The Believer’s Eternal Security

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It would be unwise to leave all your money or valuables on your front door mat. Why is that? Such an act is an open invitation for people to take that which you deem precious. It really is no surprise that security and safety are very important to us. Money or valuables will be stored in a bank or in some secure place in people’s homes. Security guards, safes, and secret locations are specific ways in which people will keep their goods secure. Security is important for us privately and nationally. But despite all our efforts there is no way in which we can manufacture perfect security. However, there is one kind of security that is safe, impenetrable and perfect and we will consider this as we examine our passage in this post. Continue reading The Believer’s Eternal Security

Anxiety and the Christian

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Solomon wrote, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (). In , Jesus provides a good word to His people. There are many things in life that consume are thinking and can weigh us down. The pressures of these things can cause a strong sense of fear, anxiety and worry. As citizens of the Lord’s kingdom, the people of God are called to live in total dependence on the Lord, which means they are to trust Him in all matters. This includes the worries of life. Three times in this passage Jesus says, “do not be anxious” (vv. 25, 31, 34) clearly indicating an important emphasis. The three-fold repetition of this command provides three reasons why the believer should not worry.

The first reason why the believer should not worry is because of the Father’s Provision (). By arguing from the lesser to the greater, Jesus demonstrates the Father’s provision for the birds () and the lilies of the field () as a proof of His provision for His people. The Lord cares for animals and nature, but He His care for humans is greater for they are created in His image ().

The second reason for not worrying is because of the Father’s Promise (). The Father knows all that we need, so as we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness“, He promises to grant us what we need (). To seek His kingdom and righteousness means to pursue those things that conform to His will.

The final reason why we ought not to worry is because of the Father’s Plan (). Only God knows what will happen tomorrow so we must rest in His sovereign plan.

Anxiety is something we all battle with. Despite the reality of the constant cares and concerns of life, it is wonderful to know that we have our Heavenly Father loving us and caring for us according to His Holy will.

25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Conduct of the Kingdom’s Citizens

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After being introduced to the character of the Kingdom’s citizens in , we now are shown the conduct of the Kingdom’s citizens. The beatitudes are not intended to be lovely qualities privately held or discussed among believers – they are to be lived out in a corrupt and dark society. contains the body of the Sermon on the Mount. In this first section (5:13-48) the particular attention in on the believer’s conduct in relation to the law of God. 

Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law 5:17-20

The reference to the “Law” and “Prophets” is another way of describing the OT Scriptures. The teaching of Jesus does not replace or “abolish” this, but rather fulfills them. This fulfillment occurred because they foreshadowed Him, described Him and prophesied concerning Him (5:17). Jesus went on to affirm the authority and permanence of the OT Scriptures (5:18-19). He concludes by speaking of a kind of “righteousness” that “exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” in order to enter the Kingdom (5:20). In what way could one’s righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? In , in contrast to the religious leaders who merely externalized righteous behaviour, Jesus provides six examples where obedience to God’s law begins on the inside and is then manifested externally. These six examples provide a correct understanding and application of God’s law. Each of these examples begins with “You have heard that it was said” (vv. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). Here Jesus is correcting the wrong interpretation of the Scripture that limited the application.

Murder and Anger 5:21-26

Murder is prohibited by the 6th commandment (; Duet. 5:17). However, many limit their understanding to the external act. Jesus reveals that at the root, this law is prohibiting an attitude of anger and hatred, which can lead to the act of murder. In place of anger and hatred, Jesus teaches the importance and urgency of reconciliation (5:23-26)

Adultery and Lust 5:27-30

By quoting the 7th commandment (; Duet. 5:18), Jesus reveals that the prohibition like the previous command is not limited to the external act. Jesus goes right to the heart of the problem when it comes to adultery. This wicked act is sourced in lustful intent that takes place in the heart (5:28). Jesus provides the remedy of radical spiritual surgery (5:29-30).

Divorce and Remarriage 5:31-32

“God hates divorce” (), yet due to man’s rebellion God provided a process in which divorce could be regulated, thus providing protection of the woman being divorced. Sadly, people were getting divorced for trivial and unscriptural reasons. Jesus reveals the devastation of getting divorced on unbiblical grounds (5:32). Later on in this gospel (19:3-9), Jesus offers further teaching on this topic.

Oaths and Truth 5:33-37

In this example of obedience, Jesus discusses the matter of being truthful. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders had constructed a way in which one could make an oath and be truth or be deceitful. Jesus made it clear that citizens of His kingdom don’t need an oath to be believed; their “yes” or “no” ought to be sufficient.

Retaliation and Restraint 5:38-42

So as to uphold justice, the Lord provided laws that allowed for limited retaliation in civil cases – the lex talionis. Despite the fact that the purpose of this law was to restrain and regulate retaliation, people abused it. Getting to heart of the matter Jesus says, don’t retaliate to insults with insults (5:39), hold loosely earthly things (5:40), go beyond our call of duty (5:41), and give to genuine needs (5:42).

Enemies and Love 5:43-48

The religious leaders had provided a distorted application the straightforward command, “You shall love your neighbor” () by saying, “hate your enemy”. Jesus demolished this distortion by teaching that one’s neighbor includes their enemy (5:44). He provides the example of God’s common grace in which He “sends rain on the just and the unjust” (5:45).

Jesus concludes this section by calling His people to emulate the perfections of the Father by rightly adhering to God’s Word (5:48).

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

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

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

23 You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

The Character of the Kingdom’s Citizens

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In Jesus gave eight beatitudes that describe the true character of those who are citizens of His kingdom. The word “beatitude” is from the Latin meaning “blessing”. We could simply call these “the blessings”. The beatitudes are not given in a random order, but overflow into each other providing a complete picture of a kingdom citizen. Interestingly, the first and the last contain the same promise (“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“). These bookends show that this is a description of a kingdom citizen. All eight beatitudes state a condition and then provide a promise. When does the believer experience these blessings? In eternity they will be experienced in their fullness, however there is a true sense in which they can be experienced now.

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3)
This is a reference to those who see themselves as spiritually empty before God. This condition is the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency. To be “poor in spirit” means to recognise one’s spiritual poverty and look to the Lord for mercy (cf. ).  Their reward is “the kingdom of heaven” which means they are a believer.

2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (5:4)
The second beatitude describes the believer’s grief over his or her own sinful condition. This is the natural response of the recognition of spiritual poverty. The outcome of this kind of mourning is comfort, which is provided by the gospel (cf. Is. 61:1-3).

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (5:5)
The word “meek” is not to be connected with the word “weak”. Biblical meekness is not weakness. It refers to those who are able to harness their command and conviction. The meek believer demonstrates power under complete control. The promise is that they will “inherit the earth”. In the future they will reign with Christ as He will have dominion over all things, but in the meantime they allow this hope to drive their efforts in the world today.

4.”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (5:6)
This is a description of a believer’s internal longing for righteousness. Because this can only be found in the Lord, it is the believer’s desire to conform to this. The promise of such a longing is a true and lasting satisfaction.

5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (5:7)
As a believer longs for the righteousness of God, it is only natural that they be merciful like the Lord. The promise is the provision of matched mercy.

6. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:8)
To be “pure in heart” is to have our minds and emotions set upon the Lord. It is an unwavering commitment in worshipping Him from deep within. The great promise of this condition is to “see God”. The ultimate fulfillment will occur when we are with the Lord in heaven (). However, this is experienced now I the intimacy of unbroken fellowship.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (5:9)
The believer is not at enmity with God because Jesus Christ made peace possible (; :; :). Now the God’s people enjoy this peace, they are to be “peacemakers”. This occurs though the sharing of the gospel and the application of the gospel within the body. The promise “for they shall be called sons of God” means that the believer will reflect the character of the Father.

8. “Blessed are the those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:10)
The final beatitude may be a bit surprising at first and appear to be an anticlimax. We have just seen a great progression, then suddenly persecution. But this ought not to be a surprise (). To live as Jesus lived will inevitably lead to persecution and hardship in varying levels.

Jesus expands on this final beatitude by reminding His people of the reality and expectation of persecution. Though hardship may be experienced now, this has been an ongoing assault against God’s people in past ages. For this reason they are to hold onto the hope of the final reward in heaven (5:11-12).

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

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

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

The Christian and Money

Money and Wealth

The love of money deceives and brings destruction (cf. ). There is a story of a wealthy young ruler who experienced the deception and destruction of money. Filled with zeal, he approached the Lord Jesus Christ wanting to know what he could do to inherit eternal life (). After some discussion, Jesus exposed this young man’s heart by revealing that this young man placed greater value on earthly possessions rather than eternal life. After our Lord issued a requirement that demanded a high cost, with much grief and disappointment the young man departed (). Our Lord said to His disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” ().

Though money is not evil in and of itself, money can be a trap. In his final chapter in his first letter to Timothy, Paul had raised the dangers of the greedy desire for money (). THere were those who had an ungodly perspective on material blessings. This ungodly perspective began with a selfish desire (“those who desire to be rich“), turned into deception (“fall into temptation into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires“) and ended in destruction (“that plunge people into ruin and destruction“). The reason for this is because the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (a). Wealth is not sinful, however those that crave financial gain have an ungodly perspective.

As he comes to the end of the letter he addresses the issue of believers who have wealth. How should they view their money? Sadly, this topic has been horribly abused by many with two extremes: many is evil and on the other extreme money is a sign of spiritual blessing. Moving away from extremes, let us go back to Scripture. In , Paul provides Timothy with instructions for the wealthy. He begins by saying, “as for the rich in this present age” (6:17a). In this word to the wealthy, he goes on to provide the attitudes () and actions () relating to the use of money. At the heart of this passage is a right understanding of possessions. The understanding in this passage is the recognition that what we have comes from the Lord and therefore it ought to be used for His glory.

After generous gifts had been brought to the temple, King David prays a prayer of thanksgiving. In this prayer he offers thanksgiving to the Lord and rightly recognises that the Lord is the source of all that we have. Consider these words that provide a right understand of wealth and possesions,

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” ().

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

A Portrait of the Christian Life

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What does a Christian look like?

When the gospel has taken effect in a person’s life, their life has been transformed. The old has become new () and the dead is now living (; ). For this reason there are clear and obvious changes in the life of believer. In this post I would like to refer to them as a portrait of the Christian Life.

In the opening verses to his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul praised God for the fact that the Colossian believers were an unmistakable portrait of the Christian life,

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (a).

What does the Christian life look like? going beyond physical appearance and personal accomplishments, Paul makes mention of three essential marks of the genuine believer: faith, love and hope. These three terms are not limited to this passage, in-fact they appear to be an important triad in Paul’s letters (e.g. and ). Interestingly, the word “heard” is a present active verb indicating that Paul is constantly hearing this. That is an amazing report! Let us now consider each of these marks of the Christian life.

Faith
The first mark of the gospel life that Paul celebrates is their “faith in Christ Jesus.” The Colossians did not trust in or rely on their own achievements; instead, the object of all their trust and reliance was “in Christ Jesus.” Genuine saving faith is recognizing that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. “Faith” is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. “Faith” is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

Without “faith in Christ Jesus” there is no hope of salvation, simply because Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (). This is what made the Colossians “faith” special – it was genuine saving faith. Paul could thank the Lord because the Colossians had “faith in Christ Jesus.” That certainly was worthy of celebration! That is the first mark of the gospel life.

Love
The second mark of the gospel life is “love…for all the saints.” Anybody who has a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ will love His people. This is not referring to a sentimental or superficial kind of “love.” Instead, this love is deliberate and committed. It is not sourced in ourselves, but like faith, it is given to us by God (). For this reason every believer is commanded to love other believers (). So then, every true believer has the capacity to love the people of God.  The Holy Spirit is the One who produces it within the life of the believer (cf. ) and because God has shown such wonderful love toward us in Christ (cf. ), this then ought to motivate us to love others.

Hope
The third mark of the believer that makes up the portrait of the gospel life is hope. Many today over-emphasize our present life. Such an over-emphasis allows for unbiblical teachings that place all of our attention on the here and now. An example of this could be prosperity theology. But an overemphasis of our present life can also be seen in people’s possessions and what they do with their time. Many are consumed with worldly pleasures. These pleasures may not be sinful in and of themselves, but they become the focus of their life. It is essential that Christians live their life in response to “the hope laid up” for them “in heaven.” This “hope” that the Colossians possessed was not wishful thinking. Instead, it refers to a confident expectation. What were they confidently expecting? According to this verse it is laid up for them in heaven. So then, what is laid up for us in heaven? In addition to experiencing all the majesty and splendour, we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever in eternity. But there is something greater, we will not only be with Him, but we shall be like Him (cf. ). The “hope” that marks the believer is a reference to being made like Christ, because He is our hope (cf. 1:27; ). Christlikeness is the greatest reward the believer will ever receive!

The apostle Paul thanked God for the Colossian believers because they were a portrait of the Christian life. Residing in them were the qualities: faith, love and hope. If this is a picture of you, that is worthy of celebration and praise to God.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

“To the Jew first”

Romans is said to be Paul’s masterpiece letter in which he explains the gospel.  is said to be the key verse of the letter: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”.  What a great verse!  But what does that last bit mean?  How is the gospel “to the Jew first”?

I have to admit to being Jewish.  Yes I am a Christian too.  Sometimes folk correct me at this point.  They say: “Don’t you mean you were Jewish?”  No, I am Jewish.  Paul makes it clear in Galatians that Gentiles don’t need to become Jewish in order to be saved.  They are saved as they are – as Gentiles – by faith in Jesus.  A reverse Galatians heresy would be to say that Jews must become Gentiles in order to be saved.  But no – Jews are saved as they are – as Jews – by faith in Jesus.  I am male, Australian, and Jewish.  I was born that way!  And I am Christian by faith in Jesus.

Continue reading “To the Jew first”

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.