Disparaging the Divine


The Assyrian king sent his men to frighten the people of Jerusalem. The king’s agents spoke of the nations they had already conquered, whose gods were powerless to deliver them. In other words: Your God will be like all those other gods we defeated.

“They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands” (2 Chronicles 32:19).

God answered their arrogance by slaying the entire Assyian army of 185,000 men!


Enabled by God, Nehemiah led his people in rebuilding the fallen walls of Jerusalem. Their critics taunted, “What are these feeble Jews doing?” “. . . if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!” (Nehemiah 4:2-3).

But Nehemiah later wrote, “So the wall was completed . . . in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it . . . they lost their confidence, for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:15-16).


During Jesus’ ministry His enemies accused Him of being demon-possessed, insane, a blasphemer, glutton, drunkard, deceiver, etc. (John 9:24; John 10:20, 33; Matthew 11:19; 27:63).

They even said He cast out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24-28).

But it wasn’t long until the risen Christ, fully vindicated, was enthroned in glory at God’s right hand—where He reigns still.


At Pentecost the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to speak in languages understood by the people who heard them. Some in the audience mocked, “They are full of sweet wine” (Acts 2:13).

But before the day was over, some 3,000 were convicted by Peter’s forceful sermon, and the mighty church of God was born.

The final verdict

Today we still have those who scorn the Scriptures and deride the bride of Christ, the church. But God will have the last word.

He always does.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Division Over Jesus

Jesus at the center of controversy

Three times the apostle John uses the word “division” regarding the opposite views people were taking about Jesus (7:40-43; 9:16; 10:19-21). Some believed in Him; others rejected Him.

  • Some argued that Jesus is the Christ, while others said He could not be the Christ because the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem (John 7:40-43).

They were right in believing that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6). But they were ignorant of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem. Because they didn’t have all the facts, they came to the wrong conclusion.

  • In the second case of division (John 9:16) some were saying that Jesus could not be from God because He did not keep the Sabbath. Others argued, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”

Because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, some accused Him of violating the prohibition against working on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-10). What Jesus violated was not God’s law, but the Pharisaic traditions regarding the Sabbath. Even Jesus’ opponents allowed certain kinds of work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-7; Luke 14:1-6; John 7:22-24).

  • And then the third division: “Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him.’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’” (John 10:19-21).

And our response?

So how shall we decide about Jesus? A fair-minded reading of the New Testament shows abundant evidence that Jesus really is who He claimed to be: the Christ, the Son of God.

It’s really impossible to be neutral about Jesus. We must decide what we believe about Him, but whatever we conclude, we had better make sure we’re right!

What if one were to assert that George Washington is a mythical figure who never actually existed? Would it matter, ultimately, if we took that view, wrong as it is?

We cannot have a personal relationship with George Washington. He did not die to save us from hell. Nor will he be our judge on the last day. If we choose to reject Washington as a historic figure, what difference really does it make in the long run?

But what if we’re wrong about Jesus?

young man thinking-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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When to Listen–and When Not To

Note these contrasting proverbs:

“Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days” (Proverbs 19:20).

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs 1:10).

One proverb says listen; the other says not to. They are both right.

There were times when David was wise not to listen:

  • When Saul suggested that David was too inexperienced to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33).
  • When his men on two occasions tried to persuade him to kill King Saul (1 Samuel 24, 26).
  • When some said that the ones who could not go into battle should have no share in the spoils (1 Samuel 30:21-25).

Then there were times when David was wise to listen:

  • When Abigail persuaded him not to take vengeance on Nabal and his men (1 Samuel 25:18-34).
  • When Nathan the prophet rebuked him for his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:1-13).
  • When Joab urged David to relate to his people in spite of his grief over Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 19:7-8).

In these cases David shows himself to be a man of restraint (Abigail), of penitence (Nathan), and prudence (Joab).

Steve Singleton pointed out to me one occasion when David should have listened, but didn’t. Joab tried to persuade David not to take a census of his people, but David insisted. He and Israel paid dearly for his refusal to listen (2 Samuel 24).

It takes a humble person to be willing to listen when he should, and a strong person to refuse to listen to those who would lead us astray. It is a foolish person who listens to those who would lead him away from God’s will, and a stubborn, prideful person who will not listen when the truth is spoken.

“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

Let’s learn when to listen—and when not to.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Exclusive/Inclusive Christ

Christ is inclusive.

His salvation is offered to all without distinction. Christ invites the poor, the oppressed, and people of all nations to receive freely the blessings that are in Him (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 14:21-23).

Jews and Gentiles are saved on exactly the same basis (Acts 10:1-11:18; Ephesians 2:11-22). Slave and master stand as equals in His sight (Galatians 3:28). Though He has assigned men and women their respective roles, He treats them both as fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

“. . . He died for all . . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Christ is exclusive.

He Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He made it abundantly clear in His teachings that there are but two alternatives: either Christ or destruction (Matthew 7:24-27; Mark 16:16; John 8:24; 12:48).

Peter said of Him, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul describes it this way: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” (Philippians 2:10-11).


Those who find repugnant His claim to be the only way to God are invited to consider a few points:

  • We all deserve hell because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
  • God owes us nothing, but because of His mercy He extends the opportunity to everyone alike to find salvation in His Son. That’s true love!
  • The gospel of Christ is a tremendous offer. But it can be rejected. God does not force His grace on anyone. He respects our freedom of the will.

Yes, there is only one way to God, but there is a way.

What if there were no way?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Four Characteristics of Faith

To say that faith is a major theme of the Bible is an understatement. What better place to begin than the great Faith Chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11. In this chapter the noun faith is found 24 times and the verb believe once.

People of faith

Hebrews 11 could be called Case Studies in Faith. Here are real people much like us who struggled with major problems and overcame them by faith.

What are the characteristics of faith? First, faith is the assurance that what we do not see is real (v. 1). There are three categories of what we do not see: 1) those things in the past we did not witness (v. 3); 2) present realities that are invisible to our eyes (v. 6); and 3) things yet to come (vv. 7, 10)

Second, faith acts. It does something. “By faith Abel offered unto God….By faith Noah…prepared an ark….By faith Abraham…obeyed….By faith Abraham …offered up Isaac….”

Third, faith enables us to please God (vv. 2, 6, 39). God is pleased when we show we trust Him.

And fourth, faith brings a great reward (v. 6). God richly blesses those who live by faith, not by sight.

Living by faith

Note the words immediately preceding the Faith Chapter: “But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (10:38-39).

Believe it!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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In Advance

Opposite outcomes

Some troubles are avoidable, some are not. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells of two builders (Matt. 7:24-27). Both build a house. A violent storm slams both houses. One house stands firm. The other falls. The difference? One had been founded on the rock, the other on sand.

Jesus’ point is that those who hear His words and do what He says are like the wise builder. Those who hear His words and don’t obey can expect disaster.

The wise builder had one problem to face: the storm. The foolish builder had two problems: 1) the storm, and 2) the collapse of his house. The storm was unavoidable, but the collapse of his house could have been prevented. Had he done what the wise builder did, there would have been two houses standing instead of one.

Which will we choose?

In this powerful parable Jesus issues both a warning and a promise. The warning is that if you don’t obey Him, you will lose everything. The promise is that if you obey Him, you will be safe and sound when the storm comes.

Preparation. What we do today or fail to do today can greatly affect our tomorrows. Each day we live we are building on the rock, or we are building on the sand. Time will test our efforts.

Those who have not become Christians need to take a hard look at this passage. Those who have fallen away from Christ need to do the same. Faithful Christians would do well to re-read this parable every once in a while to be reminded that it’s definitely worth the effort.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.

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Many ways to sin

Several New Testament passages cite a number of sins (Matthew 15:19-20; Romans 1:28-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:25-31; Colossians 3:5-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 21:8; etc.). None of these lists is intended to be complete. Notice how many sins are indicted in this passage:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

How we respond

There are at least three ways we can read this passage: 1) we can think about people we know who are guilty of these sins (Luke 18:9-14), 2) we can be convicted of those sins we are guilty of and truly repent (Acts 2:36-41; 2 Corinthians 7:6-16), or 3) we can read it without giving it much thought one way or another (Ezekiel 33:30-32). Of these three options, which would the Lord want us to take?

Regarding the specific sins listed above, we may not have ever gotten drunk, but have we ever envied? We may have never become involved in the occult (sorcery), but have we ever let anger get the best of us?

What we most need

Yes, we need to be personally convicted of our sins so we can repent and be forgiven. But we need something more. We need encouragement that victory over our sin is possible through Jesus Christ. In another passage Paul lists ten specific sins, but then he says, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

What an encouraging passage! These former pagans had been convicted, cleansed, and consecrated to God. What they experienced we can experience.

There is hope!

sunrise at sea-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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