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.

Questions about Humanity: Why Did God Make Man out of the Dust of the Earth (Genesis 2:7)?

 

Genesis 2:7 teaches, “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” With the rest of creation, God had simply spoken things into existence (e.g., Genesis 1:3, 14, 20, 24), but God does things differently with man.

Three important observations can be made. First, the fact that man was created from dust makes him unique among all of God’s creation. To create the sun, mountains, animal life, etc., God simply spoke. We read, “Then God said” over and over in Genesis 1. Human life, however, included the “dust of the earth” and the very breath of God. Man is a unique combination of earthly, natural material and life-giving power from God Himself. Such a mode of creation highlights the importance and value of human life.

Second, the use of dust suggests a certain lowliness. God did not use gold or granite or gemstones to make man. He used dust, a humble substance. What gives man his glory? The dust, or the breath of God within the dust? Genesis 3:19 notes man’s dependence upon God and the fragile nature of human life: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Third, the literary structure of the passage puts man’s creation from the dust of the earth in a place of significance. The structure of Genesis 2:5–9 can be broken down like this:

A No plant life (verse 5a) B No intervention by God (verse 5b) C No man to work the ground (verse 5c) D Mist from God (verse 6) E God creates man (verse 7a) X God gives life (verse 7a) E Man become a living creature (verse 7b) D Garden from God (verse 8a) C Man works the ground (verse 8b; cf. verse 15) B God intervenes (verse 9) A Plant life exists (verse 9)

God could have chosen to create humans in any way He desired. However, Scripture records the particular way He did create—using both natural material (dust) and supernatural power to give humans a unique place in the cosmos. The recipe of dust of the earth + God’s breath emphasizes the supernatural power of God and the fragile nature of humanity. Human life is completely dependent upon God, and, as a result, humans are called to worship the Lord and to serve Him only.[1]

 

 

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

GTY Blog: The Person and Power of God in Your Spiritual Growth – John MacArthur

 

Philippians 2:12-13

Code: B140721

by John MacArthur

Just let go and let God.

If you’ve been around the church for any significant time, you’ve probably heard someone offer that passive maxim as spiritual advice. In fact, many believers might use that as shorthand to describe the process of sanctification. It’s the idea that God will do what He wants, when He wants, and believers are just along for the ride.

But the church’s version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is in direct opposition to Scripture. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul describes the cooperative paradox of sanctification—that it is responsibility of man accomplished through the power of God.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

We’ve already discussed man’s responsibility as described in verse 12. Now we need to examine God’s role in our sanctification, a role that Paul unfolds by highlighting its five key attributes. We’ll consider the first two today.

The Person of God

The first key to God’s work in our sanctification is His personhood, which Paul emphasized in verse 13.

Most pagan deities are described as impersonal, remote, and indifferent. That is not surprising, because false gods are fabricated by men out of fear and superstition. Even those that have personal characteristics are not portrayed as desiring fellowship with their worshipers. And understandably, their worshipers have no desire to fellowship with them.

But the true and living God of Scripture is real and personal. The Bible does not try to prove that God is a person because it assumes that reality. In both testaments He is spoken of in anthropomorphic (human-like) terms, such as having eyes and seeing, of having ears and hearing, of having feet and walking, of loving and hating, weeping and laughing, condemning and forgiving. He thinks, feels, acts, and speaks—all elements of personhood. As a person, He has a personal concern for mankind, and especially for His children. That personal concern is seen in His work in believers.

The God of Scripture has unimaginable love for fallen, sinful mankind, which has rebelled against Him, blasphemed Him, and vilified Him. He has such great love for them “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). It is not the Lord’s will “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

For those who belong to Him, the God of Scripture has even greater love and the closest of personal relationships. Throughout Scripture, God is referred to as His people’s Father—on a national level in the Old Testament (cf. Isaiah 63:16, 64:8), and individually in the New (cf. Matthew 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 9; 23:9). Adam and Eve, Moses, and many other Old Testament saints spoke with God directly. “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator and Sustainer of the universe loves His children with everlasting love and kindness. God protects them according to His everlasting covenant and promises. He forgives and cleanses with everlasting grace through His Son. And He calls, gifts, and empowers them by His Spirit for spiritual service with everlasting impact. He sanctifies and will glorify those whom He has justified, bringing them into His heavenly kingdom to live with Him for all eternity.

The Power of God

The second essential truth emphasized in Philippians 2:13 concerning God’s part in believers’ sanctification is His divine power. Above all else, it is God “who is at work” (Philippians 2:13) in the lives of His children. He calls them to obey, and then, through His sovereign power, energizes their obedience. He calls them to His service, and then empowers their service. He calls them to holiness, and then empowers them to pursue holiness.

“Work” is from the verb energeō, the source of the English word energy. God energizes His children to obey and serve Him; His power enables their sanctification. Believers can do nothing holy or righteous in their own power or resources. Just as no one can be justified by the work of the flesh (Romans 3:20), so no one can be “perfected [sanctified] by the flesh” (Galatians 3:3). Paul confessed that “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Paul did not underestimate the importance of faithful obedience. But he knew that underlying all acceptable service is the gracious power of God. It is “not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves,” he wrote, “but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). He reminded the Ephesians that he “was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to [him] according to the working of His power,” and rejoiced,

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:7, 20-21)

God Himself is the believer’s supreme and indispensable resource and power. The wonder of all wonders is thatit is God who is at work” (Philippians 2:13) in them. Paul summed it up in Colossians 1:29 when he said, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

It is for that reason that sanctification will continue throughout the believer’s life (Philippians 1:6). Those whom God justifies He invariably sanctifies. He will accomplish His will by saving and preserving those who come to Him (John 6:40, 44).

The personal nature of our relationship with God, and the power available to us through that relationship help define how He works in us and through us to bring about our spiritual growth. Next time, we’ll look at two more aspects of His sanctifying work.

 

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140721
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Why Does God Allow Disasters and Calamities? Part 1

The Domain for Truth

INDONESIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVE

 

Why Does God Allow Disasters and Calamities?[1]

INTRODUCTION:

When the water came, I was frightened,” recalled Sanga, 12 of the tsunamis that struck in late December.  “We ran, and our home is gone.”

“From Thailand to Somalia, more than 150,000 people died in the tsunamis.  The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) first estimated children made up one third of the death toll.  But…that percentage, if anything, might be too low.  Children are much less able to run away, fight the water, hold onto or climb a tree…the youngest were simply unable to.  While some children scaled a mango tree, evading the torrent, half the group [from an orphanage]—mostly babies and toddlers—did not make it.~ “The Most Vunerable Victims.”  January 12, 2005, CNN.com. 

When this event occurred, many questions transpired

  • Why did this happened?
  • Why so much destruction?
  • Why is there so much suffering?
  • Why were…

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The Doctrine of Election

Joe Quatrone, Jr.

election-free-will-predestinationMy sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).

Election is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult doctrines for us to comprehend. Simply put, election means everyone who comes to faith in Christ does so because God, in His grace and mercy, chose them to be saved. Election to salvation is an act of grace, rooted in the purpose of God. Election starts with God, not man. Election is rooted in grace, not works. It is unmerited and undeserved.

While there is no question this is what the Bible teaches, there are many questions as to what it really…

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HeadHeartHand Blog: How Do Sinners Help Sinners Stop Sinning?

 

Christians are not only called to repentance but are also called to call others to repentance. This is often one of the hardest tasks in the Christian life. How do we approach someone who is sinning in a way that will help lead them to repentance?

An Informed Approach
If we want to help a sinner stop sinning, we need to study sin. We can do this by studying our own sinful hearts and the way sin begins, develops, and expands there. Though probably not on our summer reading list, we can also study sobering and searching books on sin.

A Humble Approach
Remember that you are a sinner. Before we start rebuking sin in others, we must rebuke it in ourself first and most.

A Gentle Approach
Whether the person has asked us for help, we are offering help, or a friend has asked us to help, we need to approach humbly, quietly, and lovingly. Raise the subject in the context of the Gospel of Grace and our own need and experience of it for our own sins and struggles (Gal. 6:1).

A Hopeful Approach
Although the sin may be wide, deep, high, and long, the Gospel is wider, deeper, higher, and longer. The goal is to help the sinner see the seriousness of sin, the misery of sin, and all that God can offer through the Gospel to conquer both.

A Biblical Approach
Phrases to avoid: “I think…In my opinion…I don’t agree…”

Phrases to use: ‘The Bible says…God’s Word tells us…The Scriptures are clear…”

A God-Centered Approach
We cannot fix anyone; only God can. Point the sinner away from yourself and to:

  • God’s sovereignty: He is in this, is in control, this is part of His plan, and He can even work it for your good.
  • God’s holiness: This is both our model and our motive (1 Pet. 1:16).
  • God’s wisdom: God knows all the answers and has a solution.
  • God’s power: especially when we feel our powerlessness.
  • God’s love: Willing to forgive, heal, accept, restore (1 John 1:9).
  • God’s Son: Show them the suitability, sufficiency, willingness, and ability of Christ to save.
  • God’s justice: He won’t stand by and see His law broken and smashed to pieces. 

A Realistic Approach
Be realistic about the sin. Call it what it is. Don’t soft-pedal or soft-filter it.

Be realistic about time. Rarely will a person change immediately or perfectly.

Be realistic about the difficulty. There’s going to be resistance, pain, failure, and disappointment along the way.

A Wise Approach
Choose the right place (not Starbucks).

Choose the right time for you and the other person (not too little time, not too late, not too busy and stressed).

Choose the right words: take account of the person’s world, vocabulary, education.

A Questioning Approach
It’s often better to question than to accuse, at least to begin with. Try to get the person to supply the answers and draw the conclusions rather than you telling them. Tomorrow, we’ll look at some good questions to ask when trying to help someone stop sinning.

A Prayerful Approach
Pray without ceasing: before the conversation, during the conversation, and after the conversation. Pray for the person and with the person.

What else have you found helpful in these difficult though necessary conversations?

Source

How to (and how NOT to) Minister to Families Battling Cancer

Reflecting on our past and present experience with cancer, we have been blessed to have family, friends and a church family who have been wonderfully supportive. Quite often, people want to know how they can help and encourage someone going through the experience of cancer or other medical related trials. I hope that you will find this list useful as you minister to others. Here are a few things I found to be helpful and not so helpful in our journey:

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End Times Prophecy Headlines: July 21, 2014

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