Daily Archives: July 21, 2014

Counseling Related Questions: Can God Break the Cycle of Generational Sin?

 

The Lord created families as a beautiful extension of His image. Sadly, in our fallen world we are born in a natural sinful state and can only be redeemed by our Creator. Our natural state is selfish at best and pathological at its worst. Dysfunction comes naturally to us. That is why salvation through Jesus is the key to breaking generational sin. Jesus offers us forgiveness, cleansing of sin, and real, unconditional love (1 John 1:9). Jesus gives His followers the power to love like He does, a love that is filled with grace and compassion. He is our example for how to love rather than loving ourselves or pleasures (John 13:34).

Jeremiah 32:18 says that the consequences of sin from one generation are visited on the next generations. Sin’s destructive consequences hurt the person committing the sin as well as those around him. Each generation has the choice to let their natural inclination repeat the cycle or to find a better way. People often want to break negative cycles but do not know how because the way of thinking they were raised with has confused them. In addition, breaking the cycle can divide families when a person decides to follow Jesus instead of family traditions (see Luke 12:51–53). Some family members will choose Christ and be rejected by their relatives for doing so.

Even without adversity from family members, it can be very difficult to recognize and break sinful patterns in families. The truth is that without Jesus no one can break the grip of sin. In fact, without Jesus humans do not see or comprehend the depth of man’s depravity. Therefore, salvation is the first step to breaking the cycle of generational sin. Then as the new generation begins a family must seek to follow the biblical model for marriage, parenting, and living in order to replace the old, destructive ways. Ephesians 5:21 summarizes God’s instruction for how family members ought to treat one another: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” God instructs family members to honor and love one another, caring for each other’s needs as they care for their own. When family members submit to God’s command, the consequence is peace and fulfillment through loving relationships as God intended.

God created a perfect family system, but sin has damaged it. Our only way to have a family that bears fruit is to follow Christ. Instead of a cycle of pain, the generation that chooses to follow Jesus sows blessing for the generations to come. They will actually begin a cycle of blessing rather than dysfunction. God’s principle is that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7–9). Parents who invest their lives in loving and training their children will see adult children who thrive and walk with Christ (Proverbs 22:6). Children who are loved and valued will honor their parents. But sowing seeds of instant gratification and irresponsibility will reap a harvest of heartache.

Wounds from past hurts can be difficult to overcome. Some believers struggle with generational sin, especially if they are the first generation to follow Christ. It is difficult to honor those who have wounded us and to sacrifice our desires for the good of our children. Often, the old thinking patterns and beliefs cloud judgment. The weapon against being fooled by our natural pride and selfish point of view is the Bible. The Bible transforms our thinking. Knowing facts from the Bible is not the same as surrendering to the truths of the Bible. Victory comes through seeking a relationship with Jesus and examining ourselves to confess areas that need redeeming.

Jesus tells His followers to deny self and live for Him (Matthew 16:24–25). This means we will no longer live for what pleases us, but for what pleases Jesus. Jesus gives wisdom to those who follow Him so that they can make choices to obey in everything (Luke 1:17; James 1:5; 3:17). When we follow Christ, everything will eventually work in our favor and for our good (Romans 8:28). As a result of our relationship with Christ, we can now act like sons and daughters of God (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:17–18). Our true family is the body of Christ, and God is a Heavenly Father to His children. Our choice to follow Christ is the greatest gift we can give to future generations.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Passover Lamb? How Is Jesus Our Passover Lamb?

 

The Passover lamb was the animal God directed the Israelites to use as a sacrifice in Egypt on the night God struck down the firstborn sons of every household (Exodus 12:29). This was the final plague God issued against Pharaoh, and it led to Pharaoh releasing the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 11:1). After that fateful night, God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover Feast as a lasting memorial (Exodus 12:14).

God instructed every household of the Israelite people to select a year-old male lamb without defect (Exodus 12:5; cf. Leviticus 22:20–21). The head of the household was to slaughter the lamb at twilight, taking care that none of its bones were broken, and apply some of its blood to the tops and sides of the doorframe of the house. The lamb was to be roasted and eaten (Exodus 12:7–8). God also gave specific instructions as to how the Israelites were to eat the lamb, “with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand (Exodus 12:11; cf. Ephesians 6:14). In other words, they had to be ready to travel.

God said that when He saw the lamb’s blood on the doorframe of a house, He would “pass over” that home and not permit “the destroyer” (Exodus 12:23) to enter. Any home without the blood of the lamb would have their firstborn son struck down that night (Exodus 12:12–13).

The New Testament establishes a relationship between this prototypical Passover lamb and the consummate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7). The prophet John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), and the apostle Peter links the lamb without defect (Exodus 12:5) with Christ, whom he calls a “lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is qualified to be called One “without blemish” because His life was completely free from sin (Hebrews 4:14). In Revelation, John the apostle sees Jesus as “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover was observed (Mark 14:12).

The Bible says believers have symbolically applied the sacrificial blood of Christ to their hearts and thus have escaped eternal death (Hebrews 9:12, 14). Just as the Passover lamb’s applied blood caused the “destroyer” to pass over each household, Christ’s applied blood causes God’s judgment to pass over sinners and gives life to believers (Romans 6:23).

As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2). As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The Old Testament Passover lamb, although a reality in that time, was a mere foreshadowing of the better and final Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. Through His sinless life and sacrificial death, Jesus became the only One capable of giving people a way to escape death and a sure hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:20–21).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Commentary: Was Matthias or Paul God’s Choice to Replace Judas as the 12th Apostle?

 

With Judas having betrayed Christ and then committing suicide, the 11 remaining disciples decided to replace Judas with a new 12th apostle (Acts 1:16–20). The requirements were that the man had to have been with them the entire time of Jesus’ ministry, and to have been a witness of the resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:21–22). The 11 disciples proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (possibly the same person as Barnabas), and Matthias (Acts 1:23). The 11 disciples then prayed for the Lord’s direction (Acts 1:24–25), and then cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias (Acts 1:26).

But, was this the Lord’s choice? Some propose that Paul, not Matthias, was God’s choice for the 12th apostle. They argue that Jesus had told the apostles to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and that casting lots is not how the disciples should have made the decision. They also point out that Matthias is never again mentioned in the New Testament, while Paul obviously became very prominent in the early Christian church. So, are they correct that Paul, not Matthias, was God’s choice to be Judas’ replacement as the 12th apostle?

The New Testament nowhere condones or condemns the way the apostles made the decision in Acts 1. Casting lots was a biblically allowed method of making a decision (Proverbs 16:33). And, while Matthias is never again mentioned in the New Testament, the same can be said for most of the other 11 apostles. Church history records that Matthias died as a martyr for Christ, as did all of the other apostles, except John. Yes, Paul was definitely more prominent than Matthias, but Paul was more prominent than any of the 12 apostles, except for perhaps Peter and John. Also, Paul would not have been qualified based on the apostles’ criteria (Acts 1:21–22). So, a conclusive biblical case cannot be made for the 11 apostles’ choice of Matthias being invalid.

Further, God is sovereign. If it was not His sovereign will for Matthias to be chosen, Matthias would not have been chosen. It could be argued that while it was God’s sovereign will (what He ordained) for Matthias to be chosen, it was God’s perfect will (what He desired) for the apostles to wait for Paul. But, this would be pure speculation, as again, the Bible nowhere condemns Matthias being chosen for the 12th apostle.

So, what name will be written on the 12th foundation in the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14)? The Bible does not explicitly say, but it likely will be Matthias. Ultimately, though, we will have to wait to find out.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)?

 

Complete Jewish Bible—History The Complete Jewish Bible was translated by David H. Stern, an Israel-based Messianic Jewish theologian. Published in 1998 by Jewish New Testament Publications, the CJB claims to be “Jewish in manner and presentation.” The names of the books are Jewish along with their English names (if different). Semitic names are used for people and places. It also incorporates Hebrew and Yiddish expressions that Stern refers to as “Jewish English.”

Complete Jewish Bible—Translation method The Complete Jewish Bible Old Testament is a paraphrase of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society version of the Tanakh (also known as the Masoretic Text). The New Testament is an original translation from the ancient Greek. The CJB is a free translation, with Yiddish and modern Jewish cultural expressions. Stern claims his purpose for producing the Complete Jewish Bible was “to restore God’s Word to its original Jewish context and culture as well as be in easily read modern English.”

Complete Jewish Bible—Pro’s and Con’s Restoring the “Jewishness” of the Bible is a good thing. The Bible was written predominantly by Jews and to a Jewish audience. The Complete Jewish Bible should be commended for recognizing those facts. Overall, the CJB is a good and accurate translation of the Bible. It does tend to be too “free” in its renderings, sometimes interpreting instead of translating. Also, although it was in no sense the purpose of the Complete Jewish Bible, the idea of there being a separate Bible for Jews can lead toward division in the Body of Christ.

Complete Jewish Bible—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.”

John 8:58—“Yeshua said to them, ‘Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.”

Titus 2:13—“while continuing to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh’khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.