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Ethics: The Faithfulness of God & Man

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This is the 3rd of a 9-part series on Christian Ethics.

 

The Bible teaches that God “is the faithful God” (Deuteronomy 7:9), who always acts faithfully toward those whom he loves. The most important trait of God’s faithfulness is that he alwaysdoes what he says (Numbers 23:19). When God speaks and says he will do something, whether it is to save or to condemn, we can be sure that he will always carry out what he says without fail (II Peter 3:9). Man, however, is not like God. He does not always keep his word. 

 

Because we are first motivated by our own selfish desires and want to control our own lives instead of letting the faithful God control our lives, God counts us as unfaithful to his original purpose for creating us.

 

Thankfully, God’s faithfulness is more than just his acts to keep his word. God’s faithfulness is deeply connected to his goodness and truth. It is impossible to be faithful without also being true and good. God is true. God is good. God is faithful.

 

God has truthfully revealed himself to us. He has shown himself to be good in sending his son, Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. And he has acted faithfully in that he promises from ages past to make a way for us to be saved from our sin—which he did through Jesus Christ.

 

In this study we will see that faithfulness is more than doing what we say (though that is of first importance). God’s faithfulness is an expression of his grace and mercy, and he can give us the same character trait of faithfulness that he possesses.

 

Ethics: The Goodness of God & Man

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This is the second of a nine-part series on Christian Ethics.

 

What does it mean to be a good person? Most people think of goodness from a negative point of view such as, “Not doing bad things.” For others goodness is more generic. We wish our loved ones a “good day.” Or we tell our children as they run off to school, “Be good today,” which is another way of saying, “Stay out of trouble.”

 

According to theology professor Dr. Robert L. Reymond, “God defines his goodness in terms of sovereign mercy and compassion.” God’s goodness, the kind that He wants to have reflected in our character, is both positive and proactive. This means that being good is more than “not doing bad things,” or “staying out of trouble.” The Bible describes God as proactively initiatinggood acts to bring benefit to mankind (Matthew 5:45), but especially to those whom He has called His people.

 

How often have you struggled with a problem in your life where you knew the right thing to do, but did not seem to have the will to do it (sin)? Everyone has experienced this. It is a testimony to the scripture’s teaching that man is not naturally good; we are sinners. We have the desire and even the capacity to dogood things—but we often avoid good, or intentionally do the wrong thing, whether out of weakness or rebellion.

 

In this study we will learn about the differences between God’s goodness and our goodness, and how every Christian can discover the power available to him or her to become the kind of good person that reflects the good character of Jesus Christ.

 

Ethics: The Truth About Truth

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This is the first in a 9-part series on Christian Ethics.

 

Of all of the character traits of God that He wants us to imitate in our lives, truthfulness may be the most important. The scripture teaches that we are designed by God to become like Jesus Christ in our character(Psalm 15:1-5, Romans 8:29). Of God’s many character traits, God’s truthfulness, and therefore his complete trustworthiness, is repeated in the scripture many times.

 

Jesus Christ spoke in clear terms about the sins of dishonesty and deceit, even going so far as to say that Satan (the chief of evil spirits) is the father of those who lie. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). As one popular saying goes, “We are never more like the devil when we lie.”

 

Jesus' command to those who would follow Him is to be people who always tell the truth no matter what. “Let what you say be simply Yes or No; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).

 

Sadly, there are too many people who routinely lie or act deceptively about both matters large and small. Without truthfulness trust becomes impossible. Because God is always truthful, He is always trustable, and He wants us to become people of truth who can always be trusted.

 

In this study we will discover the source of truth, how to acquire truth, and become men and women who can always be true.

 

Five Levels of Intimacy with God

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Throughout the Bible there are many stories of people who were gifted by God with special authority, power, or responsibilities. Those who were truly close to God were given the greatest responsibility. Look at a few of these examples:

 

  • Abraham was taken in his old age and given a family, and land, and promises that would lead to a nation and the Savior of the world. The Bible refers to Abraham as “the friend of God.”
  • Moses freed his people. The Bible says God spoke with Him “face-to-face” as a man does his friend.
  • David was chosen to lead his nation, and God promised his family the throne of Israel forever. The Bible says David was a “man after God’s own heart.”

 

Regrettably, only a precious few people in the Bible are spoken of as having such an intimate, personal closeness with God. However, God makes it clear that He has called many to such closeness. He even told King Saul, whom He later rejected, that He would have given him a Kingdom forever if he had only obeyed Him with his whole heart. Alas, Saul rejected God, and thus God rejected Saul in favor of David.

 

How close is your relationship to the One Living God? Did you know that it is possible to draw as close to Jesus as any of His closest disciples? They only thing stopping us is, us.

 

The Historical Reliability of the Bible

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As a collection of religious texts the Bible speaks to many issues of philosophy and morality. Like many religious texts, its claims may be compared to any other religion or teaching and be dismissed or embraced. However, there are two things unique about the Bible and its claims that other religions and philosophies do not possess. 

  1. The Bible is a book of verifiable history, claiming to outline, in real history, in real time, God’s interaction with man.
  2. The Bible presents future historythat can be verified upholding the reliability of its claims.

Unlike many other religious texts, which only claim to present the philosophy of a respected teacher, the Bible claims absolute authority as the inspired Word of the One and Only Living God. Such an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence to support it. While this short study will not present all of the evidences, it will provide you with a guide for examining the internal claims and evidences of the Bible, to help you understand the reliability of its text. This guide will also help you examine your own faith and knowledge of God’s Word.

 

Is the Bible historically reliable? Does the Bible provide any internal evidence for its extraordinary claims? Is there a way to provide a test of biblical text to discover its accuracy and reliability?

 

Let us ask these questions in a more personal way.

 

Is your faith reliable? Can your life provide evidences for the extraordinary claims of Christianity? Can you test the application of God’s Word in your own life to discover its reliability—and your own?

 

How To Study The Bible

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Studying the Bible provides the best way for a Christian to understand and apply God’s principles in life. There are many people who believe that God speaks to them, or leads them. There are many people whom, out of a desire to do the right thing and honor God, try to apply certain passages in the Bible to their lives—only to discover later that the passage in question had no relevance to them.

 

How do you know what parts of the Bible are applicable to your life today—and how to apply them?

 

This study will provide a short guideline to reading, studying, and applying the Bible to your life. It is not a comprehensive study examining all parts of the Bible and its divisions, but it will give you a starting point on your journey of exploration with God’s Word.

 

The most important part of any study of the Bible is the application of the truth learned. The Apostle Paul said, “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (I Corinthians 8:1). Learning for the sake of gaining knowledge is good, but applying what we learn to transform our lives for Jesus Christ is even better.

 

As you begin this study, make the commitment to apply what you learn from God’s word so that it will transform your life, helping you to grow to become more like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

Suicide: The Choice Between Hope & Despair

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From time to time there are people who become so frustrated by the difficulties of life that they surrender themselves to hopelessness, believing there is nothing good for them in the future. Some who have given up the precious gift of life have reasoned that since God has already forgiven them of their sins and provided them with eternal life, and since Heaven is a better place than Earth—suicide is the alternative they want to choose.

 

What does God think about the idea of choosing death over life? What does such a choice say about our faith, and God’s plan for us individually? Is there ever a good reason to choose suicide?

 

At all times, under all conditions, no matter how life might seem to be, God always provides us a chance to embrace life, and have a hope for the future. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own hopes and dreams, or so focused on our difficulties, that we lose sight of what God has already done for us, and what He will do for us in the future.

 

God has provided that there is always a reason to hope. He also provided an example of someone who faced the greatest difficulties of life, and faced them with hope for the future: Jesus Christ.

 

IKEA Prayers

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Have you ever heard someone, or yourself, pray in a way where the person praying not only tells God WHAT he wants, but actually tells God HOW he wants his prayer answered? It’s as if he is giving God a set of step by step IKEA instructions for assembly of the as of yet unanswered prayer.

 

For instance, during a prayer for surgery the person praying says, “Now God, guide the surgeon’s hands and help him to cut that tumor away. But Lord, don’t let him cut out anything he needs.” Wait…did God already not know this? Or perhaps he says, “Reach out with your mighty right arm and wipe away that tumor like an eraser.” This is like telling God how to do miracles. How about, "Oh God, protect my house while I'm on my trip. Let not the door be broken into or my windows smashed. But if someone does break in, don't let them have this, this, or this…"

Why The Rapture Won't Happen Today, And Why It Won't Happen Anytime Soon

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Perhaps you've seen the social media posts and blogs recently that claimed or came near to claiming that the rapture of the church was going to happen on April 23, 2018. If you're like me, you've seen this before and like today, every time, the prognosticators of earthly doom always get it wrong.

Rapture predictors always use "creative" interpretation and complicated math to make the case why the rapture will happen on their chosen day. But they always fail for a simple reason.

The scripture never supports their predictions.

Allow me to give you one simple reason why, from the scripture, rapture predictions are always off the mark, and why, from current events, the rapture is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Jesus & The Kingdom of Heaven

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The term Kingdom of Heaven is only used 31 times and only in one book in the entire Bible: Matthew.

Why does Matthew use this phrase when no other writer does?

Matthew focused his Gospel on the kingship of Jesus. From his opening genealogy, Matthew attempts to show that Jesus is the legitimate heir to the throne of David (1:1-17). The temptation of Jesus by Satan was an attack on his lordship (4:1-11). The visit of the Magi is a visitation of foreign kings to worship the new king (2:1-12). The beatitudes open and close with the Kingdom of Heaven. 5:17-20 show Jesus fulfilling the law. Only the lawgiver could do that. Then he proceeds to expand on the law in 5:21-48. Only a king could do that.

It logically proceeds that if Jesus is king, then he must be king of something.