Let’s act like new creations we are as Christians
FAITH & INSPIRATION | A Christian is a new creation. Let’s act like who we are, not who we were
Messianic Jew may have been martyred for his beliefs in San Bernardino, wife’s friend tells media
An outspoken Messianic Jew who debated with the shooter about the violent nature of Islam just weeks before he was fatally gunned down in the San Bernardino massacre may have been targeted for his beliefs, his wife told a friend following the carnage.
SBCV promotes Great Commission, biblical living
The Great Commission was emphasized throughout the 2015 annual homecoming of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV), where messengers also proclaimed biblical marriage, the sanctity of life, sexual purity and the dangers of pornography and sexual sin.
Pastors, Chaplains Surround San Bernardino with God’s Hope after Shooting Massacre Leaves California Community in Painful Distress
Faith-based chaplains and pastors of multiple entities are flocking to San Bernardino, Calif., to provide spiritual care to victims and their families after a shooting during a holiday party at a social services center there left 14 people dead and 21 injured.
Muslim Woman Makes ‘Traitorous’ Decision to Follow Christ, Gets Beaten by Muslim Husband Until One One Day He Woke Up Paralyzed
Once a woman becomes a Muslim, she should follow this faith through rest of her life. But this is not the case for Gulzhan, a former Muslim and now believer of Christ. She met Jesus in her dream. After that miraculous encounter, she decided to surrender herself to Jesus and accept him as Lord and Savior of her life.
Ted Cruz: San Bernardino Attacks Indicate U.S. at Risk from Homegrown Islamic Militants; Obama an ‘Apologist for Radical Terrorism’
In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz took a strong pro-Israel stance on foreign policy and blasted President Obama for being an “apologist for radical terrorism”.
‘God isn’t fixing this’ story draws Christian response
Southern Baptist leaders are responding to the headline ‘God isn’t fixing this’ that dominated the Dec. 3 cover of the New York Daily News. Images of tweets from Republican leaders surrounded the headline, displaying sympathetic ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the people affected by a Dec. 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
60-Year-Old Ohio ‘Pastor’ Committing Adultery With Pregnant Teenager Has Wife’s ‘Blessing’ Dec 01, 2015 04:39 pm
Islam is touted by our government, media and government school system as a “religion of peace”. And many Christian leaders buy this story line hook,, line and sinker–and never take the time to see what the Bible has to say about the world’s fastest growing “religion”–one that is promoting terrorism in every corner of the […]
Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.
The question is no longer how do we stop this insanity of violence.
Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.
Surely it could never happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Eric Barger joins the program.
Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.
The Apostle Paul and Jesus Himself had much to say on this subject. Dave Wager is our guest today.
We’ll ask David Limbaugh on today’s program.
Protecting Yourself in the Coming Days of Chaos
In the first segment, Jan’s guest, Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman, relates her best Christmas ever—in the concentration camp. Then Christian Economist John Terry suggests that global turmoil will lead to the kingdom of the Antichrist. How can you protect yourself in these coming days of chaos? Unstable times will face us in the new year. Will there be a market downturn or even a crash?
Armageddon Looms – Hal Lindsey
“Armageddon” looms over the world. It’s never far from the thoughts of even unbelievers.
San Bernardino: CNN Asks Widow If Her Christian Husband Provoked Terror Attack
If you’ve ever wondered just how low leftwing CNN is willing to stoop in its never-ending quest to smear Christians as bigots, the video below should help answer that question. Using a series of snide and leading questions, just one day after her husband was murdered by Islamic terrorist Syed Farook, CNN’s Gary Tuchman attempted to get the widow of Nicholas Thalasinos to indict her own husband as a Christian, anti-Muslim bigot.
Franklin Graham has ‘news’ for anti-prayer newspaper
Franklin Graham, whose roles include executive leadership positions at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry in the middle of efforts to deliver more than 11 million “shoebox” gift packages to children in needy parts of the world right now, has some advice for the New York Daily News.
Prayer makes a difference … don’t knock it.
Messianic Jewish victim of California attack had argued with shooter about Islam
One of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting was identified on Thursday as a Messianic Jew who had a heated discussion with the shooter about Islam weeks before the attack.
The details came to light as investigators tried to determine whether the rampage that left 14 people dead was terrorism, a workplace grudge or some combination.
Ben Carson Says Rapture Isn’t Biblical, Hell Not a Physical Place
GOP 2016 presidential candidate neurosurgeon Ben Carson shot down as unbiblical a widely held belief among Evangelicals that there will be a rapture. He also said he doesn’t believe Hell is a physical place.
The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, according to gotquestions.org. The theory posits that believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. The rapture is expected to happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
It’s become very apparent in recent months that the Evangelical Intelligentsia (EI) has chosen their candidate in the 2015 Republican primary, and it’s not an evangelical. We wrote about this earlier in the week in a previous post. There are a number of reasons why the EI does not care for the most conservative evangelical candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.
It is becoming abundantly clear that the Evangelical Intelligentsia has chosen their candidate in the 2016 Republican primary election, and it’s not the evangelical. It’s not even a Christian. No, it’s former Mormon and current Catholic (and still-protesting Protestants don’t consider that an improvement), Marco Rubio.
Yesterday, Dave Miller of SBC Voices posted a video of former Mormon turned Catholic, Marco Rubio’s supposed testimony of faith, in which Miller presumes to be genuine. Miller had this to say regarding Rubio’s testimony,
- Many want Christ on their own terms.
- Renaming sin.
- “The Spirit was really moving!” Was it, really?
- The Pope offers some unbiblical thoughts. Shocking, I know.
- Also, this is ironic considering the Pope’s words are supposedly infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.
- How do you know those are “God’s whispers” on your heart? What if it’s AFib? This tells me that author Jennie Allen is one to run away from, fast.
- Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
- Look, I don’t care how many flowery words you use, Ann Voskamp, we cannot live out the gospel. We can live lives of holiness and righteousness in response to the gospel and by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, but unless you are the sinless Savior, you cannot live a life of perfect obedience to God the Father and you cannot die as an atoning sacrifice for sinners. Only Jesus Christ can—and did—do that. That is the gospel, and if mere men could “live that out” then why did we need a Savior in the first place?
- If you’ve not been listening to Don Green’s exposition of the book of Ruth, then you better start getting caught up!
- The Cripplegate offers some thoughts on examining your faith.
- Just in case you were wondering, this man is not a Christian.
- To Christmas, or not to Christmas?
- Am enjoying this series on the Grace to You blog.
- God’s Lamb:
Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.
Book Review of the Week
The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction, Ed Shaw. Reviewed by Tim Challies. We need more books like Shaw’s, that tackle the experience of same-sex attraction as something for the entire church to grapple with—not just those who experience it. It centers on 9 myths that the church too often perpetrate when ministering to those with same-sex attraction. The issue, as Shaw and Challies both point out, is about much more than homosexuality. This is about what it means to be a family and be the church. We’ve got a lot to learn. This book helps us get there.
Articles of the Week
Loving Our Pro-Choice Neighbors in Word and Deed, Karen Swallow Prior. A very helpful distinction here. We can—and, indeed, must—speak out about the atrocities of elective abortion in our country. But there’s a world of difference between speaking the truth to power and being intentionally inflammatory. We can’t just stand on Christian convictions. We’ve got to hold those convictions in a Christ-like manner.
Seven Sentimental Lies You Might Believe, Matt Reagan. For some reason, cliché nonsense like this tends to increase during the Christmas season (we’re looking at you, Hallmark). Chances are you’ll quickly see through the lies of some of these…but others will sound hauntingly similar to things you’ve said recently. Don’t be duped by the sentimental sweetness of the spirit of the age. Sweet things can kill you, too.
A Complementarian Manifesto Against Domestic Abuse, Jason Meyer. There is a growing list of articles that can most accurately be categorized in the vein of shouldn’t-need-to-be-said-but-really-does-need-to-be-said. Count this among them. For too long complementarians (those who believe in gender roles within the church and the home) have, in practice if not in outright doctrine, encouraged a diminished view of women. Meyer takes a stand: complementarians, be clear that abuse has no place.
Is Prayer “Enough” After a Tragedy Like San Bernardino? Emma Green. One of the consequences of the frenetic pace of social media is that we clamor to respond right away to nearly every current event. But our right away response may not be our complete response. For many, the idea of “offering prayers and sympathy” after tragic shootings is naïve. We don’t need prayers, we need action! But as Green points out, this belies a foolish and narrow view of something incredibly powerful—prayer.
On The Lighter Side
Ellen Loves Scaring Her Guests, TheEllenShow. Some old gags are classics for a reason. And jumping out to startle people may be one of the best. As you watch and laugh, keep in mind that these are only funny because it’s not you. (Also note: Ellen enjoys explicitly talking about fear right before they get scared. She’s so meta.)
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
- A member of a Pentacostal theology group on Facebook asks:
One problem with both arminianism and Calvinism is that one believes a loving God created man knowing most would burn in the lake of fire and the other believes he chooses people to burn eternally on the lake of fire. BUT what if the torment wasn’t eternal? What if the JWs are right on that? What if it is the destruction of the being?
Or what if the Calvinists are right about compatibilism?
- Devin Logan of Newsmax lists three ways in which Calvinism has influenced American capitalism: 1) success as an indicator of character, 2) capitalist work ethic, and 3) mass incarceration. I’m surprised he didn’t mention burning heretics at the stake.
- Plunge your mind into the ocean of God’s sovereignty.
- Four steps toward joy in repentance.
- Quiet time doesn’t earn God’s grace.
- In a follow-up comment to his article about confronting the lunatic fringe of evangelicalism, Roger Olson clarifies that he does not “consider Calvinists our evangelical lunatic fringe.” Whew! What a relief!
Kindle deals for Christian readers
Today’s the last day to get these books by Greg Gilbert on sale for $1.99 each:
Also on sale are:
- Getting to No by Erwin Lutzer—$3.38
- What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert—$4.09
- Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars by Stephen Miller—$2.86
- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware—$4.41
- Church with Jesus as the Hero by David Prince—$3.99
Andy Crouch’s response to prayer shaming:
It is unrealistic, and arguably cruel, to ask for fresh words in the moment that we are confronted with suffering and loss, let alone horror and evil. Every human being, in these moments, falls back on liturgies—patterns of language and behavior learned long before that get us through the worst moments in our lives. There is no need to come up with a new thought or new words when you stand in the receiving line at a funeral home; it is entirely fine to say, “I am so sorry for your loss,” even though the family will have heard those words a hundred times before. What matters is not your words, which cannot possibly rise to the demands of the occasion, but your presence and your empathy.
From beyond the grave, Spurgeon speaks. He speaks against the man-made concoctions that humans often conjure and turns our attention instead to the greatest cause for joy in the Christian’s life — knowing how the story will end.
This is pretty fantastic.
Batman v Superman
The latest trailer for the upcoming superhero film has just been released. Looks promising!
There’s one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life: teachability.
Those who are teachable, and remain so, usually succeed. The unteachable usually fail. I’ve seen that in business, I’ve seen it in the ministry, I’ve seen it among students, and I’ve seen it in my children.
No matter how much talent and gifting we have, if we are, or become, unteachable, we will never reach anywhere near our full potential in our careers, our callings, or our relationships.
You might think Calvin is some kind of stilted cyborg theologian whose God is a malicious puppet-master. Well, I have news: if you’re a protestant, or a member of a democracy/republic, or you’re reading this book in your own language, you have Calvin to thank. So you should at least hear him out.
Here are 8 things to know before getting started.
The Christmas season brings out the generosity in many. Few are truly generous throughout the year. Art shares six characteristics that can cultivate a generous spirit throughout the year.
In this interview, Keith Getty shares how to get the most out of the songs of Christmas. Also Keith and Kristyn are currently touring with their “Joy! An Irish Christmas” show. Also be sure to check your local listings for their PBS Christmas special.
This is a great article from David. And why teachability? Because it embodies humility and shows a desire to improve. When you combine those two basic characteristics, you will achieve more than you can imagine.
Pastors are prime candidates for burnout, especially in busy seasons like Christmastime. So take heed to Eric’s four tips and set yourself up for success instead of burnout.
Aaron offers a thoughtful and careful response to the salacious headlines and online rhetoric we’ve seen in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings.
Seven points and not one about the style of music. Probably not what you were expecting from the title. It’s important to note, as Chuck shows, the true quality of a worship goes far beyond the music style.
There’s an eclectic collection of Kindle deals today: Brokenness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss ($2.34); Christian Leadership Essentials by David Dockery ($2.99); The Radical Cross by A.W. Tozer ($2.60); The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer ($1.51); The Promises of God by R.C. Sproul ($0.99); The Expected One by Scott James ($2.99).
You know we’re living at a time of seismic change when allowing women full access to military combat seems like a minor change. Denny Burk offers his comments. (See this also.)
Andy Crouch writes about the inevitability and goodness of “thoughts and prayers” following a tragedy.
Ray Ortlund asks some good diagnostic questions about racism in the local church.
When religion fades, people inevitably find something to replace it.
I think David may be right when he suggests the most essential life skill: Teachability. “No matter how much talent and gifting we have, if we are, or become, unteachable, we will never reach anywhere near our full potential in our careers, our callings, or our relationships.”
No one does a better weekly “A La Carte” feature than Nick. (Note: This week he includes a mini-review of Do More Better which I really appreciate.)
This Day in 521. 1,494 years ago today, Columba was born. He became an Irish monk, educator, bishop, and missionary in Scotland and Northern England, founding a monastery on the isle of Iona. *
Josh Harris has penned a small article on why he decided to become a 40-year-old seminarian.
Thanks to The Good Book Company for sponsoring the blog this week with “How To Make Christmas the Best of Times.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
FREE eBook – Preaching Proverbs by Dan Phillips – “Sure there are plenty of “wrong ways” to do it, but there are plenty of “right ways.” Dan Phillips has written an excellent online intro on how to preach (and teach) the book of Proverbs FREE! Adapted from his highly acclaimed book, Dan offers a quick guide for preachers, teachers, and Sunday School leaders that will get you excited to tackle one of the most oft neglected books.”
Semi-Gloss Obfuscation – “I am afraid that The Gospel Coalition has not only given away the store, but also the entire inventory from three whole warehouses on top of that. The article is here. The upshot of the article is that Christian parents should care about whether or not their children grow up to be godly, and that they really ought not to care— provided the godliness is there— whether or not their children grow up to have same sex attraction.”
Women in Combat and the Undoing of Civilization – “Our civilization just took a gigantic leap backward yesterday, though I’m wondering if anyone will notice. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter removed final obstacles restricting women from serving in combat units in the United States military. The decision was made three years ago by then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and now the three year period for studying the move has come to an end. The Washington Post Reports…”
The Plausibility Problem – “Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This is what we all want, isn’t it? We all want a fulfilled and fulfilling life. But what does this life look like? How and where can I find it? What will it cost me? That’s the rub, isn’t it?”
“God Isn’t Fixing This”: Andy Crouch’s Pitch-Perfect Response – “Christianity Today executive editor Andy Crouch has a pitch-perfect response to the critique that ‘God isn’t fixing this’ and that politicians and people of faith should stop saying our ‘thoughts and prayers’ are with the victims of the San Bernardino shooting and that action is needed rather than prayer. Crouch writes, ‘We can say with some confidence that all the following are true.’”
Matt Chandler – Ordinances
John MacArthur Ain’t Buying into a Child Claimed to died & saw Heaven stuff.
Top Ten Quran Verses for Understanding ISIS (the Islamic State)
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
If I were to ask you what you think is the largest problem facing the church in America, what would your response be? Well that exact question was asked at this year’s Ligonier Fall Conference. Seasoned pastor of 46 years, John MacArthur answered unequivocally.
“A lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”
John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Is this an accurate assessment of the state of the church in America? I would say so. All you have to do is look at the best seller so called “Christian” book today. It is none other than Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling, whose total sales worldwide has reached 14 million.
“After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Savior’s voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her—and many others around the world. In these powerful pages are the words and Scriptures Jesus lovingly laid on her heart. Words of reassurance, comfort, and hope. Words that have made her increasingly aware of His presence and allowed her to enjoy His peace.”
Thomas Nelson, Publisher of Jesus Calling
In other words, this is beyond your normal journaling where you may be writing your Bible reading notes or personal prayer requests. This is going off to a place with simply paper and pen in hand to receive direct revelation from God outside of Scripture. Sarah Young herself admits to this in the introduction to her book.
“I began to wonder if I … could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.”
I her own words, Sarah yearned for more than God communicating to her through the Bible. And people have boughten in to her, hook, line and sinker. Why? Spiritual AIDS. The Church in America dying from the heresy that God speaks to individuals outside of the Bible.
In the Appendix of his 2007 book The Truth War(ironically published by Thomas Nelson), John MacArthur highlights some reasons why there is a lack of biblical discernment.
- The rise of extreme tolerance – The church is reluctant to take a definitive stand on any issue.
- A refusal to shun the world – The church is preoccupied with image and influence.
- A failure to interpret Scripture accurately.
- A lack of spiritual maturity.
In light of the spiritual AIDS, the lack of biblical discernment, that is so prevalent in the church today, what is the solution?
“To proclaim the truth and to support the truth through Scripture and reason, this is the greatest need of the church.”
John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
May the true Church, consisting of true followers of Christ, who love His Word, return to a biblical discerment, for only then will she be cured of spiritual AIDS and build her immune system so as not to succumb to the heresies of the day, such as Jesus Calling!
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment”
“There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbor.” — John Calvin
Even if you haven’t looked at a calendar in weeks, it’s hard to miss the signs of the start of the Christmas season. Stores dropped their pumpkins and other Halloween themed paraphernalia into their boxes November 1 and replaced them with Christmas trees and garland. The 24/7 Christmas music stations have already begun their rotation of the same 25 Christmas classics. The malls will get progressively more crowded and it won’t be long until our mailboxes are full of Christmas cards from long-lost relatives and friends.
A somewhat less welcome intruder in the mailbox begins showing up around Thanksgiving: the annual year-end solicitation letters. Some of the causes these letters represent are near and dear to our hearts while others are decidedly less so (begging the question of how we even got on their mailing list in the first place).
Though the glut of letters may be intimidating, the reality is that many of these non-profits make roughly 60% of their overall fundraising budget in December alone. Without those funds, many of these worthy causes would simply not exist. Much good can and has been done from the monies received from these year-end solicitations. However, for a gospel-minded believer with only limited resources, the question quickly arises – “how much and to which cause should I send my hard-earned money?”
Thankfully, the Bible has much to say about how we should think about the resources he has given us and the word the Bible uses to describe the appropriate relationship we should have to all our things is that of a “steward.” While a biblical concept of stewardship refers to more than just how we spend our money (it encompasses our time, our bodies, children, talents, etc.), a biblical concept of stewardship is absolutely critical to our understanding of how we should rightly handle the God-given resources he has charged us to care for. With that in mind, here are five biblical principles of gospel-stewardship that should help you as you consider where to invest your money this December (and beyond!).
1. Everything is God’s
From the first pages of Scripture, we are presented with a world that is completely and totally God’s. It is not, and never has been, our world to do with simply as we please. In Genesis 2 Adam is placed in the garden and given the responsibility to “work it and keep it.” The garden was not his, but he was given the privilege and responsibility of tending it and benefitting from its produce.
Though Adam sinned and much has changed since that day, Scripture is still clear that, “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therin” (Ps. 24:1). All we now have, our money, our friends, our time, even our very bodies were given to us for a time to do with as he pleases.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells the story of a, “man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property” (Matt. 25:14). The man going on a journey is Jesus, and we are the servants. Everything we have is his property which he has entrusted to us. Our houses, our jobs, our bank accounts, even our children do not belong to us. They are God’s and he has entrusted them to us for a time.
It is easy to pay lip-service to this concept, but it is much more difficult to operate on a regular basis in light of this reality. It is difficult to say with Paul, “I have counted everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
2. Unequal distribution of resources is part of God’s design
The Parable of the Talents continues with, “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away” (Matt. 25:15). Much can be gleaned from this one short verse, but what is clear is God intentionally doles out his “talents” unequally.
Talents, here, can be applied to physical resources, natural abilities, spiritual gifts, or anything else that comes to us from God. Even a cursory glance at the world tells us that he gives more to some than he does to others. A quick glance at the world around us is all we need to affirm this basic biblical principle.
I remember meeting what ended up being a close college friend for the first time. In what seemed like a day divinely orchestrated to display my deficiency, I was confronted with the fact that he was not just smarter than me, he was a far better athlete, and to top it all, he was musically gifted. I hated him instantly.
Over time the Lord helped me overcome my small-minded, selfishness, and see that inequality is part of his design. It’s not inherently unjust for some to have more talents, money, etc., than others. As his servants, we are to receive humbly what he has given us, not begrudging those who have more or disdaining those who have less. As Paul writes, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast?” (1 Cor. 4:7) We must remember that God is the source of this inequality. However, what we do with these resources can be just or unjust.
3. Gifts are given for his glory and the good of others
On multiple occasions, Paul referred to himself as a steward of God’s grace. “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1) and again, “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Jesus Christ on behalf of you Gentiles–assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given me for you” (Eph. 3:1-2). Paul recognized the incredible gift of grace he had been given in the gospel and felt a deep and profound sense of responsibility. This drove him to say, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16)
Paul knew that along with his gifts came an incredible responsibility. He was, as it says in the next verse, “entrusted with a stewardship” for the good of his fellow man and the glory of God. Peter makes the same point in 1 Peter when he encourages the churches in Asia Minor, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
As this passage should make clear, every resource given to us was not given simply and completely for our benefit. A blessing received is intended to bless others also. A helpful analogy to understand how Paul and Peter speak of gifts and abilities as distributed within the church is that of tools in building a house. A variety of tools—hammers, nails, saws, tape measures, levels, etc. —were handed out in the church. Our tendency is to polish each of our tools all the while showing them off to those around, when Jesus meant us to take those tools and get busy building his house.
4. Faithfulness is the key
Speaking of himself, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” The goal for a steward is not notoriety, or wealth, or success, or any other earthly measure of success that glorifies the recipient of the gift above the giver. The goal of a steward is to be found faithful and trustworthy by the one who made him a steward.
Returning again to the Parable of the Talents, upon the master’s return the servants are judged based on the “talents” they were given. The first two servants come bringing their talents and the additional talents that they had acquired in his absence. Each steward receives the same commendation from the master upon presenting their talents, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
That one returned with five additional talents and the other with two didn’t seem to bother the master. The point is each servant did as much as they could with what they had been given. Notice too that each servant only returned as many talents as they have been given. The one with five didn’t return with six, just with five, and the master was pleased. The master knew the limits of each servant and judged the return based on the talents he had given that individual servant, not another servant.
This is comforting because there is only one Billy Graham, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, or Billy Joel. We won’t be judged based on the skills, abilities, opportunities, and resources that these men had. Faithfulness for you doesn’t look like faithfulness for these men. God alone knows the gifts, talents, resources, and opportunities he has given us and he alone can determine whether we are a “good and faithful servant”. Pray that you will be found faithful.
5. What we do with our resources here will echo for eternity
This is one of the most important and misunderstood principles of stewardship in the broader evangelical culture. How we steward our resources here, on this earth, in the time and space he has allotted us, has eternal impact. What we do with the resources he has given us can be used to bring people from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from God’s wrath to his favor.
In the process, Scripture is clear we also store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. However, the point of our faithfulness is not that we may get a five-fold, ten-fold, or even 100-fold return on our monetary investment in this life. Any theology or philosophy that emphasizes the earthly, monetary payback as the sole motivation for giving now is hopelessly anti-Christian.
The New Testament is clear and consistent in its message: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20).
The decisions, investments, and actions we take here and now within our short, fragile lives can have an impact on the kingdom of God that will echo for eternity. What an incredible privilege!
Michael Craig received his M.Div from Southern Seminary and currently serves as the Director of Advancement Operations. He is married to Emily and they have three young children – Aliza, Adelae, & Tytus.
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?
Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?
Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
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Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
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