Monday, October 14, 2019
Note the differences between these two passages:
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
1 Corinthians 3:10-15: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Both groups think they are Christians. The first group thought they'd done things for Christ, but Christ says they aren't saved. The second group builds on the foundation of their faith with useless materials, but they are saved.
Jesus calls the first group "evil doers" because they obviously have never turned from their sins. The second group have wasted their lives on useless things (perhaps false teaching or worldly pursuits) but they have turned from their sins or they would not be saved.
The Scriptures below confirm the truth that only those who repent of their sins and seek to live godly lives will be saved. Can they waste their lives on things not helpful to the Kingdom of God? Yes. Can they fall into sin? Yes. Can they live in sin? No.
1 John 2:3-6: We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
1 John 3:6-10: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 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. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
John 14:21: "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."
3 John 1:11: Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
2 Timothy 2:19: Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
Many modern teachings downplay godliness, claiming that since we can never be perfect, we shouldn't expect to overcome sin in our lives. However, our goal as Christians is to press on to take hold of everything God has for us (Philippians 3:12). If that is not our goal, we should examine ourselves to see if we are genuinely saved (2 Corinthians 13:5).
copyright 2019, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
Sunday, September 15, 2019
As an introduction to this study, please read A Serious Feminist Error.
"Christian feminists" claim that Matthew 15:21-28 is the story of a Gentile woman teaching Jesus not to be chauvinistic and bigoted. This claim is contrary to everything taught in Scripture about the character and nature of God.
However, the conversation in this passage can leave us with questions at first glance, so we're going to study it carefully.
Not everything we need to know is in the actual text of this passage. We need to combine it with other scriptural truths to understand the story written "between the lines" of the actual text. Some of what I share will be my educated opinion.
But we know this for sure: the story "between the lines" perfectly reflects Christ's perfect character, perfect purity, perfect love, perfect goodness, and perfect wisdom.
✤ Below you will find Scripture in bold letters and my comments in italics after the verses.
Matthew 15:21-28: Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
✤ Why did Jesus choose to withdraw to a Gentile area? Some people believe He was taking a break from the Jewish criticism He so regularly encountered. But He could have found privacy elsewhere if He had no other purpose in traveling to Tyre and Sidon. After all, He could walk on water, perform miracles, and slip away unnoticed in the midst of an angry crowd (John 8:59). Jesus came to this city for more than refreshment. He had a divine appointment with this woman.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
✤ Christ's silence was a test for both this woman and His disciples. His Jewish disciples were raised with a prejudice against the "unclean" Gentiles. When Jesus didn't answer the woman, they immediately assumed He wasn't going to help her. They thought Jesus should send her away, but Jesus had different purposes in mind.
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
✤ Jesus ignored His disciples and spoke to the woman. This was another test for the disciples and the woman. But it was also true: From the time of Abraham, God set the Jews apart so they could bless the world with God's salvation (Genesis 18:18). Jesus served as the final and most important link in that mission. And even though most Jews rejected Jesus, the gospel was first proclaimed through the Jewish-born Jesus and Jewish-born apostles. That's why Christ's first mission was to the Jews who would take the gospel into all the world (Matthew 28:16-20). And part of Christ's mission to the Jews was to show them they were going to reach out to the non-Jewish world with the message of salvation. He was teaching His disciples about their mission by talking with this woman.
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
✤ This woman was persistent. She was proving her faith.
She'd experienced the demonic activity of her country's pagan religions firsthand. And somehow, she'd heard Jesus could cast out demons. She seemed to understand He was her only hope.
This woman's persistence reminds me of a parable Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8 about a persistent widow who wore down an unjust judge until he gave her justice. But don't mistake Jesus for the unjust judge. In Luke 18 He explains:
“Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Persistence is a necessary element of faith. Are you willing to persevere in prayer when you don't see immediate results?
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
✤ According to the Greek, the word Jesus used for dog was one that would be used for a pet dog, not a street dog. But a softer word for dog doesn't adequately explain Christ's answer. It still seems harsh at first glance.
We need to remember this important truth: Jesus is not only perfectly good, He's also all-knowing (examples: Matthew 9:4; John 1:44-51; John 4:17-19; John 13:21-33). He knew this woman's heart. He understood her background, her situation, her thoughts, and her needs. He spoke the words she needed to hear in response to her plea for help. He knew His words would strengthen her faith, not dissuade her.
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
✤ This woman's humble persistence was a lesson to Christ's disciples, a good confirmation for the situation that happened in the first half of this chapter of Scripture.
In the preceding verses (verses 1-20), Jesus clearly explained that what makes a man clean or unclean is not food, cleansing, or other external activities. It's a man's heart that makes him clean or unclean.
The Jews had lost an understanding of their mission to bless all nations. They were using Old Testament laws to self-righteously separate themselves from "unclean" Gentiles. Christ's disciples showed no compassion for this Gentile woman. In another encounter, the disciples wondered why Jesus would even talk to a Gentile woman (John 4:4-44, esp. v.27). I believe her humble answer softened the disciples hearts and helped them understand Christ's love for all people.
It was no mistake that Jesus chose to travel where He would find this humble, persistent Gentile woman.
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Can you imagine having Christ say this to you? Instead of wondering why Christ's previous response to this woman was challenging, we need to concentrate on this compliment about her faith. I'm not sure any Jewish man is praised this highly in Scripture.
Christian feminists make proud demands about the value of women, but this situation clarifies the scriptural truth that humility exalts us, not proud demands. See Proverbs 29:23, Matthew 23:12, 1 Peter 5:6, and James 4:6.
When feminists propose that Jesus was prejudiced and this woman taught Him to give up His bias, they show an unjustified disrespect for Jesus and an unjustified respect for themselves. The humble faith of the woman in this passage is a fitting rebuke to their pride.
I'm a woman, and I'm so glad God included this passage in His Word!
For a very thorough, scholarly explanation of this passage, see Bible.org.
copyright 2019, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
Bite Size Bible Study
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Before working through this Bible study, read Disastrous Attitudes for background.
Immature people can only see things from their perspective. They're inconsiderate, self-defensive, and easily offended. They set all the rules in the relationship.
If these people are in our workplace, neighborhood, or circle of friends, we should do our best to get along, but there's nothing wrong with avoiding them and choosing other friends.
It's different, however, when they're family members. God placed us in our family for a purpose. Working through our problems might be one of the most important aspects in our Christian maturity.
1. We can't have a good relationship with the Lord if we refuse to deal with human relationship problems:
1 John 4:7: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:20: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Matthew 5:23-24: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Have you written off a family relationship when the other person is still interested in a relationship? Have you refused to work through problems when the other person is willing? If so, you've built a wall between yourself and God. I encourage you to read You Can't Serve God if you Refuse.
2. We also need to take a serious look at our own sins before judging others.
Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The mature Christian listens thoughtfully to criticism and tries to see things from the other person's perspective. The immature Christian gets angry and defensive. I encourage you to read Speck-Finders.
3. We need to be willing to deny ourselves (i.e inconvenience ourselves) in order to improve the relationship.
Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
If we refuse reasonable requests in a relationship, we're not only being selfish. We're being manipulative.
Some family relationships could be vastly improved by as little as an hour of considerate behavior each week - a phone call, a lunch date, two or three phone texts, or a short email. Often relationships flounder because one party neglects the other.
4. We need to choose our words carefully.
Ephesians 4:29-32: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Our words are important. When was the last time you complimented your parent, adult child, or sibling on something they did well? When was the last time you praised one of their good qualities?
We need to speak thoughtfully and kindly, even when we have a disagreement. When things break down and angry words are spoken, we need to ask forgiveness, forgive the other person, and speak words that promote reconciliation.
5. Selfishness kills relationships.
Philippians 2:1-4: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
All good relationships involve deliberate effort and lots of unselfish grace. If you are an adult child, you may have little interest in keeping lines of communication open with your aging parents, but one day, when they're gone, you'll very likely feel regret. As I mentioned above, it can take as little as a few minutes a day or an hour a week to let them know you care. This is a small thing to ask for someone who cared for you 24/7 when you were young. When parents know they are valued, they are less likely to complain.
And parents of adults, step back a bit if you've been complaining. Ask God if you've been expecting too much or sharing your complaints in ways that encourage brokenness in the relationship. Have you asked your child if there's something you've done to cause strain in the relationship? Are you willing to ask forgiveness if they share legitimate concerns?
6. We can't fix everything, but we need to be willing to give it our best.
Romans 14:19: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Sometimes a family member shuts off contact or refuses to discuss problems. If we've done our best to work through things, asked forgiveness for our faults in the relationship, and remained willing to keep lines of communication open, that's all we can do.
copyright 2019, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study
Bite Size Bible Study