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Monday, September 26, 2016

God Punishes

Luke 12:48, Hebrews 12, God Punishes for our good
I recently heard this popular view: There are consequences for sin, but God is loving so He never punishes anyone. 

It's true there are consequences for sin. But God decides those consequences and they vary according to a man's motives, opportunities, and influence (Luke 12:48).*  

Scripture confirms that God punishes those He loves and Scripture provides examples (e.g. 2 Samuel 12).

For thousands of years, Christians never doubted this aspect of God's character. But modern culture has redefined love to mean unconditional tolerance and acceptance, largely because we think we don't deserve punishment. 

God is incredibly patient and merciful not punishing us to the full extent we deserve (Psalm 103:8-14), but He still "disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." Hebrews 12:6  

The question we each must answer is this: Do we trust God's perfect knowledge, love and wisdom enough to believe He knows what's best for us (Revelation 3:19)?
* But we must be very careful not to assign blame when a person is going through hardship unless the hardship is a direct result of an obvious sin. See No Karma and What Did They Do to Deserve This?

Bible Study 

1. God's punishment and judgment are perfect. They are part of His perfect love for us. He knows exactly what we need, and He will punish us if it is for our best good. A parent who never punishes his child doesn't really love the child because the child will never learn self-control or obedience. The same is true for us as children of God.

Hebrews 12: 1-11: As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne. 3 Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. 

4 For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. 5 Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? “My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. 6 Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.” 

7 Endure what you suffer as being a father's punishment; your suffering shows that God is treating you as his children. Was there ever a child who was not punished by his father? 8 If you are not punished, as all his children are, it means you are not real children, but bastards. 9 In the case of our human fathers, they punished us and we respected them. How much more, then, should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! 10 Our human fathers punished us for a short time, as it seemed right to them; but God does it for our own good, so that we may share his holiness. 11 When we are punished, it seems to us at the time something to make us sad, not glad. Later, however, those who have been disciplined by such punishment reap the peaceful reward of a righteous life. GNT

The Greek word for punishment in Hebrews 12:6 is mastigóō and it literally means to whip, but it is used figuratively in this verse to mean God causing hardship or difficulty in a person's life in their best interest. This is why God's punishment is compared to a father who disciplines his son. 

2. In Revelation 3:19, Jesus speaks a similar truth when addressing Christians who have grown cold in their faith.

Revelation 3:19: Those whom I love I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent.  

The Greek word for reprove means to correct and expose sin and the Greek word for discipline means training that can involve punishment. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

12 Reasons Jesus Came

12 Reasons Jesus Came, Jesus came to earth
Why did Jesus come? 

1. He came to fulfill the Law. (Matthew 5:17-18). 

2. He came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). 

3. He came to serve. (Mark 10:45). 

4. He came to give His life in payment for our sins. (Matthew 20:28; 1 John 3:5). 

5. He came that we might have abundant life. (John 10:10). 

6. He came to reveal the Father. (Matthew 11:27 ; John 14:9). 

7. He came to separate believers from non-believers. (Matthew 10:34-36). 

8. He came to proclaim truth. (John 18:37).

9. He came to give us a pattern of holy living.  (1 Peter 2:21). 

10. He came to ignite a spiritual fire. (Luke 12:49).(1)

11. He came to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15).(2)

12. He did not come to judge, but He came to bring judgment. (John 3:17; 9:39; 12:47). 

#12 might appear to be a contradiction, but it's not. Today's Bite Size Bible Study explains.
(1) Opinions of Bible Scholars vary on the exact meaning of fire in this passage, but all agree it is a strong statement from the One Who truly set the world ablaze with His words and work here on earth. I would draw from all of the proposed meanings to say that Christ brought the world a fire of truth, the Spirit, reward and punishment, burning away the lies, igniting the truth in men's hearts.
(2) Scripture explains that while this has been done in the spiritual realm, we still will endure the works of the devil (sickness, suffering, evil) while on earth. The full realization of the devil's defeat will be at Christ's Second Coming. See Hebrews 2:5-8.

Bible Study 

12 Reasons Jesus Came, Jesus came to earth
The three passages below seem to be contradictions, but only at first glance. Read through them carefully and ask God to give you wisdom about their meaning.

John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 

John 9:39: Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 

John 12:47: If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 

What John 3:17 and 12:47 do NOT teach:

1. They don't teach that Jesus didn't judge sin and sinners. 

In fact, we find such judgments recorded in Scripture. For example, read Matthew 23. This entire chapter tells of Jesus judging and rebuking the Pharisees. 

2. They don't teach that Jesus has no expectations of His followers.

Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23

3. They don't teach that Jesus is soft on sin.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 1 John 3:8

It's important to understand that Christ's mission in coming to earth, first and foremost, was to save mankind, not to judge us. We were already judged at the fall. We fell short of God's standards for eternal life. Jesus didn't come simply to remind us of that fact. He came to save us from it.

Judge is used interchangeably with condemn in Scripture, but the most accurate way to understand the meaning of these seemingly contradictory passages is this way: Jesus came into the world to save us from the punishment we deserve. He will condemn all those who reject Him (i.e. pass a final judgment on each man) at His Second Coming, but this was not the purpose of His first coming. He did, however, address sin and rebuke sinners at His First Coming because that is part of His nature as a holy God.

copyright 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

Nobody's Business

Judge sinners, Church discipline, Judge Not Heresy
Many Christians think their behavior is nobody's business but their own.

However, Scripture clearly refutes that notion just as it refutes the "Judge Not" heresy. 

We must treat each other humbly, graciously, gently and patiently, never critically or arrogantly (Ephesians 4:11-24). But we still have a responsibility to judge and restore sinning believers. And we should expect fellow believers to do the same for us.

Matthew 18:15 tells us to confront those who sin against us. 

Luke 17:3 tells us to rebuke a sinning brother and forgive him when he repents. 

Galatians 6:1 and James 5:19-20 tell us to restore those who've wandered from the truth.

And there are additional passages on the role of the Church in judging and disciplining sinning Christians. 

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is very clear: "It certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning."*

Humble, loving rebukes are part of our responsibility to encourage each other in the faith (1Thessalonians 5:11).

*This passage explains formal church discipline for church members. We are supposed to have discernment about sin and sinners outside of the Church, but it is not our role to discipline them. For  a thorough explanation of church discipline, see "10 Things You Should Know About Church Discipline." For more on appropriate judgement, see "Misunderstandings About Judgement" 1-Minute Archive

Bible Study

Compromise is a huge problem in our churches, partially due to our failure to confront others in appropriate ways and partially due to our failure to learn the principles in God's Word. The following passage offers a balanced view of the role of the church, fellow believers, and our own role in becoming more like Christ. Ask God to reveal His truth as you read through it.

Ephesians 4:11-24 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 
copyright 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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