Unity and Diversity

download (1)“As it is, there are many parts, but one body.The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:20-22, NIV

Sometimes Christians get caught in the trap of thinking that “their way” is the “only way” and this can become more striking the higher one goes in church leadership. But this does not take into account that God has given each of us different talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts to use for His glory. We are not all hammers, we are not all saws, and not all of us are measuring sticks–each of us has our own separate functions.

There are certain principles of Christianity that we all must agree upon to be considered a part of the body of Christ, but there are often differences in how those principles are applied in everyday life. We may not always agree on the particulars, but that does not mean that there is anything wrong with doing things differently. What works for me might be a disaster for someone else with a different set of skills. This is why we need to be in constant connection with the Holy Spirit who will help us to make the right choices for our own particular situations.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV

~Stephen Beagles

Genuine Christian Perfection

downloadI am reading through John Wesley on the topic of Christian perfection, and while I understand his main point that God gives us power to do the right things, I don’t agree that we can ever reach a state of sinless perfection until the second coming of Jesus. Even at our best behavior, while we may have experienced a tremendous amount of growth and maturity through the Holy Spirit, we still remain light years from what the law demands–100% perfection 100% of the time.

Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit give us the power to live a life 100% free from all sin? I suspect it is to keep us dependent on the merits of Christ for the remainder of our life on earth. It is to keep us humble and Christ centered as we realize that our best is still polluted with unrighteousness. It is to teach us to keep our eyes on our lord and savior Jesus Christ.

This doesn’t excuse sinful acts of a deliberate nature, but it explains why human beings constantly have to rely completely on God’s mercy and grace for salvation. Christ’s perfection covers our imperfection and we are accounted as being perfect before God as we are clothed in the merits of our crucified savior.

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14, NIV).

In heaven, the sons and daughters of God will be sinless and obedient to God in all things. But until then we are considered perfect only “in Christ”.

~Stephen Beagles

Conquering Fear

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“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3, NIV

David–the mighty man of God who stood up to the giant Goliath with only a sling-shot and five smooth stones when the rest of the Israelite warriors were in terror of becoming slaves to the Philistines–wrote this verse of scripture during a period of intense anxiety over enemies who were conspiring to destroy him. The verses before and after Psalm 56:3 describe an enemy that was determined to assassinate him for political purposes. They were constantly lurking in the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to kill him–the future King of Israel.

It is not that David did not have faith in God, but he realized his own inability to control a situation that seemed hopeless. The constant political attacks and personal assaults were wearing him down and making him miserable. He was embarrassed at his weakness and spent many nights in tears over the condition of the nation that God would entrust to his care. It appeared to him that he was caught in a situation between political enemies in Israel and the enemies of a foreign land (Unger, 2002, p. 826). There didn’t seem to be any way to escape.

But notice David’s reaction to this problem. He didn’t surrender to his enemies, but he decided to place His life in God’s hands. Even though David had no idea how God would solve the problem, he knew that the God who counted his tears would handle the situation:

“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record? Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me” (Psalm 56:8-9, NIV).

Instead of letting anxiety and discouragement get the best of Him, David decided to trust God regardless of how things turned out. His logic was that if God wanted him to live then there was absolutely nothing that could destroy him. He proclaimed in bold confidence, “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”

The Life Application Study Bible makes the following statement regarding the theme of Psalm 56: “Trusting in God’s care for us in the midst of fear. When all seems dark, one truth still shines bright: when God is for us, those against us will never succeed” (2005, p.885).

As human beings, we will all experience moments of anxiety and fear. But it is during these moment that we are to acknowledge our human weakness and rely on the power of the almighty God. The Apostle Paul most likely had Psalm 56 in mind when he penned the following words of courage to the early Roman Church, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31, NIV).

The Great Evangelist C.H. Spurgeon wrote the following declaration that applies to all of those who commit their hearts to Jesus Christ: “I am immortal till my work is done.”

There is absolutely nothing that can stand between us and the will of God for our lives while we are trusting in His wisdom and power. Let us be like David and train our minds to trust God no matter how horrifying the situation may seem to our physical senses.

God delivered David from certain death, and He will do the same for those who trust Him. Even if He allows us to suffer and die for His glory then we can be assured that we have an eternity of blessings in paradise that will never be taken away. Our pain here on earth is temporary, but the rewards of trusting God’s plan for our life are forever.

~Stephen Beagles

References:

Life Application Bible (NIV, 1984). (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Spurgeon, C.H. (n.d.) Faith’s Checkbook: A treasury of daily devotionals by C.H. Spurgeon—Oct 31. Retrieved fromhttp://www.christianity.com/devotionals/faiths-checkbook-ch-spurgeon/faiths-checkbook-october-31-11558076.html

Unger, Merril. (2002). Unger’s commentary on the Old Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

The Divine Guarantee

satisfaction-guaranteed-Kliponius-Font-as-pathsThis Bible verse jumped out to me today, and in case anyone thinks that Christians have a tendency to over-complicate the message of salvation, here is what Jesus says about the good news of eternal life.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
These words of Jesus from John 6:47 (NKJV) make it simple enough for anyone to understand the gospel of the kingdom:

(1) Believe in Jesus
(2) Receive eternal life

Biblical belief means more than simply acknowledging something to be true, but it also means that we apply the truth to our life. Do we really believe that trusting Jesus for our salvation is all that is required for eternal life in the heavenly kingdom?

Is it really that simple? Jesus said, “Most assuredly”. It is a promise from our creator and savior Jesus Christ.

~Stephen Beagles