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July 20, 2020

Ep.1135: Are Praise and Worship Necessary To Be a Faithful Christian?

Understanding the roles and differences of praise and worship

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CHAPTERS

[00:11:07]
Jesus directly taught worship only once. What can we learn?


[00:24:59]
How can we have connected and worthy worship that pleases God?


[00:44:10]
How does praise fit in to a life of worship?


[01:02:30]
How can we be sure our praise gives God glory?


Theme Scripture: John 4:23

Christian praise and worship. As with many things subject to interpretation, you will find different applications of these things within the Christian community. For some, praise and worship are expressed in music. This drives their gatherings and feeds positive emotions towards God. For others, they include music and inspiration. They play a significant role in their gatherings as a focusing element for being open to God’s word. Others still have praise and worship in a smaller role. Who is right? Does it matter? Are these two parts of the same thing or are they entirely different? How do I know if I am paying enough attention to praising God? Am I living a life that expresses an attitude of worship?

Continue Reading

So, what is worship anyway?

Is it reverently focusing on God while attending a service? Does worship thrive on emotions drawn from hymns and psalms being sung and recited with others? Is it a state of mind or a state of being? If you want to understand true Christian worship, you’d probably open your Bible to see what Jesus said about it. Surprisingly, when it comes to worship, Jesus never even mentioned it his followers. Not once! In fact, the only time he taught about worship was to a Samaritan woman while having a conversation at a well about what Jesus called “living water.”

In spirit and in truth

The Samaritan woman brings up the traditions of Samaritan worship of God in the mountain and the Jewish practice of worshipping God in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ response is surprising to her and revealing to us. He tells her God’s true worshippers will now worship Him "in spirit and in truth." Jesus is saying that true connected worship of God will no longer be bound to any location. Because Jesus was here, worshiping God will now be different.  After this conversation, Jesus never again teaches specifically about worship.

What are we supposed to do with this? Learn! The whole concept of worship is much bigger than many of us might think. While the Greek word means "to bow low," the New Testament application of this action applies to how we live.  Understanding this will also give us a better sense of what it means to praise God.

Praise is another huge part of this conversation. While it is a deeply important aspect of our Christian lives, it too has a different look and feel than what we see in the Old Testament. Check out our July 20,2020 podcast, “Are Praise and Worship Necessary To Be a Faithful Christian?” for more. We set the firm foundation of what worship means on a daily basis to the Christian and then consider the role of praise. We address the similarities and differences of Old and New Testament praise and focus on its power in our lives. Our worship and praise can lift and encourage others while focusing us on fulfilling God’s will daily. Most important, our worship and praise can honor God. What’s better than that?

 

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November 08, 2021

VIDEO: How is the Bible Organized? (How to Find a Bible Verse)

By two main sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Have your kids watch this short animated video to learn more about the organization of the bible!

(22)

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September 27, 2021

Ep.1197: Can Christians Be Cursed and Curse Others? Curses Series (Part III)

Determining what curses are real through a New Testament lens

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:13:09]
Did Jesus ever curse anyone? Did he ever teach us to curse anyone?


[00:32:02]
What did the Apostle Paul say about curses?


[00:45:37]
How should Christians deal with curses?


Theme Scripture: Mark 11:21

The word “curse” is overused and under comprehended. Cursing can mean using words that are not acceptable to repeat in public. To curse can mean to call upon a perceived other-worldly power for the purpose of harming someone or something. Cursing can also mean the expression of great disdain and loathing for people or things. In Part II of our 3-part Curses Series, we observed in great detail how to properly understand cursing, especially the curses of God in the Old Testament. Today we dive into curses in the New Testament to find the differences and similarities with the Old Testament. Several people “cursed” in the New Testament, including Jesus. What does it all mean to us here and now? Are curses real today and if so, what should we do?

Continue Reading

Jesus cursed!

The idea that Jesus “cursed” people or things can be a disturbing one.  To understand what is meant by this, it is important to focus on the usual areas of concern, definitions and context.  The Jesus uses when he talks about curses is a convincing one. It means to “execrate” (to have great loathing for) by analogy, to doom. It comes from two Greek words that include a sense of calling down harm upon someone or something. In the pagan Greek and Roman culture of Jesus’ day, this word would carry a sense of gods and magic being involved. In Jesus’ case, it had everything to do with God’s will and God’s judgments.

What about that fig tree?

The day after Palm Sunday when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, he saw a fig tree and proclaimed it to become fruitless from that day forward. The following morning the tree was withered. Jesus, by the power of God’s spirit, “cursed” this tree to dramatically show that Israel (symbolically represented by the fig tree) would lose their favor with God, as they would reject and crucify Jesus. There are several other times Jesus uses this specific Greek word for curse.

The Apostle Paul also wrote several times about curses. He referenced Israel and the “curse of the Law,” as well as referencing curses regarding Christians who misrepresent or walk away from the gospel. What did he mean? Check out our September 27, 2021 podcast, “Can Christians be Cursed and Curse Others?” Curses Series (Part III) for more. We carefully categorize which words for curse mean what so that we can understand the messages behind them.

Also, we get practical for today’s world. Directly confronting the idea of curses existing today, we lay out what that means for Christians. This is tougher than you might think, because there are many scary and erroneous views that have influence in Christian culture. Can Christians be cursed?  Do Christians have the authority to curse others? These important questions can only be answered by comprehensively understanding what the Scriptures really teach. Join us as we uncover the Bible’s truth on curses in the New Testament and what we as Christians need to know and do today!

 

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September 19, 2021

Ep.: How many Old Testament references are in the New Testament?

The number of references in the New Testament of the Bible to the Old Testament, as identified by multiple sources, varies.  

Conservatively, there are over 200 citations from the Old Testament in the New Testament.  The number increases to nearly 1,000 or more when including allusions or references to Old Testament verses.  Some estimates exceed that figure.  

2 Timothy 3:16 states, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.”  

The numerous references from the Old Testament found in the New Testament reflect God’s desire to assure us of the continuity, truthfulness and absolute necessity of His word. These abundant references also reinforce the fact that only the Supreme Being, God, our heavenly Father, could inspire and supervise so grand a project as the Holy Bible, written over a span of about 1,600 years and penned by over 40 humbled individuals chosen by God to receive His divine inspiration to write them.  

These chosen writers included individuals from various societal classes, different countries and in a wide array of time periods, yet the beautiful harmony of the 66 separate books of the Bible point to God as the only possible author.  The worldwide proliferation of the Bible, the most widely read book on earth, in spite of strenuous attempts to eradicate it, is also faith strengthening to Christians as we realize that God has overseen the preservation of the Holy Scriptures throughout millennia regardless of massive opposition. 

The agreement of scriptural teachings, the consistency of the two testaments of the Bible encompassing numerous individual books, manifests its magnificent authorship, that of our loving Creator, Jehovah.        

Romans 15:4 in the New Testament, states, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”  

This New Testament verse assures us that the Old Testament writings were previously written to educate and provide strong evidence for faith and hope to the Church, whom Paul was addressing.   Eventually all mankind will benefit. We read in 1 Timothy 2:4 that, God, “…is willing for all mankind to be saved and come to a full knowledge of the truth.” 

The New Testament is the 27-book second part of the Bible containing the four Gospels, epistles (letters) of Paul and others, the Acts of the Apostles and the book of Revelation. 

The Old Testament is the 39-book first portion of the Bible which includes “the law and the prophets” (see Matthew 22:40 and Matthew 5:17), establishes foundation principles that represent New Testament truths, and contains many prophecies that come to fruition in the New Testament. While the term “testament” means “covenant,” it is helpful to keep in mind that, aside from the fact that we call the two parts of the Bible the Old and New Testaments, God designed many covenants or agreements listed in the Bible to enter into with humanity.  

The Law given to Moses is spoken of in Galatians 3:24 as, “…our tutor to lead us to Christ…”  God’s Law given to Moses for the Israelites identified sin and was impossible for imperfect humans to keep.  The identification of sin and the great need for a redeemer was displayed.  God gradually prepared the Israelites, whose history was an example for all people, for a law that went far above and beyond strict justice. 

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus emphatically states, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”  

Once Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law given to Israel by God through Moses, for his entire earthly life, then died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, he opened up a “…new and living way…” (Hebrews 10:20).  Followers, hearing the call of God through Christ, could then lay down their lives in full consecration to God (see Matthew 16:24 and Acts 22:16). 

Anyone of Jewish descent could then come out from under the Mosaic Law, if and only if they followed the still higher Law Jesus taught in John 13:34, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  

The higher thought of not only attempting to refrain from all wrong doing such as stealing, etc., is expanded to encompass doing all things with the highest and best welfare of all in mind, sometimes even to the point of sacrificing one’s own actual rights, thus going beyond strict justice.  Matthew 5:44-48 instructs us to love our enemies, not simply those that love us. We see the example of God who provides rain and sunshine for the righteous and the unrighteous. God encourages us to climb higher in loving all of His creatures even before they cease to behave as an enemy.

We must do more than just perform based on a checklist of right actions in order to please God and to live righteously. Following the spirit of the law from the heart – not just as a matter of policy – is what matters. God’s plan includes showing all people the better way eventually.  We are told to aspire to, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36).  

In order to acquire and maintain the desire needed to intend and attempt in all things to follow the Law of Love, Jesus admonished,

“…You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37    

The New International Version rendering of Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-40 states, “…‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  

When love for our heavenly Father, who in no way was required to create us, becomes foremost in our lives, that higher love for all others falls into place.  We will not be able to perform perfectly in our imperfect human bodies, so asking forgiveness of God, through the merit of Jesus Christ, is necessary as we sincerely strive from the heart (see Proverbs 23:26) to do the best we can and to always will to do right. 

In summary, there are numerous citations and references connecting the Old and New Testament portions of the Bible.  

Followers of Jesus, Christians, are not under the Mosaic Law listed in the Old Testament. That Law Covenant is still applicable to the earthly seed of Abraham with whom it was made, other than those that have “died to the law” (see Galatians 2:19), and faithfully carry out the lifelong consecration of their lives to God through Jesus.  The Law Covenant was a precursor to the New Law Covenant.  

Moses, in mediating the Old Law Covenant, pictured Jesus, the Head, and also the Church, his figurative body.  The New Covenant will be in force for mankind in the future, when the Mediator, Jesus, united with his eventually fully prepared Church or “bride” (see Revelation 19:7), dispenses blessings to all people to afford them a full opportunity to come into heart agreement with their heavenly Father and obtain life everlasting.

Finally, love will eventually flow from all creatures to all creatures on every plane of existence, with God being recognized as rightfully above all.

1 Corinthians 15:28 states, “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, so that God may be all in all.”  

The higher Law, that of love, will rule in all hearts.  Isaiah 35:5-10 (NIV) teaches us, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened…a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way…the redeemed will walk there…They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads… joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  

Revelation 21:4 (NAS) states, “…He shall wipe away every tear…there shall no longer be any death…mourning…crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  

We joyfully look forward to that glorious day described in so many Scriptures! 

To learn more about how the relationship between Moses and Jesus listen to, “What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?”

To learn more about how the Old Testament applies to us today listen to, “Does the Old Testament Law Apply To Me?”

(38)

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February 22, 2021

Ep.1166: How Did the Apostle Paul Handle a Slave Owner?

The remarkable reconciliation of Onesimus the runaway slave

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CHAPTERS

[00:12:10]
How did Paul handle a runaway slave showing up at his door?


[00:27:52]
Is it appropriate to defend someone who has done wrong?


[00:46:00]
What lessons can we learn from Paul's personal letter to Philemon?


Theme Scripture: Philemon 1:1

Talking about slavery is a sensitive issue, and rightfully so. We live in an age where we recognize that ALL people have rights. We now live in a time where no group of people or any working class should ever be separated from those rights. This was not always so. Many ancient societies survived on the backs of slaves. These were often comprised of conquered peoples or those who were generationally born into servitude. Christianity had its beginnings in the context of such societies. With such inequity, how could Christianity survive and even flourish? Could slaves AND their owners both thrive under Christ?  Fortunately, the Bible gives us a powerful view of how this actually worked in those days. Let’s walk through the true story of two men on opposite ends of this spectrum and see how the Apostle Paul helped them both maintain their faithfulness to Christ and each other.

Continue Reading

Towards the end of his life, the Apostle Paul found himself a prisoner of the Roman Empire because of accusations some made that he was subverting the Empire by preaching Christianity. Being a Roman citizen gave him certain advantages, like being on house arrest. He was not able to go anywhere, but he was able to have visitors. It was during this time that a runaway slave named Onesimus came to see him. Onesimus was a slave of Philemon, who had been converted to Christianity by Paul. Although a slave owner, Philemon was an active and faithful brother in Christ and was well known for his service to others.

Paul faced problems this visit from Onesimus

  1. Roman law stated that harboring a runaway slave made you liable for any losses that runaway cost their master.
  2. The penalties for runaway slaves went as far as crucifixion, so aiding them could be interpreted as being complicit in their lawbreaking.
  3. There was the matter of just and fair treatment for Philemon. Paul would certainly not want to hurt his dear friend in any way, regardless of Roman law.

It's complicated

On top of all this, the Apostle Paul ends up converts Onesimus to Christianity! What should he do now? How do you find the path to doing the right thing for everyone involved without breaking the law? And how do you see to it that the right thing is done when you yourself are on house arrest and cannot personally follow up?

Check out our February 22, 2021 podcast, “How Did the Apostle Paul Handle a Slave Owner?” for answers. We examine the letter that Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus line by line. Then we find wise, spiritually-sound and legally-compliant advice all wrapped up in rock solid compassion and reasoning. We get a powerful glimpse into the heart and mind of the Apostle Paul in a way that is not revealed in any of his other writings. Don’t miss this opportunity to see wisdom unfold that conquers social inequity, wrongdoing and the reconciling of two very different individuals!

 

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February 08, 2021

VIDEO: What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?

How does the life of Jesus, the world’s savior, foreshadow the life of Moses? Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

(1)

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February 08, 2021

Ep.1164: What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?

Highlighting striking similarities between the lives of Moses and Jesus

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:33]
How did Moses' character and early life reflect what Jesus would be like?


[00:30:57]
How were the miracles that Moses performed similar to those of Jesus?


[00:47:58]
How were the lives and leadership responsibilities of Moses and Jesus uncannily similar?


Theme Scripture: Deuteronomy 18:15

Two of the most dramatic lives recorded in the Bible belong to Moses and Jesus. The heroics of Moses life extended over a lifetime of 120 years, whereas Jesus’ heroics were all accomplished within a 33-year lifetime. Despite the dramatic time differences, there are startling similarities between these two deliverers. Moses’ life was recorded and detailed in four Old Testament books of the Bible. Jesus' life was recorded and detailed in four New Testament books. Both of them were plainly or prophetically referenced throughout the entire Bible. They each executed the two greatest deliverances in the history of mankind – Moses walked his people out of Egypt, and Jesus ransomed the entire human race from sin. This all just scratches the surface! As we look into specific events of Moses' life as deliverer of a nation, we will see inspiring revelations into the life of Jesus as deliverer of the world. Comparing Moses to Jesus makes for a revealing Bible study, as there is an extensive list of striking similarities between the two.

Continue Reading

The Bible points to comparisons

Moses told Israel there would come a prophet from among them who would be like him. The Bible unequivocally tells us he was speaking about Jesus. This revelation by Moses invites us to investigate the significant comparisons between these two leaders. By Moses prophesying that Jesus would be like him, it stands to reason that Moses' life would a be pattern for Jesus’ life. Sure enough, we find that the similarities from the beginning to the end of these two lives are staggering.

For example, think about the simple comparisons between these two lives in relation to their birth and infancy. Both Moses and Jesus were born at times when Israel was not a free nation. They were both were born to parents who were faithful to God. As infants, both of their lives were under threat by the present governing powers of their time. Even though Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince, his birth parents had a powerful influence on him. Parenting and nurturing a deliverer is no easy task, and God chose parents who were up to the task. Moses grew up, left Egypt and renounced his Egyptian upbringing. Jesus was taken to Egypt for protection from Herod and literally came out of Egypt just as Moses did.

Check out our February 1, 2021 podcast, “What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?” for more. We compare the characters of Moses and Jesus and look at their leadership. This episode even includes a comparison of some of the miracles they each performed.

Why would God tell us so much about Jesus by way of Moses’ experiences?

There are many reasons, not the least of which is to remind us that God always had a plan. God foreshadowed the actions and responses of Jesus as the world’s savior in Moses’ life as deliverer of Israel.  The message here is one of great comfort. God has everything in His ultimate control. He does not need to make things up as He goes; rather, He creates His plan and watches it unfold!

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January 25, 2021

Ep.1162: Has the Bible Been Mistranslated and Misunderstood (Part IV)

Examining some simple and some belief-changing mistranslations

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:13:34]
The Bible is the inspired word of God - so why does it talk about unicorns in several places?


[00:27:12]
What if the understanding of just one word could change the way churches should be organized?


[00:39:40]
Does the destiny of all unbelievers hinge on one mistranslated word?


Theme Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

For any Christian, understanding the Bible and its message should be of paramount importance. The fact that the Bible is a collection of books and letters written in ancient times by various authors presents a challenge to this understanding. We need to learn what is authentic, what is mistranslated and how it all harmonizes. We continue our exploration of how we got our Bible, and how the process of translation from the original languages requires precision in order to get the truths God intends.  This is a necessary exercise because the Bible is the foundation of our faith. We depend upon an accurate and honest assessment of what it teaches so we in turn can believe and spread the true gospel message.

Continue Reading

In the three previous parts of this series, we focused on several big questions about the Bible that never seem to go away:

  • Why are some writings included in the sacred text and others excluded?
  • Who were the decision makers regarding acceptable text, and what was their criteria?
  • How did some verses or portions of verses get inserted into the Bible that weren't part of the original text?
  • Did Jesus really believe in the Old Testament?
  • What words are translated or interpreted in a way that is out of harmony with their true meaning? How would we know?
  • What tools do we as individual students of the Bible have available to help us to personally study these things for ourselves?

Unicorns?

Mistranslations can be small enough to be a nuisance and important enough to shake the fabric of one’s doctrinal belief. In this Part IV of our series, we considered both kinds of issues. Here is one example of a smaller issue:  Did you know the King James Version of the Bible talks about unicorns? Turns out it mentions these fabled animals eleven times! So, what’s the truth of the matter? Is the Bible confirming that unicorns are real? If so, what does that do to the Bible’s credibility?

Several larger mistranslation issues have a direct bearing on fundamental Christian belief. Across the vast majority of Christian denominations, we find an unquestioned acceptance of how our churches are organized. Christianity has systems in place that are logical, cover needs and seem simple and practical. A deep study of Scripture and the ancient languages used reveals a simple yet significant misapplication of a specific word regarding church organization. Apply the correct meaning and watch what it changes!

Check out our January 25, 2021 podcast, “Has the Bible Been Mistranslated and Misunderstood? (Part IV)” for more. We look at several smaller mistranslations to find true meaning. Sometimes the difference is insignificant. But more often than not, the true meanings enhance the Bible’s harmony. We also examine another huge translation issue having to do with the major doctrine of what happens after the average person dies. Finding the truth on this opens our eyes to the Bible’s authentic message. Don’t miss this opportunity to be able to see some biblical truths for the first time!  Continue your studies with Part V...

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December 14, 2020

Ep.1156: Is It Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part II)

The role works play in making our Christian faith transformative

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CHAPTERS

[00:09:26]
Every Christian wants to go to heaven, but is there a chance a true believer won't make it?


[00:32:02]
If faith is dependent on work, what kind of works should they be?


[00:48:03]
Isn't it enough that Jesus saved us from sin? What is our part in salvation?


Theme Scripture: Romans 5:1 and James 2:24

In part 1 of this two-part series, we discovered several very clear scriptural statements and lines of reasoning that showed us we are justified by faith. Having established that, the most obvious next question is, what about works? How does the Bible define “works of faith”? Is it a work of faith to go to church, or is that just a result of faith? Is financially contributing to your church considered a work of faith, or is it just a good thing to do? Are there certain things every Christian is required to do, or is it all based on who you are? To what degree is our pathway to heaven based on works? How do we know if we are doing enough?

Continue Reading

The bottom line is, you can't live a life of faith without works.

As Christians, we often to get focused on a specific scriptural phrase and make it the centerpiece for our belief system. This can be a good or bad thing. To focus on the scriptural phrase “God is love” is a good thing, as the rest of the Bible powerfully confirms this. The flip side is when we point out that the Bible says we are "justified by faith" and end it there.  Another Scripture says that God justifies, so does that mean faith doesn’t? James repeats that works are part of justification. Does that mean God and faith play no role? Of course not.

If someone says you need food to survive, they’re right. Someone else says you need water to survive, and they are right. Yet a third person says you need shelter to survive, and they are also right. The fact is, you need all three. Similarly, you simply cannot live a justified life without

  1. faith in the ransom of Jesus
  2. God applying that ransom to you individually, and then
  3. doing the works of a justified person.

So, what are the works a true Christian must engage in?

It turns out there are many and varied. We see evidence of these works of faith throughout the entire New Testament. Jesus began our understanding of them by showing us a big picture approach. When he taught the Sermon on the Mount, he said his followers were to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Basically, he was telling us that we have powerful influence on the world around us. We need to work at preserving godly righteousness by being “salty” and lighting the way to godliness by shining out God’s truth through our lives.

These are the big picture start. Check out our December 14, 2020 podcast, “Is It Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part II)” for more. We uncover many of the Christian works we are called upon to do and lay out the details on what they require. Join us as we walk through the practicality of actually being a Christian!

 

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December 14, 2020

VIDEO: Is it Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part II)

You cannot live a life of faith without works. Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

(1)

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December 07, 2020

VIDEO: Is It Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part I)

The debate over what justifies a believer has raged for centuries.  Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

(3)

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December 07, 2020

Ep.1155: Is It Faith or Works That Gets Us to Heaven? (Part I)

Understanding the fundamental role of faith in our Christian walk

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:21]
Are we justified by God? By faith? By works? Which is it?


[00:34:07]
Why does the method of how to be justified change between the Old and New Testaments?


[00:34:07]
How does salvation relate to our justification before God?


Theme Scripture: Romans 5:1 and James 2:24

I’m a Christian. I have been called by God to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. I believe that as a sinner, I cannot do anything to earn God’s favor. Jesus’ sacrifice gave me a standing before God that I could not have had without it. So, what now? Jesus promised that all his true followers would be with him in heaven, but what does that mean for me? Do I just focus on building my faith and not works, as it says in the book of Ephesians? Should I be living my life with ever-greater expectations that God’s providence will always come through and answer my heartfelt prayers? Or should I primarily focus on works and not faith, as it says in the book of James? Should I be out and about, always doing things to show that I am a person of faith? How can something that should be so simple be so confusing?

Continue Reading

The Reformation

The debate over what justifies a believer has raged for hundreds of years. The biblical phrase, “The just shall live by faith” became the rallying cry of the Martin Luther Reformation in the 1500s. As a result, the Protestant movement was formed and never looked back. When you think about that Scripture it would seem the conclusion of living by faith over works would be a no brainer. Of course, it is not.

Contradictions?

As a matter of fact, the Bible says three seemingly contradictory things about being justified. All three are in the New Testament. Romans 5 says we have been justified by faith. Romans 8 says it is God who justifies us. James 2 says we are justified by our works. Let the head scratching begin! Being faithful as a Christian depends on being justified. If something as basic as the way we are justified is in question, how can we have confidence in our journey? The good news is there is a sound and clear biblical explanation for all of this. The challenging news is, the answer is not necessarily plain and obvious.

It all has to do with the meaning of being justified. Here again, there are details that seem to cause trouble. Consider that Abraham was spoken of as being righteous before God. While we look at this as a good thing, we also realize that he wasn’t a follower of Jesus, and therefore was not invited to heaven. What now?  Check out our December 7, 2020 podcast, “Is it Faith or Works That Gets us to Heaven? (Part I) for more.  We break these challenges down one at a time. We examine the words and their context in a broad-based approach that brings us logical and harmonious answers.

The conclusion is that the just do live by faith. So, what about works? What about God’s role? Parts I and II together show how the harmony works, and what it means for you and I as we follow Christ.

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