February 15th, 2015 at 9:59 pm
(6) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (7) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (8) Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (9) For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (10) and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In verse 8, the word translated as “basic principles of the world” refers to elementary things. Compared to Christ, in terms of being, every other being is lesser because he or she is created. In terms of teaching, every other instruction is elementary, basic, even demonic. In terms of salvation, no other is able to save human beings.
In verses 9-10, Paul again emphasizes Christ’s primacy and superiority, including the facts that He is divine and over demons in authority. He adds in verses 11-15 that, for Christians, Jesus has already defeated the principalities and powers, along with their purposes, through their conversion.
As Colossians 1:16 states, Christ extends back to the very beginning, as the One used to create all things. Thus, He is the God (John 1:1) referred to in nearly every place in the Old Testament where God is mentioned. This is especially important to grasp.
John 14:10 aids us in understanding His operations as a man: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. ” Matthew 26:52-53 clarifies this through an example: “But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?'”
While He was human, His power as God was suspended as part of His emptying Himself to become a man (Philippians 2:5-8). He thus operated on the same level as all other men, except for the innate power He possessed due to His divine nature, enabling Him to live by faith sinlessly. Better than all other men, He understood the purpose God is working out, and He believed it. Notice to whom He said He could turn in time of need.
— John R.
February 13th, 2015 at 12:16 pm
(1) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. (2) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
Recall what Jesus says about the Jews/Pharisees: “All too well you reject the commandments of God, that you might keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). Paul is saying the same thing, only in more detail and later in time. However, he adds something to it: “. . . they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” This summarizes their zealous attitude and its result. Despite their learning, they were ignorant and established their own righteousness.
With a great deal of zeal, they went about thinking and saying they were serving God, but all they did was produce their own set of standards. Their zeal was probably their greatest barrier to the truth. The apostle Paul is a prime example. Before conversion, he was a zealous Pharisee! He was so zealous that it was notorious to the first-century church; it was afraid of him!
If he is an example of Pharisaism, then we see that his zeal for Judaism drove him to consider Jesus and the church as traitors to his way of life. Simultaneously, it prevented him from objectively examining what was being taught. His mind was blinded by his zeal. It took him getting knocked down on the Damascus Road to convince him otherwise. It is a good example of the miracle that takes place in our minds, though ours is not as dramatic as his. Once converted, Paul could effectively examine the Jews’ problem.
— John R.
Tags: Zealous Attitude
February 6th, 2015 at 12:34 pm
2 Timothy 3:16-17
(16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
God’s instruction is given so that we are well-supplied with knowledge, understanding, inspiration, and motivation to live actually and practically by faith. Yielding to God’s sovereignty is not merely the rationale for divine government. Doctrine means “teaching,” and it is by means of these teachings that the great realities of our God and Savior are revealed to us. We are spiritually nourished by doctrine, and as we apply it, growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ occurs.
A couple of easily understood scriptures will help us understand how God’s Word and living by faith work together to cause growth. Romans 1:16-17 informs us:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Add to this Jesus’ words in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Jesus is characterized as the living Word of God. At the most basic level, like any book, the Bible is simply a collection of words. However, its words are specifically instructions from our Creator God who is Spirit and inhabits eternity. Because that God lives and oversees our lives, the Bible’s words are full of dynamic powers, if we believe them and use them. They will guide us to become like the eternal, spiritual God.
It is impossible to be formed into the image of Jesus Christ without His Word in us because we must voluntarily cooperate with God in His purpose in order for Him to do the forming. The forming must be accompanied by our knowing and understanding His will. We must never forget that Jesus says that truth sets free (John 8:32). God’s truths set us free—free from ignorance of God and His purpose; free from the power of evil; free from the wiles of Satan; free from human nature.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is foundational to Christian life because, as we move through a life lived by faith, we must firmly, even absolutely, know where we stand in relation to Him and His purpose, or our human nature will rise up and resist conforming to His will. We must know that He is close, that He is love, that He is wisdom, and that He has power over every situation in our lives. God says through Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3:
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
Notice how God’s supplying of manna—symbolic of food and therefore implying eating—shows a spiritual need met in the wilderness. God’s Word is just as essential to spiritual life as food is to physical life. Just as one must discipline himself to provide and eat physical food, so must one exercise discipline to seek, provide, and ingest spiritual food. If one will not do this, just as physical health will decline without adequate food, an inadequate spiritual diet will lead to spiritual weakness and disease.
God provides the Bible to promote righteous living and to motivate us to subjugate our carnal natures to His will. A major effect of seeking God and grasping His sovereignty, then, is that it promotes humility by means of the admiration and appreciation gained from comparing our puny lives and characters to His.
Tags: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God