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Is it wrong to struggle with faith?

Many times in people’s lives they struggle with faith. Sometimes something happens to them that shakes their faith to the core. Is it wrong to sometimes have doubts? Does God love you less if you sometimes question your belief in Him? The answer is no. Sometimes I think we are told that we are not allowed to struggle with our faith, but I have found that even those who are truly committed followers of Christ sometimes struggle with doubts just like you and I.

In Hebrews 11:1 we see a great definition of faith. In fact the majority of us have memorized this verse. It says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is an active trust and belief displayed through obedience. This verse speaks of a faith that is in the unseen. This is something that we as people struggle with. We tend to try and place our faith in tangible things, things we can see and touch but that is easy, what isn’t easy is having spiritual faith. This is something that is outside of our senses and this is also why we all have moments of doubt and why sometimes we struggle with our faith.

When we read further in Hebrews 11 in verse 6 we read, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” This is the biblical purpose of faith, to bring us into the presence of God. Faith entails believing that God exists. In Hebrews 1:2 it says that God has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus. We see in this verse that faith also entails believing that God will reward those who seek Him. We see this expression of seeking the Lord throughout the Psalms, it is speaking of those who seek God and those who trust in His promises. The one thing I love about Hebrews 11 is that it is so encouraging when I have struggles with my faith. I sit and I read about so many of Old Testament “heroes” of the faith and try and see how it draws me to my present day and this generation we live in. I think about Noah and Abraham and how they may have had doubts and they may have not understood exactly what it what that God wanted from them but they had faith, they trusted in God and they knew that because they did have that faith and trust that God would see them through.

God does understand that sometimes we would struggle with faith, that sometimes we would have doubts. I was reading the gospel of Mark the other day and one chapter that stuck out to me that made me think about the struggle of faith was in Mark chapter 9. Starting at verse 14 we read about a boy who has an unclean spirit. There was some ruckus going on when Jesus came and He found the ruckus was because the disciples were unable to cast the demon out of the boy. The father brought his son there expecting to find Jesus bit instead found His disciples. Jesus speaks and says, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” I can’t help but imagine that Jesus was not only talking to the crowd that gathered but also to His disciples… Let;s look at what the father said in verse 24. He said, “I believe, Help my unbelief.” Have you ever felt that way? I believe Lord, but please help my unbelief. This father admitted to Jesus that he wanted help in his unbelief. He believed that Jesus could heal his son, but he still had that little doubt and wanted help in that unbelief that he had. This is how we should approach those times that we struggle with our faith. Look at what happened after this. Jesus did not rebuke the father, He did not lecture the father on how he should have stronger faith, not He healed his son, He honored this father and knew that his faith would increase because the father asked Him to help his unbelief. So even when we have those moments of unbelief or when we sometimes struggle with our faith, we need to keep Jesus and the object of our faith and we need to continue to read His Word and continue to fight for that faith in Him that we have. Keeping our eyes focused on Christ will help us through our struggles and relying on the Holy Spirit is our greatest power that we have that will help us overcome any doubt or struggle we may have. We can cry out just as this father did, Lord I believe but help my unbelief….and He will.

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1 Peter 1:1-12

To get back to my writing I thought I would go through the book of 1 Peter. There are five chapters in this book so it shouldn’t be too hard to read especially if we go through it a few verses at a time. In this post I will give a little introduction and then go through the first twelve verses.

At the time that Peter wrote this letter (between AD 60-65) the readers were very discouraged and confused by the persecution that they had been enduring because of their faith in Jesus. Peter was encouraging them to stand strong and reminding them that through the persecution and trials to continue to remember Christ’s example and to continue in their hope they had in His return. Peter was called the “apostle of hope”  and his primary message was to trust the Lord, and no matter what the circumstances live obediently and to keep your hope fixed on God’s ultimate promise of deliverance.

1 Peter follows the structure of ancient letter writing. It starts with a greeting (1 Peter 1-2), followed by thanksgiving (1 Peter 3-12), then he goes into the body of the letter where he discusses the main points (1 Peter 13-5:11), and he ends with a benediction (1 Peter 5:12-14).  You will also notice that he identifies himself as being the author of the letter and identifies the authoritative status of the letter, as well as writing who the recipients are and the common bond that unites both he and the recipients.

In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter identifies himself as the writer as well as telling us who he is. He is “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” In Matthew 4:18-22 we read about Peter being one of the disciples that Jesus called, because of that calling and because he was one of the twelve he was also an apostle. The word apostle means, one who is sent out and Peter along with the other eleven were the first messengers of the gospel that were sent out after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Peter also cites his apostleship to establish that his letter is authoritative and should not only be received as such, but also be circulated.

In the first verse we also see that Peter was writing to the chosen or the elect. In the Hebrew Bible it was the nation of Israel that is shown to be God’ chosen or elect people. (Deuteronomy 4:37; Isaiah 45:4) In the New Testament we see this expanded to include the church, which would be both Jew and Gentile. Peter was known as the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:7-8), but one of the churches he writes about in the beginning is to Asia (Asia Minor) which probably had mostly Gentile believers.

He is writing to those who are “elect exiles of the Dispersion.” Dispersion originally described Jews or Jewish communities that were scattered  throughout the world outside of Israel. They were dispersed or scattered out to other Gentile countries. Here in 1 Peter we see it in the context that he is meaning both Jews and Gentile Christians who were scattered.  The idea that Christians are strangers in the world is the main concept in Peter’s letter. In 1 Peter 1:1, and 1 Peter 1:17 he calls his readers “strangers or foreigners”  in 1 Peter 2:11 he calls them “aliens and strangers.” We as Christians are this way, we are temporary residents here. We are born into a new homeland, we have been born into a living hope and a new inheritance. (1 Peter 1:3-4)  We do not become citizens of a new homeland by being good people or applying, we do this by being born again, being a new creation in Christ.

In 1 Peter 1:3-12 most English Bible versions put punctuation marks in the writing. However in the original Greek it is one continuous sentence. This is a mar of a skillful orator in antiquity. In these verses Peter also expresses gratitude to God for his salvation that is through the person and the work of Jesus Christ. This section can further be broken up into 3 main movements. 1 Peter 1:3-5 is the first movement. This focuses on the end time inheritance/salvation that belongs to believers. The second movement, 1 Peter 1:6-9 speaks on the future inheritance that gives them joy while they experience suffering and difficulties. The third movement is found in 1 Peter 1:10-12. This section says that they should praise God because they live in the age of the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. The promises regarding the coming of Christ, in both His suffering and in His glory.

In 1 Peter 1:3 we read, “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This concept of being “born again” or “born from above” refers to the new life that is only possible through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is a spiritual transformation, and a new birth whereby eternal life is given to the person who believes. This rebirth is accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and this serves as our hope, which we see in verse 4 is an inheritance. Our inheritance is of a lasting nature and here Peter emphasizes this lasting nature of an inheritance to bring comfort to his audience  who were displaced and uncertain about their future. This inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Our inheritance is kept for us (1 Peter 1:4), and we are kept for our inheritance (1 Peter 1:5). We Christians can be sure and be certain that we will receive our inheritance.

1 Peter 1:6 says, “in this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” Christians will receive their inheritance when Christ is revealed, but we will face trials and suffering during our brief present time we are here. Peter is telling them to stand firm in the midst of persecution. Peter is focusing on the joy and love that fills the life of the believer, even in the midst of persecution.

Many people today ask why they are going through some trials or persecution in this life. Why is it God’s plan for Christians to suffer? In verse 7 we see a reason for this. Suffering functions as a test for faith. It is a test for genuine faith, it is to see if the faith that you have is authentic. I think we all know people who have said they are Christians but when their faith is tested they are quick to run away. If the faith that we say we have is real and genuine faith, and we let our faith grow and flourish even in the midst of persecution we read that the end result will be “praise, honor and glory” when Jesus Christ returns. Those who truly believe will persist in their faith, they will continue to trust in God when difficulties and trials come. God will examine the life of each person in the final judgement.

Verse 7 ends with hope that encourages believers, that is the hope of the second coming of Christ. In verse 8 Peter writes, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.” The readers Peter was writing to never laid eyes on Jesus physically, just as we have not, but just as us they loved Him. In the midst of their suffering they are not miserable or angry, they are filled with love for Jesus. Believing is not based on seeing, in John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” One day Christ will be seen by all, and until them our lives should be characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and of joy. We as Christians shape our lives around something we cannot see, and yes at times it is hard to explain and even Peter who knew Jesus knew it was a difficult thing to explain.

In 1 Peter 1:10-12 Peter suggests that the Old Testament prophets received revelation from the Spirit about the coming Messiah, but they could not fully comprehend it. They were told that the prophecies of a coming Messiah were for a future time and for a future people. There is a link between verse 9 and verse 10, and that link is the term salvation. The salvation that believers experience now was also prophesied of in the past. It says that the prophets “searched and inquired carefully.” These prophets did not just merely prophecy about salvation, they investigated it carefully. In these verses Peter continues to emphasize that the Old Testament prophets did not live in the days of fulfillment, but had a predictive ministry. Their prophecies were inspired by the “Spirit of Christ” (v.11) which refers to the Holy Spirit. Peter stresses the continuation of the Spirits role in revealing God’s plan. It is the same Spirit of Christ that spoke to the prophets about Christ that helped reveal the gospel to all believers. (v. 12) I can imagine that the Old Testament prophets longed to see and to experience that of which they prophesied, but we see that God revealed to them that their prophecy would be that of a foretelling nature and would not be realized in their day. We as believers  are so very incredibly blessed to have the promise of salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.

 

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Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus’ Birth

It has been a little while since I have sat down to write and since it is Christmas week I thought I would write a little about some prophecies that have been fulfilled by Jesus’ Birth.

One of the verses we hear a lot around Christmas time is Isaiah 9:6. Isaiah writes, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This is a promise of hope through a future Davidic king, and we see a list of titles or attributes to be given to this future king. Some of these are divine titles that would not be given or refer to a human king. This was fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The title Savior refers to Yahweh, we see Mary say this in Luke 1:47 when she says, ” And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” The title of Christ emphasizes Jesus’ anointing as God’s promised Servant. Lord emphasizes His sovereign authority. It is also interesting to add that in Luke’s gospel he uses the title Lord, Greek kyrios, to refer to both Yahweh and Jesus. Look at Luke 2:9 when he writes, “And the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” When Luke uses this Greek word it shows that he intended to refer to Jesus as Yahweh.

 

It was also prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin. In Isaiah 7:14 it says, ” Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel means, God with us. This is fulfilled in Matthew 1:18, “When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”  Matthew is a little different in his writing and gives a different perspective than Luke did. Matthew cites several Old Testament passages that show that Jesus is Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

In Luke 1:26-35, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.” Luke calls Mary a virgin twice here to emphasize that  Jesus’ conception was an act of God. In Luke 1:34 Mary asks, “How can this be, since I am a virgin.” The angel then tells Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy – the Son of God.” The title Son of God reflects Jesus’ miraculous conception and His divinity.

If Jesus was not born this way, of a virgin, He would not be fully God. If Joseph and Mary had relations and Jesus was conceived that way He would only be fully human. Since Jesus’ conception was an act of God, He is fully human and fully God. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is Jesus, the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32), He will “reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33)

 

These are just two of the prophecies found that are fulfilled by Jesus’ birth. I will continue this Christmas week to write about more of the prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus.

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Theological Position Paper Rough Draft

For my final class for my degree we have to write a theological position paper stating in 100-200 words our position on metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, ministry praxis in both education and leadership. We have to have some scholarly resources as well as use Scripture to support our position. This is the rough draft assignment I sent in, it only had to be 50-100 words with support.

Metaphysics
Metaphysics is “the branch of philosophy that inquires into the ultimate nature of reality.” In a Christian worldview the ultimate nature of reality is that God is the ultimate source of all the reality and He alone is responsible for our being. We see this in John 1:1-4 when it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (ESV)
Epistemology
Epistemology is “a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of our knowledge.” This is a very common question to be asked, how do we know what we know? In a Christian worldview Epistemology is knowing about God. Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours our speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (ESV) It is through His creation that God reveals truth and knowledge.
Axiology
Axiology is also called the “theory of value, the philosophical study of goodness, or value.” This has to do with what shapes our values and more specifically why we tell our children to be good and what it means for them and us to do good. It is all a part of ethics. In this day and age, we have many people asking “why should we be good or do good to others?” a biblical answer would be because we are all created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
Ministry Praxis -Education
One definition of praxis is “practical application of a theory.” Ministry Praxis would be the practical application of ministry work, and more specifically here in education. This would be in the form of educating believers how to apply what they believe in their daily life. This can be done through schools, churches, and other means. We see this in Matthew 28:19-20 when Jesus gave the Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV) We are commanded not only to make disciples and baptize them, but to teach what Jesus taught.
Ministry Praxis – Leadership
Just as above Ministry Praxis for leadership is equipping leaders for ministry. This is very important for a Christian worldview so that leaders are equipped with biblical knowledge and helping with practical skills to teach others. In Ephesians 4:12 Paul writes about the importance of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (ESV) Equipping of the saints refers to “the purpose of spiritual office and gifts. Christ gave Himself for the benefit of others; now, those in Christ imitate His generosity by using His gifts for the benefit of others.”

Bibliography
Barry, John D., Douglas Mangum, Derek Brown, and Michael Heiser. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA., nd
Dew, James K. and Mark W Foreman. How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology. United States: Inter-Varsity Press, US, 2014.
Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p.: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. United States: Baker Publishing Group (MI), 2001.
Merriam-Webster. “Definition of PRAXIS.”. 2015. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/praxis.

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Teaching and The Great Commission

Teaching and the Great Commission

What comes to your mind when you hear “The Great Commission?”  Many think about missions, missionaries, global missions, many think of the word “go.” The Great Commission does not only include these things. It is not just about overseas, global context, and cross cultural contexts. The Great Commission is about every single day and every single aspect of our lives. The Great Commission has direct application to the way that we teach. Every time we teach no matter where, Sunday school class, behind a pulpit, in a class room, at a coffee shop, anytime that we are engaged in an act of teaching whether formal or informal we are fulfilling the Great Commission.

Matthew 28. Jesus has risen from the dead, He has been making some appearances, talking to people, explaining the next steps of what will happen before He ascends into heaven. Matthew 28:16, “Now the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, but some doubted. These are the same disciples that who walked with Jesus, they are the same disciples who saw the miracles Jesus performed, they saw the lame man walk, they saw Lazarus raised from the dead, they spent all of their time with Him. And here they are looking at Jesus, resurrected from the grave, but still some doubted. These are the same men who heard Jesus speak about His death and resurrection time after time, and yet some still doubted. This should stop you in your tracks, but we should also be encouraged by this. We should be encouraged because we all no matter where we are in our walk with God do have moments of doubt. Some feel inadequate in their faith if they have times of doubt, some feel they are somehow “unsaved” if they reach points in their life with doubt. The encouragement should be that we are not alone in those times of doubt, because even the disciples who saw the resurrected Lord had doubts. It is ok to have these feelings of doubt from time to time, we should not think we are bad because we have them.  Jesus explains in verse 20 after giving the great commission why we shouldn’t think we are bad for having these doubts, because even through our doubts He says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey, to observe everything that I have commanded you. And if you are overwhelmed, it is ok because I am always with you until the end of the age, this is what Jesus is saying.

The foundation of the Great Commission, Jesus says all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Jesus has the authority and it is on that statement that Jesus says therefore or because of this authority given to Me I am giving you this command. The foundation of the Great Commission is the authority of Jesus. The focus of the Great Commission is the command itself: Go and make disciples, and the way to that is by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism identifies the people with Jesus, Baptism says you identify your life with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are saying your life is devoted to Jesus Christ and that I am His and I submit to His authority. Teaching them to observe, to obey everything that Jesus commanded.

The fellowship of the Great Commission is that Jesus said, “I am with you always.”  In John 14-16 Jesus has this conversation with His disciples, He says to them that He will be leaving them, giving them plenty of forewarning that He would be leaving them, but promises to send them a Helper and Comforter (the Holy Spirit), and just like Jesus He will be “with you.” Everything that He (the Holy Spirit) does will be about reminding them of things that Jesus had said. It is the indwelling Spirit’s ministry in our lives that enables us to keep this command that Jesus gives. He is with us, the fellowship of His great commandment.

How does this apply to our teaching? Jesus does mention teaching specifically here, but it is not about me or you it is all about Jesus. It is not about how much experience or how little experience we have. It is not about what we bring to the table. It is all about Jesus’ authority, His message. We are baptized under His authority identifying with Jesus, teaching His commands, it is His presence that is enabling us to do it, it is ALL about Him, it is NOT about us. We can rest in the authority of Jesus who told us what we need to teach, we must teach simply the things that He taught. If you are not pointing people to Jesus under His authority or His command than you are not obeying Him and it could potentially be sinful. In everything that we teach, in every lesson we teach we must bring it back to Jesus and His commands. This is a great goal to work towards in every aspect of ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes from Rlgn 330

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John 12:1-8 – Mary annoints Jesus at Bethany

 

In John 12:1 we read that Jesus arrived in Bethany “six days before the Passover.” This would have been on the Sabbath before His death. There are some that do not believe that Jesus would have made a long trip from Jericho to Bethany, but as we have seen elsewhere, Jesus was not concerned about with keeping the laws such as the Sabbath so it is not an issue that he had done this on the Sabbath. Also is He had left for Bethany early on Friday and arrived early on the Sabbath, He would have not violated the Sabbath law. Either of these answers I have no issue with.

 

A bigger issue many have with this is that of a chronological nature. It deals with the time of this supper and the anointing. Many argue that this banquet is the same that we read about in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9 in the home of Simon the leper. Close reading of these Scriptures will show that although there are similarities in the passages John’s account as we see in 12:1 is on the Sabbath six days before prior to Passover. In both Matthew and Mark, the anointing occurred on the following Tuesday. Another area that shows these are two separate events is in John 12:3 it is the feet of Jesus that are anointed, where in Matthew and Mark His head is stressed.  (Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3) This would not be an issue to have two separate events because it was common to have a number of banquets surrounded around the Passover because it was a festival that was important and friends were present form all over. (Deuteronomy 16:16)

 

When burying the dead, the Jews would typically anoint the body, wrap it in the grave clothes, and then anoint the body in the grave clothes a second time. The first anointing that is recorded by John was done by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in John 19:38-40, but it was recorded in the synoptic Gospels the women who witnessed the burial went home and prepared spices and returned to the tomb Sunday to finish the anointing that the men began. (Matthew 27:61; 28:1; Mark 15:47-16:3; Luke 23:55-24:1) So in both type and fulfillment John records only the first anointing and the synoptic Gospels only record the second. Jesus was the fulfillment of the type of Passover Lamb. What is interesting is that the four days according to Jewish reckoning between the first and second anointing coincide with the four days between the initial selection and the final approval of the lamb for slaughter. (Exodus 12:3-6) Judas Iscariot contacted the Sanhedrin following the second anointment and made the arrangements to betray Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11)

 

It was common to give a banquet for a means of honoring a guest in the Near East. Both of the anointing’s may have occurred at the same place since it is believed that Simon the leper was the father of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. In John’s gospel we find Martha portrayed as serving, Mary is found at Jesus’ feet where she is usually portrayed and Lazarus probably hosting the meal sat at the table with Jesus.

 

At some point during the dinner Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with “a pound of expensive ointment (perfume) made from pure nard.” (John 12:3) Looking at the description in John we see the word murou (ointment) is a generic term that would be a liquid perfume and nardou (nard) which would have derived from the Sanskirt term nalada which refers to a particular very fragrant plant grown in India. This plant may have been grown in or around Syria but the word pistikes which means faithful, reliable or genuine would suggest that this as the real thing most likely imported from India. This was an ointment that was used for both bodies and wine.  The pound of ointment would have cost about 300 denarii, which is the equivalent of six months’ pay. This may have meant that this ointment would have been in Mary’s family for some time and used only sparingly for special occasions.  John uses the adjective polutimou which means very costly.

 

If you can imagine growing up and smelling your favorite food your grandma made or the way her house smelled or a particular perfume a loved one wore, you can imagine when John wrote about this sixty years later he probably still had that smell of the fragrance of that very expensive perfume. He remembers the scent that filled the room and he wrote in John 12:3, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”  In the second anointing of Jesus it was the disciples who questioned why so much money was spent when the money could have been given to the poor, but here it is only Judas Iscariot who voiced his concern with this. John also points out that Judas was not concerned for the poor because he was a thief (kleptes) and was only concerned for himself. The second part of verse 6 gives a hint of Judas’ activities, the verb used is ebastazen which means to carry, beat or lift in the sense of taking away from. This is kind of in our context of embezzlement because Judas was not only in charge of the finances but he was stealing from the disciples as well.

 

Jesus defends Mary’s actions when He said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me.” It seems that Mary may have taken Jesus’ talk about His death serious in which she may have first learned of at His feet in Luke 10:39-42. Jesus emphasized to His disciples to care for and help the poor. Here He is explaining to them that He alone is the center of their faith and their focus should be on Him. This would be especially the case when they are spending the last moments with Jesus as a man prior to His exalted form after His resurrection.

 

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Christians and Government:Applying Biblical Principles to the Current Situation

Here are my notes for my Romans class on how we as Christians should view government based on our beliefs.

 

Christians and Government

Applying Biblical Principles to the Current Situation

 

Paul’s description of the Christian’s relationship to Government

  1. Romans 13 and the surrounding context.
    1. A definite shift from chapter 11 and 12
    2. Theological foundation of the Christian life, the apostle Paul now builds upon that foundation providing principles for daily living.
    3. He now applies the theological truths to practical applications.
      1. 12:1-15:13 – Paul emphasizes the necessity of submitting to governing authorities.
      2. Romans 13:1-7
    4. A brief overview of Romans 12:1-15:13: The Christian life is a life of…..
      1. Sacrifice (12:1-2)
      2. Humility (12:3)
      3. Service (12:4-8)
      4. Love (12:9-21; 13:8-14)
      5. Submission (13:1-7)
      6. Acceptance and Encouragement (14:1-15:13)
    5. The imperative to submit to governing authorities (13:1-7)
      1. Everyone must submit himself to governing authorities, Why?
        1. God has established every governing authority (13:1b) God is sovereign over all.
        2. Paul even states that anyone who rebels against the governing authority, rebels against what God has instituted and the result is judgement (13:2)
  • Governments have been established to maintain law and order in societies. This e who do right have no need to fear ((13:3-4a)
  1. On the other hand, it is the government’s God’s given responsibility to punish wrongdoing (13:4b)
  2. The apostle envelopes his initial imperative (13:1) with a double incentive, concluding that “It is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (13:5)

 

 

Jesus’ statements regarding one’s responsibility to government:

  1. During Jesus; public ministry, some disciples of the Pharisees along with some of the Herodian’s approached Jesus with the intent of trapping Him. They asked “is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or God?” Jesus replied to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (21b) Jesus seems to be alluding to a certain responsibility that people had to Rome.
  2. Jesus along with His 11 disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus had been agonizing in prayer. Judas arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders to arrest Jesus. As they were seizing Jesus, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the High Priest cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked him commanding, “Put your sword back in its place.” He then asked those who had come for Him, “Am I leading a rebellion? That you have come to me with swords and clubs to capture me?” The implication of this instance is maintaining an attitude of non-retaliation. (Matthew 26:52-56)
  3. The Gospel depicts Jesus as having lived His life in submission to authority

 

 

The Early Church and Governing Authorities:

  1. When Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin after their miraculous escape from jail because of their preaching and teaching of Jesus the Messiah. The High Priest reminded them that he had given them strict orders not to teach in His name. Peter responded, “we must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29) The Sanhedrin among other things was the civil authority in Jerusalem.
  2. This incident provides an example of how the first generation Christians related to local governing authorities. Peter’s statement in Acts 5:29 infers that when there is a question between obeying God and obeying man, obedience to God must take precedence. These Christians were model citizens as the Christian life is one of honesty, purity, integrity and holiness.
  3. When faced with a decision of obeying civil authorities or God, they chose to obey God.

 

 

Applying these Biblical Principles Today

  1. Jesus acknowledged and exemplified subservience to governing authority (Rome) during His earthly life.
  2. The first generation Christians exemplified the principle of obedience to God when a conflict arises between a human command and God’s commands.
  3. Paul teaches in no uncertain terms that God has established governing authorities for the overall good of society.

 

These Principles lead to several applications:

  1. Recognize that God has established governing authorities in order to maintain law and order in society.
  2. We are obligated to obey the laws of the land, example taxes, traffic regulations, civil laws, etc.
  3. We must take our responsibilities as citizens seriously by being involved to whatever extent we deem feasible in the governing process, example voting, community action, peacefully and respectfully voicing our biblically based opinion, etc.
  4. When human laws/demands contradict God’s law/command/words, we must recognize that our higher obligation is to God’s commands.
  5. When the need for civil disobedience arises, we must keep in mind that the Scriptures do not legitimize violent reactions. Example, Peter and the apostles in Acts 5. They acted on the principle of obedience to God that the higher obligation and simply continued proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, they did not violently protest but were willing to suffer the consequences.

 

Additional Scripture:

  1. Paul implores Titus, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1)
  2. The apostle Peter writes, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)
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