Why Corporal Punishment? Why Jesus?

Adam and Eve

 

Often a question I get asked from my non-christian friends is why are all people punished for one man’s sin? The answer to that lies in the book of Romans in chapter five:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” Romans 5:12

Sin you see is passed through the sin of man to each child. Once Adam sinned the curse was with him and passed on through his children and so on. All of us inherit this sin from our fathers which we see in Psalm 51:5:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”

We are dead in our sin from the get go. At birth we are not children of God, but of darkness. Ephesians says that we are born in wrath to God. Once Adam sinned and was cursed it was passed through to all of us. In essence, we are not dead in our sin but the sin we inherited from our federal head, Adam. Thankfully, there is good news.

In order for us to be reunited with God we needed two things to happen.

1. We needed a substitute in our place to be killed, blood must be shed. (Hebrews 9:22)

2. We needed the broken law to be obeyed and fulfilled

Enter Jesus. That verses we read earlier in Romans 5 is really sad, thankfully just seven verses later we read this:

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

What good news! Even though one man cursed us, one man saved us and we are no longer under the bondage of sin. He loves us before we are saved, and died for us in the hideousness of our sin (Romans 5:8). He makes us righteous in the eyes of God and adopts into His family so then we can become Children of God. This why he was of virgin birth, to by-pass the seed of man. He lived the perfect life I should live, and died the death I deserve. After knowing that how could you not desire to know, live for, and die for this man?

That is why we were all cursed, but our God is a God of love and made a way. Jesus was the plan since the beginning and for that I am thankful. Christ was murdered to reverse the curse of the fall. It is like plagiarism, we get credit for His work because we are saved by His works through faith.

It’s Not Up to Us, Thank God

How much do you rely on God opposed to yourself? How many situations and decisions do we walk into because we covered them in prayer. I hope we can realize that dependency in God sets us up for success, and God has displayed that in our lives and history. Independence leads to idolatry, sin, and separation.

Genesis 15 is a beautiful display on how it is not dependent on us,  thank God. Read the chapter for yourself and see the beauty in it. God is making a covenant with Abraham, a promise to his offspring. Now when people at this time made deals together it was often set up like this covenant. You have the animal split in half and both parties would walk between the pieces. This symbolized that person was saying, “If I fail to keep this promise may I be like this animal.” Scary thought for Abraham but this is where we see the beauty. God puts Abraham to sleep and passes between the animal Himself. Saying that this covenant with dependent on Him, not the people. The people would fail and fail miserably, and many times. However, God was faithful to them and the covenant. He knew man could not hold up His end so he agreed to do it regardless, thank God.

Same is true to us as believers with the New Covenant of Christ blood. Did you know that God sees us as Christians as righteous? He looks past our junk and with repentance in Him He calls us righteous. We have been sanctified and justified my friends. In the Old Testament there was a day called the Day of Atonement. A lot went into this day, and at the end of the process the High Priest sprinkled the blood on the Ark of the Covenant. the blood of an innocent animal was shed so when God looked he did not see the broken commandments in the Ark, but the blood that covered it.

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

We cannot cover ourselves of our nakedness, and make ourselves righteous. We fail every time. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves, but God made loin cloths out of an innocent animal for them. The good news is today we don’t have to make sacrifices, Christ blood satisfied  the wrath of God and covers us. When God looks at us as Christians he does not see our sin, but the blood of Christ. The blood that took the wrath of God and to you and I christians, it is credited to us as righteousness. How beautiful! Live in that today. Be dependent on God  in everything, He has shown His faithfulness. Live in the freedom of Christ, and be a servant and prisoner of the Gospel!

 

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Misused Bible Verses: Jeremiah 29:11

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This blogs most misused verse is a very popular one. More than likely you have seen this on graduation cards, FaceBook, and twitter. This is one of the ultimate feel good Bible verses out there for people to cling to, and have as their “life-verse.” One you may have used before, and one I know I have used incorrectly. Let’s be honest, without context this verse does sound very appealing to human nature. God has a plan for us and it is a plan to prosper us, and it has a great future! Does that not sound good for the American Dream, with God’s endorsement behind it? God wants to bless us right? With money, success, and a comfortable life! That’s what many interpret this verse to be about. When someone doesn’t get the job they will share this verse, or any disappointing event in life. However, if we look at this verse in context it has quiet the different meaning than how it is often used.

Before we start let me say that I do believe God has a plan for us. In the grand scheme of things that plan is for our greater good. That being said it doesn’t mean it will happen the way we want it, and that there won’t be hard times. Remember that God’s desire is to be glorified, and that to be demonstrated through our lives no matter our circumstances. There are a lot of good people who have led a tough life, but in the end saw the true meaning of this verse an I hope you will too.

First off, who was this written by? Jeremiah who was a prophet charged with a very tough task. He was sent by God to foretell some tough events upcoming for the Israelites. They had broken their covenant with God, and all sin has consequences. Jeremiah’s job was not easy and he suffered and endured a lot because of it. Jeremiah was the messenger for God, and sometimes people do not want to hear what God has to say because it hurts. The same thing is true today which is why you see so many “Seeker Churches” growing. It’s why people like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, etc. are very popular today. They do not address the sin issue but tell people what they want to hear so they will keep coming (prosperity gospel, it feels and sounds good), and keep giving. It happened even then! If you read in Jeremiah there was a false prophet by the name of Hananiah. He was speaking a prosperity gospel like many do today. Hananiah ends up dying because of his false prophecy’s, let that be a warning to us and false teachers.

Now what is Jeremiah going to prophecy to the people of Israel? What he is going to say is going to be very tough for them to hear, and not pleasing to the ears. The people, they will be exiled because of their evil deeds for seventy years. Most of those taken into exile would not make it out of exile. Devastating to hear, right? Absolutely. They are about to enter into slavery, lose their land, and be subject to hard labor.”Truth be told God’s people were looking at seventy years of hard labor, a season of fatherly discipline that would last well beyond their lifetimes, all the while being dominated and subjected to the humiliation of being slaves to their enemies. It would be a hard life.” I think we can agree this does not sound very prosperous.

Jeremiah then writes a letter to the Israelites making the initial trip into exile. It is a word of encouragement for lack of a better term. Telling them that God wants them to make the best of the circumstances. To work, settle, and marry although they are away from home and to pray for their captors. In that is where Jeremiah 29:11 shows up.

We need to notice first that God is speaking through Jeremiah directly to the Israelite people of Judah, not any one individual. This was a plan for a nation, not a personal promise intended for one person. That is why we need to be careful taking it out of context and making it fit into our own lives here in the twenty-first century. These are plans to restore this nation, his chosen people, and take them out of Babylonian captivity.

Next, this is a promise for the people who will exist after the captivity (70 years from when it was written!). Most of the people who lived to hear the promise would not live to see it come into fruition on earth. So the initial exiles had to realize this was not short-term, i deserve the best blessing from God. They were going to have a hard life until they died and experience much pain. However, this verse is used today the opposite way! The promise was written for those yet born, that would come out of captivity and be leaders in Israel.

So is this verse applicable to us today as christians as the same way as it was to Israel? To that I say no. Though we may not say it, when putting this verse out there we are saying God is obligated to do this. He is obligated to bless me and prosper me, it is in the Bible. When the first people who heard the blessing never received it on earth! We expect a big time paying job, a healthy family, and am easy life and that is never guaranteed, actually as a christian we are promised to suffer! When we apply this to our lives as individuals we take the verse out of its original context. God is talking to a nation that experienced great loss and suffering for seventy years! It was also not an immediate promise as it is so often used.

So can we apply this to our lives in any way today? I say yes to that. “The riches and greatest fulfillment of this prophecy is to be realized in a spiritual way.” This future hope that we see in the verse has an eternal meaning to it, the “future hope” of experiencing God in all His glory forever. It is not about the American Dream, it is about God’s glory. For us it prosperity and protection in Him forever, and that is our eternal hope!

Put yourself in the sandals (see what I did there?) of the people who heard this. Walking to Babylon heading towards exile. What if that was God’s will for you life? Look at the disciples and Paul’s lives. Look at Jim Elliot and the countless martyrs our faith has had. Life cut short, no wealth, and much suffering. Does this verse not look different? For us with no doubt we have a future and a “heavenly hope” which exist for those who have their faith in Christ and have been adopted into His family That is the best application for this verse. It all is not reserved for just heaven though, but it is not monetary gain here necessarily also. These are spiritual blessings reconciliation, grace, forgiveness, peace, fellowship with God, and all else God gives us as believers. If we twist this though into a preconceived notion of what life should look like for us in a material way, then we have overlooked its meaning to suit our human desires and that is wrong.

Now God may choose to bless people do not get me wrong. There are many wealthy Christians, many healthy families, and overall good lives for many believers. The thing is we cannot expect these things, or be disappointed if we don’t see them in the sense that we want. We cannot demand things or expect things from God. We should not be seeking or expecting glory in our lives, friends we are here to glorify God. Whatever way He sees fit, whatever circumstances He puts us in, how we live our lives matter. What we do either shows our love or our dissatisfaction with God. Let out lives proclaim joy, contentment, and glorify God in all we do! Through the good and the bad, He is sovereign and He is in control. We are aliens and strangers to this world. God will fulfill this promise, but not all of them will fulfilled in the way we think they should be. Live by faith, seek Him daily, and rest in the fact He does have a plan and walking in His will is where true joy and protection are. The safest place in the world is the most dangerous at the same time, that is inside the Will of God.

This verse has many great promises, but if we use it to justify or even demand the “American Dream,” then perhaps we should all be willing to take on seventy years of captivity if that is what He chooses. Trust the King, know the word, and live freely in Him. We will prosper one day if not on earth in heaven, and I long for that future! Make Him known friends not with what we expect, but by what He has done. He has a plan for you, glorify Him with it.

 

Misused Bible Verses: Matthew 7:1

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Context (noun): The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

The Bible is the most popular and most sold book in the history of the world. It is an important book that many attempt live their lives by. However, this can become a very dangerous book in a very bad way when not used correctly. It is crucial to study and understand the Bible in the context it was written. In the next few blogs I am going to go over some of the most misused Bible verses as I read Eric Bargerhuff’s, “The Most Misused Verses in the Bible.” I will be pulling from his ideas, and my own as well. Hopefully to challenge us all to understand scripture better, instead of spouting off what sounds good.

Why is it dangerous to misquote or misuse scripture? Well, first of all this is a tactic the enemy uses against us since the beginning of time. We see it in Genesis 3 when Satan misquotes what God said to Eve.

“….. Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1.

God never said that but here Satan twist God’s Word to deceive humanity. Also, it shows us why we should know the Word and what is says  because Eve right after adds to what God said. If we want to live by the Word shouldn’t we know it? How can we know it if we do not study it? Also, we see that Satan does this also to Jesus in the New Testament in the wilderness as Jesus was preparing for his earthly ministry. The third time he tempts Jesus he actually quotes correctly from Psalms 91, but he takes it out of context. Friends we must know the Word otherwise we will lead others astray just as the enemy attempted to do. Especially those you who lead Bible studies, teach, and preach because as Dr. Wayne Grudem put it, “You better get it right, because people will believe you, and as teachers we will all have to give an account one day.

This leads us to our first verses in this series coming from Matthew in the 7th Chapter and verse 1.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged….”

Eric says it like this in the book, “These famous words from Jesus are recited by many but profoundly misunderstood, One could easily argue that Matthew 7:1 is by far the most frequently misapplied verse in the entire Bible, used and abused by both Christians and non-Christians alike.” This verse is a quick defense for those who are called out on their sin. People use to say it is not your job to judge me, don’t bring up my sin. It is used to justify our own convictions, and our lifestyles. We are all sinners, people will typically add when quoting this. It’s not out place to judge, but God’s. Sound familiar? Maybe you have even used it because that is how you have heard it taught. We are not supposed to call people out in sin. Then how do we know we are in sin? As believers we should welcome other believers coming to us in love to show us our errors.

Let’s take a closer look at the context of the verse, and also other scripture that relates to the topic. After all, scripture is God-breathed and cannot and will not contradict itself. This verse is not to be used as an excuse to live as you wish and not let others call you out for it, no it is not saying the accountability has no place in the church refusing to allow anyone to make moral judgments in any sense. “Quiet the opposite, Jesus was explicitly rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who were quick to see the sins of others but were blind and unwilling to hold themselves accountable to the same standard they were imposing on everyone else.”

So let us look at this verse in the context in which Jesus spoke. This is said during on of Christ most popular events, the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching what it looks like to radically follow him and his teachings. These words he may have spoken while looking at the Pharisees. Don’t stop with verse one but read through five:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

You see the Pharisees were very hypocritical people as many of you may know. They were often quick to judge others, and go an act the same way without repentance. It is like if a father gets on to his daughter for the way she is dressed. He may even be right that the way she is dressed is not appropriate and could lead others to lust and respect her less. However, if when the daughter leaves the father gets online and looks up pornography he is a hypocrite for judging her and then acting on the same sin. In the way he did want his daughter to appear, is the same sin he is falling into that desire of other women. This verse is speaking to those who are quick to speak of others shortcoming quickly, but do not even see or repent from the sin in their life!  Jesus is saying stop judging others in an hypocritical fashion, and get the sin out of your life. How can we correct when we have mess in our life? That is the point of the analogy of the plank and the saw dust. Why call out their sin when you have this huge sin everyone else can see in your life? Get yourself in order first.

However, this does not mean we are not hold one another accountable. I praise God that I lived in a house in college with men who would call me out in my sin, and I could in their life, Not only was it allowed or encouraged it was expected. My college minister puts it best, “Christianity is a team sport.” The Bible is clear that we are to spur one another own in our faith and in our lives, to live worthy of the calling we have received. We are called to rebuke, correct, and encourage one another in love.

James 5:19-20: “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

As we see in scripture that we are expected call our brothers and sisters out of sin. If they are walking in darkness or down a sinful path we should go and help out brothers and sisters. I know if that is me I expect the accountability in my life to come along side me. The Bible doesn’t stop there though! Read what Paul writes to the Galatians.

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6: 1-2

Do not read Matthew 7:1 in a way that forbids people from judging sin in your life. If you profess to be a Christian and live in a manner contrary to the Gospel it will happen. There is only one way to approach it and that is in love (and the Matthew 18 approach), but you better believe it should be addressed. We are the light to the darkness and if you profess Christ but live differently you make it a lot harder on the rest of us.

The Bible has authority and power. God spoke it and inspired it, just like He spoke the earth into creation. When we speak the words of the Bible we speak with authority given to us through Christ, and those words have power. Make sure friends we are using them in context and correctly. In love and aspiring to make much of Jesus, and making him known to all the nations.

Do not conform scripture in a way to justify how you live, but use it as a way to live your life to show others Christ!

“15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17