Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Gospel of Christianity

The word gospel means “good news” and God has some good news for the entire world. But there is also some bad news that we must consider first…

According to Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

A sin is when we miss the mark of God’s standard - perfection.

According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death.

Sin separates us from God.

That’s bad news, but let’s look at the good news…

According to Romans 5:8,
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ took the penalty that we deserved for sin, death.

Jesus died in our place.
Three days later, rose from the dead.
Jesus is alive today!

Based on the words of Jesus in John 3:16 and John 6:47, a person can spend eternity with God in heaven by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior for eternal life. “
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life…Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”

According to Ephesians 2:8-9, eternal life is a gift to be received by faith, not an award to be earned by works. "
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

What does God ultimately required of us to get to heaven? Belief in Jesus Christ for eternal life
Who must we trust to get us to heaven? Jesus Christ
Who promises eternal life to those who believe? Jesus Christ

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is Curiosity Sin?

Curiosity has been branded with a negative light in our day. We all know the proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat.” After all, curiosity for Sodom was a major factor which contributed to the death of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32). So one begs the question, is all curiosity bad? Perhaps a definition of curiosity may provide some guidance. The first three definitions provided by Merriam-Webster define curiosity as (1) the desire to know, (2) inquisitive interest in others’ concerns, and (3) interest leading to inquiry. Based upon these simple definitions, I will provide three Scripture passages supporting how curiosity can indeed be godly. Paul wrote about his intense desire to know Christ, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11, emphasis added) Paul had a burning curiosity and desire to know Christ to the point of identifying with physical suffering and death by resting in the power and promise of resurrection. Paul also wrote about the importance of taking an interest in the interest of others and displaying humility rather than selfishness, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5, emphasis added) Finally Peter wrote about the curiosity of the prophets seeking to know all about the prophesied Christ, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10-12, emphasis added)

As one can see curiosity in and of itself is not sinful. Curiosity is a God-given emotion that derives benefit when properly exercised within our relationship with God. In my opinion, curiosity is synonymous with zealousness and often provides the energy and motivation for discovery in our life with God. In the secular world, curiosity has been the driving force behind many of the discoveries and innovations seen throughout the history of the world. For instance, I think of Benjamin Franklin and his workings with electricity. His curiosity with electricity led to amazing changes for all of mankind.

When exercising curiosity, the attitude, the motivation and the object are important for determining whether or not the exercise is sinful. So what are we curious about? Is it the things of God or the things of this world? Why are we curious about something? Is it to satisfy the lusts of our flesh or to know more fully the things of God and life in His Spirit? Who are we curious about? A celebrity sinner or the Savior of all mankind?

Obviously curiosity directed toward Jesus Christ (i.e. wanting to know Him) is indeed a godly exercise of the emotion. Luke testified about the believers in Berea as having an attitude exhibiting eagerness for the truths of God, as those who carefully searched the Scriptures, “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.” (Acts 17:10-12) The Berean people were eager to know Christ. Another man who exhibited curiosity for Christ was a blind man from Jericho, “And it came about that as He was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting by the road, begging. Now hearing a multitude going by, he began to inquire what this might be. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he had come near, He questioned him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!" And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he regained his sight, and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.” (Luke 18:35-43) The blind man inquired about the multitude passing and had the vision to know the power of Christ was the power to heal him.

However, curiosity can also be used for sin, especially when it is directed toward the wrong object such the things of this world. John warned against loving the world and its things which appeal to our fleshly lusts, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) In our media crazed cultural, the temptations available to satisfy the curiosity is at an all-time high. There are plenty of worldly options to satisfy the lusts of our curiosity. Instantaneously with the click of a button by mouse or remote, we can get all the trash this world has to offer. Reality television is constantly pushing the limits and using the folly of man as entertainment appealing to natural curiosity of the flesh. Too often we are tempted to satisfy our appetite for curiosity with the things of this fallen world rather than the things of God. Curiosity can be a slippery slope when investing in the things of this world and will surely lead one to disappointment and death. We must use this God-given emotion for good and godliness rather than sinfulness. As James wrote even using the world in moderation to satisfy the cravings of our curiosity leaves one in a state of hostility with God (James 4:4). I found an interesting blog posting entitled “When Curiosity Becomes Sin” while researching your question that you might also find helpful on the subject: http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2005/09/when-curiosity-becomes-sin.html.

Let me also say that I agree with you that being too curious can also be a hindrance to faith. The sons of Korah said it best, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10) Often times in life there are unanswered questions that the Scriptures may not explicitly address. After careful search and genuine inquiry with the Scripture, there is a place for resting and trusting the Lord, meeting the gap between our understanding and our trust in God with faith. However, our tendency may be to look to logic or reason or the things of this world to find an answer. The Scriptures warn against false teaching and the futility of endless speculations (2 Timothy 2:23-24). We must be careful to distinguish false teaching and strange doctrines, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3-4) Paul reminded Timothy of his instruction to not pay any attention to other deceptive world views that only distract and detract one from the furtherance of God’s administration. Paul also stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy thought life, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

In conclusion, the curiosity is an important emotion of the mind. If our mind is set on the Spirit, the use of one’s curiosity is productive and healthy in the Christian life, motivating the believer to pursue God with zeal and passion. However, when the mind is set on the flesh, the use of curiosity will ultimately yield sin and death and lead one to satisfy this emotion with the things offered by the fallen world. Curiosity is not evil, but must be properly exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:6), while abiding in Christ (John 15:5), to have any eternal benefit to the glory of God.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sheep and Goats Judgment - - Who are Brothers of the King?

This section in Matthew is incredible as Christ provides prophetic insight into the end of the age with this Olivet discourse. We have to go all the way back to Matthew 24:3 to get the context for the answer Jesus provides from Matthew 24:4-25:46 to a question posed by His disciples, “And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" As such, Jesus provides prophecy concerning the sign of His second coming and the end of the age.

Jesus warns them about many misleading anti-Christ's, wars and rumored wars among nations and kingdoms, famines and earthquakes, tribulations for Israel, persecution and death for the sake of Christ and increased lawlessness (Matthew 24:4-14). Jesus warns of the literal antichrist prophesied by Daniel who will desecrate the temple and bring a great tribulation upon the nation of Israel which is unprecedented (Matthew 24:15-22). Finally, Christ warns of false teachers who will deceive the nations, but reminds them that no one will miss His magnificent return after the tribulation (Matthew 24:23-31).

Jesus then uses parables and historical events to help them better understand the setting and time of His return including the example of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-36), the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-44), the relationship between a slave and his master (Matthew 24:45-51), 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and talents entrusted to slaves (Matthew 25:14-30).

Now, let's look at the sheep and goats judgment, "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46)

Jesus describes the ushering in of His millennial kingdom in more detail. Coming in glory and with all His angels, Jesus will sit on His throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The nations will all be gathered together and the Great Shepherd will separate His sheep from the goats. Clearly there is a distinction between the brothers, the sheep and the goats in this passage. It appears from the context that the nations gathered making up the sheep and the goats are the Gentile survivors of the great tribulation on earth while the brothers of Christ are the surviving Israelites. The sheep on the right will inherit the kingdom prepared for them because they believed in Christ and helped the Lord's brothers during the tribulation, meeting their needs such as providing food, drink, shelter, clothing, and fellowship for sick and imprisoned Israelites. By serving the King's brothers they were also serving the King. The goats on the left are accursed because they did not believe in Christ and joined in the persecution of the Israelites during the tribulation. Their final destination is eternal separation from God in lake of fire.

To be sure Matthew 25:40 has been interpreted in many different ways to advocate among other things helping of the poor and needy of our world. However, in the context, the passage seems to refer to the future end times with Christ’s return and that the Lord's brothers are specifically the believing Israelites who survive the great tribulation prior to Christ's millennial kingdom. While we may want to reconsider using this verse to support a cause to help the poor and needy, Jesus clearly taught his followers to love and serve the underdogs of this world (i.e. the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sick). Paul was eager to help the poor (Galatians 2:10). James wrote, "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

Finally, Paul wrote about doing good to all, but especially to believers among the body of Christ, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Galatians 6:9-10) As Paul wrote in Titus 3:8, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.