Considering Proverbs 1:10-16

10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

We should not keep company with people who plot to do others harm, and we certainly should not participate in their plans of violence.

It seems like most people would resist plans that are obviously violent, but sadly, that is not always the case.  

Why do these things happen?

Are people convinced that their violent actions are justified?

Jesus said there would come a time when many would kill thinking that they do God’s service.

Maybe that’s just it, and the way a person might rationalize violence greatly depends on who or what their god is.

Some people worship a societal goal. Some people worship a set of religious doctrines or ideas. Some people worship material possessions. Some people worship power and influence over others. Some people worship themselves and act out of self-preservation. The list of the gods of man can go on and on, and sadly, many people are all too eager to destroy others in the name of their god.

I sometimes wonder about the violent capacity of mankind. Sometimes I see things people will do to others and I’m in shock. I ask myself, what kind of person would do such a thing?

I think most of us are capable of greater violence and sin in general than we might realize. Given the right circumstances, there is no knowing what we could be capable of. If we think we are so much better, then maybe we should consider ourselves.

If we have ever slandered someone, even on a small scale, then we are participating in a plot to destroy another person. If we have ever listened to a person speak slander then supported that person or spread the slander to someone else, then we are doing the same thing.

On a larger scale, there are those who plan to ruin lives socially or in business. Maybe this happens in a workplace setting, among family, or in some other community.

On an even larger scale we have acts of violent protests or singling out a certain sect of people for destruction because they stand in the way of whatever the god demands.

There are many reasons why a person might participate in planned violence. What are the core motivations? Motivations could include fear, self-righteousness, pride, envy, or whatever it is that makes a person thoughtlessly jump into crowd induced violence simply because everyone else is doing the same.

How can we avoid participating with those who plot to destroy others?

On a small-scale, we should use caution when hearing the complaints of others. Maybe they are sincere and maybe they are slander. If we can investigate, maybe we should. If it is no big deal, then maybe we leave it alone but do not perpetuate the matter.

On a larger scale, we can educate ourselves and consider as many points of view as possible. We should consider the effects of actions taken, no matter how good the intent or proposed outcome is claimed to be. The ends do not justify the means. We can consider similar events in history, the patterns that might be repeating, and the potential consequences.

We should avoid an overly strict loyalty to any side, always remembering that our first allegiance is to Jesus. We should develop a strong sense of right and wrong according to the teachings of Jesus and stand our ground, no matter how much the opposing side attempts to sway us or portray us as the evildoers.

How can we avoid being targeted by violence?

Let’s consider Jesus. There were times when he simply walked away and escaped danger. There were times when Jesus refused to “cast pearls before swine.” There were times when Jesus spoke boldly and performed His work regardless of what the powers were saying and doing. In the end, however, Jesus suffered and gave up His life for the cause of others.

As with all things, we should seek the Lord often and He will give us what we need to handle any situation. Maybe we walk away and hold our peace. Maybe we speak boldly. Maybe we stand and defend ourselves and others. Maybe we give up our life. In the end what matters is that we do not give in to the pressure of the powers who lay in wait to destroy and we center our actions around the only true God.

How can I consider myself in this?

What capacity might I have for plotting the destruction of others? Do I carry the same motivations in any measure? Have I been used by murderous people as an ally for doing harm to someone else in any measure? Have I convinced others to join me in doing harm to someone else in any measure? Do I have any other gods than Jesus? How can I prepare myself and increase my relationship with Jesus so that I can stand against those who plot to destroy?

These are the questions I will be thinking about today.

Considering Proverbs 1:8-9 (Revised)

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Several things come to mind when I read this verse. First, what does this verse literally mean?

I want to look at the beginning verse. Who and what is the instruction of the father and law of the mother? If this was written by Solomon to his son, Rehoboam, then the meaning might be straight-forward.

In the previous verse, we read that fools disregard instruction. We also read that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. If we tie that in with this verse, then what Solomon is saying makes sense. He is encouraging his son to pay attention to the instruction he is about to receive.

If we take what Solomon is writing in a non-literal sense, then maybe he is talking about the nation of Israel as the father. God’s covenant was made with Abraham. His decedent Jacob was named Israel, and Israel’s sons formed the original tribes of Israel. So, maybe these are the nation’s fathers in a sense. As God’s people, they received laws that they should follow as a set-apart nation. Could these laws be the mother? Could Solomon be encouraging his son to lay hold of his heritage as the chosen people of God?

I also think about what Jesus teaches. He said once that those who do the will of His Father in heaven are His mother, brother, and sister. Of course, Jesus did not mention father because God is the Father of Jesus. However, this makes me think of someone I know.

Jesus teaches us that if we forsake our mother, father, brothers, and sisters for His sake, then we will receive more again in the kingdom of God. This is true.

I know someone who cannot look to her natural father and mother for instruction and guidance because they are prone to ungodly ways. For most of her life, she felt orphaned in a sense because of this. She had no one she could really count on or look up to. Other than the Lord Himself, she had no father or mother in the faith. God provided her with mentors in the faith, and they have been exceedingly helpful and comforting to her. The Lord provides us with people who will lead us and help us grow in His ways, and that is a blessed thing.

This verse also makes me think of our current situation here in the United States. We should remember the instruction of our founding fathers and the blood they shed to make us a free nation. We should remember the laws of Lady Liberty that instruct us in self-government and living an upright life.

Our nation is at great risk of forgetting these things, it seems. Here in the United States, every individual is a king. We are the leaders and the government is supposed to work for us—not control us and rule us. It seems like we want to do like Israel did when they went astray.

God was their king. In following God, each man was responsible for himself. They rejected God and made Saul king. In so doing, the nation of Israel was eventually divided and conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians.  

Saul was the first king of Israel. David was the second. David’s son, Solomon was the third. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam was next. The people rebelled against the unjust rule of Rehoboam, and this lead to the splitting of the nation and the formation of the northern and southern kingdoms. In just a few short generations, having a king in place of God resulted in catastrophe.

It would seem that Solomon’s son did not follow the advice of his father after-all.

Are we going to establish a king that resembles other nations? Are we giving up the liberty and responsibility of the individual that governs themselves in order to obtain slavery and oppression wrapped in the guise of protection and security?

The individuals in our nation need to return to a fear of the Lord. Then they can return to an appreciation for the liberty and responsibility of self-government. If we reject the instruction of our father and the law of our mother, our nation will perish.

If our nation does perish, then we have hope in another kingdom. We have hope in an eternal kingdom in which God is the Father and the laws of the Lord from Jerusalem, who is “the mother of us all” will provide us with guidance as stated in the prophets.

That is something to hold on to. No matter how terrible things might get, bind this promise to you and let it guide you. Remember the grace of God. His favor towards us will keep us and raise us up. His favor towards us will give us strength, peace, and freedom from death.

As Solomon—and the One who is greater that Solomon—instructs, we should not forsake our fore-fathers and the laws of righteousness they swore to protect. We should also remember that ultimately, we serve an eternal kingdom. We should bind Father God to us and wear the Lord’s grace as a crown of victory! We should embrace the laws of the kingdom of God and allow them to strengthen and guide us.

We do not cower in fear. We do not lose hope. We do not give into the powers of darkness no matter how bleak it all seems.  

We will overcome because the Lord Jesus our God has promised it. Trust in Him. Sing praises to the Lord and He will lift us up!

  • Note : I apologize for the sloppy mistakes. I realized these mistakes and have fixed them. I will try to do better about relying too much on my memory when writing about history or scriptures in general, especially first thing in the morning. I pray the Lord will give me a sharper mind. I deleted the original article, but I will leave this note as a reminder of my mistakes and be thankful for a lesson learned.

Considering Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I think this verse goes with the prologue portion of Proverbs, but I want to look at this verse separately. The proverbs are wise sayings that provide lessons in wisdom that we can apply to our lives. The proverbs indicate throughout that the primary component of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Later in Proverbs Chapter 8 we are told that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. If we consider how powerful God is and the fact that God hates sin, then we should hate sin also. Of course, we cannot really consider this if we do not believe in God. So, could we could say that belief in God is where wisdom begins?

I think that makes sense when we contrast believers in God with the godless. Those who believe that there is a God know there is a higher power that they must answer to. This knowledge governs their actions to greater and lesser degrees, depending on their beliefs about God, and especially, their relationship with the one and true God through Jesus.

Those who do not believe in any higher power will only look to the will and power of man, and very often, their own self-interest is what governs them. A person who is only guided by their self-interest and the limited understanding of godless men will not behave in a wise way—at least not in a wisdom that is truly wise in the eyes of God.

There is a wisdom of this world, but that kind of wisdom is in opposition to the true wisdom that comes from God. The wisdom of this world is foolishness because it leads to sin and sin leads to destruction.

Those who are immersed in the wisdom of this world without any regard for God despise instruction in things that are truly upright.

They love their pride, vanity, and the things they do to maintain power over others. They love to consume the riches of this world no matter how many people they devour along the way. In-fact, the more people they can place in subjection, the better. To them, this is wise. To rebuke them leads to hatred. They do not want their evil deeds to be called evil, or they place the values of others in such low regard that they do not care what an upright person has to say whatsoever because upright people are weak and foolish in their eyes.

Of course, the wisdom of fools lies on a spectrum. There are those who have no regard for God or human life, then there is the average person who is by nature very foolish. We have all been very foolish when it comes to our ignorance of the will of God and our natural love for sin.

Fear of the Lord comes from God, and since we have all behaved as fools, we should not despise anyone or call someone a fool. To do so is hypocrisy and hypocrisy is sinful—and foolish—for many reasons.  

I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more fear of the Lord. I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more instruction in the righteous ways of God.

If we seek Jesus, we will be instructed. We will learn to identify sin more clearly. We will find guidance and strength to do what is right. We will begin to see the foolishness of sin and the wisdom of righteousness that can only come from God.

There is so much that we can think about when considering the fear of the Lord.

How can I cultivate a better fear of the Lord with help from Jesus ? Do I have sins that need to be repented of? In what ways might I be sinful and foolish without realizing it? Do I have sins that I once fought against but gave up on? Do I hate “the foolish” in my heart? Do I know when to help “the foolish” through correction and when to hold my peace? These are questions I will be thinking about today.

A Series on Sin Part 2: What is Sin?

Image by Joey Kyber

What is sin? I think most of us have some idea of what sin means. We know that sin is something considered to be wicked or against the will of God.

I was taught that the word sin means to “miss the mark.” If we miss this mark, then we are behaving in a manner that is not pleasing to God. There is a response to every situation that is perfectly pleasing to God, and we can miss the mark in lesser and greater ways.

Every situation we encounter provides choices that we must make. We are constantly making judgments about how we should handle our lives, our personal relationships, and our relationship with God. If we are conscientious and want to do what is right, then we are constantly throwing darts at a proverbial dart board, hoping to aim as close to the bullseye as possible.

For example, when someone angers us, we have a variety of unrighteous choices we might make such as replying with an insult or ending their life through physical violence. Jesus teaches that name calling or simply hating someone in our heart is in the same sin category as murder. We might go astray a little or a lot, but in any case, we are still missing the mark of perfect righteousness.

What is perfect righteousness?

The perfectly right response will vary depending on the unique circumstances. For example, if someone angers us, it might be best to walk away and pray for them. It might be best to offer a kind word that is sympathetic. It might be best to let the person know that they are behaving badly. We must consider the circumstances carefully and lean on our God-given understanding and the teachings of Jesus to help us make the best choice possible.

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of perfect righteousness. Jesus is called the Light of the World. He is Life. If we were able to follow Jesus perfectly, then our actions would be those that bring life and not death. So, we could also say that sin is an action that brings death.

When we sin, we are destroying people. We are harming them emotionally, physically, and mentally. When we sin, we are destroying ourselves. We are killing our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. When we sin, we are destroying truth. We are attempting to manipulate the reality that God has ordained so that we might fulfill a self-centered or delusional agenda.

When we sin, we are damaging the relationship between man and God—the Creator and bringer of Life.

It is no wonder that the punishment for sin is death. This is a fitting punishment, and one that none of us can escape without Jesus Christ.

There is no reason why anyone, least of all a Christian, should take sin lightly. Yet, many times we do. We are not fully aware of the destruction we cause, even with the smallest of sins. We are not always mindful of the presence of God who can see everything we do, think, and plot. We are not always mindful of the blood of Jesus that paid for our sins and all the suffering He endured on our behalf.

If we have taken sin lightly as no big deal or considered the righteous ways of God as outdated or inconvenient, then we should stop and think about our mindset. The ways of God are goodness and life. To go astray is no small thing, but there is hope found in Jesus Christ.

In the next article we will consider how sin relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Considering the Proverbs: Introduction

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

I want to begin each morning considering Proverbs, if the Lord is willing, for several reasons. I like the first few verses here. “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

These sound like good reasons to study Proverbs to me. I know I need to grow in these things. I also want to establish more consistency in my life and in service. Regular articles take more time because they are topically focused. I think considering a proverb a day is a reasonable goal and one that will help many areas of my life.  

If you would like to join me in considering and discussing Proverbs, follow or subscribe to this blog. I hope to have some thoughtful discussions.

A Series on Sin Part 1: Introduction

Image by Joey Kyber

For most of my teenage and adult life, the term “sin” made me think about pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies wearing fancy clothes.

Other than this vague connotation that I carried around in the back of my mind somewhere, I did not think about sin that much.

I was not always that way.

As a child, I loved the Lord. I talked to Him all the time. I tried to read the bible and understand. I especially loved the Sermon on the Mount, and I wanted my life to reflect those teachings. I wanted to be like the Jesus I saw on those old 70’s movies at my grandma’s house. I did not know the Lord that well, but the idea of Him was very dear to me and I wanted to serve Him.

By the time teenage years were in full swing, the Jesus I loved was placed on a shelf somewhere in the recesses of my heart and mind, only to be taken out on occasion.

I believed that I was saved, that everyone sinned, and that I was forgiven no matter what I did. I always had a nagging feeling. Some part of me knew that I was not living for the Lord, but I pushed that aside until the nagging feeling went away. Then came the darkest years of my life.

In my late 20’s, I found myself in a hopeless situation. The sins I had thoughtlessly allowed to run and ruin my live were so detrimental to my mental health that I wanted to die. I had tried everything to stop the emotional torment, but nothing helped. I tried drinking, drugs, medication, and various “spiritual” and “religious” practices that were not Christian. I still considered myself a Christian, but I was on the brink of giving up the faith.

I prayed to Jesus and a series of events caused my life to change. I began to see my sin clearly and I took it very seriously. So seriously, that I fell into another sort of depression. I had been recently taught that receiving the Holy Spirit would help me overcome sin. I spent about a year and a half asking for the Holy Spirit, and in late January of 2016 my prayer was answered.

I did find that some sins were taken away and I received things that I did not expect. The change was so drastic, that at first, I thought that I might be sinless. I soon found out that I was not, but I believed that I could and should be. I believed that unless I found my way out of all sin I would not be saved. I became hard on myself, and at times, hard on others.

I became much like those pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies I once hated. How did that happen?

Jesus continued to work on my heart, and I believe to have a more balanced perspective on sin and Christian life in general. I’m still learning.  

In this series, I want to take some time to think and write about sin. What is sin? How does sin affect our lives? How does the gospel relate to our sin? Can a Christian live a sinless life in this present world? How should Christians treat sinners?

If this is something you’d like to discuss or learn more about, I welcome you to subscribe to this blog or leave a reply below.

Exhortation Against Violence Part 2

Is violence ever the answer? In the previous article, it was written that we should turn aside from all violence because God hates it. It was also written that vengeance belongs to God. So, it would seem that violence in all forms is strictly forbidden.

What about all the instances in the scriptures in which God instructed His people to perform violent actions, like cast plagues or conquer a heathen land? What about Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5 who lied to the Holy Spirit and were struck down dead? What about events in Revelation concerning the two witnesses? What about those violent acts?

Here is a good example of the problems that occur when we take things out of context—both scripturally and in our personal lives.

Should we love violence? No. We should love peace and strive to get along with everyone for the gospel’s sake. We should not be eager to do violence to anyone. However, there is a time for all things, and if God gives an instruction of violence then it is His vengeance that is being carried out.

Very often however, the enemies of God are instruments of His vengeance too. Consider the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and all the oppressive powers over the years. Consider the false prophet and the great whore in Revelation.

As Jesus said, many would do violence in His name and think they are doing God’s service.

Those who have a hateful heart that is quick to violence are not going to be on the righteous side of God’s vengeance coming about.

Consider all the violent-loving prophets so-called that we see today, online especially. So many are quick to condemn and proclaim God’s wrath upon the offenders. Are these doing the will of God in righteousness, or are they more like the enemies of God’s people?

Of course, there are those who are immature in the faith, and like the disciples of Jesus they desire to bring fire down from heaven to destroy the evil doers. If these are truly of God, they will learn better. They will learn that in proclaiming judgment and condemnation they only condemn themselves.

Remember what Jesus taught: with what judgement you judge you will be judged.

I can consider a time in which violence might be the righteous course. Maybe the cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches need to be taken away so that God’s people can remember His ways and return to Him. Maybe drastic measures need to be taken when things become so badly corrupted by antichrist that Christians and the world at large are headed to their doom.

We can speculate, but the point is this: those who love violence and are quick to become instruments of God’s vengeance will find themselves on the wrong side of God’s wrath.

God is patient and self-controlled. He is also wise and just. He will not give power to people who are not patient and self-controlled. Carrying out the vengeance of God should be a dreadful thing that brings sorrow. It should be a thing done in hopes of many turning back to Jesus, not a thing done out of self-righteous indignation and a desire to see people destroyed.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it has to do with context. When we take things out of context, we do not have the understanding to make a righteous judgment call. Making judgments out of context is another form of violence because it leads to false accusations and rash actions.

In all things, whether we are studying the scripture, considering Christian doctrine, considering a social or political issue, or handling personal matters of conflict, context is important. Take the time to listen to people who see differently than you do and have the humility to know that you could be mistaken. Take the time to understand. Take the time to pray and seek the will of God so that truth and peace are given a chance.

Context can undo much unnecessary and unrighteous violence. The violence that results from rashness, pride, and self-righteousness is the violence that will bring God’s vengeance about.

In the last days, there are two camps of violence. I could be wrong, but here is how I see it:

There are those, who out of a hateful and unrighteous heart, are killing while thinking they do righteously. Although they are instruments of God’s wrath towards the unfaithful church and the world at large, they are not righteous in what they do and they will be destroyed.

There are also those, who out of love and hope for the brethren and the world, are performing violent acts necessary to shake a world of corruption out of its complacency.

Can we tell the difference? If we cannot, we need to learn how, and Jesus will teach us.

For the record, it is not my belief that we are in the end-times in a final sense. These times could be far off. In any case, we only have one life to live, and there are many “end times” throughout history. The world powers change. Whatever comes our way, Jesus will keep us. This we can be certain of!

Exhortation Against Violence

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hold of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9).

This scripture is on my mind today. It is a comforting promise of a kingdom to come—a kingdom in which there is no more violence. I’m so tired of violence. I’m tired of my own violent thoughts, actions, and words. I’m tired of the violence in our society. I’m tired of the violence between Christian brethren.

The gospel message is a message of peace. The gospel message makes a plain and clear statement: Those who kill will be killed, but through faith in Jesus we can escape death and in this present time we will experience life in abundance.

I know many Christians are full of light and life given by Jesus Christ, but how serious are we about the violence we do? Violence is something that we should take very seriously.

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11).

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me: for the earth is filled with violence through them: and behold, I will destroy them with the earth (Genesis 6:13).

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22).

Just as God destroyed the earth with water in the days of Noah, God will destroy the earth with fire.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:10-12).

Just as the three Hebrew children in Daniel, we can escape this judgment if we put our trust in Jesus Christ.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True O King. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God (Daniel 3:24-25).

In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For low, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright (Psalms 11).

It is a blessing that we have time to consider our violent ways. Do we speak words of life or death? Do we harm people with our actions? Do we justify sin that destroys ourselves and others? Do we attempt to establish our idea of heaven on earth through law and regulation when Jesus teaches that a changed heart is where the kingdom of heaven is found?

Violence can take many forms. Prayerful reflection can help us find the violent tendencies that we have so we can repent and seek Jesus to help us overcome.

A day will come in which the violent are destroyed by the fire of God. If we stand with Jesus, we can escape this judgment. If we stand with Jesus, we will learn the path of peace and what it really means to love one another. We will learn to turn away from violence in all its forms. This is something we should consider very seriously.

We are not supposed to do as the world does. We cannot get sucked into their violent words of accusation, slander, hatefulness, and condemnation. We cannot get sucked into the oppressive power struggles of worldly governments and establishment religion. We cannot get sucked into the deceitfulness of sin. We cannot get sucked into violence of any sort no matter how violent this world gets.

It might be within our power to do violence, but that does not mean we should. Jesus teaches that the meek will inherit the earth. Jesus teaches that the peacemakers inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had the power to command legions of angels, but He endured the cross instead. We should be of the same mind.

Vengeance belongs to God and He will handle the violent according to His perfect way. For now, His way includes Christians converting the violent through our peaceful lifestyle and communication of the gospel.

Violence creates more violence. Be at peace with everyone as much as possible without denying the faith, trust in the Lord, and look forward to a kingdom of righteousness!

Christian Faith (Complete Series)

Christian Faith Part 1: Introduction

At some point in our lives as a Christian, we’ve come to know the story of Jesus and we believe in this story. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead. We believe that through Jesus we will live forever.

Like many Christians, I was raised to believe in these facts. I know it’s not the case for all Christians, but for me, I thought this was all that I needed to know about Christian faith. Since I confessed this belief, I was saved. I was baptized. I went to church on an off with my family.

I grew up, and I got to a point where the faith I had was not enough.

The faith I had was not enough to keep me from making one ungodly choice after another. The faith I had was not enough to convince me that Jesus was the only way of salvation. I began to think that all religions were acceptable paths to God, and I began to adopt various beliefs.

The faith I had was not enough to keep me from spiraling downward into severe depression. The faith I had was not enough to keep me from plotting my suicide, even though I had two small children.

I wondered if I had faith at all.

One particularly dark night, I prayed. I prayed very hard. I felt so confused about life. I felt confused about God. I felt confused about all the different versions of Christianity out there, not to mention all the other “faiths.” I prayed that God would lead me to the truth, even if I did not like it. I needed some clarity in my life. I needed hope.

I did not notice God answering, but soon I decided to research a television preacher I had been listening to. That research led me to some online bible studies. I listened to these bible studies and I began to learn that there was more to the faith than I had thought, and in time I began to take the faith more seriously.

I committed to Jesus as the only way of salvation. I faced my sin and began to hate my sin. I learned more about Christian doctrine, the teachings of Jesus, and what it means to live a Christian life. I continue to learn, and it has been a journey of ups and downs. This began almost 6 years ago.

In all this time, one thing I learned is that every Christian struggles with something, and most of us are doing the best we can. Many Christians know that they need more from the faith but there are barriers standing in the way.

My hope is to help remove some of those barriers.

If you’re like I was, then it might be very helpful to learn from someone who has come through severe faith issues.

The best way I know is to share what I have learned about Christian faith.

That is the point of this article series, and I thought it best to begin by sharing a little of my story.

Going forward, I want to take some time to write about faith questions that I have struggled through.

In the next article, I will focus on the question of where faith comes from.

Christian Faith Part 2: Where Does Faith Come From?

Where does faith in Jesus come from?

Is faith something that God gives or does faith originate from within the believer? Why does it seem as though some are full of faith while others cannot believe in God at all? Many act as though faith in Jesus was a choice that they made, and it can certainly feel that way. Is that what is really going on? Why does it matter?

It is my belief that faith is a gift from God.

Here are some scriptures that have helped convince me that faith comes from God:

John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except that Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him at the last day.

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith

Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When considering ideas about Christian doctrine, we each have to make our own judgments based on the scripture and what we know about God.

I have discovered that truth given of God will have a certain affect. Such truths will encourage righteousness, not wickedness. So, when attempting to decide what is true, we can ask ourselves, which belief fosters righteousness? Which belief helps us to grow in the faith?

Let’s consider this.

If we believe that faith is merely a choice that we make and something that originates from within us, there are possible consequences.

We might begin to think too highly of ourselves. We might despise those who do not have faith or become fearful towards those who challenge the faith. We can also run into trouble when dealing with doubt.

If we think faith is something we control, then our moments of weakness can be unnecessarily difficult to bear. We can become overly hard on ourselves. There is another danger; we might look to science, reason, or other “rational” explanations of God instead of going to Jesus Himself. Although people have found some use in looking for scientific proof of God, there will always be room for doubt that way.

On the other hand, if we believe that faith comes from God, there are more desirable affects.

We are likely to be more humble-minded and patient with those who do not have faith. We can also find comfort when dealing with doubt. Although it is natural to struggle with faith and these times can be painful and very hard, knowing that God gave us our faith can help tremendously. We know that He will give us everything we need to grow in the faith and overcome any obstacle that is standing in our way because Jesus is faithful and true.

With the first mindset you are at greater risk for pride, fear, hate, despair, and a tendency towards faithlessness. With the second mindset you are more likely to grow in humility, patience, peace, and a stronger faith.

There is no substitute for God-given faith that can withstand the temptations of this world and the strength of doubt.

We cannot simply reason our way to Jesus. We need divine persuasion.

Persuasion? Isn’t that in opposition to faith?

Many treat faith as though it is belief without evidence. That is not exactly the case.

We do not look for earthly evidence alone when dealing with things that are not of this world. We need access to God. God is a spirit. Through relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we have this access. We have evidence. We have divine persuasion.

Here are some scriptures to consider:

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 – Now we have received, not the sprit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things we also speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveith not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Romans 8: 38-39 – For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is beneficial to know that faith is not blind belief, but rather it is divine persuasion that comes from Jesus Himself!

What now?

Look for Jesus. Talk to Him.

If you don’t have faith, the best thing you can do is seek Jesus. Prayer can feel awkward at first, and that is okay. Humbly ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you, and keep asking. Although Jesus is not a person like you or I, He is a person. He appreciates persistence. It shows that you care and acknowledge that He is in control of the faith you’re looking for. This is good for you. It is good to know that you need Him, so sometimes He allows us to feel that desperation.

Don’t give up.

Jesus can hear you and respond with compassion no matter how bad a person you think you are. If we were born perfect we would not need Him. He made you and He knows you already. You cannot hide from Him, so talk to Him. Find the mercy and faith that only Jesus can give.

If you have some faith, ask Jesus to help you have greater faith. We can always seek more from God, no matter how far we think we have come. We all have room to grow in the faith.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Although faith comes from God, we are actively participating in our Christian journey. For example, by faith we know that Jesus rewards those who seek Him.

We will think about this idea in the next article. What should we do with the faith that we are given?

Christian Faith Part 3: Participating in the Faith

It is comforting to know that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. However, this faith produces action. The scriptures are full of stories of an actionable faith. Hebrews 11 offers many examples. Here’s an excerpt:

Hebrews 11-7 – By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Why did the author of Hebrews mention these works?

It is because those who trust in God will obey what God has to say—and for a Christian it is this: that we should believe in Jesus.

John 6:29 – Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

We are persuaded that Jesus is the Son of God. We are persuaded that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. We are persuaded that Jesus rose from the dead. We are persuaded that those who put their trust in Jesus will also rise from the dead and live forever.

All of this is true. However, as Jesus teaches, the truth is not just in the physical world but in the spirit. We need to see beyond a to-the-letter understanding of the gospel and into the spirit of what this belief—this faith—in Jesus means.

Jesus spoke in parables which are metaphorical stories. He did this for a reason. If it is given of God for us to understand the mystery of the gospel, then we will.

Mark 4:11-12 – And he said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them.

How is it that we can see and understand?

It helps if we remember what faith is.

As mentioned in the previous article, faith is God-given persuasion. This is an act of grace. The Holy Spirit communicates the truth of the gospel and God opens our hearts to receive it. From our perspective, we hear the gospel preached and we believe it. This begins very often with the bare bones, legalistic, to-the-letter understanding of the gospel.

It should go on from there.

If we are persuaded that the gospel is true, then we should want to learn more about Jesus. The scriptures reveal a lot about what Jesus had to say. It can be difficult to understand the scriptures, but we can begin to see that Jesus wants us to live a righteous life.

If we begin to seek Jesus in prayer, study the scriptures, and form relationships with other Christians, then we should feel the heaviness of our sin. We should begin to hate our sin and find a desire to live more uprightly.

Jesus teaches that if we seek to keep His commandments, He will send us the Holy Spirit.

John 14: 13-17 – And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with your forever; even the Sprit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

With help from the Holy Spirit, we will continue to see things differently. We will see our sinful nature more clearly. We will understand the teachings of Jesus better, and we will find the guidance we need in order to overcome sin and apply His ways to our life. We will “put on the divine nature.”

2 Peter 1:4-8 – Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we pursue the things of the Spirit, we will see results. These results are called the “fruit of the Spirit.”

Ephesians 5:9 – For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance

We are told by Jesus that we can only bring forth fruit through a life with Him.

John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

We need the Holy Spirit in order to see past the things of this world and into the things which are spiritual. This includes the way we perceive the gospel, as mentioned earlier. See 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.

What is the spiritual application of the gospel?

As Jesus took up the cross for our sins, so should we take up the cross for Him. This means we die to our selfish and sinful desires. As Jesus rose from the dead, so shall we rise from the dead. This means that we will learn what it means to live in accordance to the will of God as we walk after the Spirit.

This does not take away the other meaning of the gospel, but enhances it and provides a practical application of the gospel to our daily lives. This is a journey that results in life everlasting with our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Titus 2:11-13 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world

It is so very important to understand that faith in Jesus is not mere belief in a set of facts. Faith is actionable. Faith will encourage us to seek more grace from God so that we can stop sinning and live more righteously.

Stop sin? Do righteousness? This sounds a lot like works, doesn’t it?

Do not let anyone deter you from pursuing the things of God by accusing you of works-based salvation. This is not works-based salvation.

There is nothing we can do to earn salvation no matter how good we are. We cannot forgive our sins without the blood of Jesus. We cannot see our sin clearly and have the power to overcome sin without the Holy Spirit who comes in the name of Jesus.  

We are saved by grace through faith.

However, once given, faith will produce many good works. This is the grace of God towards us!

To summarize:

God gives us faith in Jesus. By faith we seek Jesus and draw nearer to God. By faith we believe in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. By faith we seek Jesus to help us overcome our sin which becomes more apparent as we draw nearer to the Light of Christ. By faith we receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit brings more power to our life, so that by faith we can draw even closer to God and continue to mature in understanding and righteousness—which are many good works.

2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.

How can we be more proactive with our faith?

We can always talk to Jesus more. We can read our Bible more. We can ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to help us understand the scriptures, to show us what it means to live a Christian life, and to provide us with the power to overcome sin in our life.

The important thing is to keep seeking. Keep asking. We are to “bring forth fruit with patience” throughout our entire life as a Christian.

There is always more to gain. It is doubtful that any of us will attain perfection before Jesus arrives. We should be cautious in ever assuming that we have become without sin because sin can be elusive, and we can fall into temptation. However, we should experience change that results from a life in Christ.

It’s good to know that Jesus rewards those who seek him often, so let’s keep seeking!

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Also see the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18).

Let’s get back to Hebrews and close with continued reading into Hebrews 12:

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of out faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Is it possible to do nothing with our faith and continue to receive salvation?

James 2:14-18 – What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

There are many warnings in the scriptures about dead faith. We will discuss this idea in the next article.

Christian Faith Part 4: The Real Problem with the Faith Plus Nothing Debate

Is it possible to have faith in Jesus and experience nothing added to our life? No turning our life around and attempting to live more uprightly? No studying the scriptures? No friendships with other believers? No seeking a relationship with Jesus? No trust in God during hard times?

It seems like a ridiculous notion, doesn’t it?

So then, why is it taught? Why are many told that faith plus nothing equals salvation?

Maybe this is an attempt at graciousness that understands the sinful state of man and the dependence we have on Jesus for our salvation. We approach Jesus humbly, knowing that there is nothing we have to offer in return for our salvation. There is no work we can add to our faith that makes us worthy.

Very true.

However, some see this faith-plus-nothing teaching as a loophole that can be used to dismiss sinfulness or discourage people from seeking Jesus for healing from sinful struggles. Some see this as a dismissal of the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit.

Before long, those who teach faith-plus-nothing are accused of teaching a doctrine of devils and leading people astray into unfruitful faith. Before long, those who encourage righteousness through aid of the Holy Spirit are accused of works-based salvation teaching.

What we really have here is a communication and perspective issue.

No sincere and dedicated Christian expects to live a life unchanged after committing themselves to Jesus.

Those who teach faith-plus-nothing humbly understand their dependence on Jesus for all things. We are saved by faith, and they cling to that. Why do they cling to that? It has to do with the Charismatic movement and the Holiness movement.

There are Christians who believe that the Holy Spirit will come and make us free from all sin in a literal and tangible way. They teach that those who have the Holy Spirit do not sin. If they continue to sin, then they are not saved and they will not inherit eternal life.

When faced with this opposition, it is natural that Protestant denominations would choose to focus most on grace and faith alone. It makes sense.

However, there are problems with both points of view. There are accuracies also.

Take the Holiness, Charismatic Christian point of view. It is true that we should receive something from our faith. We should pursue the gifts of God given of the Holy Spirit, and righteousness is a fruit of our salvation that comes through faith. So, the notion of faith plus nothing does not add up.

However, claiming to live without the capacity for sin is problematic. There are scriptures that encourage righteousness and even state that those who are born of God do not sin. Even so, we can become tempted. We can find ourselves sinning in a new way.

We are to be vigilant and know that we always need more from the Spirit. We can always grow. We do not want to be stagnant in our faith.

Now, take the Protestant, faith-plus-nothing point of view. It is true that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Salvation is by grace, not the works of man. We can never be good enough to earn salvation.

On the surface, a faith-plus-nothing teaching is unfruitful and does not consider the many scriptures that teach to the contrary. This can seem very misleading and there are those who use this teaching to discourage people from growing in righteousness or use grace and the forgiveness of sin as a cop-out for living sinfully.

We are to be vigilant and know that we always need more from Jesus and we can always grow. We do not want to be stagnant in our faith.

Do you see? The outcomes of both teachings are the same.

They both lead to accusation of our brethren. They both lead to potential for stagnancy in the faith.

Here is the reality of it.

Faith is a gift from God. When we receive faith, we get to know Jesus and our lives are changed in proportion to the faith we were given. So long as we are alive, we have time and room to grow in the faith. We are pursuing the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus is our Way. We come to know Him and through the Holy Spirit we are changed. However, we can be tempted to sin or have a sin struggle that we are blind to. We should always look at our state honestly and seek Jesus for more growth.

As for the Holy Spirit, some receive the Holy Spirit in a very profound way. For some the Holy Spirit is a still small voice. It does not have to be just one way. What matters are the fruits—and no one can truly have faith in Jesus without fruitfulness.

Yes. There are warnings in the scripture of unfruitful and dead faith. There are those who will fulfill those scriptures. We will get to that in the next article and we will consider how these scriptures might be useful to us. However, that is not what matters most for us who believe.

What matters most is to look deeply at our own beliefs and our own flaws. Maybe we are allowing things to get in the way.

Our pride makes us resistant to accountability for our sin, so we either claim perfection or we say faith plus nothing and excuse our sin. Our trust in religious leaders and fear of following wrong teachings blinds us to what is true and hinders us from seeking Jesus above the establishment Christian denominations or sects.

Faith-plus-nothing does not exist. Neither are we required to perform works as a requirement for salvation. Faith produces many good works because it is the working of Jesus within us, however we should not claim to be holy and perfected. Only God is Holy and Perfect.

We need to stop accusing one another. We need to understand one another and come to a more well-rounded view.

Protestants accuse Charismatics and Holiness sects of works-based salvation, of being mentally ill or faking spiritual experiences, and of being holier-than-thou. Some say they are not Christian. They believe that they teach the truth while other denominations are cults. Some justify some sins while focusing on others.

Charismatics and Holiness sects accuse Protestants of being lazy in their faith and leading people to damnation with their teachings. Some say they are not really Christians—or go so far as to call them part of the Great Whore. They believe that they are the real Christians. They teach the truth. They have the Spirit and do not sin.

Both accuse. Both proudly think they are the right ones. Both are missing out on getting more from the faith because they think they know it all already. THESE are the problems that both have in common.

Don’t let pet doctrine, fear, and pride get in the way of a better understanding. It’s so easy to do, but we are called away from this.

I did not intend for the article to go this way. I was going to point out scriptures that warn us of dead, unfruitful faith. Maybe in the next article we will look at those verses, however, I do not see them in the same light as I did moments ago. What you read is an in-the-moment thought process I experienced when I sat down to write the article. I know there are redundancies and maybe this article is not so clear, but I want to leave it as is.

I realize that I did not touch on Catholicism. My experience has been between Protestantism and Charismatic denominations. Maybe there will be more to say later on this.

Christian Faith Part 5: Trust Overcomes Dead Faith

There are many scriptures that warn us about the fate of those who take the Christian faith lightly. So much so, that it is difficult to know where to start when discussing this topic.

These days, it is not so hard to search for these scriptures. An online search of, “warnings in scripture against unfruitful faith” or similar terms would bring up many results. If we read the entire New Testament we will also notice many of these scriptures.

The important thing is to know that these scriptures exist. Then you can do the work of finding them, reading them, and seeking Jesus to help with interpretation.

We might read things that we do not understand, but the Lord knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. If we are serious about the faith and about scriptural learning, the Lord will reveal things to us in His own time and in His own way.

There are scriptures that warn against an unprofitable, unfruitful, dead, or lukewarm faith. The unfaithful are destroyed whether they call themselves Christian or not.

However, if we trust in Jesus, then we should not be afraid of destruction.

If we are struggling with issues of sin or of faith, focusing too much on scriptures of warning can do more harm than good. We might become overly hard on ourselves or others, for example.

Know these scriptures exist, search them out if you want to, but do not be discouraged or condemning of others.

Know that Christian faith is not a light thing. It is a serious thing. It is a matter of life and death. So, if you take up the faith be prepared to give your life to Jesus. He will cause you to. Remember Part 2 of this series.

All things pertaining to your salvation are His work, and I have faith for you. I have faith that if you love Jesus sincerely then He will give you all the understanding, faith, and fruitfulness that you need.

I also have faith that God is in control of all things and those who infiltrate the faith will be removed one day. It is best for us to focus on our own salvation with a mindset of humility, thankfulness, and trust.

Do you want to discuss scriptures about Christian faith? Do you have a faith story that you’d like to share? Any questions or comments are welcome. Leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you!

Christian Faith Part 5: Trust Overcomes Dead Faith

There are many scriptures that warn us about the fate of those who take the Christian faith lightly. So much so, that it is difficult to know where to start when discussing this topic.

These days, it is not so hard to search for these scriptures. An online search of, “warnings in scripture against unfruitful faith” or similar terms would bring up many results. If we read the entire New Testament we will also notice many of these scriptures.

The important thing is to know that these scriptures exist. Then you can do the work of finding them, reading them, and seeking Jesus to help with interpretation.

We might read things that we do not understand, but the Lord knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. If we are serious about the faith and about scriptural learning, the Lord will reveal things to us in His own time and in His own way.

There are scriptures that warn against an unprofitable, unfruitful, dead, or lukewarm faith. The unfaithful are destroyed whether they call themselves Christian or not.

However, if we trust in Jesus, then we should not be afraid of destruction.

If we are struggling with issues of sin or of faith, focusing too much on scriptures of warning can do more harm than good. We might become overly hard on ourselves or others, for example.

Know these scriptures exist, search them out if you want to, but do not be discouraged or condemning of others.

Know that Christian faith is not a light thing. It is a serious thing. It is a matter of life and death. So, if you take up the faith be prepared to give your life to Jesus. He will cause you to. Remember Part 2 of this series.

All things pertaining to your salvation are His work, and I have faith for you. I have faith that if you love Jesus sincerely then He will give you all the understanding, faith, and fruitfulness that you need.

I also have faith that God is in control of all things and those who infiltrate the faith will be removed one day. It is best for us to focus on our own salvation with a mindset of humility, thankfulness, and trust.

Do you want to discuss scriptures about Christian faith? Do you have a faith story that you’d like to share? Any questions or comments are welcome. Leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you!

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