The Cross as a Symbol

Cross and sunset

It is common to see the image of a cross being used as a symbol – a symbol of “Christianity,” an image in art and jewelry, and so on. However, that is not what we will be discussing here. A Christian does not need a cross around his neck, nor does a church need a cross on its building. Instead, we will be talking about “the word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18) – the message of the gospel.

In the gospel, the cross is shown as a symbol representing some fundamental concepts. In following Christ, we are to take up our cross (Luke 9:23), making the same traits which are symbolized by the cross manifested in our lives.

So what does the cross symbolize?Continue Reading

Taking Personal Responsibility

Pointing at ManIn a time of lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, we are more cut off from others than we had been previously. Obviously, there are challenges to this type of social arrangement – including spiritual challenges. One such challenge is that it is increasingly important for each of us to take personal responsibility for our faith and our standing before God. Paul mentioned this idea in his letter to the brethren in Philippi:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Paul wanted these brethren to maintain their faithfulness even when he was absent from them and could not encourage them in person. The reason for the lack of in-person interaction is different today. And, of course, Paul was only speaking of himself as being absent from them; the brethren in Philippi were still together. However, the challenge described by Paul is the same. We must maintain our faithfulness, even without the in-person encouragement we are used to receiving from other Christians.

In this article, we are going to notice why personal responsibility is important, some ways in which we are to take personal responsibility, and also why taking personal responsibility should never cause us to think that isolation from fellow Christians is to be preferred.Continue Reading

Are We Putting Jesus First?

Man reading

[This article was written by Jeffrey Burnett.]

Maybe it is just the fact that I am getting older, but life truly seems to get busier every year. There is so much to do and so little time to get it all done and some things just have to be put off until a later time. Our lives are filled with legitimate concerns that we wrestle with each day often leaving little time for thinking of spiritual things, and that is precisely the problem.

Because every person has a different set of obligations it is difficult to place these concerns in any order of priority. God demands that we work with our hands in order to provide for ourselves and for the needs of others (1 Thess. 4:11-12; Eph. 4:28). Paul told Timothy that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Then there is the duty of parents raising children, not only being sure that they have clean clothes and good food, but bringing them up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This is a serious job that cannot be put off until tomorrow. Most of us, occasionally, need a break from work to simply relax or get some kind of recreation to just have fun. All of these things take up our time and somehow, we must find time to give to each item in keeping with its importance.Continue Reading

Shame: A Biblical Perspective

Man covering face

Shame may be defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” One can also be shamed or put to shame by others, causing him to feel ashamed.

Shame has a very negative connotation in our society today. Many believe that children should not be disciplined or corrected for fear that they might be made to feel ashamed. Sin is tolerated and even celebrated so that those who practice it will not feel shame for their actions. Behaviors that were once kept secret because they were shameful are now proudly announced to the world.

What does the Bible have to say about all of this? Let us consider shame from a Biblical perspective.Continue Reading

Practicing the Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Most people, religious or not, recognize the “golden rule” – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is based upon Jesus’ statement in our text above. We know the statement, but how do we put it into practice? Let us consider a few thoughts.Continue Reading

Remember the Lawgiver

Moses and the Ten Commandments

After delivering the Israelites from Pharaoh and their bondage in Egypt, God gave them the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). These commandments served as a foundation for the rest of the law.

Yet in a sense, this foundation also had a foundation. The Ten Commandments provided the basis for the law, but the only reason the law mattered was because of the one who gave the law. So who was the lawgiver? That was God. They needed to understand this in order to appreciate the importance of the laws that were given. They were reminded of this in the “preface” to the Ten Commandments:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

Continue Reading

Rules for Religious Discussions

Bible Study

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It is incumbent upon all Christians to be ready to teach others. There are many potential ways to do this. The passage above describes teaching that is done in the course of a discussion – someone “asks you.” These discussions take place in different environments – friendly or hostile, public or private, in person or online, etc. How do we make the best use of our opportunities to discuss the Scriptures with others?

On one hand, we are to “contend earnestly” (Jude 3); on the other hand we must speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are to “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV), but “must not be quarrelsome” (2 Timothy 2:24). How do we strike the right balance? We do so by remembering some rules for religious discussions.Continue Reading