How God Stretches Our Understanding

Moving beyond what we know

God designed our minds so that we can absorb new insights much more easily if we can connect it with something we already know. In other words, we move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

So often Christ taught this way. He drew parallels between common things in everyday life and not-so-familiar spiritual concepts. He used figures of speech such as simile (“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed . . . .”) and metaphor (“I am the good shepherd . . . .”) (Matthew 13:31; John 10:11).

It’s remarkable how many different ways Jesus describes Himself. Jesus is too big for any one single comparison to be adequate. Jonah, for example, is quite unlike Jesus in some important ways, but in at least one narrow sense there is a parallel, and in that one respect Jesus draws an analogy  (Matthew 12:38-40).

The New Testament compares baptism to a birth (John 3:3-5) and to death (Romans 6:3-7). These are not contradictory but each comparison sheds light on a significant aspect of baptism. In one way baptism is an end (death to the old life of sin). In another sense it is a glorious beginning (a new birth).

Moving beyond what we’ve experienced

The Bible shows us how to have fellowship with the God who is both like us and not like us. The Bible prepares us for life beyond anything we’ve ever experienced. And so God uses His word to help us make that challenging transition from the physical world we are so familiar with to a life that far exceeds anything we’ve ever known.

God uses Scripture to develop in us a whole new way of seeing so that “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

What exciting vistas God lays out before us! Are we willing to move beyond the familiar here-and-now to the less familiar but far more wonderful then-and-there?

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

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Better Than That!

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Limited benefits

Term life insurance provides benefits to the family after one’s death. But not until. Fire, auto, and health insurance are great to have. But if you have no claim, you get absolutely nothing, no matter how much you’ve paid in.

In contrast, a sound financial investment pays dividends now—and hopefully for years to come. A good investment pays back much more than you put in! And yet you can’t take it with you.

Unlimited benefits

What about our faith as Christians? Is it good in case of loss? Is it a sound investment for this life? Is it of benefit for the next life? All of the above.

The Christian life is totally comprehensive. Properly used, our faith is of value to us every moment we live—and for eternity! Could anything be better than that?

Fully guaranteed

As with investments and insurance, there is a price. Is it worth it?

Once Peter asked Jesus, “. . . we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

Jesus replied, “. . . there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life” (Matthew 19:27; Mark 10:29-30).

Any loss we experience because of our commitment to Christ He will amply compensate—both now and in eternity. He also provides us with tremendous resources such as the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Scriptures, and the fellowship of believers—all of which strengthen us now and help us toward heaven.

Comprehensive coverage

Name one thing the Christian faith does not affect. You can’t do it! It’s designed to govern the choices we make, our family life, our work, and our leisure time. It covers youth, the middle years, and old age. It helps us deal with both life and death—and it enables us to come out victors in the end.

No wonder the writer of Hebrews calls it “so great a salvation” (2:3)!

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

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Need Help?

I was in my thirties before I learned that men are reluctant to ask directions when driving. That was news to me! When I was growing up, my dad would often stop and ask. So when I got out on my own, I thought nothing of doing the same.

When GPS and roadmaps aren’t quite enough, it strikes me as silly to be in a strange place and forge ahead, hoping to figure out the right road when a simple question could save a lot of time and gasoline.

Pride? A sense of self-sufficiency? Is that it? Is that why macho men don’t want to admit they’re lost?

Choosing our destination

Life is a journey with a destination. We’re all headed somewhere. Some don’t have a clue where they’re headed or what the alternatives are. That’s why we have the Bible.

The Bible tells us: 1) There are two roads. 2) One road leads to life, the other to destruction. 3) We must choose (Matthew 7:13-14).

The road to destruction requires no particular effort to reach that destination. We can go to hell by default, by doing absolutely nothing.

By choosing life

If we choose the road to life, we need to understand: a) how to get on the only road that actually leads there, and b) how to stay on that road.

In other words, we need lots of help to make it. We need the grace of God to forgive and sustain us, we need the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, the Scriptures to teach us, the fellowship of believers to encourage us, and the daily intercession of our Mediator at the Father’s right hand.

Proud people don’t like to admit they need help. But is there anyone who doesn’t? There’s no such thing as a truly self-made man, especially when it comes to our salvation.

No wonder the Scriptures repeatedly urge us to humble ourselves, to seek God, and to admit our inadequacies (Luke 18:9-14).

Reluctance to seek the help we so desperately need and which is so readily available for the asking is far worse than silly—it is eternally fatal to our souls.

So go ahead, ask!

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Looking Ahead

What if?

When our son Monte was five, he asked his mom, “What if you and Daddy break your hip at the same time? Then we wouldn’t have any mommy and daddy to take care of us.”

“We’d find somebody to take care of you for awhile,” she said. “Besides, it’s usually old people who break their hip.”

He thought a moment, then said, “You’re getting old, aren’t you?”

What now?

How should a Christian feel about growing older?

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison . . .” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Hope of glory.

Even with a broken hip.

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

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Why They Stayed

What the crowds wanted

It was a low point in Jesus’ ministry. After He fed thousands with only five loaves and two fish, they tried to make Him king, but not the kind Jesus came to be (John 6:14-15; 18:36).

They returned the next day, wanting another meal. Jesus offered them something far better: eternal life.

When they realized Jesus wasn’t playing their game, many walked away.

What Peter knew

Jesus asked His disciples if they too wanted to leave.

“Lord,” said Peter, “to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68).

The crowds had their reasons for leaving. Peter had his reasons for staying.

Which was right?

Faced with the same choice, what will we decide?

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

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