Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians (Reboot)

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Last Monday I explained that I’ll repost the few Bible Studies I wrote on Colossians before I injured my back in February. I’ll add a few remarks to these articles where I feel they need further comment, so you really might find it beneficial to read them again. Once we’ve reviewed those studies, we’ll continue working through the epistle.

As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he refuted.

Continue reading

Jesus Shines Brighter

I love the hymn that I have selected to post this week. I love the way it exalts Jesus as Son of God and Son of man. I love its bold declaration that He rules over all creation. And I love the way it describes how much fairer He is than even the most beautiful aspects of His creation.

But right now, it encourages me to remember that He also shines brighter than all the trouble that this current pandemic has caused. As easy as it is to be distracted by all the ramifications of the crisis, we need to turn our attention to Him, seeing that He outshines all the hardship, sorrow and frustration that threatens our peace. What a beautiful Savor!

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Keys To Discernment: A Portrait Of The Real Jesus

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False teaching invariably attacks, perverts or (at the very least) distorts the nature of Jesus Christ. Beth Moore, for example, reduces Him to a romantic playmate Who speaks directly to her and is “the bossiest thing.” For proper discernment, therefore, Christians must possess an accurate understanding of Christ’s nature.

Over the past few weeks we studied Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church to be filled with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We also studied the way God qualifies believers to share in His inheritance.  As we closed last week’s study, we shifted our attention from the Father to His Son, and Paul now picks up the discussion with Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians

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As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he Continue reading

Jesus Gets Excluded From His Own Birthday Party

Christmas obscured

The last two days on Grace to You, John MacArthur has remarked that much of the world celebrates Christmas, but few people spend any time celebrating Jesus Himself. This fact bothers me most years, but this year I find it particularly irksome.

It’s not simply that the excitement of presents, food and activities overshadow serious reflection on the Lord. In a sense, I can understand how that happens. It’s not right, obviously, but I think even the most devoted Christian falls into that trap from time to time. In and of itself,  that sense of distraction doesn’t upset me very much.

But it deeply disturbs me to Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Beyond The War On Christmas

Originally published December 7, 2016:

christmas-crossThis is the time of year when many evangelicals complain about the “war on Christmas.” Admittedly, something inside me  cringes at the politically correct greeting,  “Happy Holidays,” causing me to rebelliously answer, “Merry Christmas!” I’d love to attribute my rebellion to a desire to follow the great Reformers, but it probably really comes from having been a young teenager in the 1960s.

Anyway, I do understand the feelings of those who take offense at the secularization of Christmas. I emphasize with folks who quote the cheesy line, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” But sometimes I wonder if these culture warriors are more interested in “taking back Christmas for the Lord” than in the Lord Himself.

The practicalities of the Incarnation raise amazing questions. And the questions multiply, alternately intriguing me and frustrating me with the complexities of Jehovah, the very Sustainer of all creation (Colossians 1:17), depending on His mother for His basic needs.How could Mary and Joseph teach the Word of God (John 1:1-14) how to speak? How does a young couple raise God? Did  Jesus attend Hebrew School already knowing the Torah, and did He work to memorize the Psalms with His brothers?

Of course, too much speculation on such questions lead to apocryphal stories, tempting us to believe that the Bible isn’t sufficient to tell us everything we need to know about Jesus. Take care, dear sisters in Christ, to let such questions lead you to worship this Incarnate God, content not to understand the particulars.

That said, I’m going to ask one more question. When He ate the Passover lamb each year, did He anticipate that Good Friday afternoon when He would suffer and die as the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:35-36)?

Actually the answer to that one isn’t as important as its main point. The Second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, becoming fully Man without ceasing to be fully God, laying aside His glory (but not His deity) for 33 years for one specific purpose. He came to be crucified.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

That death on the cross, mentioned in verse 8, offered atonement for sin which would apply to all those who would believe in Him. See John 10:11, Romans 5:8 and 1 John 3:5 for just three of many Scriptures testifying to His atoning work on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He allows us all to glorify God the Father.

Christ’s incarnation rightly fascinates us. But it should do so much more than engage our intellect with speculation. It should bring us to the   cross, assuring us of His grace to pay for our sin. And as we worship Him for dying in our place, perhaps we can be patient with well-meaning people who wish us Season’s Greetings.

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The Wonderful Message Of Christmas — And Why People Work So Hard To Obscure It

2015 ChristmasI personally know many non-Christians who just love Christmas. They’ll decorate their homes to the hilt, send out beautifully illustrated year-end newsletters wishing people peace and joy, and maybe even put up a cute nativity scene as an homage to the story of the first Christmas.

For them, Christmas is primarily about brightly wrapped presents, feasting on scrumptious food, and parties. Songs mentioning benign infants lying in mangers must be supplemented with other songs about jingling bells and an obese elf from the North Pole who sees us when we’re sleeping. And then there are the infamous office parties and their accompanying innuendos about who was nice and naughty.

Most of all, they’ll declare that Christmas is about children. Not so much about a specific Child, although some might give Him an obligatory nod, but children and their sense Continue reading

Prayer: A Seldom Realized Privilege

king-jesusEach morning, John and I listen to John MacArthur’s Grace To You broadcast. Currently, Grace To You is featuring MacArthur’s most popular Christmas messages that he’s preached over the course of his fifty years of pastoring Grace Community Church. Today’s message focusing on the deity of Christ captured my attention, but not in the way you might expect.

As MacArthur preached on Jesus being the Son of the Most High, and therefore being God Incarnate, I thought about God as the Most High Being. I don’t meditate on the fact that He is the Most High often enough, which usually leads me to regard Him a little more casually than I should.

That casual attitude particularly shows up in my prayer life, I’m sorry to say. Yes, I know the stereotype of Continue reading

Singing Christmas Theology

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing has been my favorite Christmas hymn for most of my Christian life. It’s packed full of solid Biblical doctrine ranging from the Incarnation to regeneration, always bringing us back to His glory.

Singing this beloved hymn grows more meaningful each year as I notice new depths of theology in its familiar verses. As a result, I love it even more now than I loved it as a new Christian. I pray that you’ll discover truths about our wonderful Savior every time you sing it too.

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I’m Not Fond Of Seasonal Blog Posts

Thanksgiving is Thursday, and Advent is quickly following. As a Christian blogger, I feel a certain pressure (a gentle pressure, but a pressure nonetheless) to write about these celebrations. Yesterday, Thanksgiving came in handy, I’ll admit.  I didn’t have to spend hours Saturday afternoon scouring through YouTube for a hymn that interested me. A seasonal hymn really bailed me out!

But for the most part, I don’t get terribly excited about either reading or writing Thanksgiving and Advent articles. That’s particularly strange to me because I love the doctrine of the Incarnation.

People have given up trying to figure me out.

Seriously, I think there are two reasons this year that I feel a heightened aversion to Thanksgiving and Christmas articles. The first is Continue reading