God’s Power in You (Reflections of Ephesians 1)

In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that the Church would know and understand the power of God available to us. He then spends five or so verses describing this power.

First, Paul calls God’s power “exceedingly great,” using the phrase “hyperballo megethos.” This basically means “mega-hyperbole.” In other words, it’s entirely impossible to exaggerate or overemphasize God’s power.

We then read that this power is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. You know, that resurrection thing. Basically the single greatest event in the history of the universe.

In that moment, God brought a Man who was both physically and spiritually dead, suffering in hell for the sins of the world, back to life.

And the resurrection didn’t just bring Jesus back from the grave. It brought the human race back from the grave. Billions and billions of people stretched out over thousands and thousands of years, from the beginning of time to the end of time.

Suddenly, where there was despair, now there was hope. Where there was death, now there was life and peace. Humanity was brought back, and given eternal life. It was kind of like that final snap of the Infinity Gauntlet, but infinitely greater.

And that power of God didn’t just raise Christ from the dead; it seated him far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion.

Let’s break that down.

First, notice it didn’t say He “sat” down. He was “seated.” This is a legal term. Jesus didn’t just plop down on the couch; He was appointed over His kingdom, where He reigns as King of the Universe.

Think Aragorn’s coronation at the end of Lord of the Rings. The battle is won. The enemy is defeated. And now He is officially and unequivocally seated on His throne. And where is He seated?

“Far above.”

Ever been in a plane as it’s taking off? As the plane lifts off the ground, you can still see those guys with the orange flashlights. Then they shrink down to the size of ants. Then they’re gone.

But you can still see cars whizzing by. Then they disappear. Then the houses go. Then it’s all gone. Just you in the clouds, far above everything else.

And Jesus, by that exceedingly great power of God, is seated far above all principality and power and might and dominion. We often see those words grouped together, but because we don’t know exactly what they mean, we just figure they mean “powerful stuff” and then move on to the next verse. But what do they actually mean?

The first word (principality) is “arche” in the Greek. It’s where we get the suffix “-archy,” used in words like “monarchy” or “anarchy.” It refers to entire forms of government. And Jesus is far above all those monarchies or anarchies or whatever other –archies may crop up.

Next is “power,” or “exousia.” It means delegated authority, and refers to the legal rights and powers a ruler or official might have. Picture a police officer, or an ambassador. When they act, they aren’t simply acting on their own power; they have the full force of their government backing them up.

And Jesus is higher.

“Dynamis” is the word “might.” It’s where we get the word dynamite. It’s power that really packs a punch. It was used historically to refer to the power and might of giant armies.

For instance, it appears on a burial epigram from the Battle of Marathon, commemorating the Greek army’s decisive victory over the (more numerous) Persian army. Nations hold off invading armies when they have greater dynamis.

And yet Jesus is greater.

Finally, we have dominion, or “kyriotes,” meaning complete ownership or lordship. It’s almost never used outside of Christian texts, and typically refers to God’s lordship over the universe. Any dominion, power, or rule falls under kyriotes.

And still, kyriotes falls under Jesus.

Next, we read that this exceedingly great power of God has set Jesus far above every name that is named. Think about that for a second. We just got through defining arche, exousia, dynamis, and kyriotes.

And just in case anything slipped through the cracks, any other named thing is also far beneath Jesus’ feet.

There are 171,476 words in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are over 470,000 English words in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. All of them: far beneath Jesus.

There are 6,909 distinct languages in the world. Many of them have 100,000 to over 500,000 words. Every last one of those named things: far below Jesus.

And that’s just the names that have already been named. Jesus was seated far above things that HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN NAMED YET.

Who’s going to be the richest or smartest person 10,000 years from now? Doesn’t matter. Jesus is far above. What nation will be the most powerful to ever exist? Doesn’t matter. Jesus is far above. Any future plague, any tyrant, any thing pales in comparison to the power of God.

And Paul’s prayer was that you would know and understand that incredible power of God, because that power WORKS IN YOU.

The exceedingly great, impossible-to-overemphasize power of God? It’s in you.

The same power that raised Christ from the dead, and set Him far above all authority and explosive power and world governments and mighty armies and everything else you could possibly imagine? In you.

Do you know that? No really, do you KNOW that the unstoppable, undeniable, unchallengeable power of God courses through your veins? Then act like it.

Stop quibbling about the nonsense the exists in the realms far below, and start doing the work of God.

Heal the sick.

Raise the dead.

Free the captives.

Preach the gospel.

And change the world.

 

 

Ten Reasons the Ten Commandments are Important (TEN COMMANDMENTS)

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Every few years, the Ten Commandments find themselves embroiled in controversy when some progressive pastor suggests that God doesn’t really like them all that much (a silly supposition, since God never changes and Jesus told us these laws would never fade away). And while I’d’ve hoped that Christians could agree on such basic universal truths as “We should only serve one God” and “Murder is bad,” it’s apparently not so obvious.

So here are ten facts about the Ten Commandments that you may or may not know:

ONE: They were literally written by God.

I know, I know. The whole bible was written by God. But technically, it was ghostwritten by God (or Holy Ghost-written by God, amirite?): God communicated His words through prophets and apostles, but God didn’t actually put pen to paper. David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote his psalms; Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote his gospel; Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote his epistles. That’s why the scriptures are called God-breathed, not God-written.

However, the Ten Commandments are different. We are told several times that God literally carved them into stone with His finger.

“…[God] gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Exodus 31:18)

“Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God…” (Deuteronomy 9:10)

In this way, the Ten Commandments stand apart from the rest of the scriptures, not being transcribed but literally carved by God.

TWO: God spoke them out loud to over two million people.

Many times throughout the Bible, you’ll read phrases like “Thus saith the Lord” or “Command these people, saying…” What that means is God spoke these words to some spiritual leader, who then repeated these words to God’s people.

But again, the Ten Commandments stand apart in that they were spoken directly by God to His people.

“These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice…” (Deuteronomy 5:22)

It is estimated that there were somewhere between two and seven million Israelites at the time. And Moses gathered those millions of desert wanderers around Mount Sinai, and God spoke these commandments out loud to them all. There was no denying that these divine laws came from God.

THREE: They are listed not once but twice in the Law.

The first five books of the Bible contain 613 laws (if you think that’s a lot, keep in mind that the United States has over 20,000 laws about guns alone). And in that limited space, God doesn’t repeat many of His commands. For instance, the “greatest commandment”—to love your neighbor as yourself—is only listed once. And yet God presents all Ten Commandments not once but twice (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5).

FOUR: When God created a nation, they were His Bill of Rights.

After over four hundred years in slavery, God fantastically delivered His people from the greatest superpower on earth and led them to form a nation of their own. And the central tenets of this new nation was these Ten Commandments. Of all 613 laws He had given them (or the millions of laws that have been written by countless nations since), God felt these ten were foundational to a successful and free society.

FIVE: They explain Jesus’ commandments to love God and love others.

In one famous exchange, a lawyer asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded that the right answer was:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and [to love] your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

However, it might not always be clear how to love God or love your neighbor. That’s where the Ten Commandments come in handy. The first four provide instruction related to loving God, while the latter six command us how to love others.

SIX: Jesus said the Ten Commandments were the key to eternal life.

In another famous exchange, a rich young ruler asked Jesus for the key to eternal life. Jesus responded,

“If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)

The ruler pressed further, asking which ones He should keep. Jesus answered by listing half of the commandments and the command to love your neighbor (Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18).

According to Jesus, anyone who wants to enter into life should keep the Ten Commandments.

SEVEN: The Ten Commandments apparently gave the rich young ruler riches and influence.

As mentioned previously, a certain ruler (Luke 18:18) who was rich (Mark 10:22) asked Jesus for the secret to eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17), specifically citing five of the Ten Commandments. The rich young ruler responded, “All these things I have kept from my youth” (Matthew 19:20).

Taking the whole Bible into consideration, it is likely that this young man found financial success and influence because of his obedience to God’s commandments. After all, God told Joshua that if he kept the Book of the Law,

“You will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

Promises of economic success and influence are found throughout the Bible (Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and Proverbs 3:1-4, to name a few). It’s no wonder that this young man, who made keeping God’s laws a priority, found both success and influence.

It’s worth noting that, while this man kept many of the Ten Commandments, he doesn’t claim to have kept all of them. Loving God and not coveting are famously absent from the list, and Jesus asks the young man to give to the poor, trust God fully, and follow Him (Matthew 19:21). Jesus later tells His disciples that if the man had obeyed Him—and kept all Ten Commandments—he would have increased his possessions and influence and found eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).

EIGHT: Paul quotes them too.

In Romans 13, Paul writes to the Christians of Rome about how to live as members of society. He lays out the role of government and instructs these believers to pay their taxes. Then he tells the Christians to “love one another” (Romans 13:8). To make sure they understand what this looks like practically, He elaborates further, listing the latter six commandments (the love your neighbor commandments).

Paul’s letter reaffirms that the Ten Commandments are central to a biblical understanding of love and that they are integral to loving successfully in society.

NINE: They establish moral absolutes.

In today’s world, most people either have one God or no gods. But that’s not always how it was. For most of human history, people worshiped many gods. There was a god of agriculture, a god of money, a god of weather. These gods didn’t always get along, and usually had competing views of morality.

As a result, it was hard to know what was right and what was wrong. After all, the god of the river might command one thing, but the god of war would command another. And humans were free to pick whatever god or system of morality suited them at any particular moment.

But the Ten Commandments changed all that. God started off these commandments by declaring that He was the absolute and only God, and that these commandments were His perfect standard of living. There could be no debate whether murder was right or wrong, or whether it was sometimes okay to steal. God, the one and only God, the true God, had declared that these were wrong, whether you or the king or the entire nation agreed. Right and wrong existed because they were established by God, and no matter who you were or where you lived, these commandments applied to you.

TEN: There are only ten of them.

Let’s be real. The “Ten Commandments” has a nice ring to it, and they easily fit on two tablets of stone. It’d be much harder to memorize the “Six Hundred and Thirteen Commandments,” let alone to fit them on a poster.

Conclusion:

The Ten Commandments are important. They are clearly important to God, they were important to Israel, and they should be important to us as well.

We’ll look more into lessons we can learn from God’s Ten Commandments in the coming months.

What is Love?

love

Dictionary.com defines love as “a passionate affection for another person.” But then again, Dictionary.com also believes that boys can turn into girls, so they’re probably not the best source for getting an accurate (let alone biblical) definition of love.

And it’s incredibly important for us to understand what love is. After all, we are repeatedly commanded by Jesus to love:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 25:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27)

Jesus reiterates this commandment in His final discourse:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)

Heck, God goes as far as to say that He is love:

“We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)

So, what is love? Is it a feeling? Is it being nice? Is it an open door, or a battlefield, or a drug?

According to the bible, love is obedience to God’s commandments:

“If you love Me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in them.” (2 John 6)

In any given situation, the most loving thing you can do is the thing God has told you to do. No wonder God gave us these wonderful commandments. It wasn’t just to keep us in line; it was to keep us in love, and as long as we obey His laws, we can be certain that we will be walking in love*.


Notes:

* Some readers might deny this biblical definition of love, citing the Pharisees as a counter-example. After all, the Pharisees supposedly kept the law, and yet would not be considered very loving by Jesus’ standards. In actuality, the Pharisees didn’t keep the law—at least they didn’t keep the whole law. Sure, they kept some of it, but they also rejected a whole lot of it (Matthew 23:23, Mark 7:8-13). Obeying a few commandments while intentionally ignoring the rest isn’t true obedience, and thus isn’t love.

God isn’t mad when your storehouse is full

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In Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who built giant barns to store all his grain. After he completed the construction of the new barns, he died. Jesus concludes by calling him a fool and then saying, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Recently, I’ve heard a few people expound that the moral of Jesus’ parable is that money is bad. Particularly, it is immoral to save money, be it your 401k, retirement, or investments of any kind.

But that isn’t what Jesus said.

In the parable, Jesus criticizes the man for storing up things for himself but not being “rich toward God.” Jesus doesn’t condemn men who have both treasure on earth AND treasure in heaven; He is solely concerned with men who choose to have earthly treasures rather than heavenly treasures.

We see this truth throughout the bible. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul tells Timothy to “command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them to good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Paul writes that we can store up treasure in heaven by being ready to give and willing to share the resources God has blessed us with. But he also says that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy.” God doesn’t have a problem with you enjoying what He has given you; He only commands that you be ready to give.

Finally, Proverbs 8 says “I [wisdom] traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.” Proverbs makes it clear: God-given wisdom will fill your storehouses. Clearly Jesus (who became for us wisdom from God, 1 Corinthians 1:30) doesn’t have a problem with wealth, storehouses, and savings. He merely points out that to ignore heavenly wealth is foolish.

According to Jesus, Paul, and the Old Testament, it is possible to be rich in both earthly treasure and heavenly treasure. The key is being willing to give. So give. Share. Do good. And enjoy.

IRS Kerfuffles and the Leading of the Holy Spirit

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I’m in the process of trying to close escrow on a house. But it has not been easy.

While getting our loan, we found out So Cal Edison had mistakenly opened a claim against us for a bill we had actually paid. This happened almost a year ago, but we didn’t find out until this last month. I called So Cal Edison and they agreed that a mistake had been made, but that there was nothing they could do. They advised I call the collection agency to clear it up. I called the collection agency, and they informed me that, unfortunately, there was nothing they could do, and advised I call So Cal Edison to clear it up.

It took a week of kind, harsh, understanding, and irate calls and hours on hold to finally resolve the situation.

Then things progressed. Until…

Our lender called me to say they had not received 2017 transcripts from the IRS. They told me to call the IRS and have them fax the transcripts over. I called, and after several calls were dropped, I finally made it to an agent appropriately named “Mr. Smith.”

After several hours on hold, Mr. Smith finally informed me that, while the IRS had received, processed, and cashed the check we sent, they had accidentally misplaced our tax return. On behalf of the IRS, Mr. Smith was very sorry, but informed me there was nothing he could do to correct this mistake, as there was no protocol to handle these sorts of situations (which happen more often than you’d think, he told me). My best bet was to send them everything again (sans the check), and wait (and hope) for the trusted IRS to process everything correctly this time.

Through this (and many other unforeseen issues), it became apparent: the devil was trying to prevent us from closing escrow. God must really want us to buy this house.

But what if, instead…

* * *

I’m in the process of trying to close escrow on a house. But it has not been easy.

While getting our loan, we found out So Cal Edison had mistakenly opened a claim…

… My best bet was to send them everything again (sans the check), and wait (and hope) for the trusted IRS to process everything correctly this time.

Through this (and many other unforeseen issues), it became apparent: God was trying to prevent us from closing escrow. God must really want us to NOT buy this house.

* * *

In the bible, Gideon wasn’t sure if God would save Israel. So he decided to look for a sign: he would leave a cloth out on the ground, and if the cloth was wet in the morning, Gideon would know that God would save them.

Morning came, and the cloth was wet. But then Gideon realized, “This could just be a coincidence.” So he decided: he would leave a cloth out on the ground, and if the cloth was dry in the morning, Gideon would know that God would save them.

Morning came, and the cloth was dry. At this point, Gideon stopped asking for signs, and believed what God had actually said a few verses earlier: “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you? Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:14, 16).

* * *

It’s easy to look for signs… until you realize that signs aren’t usually very clear. The IRS lost my tax return. That could mean God doesn’t want me to buy this house… or it could mean that God does want me to buy this house… or it could mean that government agencies are not very efficient. Who knows? (Probably the third one.)

My point is this: God doesn’t lead through circumstance. If He doesn’t want you to do something, He’s not going to send the IRS after you; He’ll just say, “Hey, don’t do that” (Acts 13:2). Better yet, chances are He has already told you what you should and shouldn’t do in scripture.

So rather than make your decisions based on esoteric signs and circumstances that could be interpreted in any number of ways, make your decisions the way God intended: based on the revealed Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Anything else is just chance.

50 practical things Jesus did with His disciples

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  1. He taught them (Matthew 4:23)
  2. He ate with them (Matthew 26:26)
  3. He traveled with them (Mark 6:1)
  4. He went camping with them (Matthew 8:20)
  5. He went to church with them (Mark 1:21)
  6. He worshipped with them (Matthew 26:30)
  7. He prayed with them (Matthew 26:36)
  8. He prayed for them (John 17:9)
  9. He spent time with them doing regular things (see below)
  10. He fished with them (Luke 5:4)
  11. He hiked with them (Mark 3:13)
  12. He barbequed with them (John 21:9)
  13. He hung out at their place (Mark 1:29, Matthew 9:10)
  14. He invited them over to His place (Mark 2:1, Mark 3:20)
  15. He stayed up late to help them (Mark 1:32)
  16. He met their families (Mark 1:30)
  17. He gave them nicknames (Mark 3:17 & Luke 9:54, Matthew 16:18)
  18. He allowed them to be them (as evidenced by Peter’s entire existence)
  19. He called them out when they were sucking (Luke 9:55)
  20. He encouraged them when they were on track (John 1:47, Matthew 16:17)
  21. He joked around with them (Luke 24:13-36; great 15-minute sermon about it here)
  22. He cared deeply about them (John 17:12)
  23. He talked theology with them (Matthew 13:24)
  24. He talked politics with them (Matthew 22:21, ; Matthew 20:25)
  25. He talked business with them (Matthew 20:15)
  26. He made them uncomfortable (John 6:60-61)
  27. He explained things to them (Matthew 13:11)
  28. He used words they could understand (Matthew 13:47, Matthew 4:19)
  29. And when they still didn’t understand, He slowed down (Matthew 15:16)
  30. He gave them advice (Luke 10:25-37)
  31. He helped their businesses (Luke 5:6-7)
  32. He defended them (Mark 9:18-19)
  33. He fought for them (Mark 2:25-7, Luke 22:31-32, 1 John 3:8)
  34. He served them (John 13:5)
  35. He served with them (Matthew 14:19)
  36. He sacrificed for them (Matthew 17:12)
  37. He corrected them (Luke 9:50)
  38. He challenged them (Luke 10:8-9)
  39. He expected more from them than they expected from themselves (Luke 9:13)
  40. He trusted them (Matthew 21:1-3, John 19:26-27)
  41. He gently rebuked them when necessary (Mark 10:38)
  42. He harshly rebuked them when necessary (Matthew 16:23)
  43. He forgave them and gave them second and third and twentieth chances (John 21:15-17)
  44. He was patient with them (Luke 9:46-48)
  45. He never left them, but He allowed them to leave Him (John 6:66)
  46. He invested in them, even when there seemed to be little to no results (Luke 9:43-56)
  47. He was human with them (John 11:35)
  48. He lived with them (John 1:14)
  49. He showed them how to live (John 10:10)
  50. Essentially, He did life with them. Every. Single. Day.

Do Apostles Still Exist?

do apostles still existMost of us Christians have a man or woman we consider our pastor. But what about the other four ministry offices?

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)

We’re all familiar with pastors, and probably even teachers and evangelists. However, there are many who would say there are no longer apostles or prophets. Just today, I was listening to a sermon by a pastor I highly respect, and he said in passing that the office of the apostle no longer exists. He held the common view that there were only twelve “apostles,” and that they were the men whom Jesus had appointed in the first century to spread the gospel and write the New Testament.

I quickly flipped open my bible and looked up a few scriptures, and quickly confirmed that this pastor (while mostly brilliant) was wrong.

Here are a few things the New Testament says about apostles.

  1. There are thirteen men appointed as “apostles” specifically by Jesus in the bible

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” (Matthew 10:2-4)

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead).” (Galatians 1:1)

Generally, those who believe there are no more apostles say that Paul is the twelfth and final apostle, having replaced Judas, who sucked. But consider this for a second: Judas did miracles. Yes, the guy who was stealing from Jesus’ treasury (meaning Jesus had treasure) healed the sick and raised the dead. Take that how you will.

  1. Four other men are called “apostles” in the bible

Barnabas

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out.” (Acts 14:14)

Luke the physician, a companion of Paul (2 Timothy 4:11; Acts 28:16), clearly states that Barnabas was an apostle. Not only that, the narratives in Acts seem to indicate that he was in charge and that Paul was his disciple. Barnabas is usually listed first, and the men of Lystra called Barnabas “Zeus” (the chief God) but Paul “Hermes” (the messenger of Zeus) (Acts 14:12). It seems Barnabas was an apostle who discipled Paul.

Andronicus

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:7)

The NIV reads that Andronicus was “outstanding among the apostles.”

James, the Lord’s Brother

But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:19)

Not to be confused with James the son of Zebedee or James the son of Alphaeus, this was James the son of Mary and Joseph, the half-brother of Jesus, and author of the Epistle of James.

Worth noting is that he is clearly distinguished from the twelve apostles.

After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Epaphroditus

And I thought it necessary Epaphroditus – my brother, and fellow-workman, and fellow-soldier, and your apostle and servant to my need – to send unto you.” (Philippians 2:25)

He is only mentioned twice in scripture, so we don’t know much about him, but from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians we know that he was an apostle (Greek “apostolos”) to the church in Philippi.

(I chose not to include Matthias on my list, because the argument could be made that he was “numbered with the apostles” rather than being considered an apostle [Acts 1:26]. Also, he never shows up again.)

  1. One woman is called an “apostle” in the bible

You may have noticed I skipped over a name earlier.

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:7)

Junia’s example demonstrates that woman can not only function in ministry positions (at least according to Paul), but can be outstanding at it.

  1. Jesus’ twelve apostles didn’t have universal jurisdiction

And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4)

Chapter 15 of Acts tells us of the Jerusalem Council, where the church leaders basically confirmed that you didn’t have to convert to Judaism to become a Christian. What is interesting is that it wasn’t just the apostles who decided this. It was a meeting of apostles and elders. The authority of the twelve disciples didn’t override everyone else. They still needed to discuss matters with church leaders. That rule still applies today.

  1. There is something special about the twelve

Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14)

The twelve apostles of Jesus do hold a special position in heaven (Matthias is easily the luckiest guy there). Let’s face it. They spent those three and a half pivotal years with Jesus, and we have Christianity today because of them.

  1. Apostles are necessary in the church today

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)

Look at some of the things apostles (along with the other four ministry offices) do for the church. They equip us for ministry, they edify us, they unify us and teach us to know God. As the scriptures plainly state, all of these ministry offices are absolutely vital for the church experiencing the fullness of Christ today.

And if we’d stop denying the necessity of modern day apostles, maybe we’d see a more equipped and unified church.

Two Things God Taught Me about Marriage

Milovich We

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:22, 25)

Lesson #1: Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands, tell your wives to submit.”

This seems fairly obvious, and  yet, many husbands and wives completely miss the point of this verse. The bible tells husbands and wives what they are each responsible to do. At no point does it tell husbands and wives that they are responsible for the actions of the other.

As a husband, it is not my job to tell my wife to submit. That’s God’s job. My job is to love. Whether or not I feel she is submitting correctly, that doesn’t change the fact that God told me to love her as Christ has loved me.

Lesson #2: God’s command is impossibly high.

Not only does God tell me that it’s my job to love my wife (whether or not she is submitting); but He also gives me a standard to live up to:

Even as Christ loved the church.”

So, according to a biblical model of marriage, I’m supposed to love my wife in the same way that Christ loves me. Now, forgive me for asking, but that seems… just a little bit… entirely ludicrous, right? And yet, that is God’s command. Which means it’s entirely within my reach. I am biblically mandated to love my wife an impossible amount. Fortunately, nothing is impossible for him that believes.

I’d like to point out that the husband’s commission is much higher than the wife’s. She is commanded to love me like the church has loved Christ. And historically, the church hasn’t always set the bar so high. So if I feel my wife isn’t living up to her end of the deal, what is my response? To love her an impossible amount in response.

Challenge accepted.


I wrote a book! It’s amazing. You should buy it.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE is for sale!

UnfairBookCoverI’m very happy to announce that my book, “UNFAIR ADVANTAGE,” is now available for your Kindle on Amazon.com.

This book will teach Christians who God made them to be, so they can do everything God has called them to do. And spoiler alert, God made you incredibly awesome. You truly are greater than you realize.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. God told me to start writing in January 2013, and the last 17 months have been quite the adventure. So many of you supported me, gave me advice, helped proofread, told me not to use the word “crap” in a Christian book, and took amazing cover photos. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

When you go to buy it from Amazon, do me a favor and purchase it through “Amazon Smile,” selecting “MountainChild.org” as your charity of choice. If you do this, Amazon will donate 4 cents of your purchase to MountainChild, helping to save the lives of starving children in the Himalayan Mountains. 4 cents may not be much, but when I sell 100,000 copies of my book, it will quickly add up and save countless lives.

And for those of you purists out there, the paperback will be available in the next two weeks. So stay tuned!

Thanks again, and enjoy!

Garrett Milovich 

#unfairadvantagebook

http://www.amazon.com/Unfair-Advantage-Greater-Than-Realize-ebook/dp/B00L1T54P0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403794434&sr=8-1&keywords=garrett+milovich

Three Things the Bible Says that Aren’t Actually True

three things the bible says that aren't actually trueSince I launched my website back in February, I’ve started reading different Christian blogs to get a feel for the lay of the land. And the thing I’ve discovered? By and large, if you want to attract a large following to your Christian blog, you basically have to reject the bible as truth and criticize orthodox Christianity.

That creates a bit of a problem for me, seeing as how, ya know, the bible is absolute truth.

But I think I found a loophole.

Here are three things the bible says that just aren’t true.

  1. There is no God.”

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)

Well there you have it. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and all those other angry atheists were right. And the source of their validation? The exact book they loathe and despise: the bible.

… or… maybe not.

We know the bible is absolutely true. Therefore, this verse records absolute truth. But to understand what is truly being said, this passage must be read in context.

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1 isn’t saying there is no God. It’s saying that foolish people claim there is no God. This verse is accurately recording what a fool says, even though what the fool actually says is inaccurate.

So, this begs the question: how do we know if what’s being said is accurate?

It all comes down to context. For one, does the statement line up with the rest of scripture? And two, is the speaker a trustworthy and reliable source?

In this passage, the speaker is definitely not reliable. He is called “foolish” and “corrupt.” He clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about.

And his statement is definitely not in sync with the rest of scripture. The first words of the bible are, “In the beginning, God.” The bible doesn’t waste time proving God’s existence because it is so painfully obvious and self-evident.

“There is no God” is a false statement; “Fools say, ‘There is no God’” is a true statement.

Let’s see if we can find a few more “incorrect” passages.

  1. “Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus.”

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22-23)

Moments after Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus tells His disciples He will soon be executed. Peter’s response? “This shall not happen to You!”

While Peter is fervent with his message, we know he was wrong. For one, Jesus calls him “satan” just one verse later. And since satan is the father of lies, Peter can’t be telling the truth.

Also, all four gospels end with Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.

“Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus” is a false statement; “Peter said, ‘Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus’” is a true statement.

And today’s final example of an “incorrect” bible passage?

  1. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

And [Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” (Job 1:21)

This is a common one. You find it quoted in approximately 53.7% of worship songs, it often turns up in Sunday morning sermons, and it’s used to prove that God sometimes bring evil into our lives.

But it’s not true.

First of all, the text makes it clear that satan (not God) took Job’s stuff away. And in the final chapter of Job, the titular character repents for saying this, claiming he “uttered what [he] did not understand.”

Already it’s not looking good for this oft-quoted passage. Job admits he was wrong, and the story itself refutes Job’s claims.

And the final nail in the coffin? There isn’t a single example in the bible of God taking good things away from his righteous children.

God does plenty of giving (like here, here, here, and here), but you just can’t find a solid foundation for the idea that God takes away. The best argument is Job 1:21, which is easily dismantled when one considers the entirety of scripture (and even just the entirety of the Book of Job, or the entirety of chapter 1 for that matter).


 

So yeah, apparently there are a few passages of the bible that seem wrong when taken out of context. The bible is, among many other things, a history book, and it records the events of history with perfect accuracy.

But some of the people whose stories are recorded made mistakes (David’s extramarital escapades, Balaam’s greed, Job’s ignorance). And we do ourselves a disservice when we follow in their errors rather than learn from them.

The bible doesn’t teach that God gives and takes away.

Job taught that.

And Job was wrong.

Thinking-Guy