Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Forgive the Unforgivable

pile of 100 dollar bills
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12).

I no longer remember what we were talking about, but more than 15 years later, I still remember my response: “Some things you just can’t forgive.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong and wished I could unsay them. Not only were those words not true, they encouraged someone else’s worst impulses.

Here’s the unvarnished truth: Those things you think you can’t forgive? Jesus wants you to forgive them. He demands it. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt 6:14-15).

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

There’s a Reason We Call Them “The Lost”

lost boy
We look around our world today and see perversion and rebellion. We find people who not only disbelieve but even mock God. Now there are people who want to force Christians to the margins of society and academia for the egregious sin of believing what everyone believed 10 minutes ago. We see this, and we feel the need to strap on our swords and do battle. Culture warriors and apologists and even average believers find it easy to get angry over the state of this world that seems determined to harm children and corrupt everything that is good. These people are sinners and scoffers. These people are wicked.

The Lord called them something even more powerful: Lost

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Do(n’t) Do Your Good Deeds Before Others

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matt 6:1).

Some call this a contradiction. Matt 5:16 says to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds.” This verse says not to. What’s going on?

Things are clearer when you read the whole passage. They always cut 5:16 off early. Jesus said to let them see your good deeds “and glorify your Father in heaven.” In chapter 6, Jesus is talking about doing things “to be honored by others” (6:2). It’s a matter of the heart.

It also helps to look at what is described in these two sections of the Sermon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Trusting the Gospels Because of What is(n’t) Excluded

redacted text
In court we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Leaving out inconvenient bits is just like making up convenient bits. The truth is simply what really happened, no more, no less.

When writing on yet another passage I wish wasn’t in the Bible I realized I had yet to discuss how those passages add strength to the case that the scriptures are trustworthy.

The popular/skeptical view of the gospels is that they may have had some core historical facts, but they grew over time as more and more stories were invented. The people who collected these stories were not there with Jesus, and people who were there weren’t involved or even around when these stories were written down. They made up the stories they needed to spin the tale they wanted because the message was more important than fidelity to history.

That view is false.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Turn the Other Cheek, and Other Painful Instructions

salt and pepper
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:38-39).

I don’t know if I can adequately communicate just how much I wish this passage wasn’t in the Bible.

The Law of Moses contained instructions for how to run Israel’s legal system. One of those rules was to take “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” when someone was injured (as opposed to head for eye and arm for tooth). People had apparently taken that as an individual instruction, using this command as justification for personal revenge. Jesus’ people are not to take personal revenge. More than that, they are to cooperate when people try to abuse them.