adornment must not be merely external”

1 Peter 3:5  –  “who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves”

Revelation 3:17  –  “you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”

Revelation 3:18  –  “and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed”

Revelation 19:8  –  “to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

Revelation 19:13  –  “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Metaphors of Human Maturation

The Bible’s authors want us to understand how to mature spiritually.  They use the metaphor of human maturtion to make that point, as seen in the verses identified below.

1 Kings 3:7  –  “I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.”

Psalm 131:2  –  “Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.”

Matthew 18:3  –  “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”

Matthew 18:4  –  “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 21:16  –  “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babes” (“babes and sucklings” in the KJV)

John 3:3  –  “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

1 Corinthians 3:1  –  “as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ”  (“babes in Christ” in NASB 1973)

Ephesians 4:15  –  “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”

Hebrews 5:13  –  “not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”

Hebrews 5:14  –  “but solid food is for the mature.”

1 Peter 1:3  –  “caused us to be born again to a living hope”

1 Peter 1:23  –  “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable”

1 Peter 2:2  –  “like newborn babies

Of course, the process by which a human being matures from conception and birth to adulthood is one of growth.  And an essential element of this growth is feeding.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Metaphors of Growth

Metaphors of growing are particular important in the Bible.  Besides wanting us to mature spiritually, it also helps us better distinguish between our role and God’s role. We can do the things that make for growth, but as it says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 below, it’s actually God who is making the growth happen.

Mark 4:27  –  “the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know.”

1 Corinthians 3:6  –  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”

Ephesians 4:15  –  “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”

1 Peter 2:2  “you may grow in respect to salvation”

As seen in Ephesians 4:15 above, the broad idea is growth is essential to the idea of spiritual maturation.  Related also is the concept of feeding, which is, of course, essential to growth itself.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Metaphors of Feeding (Eating and Drinking)

As all physical living things must be nourished, so also must all spiritual living things be nourished.  Here are examples of the metaphor of food being used with regard to spiritual things.

Deuteronomy 8:3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.  [quoted in Matthew 4:4]

Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good…

Psalm 78:25 Man did eat the bread of angels;
He sent them food in abundance.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
Isaiah 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Jeremiah 3:15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  [quoting Deuteronomy 8:3]

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 6:11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 8:11 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

Luke 11:3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread.

Luke 15:14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
Luke 15:15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Luke 15:16 “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
Luke 15:17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

John 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
John 4:32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
John 4:33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
John 4:34 Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 6:41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”

John 6:58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Hebrews 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
1 Peter 2:3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Revelation 2:17 …To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna

Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

As can be seen in 1 Peter 2:2 above, there is an obvious connection between feeding and growth, and there is as well between feeding and human maturation.

For more on biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Metaphorical Themes

Certain metaphors are used repeatedly in the Bible and are thus quite important to our understanding.  (For a broader view, see Figurative Speech in the Bible.)  These key metaphors include the ideas of feeding, growth, and human maturation.  These three metaphors sometimes cross paths, but not always.

For other posts on thematic metaphors in the Bible, see the sub-category “Key Metaphors” under the category “Figurative Language” to the right.  (Or simply click here.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Biblical Poetry

The Bible is filled with poetry, most notably the Psalms.  However, poetry can also be found in other books of the Bible, most often in those books written by the prophets.

With Engish poetry, we’re used to rhyme – that is, the repetition of sound from one line to the next.  With Hebrew poetry, the repetition is not of sound, but rather of the idea.  More precisely, Hebrew poetry typically repeats and often intensifies (or emphasizes) the idea.  This, of course, helps to convey its meaning.  This dynamic is often called the parallelism of Hebrew poetry.

English poetry’s repetition of sound helps the reader or hearer remember the words.  Hebrew poetry’s repetion of the idea helps the reader or hearer understand the words.  (Hebrew poetry also cares about recall, but this it seeks to achieve primarily through its vivid imagery.)

In the first verse of Psalm 1, for example, we see the idea of one who “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” repeated in “nor stand in the path of sinners,” and again in “nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”  Then, in second verse, we see the idea of “his delight is in the law of the Lord” repeated and given more detail in “in his law he meditates day and night.”

Therefore, when you read Biblical poetry, recognize that conceptual repetition is intended to give us greater clarity of understanding.

For more posts Biblical patterns of speech, see the sub-category of “Patterns of Speech” under the category of “The Bible.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Clarity Through Contrast

To make a point clear, the Bible will often speak in contrasts.  While the contrasts are not always between something good and something bad, they often are.  Here are some examples:

Psalm 45:7  –  “righteousness” v. “wickedness”

Proverbs 29:25  –  “fear of man” v. “trust in the Lord”

Ecclesiastes 7:2  –  “house of mourning” v. “house of feasting”

Ecclesiastes 7:4  –  “the house of mourning” v. “the house of pleasure”

Ecclesiastes 7:8  –  “patience of spirit” v. “haughtiness of spirit”

Ecclesiastes 7:26  –  “one who is pleasing to God” v. “sinner”

Matthew 16:23  –  “God’s interests” v. “man’s [interests]” 

Matthew 26:41  –  “the spirit is willing” v. “the flesh is weak”

Mark 8:33  –  “God’s interests” v. “man’s [interests]”

Mark 14:38  –  “the spirit is willing” v. “the flesh is weak”

Luke 12:21  –  “stores up treasure for himself” v. becomes “rich toward God”

Luke 16:10  –  “faithfulness” v. “unrighteousness”

Luke 18:1  –  “to pray” v. “to lose heart”

John 1:17  –  “the Law was given through Moses” v. “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”

John 3:6  –  “flesh” and “born of flesh” v. “spirit” and “born of spirit”

John 5:44  –  seeking “glory from one another” v. “glory that is from the one and only God”

John 12:43  –  they loved “the approval of men” v. “the approval of God”

John 20:27  –  “unbelieving” v. “believing”

Acts 26:18  –  “darkness” v. “light”

Acts 26:18  –  “the dominion of Satan” v. “[the dominion of] God”

Romans 2:28-29  –  “outward Jew” v. “inward Jew”

Romans 2:28-29 –  “circumcision of the flesh” v. “circumcision of the heart”

Romans 2:28-29  –  “by the Spirit” v. “by the letter”

Romans 2:28-29  –  “praise from men” v. “praise from God”

Romans 6:23  –  “the wages of sin is death” v. “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Romans 7:6  –  “oldness of the letter” v. “newness of the Spirit”

Romans 8:4  –  “according to the flesh” v. “according to the Spirit”

Romans 8:5  –  “the things of the flesh” v. “the things of the Spirit”

Romans 12:2  –  “be conformed to this world” v. “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

Romans 15:27  –  “spiritual things” v. “material things”

1 Corinthians 2:14-15  –  “a natural man” v. “he who is spiritual”

1 Corinthians 3:1  –  “spiritual men” v. men of flesh” (“infants in Christ”)

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – “fleshly” v. “spiritual”

1 Corinthians 9:11  –  “spiritual things” v. “material things”

1 Corinthians 9:25 –  “perishable wreath” v. “imperishable [wreath]

1 Corinthias 10:24  –  seeking “his own good” v. “that of his neighbor”

1 Corinthians 14:33  –  “confusion” v. “peace”

2 Corinthians 1:12  –  “fleshly wisdom” v. “the grace of God”

2 Corinthians 4:16  –  “our outer man is decaying” v. “our inner man is being renewed day by day”

2 Corinthians 4:18  –  “the things which are seen” v. “the things which are not seen”

1 Corinthians 4:18  –  “temporal” v. “eternal”

2 Corinthians 5:7  –  walk “by faith” v. “by sight”

2 Corinthians 6:14  –  “righteousness” v. “lawlessness”

2 Corinthians 6:14  –  “light” v. “darkness”

2 Corinthians 6:15  –  “Christ” v. “Belial”

2 Corinthians 6:15  –  “believer” v. “unbeliever”

Galatians 4:29  –  “born according to the flesh” v. “born according to the Spirit”

Galatians 5:13  –  “an opportunity for the flesh” v. “through love serve one another”

Galatians 5:19-23  –  “the deeds of the flesh” v. “the fruit of the Spirit”

Ephesians 6:7  –  render service as ” to the Lord” v. “to men”

Philippians 1:15  – “from envy and strife” v. “from good will”

Philippians 2:21  –  For they all seek after “their own interests” v. “those of Christ Jesus”

Colossians 1:16  –  “visible” v. “invisible”

Colossians 3:2  –  Set your minds on “things above” v. “the things that are on earth”

2 Timothy 1:7  –  a spirit “of timidity” v. “of power and love and discipline”

2 Timothy 3:4  –  “lovers of pleasure” v. “lovers of God”

Titus 2:12  –  “ungodliness and worldly desires” v. “sensibly, righteously, and godly”

Philemon  –  “by compulsion” v. “of your own free will”

Philemon 1:16  –  “in the flesh” v. “in the Lord”

Hebrews 1:9  –  “righteousness” v. “lawlessness”

Hebrews 11:25  –   “endure ill-treatment with the people of God” v. “enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” 

Hebrews 11:26  –  “the reproach of Christ” v. “the treasures of Egypt” 

James 3:15-17  –  Wisdom “from above” v. that which is “earthly, natural, demonic”

1 Peter 1:14-15  –  “be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance” v. “be holy in all your behavior [as Christ was]

1 Peter 4:2  –  “the lusts of men” v. “the will of God”

1 Peter 4:6  –  “in the flesh” v. “in the spirit”

For more posts of this kind, see the sub-category of “Patterns of Speech” under the category of “The Bible.”

For a contrast to contrasts, see Grammatical Equivalencies.

Here also are posts on specific contrasts:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Biblical Patterns of Speech

The Bible, being a product of ancient Jewish culture, uses speech patterns which help us to better grasp its meaning.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Biblical Poetry

Clarity Through Contrast

Verbal Pairs That Heighten and Reinforce Understanding

Verbal Triplets That Heighten and Reinforce Understanding

These posts are just a sampling.  For more of them, see the sub-category of “Patterns of Speech” under the category of “The Bible.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Habakkuk 2:4

Habakkuk 2:4 “…the righteous will live by his faith.”

Jesus is the righteous one.  He lived by faith just as Abraham had lived by faith long before.  And just as faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), so it was reckoned to Jesus as righteousness …so much so that it made Him “the righteous one” (Acts 7:52).

As Jesus lived by his faith, so should we (2 Corinthians 5:7).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Verbal Triplets That Heighten and Reinforce Understanding

When the Bible speaks “in three’s” (i.e. trios or triplets of terms) it strengthens our understanding just as it does when it speaks in pairs or duos of words, or even in longer lists.

EXAMPLES INVOLVING POSITIVE DESCRIPTIONS

Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

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Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches, honor and life.

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Isaiah 33:6 And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the LORD is his treasure.

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Isaiah 66:2 …But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

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Hosea 4:1 Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel,
For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land.

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Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

The King James Version of this triplet reads “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”  Note also the similarity between the three virtues described in Micah 6:8 and the three decribed in Matthew 23:23.

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Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Note the similarity of this trio with the one found in Micah 6:8. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that Jesus was here alluding to Micah’s admonition.

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Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

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Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

The 1973 NASB renders this trio of words as “kindness and forbearance and patience.”

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Romans 2:9-10  –  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

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Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
Romans 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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Romans 7:12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

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Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

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Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

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1 Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

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2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

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Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),

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1 Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

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1 Thessalonians 2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
1 Thessalonians 2:11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,
1 Thessalonians 2:12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

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1 Thessalonians 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,

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1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.

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1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

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2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

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Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

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1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

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2 John 1:3 Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

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Revelation 17:14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

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Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

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EXAMPLES INVOLVING NEGATIVE DESCRIPTIONS

Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

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Hosea 4:1 Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel,
For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land.

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Mark 4:19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

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Luke 8:14 “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

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Luke 21:34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;

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Ephesians 5:3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
Ephesians 5:4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

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1 Thessalonians 2:3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit;

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Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

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James 3:15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

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James 4:9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

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1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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For more posts of this kind, see the sub-category of “Patterns of Speech” under the category of “The Bible.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Two Bodies, Two Witnesses

In the days of His flesh (witnessed in the four gospels of the New Testament), Jesus confirmed the promises that had been given by God through the prophets.  In the days between His resurrection and His coming (witnessed by Acts through Revelation), Jesus bore witness to those same promises through His body, the church.

Two bodies, one spirit.  Two bodies, two testimonies.

Deuteronomy 19:15 “…on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”

What Jesus did through His earthly body He did also through “the body of Christ” that we call the New Testament church.  Thus we may be all the more assured that what God promises, He also performs.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Who’s in Charge?

As soon as there is more than one person who believes, one of those persons is likely to ask, “Who’s in charge of the people of God?”  It is only in the weakness of our faith that we ask such questions.  Jesus taught:

Matthew 23:10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
Matthew 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

Even the twelve debated the “Who’s in charge?” question:

Mark 9:33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”
Mark 9:34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
Mark 9:35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

Neither did the problem go away once Jesus was raised from the dead.  Paul had to beat it back in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

If you read on from that verse you’ll see the Corinth was beginning to divide into factions, which is where the “Who’s in charge?” question always leads.

It came up again in the latter days of the New Testament church [emphasis added]:

3 John 1:9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.

But this is just what had been prophesied would happen [emphasis added]:

Acts 20:29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Acts 20:30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

And thus the church has dwelt in division ever since the close of the New Testament age with the coming of the kingdom of God.  When someone becomes concerned about “Who’s in charge?” they have forgotten the Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Choose life (which means choose to learn righteousness)

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how we must make the choice to live with God, to learn from Him.  For to live with God is to learn from Him.

I’m beginning this list with just one verse, and may add to it over time.

In John 7:17, Jesus indicates that the inclination of our wills determines our perception and assurance of the validity of what He teaches.  Therefore, let us choose to learn and obey.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Life with God Is Life

This post is part of a series about life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how life without God is not life at all; it’s death.  That is, life without God is mere existence (which the Bible calls death).

In Luke 9:60 Jesus spoke of unbelievers as dead.

John 1:4 declares that life is in Christ.

In Ephesians 2:1, Paul tells the believers that they were dead when they were unbelievers, and were “made alive together with Christ.”

Ephesians 5:14 calls us forth from the dead.  Paul is meaning, of course, the spiritually dead.

In Philippians 1:21, Paul says that to live…is…Christ!

Colossians 3:4 says that Christ is our life.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

At some point you’ll teach others

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on the teaching you’ll ultimately do if you yourself are sufficiently taught.  In other words, just as maturity is consequence of growth, so teaching others what you have learned is a consequence of maturity.

In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul tells Timothy that the Lord’s servant must be able to teach.

Hebrews 5:12 chastises the recipients of the letter, saying that they have spent enough time being taught that they ought themselves to be teaching by now.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Learning requires practice, and is therefore a matter of trial and error

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  

This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on the trial and error proces that is inherent in learning from God.  That is, we must practice what we learn if we are to truly learn it.  It does no good to read a book about the flute if you never pick one up to play it.  Practice makes perfect – and this is the intended goal of our practice.  Our trials and errors should not result in futility, but rather in our maturation.  That is, we should practice until we grow up!

John 3:19-21 says that we must practice the truth if we are to come to the light.

In John 13:17, Jesus says that those who know and do (or we could say “practice“) His teaching will be blessed.

In Philippians 4:9, Paul makes clear that those who learned the gospel from him needed to practice what they’d heard and learned; the obvious implication of his words is that the learning would do his disciples no good if they did not put it into practice.

Hebrews 5:14 indicates that we cannot achieve maturity without practice.

2 Peter 1:5-11 exhorts us to practice spiritual qualities (e.g. self-control, perseverance, and godliness) that we might have unobstructed access to the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Learning from God begins with hearing

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how hearing from God is the first, and an essential, step of learning from God.

Romans 10:17 declares that hearing the word of Christ is the basis for faith in Christ.

In Ephesians 4:20-21, Paul mentions hearing of Jesus as the first step of being taught Jesus.

Colossians 1:3-8 describes all the good that comes to believers beginning from that time that they first heard the word of truth – that is, the gospel.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Maturity culminates in perfection

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on the ultimate goal of all the learning – maturation into the image of Christ.  

This post is also part of a series on Practicing the Virtues of Christ.

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says we are to become perfect as the one who preceded us in heaven is perfect.

In Luke 6:40, Jesus makes clear that His followers are pupils, and that point of the training, is to become like the teacher (i.e., like Jesus) – who Himself, of course, was perfected (see Hebrews 2:10 below).

Romans 8:29 says that God’s plan has been for us to be conformed to the image of His Son, making Jesus the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 12:2 says that we should demonstrate that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says that we should be perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Ephesians 4:12 in the King James Version speaks of “the perfecting of the saints” as God’s plan.

Philippians 1:6 says that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it…”  Thus God does not begin without an intention of perfecting.

Philippians 3:15 suggests that until one is perfected, God will reveal the obstacles to perfection so that they may be avoided or removed.

1 Timothy 4:15, while not speaking of perfection explicitly, does declare that the signs of progress ought to accompany a believer’s life.

Hebrews 2:10 says that Jesus was perfected through sufferings.

Hebrews 7:11 speaks of perfection being unattainable through Levi’s priesthood, implying that it is the intent of Melchizedek’s priesthood.  Verses 19 and 28 of this chapter also have something to say about perfection.

Hebrews 12:2 calls Jesus “the author and perfecter of faith.”

James 3:2 speaks of the perfect man as one who controls his tongue, implying that this sort of perfection is attainable and certainly ought to be sought by believers.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Learning is a process of maturing

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on the maturation inherent in the effective learning process.

This post is also part of a series on Practicing the Virtues of Christ.

1 Corinthians 14:20 says that in our thinking we should be mature.

Hebrews 5:11-12 shows that it’s possible for us to retard our spiritual growth by being dull of hearing, thus limiting what we can be taught. It also shows that the normal order of things is that we mature and, in due time, become teachers ourselves.

Hebrews 5:14 says that spiritual maturity is a matter of improving our moral senses by practice and training.

Hebrews 6:1 says that we should “press on to maturity.”

To what does this maturing lead?  Maturity; that is, perfection.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Daily prayer is a means of learning

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how prayer is a means of learning for us.  That is, God teaches us through prayer.

I’m beginning this list with just one verse, and will likely add to it over time.

In Matthew 6:11, the Lord instructs His disciples to seek daily bread in prayer.  Of course, He is not speaking of physical bread.  (See Matthew 4:4 and John 4:32.)  Rather He speaks of the bread of heaven, which is Christ Himself.  That is, Christ reveals more of Himself to us each time we pray.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Life with Christ is a matter of learning

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  

This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on the necessity and pervasiveness of learning in the life of the believer in Christ.  Notice the various words – teach, disciple, pupil, instruction, training, and so on – which all emanate from the one theme of learning.

In Psalm 25:4-5, we ask the Lord to teach us His ways.

In Psalm 32:8, the scripture says that God will instruct, teach, and counsel us.

In Psalm 90:12, we beseech God to teach us to number our days.

In Proverbs 1:1-6, which is the preamble to that book, we see that the purpose of this collection of proverbs is to provide instruction, learning, knowledge, wisdom, and counsel.

Proverbs 1:23 promises that God, by His Spirit, will make His words known to us.

Isaiah 1:17 exhorts us to learn to do good.

Isaiah 2:3 says that we go up to the house of the Lord “that He may teach us His ways.”

Isaiah 11:9 prophesies that the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 26:9-10 distinguishes between those who will and won’t learn righteousness.

Isaiah 30:20 promises that the day would come when our Teacher will no longer hide Himself; we will see Him.

Isaiah 54:13 promises that sons will be taught of the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:15 portrays that we are as sheep who are fed on knowledge and understanding. (See also Mark 6:34.)

Habakkuk 2:14 prophesies that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

In Matthew 5:19, Jesus says that the one who keeps and teaches the commandments shall be called great in the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they need to go and learn.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus states that joining with Him is a matter of entering a learning process.

In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus instructs His disciples to make disciples and to teach them all that Jesus Himself had taught.

Mark 6:34 reveals that the remedy for sheep without a shepherd is for them to be taught by the shepherd. (See also Jeremiah 3:15 above.)

In Luke 6:40, Jesus makes clear that His followers are pupils, and that the point of their training, is for them to become like the teacher (i.e., like Jesus).  This means we not only learn, but we will eventually be like our teacher enough that we can help others learn.

In John 6:45, Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13 (see above) and says that those who have heard and learned from the Father, come to Him.

In John 8:30-30, Jesus says knowledge of the truth and freedom are achieved by His true disciples.

In John 13:13, Jesus calls Himself not merely a lord, but a lord and teacher.

In John 14:26, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things (see also 1 John 2:20, 27 below). That is, the teaching that Jesus began in the flesh, He continues in the Spirit.

Acts 2:41-42 says that those who believed the apostles “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”

In Acts 5:27-28, the Jewish high priest condemned the apostles for “filling Jerusalem with the teaching” of the resurrection of Christ.

Acts 11:26 reveals that believers were called disciples even before they were called Christians.

Romans 6:17 points out that our obedience is to the teaching we have received.

In Romans 16:17, Paul cautions believers to turn away from those who cause dissensions and hindrances to the teaching which had been learned.

In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Pauls writes of teaching everywhere in every church.

In 1 Corinthians 14:19, Paul writes that his most important function in the church is to instruct.

In Ephesians 4:20-21, Paul reminds his readers that their experience of Christ came through hearing and learning – that is, being taught.

Ephesians 5:27 says that we should come to understand what the will of the Lord is.

In Philippians 4:9, Paul makes clear that those who learned the gospel from him needed to practice what they’d heard and learned.

In Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has learned to be content.

Colossians 1:3-8 says that “the word of truth, the gospel” is something we hear, learn, and understand.

Colossians 1:10 calls on us to “increase in the knowledge of God.”

Colossians 3:16 says that we should teach one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are being taught by God to love one another.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, says that anyone not obeying his instruction in this letter is to be admonished.

In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul says that the goal of his instruction is love.

In 1 Timothy 2:7, Paul says that he was appointed as a preacher and teacher of the Gentiles.

1 Timothy 3:2 says that the ability to teach was essential for a New Testament church leader.

In 1 Timothy 4:6, Paul commends Timothy for following sound doctrine.

In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul refers to teaching as the means of salvation.

2 Timothy 2:2, Paul indicates that grace is to be spread by teaching those who will teach others.

2 Timothy 2:7 promises that the Lord will give us understanding in everything.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 says that the servant of the Lord must be able to teach.

2 Timothy 3:7 indicates that learning, if it is effective, results in a knowledge of the truth. This thought is, of course, reminiscent of John 8:30-32 (see above). Otherwise, the learning is fruitless.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 tells us to continue in the things we have learned, knowing from whom we have learned them. It also says that Scripture was given for our teaching and training in righteousness.

In Titus 3:14, Paul tells Titus that their people must learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs.

Hebrews 5:8 says that even Jesus learned obedience, and that from the things He suffered. Should we expect any different?

Hebrews 5:11-12 shows that it’s possible for us to retard our spiritual growth by being dull of hearing, thus limiting what we can be taught. It also shows that the normal order of things is that we mature and, in due time, become teachers ourselves.

Hebrews 5:14 says that spiritual maturity is a matter of improving our moral senses by practice and training.

2 Peter 3:16 speaks negatively of “the untaught and unstable,” saying that they are prone to distort the true meaning of the Scriptures.

1 John 2:20 and 27 say that the anointing of God (i.e. the Holy Spirit) teaches us about all things (see also John 14:26).

2 John 1:9 tells us that the teaching of Christ in something in which we should always abide.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Life with God is life with Christ

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how life with God is actually life with Christ.

I’m beginning this list with just one verse, and may add to it over time.  Or you can pursue the study yourself.

1 John 5:11-13 makes clear that life with God is achieved by life with His Son Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Our learning has to do with good and evil, right and wrong – spiritual truth

This post is part of a series about learning as a key aspect of life with God.  This particular post is a list of scriptural meditations on how our learning from God is learning about good and evil, right and wrong – spiritual truth.

In Psalm 25:4-5 we ask the Lord to teach us His ways.  His ways are all good.  They are righteous.  There is no evil or wrong in them.

In Proverbs 1:1-6, which is the preamble to that book, we see that the goal is instruction in wise behavior (v. 3).

Isaiah 1:17 exhorts us to learn to do good.

Isaiah 26:9-10 distinguishes between those who will and won’t learn righteousness.

In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus instructs His disciples to make disciples and to teach them all that Jesus Himself had taught.  What did Jesus teach if not righteousness?

In Luke 6:40, Jesus makes clear that His followers are pupils, and that point of the training, is to become like the teacher (i.e., like Jesus).

Romans 16:19 tells us that we should seek the wisdom of goodness – that is, the goodness that is in contrast with evil.  This is not what the world calls wisdom, but knowing and understanding goodness is what God calls wisdom.

In Titus 3:14, Paul tells Titus that their people must learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs.

Hebrews 5:14 says that spiritual maturity is a matter of being able to discern good and evil.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Life with God Means Light

This is a post on light as a key aspect of life with God.  It is part of a larger series titled Life with God.

Light is, of course, a metaphor, and these scriptural meditations explore the applications of that metaphor.  I will add to the list over time.

Isaiah 60:1 speaks of a light that gives us reason to rise; and as we rise, we reflect that light.  This is the light of Christ, who is raised from the dead.

Malachi 4:2 proclaims “the sun of righteousness” whom we know to be the Lord Jesus Christ.  The day He creates by His rising is the day in which we live.

John 1:4 says that Jesus was “the light of men.”

John 3:19-21 speaks of the light which we either seek or avoid, depending on respective desires.  Of course, that light is Jesus, and we either run to Him because we want to do what is right, or we run away from Him because we want to do what is evil.  Life with God is therefore embracing the light of Christ so that we can do His will.  By contrast, seeking our own pleasures is nothing less than death.

In John 8:12, Jesus proclaims that He is “the light of the world,” and that following Him leads out of darkness into light.

Acts 26:18 speaks of the light of Jesus which opens our eyes that we might “turn away from darkness.”

Ephesians 5:13-14 describes the power of the light, and denotes that light as Christ Himself when it says “Christ will shine on you.”

Colossians 1:12-13 describes believers (“saints”) as being in the light, that kingdom of the Son of God which is contrasted with “the domain of darkness” from which they were taken.

In reading the verses referenced, keep in mind that life with God actually means life with Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Life with God Means Learning

This is a series of posts on learning as a key aspect of life with God.  It is part of a larger series titled Life with God.  All the posts are not yet written.  As they are, they will be hyperlinked in the list below.

  1. Life with God is life with Christ
  2. Life with Christ is a matter of learning
  3. Our learning has to do with good and evil, right and wrong – spiritual truth
  4. Our learning eventually leads to teaching
  5. Daily prayer is a means of learning
  6. Learning is a process of maturing
  7. Maturity culminates in perfection
  8. Perfection requires practice
  9. Learning from God begins with hearing
  10. Learning requires practice, and is therefore a matter of trial and error
  11. Learning Christ means training
  12. Learning Christ means discipline
  13. At some point you’ll teach others
  14. Choose life (which means choose to learn righteousness)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Life with God

Life with God is a series of posts.  These posts consist of brief meditations upon Scripture, which invite further reflection of the verses mentioned and the context in which each occurs.

Life with God Is Life

Life with God Means Learning

Life with God Means Light

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Points to Remember When Reading an English Bible

Here are some points to keep in mind as you read an English Bible.

English Bibles Are Translations

Those who originally wrote the documents which comprise the Bible did not know English.  They wrote in ancient languages, mainly Hebrew.

English Bibles Are Translations of Ancient Documents

The newest documents in the Bible are dated in the 1st Century A.D.  That makes the Bible a collection of documents almost 2,000 years old at the very least.

The Order of the Books Vary

The order of the books in English Bibles varies depending on whether the Bible is being produced for Jews or Christians.  Further differences in order exist depending on which of the three major branches of organized Christianity is in view when the particular Bible is being produced.  Nonetheless, the core books of the Bible are essentially the same, even though their order may vary.

To be more specific, the Hebrew Bible has the same books at the Protestant Old Testament.  The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Old Testaments have all these same books, plus a few more (often called the Apocrypha).  All New Testaments have the same 27 books.

The Terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” Were Not Applied to the Original Texts

We use the terms “Old Testament” to apply to those Bible books written before Christ.  We use the term “New Testament” to apply those books written about Christ in the 1st Century A.D.  However, these terms did not arise until well after the last book of the Bible was written.  As divisions of the Bible, therefore, these terms were completely unknown to those who wrote the Bible.  That’s why you don’t see these terms in the text itself.  Instead, you references to “the Scriptures,” “the Law of Moses, ” “the Prophets,” and so on.  (For more, see What the Bible Calls Itself.)

Punctuation Is a Feature of Translation

There was very little, if any, punctuation when the Bible’s documents were originally written.  Neither were there the uppper-lower case distinctions in print we are used to seeking in print today.  Words were often printed in block letters, one right after another without even any space between the words.  Readers, who were often reading aloud for a congregation, had to unpack “GODISMYHELPER” and say to the crowd, “God is my helper.”  Capitalization and punctuation are therefore the work of translators and not the authors.  Therefore, don’t obsess over punctuation.  It’s just the translators’ way of trying to help you understand the words.

The Chapter and Verse Divisions Were Not There in the Original Texts

The chapter divisions we see in our Bibles were not added until the 13th Century.  The verse divisions were not added until the 16th Century.  We should therefore understand that these divisions do not proceed from the minds of those who wrote the documents.  They are a mechanism for finding and identifying locations in the Bible, designed for use by those who study it – not a means by which Bible authors organized their thoughts.  Therefore, recognize that sometimes the Bible’s writers thoughts extend across chapter and verse divisions.

Thee’s and Thou’s

The “Thee’s” and “Thou’s” we find in some English translations – most notably the King James Version – have come to connote the opposite of their original intent.  Many, if not most, people today regard the use of “Thee” or “Thou” as a way of addressing God with particular respect.  However, in the days of King James such terms were used of common folk and thus the intent was to convey God’s approachability, not His transcendance.  Ironically, therefore, modern readers often infer from a “Thee” or “Thou” the very thing they shouldn’t.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

1 Peter 4:19

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Did Jesus not suffer according to the will of God? And did He not entrust His soul to a faithful Creator in doing what is right?  And was God not faithful to raise Him from the dead and seat Him in a place of honor?

Let us therefore imitate Jesus as we see His life of faith fleshed out in this verse.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

1 Peter 4:18 (Proverbs 11:31)

1 Peter 4:18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?

[Peter is here quoting Proverbs 11:31, which is indicated by the “all caps” rendering in the NASB.]

Jesus was saved from death, but that saving was in the wake of great difficulty.  Was not Jesus rejected and scorned, whipped and crucified?

Jesus is “the righteous one,” saved by faith in difficult circumstances.

Jesus is the paradigm (the pattern) for us.  If Jesus was saved though difficulty, we should expect to be saved similarly (2 Timothy 3:12). Life with Christ is not a life of ease, but it is a life of joy.  See Romans 14:17.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Securing Undistracted Devotion to the Lord

1 Corinthians 7:35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Why do I say to follow the Lord instead of the trinity?  So as “to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord” from you.

Who is the Lord if it is not Jesus?  And if Jesus is Lord, and Paul wants to secure our undistracted devotion to the Lord, then is he not calling for undistracted devotion to Jesus?  And if Scripture is calling for undistracted devotion to Jesus, why do trinitarians seek to set alongside Him two other objects of devotion?

Did the Father not tell us to follow the Son?  Is the Holy Spirit not sent on behalf of the Son?  Therefore, be devoted wholly to Jesus Christ.

It’s difficult enough to follow the Lord when your eye is single (Luke 11:34 King James Version; also see 1 Peter 4:18) – how much more difficult if your vision is blurred.

Be completely devoted to Christ!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Man of Faith

Who is the quintessential man of faith?  Jesus of Nazareth, of course.

The prophet Habakkuk said of Him:

Habakkuk 2:4 …the righteous will live by his faith.

And indeed He did – so much so that the New Testament describes Him as the “author” of faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Therefore, when we “walk by faith” we are merely following in the steps of the One who Himself cut the path of faith.

Imagine the faith it took for Him to pray for resurrection, especially when you consider that the kind of resurrection He was seeking had never before been granted – and there would be no human being to superintend the moment and make sure nothing went wrong:

Hebrews 5:7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

The next time you’re praying and your faith is being tested, remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He walked through the darkness before us so that we might have His light when we have to walk through the darkness.  He was the quintessential man of faith.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Seeing the Old Testament the Way the Apostles Did

We must do a better job of finding in the Old Testament what the apostles found in it.  We know that the New Testament documents tenaciously clung to the Old Testament documents for meaning.  We must trace the strands of reference until “the prophetic word” (of which the apostle Peter spoke in 2 Peter 1:19) casts the sort of light for us that it did for them.

The apostles “put their trust in God’s prophets and thus succeeded” (as 2 Chronicles 20:20 would have it).  If we would follow the apostles faithfully (Hebrews 13:7), we should do the same.

Until Christ shines as brightly to us from the Old Testament as He does from the New Testament our task will not have been accomplished.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Apostles Stood on the Scriptures, Not on Their Visions

Is there anything the apostles taught that cannot be found in the Old Testament?  Sure, the apostles testified to what they saw and heard from Jesus of Nazareth, but they were always rooting these testimonies in what they called the Scriptures (which is what we call the Old Testament).

Consider how the Gospels, which describe the life and teaching of Jesus, were seasoned thoroughly with references to the various Old Testament scriptures He was fulfilling.  Even after Jesus was raised from the dead and reigning in heaven, the apostles still anchored themselves in what the Scriptures were saying.  (See how they relied on the prophet Amos when they made an important decision about how they were going to handle Gentile conversions in Acts 15:13-19.)  Truly, doing things “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) was a lesson they learned well from Jesus (Matthew 5:17).

Even the apostle Paul, who had a stunning vision from the Lord (described by Luke in Acts 9, 22, and 26), never appealed to this vision in the thirteen New Testament letters attributed to him.  On the contrary, he condemned those who took their stand on visions:

Colossians 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

Instead, like the other apostles, Paul took his stand on the Scriptures of the prophets, as the closing lines of his longest and most substantive letter so eloquently testify:

Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
Romans 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
Romans 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Thus the apostles embraced the visions that the Lord gave them, but did so within the context and grounding of the ancient Scriptures.  We will be wise to do the same.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.