Take Courage in the Face of Tribulation

Jesus with His Disciples

Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33).

On this occasion, Jesus was talking with His apostles shortly before His death. He warned them that they would be scattered, which would happen when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). However, despite the fact that these men would leave Him, Jesus knew that the Father would not leave Him so that He was “not alone.

Jesus encouraged them with the fact that He had “overcome the world.” It is important to note that this was said prior to the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet these events were so certain, Jesus could speak of them as though they had already happened. They were still in the future, yet they were facts. He told them this to give them the courage to endure the trials they would face (cf. John 16:2).

The Lord’s disciples continue to face tribulation even today. Paul encouraged the brethren on his first preaching tour “to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). We suffer in this life on account of persecution, sin, hardship, sickness, and more. Yet we can “take courage” just as the apostles were told to do.

So how can we “take courage” in the face of tribulation? Jesus made three points in our text – reasons why His disciples can take courage.Continue Reading

What If Jesus Was Not Raised from the Dead?

Empty Tomb

Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The “Christian” world uses the Easter holiday to remember the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is certainly good to remember the resurrection. After all, it is part of the foundation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Even so, the observance of “Easter” as a religious holy day is nowhere authorized in the Bible.

However, while people’s minds are turned to the resurrection during this time of year, we often find opportunities to discuss this important event. So in this article, I want us to consider the following question: What if Jesus was not raised from the dead? Paul gave an answer to this in his first letter to Corinth:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Without Jesus’ resurrection, our faith would be in vain. But why? Let us notice six reasons for this.Continue Reading

What the Bible Teaches about Suicide

Dark Forest

Suicide is the act by which one intentionally takes his own life. In other words, this is not an accident, not one sacrificing his life for some other person or for some cause, and not making the decision to end treatment for a terminal illness. This is the purposeful act of one ending his own life.

To get an idea of the extent of the problem of suicide in our society, notice a few statistics (all of these numbers are for suicides in the United States):Continue Reading

Turning Blessings into Curses

Honey

Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, that you not have it in excess and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16).

In the Bible, honey is often used to symbolize God’s great blessings for man. When God told Moses of His plan to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land of Canaan, He emphasized the goodness of the land by describing it as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Yet as the wise man pointed out in the verse above, that same blessing can be turned into something with a negative impact on us.

It is possible to take the good things with which God blesses us and turn them into something bad for us. This can be done by misuse, abuse, or excess. In this article, I would like to notice a few examples of how this can be done with certain blessings.Continue Reading

Ask for the Ancient Paths

Crossroads

Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it”’” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Jeremiah received a warning from God which he was to deliver to the people – Jerusalem was going to be destroyed! They were going to be punished for their sin since they had departed from the Lord and His ways. In the verse above, the Lord issued a final call for them to return, but they refused.

The Scriptures teach that it is possible for God’s people to fall away today (1 Timothy 4:1). How does this happen? And if we do fall away, how can we return to the “ancient paths”?Continue Reading

Does Persecution Cause the Church to Grow?

Persecution

Following the death of Stephen, a time of persecution began against the church in Jerusalem. The result of this was that the disciples were scattered and the gospel was preached and received in other places.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

The early church faced much persecution. It also experienced a lot of growth. We do not experience the same degree of persecution today (at least not in this country). We also do not see the same rate of growth (generally speaking).

Because of this, some have wondered if we might see more growth if we experienced persecution. If persecution and growth seem to go together, does that mean a lack of persecution will result in a lack of growth? It is a good topic to consider. So let us examine the question: Does persecution cause the church to grow?Continue Reading

Faith Working through Love

Galatians 5:6

In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul addressed the problem of Jewish Christians wanting to return to or retain parts of the Law of Moses. If one attempted to do this and be “justified by law,” he would have “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

There are not many Christians today who are trying to go back to the Law of Moses as there were in the first century (at least not as overtly as the early Jewish Christians were). Yet this was the first major controversy among the early disciples. Much of the focus in this controversy had to do with circumcision. Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-12) and was a commandment under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:2-3); however, it was not required for Christians under the law of Christ (Acts 15:1-11; Galatians 2:3-5). So in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he explained that there was something more important than whether or not one was circumcised.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

What mattered for these brethren was “faith working through love.” Let us briefly break down what Paul meant by this.Continue Reading