Daily Archives: August 8, 2018

August 8: Distortion

Isaiah 14:24–16:14; Luke 6:1–49; Job 4:12–21

If attending church and small group or even reading the Bible and praying become activities that we do out of obligation, then we have a bigger problem than we might realize. If our hearts are disengaged, our religious motions and listless obedience serve only as a security blanket—something that makes us feel safe and good.

The Pharisees faced this dilemma, but they took the error one step further. They took the Sabbath—a practice intended to point people toward God—and twisted it into a heavy burden. So when Jesus wanted to do good on the Sabbath, it’s no surprise that they seized the opportunity to trap Him.

Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ accusation by telling them He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). But He also showed them the true purpose of Sabbath while at the same time exposing their hearts: “And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you whether it is permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?’ ” (Luke 6:9).

Caught up in their religious observance, the Pharisees misunderstood the heart of God’s commands. Not only this, but they used the Sabbath to do harm—the polar opposite of Jesus’ life-giving actions.

Ultimately, the actions of the Pharisees appeared holy and righteous, but underneath they were lifeless. They were like the lukewarm waters described in Revelation, for which Jesus feels utter contempt: “Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth!” (Rev 3:16).

Nothing displeases God more than when our hearts and our actions don’t match up. If this is the case for us, we need to let Scripture examine our hearts as we pray for wisdom and the Spirit. Nothing can make us right with God unless we know why we are wrong with Him—and where our hope really lies. Our outward actions need to be infused with the desire to follow Him.

What are the motives behind your motions?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

August 8 Balancing Knowledge and Love

“If I … know all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

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True knowledge is always governed by love.

Christians should never take knowledge for granted. The ability to learn about Christ and to grow in His truth is a blessing beyond measure. Paul prayed that we would be “filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). That’s what enables us to live in a way that pleases God (v. 10).

But knowledge must be governed by love, just as love must be governed by knowledge. In Philippians 1:9 Paul says, “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.” In 1 Corinthians 13:2 he says that knowledge without love is nothing. That’s a God-ordained balance you must maintain if you want to be effective for the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 13:2 Paul uses a hypothetical illustration to emphasize the importance of love: “If I … know all mysteries and all knowledge … but do not have love, I am nothing.” The Greek word translated “mysteries” in that verse is used throughout the New Testament to speak of redemptive truth that once was hidden but is now revealed. For example, Scripture speaks of the mystery of God in human flesh (Col. 2:2–3), of Christ’s indwelling us (Col. 1:26–27), and of the church as Christ’s Body (Eph. 3:3–6, 9).

“Knowledge” in 1 Corinthians 13:2 refers to facts that can be ascertained by investigation. It’s impossible to know every mystery and every fact in existence in the universe, but even if you did, without love your knowledge would be useless. Knowledge alone breeds arrogance, but love builds others up (1 Cor. 8:1).

Maintaining a balance of knowledge and love is a practical principle that influences the decisions you make every day. For example, if you have a choice between going to a Bible class or helping a neighbor with some immediate need, the better choice is to help your neighbor. You will have other opportunities to learn the Word, but it might be some time before you have a chance to show Christian love to your neighbor.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God for the wisdom to keep knowledge and love in proper balance.

For Further Study: Read Luke 10:25–37. ✧ How did the lawyer try to justify himself to Jesus? ✧ How did Jesus illustrate love for one’s neighbor?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 233). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

The Romans Road to Heaven (From the Old Torch Series)

Who is good?

Romans 3:10: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one.”

Who has sinned?

Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Where did sin come from?

Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

God’s price on sin

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Our way out

Romans 5:8: “But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 10:9-11: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Take God at His word and claim His promise for your salvation.

Source: The Romans Road to Heaven (From the Old Torch Series)

The Race Set Before Us: A Q&A on Race, Justice, and the Church’s Mission — The Cripplegate

A couple of weeks ago, two of my fellow-elders and I participated in a Q&A at our church. Carl Hargrove, Hohn Cho, and I asked and answered questions about the recent discussions of social justice, ethnic harmony, and Gospel priority taking place in evangelicalism. “The Race Set Before Us” was my cheesy play on the words of Hebrews 12:1 in an attempt to highlight that such topics really have been thrust upon us in recent days. And we felt a responsibility to shepherd our people’s thinking on these matters.

Below, I’ve included an outline of questions asked, along with timestamps so you can easily navigate through the audio. Questions in bold are those that were either prepared, submitted beforehand, or asked by audience members during the Q&A time. Other non-bolded comments highlight topics addressed as we answered the main questions. I pray it’s a help to you.

Beginning to 05:38 – Introduction and Prayer

5:41 – Where did this all come from? Can you give us some background as to why this is a discussion topic all of a sudden? Why has the issue of race and social justice come up in evangelicalism more recently?

Comments on: police shootings, the presidency of Barack Obama, the election of Donald Trump, and evangelical churches and conferences taking up this theme

8:51 – A lot of worldly terminology seeping into the church: intersectionality, white privilege, terms of critical race theory.

9:34 – The ministerial pragmatism of the Christian SJW agenda

10:42 – The role of the media in this discussion

11:10 – The tone of the discussion within the church and the need for civil discourse

15:00 – Is it right or wrong to see color? Some people speak of not seeing color as evidence that racism has been mortified. Others say the claim not to see color is premier evidence of racism. What’s the biblical view?

Key texts discussed: 2 Corinthians 5:16, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, Revelation 5:9 and 7:9–10.

21:36 – 2 Corinthians 5:16 and the basis of our identity. Who are “my people,” for a Christian?

23:54 – But Paul speaks of Israel as his kinsmen according to the flesh. Isn’t he regarding people of his ethnicity “according to the flesh”?

26:20 – In Galatians 3:28, in addition to saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man,” Paul also says, “There is neither male nor female.” And yet we insist upon ongoing male/female distinctions. How is that different than ethnicity?

29:27 – Given what we just heard, then, what do we make of the world’s idea of “representation” infiltrating the church? One of the T4G speakers wondered aloud, “Why is this conference so white?” How should we think about pursuing ethnic diversity in the church?

Commentary on some statements made at MLK50.

37:12 – Scripture on double standards, partiality, and affirmative action.

38:39 – The unstated ideology that undergirds the concept of “representation.”

40:08 – We must repent of any racism or partiality taking root in our hearts.

41:00 – In light of Romans 13:1–4, was it wrong for Rosa Parks to give up her seat? What is the biblical view of civil disobedience to unjust laws?

45:25 – How do we understand Old Testament instances of collective guilt and corporate repentance?

50:36 – How have the negative aspects of this discussion been exacerbated by evangelical celebritism?

55:04 – Is it true that you have to possess power to be racist? If not, how does such a view fall short of a biblical understanding of racism?

1:00:43 – The difference between ignorance, insensitivity, and racism.

1:03:07 – Carl, last week in your seminar you spoke of Martin Luther King’s denial of essential doctrines of the Christian faith as well as of his habitual immorality. Given that, you said it would be difficult for people of sound biblical conviction to conclude that he was a genuine believer. Some are scandalized by that declaration, while others seem to be celebrating it. Can you speak to that?

1:09:23 – Misunderstanding this issue indicates that many people are confused about the nature of the Gospel itself. What is a “Gospel issue”?

1:10:50 – In light of that, then, does the mission of the church include the mandate to establish justice in society?

Discussion of (1) the distinction between Israel’s mission and the Church’s mission; (2) a proper understanding of the kingdom of God; (3) the distinction between corporate and individual ethics; (4) the place of individual Christians’ liberty of conscience.

1:19:30 – Would it be wrong for an individual to focus on just preaching the Gospel, rather than focusing on social injustices?

1:20:20 – How do we love our neighbor by meeting their needs without promoting a victim mentality?

1:21:35 – Do all things—even injustices—happen according to God’s will?

1:24:14 – Carl, in your seminar last week, you mentioned the practical failures and unbiblical nature of socialism. What about texts like Acts 2 and Acts 4, which speak of the church selling their goods and having all things in common?

1:28:05 – It is inevitable that we face injustices as Christians. It’s inevitable that people sin against us—whether by racism or some other sin. What is the Christian’s biblical responsibility for responding to being sinned against?

via The Race Set Before Us: A Q&A on Race, Justice, and the Church’s Mission — The Cripplegate