January 29, 2024

Ep.1318: What Did Jesus Really Think of the Pharisees? (Part I)

How Jesus exposed the deep hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees

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Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:15:24]
Why did Jesus call the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites in the first woe?


[00:31:17]
What was the second woe Jesus pronounced about the followers of the Pharisees?


[00:44:15]
What does the third woe about blindness teach us?


Theme Scripture: Matthew 23:27

Jesus was a wise, loving and compassionate man. His whole reason for becoming a man was to give his life as a ransom for every single human being who ever lived, and you can’t be more selfless and giving than that. Yet, with all of his compassion, Jesus was also one to not mince words when a hard message was needed. This becomes extremely evident when we examine the seven "woes" he proclaimed to the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23. Of all the words we have recorded from Jesus’ earthly ministry, these are the most blunt and direct. So, what was Jesus really saying to the scribes and Pharisees? Was he showing a fundamental dislike for them? Was he exposing their true characters so everyone could see? Or was he simply expressing his dislike for who they were and what they stood for?

Continue Reading

Seven Woes

Jesus knew his earthly mission to present himself as the Messiah and as the ransom price for Adam’s sin, was ending. During those last few weeks of his ministry, there were many incredibly significant events recorded in Scripture for us. Not the least of these was his proclaiming of seven woes to the scribes and Pharisees. These spiritual leaders of the Jewish nation were (with individual exceptions) at odds with Jesus from the moment he began to preach. After 3½ years of being challenged by them, answering their questions, performing miracles in spite of them, asking them questions they could not answer and teaching all of the people to their dismay, Jesus was now out of time.

A Last Attempt

These scribes and Pharisees would not accept him, his message, or the proof of his being their Messiah. On the contrary, they had begun plotting to kill him. Jesus loved them as he loved all of God’s chosen nation. In proclaiming these woes, he was giving them a last opportunity to see the error of their ways. These hard and truth-filled criticisms were done publicly. Why? Because their hypocrisy and self-elevating behavior was paraded about before the people on a regular basis. Both the people and these leaders had a right to know how they continuously and obsessively misrepresented God’s Law for the nation.

Check out our January 29, 2024 podcast, “What Did Jesus Really Think of the Pharisees? (Part I)” for more. We set the context of Jesus’ words and then carefully examine the bluntness of what he said. First, we dig into what he meant by saying, “Woe to you!” with each and every reality he presented. We follow Jesus’ reasoning as he called them “hypocrites” and “blind leaders.” We observe as he backed these bold labels with specific and undeniable examples. This is a big topic, and Part I treats the first three of these seven woes. With each and every example, we pause and consider how to identify and avoid these very tendencies within each of us. Don’t miss this opportunity to see Jesus’ love, wisdom and proclaiming of truth in action!

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January 29, 2024

Ep.: How does God choose who will be saved?

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God (Genesis 3), the punishment of death was applied not only to them, but to all their descendants, meaning every subsequent generation of mankind. 

Likewise, Jesus’s sacrifice of his perfect human life as a corresponding “payment” for that disobedience applies to all members of the human race back through the generations. This concept is explained in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, where Jesus is described as a mediator for all, and the payment of Jesus’ perfect life is described as a “ransom.” 

Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, all of mankind may therefore be considered as being “saved” from the death penalty incurred by Adam and Eve.

1 Timothy 2:5-5 also declares that the ransom Jesus paid will be “testified in due time,” meaning the resurrection of mankind from death is a future event. At that time, all of the resurrected mankind will be taught how to obey God and His ways (as pictured in Isaiah 35:8-10). 

Once all people have had sufficient opportunity to fully appreciate God’s laws, there will be a period of testing. During that period of testing, people will be given the choice of obeying God or returning to disobedience. Just like the consequences for Adam and Eve’s disobedience was death, the consequences for choosing disobedience during this time of testing will also be death. However, there will be no “ransom” from this death condition.

The majority of mankind who choose to remain obedient to God during (and after) this time of testing will be returned to the same condition of everlasting perfect human life enjoyed by Adam and Eve prior to their act of disobedience. This return to a previously lost perfect human condition is referred to as “restitution” in the Scriptures (such as in Acts 3:21). This period of testing, and the punishment of failing that testing, is described in Revelation 21:4, and will be one manner in which God will judge mankind.

The reason why the time of restitution of all mankind is in the future is because since Jesus’s death, a second means of salvation is available to any who choose to accept it. During his ministry, Jesus sought those who would be willing to set aside their own goals and ambitions in life and to fully dedicate, or consecrate, themselves to God as he had done (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 2:5, Acts 15:14). Those who choose this path sacrifice their participation in the future resurrection of mankind, and also sacrifice the opportunity for restitution to perfect human lives. 

Instead, these “called ones” demonstrate their obedience to God now in their present lifetimes, through the keeping of their consecration vows. Instead of being judged after a future period of education with the rest of mankind, these will be judged by God at the conclusion of their current lives. If judged worthy by God, this group of people will be granted the higher reward of the same spiritual existence granted to the resurrected and glorified Jesus (Revelation 20:4-5, 2 Peter 1:4, 1 John 3:2).

Because this group will be judged at the end of their current lifetimes instead of during the future, more general resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 refers to this group as “the firstfruits of them that slept.” These scriptures also highlight the distinction between the two different types of judgment and salvation by pointing out that “all shall be made alive but every man in his own order.”

Whether at the end of their current lives, or during the future resurrection of mankind, all who have ever lived will be tested and judged on their obedience to God and His laws, just as our long-ago ancestors Adam and Eve were tested and judged.

Seeking to understand and obey God in our present lives is the best course any can choose to take.

If called forth by God to a present life of dedication and consecration, one may, if judged worthy, be eligible for the grand spiritual reward of the divine nature. If not called forth by God, living a life seeking to understand and obey God now will still help prepare one for the future time when all mankind will be judged and, if found worthy, rewarded with perfect human existence. 

To learn more about God’s judgements and salvation listen to,

“What If I’m Not Good Enough for Heaven?”

“Does God Judge Everyone the Same Way?”

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January 22, 2024

Ep.1317: It’s Time to Change, but How Much Is Enough?

Prioritizing our needed life changes and setting up to accomplish them

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CHAPTERS

[00:12:33]
What kinds of things might distort our ability to change for the better?


[00:30:13]
How can we plan for change?


[00:45:58]
How can we overcome complacency to reach our spiritual goals?


Theme Scripture: Romans 12:12

Let’s face it. We all know that each and every one of us can be better. We can be better human beings, better friends, co-workers, spouses, cousins and certainly better Christians. The challenge here is obvious. Being “better” requires change. Significant change. To be better in whatever area we are focusing on requires a different mindset, which brings different words and actions. This all translates into work! So, how do we go about actually becoming “better”? Where do we start? How many parts of our lives do we try to change? Do we work on them all at once? How do we figure out what the very highest priorities are? What if we fail? How does the Bible guide us with all of these details?

Continue Reading

What makes a person want to change?

One of the most obvious answers is that we see something or someone that displays circumstances or characteristics or perceived advantages that we would like to possess. We want to change because we want something different than we already have. This tells us that change - true and lasting change - is driven by more than a desire for something, it is equally driven by dissatisfaction with our current situation.

The idea of dissatisfaction as a driving force is both powerful and potentially problematic. It is powerful because human nature will run towards something with even greater energy if it is running away from something at the same time. Simultaneously being motivated away from one thing and towards another gives us a much higher opportunity for success. As good as this is, dissatisfaction can be problematic when the change we seek is difficult. An inability to achieve the change we sought can trigger an abiding and depressive mental state.

How do we handle this?

  1. Realize we cannot change everything about ourselves all at once. Overload is a recipe for discouragement and failure.
  2. Understand that all change is not the same. Some things in life can be changed by altering or adjusting what we say do or think. These alterations build on a base that is already valuable and somewhat established. On the other side of the matter, there are some changes that can only be achieved by abandonment. If we have habits or associations that are toxic, we need to recognize their poison and leave them in our past.

Great! Lots of details, but how do we do it? Check out our January 22,2024 podcast, “It’s Time to Change, but How Much Is Enough?” for more. We walk through the several stages of change and highlight how each stage looks in relation to the altering or abandoning being pursued. Any and every Christian needs to daily work on changing to become more like Jesus. The Bible is full of advice, encouragement and examples of how all of this can be accomplished. Join us for some practical and welcomed biblical advice on how our changing can bring glory to God!

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January 15, 2024

Ep.1316: Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part II)

Learning to better recognize and combat our personal biases

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Play Part I

CHAPTERS

[00:15:35]
Does having liberty in Christ mean we can do whatever we want?


[00:29:45]
How do we break our natural tendency to belittle others?


[00:46:02]
Paul and Barnabas split up over a disagreement. How can we hope to do any better?


Theme Scripture: James 1:19-20

In Part I, we laid a foundation for understanding and managing harmful biases. One primary lesson we learned was that we ALL - no matter who we are and what our background is - are biased. While this is an uncomfortable truth, it is a necessary realization, for a true Christian is to strive to overcome any and all fleshly inclinations. We also learned this overcoming is no easy task. Just because we may be able to point out a personal bias does not mean we are on a path to dismantle it. On the contrary, often times recognizing our biases can make us very self-protective. In this episode, we continue to uncover specific ways our biases show themselves and specific scriptural principles to deal with them. This also is not easy!

Continue Reading

We gave a simple working definition for bias:

An inclination or outlook that prevents an unprejudiced consideration of a matter.

The objective of this definition is to focus in on those biases that are obviously detrimental to our ability to see clearly. We need this clear focus because the fact is, most of us - and that includes me - live each day affected by personal biases. If these preconceived conclusions about others in our daily experiences don’t bring us to godliness, then they are undeniably wrong.

One example that is a problem for most of us.

Many of us have personal biases towards others that belittle them. As Christians, this should never be so - and yet it’s a problem. What about someone who is of a different ethnicity, or a different religion, or is of a different political affiliation than me? Do I discount them in any way? What if someone has different social associations? If I am struggling financially, how do I feel about those who are not? How do I feel about those who struggle if I'm well off? If we look deeply into our reactions to those who are different than we are, we will likely uncover several biases.

This is an age-old problem.

In the New Testament, James pointedly brings this out. He writes about the trap of honoring those who come into our Christian circles who appear to be well off and distinguished. We offer them the higher seats of honor in our gatherings. He then compares this to someone coming into our midst who may appear ragged and lowly. He emphatically writes that treating them like second-class citizens is far beneath the standards of equality in Christ we have been called to. Simply stated, this is wrong!

Check out our January 15, 2024 podcast, “Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part II)” for more. We take aim at the serious damage this kind of bias can cause. We also expose how biases can break trust between us, and most tragically, how they can burn bridges. Our personal biases put us all in jeopardy. Join us as we seek biblical solutions for this often-overlooked, rampant personal problem!

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January 08, 2024

Ep.1315: Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part I)

Flushing out the many ways personal bias undermines our faith

If you do not have a password, please subscribe to our FREE Premium Content for the Full Edition version of CQ Rewind. The welcome message will contain your password, and a reminder will be sent each week when the CQ Rewind is available online for you to read, print, or download.

Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:15:02]
Do I have a self-protecting bias or a personal expectation bias that shuts down listening?


[00:30:43]
How can we turn our walls into bridges with other Christians?


[00:45:52]
What does the Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15 teach us about resolving our differences?


Theme Scripture: James 1:19-20

I was recently summoned for jury duty. As I sat in the room at the beginning of the day, the court and its representatives showed some really informative introductory videos on what to expect and look out for when serving on a jury. The main topic they focused on was bias. Their premise was that we ALL have biases and we ALL can be in danger of following them rather than following the simple facts of a case. I was struck by their significant efforts to enlighten and warn about this sometimes subtle but incredibly common enemy of justice. Our claiming to be Christian does NOT somehow magically release us from our previous biases. In fact, our claims to Christianity may even be in jeopardy because of our personal biases. So, how do we learn to recognize this devious and damaging tendency?

Continue Reading

For the most part, we think of bias as not being able to see something without a preconceived notion of what it should look like. Our predetermined conclusions can easily sway what we think about whatever it is we may be dealing with. While this can sometimes be a good layer of protection, it more often than not ends up being a detrimental habit. Bias hinders us from seeing a broader perspective than our own. For this brief discussion we will define bias as: an inclination or outlook that prevents an unprejudiced consideration of a matter. 

Bias hinders us in many ways.

One primary and negative function of bias is that it keeps us from listening. Think about how easily our ability to listen to someone else is dependent on how we feel about that other person. If we like them and agree with their perspective, listening is easy. Our preconceived notion of what should be is being bolstered, and that's comfortable. However, what happens if the person we are supposed to be listening to is presenting a contrary or questionable viewpoint? Are we open - or are we only partially paying attention - because their perspective is simply not acceptable or desirable?

Bias can even make us think and act in an unchristian way.

Unfortunately, our bias against those who hold opinions and even facts we would rather not hear, usually prevails. And the sad thing is, this usually happens without us even realizing it! These habitual responses to those who may ruffle our feathers actually shuts down our ability to potentially hear truth. These responses stifle our growth and worst of all, they are unchristian on every level.

Check out our January 8, 2024 podcast, “Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part I) for more. We examine several striking biblical examples of bias in action. While focusing in on three specific aspects of the destructive power of bias, we also lay out several steps to counter our biases. Because bias can’t simply be turned off, we need to learn how to calm it down and then redirect its energy. Let’s face it, bias is a problem! Join us to see how personally applying biblical principles can change that!

 

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January 08, 2024

Ep.: In Mark 5, why did the demons ask Jesus to send them into pigs?

There are three accounts of this incident (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39). It helps to understand what was actually transpiring by referring to each account.

From the Luke account, it is clear that the demons were responding to Jesus’ command to come out of the man (See Luke 8:29). In response to Jesus’ command the demons caused the man to fall before Jesus with the request to “torment me not”  (verse 28).

The root word for “torment” comes from the Greek word basanos

Vines Greek-English dictionary defines it as “a touchstone, employed in testing metals.” The mark left on the touchstone helped identify the type of metal being tested. The word is also used to describe divine judgment (See Revelation 18:7). The Matthew account adds a meaningful phrase; “art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). The demons apparently knew there was a judgment day coming even for them. This judgment is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 6:3 where the Apostle Paul said to the church, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?”

When it was clear that Jesus intended to cast the demons out, they asked not to be cast “into the deep” (Luke 8:31). The Greek word translated “deep” can also be translated “abyss.” The same word is used in Revelation 20: 1, 3 to describe the binding of Satan at the end of this age. He will be restrained for 1,000 years and not allowed to interact with mankind.

1 Peter 3:19  tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” We are not told what Jesus said to them, but it is possible that he was telling them they would one day have an opportunity to be restored to God’s favor if they repented.

The point here is that they were in prison. Peter goes on to say that these spirits are those that disobeyed God at the time of the flood and interacted with man. Their punishment was a severe restraint on their activities. They could no longer materialize as they had in Noah’s day and were confined to the earth, no longer granted access to heaven.

By possessing any individual willing to let them in, they had a measure of freedom that they did not want to lose. Rather than being restrained as they had been, they asked to go into the swine where they likely assumed greater liberty. However, they were wrong.

To learn more about what happens to evil spirits and demons during our time listen to,

“How Do Satanic Demons Influence Our World”?

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