Showing posts with label Holiness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holiness. Show all posts

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Mining the Minors: Haggai (5)

Exactly three months after the returned exiles of Judah obediently began to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem following a hiatus of at least seventeen years, the prophet Haggai delivered yet another message from the Lord to his people. Unlike the previous two, which were messages of undiluted encouragement, this one did not seem designed to spare anyone’s feelings.

Sometimes we need an accurate assessment of our spiritual state in order to move forward.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Anonymous Asks (216)

“Why did God kill Ananias and Sapphira for lying?”

The first eleven verses of Acts 5 tell the story of Ananias and Sapphira, two married professing Christians in the early days of the first church in Jerusalem. As we find out at the end of the previous chapter, these early Christians were in the habit of sharing “all things in common” in the sense that they sold excess possessions and properties and gave the proceeds to God by laying them at the feet of the apostles, who ensured they were distributed to believers in need.

The Part and the Whole

Ananias and Sapphira conspired to enhance their good name among the believers by pretending to do the same. They sold a piece of property, kept back part of the proceeds of sale, and brought the rest to the apostles, representing it as the whole amount. All of this may be inferred from Peter’s rebuke of Ananias: “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?” Challenged independently of one another, Ananias and Sapphira stuck to their lie and were stricken in some miraculous way. The text says they fell down and breathed their last.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Right Kind of Fear

In the scriptures the word “fear” may be used to describe the reaction a person might be expected to have in response to at least three different situations.

If surrounded by enemies fear would be equal to terror. David said, “Fear is on every side ... they scheme to take away my life.” On the other hand Moses commanded respect to be shown to parents by saying, “Every one of you shall fear* his mother and his father”, and Jeremiah was advocating reverence as being rightfully due to the Lord when he exclaimed, “Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? There is none like you, O Lord.”

Monday, March 28, 2022

Anonymous Asks (190)

“What’s the difference between righteousness and holiness?”

New Christians may hear these two biblical words as pretty much synonymous. After all, both qualities are on regular display when a believer is living a godly life, and we may be forgiven if we sometimes find them difficult to distinguish.

Nevertheless, the writers of the Bible do use these words differently, and we should probably make the same careful distinctions they do.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Scales and Panes

I was chatting with a young man yesterday.

He considers himself a Christian. And maybe he is. I hope he is. But he’s certainly confused about something very basic to salvation; and maybe it will surprise you what it is.

He doesn’t really understand sin.

Now, understanding what it is we are saved from is pretty necessary to salvation, so I’m concerned. I want him to have a correct grasp of how sin relates to the holiness of God. And I’m troubled that his teachers have not taught him this.

So I’m going to try to do a short explanation for you. And I’m going to start with this question:

How bad is sin?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Act Like What You Are

Clean living requires an act of the will, and acts of the will require a changed mindset — at least if they are going to stick for any length of time. Down through the centuries, men and women who sought to control their natural appetites have attempted to “live clean” with different goals in view.

Plato taught the suppression of fleshly desires in order to free the soul to search for knowledge. The Stoics disciplined themselves to manage their emotions in order to uphold what they believed was the essential dignity of human nature. Kant advocated moral asceticism in hope of cultivating virtue. Monks of various religious orders idealized poverty, fasting and celibacy as ways of expressing devotion to their gods.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Why Didn’t Jesus Marry?

It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar in 2020. Bet you didn’t know that. I had to look it up.

For readers who weren’t around in 1970, this pithy summary from GotQuestions is pretty much on-the-nose: “It is an attempt to rewrite history. It makes the traitor Judas Iscariot a victim and reduces the Lord Jesus Christ to a burnt-out celebrity who is in over his head.”

I never saw Superstar back in the day, but a few of the older guys in my mid-’70s youth group loved the soundtrack and played it to death at our basement get-togethers. The experience was musically painful and theologically teeth-grinding.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

No Way to Think About God

“Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.”

“You shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel.”

Throughout history, when God has made his dwelling with men, he has always made gracious provision for our fallen state and inevitable sinfulness. Proximity to perfection is a dangerous thing, a fact God has stated repeatedly. Yet somehow, the idea continues to circulate that God’s holiness is some sort of optional feature of his character, one that may be turned off and on at will.

Nobody puts it quite that way, of course.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Scales and Panes

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Separation Anxiety

If our culture has a mortal sin, it is discrimination, the penalty for which is shaming, mockery, job loss or exclusion from the in-group.

We are told not to discriminate between moral and immoral behaviors, regardless of the real-world outcomes such actions produce. We are told not to discriminate between the productive and unproductive use of our tax dollars, because to do so demonstrates that we are ‘phobes’ of one sort or another. For similar reasons, we are not allowed to distinguish between employees who are capable of performing required tasks and employees who are not; or between students who understand the material and students who do not. Instead, we must meet demographic targets for success based on levels of perceived historical victimhood.

We might say our society has separation anxiety. It’s in a mindless panic to make sure nothing is ever usefully distinguished from anything else.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Distance

Do you ever feel completely inadequate to the task of being a Christian?

The space between God and man is quite a distance to bridge, isn’t it.

I’m not talking about the distance between hell and heaven, or the moral distance between, say, Hitler and Jesus Christ. That’s obvious enough to not require a labored explanation. I’m not even thinking of the need to get saved or the importance of becoming reconciled to God and escaping the judgement we are all due.

No, I’m speaking here, not as a member of a fallen race, but as one who already knows and loves God and is seeking, however incompetently, to stagger along in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The distance between — the difference between — me and him … good grief!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tefillin and Wonderbra

Sam the Eagle weighs in ...
God gave his word to man with the intention that it be used to address every moment of human existence in its every aspect.

To those who have never lived this exercise (and it is very much an exercise), that may sound a little tedious and even holier-than-thou. We’ve all met people who are “Jesus this, Jesus that” 24/7 and wondered what exactly they were trying to prove.

God meant, I believe, that we should come to think and live in fellowship with him at all times.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Believers That Sin & A God In Whom Is No Darkness At All

A more current version of this post is available here.