Tag Archive: Theology


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:7-10

In this passage, Paul explains the great plan that God has revealed to us: The we Christians have been saved from our sin and granted the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And why? That everything might be united to God. We are the people who bring in God’s Kingdom. We Christians, the Church of God, are the culmination of history. What does that mean for our lives?

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4

In this passage, the opening to one of his letters, the Apostle John stress that Jesus, the Son of God who is equal with God, came to earth in a real, physical form. Here, John claims that he and others saw Jesus first hand as eye-witnesses. And why does he claim this? Because he wants his readers to have fellowship with Jesus and the Father. In the same way that he as a disciple lived with and communed with Jesus, all those who place there trust in Jesus can fellowship and commune with him. Though Jesus has ascended into heaven, he still is present with us through the Holy Spirit. I sometimes ask myself the question, “what would it have been like to have lived with Jesus when the disciples did?” John’s answer is: All Christians live with and experience Jesus.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, people across the country will come together and feast in a time of thanksgiving. Typically, people give thanks for their family, country, prosperity, and God. As Christians, we also have something to be thankful for: A kingdom. We will all share, one day, in the rule of an eternal land. And we also have the world around us. God made humans to be administrators of a vast and wonderful universe, and we Christians have God’s Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us in how to rightly manage and oversee it. So, are we thankful? How so? How can we give back to God all that he has given us?

He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:23-27

The people of the Kingdom of Israel, and the successor kingdoms such as Judah, the Hasmonean dynasty, and Herodian Kingdom and Tetrarchy, prided themselves on the fact that they were God’s People. They, and only they, a tiny spit of land in comparison to the vast domains of empires such as the Chinese, Indians, or, later, the Macedonians and Romans, had access to God, were given laws by God through which they could honor him. But, as Jesus makes clear in the passage above, many, if not most, Jews did not truly follow God. Jesus explains that he will be asked by his fellow inhabitants of Nazareth to perform miracles for them – not out of a desire to seek after God, but as a challenge to his authority. They did not accept his claims as a prophet and Messiah. So what does Jesus do? He tells them that he will go to places where he will be accepted, that being Jewish did not entitle them exclusive rights to his ministry. He shows that even in the Old Testament, God often rejected Israel and sent his prophets elsewhere.
What does this mean for us? I am a Gentile – I come from almost entirely a European background, perhaps some Native American mixed in, but no Jewish ancestry as far as I know. Under the Old Testament law, I would have to become a Jew in order to live in God’s Kingdom. But not so anymore. Jesus came for the whole world, his ministry was not confined to the Jews, and his death atoned for all who believe. His love is lavishly inclusive. He is Christ for the whole world.

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.” Proverbs 4:7

Do we value wisdom? If someone asked you what the most valuable thing that you could get would be, what would you answer? In chapter 4 of Proverbs, the author explains that wisdom is the most valuable thing that you can get. What is the point of wealth or power if you can’t use it wisely? So, how can we find wisdom? From where do we get it?

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

What does your church look like? Not the building, but the people. Who comprises it? In the Old Testament, only those who were circumcised into Judaism and followed the Mosaic Law were part of God’s blessing and promises. While there were select times when mercy and blessing was granted to those outside of Israel, God’s chosen people were a particular ethnic group, confined within territorial boundaries. While anyone was welcome to join this people, they had to adopt Israelite customs in order to do so. Not anymore.

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“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12

Often in my life, I seem to have trouble articulating my faith. I’ve never been on trial for what I believe, never faced imprisonment for it. Yet I still often have trouble explaining my faith to others. I think, looking at this passage in Luke, that the problem may be is that I am anxious about what to say, instead of relying on God to empower me to speak. So, how can I learn to trust God more in defending my faith? How can you?

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Tempers always seem fly during an election year, but this year even more-so than normal.  A large number of Americans are horrified at the vehement and hateful rhetoric coming from Donald Trump, and others horrified at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton becoming president, due to her past and stance on issues. But one of the two is going to win and become president of the United States, and so, no matter which candidate does win, a lot of people will have their fears realized. Many will probably be Christians. So, as a Christian, how do you live in a country with a President that you find appalling?
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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

This is probably one of the most misquoted passages in the Bible. Out of context, it seems to say that God will give you the strength to accomplish anything. And that’s not entirely wrong. But the verse isn’t talking about your next running match or gym competition. The fuller passage reads:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.”

What Paul is talking about here isn’t really physical ability, but spiritual and emotional strength. In his walk with God, he has learned to be content. Whether praised or ridiculed, hungry or satisfied, needy or well-off, he has learned to be contented with his circumstances. God could have us win a game, but he might also have us lose. What he has promised is that we will always have the spiritual and emotional stamina to see us through if we trust in him.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jer. 9:23-24

What do we boast in? Let me re-phrase the question: What do we trust in? Many people trust in their wealth, the material possessions that they can accumulate. Perhaps power, the ability to command and lead people, and impose your will on others. I like to trust in knowledge and wisdom, to show people how much I know, teach them how to make good decisions. Wealth, power, and wisdom are not bad. They are very useful tools. But, ultimately, should we trust in them, take pride in them, boast in them?

Companies go bankrupt, or the economy collapses and investments become worthless. Elections pull down leaders from positions of power, or you might be passed over for a promotion. Their could be a new finding in your field of study that proves your ideas worthless, or your advice might turn out to have been misleading. You might make a mistake.

But, if you trust in God, what can undermine that? We might lose power, wealth, wisdom. We might even lose our physical life. But what does that matter to our eternal being? What harm can the physical do to the spiritual? If we want trust in something solid, trust in God. Know him, understand him, and act like him. Do the right thing, the loving thing, the just thing. Use what wealth, power, and wisdom you do have to help others. This is a type of boasting that does not draw attention to yourself, but to God.