The Person-Driven Life

medium_4501890462Christian, did you know that everything God has given us is in the Person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:2-3).  Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3 that “every” spiritual blessing is in Jesus Christ.  Not some but every!  So, Christianity knows only the Person-driven/focused life (John 14:6; 2 Cor 3:18) and the Person-driven/focused Church (Ephesians 1:22-23)!

God’s way for us is to live a life focused on the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).  To follow any program is not to follow the Person, Jesus Christ.   I’ll even go as far to say that if you focus on following the Word of God without your primary focus being on knowing the Person of Jesus Christ, following Him, pleasing Him and becoming like Him, then you are outside of God’s way and will not please God or become like Christ.  Let’s expand on all of this.

Think about the famous words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  Those are very exclusive words.  Jesus is saying, I am the only way, the only truth, and the only life.  First,  Jesus is the only way!  He is the only program! The way is a Person; the person of Christ!  Paul told us how to grow spiritually in 2 Corinthians 3:18.  He wrote: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”    How are you transformed into Christ-likeness (“the same image from glory to glory”)?  You focus on the Person of Christ (“the glory of the Lord”)– who He is, what He is Like as a Person and what He has done!  Then you are transformed in His image!   When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead,  he told Martha twice to focus on Him and not on Lazarus in order to see God’s purposes in that miracle (John 11:44, 40).  If she wanted to grow into Christ-likeness, she had to focus on Christ and not the amazing miracle of her brother standing there, risen from the dead. If you had been there and seen Lazarus raised from the dead, where would your focus be? On Lazarus, a man raised from the dead who will die again?  OR, on Jesus Christ, life Himself, your life, your Savior and Lord?

Second, Jesus is “the truth.”  The “truth” does not refer to programs about Christianity or about how to live the successful, prosperous, victorious Christian life!  No!  Christ, Himself, is the truth.  Christ is saying that we must go to Scripture to know Him, and become like Him (John 17:17). We don’t go to Scripture for methods, programs, steps, etc.  It is absolutely critical that we do go to the Bible and study it vigorously, but we do so to know Christ (Ephesians 1:17)!   Is the Word of God the ultimate authority in your life where you come to know and obey Jesus?   If you do not know the Word, you do not know Jesus Christ, because you do not know Him as “the truth”.  As Paul said, we learn a Person, Christ! (Ephesians 4:20).

Third, Jesus is “the life.”  Are you working too hard in your Christian walk?  Have you trusted in programs or methods to be the power in your life?  Be honest, did they really work when the trials and suffering came?   Jesus Christ is “the life” and God’s way is to let His life work through us.  Let Him work through you.   How did Jesus tell us how to become Christians and live the Christian life?  Throughout His Ministry, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).  Jesus said this is a Person-driven life!  You are to only follow ONE person!  Either you are following yourself, or you are following Him.  To follow Him, Jesus commands you to “deny” yourself.  That is, to once-and-for-all disown yourself, separate from yourself!  To do this you must confess yourself as a sinner against God, unworthy of eternal life based on your own merit and works.  You are NOT the way; neither are any programs!  Follow Him exclusively by accepting His free gift of eternal life by Him being your substitute for the death you deserve as a sinner.  Thereafter, you live life by letting Him live His life through you (Galatians 2:19-2) as you not only obey Him in all things at all times but also see your obedience as His will and His strength working through you in that obedience. This is accomplished by “yielding” to the Holy Spirit in you who only wants to live Christ’s live through you (John 16:13-14). That’s following Jesus Christ!  As Christians, Christ is our life! (Colossians 3:4).  If you want to grow into Christ-likeness, live the Person-driven life!

photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC via photopin cc

What Did You Just Say?

small__1458972393Gossip, slander, backbiting, criticism – any form of speaking negatively about someone behind their back, is probably the number one sin issue that we experience in the daily life of the Christian church.   Yet, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29-30, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”   I think that if you bear with me for a few minutes, you’ll be doing a lot LESS talking from now on!

Paul begins with behavior that we are to stop immediately!  “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth”!   “No” is very explicit!  Not one, ever, should be spoken!  “Unwholesome words” are words that serve no godly purpose.  They are worthless, useless, unprofitable words!  These include not only swearing, off-color jokes, crudeness, gossip, and slander, but it also includes empty words – talking for the sake of talking!    Think about it!  How much talking would you do if NO word you spoke could be of no purpose!  You see, there’s a problem with “many words.”  Proverbs 10:19 tells us “When there are many words, transgression (i.e. sin) is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

Notice how Paul says in v.29 that these words are not to “proceed from your mouth.”  Paul is indicating that they didn’t start at the mouth!  They’ve come from within.  You’ve thought them, are about to say them, and now you’ve got to stop them before you say them!  The real problem with your speech comes what you’ve been thinking!  Jesus said this in Matthew 12:34, “… For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  If you’ve got a problem with unwholesome words, you’re going to need to change inside first!

Paul next tells us the behavior that we need start immediately when he says in V.29, “but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment.” Paul is teaching us what all Christian speech is to be like!   The “only” words we can ever speak are those “good for edification according to the need of the moment.”   “Edification” means to build someone up spiritually to be like Christ.   The ONLY kinds of words that will do that are Biblical words!  Paul is telling us that God intends to use every Christian word to build up His Church to be like Christ!  That places a huge requirement on your speech – on every word you speak!

Let’s examine three huge requirements that Ephesians 4:29 places on you!  The first huge requirement: You must be biblically educated.  You cannot speak words “good for edification” if you do not know the Word of God.   Paul told Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).  You have to have the right biblical words at the moment you speak!  The second huge requirement: You must a  biblical listener.  You have to apply your biblical education so that when listening, you can discern spiritual needs!   How can you edify the spiritual need of the moment if you do not know the spiritual need at that moment?  Isaiah knew this:  “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” (Isaiah 50:4). The third huge requirement: You must be a biblical edifier.   In V.29 Paul says that God expects you to speak biblically to other Christians to edify them – to grow them up to be like Christ!

Paul finishes by giving us two reasons why we must start speaking edifying words.   The first reason:  To give grace to the Hearer.  Paul finishes V.29 saying “so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  God will use your words to graciously enable the hearer to grow into Christ-likeness.   The second reason: To not grieve the Holy Spirit.   Hopefully, you know that all application is built on doctrine!  The greatest motivation we have for living a godly life is knowing and remembering what God has done for us.  God says here, “How could you possibly grieve my Holy Spirit, who is in you as My promise that you will have eternal life?”  Every time you speak, consider the two persons you are with!  Give grace to the one in front of you and do not grieve the One who is in you.   Now, did you have something to say?

photo credit: Mel B. via photopin cc

God’s Amazing Expectation of Joshua!

I'm sure this must be a real picture of Abraham. :-))  You can color him if it helps you follow this post!

I’m sure this must be a real picture of Abraham. :-)) You can color him if it helps you follow this post!

Turn back the clock over 3000 years to the day of Abraham when God promised him, “To your descendants I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7).  We know this as the Abrahamic Covenant! Over 400 years of slavery in addition to 40 years of wandering in the desert passed before God was ready to fulfill that promise.   At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses dies, and the book of Joshua opens with the Israelites in the Trans-Jordan area at the threshold of the land God will give them in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Put yourself in the shoes of Joshua at that moment.  He was born in Egypt before the Great Exodus.  We first see him in Exodus 17:9 when he led the Israelites against Amalek.  This was the famous battle that as long as Moses held his hand up, the Israelites won.  So, if you were Joshua, you had already been a military leader for the Israelites!

The next time we see Joshua is in Exodus 24:13 when he went up on Mount Sinai with Moses.  Moses went to the top where God gave him the ten commandments.  Joshua waited somewhere below that for 40 days until Moses returned!  So, if you were Joshua, you had already been in ministry as an assistant to Moses!

Moving forward, we see Joshua in Numbers 13 as one of the 12 spies sent into the promised land of Canaan as a “scout” before the Israelites conquered the land.  Remember the story?  Caleb and Joshua were the ONLY two to trust God and be willing to go conquer the land.  The other ten convinced the Israelites not to go and God judged the Israelites with 40 years of wandering in the desert.  Only Joshua and Caleb were ultimately allowed to enter the land from that generation!  Again, if you were Joshua, you had been chosen to scout out the land with 11 other select Israelites and then lived through the wilderness wandering for 40 years watching your generation die off!

Finally, we see Joshua ordained to be the future leader of the Israelites in Numbers 27 after Moses stuck the rock twice for water and God did not allow him to enter the land of Canaan.

book of joshua

That brings us to the Book of Joshua!  If you were Joshua, you are now 90 years old with 41 years of service to God under Moses!  You had been a top military leader, a top ministry partner to Moses, one of 12 spies and now the ordained leader to replace Moses!  In Joshua 1:1-4 God has just told you that it’s time to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites!

Just to contrast to what we’re going to see next, I want you to now imagine you’re the Vice President of a large corporation with 41 years of similar experience to Joshua and the Board of Directors comes to you to make you President of the company!  You would be hearing, “In the past 41 years, you have had a phenomenal set of experiences and proven yourself over and over to be capable of leading this company into the future.  We can count on you to continue performing as you have based on all the wealth of wisdom and experience over these many years.  Use this foundation and our company will prosper well into the future!”   But, that’s not what God tells Joshua…

In v.5 God turns to Joshua and says:

Jos 1:5–95 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I only want to focus on v.7-8 today, but to get us there, let’s summarize the points that lead up to it.

  1. You must COUNT on God’s Presence (v.5):  5 “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”  You can count on God’s presence accompanying, leading, protecting, fighting with you – ensuring your success!   “Just as I have been with Moses” says a lot because Joshua saw God work directly with Moses for those 41 years!  This was a very real, proven promise!  By the way, Hebrews 13:5-7 quotes directly from this verse showing us that we can count on this too!
  2. You must PURSUE God’s Cause (v.6): 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”  There should be no surprise that to get God’s help, you need to be doing God’s will!  In this case, Joshua was fulfilling one of the most important promises in the Bible!

OK, we now arrive at Joshua 1:7-8:

7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

The first thing to notice is that Joshua is being commanded to keep the Law of Moses as found in a book.  Literally, God says “keep all the Law” – don’t turn away (right or left) at all!  V.8 begins with “this book!”  Moses had completed the Pentateuch and especially the Book of Deuteronomy.  Joshua had a significant amount of Scripture to obey!

This command to keep the Law as found in a book is not new to Joshua.  In Deuteronomy 30:9-10 Moses said:

Dt 30:10–1410 if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. 11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12 “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ 14 “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”

These are strong words!  Moses said that this commandment “is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.”  In other words, you know what I’m saying – it’s clear – and you can and must do this! He gives them a couple of pictures of this and then summarizes in v.14 that the Israelites had all they needed to obey God’s word!

Now, back to Joshua 1:7-8.  What did God just tell Joshua?  Answer: You must KNOW and OBEY my WORD! He didn’t say, “In the past 41 years, you have had a phenomenal set of experiences and proven yourself over and over to be capable of leading the Israelites into the promised land!”  And, commands him on HOW he is to do this:  8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”  Do you know what that literally says?… “this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall RECITE IT QUIETLY TO YOURSELF DAY AND NIGHT.” (emphasis mine).  This is followed by “so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”   Listen: The purpose of constantly reciting God’s word over and over and over to himself was SO THAT he would be careful to obey it exactly!!!  God finishes the verse by saying that then he’ll be successful!  Do you recite God’s word to yourself day and night so that you’ll be sure to obey it exactly as it’s written?

I love how Psalm 1 says this:

Ps 1:1–31 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

What a picture!  A firmly planted and cultivated tree yields fruit and not only doesn’t wither, but prospers – in whatever!  Of course, your “whatever” is going to be God’s will if you’ve been meditating on His word day and night!

Let’s pull this all together.  Joshua is one of the most used-by-God and prepared-by-God, faithful servants in history.  Yet, when God calls him to be used for the greatest ministry of his life, God doesn’t let him trust in himself and the past.  God commands him to know His word and continually (yes, continually) be reciting it out loud to himself day and night SO THAT he is CAREFUL to obey it precisely!  Then God will give him success in carrying out the promise God made to Abraham over 400 years before!

Do you think it’s any different for you and the work God has for you to do?  Aren’t you commanded to let the word of Christ dwell richly in you (Colossians 3:16)?  Holding EVERY thought captive to the OBEDIENCE of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)?  Aren’t you commanded to be an effectual doer of the word and not just a hearer (James 1:22-25)?   What part of these straightforward, easy-to-understand commands are you claiming you can’t understand or do (Deut 30:10-14)?!!!

Go forth in obedience and remember:

Col 3:23–2423 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

God bless!

The Bottom Line on Idolatry

A fellow Christian sent the following to a Christian distribution list I’m on:

“Dear all,  This is probably the best definition of idolatry, I have heard, made by Tim Keller – ‘Idolatry is making good things the ultimate thing'”

Here’s my reply to him:

Ultimately, idolatry is that you worship yourself rather than God.   Let’ start with James:

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God “; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin ; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

This passage is the basic theology of sin – sins starts with our desires and when we let our desires control us (by focusing and feeding), they become lusts (the Greek word for lust has a intensifying preposition on it literally meaning “over-desire” and carries this meaning in all passages of Scripture).    In other words, we put our desires first, focus on them and then choose to please ourselves – we put ourselves first.  But what does the Bible teach about who should be first?

Deut 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Matt 22:35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law ?” 37 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.

Notice the “all” frequency!  That means 100%!   Why?  When you do less than 100%, you are loving yourself and seeking to please yourself instead of God.  I do not love God at ALL times with ALL of me – I’m loving myself part of that time!  God is a jealous God and will have no other gods before him (Ex 20:1-6)!  Ultimately, the “god” you replace him with is yourself.   Many will teach that pride is the bottom-line sin behind all sins.   But, you can go one step further and see that pride is really self-worship because you seek to please yourself. 

Another way to get at this and to see one other piece of the puzzle is to think about specific idols (“idols of the heart” as Ezekiel calls them).  You mentioned “career, money, sex…”.    The key is that all of those are a means to an end.   You make an idol of money BECAUSE it will bring you pleasure, happiness, or whatever.   In other words, it will satisfy a desire you have!  The purpose of all specific idols is to please the ultimate idol – our self!  Every specific idol satisfies a desire that has become a lust and we’re back to James 1:14-15 again!    The reason people get confused and stop at the specific idols is because the Bible does teach that you become enslaved to specific idols – they become your Master.  That’s the ugly secret of idols.    Your “lust” from self-idolatry drives you to disobey God to be satisfied and you end up being controlled by it.   2 Peter 2:19 says “by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved”!   But the root is still your lust!  James speaks directly to this in James 4:1-3.  In a book written to Christians, he writes:

James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members ? 2 You lust and do not have ; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain ; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Now there’s a passage that shows the ugliness of our self-idolatry!  Christians will murder, fight and quarrel for their lusts!  Those words describing our motives are very strong!  “Pleasures” in V.1  is the root for our word “hedonism.”  It is the selfish, uncontrolled, personal need to fulfill every passion that promises sensual satisfaction and enjoyment.  2 Timothy 3:2-4 shows how it is part of self-idolatry…”lovers of pleasure rather than lover of God.”  “Lust” (v.2) is the same word as James 1 – “over-desire’ (epithumeo) and is a controlling, ruling desire.    “Envious” in v.2 is the root for our word “zealous” and is the STRONGER brother to “lust”! – it is a stronger, more compelling desire than lust!   This passage is a vivid example of how we self-worship and that leads to pleasures, lusts and envies that become controlling idols – to the point that we CHRISTIANS will murder, fight and quarrel!

I could also show you this by contrast of Col 3:-4 with Col 3:5.  3:5 is actually a grammatical downward process with idolatry at the root of the others!

I’ll finish with this thought – self-worship, self-idolatry, whatever you want to call it –  is a gradual, slow descent into controlling sin that becomes your idol.   First, you start by NOT loving God with all your heart, mind and soul – you are not 100% focused on him.  You take a small, but critical step away from Him – toward yourself!  You leave Matthew 22:35-38 and stray over into James 1:14-15 when you focus too long on a desire and you let it grow into a lust.   Remember – this is how ALL sin occurs – don’t put “lust” in some super-sin category!  It is simply ANY desire that you let control you because you CHOOSE to worship yourself and, hence, please yourself rather than God in that area.   Finally, you become a slave to that lust (2 Peter 2:19) and the Bible will call it an idol in addition to a lust!  But the ROOT of all this is self-idolatry / self-worship.   Even in being controlled by an idol, it is the satisfaction that it gives you that you stay controlled for!

And, finally, application.  Do you want to know the specific idols/lusts that you have?  There’s lots of ways to get at this, but I’ll leave just two questions:  (1) How you live in private?  Both in action and thought – what do you when there’s no one to see?  (remember Hebrews 4:14 – everything you think and do is a performance for God before His throne!), and (2) Where do you spend your time?  Eliminate the things God commands us to do where your attitude is properly for the glory of God.  What’s left is what you do to glorify yourself (which would be OK if you were glorifying God!) AND what you do that is sin!  And, what are things God commands you to do that you are NOT doing?   Look at how Job examined his life and do the same (Job 31-32:1)!

What then do you confront?  The idol of money, career, etc. OR idol of self?  Answer: both.  But the real key to stopping all future idolatry is to deal with the self-worship you have allowed in your life.

If you want to continue this some time, we can turn to the other side of the coin.  Instead of self-worship, God has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our 100% focus.  We focus on a Person NOT on the commands of the Bible, etc. We live to please Christ (2 Cor 5:9) and become like him (2 Cor 3:18) and minister to all other Christians to become like Him (Col 1:28)!  Christian is a Person.  Period!

Christ is All – Part 2

Only the “Word” of God is Living / Christ is ALL

OK, so the obvious question is – did you carefully and fully read all the verses I put in the previous post?  OR, are you guilty as I used to be of skimming or even skipping them?!  Remember:

Heb 4:1212 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Do you know what that says?  It says that ONLY the Word of God, the Bible, is ALIVE (we’ll talk more about that soon – Jesus Christ is the Word).  So, out of what is written above, ONLY the Scripture verses  will change you / help you / grow you / transform you into Christ-likeness!   The part I wrote is uninspired! You can generalize that – NOTHING ELSE BUT SCRIPTURE will change you / help you / grow you / transform you in Christ-likeness!   So, if you didn’t read and meditate on the verses above, the time is NOW – to go back and read AND to commit to always reading and contemplated the Scripture – not just the part anyone writes (especially me!)!  With that commitment, go back and READ (and re-reading about 10 times wouldn’t hurt you either!).

With that said (and done), did you get the point?  Did this almost random sampling of verses begin to open your eyes to the CENTRALITY, SIMPLICITY, SINGULARITY and SUFFICIENCY of Jesus Christ for a Christian?   After you read these, did you commit yourself to ALWAYS looking for Jesus Christ when you read Scripture?  He is your LORD and SAVIOR.

Col 3:1111 … but Christ is all, and in all.

Eph 1:33 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Col 2:33 in whom [= Jesus Christ ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Has your other Bible reading now come alive to you in a way you’ve never seen before as you focus on Him, His person, His requirements of you, His relationship with – and His LIFE IN YOU that HE WANTS TO LIVE THROUGH YOU by the Holy Spirit who is in you also?  My prayer is that it did!

“Lord” in the New Testament

In those verses, you saw a lot of references to Jesus Christ in all forms possible!  One that you will see 670 times in the New Testament is His title, “Lord.”  Notice, I said “His title?”  WHENEVER you see “Lord,” it is a reference specifically to Jesus Christ.  That is SO critical to your Bible reading!  There’s actually two different Greek words behind this English word.  One is “kurios” and  means “sovereign Lord.”  The other is “despotes” (we get despot from it) and means “absolute Lord.”  Sometime soon, I’ll write about what this means in terms of Master/Slave, but for now, start with the fact that EVERY time you see this, you are seeing a specific reference to Jesus Christ.  And, DON’T SKIP THESE!  When you see the reference think about WHAT it means in the verse!  Seriously!  You need to see the focus that the New Testament places on Jesus Christ!

For example, 1 Peter 2:13.  The verse teaches us to submit to every human institution, right?  Why?

1 Pe 2:1313 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,

Answer: “for the Lord’s sake.”  Who’s sake?  Jesus Christ’s sake!   You are submitting for His sake!  This means “because of the Lord’s will.”  It is an obligation you have to Christ.  “Submit” is a command!  It’s a military term it drives ALL the submission commands from 1 Peter 2:13 through 1 Peter 3:7!

Wives, Children and Fathers need to understand where the “Lord” fits in their roles!

Eph 5:2222 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Eph 6:11 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Eph 6:44 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Eph 6:55 Slaves (=employees today), be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

Notice the consistent use of the Lord in ALL of those roles (I had to throw in Christ in Eph. 6:5, just to get that last role in!).   What do those verses teach?  Wives, as you submit to your husband, so you also submit to the Lord.  AND, you submit to your husband in the same way you submit to the Lord! If a large circle represents your life of submission to the Lord, then within that circle is a SMALLER CIRCLE of submission to your husband. Since your ultimate submission is to the Lord, your husband gets the blessing of you obeying the Lord, by submitting to him (husband).  On those tough days, you might even remind yourself, you’re submitting to the Lord FIRST and because of that your husband is blessed by your submission to Him!   That same understanding is also true for children, and workers (slaves in their context).  BUT, Eph. 6:4 is slightly different.  Here it teaches Fathers (=parents since wife follows husbands lead in parenting) to raise children with a FOCUS on KNOWING Jesus Christ!  Do you / did you raise your children with the primary spiritual instruction and parenting being a focus on Jesus Christ?  Do you / did you teach them His life so that they could see how He was born like them, raised like them and yet is their Lord and Savior?

Again, the CENTRALITY, SIMPLICITY, SINGULARITY and SUFFICIENCY of Jesus Christ for a Christian – here seen in the use of the term “Lord” in the Bible!

Jesus Christ is Lord of all

We can’t leave the term “Lord” yet!  Not only does it refer to Jesus Christ and appear often in Scripture, but it also has a very specific meaning.  “Lord” means master.  Yes, master in a master/slave relationship.   Jesus Christ is the Master and Christians are His slaves.  The New Testament also talks about slaves (doulos in the Greek) often.

Ro 10:1212 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

Ac 10:3636 “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—

Ro 10:99 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Ro 14:44 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Ro 14:7–87 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Do you consider yourself a slave to Jesus Christ?  Do you even consider what it really means to be a slave?  Maybe to you, being a Christian is like your daily job.   For the most part, you do what your boss tells you to do.  But, ultimately, you can quit if you don’t want to continue doing what he says!  And, maybe, once-in-a-while, you don’t do what he says (or maybe not you, but some other Christian you know J ).  Well, that’s not slavery.  A slave does EXACTLY what the Master says, WHEN the Masters says and ultimately has no will of His own!   I love to hear Christians say, “If the Lord wills, I’ll see you this Saturday!”  We’re trying to be so humble (not)!  Do you really know what you’re saying when you say that?  James says: (Jas 4:15) Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”   Wow!  “If the Lord wills, we will live” is how the phrase starts!  Then “and also do this or that” comes second!  First, this is language DIRECTLY FROM the language of Masters and slaves.  This is how slaves used to talk back then.  Second, in talking this way you acknowledge that Christ is Lord of EVERYTHING you do – even just living!  He decides if you take that next breath!  Then He decides what you will do next!  And, yet, we (I’ve been SO guilty of this!) so casually toss this phrase out as a veneer of humbleness that means to tell our Christian friends just how pious, reverent and spiritual we are.  What you’re really saying is, “I’m just a slave, nothing more than a slave and acknowledging that my Lord, Jesus Christ has sovereign control over my next breath, I won’t commit to anything unless He approves it / wills it.”

If you want a full development of our slave relationship to Jesus Christ, I suggest you study “Slave of Christ” by Murray J. Harris and “Slave” by John MacArthur.

Christ is All – Part 1

Has being a Christian turned out to be everything you’d thought and hoped it would be?

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Has being a Christian turned out to be everything you’d thought and hoped it would be?  Did you come to Christianity hoping God would change you?  Help you eliminate sinful, painful, stressful, sins in your life?  Help you fix your marriage?  Help you fix your parenting so it would be a joy and your children would be blessings?  Did you imagine joyful, peaceful days ahead?  Where guilt or anxiety or worry or anger or sadness or fear or lack-of-control or hate or bitterness or whatever would melt away?  Has that happened?  At all?  Are you really any closer to that today than when your Christian life started?  Have you bounced around from church-to-church and found yourself at-first excited and motivated but later bored and unchanged?  Have you found books that sent your soaring in hope and joy, but alas, ultimately, the bliss faded and you remained unchanged?  Are you still a slave to all those problems?   Does Christianity really work for anybody?

For many years, I poured myself into my ministry.   Every sermon was carefully prepared and prayed for.  Verse-by-verse, with excitement over the truths of each passage, I delivered hundreds and hundreds sermons that people loved and were convicted by and edified by.  But, as I watched the flock over the years, I didn’t see people spiritually maturing, becoming more like Christ.   I didn’t see people craving the Word more (1 Peter 2:2) or having the word of Christ dwell in them richly (Col 3:16).  I’d still hear of the same anxieties, worries or anger or bitterness and, even after counseling or discipling, the same immaturities would seemingly remain.  Even for myself – the preacher who got to spend all week in the word, I wasn’t satisfied with my own spiritual growth.  So, I’ve studied and prayed and studied more and prayed more and am now embarking on a journey here to not only share what I’ve learned but also what I continue to learn.  I fully believe that Christianity is ALL that God promises here-and-now and FAR MORE than most Christians currently comprehend in their walk on this side of eternity.  My prayer and hope is that if you found yourself in the first paragraph above, that this journey will bless and sanctify you too.  I do not promise that this will come out in the right order or be as full and robust as it may later grow to be.   But, it’s time to start and get this uninspired journey into this phase.  So, let the journey begin!

One of my hobbies over the years has been investing in stocks.  Years ago, I finally settled on one particular investing system because it was based on the reality of the market and the fact that people don’t change!   So, you can study stocks from 100 years ago or 100 days ago and follow their ups-and-downs of prices (i.e. charts) to see human-behavior at work.  Recently, the man behind this system published a new edition of his investing book.  He wanted to impress upon his readers the need to become an expert at reading stock charts.  So, right at the beginning of book – chapter 1 – he put 100 pages of stock charts to read!  The first couple of times I read his book, I skipped those 100 pages! I wanted to read about his system!  But, then, over time, I realized he was right!  I had to study and study and study stock charts to learn how to read them as part of being a successful stock investor.  Sure, I needed the principles of his system, but it was only of value if I went right to the source and read the charts!

So, why tell you this? I own thousands of Christian books.  I’ve been guilty over the years of reading them and often SKIPPING the verses of Scripture that they put in the text – or at least just skimming the verse and not really contemplating how it supported or illustrated a point they made.   I’ll even go farther in my confession!  I’m guilty of reading my Bible in the same way.   Certain words or phrases or subjects have became so familiar that I even skipped over them as I read through Scripture!  God really changed me when I was in Seminary and I learned Expository Preaching!   I committed myself to teaching EVERY verse of EVERY book that I preached.   I translated every verse from the Greek.  I diagrammed every verse. I struggled with the meaning of every word and phrase.  I taught every verse in detail, phrase-by-phrase.  The Holy Spirit used this to open my eyes to those words and phrases that I had been glossing over in the past.   Certain verses and phrases really hit me HARD!  Especially the ones that said “all” or “every” and left NO WAY out or around what was being taught!  God wants me to continue to do that the rest of my life and He wants you to do that too (you might ask Joshua about this!  Joshua 1:5-9).

Back to where I started.  What does Christianity give you/me?  What does it offer/provide?  The answer is real simple.  And, if you’re willing to slow down, read the Bible carefully and not skip those words and phrases, you’ll see it very clearly.  Don’t lose the profoundness of this answer because it’s so obvious or you think you know it already!  Remember, if you found yourself in the first paragraph, then you’ve been missing true, real Christianity, right?  I’m going to tell you the answer, but you have to commit to reading all the verses that follow (and this list is going to grow and grow – it is SO incomplete) to begin to see the answer from God’s word.

The answer is:  Christianity is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is what God the Father has given to us.  Period.  Christianity is having Christ (salvation), learning/knowing/living Christ (sanctification). He’s our only message for being saved. He’s our only message for Christian growth.  Don’t worry, I’m not negating or down-playing God the Father or the Holy Spirit.  We’ll cover all that soon enough.  If that bothers you, then trust the truth of John 16:13-15 and Ephesians 1:3.

Did you ever have a best friend (or have one now, maybe your spouse?)? You did everything together.  Inseparable.  Virtual twins.  Might as well have been connected at the hips? Basically, I’m describing the most personal, connected relationship possible. Yes, that’s Christianity.  It’s Jesus Christ living His life through you.  He’s more than a thing, more than a distant boss.  He’s a person IN YOU wanting to live HIS LIFE THROUGH YOU.  Thought-by-thought. Moment-by-moment.  Event-by-event.  What are we trying to become?  Christ-like.   What else could this be / look like than being and doing exactly as our Lord and Savior?  If He is fully living His life through you, what does everyone see?  Answer:  They see Jesus Christ.  Do you need an example of this kind of life?  Read Paul (which you will do in a minute).  Paul will tell you he lived this way and he will show you he lived this way.  Galatians 2:20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 1 Corinthians 11:11 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (bold is added by me).

There are probably over 100 verses in the list that follows.  I’ve left out many books of the Bible and many key passages in the books I’ve included.  BUT, this almost random sampling should begin to open your eyes to the CENTRALITY, SIMPLICITY, SINGULARITY and SUFFICIENCY of Jesus Christ for a Christian.   After you read these, commit yourself to ALWAYS looking for Jesus Christ when you read Scripture.  He is your LORD and SAVIOR.  Your Bible will come alive to you in a way you’ve never seen before as you focus on Him, His person, His requirements of you, His relationship with – and His LIFE IN YOU that HE WANTS TO LIVE THROUGH YOU by the Holy Spirit who is in you also.  (The bold print is mine, so that you get the point!).

  1.  John 14:66 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
  2. Mt 4:1919 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
    Mk 1:1717 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
  3. Mt 8:2222 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”
  4. Mt 9:99 As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
    Mk 2:1414 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
    Lk 5:2727 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.”
  5. Mt 11:25–2925 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
  6. Mt 16:2424 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
    Mk 8:3434 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
    Lk 9:2323 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
    Mt 10:3838And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me
  7. Mt 19:2121 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
    Mk 10:2121 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
    Lk 18:2222 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
  8. Jn 1:4343 The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.”
  9. Jn 8:1212 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
  10. Jn 12:2626If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
  11. Ac 4:10–1210 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. 12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
  12. Ac 9:3–53 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
  13. Ro 6:1–101 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
  14. 1 Co 1:30–3130 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
  15. 1 Co 2:1–21 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
  16. 1 Co 2:1616 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
  17. 1 Co 6:15–2015 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
  18. 1 Co 7:22–2322 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
  19. 1 Co 11:11 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
  20. 2 Co 1:19–2019 For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
  21. 2 Co 2:14–1714 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
  22. 2 Co 3:2–42 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
  23. 2 Co 3:1818 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord [=Jesus Christ], the Spirit.
  24. 2 Co 4:55 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
  25. 2 Co 4:4–114 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh
  26. 2 Co 10:55 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
  27. 2 Co 5:99 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him [=Jesus Christ].
  28. 2 Co 5:1111 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord [=Jesus Christ], we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
  29. 2 Co 5:14–2114 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  30. 2 Co 6:11 And working together with Him [=Jesus Christ], we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—
  31. 2 Co 11:33 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
  32. 2 Co 13:55 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
  33. Ga 2:2020 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
  34. Ga 5:2424 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
  35. Ga 5:22 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision,
  36. Gal 6:22 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
  37. Ga 6:1414 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
  38. Eph 1:33 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
  39. Eph 4:2020 But you did not learn Christ in this way,
  40. Eph 5:1717 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord [=Jesus Christ] is.
  41. Eph 5:2222 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord[=Jesus Christ].
  42. Eph 5:2525 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
  43. Eph 6:11 Children, obey your parents in the Lord[=Jesus Christ], for this is right.
  44. Eph 6:44 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord[=Jesus Christ].
  45. Eph 6:5–65 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
  46. Eph 6:99 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours [=Jesus Christ] is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
  47. Eph 6:1010 Finally, be strong in the Lord [=Jesus Christ] and in the strength of His might.
  48. Php 1:2121 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
  49. Php 2:2–52 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
  50. Php 3:33 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
  51. Php 3:88 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
  52. Php 3:1414 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  53. Php 2:2121 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
  54. Col 2:1–31 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
  55. Col 2:66 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
  56. Col 2:88 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
  57. Col 3:1–41 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Submit to government? Bash the government?

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So, the question came up on a set of Facebook pages today about submitting to government vs. bashing them all the time.  As we all know, one way to get lots of internet popularity is through bashing and when you do it in a comical / cartoon setting, then you get even more “likes” for your page!  But, but, but – should we bash our government?  Even worse, should we resist / disobey?  Here’s how I answered.   Most of the other answers were non-biblical, emotional, empty worldly chatter!

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Submit – yes.  yes.  yes.  Just as Jesus and all the disciples submitted.  Remembering that they lived in a time of an absolute dictator that could take their lives at any time, torture them, etc. – and often did.  Ask John the Baptist – he died a humiliating / unfair death at the hands of the “government”!  Jesus didn’t save him from that!  Ask Paul about all his beatings (and he accepted them gladly – Col 1:24)!  Ask Jesus – Rome beat Him and put Him on that cross!  And, with all that (even Nero burning Christians at the stake at the time 1 Peter was written) – go read the NT and see how much it *doesn’t* say about rebelling against government or even changing it (it says nothing of the sort)!  Instead, Peter writes to submit to EVERY human institution (1 Peter 2:13-17) and submit to unfair/evil Masters (bosses today) in 1 Peter 2:18-20!  Paul writes to submit to government (Rom 13:1-5) saying that it IS God-ordained and has the power of the sword (death)!  So, God ordained President Obama!  Paul even says to pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-4)!  Yes, you refuse to sin when *compelled* to by a government, but God may allow you to suffer at the evil hands of that government!  You can also flee a government like Jesus’ family did in Matt 2:16-23.   BUT, mostly study Rom 13:1-5 and 1 Tim 2:1-4 and consider your witness to the unsaved world.  All of the above indicates that we are exactly what Scripture says we are – aliens and strangers here.  Our purpose is to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and not make an issue out of a world that is not our true home.  If you go around bashing government, then first of all, you’re wasting time that could be spent knowing/proclaiming Christ crucified among the saints (1 Cor 2:1-2)!  Just think, you could be like Paul – chained to a Roman guard – living a life that solely proclaimed Christ Jesus and furthering the gospel (Phil 1:12-20)!