2 Corinthians 7:2-7

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 15, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn —conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
- 2 Corinthians 7:2-7

In this passage, Paul returns to the thought he started earlier in chapter 6, after taking a diversion from that in the previous section. Paul is again appealing that the Corinthians strengthen their relationship with him and the other apostles, explaining how his actions encourage this.

Paul starts out in verse 2 by appealing to the Corinthians to accept him and his companions. This plea comes from a place of vulnerability and honesty. Paul insists that he and his fellow workers have conducted themselves with integrity. This verse sets the tone for the following verses, emphasizing the importance of mutual respect and openness in Christian relationships. Paul's defense of his integrity highlights a fundamental aspect of Christian ministry: the need for trust and transparency. Leaders in the church must be above reproach, ensuring their actions do not harm others. This verse also encourages believers to be discerning and to make room in their hearts for those who have demonstrated genuine Christ-like character.

Paul reassures the Corinthians in verse 3 that his previous words were not meant to condemn them but to express his deep love and commitment. He reiterates the strong bond he shares with them, indicating that he and his companions are willing to face any circumstance, even death, alongside the Corinthians. This verse teaches us about the depth of Christian fellowship. It is a call to deep, sacrificial love for one another, reflecting the unity that should characterize the body of Christ. Paul’s willingness to "live or die" with the Corinthians serves as a model for the type of unwavering commitment believers should have towards each other.

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians is marked by honesty and pride as he shares in verse 4. Despite the challenges and troubles he faces, he finds immense joy and encouragement in his relationship with them. The honesty that Paul emphasizes here is crucial for healthy relationships within the church. Speaking the truth in love is essential for growth and maturity in Christ. Paul’s ability to find joy amidst trials is a testament to the strength that comes from supportive Christian relationships.

There is a bit of a transition in verse 5, where Paul goes back to explaining about their travels that he had previously discussed in chapter 2. Paul shares the struggles he faced upon arriving in Macedonia. He describes a time of unrest and external conflicts, coupled with internal fears. This transparent confession of his struggles provides a backdrop for the comfort and encouragement he later receives. Paul's openness about his difficulties serves as a reminder that even the most devoted servants of God face challenges. It encourages believers to be honest about their struggles and to seek support within the Christian community. This verse also highlights the importance of resilience and faith in the face of adversity.

In the midst of his struggles, Paul experienced God's comfort through the arrival of Titus (verse 6). God often uses people to provide comfort and encouragement. The presence of a trusted friend or fellow believer can be a powerful source of support during difficult times. God is attentive to our needs and often works through others to meet them. This encourages believers to be available and willing to be used by God to provide comfort to those who are struggling. The role of community in God's plan for our comfort and support is emphasized here.

Titus not only brought comfort by his presence but also shared the encouraging news of the Corinthians' affection and concern for Paul (verse 7). Their longing, sorrow, and concern deeply moved Paul, bringing him immense joy. It is important to express love and concern within the Christian community. The Corinthians' genuine care for Paul significantly impacted his well-being and joy. It serves as a reminder that our expressions of love and concern can profoundly affect others, providing encouragement and strengthening relationships.

In this passage, Paul opens his heart to the Corinthian church, expressing his integrity, commitment, and the mutual joy and comfort found in their relationship. This passage shows us the importance of integrity in our relationships with one another, deep commitment to the faith, joy in the midst of trials, being honest about our struggles, allowing God to use us to comfort others, and expressing love and concern for one another. Our Christian relationships and communities should be marked by these qualities, and we should all strive to live these out in our daily lives. This not only builds relationships with one another but strengthens our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.

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The Gospel 17: Just Get Saved?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 12, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the heresies that has deeply infiltrated the church is the notion of “just get saved and everything else is a secondary issue.” It comes in different flavors, but the form I see the most is: “Is believing that particular doctrine necessary to be saved?” It’s a very nasty question because it puts those who stand on Scripture in a tight position. I deal with origins often, and this is an excellent topic for this issue. If believing what Genesis says as written is necessary to be saved, then that means believing a 6-day creation and a recent creation (roughly 6000 years ago for the 21st century) is a doctrine that must be believed to be a born-again Christian. I don’t know of anyone who would truly say that is the case. But when they say, “No, it is not necessary,” the immediate follow up is: “So why draw a line on this point? I can believe what I want on that topic and still get into heaven.”

We must be careful here because this is a trick of the enemy. It’s a very sly tactic and my response is, “That’s the wrong question to ask.” It is the wrong question to be asking if this doctrine or that doctrine is necessary to be saved. Anyone who is asking this does not understand the Gospel as well as they think they do. How can I say that? Because those who are asking this are treating the Gospel as a set of statements to believe, not a PERSON to believe. And they are trying to pin the doctrinal claims on those standing for sound doctrine to let themselves off the hook.

My other response to this is: “The BELIEF in a 6-day creation is not necessary for one to be saved, as one can be wrong on many things and still be saved. However, the FACT of a 6-day creation is necessary for salvation to even be possible. Because unless God created in 6 days as Genesis records, then the status and nature of the creation is not what it was for Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve’s sin did not affect and curse the world as Genesis describes, then there is no salvation to be had because there is nothing to be saved from.”

The issue can expand to many different things, not just origins. What about infant baptism? What about divorce? Homosexual relationships? The role of science and/or politics? The style of worship? The list goes on and on. Some of these can very well be primary issues. Some of them should not even be on the debate list. But behind all of it is a fundamental mishandling of Scripture and the Gospel. The entire approach with all these questions boils down to: “Can I believe what I want to believe and still be considered a Christian?” Or “What I can get away with and still be considered a Christian?” It is like those who ask for what the minimal requirements are to be saved. Those who are taking that line are completely missing the point.

The Gospel is not about a set of doctrines, though we absolutely do need those doctrines to set up concrete markers to what we are and what we are not. There are doctrines that absolutely draw a line as to who is in the faith and who is not. But there is more than that. The Gospel is about a person; it is about Jesus. Here is the other problem. Many people agree with that, but then treat Jesus as some ethereal, out-there figure. Or more realistically, they have made a “false Jesus” that fits their personality, their preferences, and their likings. Their “Jesus” is themselves. Man has been doing this since the beginning – putting ourselves in the God position, thinking we can make God do what we would have Him do.

In Biblical Christianity, we are not given space for our opinions or our preferences. In Biblical Christianity, the first thing that is dealt with is self. Self must be denied. So let me spell it out: “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!” The Gospel is not about you. It’s not about me. While we are involved, we are not the focal point. Jesus is. So when dealing with these kinds of questions about which statements are necessary to believe or not, the real question is: Are we following Jesus or following our own ideals?

Most people who ask these questions KNOW that their position is wrong, otherwise they would not be asking for permission to keep it. I have never once heard someone who believes in a six-day creation ask if they could believe that and get into heaven. I only hear that from old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists. Why is that? Because we do not need permission to believe something the Bible explicitly teaches and still call yourself a Christian. That is supposed to be automatic. It’s simply amazing and astonishing that Christians gape at other Christians for actually believing what their book says. I’m reminded of those who see people praying and getting answers, and they tell that person to stop praying because they are making the mediocre look like mediocre. What happened to actually believing the Bible in Christianity today? And we wonder what happened to our strength and power to influence culture.

The Gospel has been watered down and reduced to where you only need to focus on four or five verses and the rest don’t matter. Who thought that was even thinkable? If we are Christians, we are to believe the ENTIRE Bible, cover to cover. Not interpretations of it. Not broken down into primary and secondary categories, but the whole thing. Because the whole thing is about Jesus, the whole thing is primary. While it may not be necessary to believe certain things to be saved, if one IS saved, they eventually will come around and believe the whole thing. You will not find an authentic, born-again believer openly questioning the clarity or the intention of the text. You will find false believers and satanic plants seeking to sow discord doing so. But the born-again believer is going to eventually stand on the holistic Word of God and not be swept aside by the winds and waves of our culture. But the compromised will, and we’ll see what that looks like over the next few weeks.

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2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 8, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
- 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

One of the most common tools Paul uses in his writing is contrast. He often compares two opposites to show his readers the stark differences between the ways of God and the ways of this world. Paul employs multiple contrasts in this passage, showing the Corinthians and us how to live out our faith and the things that can easily distract us from that.

Paul begins here in verse 14 with a powerful metaphor, urging believers not to be "yoked together with unbelievers." The imagery of a yoke, which is a wooden beam used to join two animals for plowing, implies a partnership or close relationship. Paul warns against forming such bonds with those who do not share the Christian faith, as it can lead to conflicts and compromises in values and beliefs.

The rhetorical questions that follow emphasize the stark contrast between the values of believers and unbelievers. Righteousness and wickedness, light and darkness, represent opposing forces. Paul’s use of these opposites underscores the inherent incompatibility between the ways of God and the ways of the world. The underlying message is clear: believers are called to live in a way that reflects their faith and should be cautious about relationships that might hinder their spiritual growth.

Paul continues his list of contrasts in verse 15 by presenting another pair of contrasts: Christ and Belial. "Belial" is a term that signifies worthlessness and is often associated with Satan or evil. The implication is that just as there is no harmony between Christ and Satan, there can be no true spiritual harmony between believers and unbelievers. The repetition of these contrasts serves to reinforce Paul’s point. The relationships and partnerships that believers form should reflect their commitment to Christ. By aligning closely with those who do not share their faith, believers risk compromising their own values and being led astray. This is not at all saying that believers should not associate with unbelievers, but that we should be careful how closely we align with them.

In verse 16, Paul invokes the imagery of the temple to highlight the sacredness of believers' relationship with God. The temple of God represents a place of worship, holiness, and God’s presence. Idols, on the other hand, represent false gods and impurity. This contrast emphasizes the incompatibility of worshiping God while engaging in practices or relationships that do not honor Him.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that they themselves are the temple of the living God. This statement draws from the Old Testament – Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, and Ezekiel 37:27, The implication is that believers are not just individuals; we collectively form the dwelling place of God. This divine presence requires a commitment to holiness and separation from anything that would defile it.

Loosely quoting from Isaiah 52:11, Paul calls for separation from impurity in verse 17. While the direct prophecy in Isaiah was for Israel to leave Babylon and its corrupt influences, now it represents distancing ourselves from practices, relationships, and environments that lead to spiritual compromise. The phrase "touch no unclean thing" emphasizes the need for purity. It is a call to avoid not just overt sin but also any association with practices that can lead to impurity. The promise that follows—"I will receive you"—offers assurance of God’s acceptance and presence when believers commit to living according to His standards.

In verse 18, Paul wraps up his section of contrasts with a comforting promise, quoting from 2 Samuel 7:14 and Isaiah 43:6. God’s assurance of a familial relationship—He is the Father, and believers will be His sons and daughters—highlights the depth of His love and commitment. This relationship is not based on mere observance of rules but on a deep, personal connection with God as a loving Father. The title "Lord Almighty" underscores God’s power and authority. It serves as a reminder that the call to holiness and separation is not a burdensome command but an invitation to a relationship with the all-powerful and loving God who desires the best for His children.

The first verse of chapter 7 could either be a conclusion to the end of chapter 6 or the beginning of a new thought. It provides a call to action based on the previous points he has made. Because believers have the promises of God’s presence, acceptance, and fatherly love, they are motivated to pursue purity. The encouragement to "purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit" encompasses both physical and spiritual aspects of life. It is a comprehensive call to holiness, urging believers to examine their lives and remove anything that hinders their relationship with God.

This passage offers a powerful message about the importance of spiritual purity and separation from influences that can lead believers astray. Paul’s exhortations, grounded in the promises of God’s presence and love, call believers to a life of holiness. This passage challenges us to evaluate our relationships, commitments, and practices, ensuring they reflect our faith and draw us closer to God. As we strive to live out these principles, we can find assurance in the promise that God is with us, guiding and strengthening us in our journey toward holiness.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


The Gospel 16: The Unpopular Message

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 5, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When we preach the Gospel, we need to understand that while it is great good news for the salvation of man, it is also a grave scandal. Many people trip over the Gospel, and they DO understand the scandal. They know they are sinners, but for Jesus to die for them is unfathomable. And it’s not merely Jesus dying out of love for us that trips them, it is more specifically Jesus taking on the wrath of the Father for sin upon Himself that trips them. If it was merely Satan carrying out the execution, some may not object, but the actual executioner of holy judgment is by God the Father.

This gives rise the argument of “Cosmic Child Abuse.” Dad got mad at his kid and took it out on the dog. That’s what some have said. How can God be called good and kind and loving if He takes out His anger on His own Son? The Gospel is a scandal. In order to save mankind, there had to be a substitute who had no sin Himself, because the righteous justice of God has to be met. God is not going to let any evil go by without dealing with it. And that is what many objectors to Christianity do not like; they know their deeds are evil, and the mere mention of a righteous and holy God offends them because it means that their judgment day is approaching.

This message is very unpopular. Emile Ramos, James White, and Paul Washer did a 30-minute joint video titled “Unpopular” emphasizing that the Gospel message is not going to please many audiences, because the core of the Gospel message is that man is sick, depraved, and completely helpless. And after salvation, man is still useless, weak, frail, and completely and wholly dependent upon Christ. People mock Christianity because we “use Jesus like a crutch.” I correct them: “No, it’s not like a crutch. It’s more like life-support.” The Gospel is because we are dead without Jesus. That’s not going to win over many crowds.

Paul was given an opportunity to speak to the intellectual of intellectuals at Mars Hill in Athens. If he were interested in winning a crowd over and getting people on his side, there was no better opportunity. He had just been driven out of two consecutive towns in Thessalonica and Berea for preaching the Gospel and was sent ahead to Athens to try to cool down and let the people cool down. And Paul, alone, waiting for his team to come join him, got provoked. He saw the idolatry in the streets, and he could not wait for backup. He began preaching. When he gave his famous defense at Mars Hill, Paul did the last thing he could have done to win the crowd over. While he did reference the religious idolatry of Athens, he basically went in and said, “You are doing everything wrong and don’t even know who you are worshiping or why. Here is the true God and how His worship should be done.” Paul had to sweep the rug from under them and plant a new foundation so he could go to his destination: Jesus and the cross. And the audience lost it the moment Paul spoke of the resurrection. Most mocked, some wanted to hear more, and only a few individuals believed.

The Gospel is not going to be well-liked. If you want approval, praise, and the rapport with men, that may be all you will ever get, and you will have renounced Christ in doing so. Most won’t like the Gospel message delivered correctly. Our job is to preach the Word, even if no one receives it. As Christians, our job is to share the faith, even if no one will hear it. And the church took a major turn off the main road when they decided that their numbers were not good enough and so they decided to pursue “seekers” instead of pursuing God. Instead of giving the unpopular message that God gave us to give, they chose to go for popularity and the approval of sinful, wicked men. There is a severe problem with this: sinful men do not want God, not as He truly is. So to keep sinful men around, they church had to change God. Instead of being the sovereign, righteous king who is coming back to judge the wicked and rescue the righteous, “God” became just a nice, fuzzy blanket to keep you warm in front of a fire. It’s truly blasphemous what most have done in their depiction of God.

And when Christendom as a whole goes that direction, when the few people who still stand for the true God and the true message, we are the ones who get ostracized for rocking the boat. I see it happening very often. I’ll say the hard thing and the backlash is quite sharp. It does not matter how much “love” or “tact” I give it. It is rejected, and the problem is “me” because what I say is not letting “them” play this game they call “Christianity,” a game that God does not play.

There is one detail about the Gospel message that drives it to such an unpopular level: the denial of self. When we receive the Gospel, we are admitting that we have nothing in and of ourselves that is good that we can bring to the table. Getting us to that point requires us to acknowledge that we never had anything or ever will have anything good in us. Before Christ, we had nothing to start with. After, any goodness we have comes from Christ, not us, even in our regenerate spirit. And even harder to receive is that to be a Christian, it is going to cost us everything – not merely our sinful lifestyles of doing bad things, but everything. Jobs, finances, family, friends, hobbies, entertainment, sports, your education, your reputation, everything is secondary or less compared to Jesus.

Paul was the intellect of intellects, the Benjamite of the Benjamites, the most zealous upholder of the law, and when he met Christ, he saw everything he was pursuing as total dung, worthless, rubbish. He scrapped everything and started over with Jesus as the #1 and as the center. He still learned and knew many other things, but they had a new focus and a new place in their value. His faith in Christ cost him a LOT, and throughout his missionary journeys, his greatest enemies were the Jews – those who knew who he was and deemed him a total traitor. There is a cost to being a Christian. There is also a cost to proclaiming the faith. And one thing you cannot have with the truth is friendships with those who oppose it. Something has to go; it is your choice which.

The Gospel is an unpopular message. Next week, we’ll look at different ways the Gospel has been watered down and diluted so it will be more “acceptable” to sinful man.

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2 Corinthians 6:3-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 1, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children —open wide your hearts also.
- 2 Corinthians 6:3-13

For quite a while now in this letter, Paul has been discussing various aspects of being an apostle. In this passage, he shares more about the hardships he endures, emphasizing the integrity and perseverance required in the Christian faith.

Paul begins here in verse 3 by addressing the importance of integrity in ministry. He and his fellow workers strive not to cause others to falter in their faith. This commitment to avoiding actions that might lead others astray is crucial for maintaining the credibility of their ministry. It is not at all surprising that Paul was accused of various things, but his main concern was that any of those accusations would not be based in the truth. As a minister of reconciliation, he should keep a clean conscience and do what is right as a good example for those to whom he was sharing the gospel message.

In verses 4-5, Paul provides a list of adversities he and his companions face. The mention of "great endurance" suggests that these challenges are not occasional but ongoing. Paul highlights physical and emotional sufferings, such as beatings and imprisonments, which were common experiences for early Christian missionaries. This vivid depiction of their struggles serves to illustrate the depth of their commitment and the high cost of their ministry. They did not just face a little social discomfort but rather many physical adversities, including beatings and imprisonments.

He continues his list in verses 6-7, but here it has a more positive spin. Rather than simply focusing on the negatives, Paul and his team remain steadfast in their virtues. They exhibit purity, understanding, patience, and kindness—qualities that reflect the character of Christ—even in the face of the adversities listed previously. The mention of the Holy Spirit and sincere love highlights that their ministry is not merely human effort but is empowered by divine presence and genuine compassion. Their truthful speech and reliance on God's power are crucial for combating the challenges they face, depicted metaphorically as "weapons of righteousness" that they hold in both hands, reminiscent of the armor of God we see in Ephesians 6.

In verses 8-10, Paul brings up contrasts that they face in ministry. They experience both honor and dishonor, positive and negative reports. Despite being genuine, they are sometimes seen as impostors. Known to some, they are obscure to others. These contrasts highlight the paradoxes of Christian ministry, where external appearances often give a false representation of deeper spiritual truths. Despite facing death and sorrow, they live with joy and spiritual richness. This section underscores the resilience and inner strength that faith provides, not only for Paul and his companions but for all believers throughout time.

Paul concludes this section in verses 11-13 with an appeal to the Corinthians. He emphasizes the openness and affection he and his colleagues have shown, urging the Corinthians to reciprocate. This plea for mutual love and understanding reflects the relational aspect of ministry. Paul’s use of paternal language ("I speak as to my children") underscores his deep care and concern for their spiritual well-being.

There are several key points that Paul makes here that we need to apply to our lives as followers of Jesus today.

First, have integrity and avoid causing others to stumble. Paul’s emphasis on not placing stumbling blocks before others challenges us to consider how our actions impact those around us. In our own lives, this might mean being mindful of our behavior, ensuring it aligns with our professed values, and avoiding actions that could cause others to falter in their faith.

Second, be prepared to face adversity and endure it. The list of hardships Paul endures serves as a powerful reminder of the perseverance required in the Christian walk. Today, while we might not face physical beatings or imprisonments, we encounter various trials that test our faith. Paul's example encourages us to endure these with steadfastness, knowing that our struggles are part of a larger spiritual journey.

Third, live out Christian virtues. Paul and his companions exemplify virtues such as purity, understanding, patience, and kindness. In our own context, these qualities remain essential. They not only reflect our faith but also serve as a testimony to others. By relying on the Holy Spirit and demonstrating sincere love, we can navigate life's challenges with grace and truth.

Fourth, realize that there will be paradoxes and things that won’t make worldly sense in our faith. The paradoxes Paul describes—glory and dishonor, sorrow and rejoicing—mirror the complexities of our faith journey. These contrasts remind us that external circumstances do not define our spiritual reality. In moments of sorrow, we can find joy. In times of lack, we can experience spiritual abundance. Embracing these paradoxes allows us to find strength and hope in seemingly contradictory situations.

Finally, focus on the relational aspect of ministry. Paul’s heartfelt appeal to the Corinthians highlights the importance of relationships in ministry. His openness and vulnerability set a model for how we should engage with others. Building genuine, reciprocal relationships based on love and trust is crucial for fostering a supportive and nurturing faith community.

By internalizing these teachings from Paul’s message here and applying them in our lives, we can navigate our faith journey with resilience and grace, reflecting the love and truth of Christ in all that we do.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


The Gospel 15: Preach One Message

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 28, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2

Paul had one message as he went out from city to city to plant churches and to make disciples of Christ: he preached Christ, and he preached the crucifixion and all that came with it. He absolutely knew far more things than that, but he saw no value in any other topic unless they could point to Christ. Paul knew the Greek culture and Greek mythology, and that’s why in Acts 17 when in Athens, Paul could not only use their own statue to the unknown God but cite two Greek poets who had echoed the truth of who Christ is, even if they did not know it. But in all his preaching, he had one goal and one destination: to proclaim Christ.

Paul understood what it means to be an evangelist. He described himself as a herald. In those days, a herald was the official “news reporter.” A herald would get a message from the king, go to the assigned town, get his soapbox, and then proclaim the message, precisely as the king gave it. The herald would only clarify when questions were asked but never depart from the message. At any point, if word got back to the king that the herald did not give the message in the exact way the king meant it, the herald would be put to death.

The prophets in the Old Testament were treated the same way. If they were going to claim to speak for God, they had to have a 100% fulfillment rate. Any prophecy not fulfilled in their lifetime was held until validation or failure took place. God had a purpose in all this: He wants any who speaks for Him to say exactly what He said and only what He said. It is amazing how God chose to use any of us at all to give His message, but He has chosen to work through weak, frail, fallible, and untrustworthy humans to get His message across. This is not what man would ever think of, but it absolutely is what a God who wants to prove without question that it was His doing and not anyone else’s.

What does this mean? It means we have no say in what the message is. I can picture many readers picking up on that and immediately thinking that everyone has to listen to what I say because I am the only one with the truth. That is not what I am saying at all. But those who think that way are doing precisely what Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for doing: searching and seeking their favorite celebrities and chasing opinions and appearances instead of chasing after Christ. If anyone takes my advice here properly, they won’t need me afterwards, because all I am doing is pointing the way. My book Biblical Foundations has a testimony of a couple getting back to Christ and their marriage being saved. I did not write about marriage; I wrote about following Christ. That saved their marriage. It wasn’t any fancy trick. It wasn’t special counseling (though I do not knock a right application for that). It was simply preaching Christ.

As I wrote over the last several weeks, the Gospel reaches every type of person; I just sampled out seven categories. It is the Gospel that has the power of God unto salvation in every area of life. The Gospel can even deliver someone from writer’s block or answer some scientific mystery by putting everything in the right perspective. Knowing the supremacy of God and how He will determine how much we need to know and when we need to know it can often remove blinders that keep us from seeing the answers. The Gospel has it all, so we need to preach the Gospel as God gave it.

One of my greatest peeves today is when I hear someone professing some very obscure teaching found nowhere in Scripture and then say that “the Gospel doesn’t change” or “it’s not necessary to deal with that to be a Christian.” Watch out for that, because most of the time, those are mere excuses to say, “I can believe whatever I want as long as I agree to a core set of doctrines, and I’ll get into heaven regardless.” That mindset is not a Christian one; it’s a humanistic position that is using God as a means for the self’s end. With that mindset, these people are not seeking after Christ because He is worthy to be worshiped; they are using Jesus as a means to get to paradise where they can celebrate eternity without any regard for their sin.

This false gospel came primarily in the mid-1800s spearheaded by Charles Finney who sought to make sinners as comfortable as possible for when they came to repent of their sins. He is the one who made the “altar call” popular and just by professing doctrines one is proclaimed to be “saved”. That is nonsense. The Gospel was changed from man needing God to save him to God needing man in heaven so He would not be lonely and from God-honoring to man-glorifying. That’s not the Gospel. I’ll address more of these issues as I continue in the series, but I will wrap up this post with these final words.

We have one message to share: one message and one message only. Anything we have to say must have that goal and target in mind no matter where we start from. Every text of Scripture is about Jesus in some way, shape, or form. Therefore, there is a message of the Gospel that comes out of every passage of Scripture, from Creation to the Fall, to the Flood, to the Tower of Babel, to the Old Testament history, to the law, to the judges, to the kings, and to the prophets. They all point to Jesus. We are to proclaim Jesus no matter what our context is, but we are ALSO to proclaim Jesus as He is revealed and not as anything else. Many people would indeed be better off staying silent than opening their mouths and preaching something other than what God said. That is why so few of us should be teachers. It is a serious position to take, but those who do it faithfully will be greatly rewarded. I have much more to share about how to preach the Gospel and how to handle responses to the Gospel over the next few weeks.

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2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 24, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Right before this, Paul wrote about how all of us as believers are part of the ministry of reconciliation and what that should look like in our lives. Here, he elaborates more on how to live that out by living our lives as Christ’s ambassadors.

In verse 20, Paul uses the metaphor of ambassadors to describe the role of believers. Ambassadors represent their home country in a foreign land, carrying the authority and message of their homeland. Similarly, Christians represent Christ in the world, carrying His message of reconciliation. This role is both a privilege and a responsibility. When you’re an ambassador, you’re not living in your homeland but rather in a foreign territory. Our true home is in heaven with God, but we are living in this sinful world that is not truly our home.

The authority to be an ambassador has to be given to you; it's not something we naturally have. We are given authority by our relationship with Christ, but we also have the responsibility to represent Him well. As ambassadors of Christ, the opportunities to show God's love are not always easy. He loves us even when we disobey Him, but that perfect love is not often easy for us to live out. God is going to send us into places as His ambassadors, to do His work, and to bring about reconciling the world to Himself.

The phrase "as though God were making his appeal through us" emphasizes the gravity and importance of this role as ambassadors. Believers are the means through which God communicates His message of reconciliation to the world. Paul’s plea of “Be reconciled to God” is urgent and heartfelt, reflecting the importance of this message. It is a call for everyone to accept the reconciliation that God offers through Christ.

Verse 21 encompasses the heart of the gospel message. Christ, who was sinless, took on the burden of our sins. The phrase “to be sin for us” signifies the depth of Christ’s sacrifice. He bore the penalty of sin, taking upon Himself the consequences that humanity deserved.

The purpose of this sacrificial act is “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This statement highlights the transformative power of Christ’s work. Through His death and resurrection, believers are not only forgiven but also made righteous in God’s sight. This righteousness is not based on human effort but is a gift from God, received through faith in Christ.

This is where chapter 5 ends and chapter 6 begins in our English translations, but this is one of those times that it’s important to note that Paul did not include chapter and verse markings when he originally wrote this letter to the first-century church in Corinth. The ideas in the first two verses of chapter 6 fit well with this idea of ambassadors that Paul has been talking about.

Paul begins verse 1 with a powerful exhortation. As God’s co-workers, believers are partners in God’s mission. This partnership underscores the importance of active participation in God’s work. Paul’s plea is for the Corinthians not to receive God’s grace “in vain.” This phrase suggests the possibility of receiving God’s grace without allowing it to transform one’s life. To receive God’s grace in vain would mean to accept the gift of salvation but not to live out its implications. Paul urges the Corinthians to let God’s grace have its full effect on their lives, leading to transformation and active participation in the ministry of reconciliation.

Paul concludes this section in verse 2 with a quotation from Isaiah 49:8, emphasizing the urgency of responding to God’s grace. The time of my favor and the day of salvation refer to the present moment when God’s offer of reconciliation is available. Paul’s declaration that "now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation" underscores the immediacy and availability of God’s grace. This call to action reminds us that the opportunity for reconciliation and transformation is now. It is an invitation to respond to God’s grace without delay, embracing the new life that is available in Christ.

As ambassadors of Christ, believers carry the message of reconciliation to a broken and divided world, reflecting God’s love and grace in their interactions. The urgency of Paul’s plea reminds us that the time to respond to God’s grace is now. This passage challenges us to live out the implications of our reconciliation with God, embracing the new creation we are in Christ and actively participating in His mission of reconciliation.

May we as believers faithfully fulfill our role as His ambassadors, bringing the message of reconciliation to all who need to hear it!

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The Gospel 14: Reaching the Saved

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 21, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Another area where evangelicalism has greatly dropped the ball is with the notion that all that matters is getting someone saved and everything else takes care of it. This reduces the Gospel to a one-time thing and ultimately nothing else matters, because once you get saved, you are in, and once you are in, you can’t lose it. This is an abuse of the “Once Saved, Always Saved” doctrine because the Gospel does not teach that you can live your life however you want once you get saved.

The Christian life has two major parts to it: sanctification (the removal of sin and the purifying of the heart/mind/soul) and sharing the Gospel with others. My pastor made this very clear in his sermon series on Exodus. He said when God rescued Israel from Egypt, they were freed from slavery to Egypt, just as we are saved immediately from slavery to sin. But it took 40 years in the wilderness to get Egypt of out Israel and likewise, it takes our entire Christian life to get the sin in our lives out so we can be ready to meet Christ as a pure and spotless Bride.

The Gospel is an ongoing process. The moment of salvation is not a one-time thing but something that started at a single point in time and continues, ongoing. It is a work that Christ started, and He will see it through to completion. That is why we can have confidence that we will not lose our salvation; if we could, then Christ would have work ruined and never finished. And that’s not the God I worship. I worship a God who finishes what He started, whether salvation or judgment. It is our job to see that we have made terms of peace with God before that judgment happens. It is still God’s job to save. We can only ask for it.

But the Christian has this war with sin that will not go away while we are on this earth. The unsaved don’t have a war with sin; they are fully indulged in it. We do have the war, and the holier we get, the fiercer the war gets. This is why we as believers need the Gospel. We do not need the Gospel just because we need reminders; we do need reminders. We need the Gospel because it is the Gospel that has the power of salvation from leftover sin and struggles. It STILL has the power to continue to deliver us.

If we are struggling and not seeing the victory of sin, there are a couple of reasons for it. One, we aren’t believing the Gospel for THAT sin. Or, we love that sin too much to want to let it go. If the latter, a follow-up question should be asked: are we actually born again? Again, I don’t knock true and real struggles. I have them myself, and that is why I need the Gospel still. I need to keep listening to the Gospel. I need to keep going back to the same message, that Christ died for sinners, and we are to give up the sinful life to be able to take on the new life. This needs to be done on a daily basis. I have learned that when I actively and intentionally deny myself and ask God what I need to do that day, my struggles with sin all but disappear. But when I do struggle, it is very clear why.

We as believers need the Gospel. We always need the Gospel. If we don’t remind ourselves of the Gospel daily, we get hard-hearted and proud because the Gospel is not being allowed to continue the work it started in us. We begin to think we no longer need the Gospel, and we can just live out intellectually correct and moral lives the rest of the way. I know this danger very well because it is such an easy trap for me. I need the Gospel, and so do you. We must never let the thought that we move on from the Gospel or that we “graduate” from the Gospel enter our minds.

It is the Gospel that enables the prodigal to return home. It is the Gospel that gives the saved the grace to seek the salvation of the lost. It is the Gospel that keeps the saved freed from sin. It is the Gospel that restrains lingering sin from getting too strong of a hold. It is the Gospel that was preached to us that makes us want to preach the Gospel to others because it has the power to save us and it can save others too. It is the Gospel that has made terms of peace between us and God. And if we truly have been saved by the power of the Gospel, why would we be ashamed of speaking of it? Over the next several weeks, I will address how to share the Gospel, how not to share it, how to receive it, and how to deal with those who will either receive it or reject it.

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2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 17, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

In the previous section of this letter, Paul discussed his motivation for being a servant of Jesus Christ – a reverent fear of God, a heart-centered faith, and the compelling love of Christ. Here, he elaborates on the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection and what it means for the lives of Christ's followers. Just before this, Paul emphasized Jesus’ death and resurrection, which are for everyone.

Verse 16 starts out with “so,” which could also be translated as “therefore;” this shows that Paul is building on his previous thoughts to make a point. His point is that because of the transformative power of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are to change the way we view others. He speaks against the worldly perspective, which often values people based on external factors such as status, wealth, or appearance. Instead, Paul calls for a spiritual perspective that sees people as new creations in Christ.

Paul admits that he once viewed Christ from a worldly point of view, likely referring to his time before conversion when he persecuted Christians. This acknowledgment serves as a powerful testimony of the transformative power of encountering Christ. Just as Paul's view of Christ changed, so should our view of others change. We are to see them through the lens of God's redemptive work in Christ, recognizing their potential for transformation and reconciliation.

Verse 17 is one of the most celebrated declarations in the New Testament. It explains the essence of what it means to be a Christian – being "in Christ" signifies a profound union with Him, resulting in a complete renewal of one's identity. The phrase "new creation" suggests a radical transformation that goes beyond mere moral improvement.

The old life, characterized by sin and separation from God, is gone. In its place, a new life has emerged, which is defined by the indwelling presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit. This transformation is not just an individual experience but also a communal reality. As members of the body of Christ, believers collectively embody this new creation, witnessing to the world the power of God's redemptive work

But it is important to keep reading into the next verse, where Paul emphasizes that this transformation and reconciliation are entirely God's work in verse 18. Human effort has no part in this divine act. God is the initiator and sustainer of the reconciliation process, and Christ is the means through which it is accomplished.

Having been reconciled to God, believers are now entrusted with the "ministry of reconciliation." This ministry involves more than just proclaiming the message of reconciliation; it also entails living out its reality in relationships with others. Christians are called to be agents of reconciliation in a broken and divided world, embodying the peace and unity that come from being reconciled with God.

In verse 19, Paul expands on the nature of God's reconciliation. Through Christ, God is reconciling the entire world to Himself. This global scope underscores the inclusivity of God's redemptive plan. The phrase "not counting people’s sins against them" highlights the gracious and merciful aspect of reconciliation. In Christ, God offers forgiveness and a fresh start, breaking the cycle of sin and condemnation.

The message of reconciliation is entrusted to believers, making us ambassadors of Christ. This responsibility involves proclaiming the good news of God's forgiveness and actively participating in the ministry of reconciliation. As bearers of this message, Christians are called to reflect God's love and grace in their interactions, helping others to understand and experience the reconciliation that God offers through Christ.

So what is this ministry of reconciliation? It is a divine calling to proclaim the message of God’s love, mercy, and grace to a world in need of redemption. We have broken our relationships with God and with others due to our sinfulness, and those relationships must be repaired. This ministry of reconciliation is based on God’s love and mercy to us; we do not deserve it, but He is merciful and shows us His love in this way. The message through which reconciliation happens is the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. This reconciliation is not just about individuals being reconciled to God, but it is God’s desire to reconcile His relationship with all of humanity.

In this passage, we see the core message of the Christian faith. Through Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, believers are reconciled to God and called to live transformed lives. This transformation involves a shift from self-centered living to Christ-centered living, viewing others through the lens of God’s redemptive work, and participating in the ministry of reconciliation.

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The Gospel 13: Reaching the Reprobate

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 14, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Gospel is for everyone, including those who openly and defiantly reject it. The Word of God never returns void and never fails to accomplish what it was intended to do. The Gospel is a call to sinners to repent and turn back to God, but what happens if someone rejects that call? Did we fail as a preacher? Did we fail as an evangelist? Did the message not do its job? These are serious questions because modern evangelicalism has answered these questions by changing the message and going “seeker sensitive,” literally seeking to lower the bar of acceptance so anyone can get in. That was the wrong answer because they lost the point and purpose of evangelism, which is not to win as many people as possible but to proclaim the truth regardless of who accepts it.

So how does the Gospel reach the reprobate, the ones who refuse to listen? It is like the sun. It will give heat and energy to good plants, but it also hardens hard soil. The Gospel will be received by those whom God has been plowing and preparing, but it will also harden those who have no intention of hearing it.

Pharoah is such a great example of this. He endured all ten plagues and his heart only got harder and harder. God finally convinced him to let Israel go in the emotional grief of the loss of his son, but even that grief turned to outright rage when he chased after Israel only to get buried in the Red Sea. God gave him more and more evidence, and all that did was make his heart harder and harder. Some people get so stubborn that any rebuke will only make them hate further.

By giving the Gospel message to the reprobate, God shows such great mercy by still offering the opportunity to get saved. Cain is another example. He refused to do things God’s way and got mad when he was rejected. But God still offered Cain a way out. Cain refused to take it and killed his brother over it. But the offer for rectification was there. This makes Cain’s rebellion even worse because he was offered a chance to make things right and knew it and intentionally refused to take it.

The word gospel literally means good news, but the good news requires the bad news for the good stuff to be able to work its magic. The bad news is that each of us is a stubborn sinner set in our ways with no intention of departing from them unless God miraculously pierces through our hard hearts. Only the Gospel can do that, but there are some whose hearts the Gospel will only harden further. The bad news is that we are all condemned already, and without divine intervention, we will all be going to hell. The good news is there is a way out and there is a means of salvation. But the bad news is that rejection of that offer only seals the doom that is already placed upon us.

The Gospel enables none to have an excuse when they face God on Judgment Day. Those who receive the Gospel and submit their lives to Christ will have Jesus be their defense attorney and intercede on our behalf. Those who reject the Gospel will have all the evidence laid before them showing every time where they heard the Gospel and refused it. There will be none who have an excuse. There will be none whom God will hold accountable who did not hear. God judges based on the light and truth someone has heard and received or rejected. So the innocent child who died before having a chance to hear, let alone understand the Gospel, will be judged according to God’s righteous standards including what they had access to. But those who have heard cannot use those who haven’t heard as an excuse.

The Gospel will save those who God has chosen to save, but it will also harden those who love their sin and want to stay in it. And as with King Saul, there comes a point where God says, “Enough! He can no longer be saved!” God did that with the Flood too. He gave Noah 120 years’ notice, and while there are some who may have been saved had they listened and gotten on the ark, God knew none would, and thus only Noah and his family were saved. Yet for 120 years the message of warning and salvation was preached even in just the building of the ark.

The message of the Gospel is not to be taken lightly. It also is not able to be received at anyone’s convenience. It can only be received when God offers it. It tells that every person is given the opportunity to be saved, and it only further reveals the condemnation of those who reject it. The Gospel is a two-edged sword. It rescues and saves those who receive it, and it judges and condemns those who reject it. The Gospel does the latter to the reprobate.

However, the Gospel is still needed by another group of people (among others because this study is not comprehensive): the saved. Yes, the Gospel is for those who have been born again as well.

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2 Corinthians 5:11-15

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 10, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
- 2 Corinthians 5:11-15

Since way back in 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul has been discussing the apostolic ministry. He has described the privileges of being an apostle, competence for serving in this way, the old and new covenants and how that relates to their ministry, and the suffering and rewards of being an apostle, including having confidence when faced with death. Here, Paul continues to talk about apostolic ministry but in the context of motivation for serving God in this way.

Paul begins this section in verse 11 by acknowledging the fear of the Lord. This fear is not a paralyzing terror but rather a profound reverence and respect for God's holiness and justice. Recognizing the reality of God’s judgment (as mentioned right before today’s passage in verse 10), Paul and his companions are motivated to persuade others about the truth of the gospel. This truth includes both sharing what God’s Word says about Jesus and the Kingdom and how we should practically apply it to our lives. The apostles’ transparent and sincere lives are open before God, and they hope that is evident to the Corinthians as well. This verse highlights the integrity and earnestness of Paul's ministry, driven by the awareness of God’s omniscience and the desire for others to come to the same understanding.

We see Paul’s humility in verse 12 where he clarifies that his intent is not self-promotion but rather to provide the Corinthians with a reason to be proud of their association with him and his ministry. This is in contrast to those who boast about external appearances and superficial achievements. Paul’s focus is on internal, heart-centered transformation and genuine faith. By emphasizing the importance of what is "in the heart," Paul challenges the Corinthians to value authentic spirituality over outward appearances. Being transparent before God and other people so that they can see the state of our hearts is more important than simply appearing as good to others but in an unrighteous manner.

Paul addresses criticisms that he and his companions are "out of their mind" in verse 13. This accusation likely stems from their zealous and unconventional approach to ministry. Paul asserts that if their actions seem irrational, it is because they are wholeheartedly committed to God. On the other hand, if they appear rational and sensible, it is for the benefit of the Corinthians. This verse highlights the dual motivations of Paul’s ministry: an uncompromising dedication to God and a thoughtful concern for the well-being of the believers. Paul emphasizes that he is not motivated for his own selfish gain but that it is all for God’s glory, as he had previously written about in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and 2 Corinthians 4:15 among other places.

In verse 14, Paul reveals the driving force behind his ministry: the love of Christ. This compelling love is not just an abstract concept but a powerful, active force that motivates and directs his actions. Paul is deeply convinced of the foundational truth that Christ died for all humanity. This sacrificial death implies that all have died to their old, sinful selves and are called to live a new life in Christ. The universality of Christ's atonement is emphasized, underscoring the fact that the gospel message is truly for everyone.

Paul concludes this section in verse 15 by explaining the purpose of Christ’s sacrificial death. It was not just for the forgiveness of sins but also to transform the lives of believers. Those who have received this new life are called to live not for themselves but for Christ, who died and was resurrected for their sake. This verse shows us the essence of Christian discipleship: a life lived in response to Christ's love and sacrifice, characterized by selflessness and dedication to God’s purposes.

This section gives us some great insights and applications to our daily lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

First, Paul’s motivation is deeply rooted in the fear of the Lord, a reverent awareness of God’s holiness and justice. This fear drives him to persuade others about the truth of the gospel. In our contemporary context, cultivating a healthy fear of the Lord involves recognizing His sovereignty and holiness, which should lead us to live lives of integrity and urgency in sharing the gospel. We, too, should have that fear, awe, and reverence of the Lord.

Paul emphasizes the importance of heart-centered faith over superficial appearances. This challenges us to evaluate our own lives. Are we more concerned with how things look on the outside or with genuine transformation and spiritual depth on the inside? Living an authentic Christian life requires transparency, sincerity, and a focus on internal character rather than external praise from others.

The compelling love of Christ is the driving force behind Paul’s ministry. This love is not passive but active, urging us as believers to live sacrificially and passionately for Christ. The call to live for Christ rather than for ourselves is central to Paul’s message, and it should be central to our lives as well. This involves a radical reorientation of our priorities and desires. As believers, we are called to live in a way that honors Christ, reflecting His love and grace in our interactions and decisions. This means putting aside selfish ambitions and embracing a life of service and dedication to God’s will.

Reflect on your own life this week. Are you driven by a deep reverence for God and a passionate love for Christ? Are you focused on genuine spiritual growth and transformation? Are you living for Christ, seeking to honor Him in all that we do? May Paul’s words inspire and challenge us to live faithfully and fervently for the one who died and rose again for us.

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The Gospel 12: Reaching the Wounded

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, June 7, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This is the topic that triggered me to write this series. It was a comment made by my church’s teaching elder that the Gospel is not merely for the repentant sinner but also for those who have been sinned against. Understand first that every single person has sinned and therefore every single one of us does, in fact, deserve to suffer the effects of that sin. So let me get it on the table here that there are no such people as “innocent victims.” No one is innocent. Bad things only happened to one good person and His name was Jesus of Nazareth. Every one of us has sinned, and most of what we deal with and face is usually a result of our own sin and our own stupidity. We need the Gospel to deal with that.

However, this post is particularly for those who have been sinned against. Again, to reiterate, every single one of us has sinned and every single one of us has sinned against others. This is why the Gospel is the only valid solution to all of it, not mere vengeance. What kind of sins are we dealing with? We have all dealt with people lying to us, not keeping promises, stealing things from us, ignoring us, mocking, slander, etc. It is to the point where we mostly brush those things off our backs because it happens so frequently.

But for this post, I want to talk about the really deep wounds. I want to address those wrongs that are so painful and grievous that we really do want to see that person dead for justice reasons, not mere anger. The rape victim is violated for life and their body will always recall what happened to it. A murder victim is a lost life, and those attached to that victim will bear those scars for life. A kidnapping victim, especially one that endures physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse during that captivity, will always remember. It is bad enough when a stranger does these things. It is so far worse when this is done by a trusted person, either in the family or worse than that, a pastor. When those closest to you and those whom you trust the most betray you, it is the deepest and most brutal wound that a person could receive. They would endure years of the brutality of strangers rather than face such betrayal and deception.

I am not a counselor. I am not a victim of such horrific experiences. So, I truly cannot emotionally relate to those who have such experiences, nor will I try. But first, this is the wrong way to address it. A few years ago, an author sought to deal with such things, and he did so via a book titled The Shack. I applaud William Paul Young for being willing to tackle such things, but that is where my praise for him ends. This book, coming from an “Emergent Church/Progressive Christian” worldview in which universalism is a key unwritten doctrine, completely butchers the nature of sin, the character of God, and how righteousness and justice would win in the end. Those who have been severely wounded, like the character Mack had been when his daughter was kidnapped and murdered, would have a difficult time with Young’s solution, because all it boiled down to was, “You can’t say he did wrong, and he will be saved anyway.”

The solution to such severe wounds is not handwaving off the sin and letting it go. It is not “everyone gets to heaven.” It is the Gospel that will heal such wounds. Getting revenge will not heal such wounds. Even God executing justice will not heal such wounds; it only deals with the bad guy. The Gospel heals such wounds. We cheer the hero’s victory over the villain, however the wounds are often still there. It takes the healing power of the Gospel to close those wounds, disinfect them, and heal them. There will be scars, at least for this life, but there will be healing. One of the biggest problems we have are people who don’t want healing because their gaping wounds give them an excuse for their anger and their problems, so they can play the victim. God does not want us to play the victim but the victor, and we can only have victory by walking in the victory that comes from the cross and the resurrection.

It is Jesus who heals these wounds. Let me emphasize here that Jesus is the only one who truly understands the suffering of an innocent victim. Because He shed His innocent blood for us, who are not innocent, He is able to heal us. Isaiah said that by His stripes we are healed. Each of us has sinned, and God has allowed sinful people to act sinfully. It is not the victim’s fault that someone sinned against them; it is the sinner’s fault they sinned. But if God were to prevent the child rapist from raping, in His righteous justice He’d have to stop the victim of child rape from his or her own sin, too. It is not wrong to want justice when someone commits a crime. But we have to remember that each of us is guilty, too. While most reading this will not have murdered or raped or betrayed, actually we have. We have all broken each of the commandments either in deed or in the heart. Just because God has restrained our sin more than He has restrained others’ sin does not mean we are better people. Each of us deserves the death of the rapist, the murderer, or the traitor. And the Gospel is the only answer for both the culprit and the victim. We have all been victims of grievous sins in some way, shape, or form, and we have all been the culprits of such sins. None are innocent. If God were to deal with us “fairly,” we’d all be in Hell.

If God can save a lying, stealing, cussing, murderer and adulterer at heart like me, he can save those who do such things to me as well. I know our sinful tendency is to seek revenge. But it is also the tendency of those we betrayed to want revenge against us as well. For many, they do not know what they are doing, and only the Gospel can solve that problem. The very people whom Paul betrayed and murdered would be the first to welcome him into heaven. But those who commit such sins and do not repent, well, the Gospel has a message for them and it will not be a message of comfort. Yes, the Gospel reaches out to the hardened reprobate sinner and accomplishes its work in them, too. That is for next week.

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2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 3, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

While this feels like a new section since it starts a new chapter, what Paul writes here is directly connected to what came before it at the end of chapter 4 – the challenge to cultivate an eternal perspective while here on earth. Paul builds on that theme by looking at the sources of our divine comfort for believers who were possibly facing imminent death for their faith – possessing a perfect spiritual body, being transformed by the Spirit, and experiencing fellowship with Christ.

In verse 1, Paul contrasts our present, temporary bodies with the eternal, heavenly bodies promised to believers. The "earthly tent" symbolizes our physical bodies, which are fragile and temporary. The "building from God" represents our resurrection bodies, eternal and perfect. This assurance of a heavenly dwelling provides hope and perspective amidst the trials and sufferings of this life. A friend of mine wrote a children’s book called Grandpa Tom’s Tent based on this verse; it helps children (and adults) understand when loved ones pass away by showing that our earthly bodies will fail but our spirits will live on in heaven when we have faith in Jesus.

Paul acknowledges the tension and discomfort of our current existence in verse 2. The "groaning" reflects our yearning for the fulfillment of God's promises and the complete redemption of our bodies. This verse captures the Christian experience of living in the "already but not yet" reality of God's kingdom – already redeemed but not yet fully realized. We don’t know the nature of this “groaning” from this passage, but based on Romans 8:19-23 and Philippians 3:20-21, we can guess that it deals with Paul’s frustration with knowing he would one day be perfect in heaven yet still needing to deal with all of the imperfections and brokenness here on earth.

Paul uses the metaphor of clothing to describe the transformation from our earthly bodies to our heavenly bodies, which is highlighted in verse 3. To be clothed signifies being fully embodied in the new creation, while being naked implies vulnerability and incompleteness. The promise here is one of complete and secure transformation, leaving behind the vulnerabilities of our current state.

Verse 4 is very connected to the thought in verse 2, bringing back the idea of groaning and being burdened in this life. This verse also adds a vital detail: the desire to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. This longing is not just for relief from suffering but for the full realization of eternal life, where mortality is overcome by the fullness of life in Christ. This verse refers back to 4:16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” The inward spiritual transformation swallows up the outward body that is wasting away, so that one day we will live in perfection.

In verse 5, Paul emphasizes that God Himself has designed us for this eternal purpose. The gift of the Holy Spirit serves as a "deposit," a foretaste and a guarantee of the future inheritance. This assurance is rooted in God's faithfulness and His commitment to bring His redemptive plan to completion.

The confidence mentioned in verse 6 stems from the assurance provided by the Holy Spirit. However, Paul also acknowledges a current reality: while we live in our physical bodies, we are not yet in the full presence of the Lord. This verse highlights the tension between our current state and our ultimate hope. The confidence highlighted in this verse is in contrast to the groaning from verses 2 and 4. We may groan while on this earth, but we still have confidence in God’s redeeming work.

Verse 7 is often quoted: "For we live by faith, not by sight." This succinct yet powerful statement captures the essence of the Christian walk. Living by faith means trusting in God's promises and unseen realities, rather than relying solely on our physical senses and present circumstances. It calls believers to a life of trust and reliance on God's word and His Spirit.

Paul reiterates his confidence in verse 8, and he expresses a preference for the ultimate reality – being in the full presence of the Lord. This longing to be "at home with the Lord" reflects the deep desire for communion with God that surpasses the temporary comforts and struggles of earthly life. Because of this, Paul sets forth a practical goal in verse 9: to live in a manner that pleases God. Whether in our current earthly bodies or in our future resurrected bodies, the aim is to live a life that honors and pleases God.

Finally, in verse 10 Paul brings a sobering reminder of accountability. Every believer will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and receive recompense for their actions. This judgment is not about salvation – which is secured by faith in Christ – but about the evaluation of our lives and deeds. It underscores the importance of living faithfully and responsibly, knowing that our actions have eternal significance.

This passage is a source of great comfort, reminding us that our earthly struggles are temporary and that a glorious future awaits. It challenges us to live by faith, aiming to please God in all we do, and to remain ever hopeful of the day when we will be fully at home with the Lord. As we navigate the complexities and challenges of life, this passage anchors us in the steadfast hope of eternal life and the faithful promises of God.

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The Gospel 11: Reaching the Addicted

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 31, 2024 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the first things Jesus did to begin His ministry was to proclaim liberty to the captives. Very little can describe an addiction better than being a captive of that addiction. Let’s cut straight to the brass tacks here: every single one of us has addictions. There is something our physical body or our mind is enslaved to that is not Jesus Christ. Some have it more blatantly and more obviously than others. Some can’t hide it; some are masters at hiding it. But every one of us has our addictions that we face, and Jesus came to set us free from them.

There are plain and obvious addictions, such as drugs and alcohol. Pornography is finally being recognized as a serious issue. Tobacco, smoking, etc. are also on the list. Once someone gets on the drug, they cannot get off, and if they do, they literally go through a withdrawal phase. David Wilkerson started Teen Challenge to help teenagers get off drugs and off the streets and get them real help. His biography The Cross and the Switchblade gives quite a few details about what goes on with a drug addict. Most of us know or have heard about the problem with alcoholism and how that drink so controls a person, like the town drunk who repeatedly and regularly makes a fool of himself. Josh McDowell was the son of the town drunk where he grew up, and that combined with the oft-repeated sexual abuse he endured by a farmhand drove him to bitter hatred against God. Yet, God redeemed him and saved him and his father.

Pornography deserves its own category because it is so severe today. Pornography is much more than looking at naked women. It is more than watching videos of people having sex. It is more than homosexual porn. It is more than looking at the extreme stuff. It is more than looking at naked children or watching adults do evil things to them or forcing them to do the evil deeds themselves. It also includes masturbation and getting yourself “excited” without involving another person physically. The physical acts of watching this stuff are so rampant that if you can find an honest person who has not struggled with this, you truly found a rare gem. But many people can control the opening of a browser window, the flipping through a magazine, or the reading of graphic accounts. It is what goes on in the head that is even more sinister. Many call it “fantasy porn.” It is what the imagination does in between those viewings. I remember hearing a mom catching her 10-year-old son having found such videos on his phone’s history. It started as innocent searching and then he found the dark stuff, and he cried to his mom saying he could not get those images out of his head. It is truly addicting, and it does not go away.

There are other addictions too that are less notorious because they are not inherently evil. Sports is one. Someone addicted to following a certain team is always looking at how that team is doing at any chance they get; they are always looking at the latest talk and updates, especially when their team is doing well. Video games and reading can be additions to the point where one cannot think or process without playing the next game or reading the next book. Binge-watching falls under this category, too.

Some addictions include family. There are some people, parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc. that have an addiction to knowing every little thing going on in the family and then being the solution. Some addictions include work or your job. Many people do not know when to take a break and they do not know when to say no. They become absentee parents because they are working well beyond their kids’ waking hours. Even sleep can be an addiction, telling the body when it is supposed to get up before what is natural.

There is one addiction that has only been identified scientifically just recently: dopamine, the biochemical that gives us “pleasure.” The Bible calls it the lust of the flesh. ALL addictions can be grouped together in this category. It is the search for pleasure, or at least started that way, and even when one tries to stop it, the brain, body, and mind demand that which is pleasurable. This was part of what Eve saw in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She saw the fruit as being pleasurable for eating. She was going to defy God and enjoy every minute of it – or so she thought. And ever since, she and Adam and mankind have had a desperate craving for pleasure, comfort, and the things that God promises, but not in God’s form, His timing, or even His distribution of them. Every single one of these addictions, even with things that are not sinful, are chains that will weigh us down and rob us of the true riches that God has for us.

Jesus came to break the chains of addictions. He came so that we may be freed from seeking our satisfaction in all these temporary things that only last for a moment. The creations of man can be used correctly, in moderation, or not used at all. There is a place for the use of the right drugs and even alcohol. Paul told Timothy to drink some wine from time to time to deal with his health issues. There is a place for sexuality, in the proper context of the marriage bed, and seeing the spouse in their glory instead of as toys of pleasure. There is a place for sports, work, sleep, hobbies, activities, family, etc. There is pleasure that can be acquired from them, but they are not our sustenance; Jesus is. When Jesus is our sustenance, we can truly enjoy those good activities. One of my friends, Steve Lillis, is a professional pool trick shot artist, and there was a season in his life when he compromised his faith and chased after fame and fortune, obsessed with pool. Then God broke him, and he literally laid down his cue stick, giving up the game so he could serve Christ. He never plaid again for 12 years until God gave him an opportunity to start using the sport to preach the Gospel. He and I connected very quickly because I did the same thing with fencing, and he founded his ministry on the exact same day I started fencing. So again, there are many addictions that are not sinful, but they can be if they get in the way of Jesus.

Jesus came to break us free from addictions so we can get our true pleasure from Him. As with any addiction, to break the habit, one must not only cease that activity, but he must also replace it with something else. Sadly, so many of us cease our activity with God and replace Him with something far less than. But the Gospel is for those who are addicted to the things of this world and to sinful pleasures – breaking those chains and giving them a much better source: Jesus Christ who truly can sustain all our needs. Jesus came to break the chains of the enslaved, but the enslaved need to recognize that they are indeed slaves and need to be rescued. And when the chains are broken and the door is open, we need to walk out and live the life of liberty. So few do that because the life of slavery is known and comfortable; a life of freedom otherwise is strange, foreign, and scary. But Jesus is a good master and all we need to do is put our trust in Him, and He will give us what we need for this life.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.