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Appendix 3: Walking the Romans Road

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How can a person be saved? From what is he saved? How can someone have eternal life? Scripture teaches that after death each person will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. How can a person go to heaven?

Paul said this to Timothy:

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

One of the reasons God gave us Scripture is to make us wise for salvation. This means that without it nobody can know how to be saved.

Well then, how can a people be saved and what are they being saved from? A common method of sharing the good news of salvation is through the Romans Road. One of the great themes, not only of the Bible, but specifically of the book of Romans is salvation. In Romans, the author, Paul, clearly details the steps we must take in order to be saved.

How can we be saved? What steps must we take?

Step One: We Must Accept that We Are Sinners

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What does it mean to sin? The word sin means “to miss the mark.” The mark we missed is looking like God. When God created mankind in the Genesis narrative, he created man in the “image of God” (1:27). The “image of God” means many things, but probably, most importantly it means we were made to be holy just as he is holy. Man was made moral. We were meant to reflect God’s holiness in every way: the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we act. And any time we miss the mark in these areas, we commit sin.

Furthermore, we do not only sin when we commit a sinful act such as: lying, stealing, or cheating. Again, we sin anytime we have a wrong heart motive. The greatest commandments in Scripture are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40, paraphrase). Whenever we don’t love God supremely and love others as ourselves, we sin and fall short of the glory of God. For this reason, man is always in a state of sinning. Sadly, even if our actions are good, our heart is bad. I have never loved God with my whole heart, mind, and soul and neither has anybody else. Therefore, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). We have all missed the mark of God’s holiness and we must accept this.

What’s the next step?

Step Two: We Must Understand We Are Under the Judgment of God

Why are we under the judgment of God? It is because of our sins. Scripture teaches God is not only a loving God, but he is a just God. And his justice requires judgment for each of our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the payoff of sin is death.”

A wage is something we earn. Every time we sin, we earn the wage of death. What is death? Death really means separation. In physical death, the body is separated from the spirit, but in spiritual death, man is separated from God. Man currently lives in a state of spiritual death (cf. Eph 2:1-3). We do not love God, obey him, or know him as we should. Therefore, man is in a state of death.

Moreover, one day at our physical death, if we have not been saved, we will spend eternity separated from God in a very real hell. In hell, we will pay the wage for each of our sins. Therefore, in hell people will experience various degrees of punishment (cf. Lk 12:47-48). This places man in a very dangerous predicament—unholy and therefore under the judgment of God.

How should we respond to this? This leads us to our third step.

Step Three: We Must Recognize God Has Invited All to Accept His Free Gift of Salvation

Romans 6:23 does not stop at the wages of sin being death. It says, “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God loved everybody on the earth, he offered the free gift of eternal life, which anyone can receive through Jesus Christ.

Because it is a gift, it cannot be earned. We cannot work for it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Going to church, being baptized, giving to the poor, or doing any other righteous work does not save. Salvation is a gift that must be received from God. It is a gift that has been prepared by his effort alone.

How do we receive this free gift?

Step Four: We Must Believe Jesus Christ Died for Our Sins and Rose from the Dead

If we are going to receive this free gift, we must believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Because God loved us, cared for us, and didn’t want us to be separated from him eternally, he sent his Son to die for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Similarly, John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God so loved us that he gave his only Son for our sins.

Jesus Christ was a real, historical person who lived 2,000 years ago. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He was put to death by the Romans and the Jews. And he rose again on the third day. In his death, he took our sins and God’s wrath for them and gave us his perfect righteousness so we could be accepted by God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” God did all this so we could be saved from his wrath.

Christ’s death satisfied the just anger of God over our sins. When God saw Jesus on the cross, he saw us and our sins and therefore judged Jesus. And now, when God sees those who are saved, he sees his righteous Son and accepts us. In salvation, we have become the righteousness of God.

If we are going to be saved, if we are going to receive this free gift of salvation, we must believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for our sins (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5, Rom 10:9-10). Do you believe?

Step Five: We Must Confess Christ as Lord of Our Lives

Romans 10:9-10 says,

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Not only must we believe, but we must confess Christ as Lord of our lives. It is one thing to believe in Christ but another to follow Christ. Simple belief does not save. Christ must be our Lord. James said this: “…Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear” (James 2:19), but the demons are not saved—Christ is not their Lord.

Another aspect of making Christ Lord is repentance. Repentance really means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Before we met Christ, we were living our own life and following our own sinful desires. But when we get saved, our mind and direction change. We start to follow Christ as Lord.

How do we make this commitment to the lordship of Christ so we can be saved? Paul said we must confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” as we believe in him. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you admit that you are a sinner and understand you are under God’s wrath because of them; if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead for your salvation; if you are ready to turn from your sin and cling to Christ as Lord, you can be saved.

If this is your heart, then you can pray this prayer and commit to following Christ as your Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, I confess I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory, what you made me for. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead so I can have eternal life. I am turning away from my sin and accepting you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life and change me. Thank you for your gift of salvation.

Scripture teaches that if you truly accepted Christ as your Lord, then you are a new creation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” God has forgiven your sins (1 John 1:9), he has given you his Holy Spirit (Rom 8:15), and he is going to disciple you and make you into the image of his Son (cf. Rom 8:29). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5), and he will complete the work he has begun in your life (Phil 1:6). In heaven, angels and saints are rejoicing because of your commitment to Christ (Lk 15:7).

Praise God for his great salvation! May God keep you in his hand, empower you through the Holy Spirit, train you through mature believers, and use you to build his kingdom! “He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this” (1 Thess 5:24). God bless you!

Copyright © 2017, 2018 (2nd Edition) Gregory Brown

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Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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4. Handing Off the Baton (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

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December 9, 2018

In practicing for a relay race, runners work hard to get the handoff of the baton right. If a runner drops the baton, the team is immediately disqualified from the race.

Today, I’m handing off the pastoral leadership baton to Dave Berry. If you were here on May 31, 1992, the Sunday that I began as your pastor, I thank you for hanging in with me over these years. You qualify for some sort of special reward in heaven! On that Sunday I preached from this text to explain my major task and yours. I repeated the same basic sermon on March 15, 1998 and again on January 21, 2007. If you’ve already heard it three times, your reward will be even greater!

But Paul’s words here are of utmost importance. I often get emails from people in other cities telling me that they can’t find a church that preaches God’s Word. So I want you to understand (perhaps for the fourth time!) why I have emphasized expository Bible preaching and why Dave will carry that same baton in the years ahead.

J. I. Packer (A Quest for Godliness [Crossway], p. 282) wrote, “We shall never perform a more important task than preaching. If we are not willing to give time to sermon preparation, we are not fit to preach, and have no business in the ministry at all.” He argues (p. 281) that “the well-being of the church today depends in large measure on a revival of preaching in the Puritan vein.” He explains (p. 283), “... to the Puritan, faithful preaching was the basic ingredient in faithful pastoring.” I agree. I believe that biblical preaching is the pastor’s primary task.

Maybe you’re thinking, “You’re saying that because you’re a preacher. Of course preaching is important to you!” But I’m not saying that preaching is important simply because I’m a preacher. I’m saying that preaching is important because God says that it is important in His inspired Word.

Our text is Paul’s final charge to Timothy just before the apostle’s execution. He senses that the time of his departure has come (2 Tim. 4:6). He’s handing the baton to Timothy, his younger friend and understudy. Paul realized that Satan would relentlessly attack God’s Word. Having just emphasized the trustworthy nature of that Word and its vital importance (2 Tim. 3:16-17), he now charges Timothy (and every pastor after him) to be faithful to preach the Word, no matter what the opposition or hardships. But preaching is a two-way street. So Paul’s words are not only a solemn charge to pastors. They also are a solemn charge to all believers to listen to biblical preaching with a view to obedience.

Preaching and obediently hearing God’s Word are of utmost importance in view of eternity.

If Paul had said, “I solemnly charge you, preach the Word,” it would have been a strong exhortation. If he had said, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, preach the Word,” it would have been a really strong exhortation. If he had said, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, preach the Word,” we’d be off the charts on strong exhortations!

But when he says (2 Tim. 4:1-2a), “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, preach the Word,” I don’t know how he could have said it any more emphatically! It’s as if he grabbed Timothy by his shirt, pulled him to within six inches of his face, and shouted like a drill instructor, “Preach the Word!” Paul gives five commands in verse 2 and four more in verse 5. In verses 1-2, Paul shows why preaching the word is of utmost importance. In verses 3-4, he shows why obediently hearing the word is of utmost importance. Then (v. 5), because there will be inevitable opposition to the word, he shows why a faithful pastor must persevere in preaching the Word.

1. Preaching the Word is of utmost importance because of Christ’s coming judgment and kingdom.

Paul answers four questions: Why preach? What to preach? When to preach it? How to preach it?

A. Why preach? Preach the Word because Christ Jesus is coming to judge everyone and to establish His kingdom.

The word translated solemnly charge (1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:14) had a legal nuance, of taking an oath in a court of law. Paul is calling Timothy in front of God’s judicial bench and charging him under oath with the serious task of proclaiming God’s Word to those who also will someday stand in front of that bench for judgment by Christ Jesus, who will return to reign over all.

The verb is (before to judge) literally means, is about to. It implies the urgency of the task. The day is soon coming when Christ will return. He came the first time as the suffering Savior to redeem us from our sins. But the second time He will come as the Sovereign King, to defeat all rebellion and to judge the living and the dead. I think that includes just about everyone here! Although as believers in Christ, we will not face condemnation (Rom. 8:1), we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be recompensed for what we have done with our lives (2 Cor. 5:10).

This means that you need to take life seriously. One day you will stand before the Lord Jesus to give an account of your life. The Word of God tells us how to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9). Preaching is important because judgment is ahead.

Christ will appear and set up His kingdom to reign over all. The word appear was used of the Emperor’s visit to a province or town. Just before his visit, things were put in order. The garbage was cleaned up, the streets were swept, and the buildings were scrubbed clean for his appearing. During his presidency, Jimmy Carter would sometimes spend the night at the home of some average citizen. If you knew that the President would be spending the night at your house, I’m sure that you’d do some housecleaning! Well, Christ, the King, who is far greater than the President, is coming! Preach so that people will clean up their lives and be ready for His return.

B. What to preach? Preach the Word!

Some scholars argue that the word means the gospel. I don’t object to that, as long as by “the gospel” you include the whole counsel of God as contained in all of Scripture. In the original text, there is no chapter break between 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 4:1-5. All Scripture is profitable for teaching (3:16) or instruction (4:2, a related word). A preacher must explain and apply the doctrines of the Bible so that when he’s done, you can look at the biblical text in its context and say, “I understand what it is saying and how it applies to my life.”

“Preach” means “to herald.” The herald was the king’s messenger who relayed the king’s message to the people. He wasn’t free to make up his own stuff. He wasn’t a politician or diplomat or a spin doctor. His job was to proclaim faithfully the king’s message so that the people understood it. Even so, the preacher’s message should come out of the text and be governed by the text.

There is a sad lack of that kind of biblical preaching in American churches. I once listened to some tapes titled, “The best of ...” a well-known preacher. He took his theme loosely from a biblical text, but then he’d jump off from there and tell a lot of uplifting stories. But when he was done, he had not explained or applied the words of the text in its context. You could have removed all the Bible verses and the result could have appeared in Reader’s Digest, not much altered by the absence of the Scriptures.

But Scripture gives us “the wisdom that leads to salvation” and equips us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17). It reveals to us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). If a pastor doesn’t explain and apply Scripture, his preaching may be entertaining and inspiring; but it will lack life-changing power.

Although I disagree with much of Karl Barth’s theology, I admire him for an incident that happened during the 1930’s (told by Michael Ladra, Ministry Journal, July, 1985). He was preaching on John 3:16. Even though many in his German congregation professed to be Christians, they were sympathetic to Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. Barth made the point that Jesus was a Jew, that He had died for all the world, and that the Jews were part of that world. Thus anyone who loves Christ would not participate in the widespread ill treatment of the Jews. Many in his congregation walked out in disgust before he finished the sermon. One wrote a scathing letter denouncing him. Barth’s reply was a single sentence: “It was in the text.”

That kind of preaching takes courage! But the man who proclaims the Word of God must not pull his punches. He must be patient and gentle, but he must proclaim and apply the text of Scripture as the King’s message.

So, why preach? Preach because of Christ’s coming judgment and kingdom. What to preach? Preach God’s Word. Third,

C. When to preach it? Be ready to preach the Word at every opportunity.

“Be ready in season and out of season.” The idea here is that a preacher is not to play at preaching. Rather, it must be a life-consuming passion. He is never off duty. All his life and his walk with God go into the preaching of the Word, because biblical preaching is God’s truth imparted through a man who walks with God. “Be ready” implies a sense of urgency. Picture a paramedic unit on call, ready to save someone’s life. Souls are perishing without Christ. Christians are straying from the fold. Proclaim God’s Word whenever and wherever you can!

The 18th century evangelical preacher John Berridge was called in by the Anglican bishop and reproved for preaching at all hours of the day and on every day of the week. “My lord,” he replied, “I preach only at two times.” The bishop pressed him, “And which are they, Mr. Berridge?” He quickly responded, “In season and out of season, my lord” (A. Skevington Wood, The Inextinguishable Blaze [Eerdmans], p. 212).

D. How to preach it? Preach the Word with application to life.

2 Tim. 4:2b: “Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Biblical preaching should show people where their lives are not in line with God’s truth and help them to make the necessary corrections to obey that truth consistently. Martin Luther put it (in David Larsen, The Company of the Preachers [Kregel], p. 157), “Always preach in such a way that if the people listening do not come to hate their sin, they will instead hate you.”

To do this, a preacher must make an appeal to the reason of the hearers: “Reprove.” This is a legal term that means to present your case in such a manner as to convince your opponent of his wrong. A preacher must present his case in a logically convincing manner from the Word, so that his hearers are persuaded that what Scripture says is right even if their behavior is wrong. The Holy Spirit’s task is to reprove (convict) the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). He does this largely through Spirit-filled biblical preaching.

Second, a preacher must make an appeal to the conscience of the hearers: “Rebuke.” This moral aspect of preaching says, “You are sinning against God; you need to repent!” We tend not to like that sort of thing, but it is desperately needed in our day of watered-down, feel good Christianity. William Barclay rightly said (The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Westminster Press], rev. ed. p. 207): “Any teacher ... whose teaching tends to make men think less of sin is a menace to Christianity and to mankind.”

Third, a preacher must make an appeal to the will and emotions of the hearers: “Exhort.” The word means strongly encouraging someone to right behavior. Some people need rebuke and some need encouragement. If you encourage those who need rebuking, you’re helping them to go on sinning. But if you rebuke those who need encouragement, you’ll discourage them. Someone has said, the preacher’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Only the Holy Spirit can take His Word and apply it individually to a congregation made up of all sorts of needs.

The preacher becomes the channel for the Spirit’s working when he appeals with “great patience and instruction.” People require time to change. They don’t always get it the first time around. So the preacher of the Word must say it over and over again from different biblical texts. Patience does not mean tolerating open sin, but rather, bearing with people’s weaknesses. But the preacher doesn’t just leave the people in their weakness; he gives them practical instruction so that they can grow in Christ.

Thus Paul is saying that preaching the Word is of utmost importance in light of the coming judgment and kingdom of Jesus Christ. But even great preaching that falls on closed ears and hardened hearts is not effective. Thus,

2. Obediently hearing the Word is of utmost importance in view of the sinful propensity to turn away from the truth.

2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate [lit., ‘heap up’] for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” They will find teachers who tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

I heard Stuart Briscoe say that he asked a Sunday school class what they did with the commands in the Bible. A little old lady raised her hand and said, “I underline them in blue.” That’s nice, but not exactly the point! The commands of the Bible should be obeyed because God gave them to us for our good.

In the Pastoral Epistles Paul frequently mentions “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1; “sound words” in 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13). “Sound” means healthy (we derive our word “hygienic” from it). Sound doctrine results in healthy Christian living. Note that Paul sets sound doctrine in contrast to what people like and thus it must be endured! Like healthy food, healthy doctrine isn’t always something we like, because it confronts our selfish desires, but in the long run it yields healthy Christianity. Why didn’t God make broccoli unhealthy and ice cream healthy?

Paul warns that people [in the church is the implication] will turn aside from the truth to myths—the religious ideas of men as opposed to God’s revelation in Scripture. The propensity of sinful human hearts is to turn away from God’s truth and to embrace what feels good at the moment. So preachers face the powerful temptation, especially if they want to be liked, to give people the ice cream of popular worldly myths instead of the broccoli of God’s truth. But don’t judge a man’s preaching by whether you like it or not. Rather, answer the question, “Does his preaching line up with what God’s Word says?” Does it come from the text?

I try to serve the broccoli of the Word along with the ice cream (thankfully, the Word contains both!). That’s one reason for preaching verse by verse through the Bible. It gives the right proportions of spiritual broccoli and ice cream. I try gently but firmly to confront sin with God’s truth as well as tell you God’s prescription for spiritual health. But my job is only half the task. You have the responsibility as hearers of the Word not to reject the broccoli and want only the ice cream or to go find a place that only serves ice cream. You will not be spiritually healthy if you do. You need to hear the Word with a heart eager to obey it.

But what if people don’t listen? Then what should a preacher do? Paul tells Timothy in verse 5:

3. Perseverance in preaching the Word is required in view of inevitable opposition.

2 Tim. 4:5: “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” When people won’t listen, the preacher must keep preaching the Word anyway. It is a pointed reminder that a man of God must go against the flow, even at times against the “Christian” flow. Paul gives four commands that show Timothy how to conduct his ministry even when people aren’t responsive:

First, “Be sober” (literally, “Don’t be drunk”). When people get intoxicated with the latest winds of false doctrine, you’re the designated driver. Keep your head about you and continue preaching the truth.

Second, “Endure hardship.” If you preach the truth of God’s Word, you will catch flak. Harry Ironside (Timothy, Titus, & Philemon [Loizeaux Brothers], p. 236) said that he sometimes received letters from people (invariably people he didn’t know personally) who would say, “I resent your personal attack on me last Sunday. I don’t like your preaching; and I don’t think you had any right to expose me in the way you did. I don’t know who has been talking to you about me.” And invariably they closed by saying, “It’s not true.” Then he quoted someone who said, “If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs and one of them yelps, you know who got hit.”

Third, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Don’t get sidetracked by critics in the church, but keep preaching the gospel and going after lost people. The enemy wants us to get sidetracked from preaching the gospel, because the gospel is how God saves sinners. And the gospel also strengthens the saints. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said (Preaching and Preachers [Zondervan], p. 150), “There is something essentially wrong with a man who calls himself a Christian and who can listen to a truly evangelistic sermon without coming under conviction again, without feeling something of his own unworthiness, and rejoicing when he hears the Gospel remedy being presented.”

Finally, “Fulfill your ministry.” Paul is saying, “Don’t bail out of the ministry and go into an easier line of work just because you run into opposition. Fulfill your calling as a preacher of God’s truth! Follow me in fighting the good fight so that you will finish the course” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Years ago in California, I was going through a time of unusual attacks against my ministry. On a day off, Marla and I were driving somewhere and got stopped by road construction. As we sat there waiting for the flagman, I watched a guy driving a bulldozer and thought, “That looks like a nice line of work! He just pushes dirt around all day and at quitting time, he leaves his bulldozer and goes home.” It was tempting, but Paul is saying, “Don’t bail out!” John Calvin (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 255) makes the point that rather than giving up because of opposition, the more intense the opposition, the more vigorously we must fight, to ward off Satan’s attacks on the church. So don’t quit because of opposition. Preaching the Word is a fight! Defend the gospel against all attacks.

Conclusion

So, Dave, I’m handing you the baton. Your main job is to preach the Word of God faithfully, no matter what kind of opposition you may encounter. Church (I’m including myself), our main job is to hear God’s Word with hearts eager to obey. Phillips Brooks described preaching as “truth poured through personality” (Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching [Baker], 1st ed. p. 24). That means, thankfully, Dave is not me, so don’t judge him because he is different than I am. God made him that way and God will give us His message through Dave if we listen with receptive hearts.

Paul goes on to say (2 Tim. 4:6), “the time of my departure has come.” That’s true of us all! Very soon we’ll all stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, the Judge of the living and the dead. In view of that solemn day, it’s essential that our pastor makes it his priority to preach God’s Word. It’s also essential that we listen to the preaching of God’s Word with a view to obedience. Then on that great day when we all stand before Christ, we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Application Questions

  1. What are some reasons that biblical preaching is not being emphasized today?
  2. Agree/disagree: Sound preaching of the Word is the most important factor in choosing a church? Why/why not?
  3. Even Jesus warned His audience about listening well (Luke 8:18). How can a person improve his listening ability?
  4. Why does Paul say that sound doctrine must be “endured”? What are some implications of this?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2018, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Pastors, Teaching the Bible

Psalms Of Providing

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When people pray, often they hope that God will answer their prayer requests fully. It is of interest, then, to see that Psalm 65 is a Davidic psalm of answered prayer and praise to the Lord. The psalmist’s praise is especially felt in verses 9-13. This section begins with the reasons for the psalmist’s praise:

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.

The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;

You soften it with showers
and bless its crops. (vv. 9-10)1

As Futato observes, “Psalm 65:9-10 describes the coming of the fall rains that soften the hard soil, allowing for plowing and planting, and that provides sufficient water for abundant new crops and other vegetation to sprout.”2 Van Gemeren points out that the psalmist’s praise for the water is one of David’s blessings and benefits so that “when after the gentle rains, vegetation grows”.3 Too often people ignore this aspect of God’s goodness to the earth and its people – especially those who are part of his salvation provision.

As David points out further, God was the provider for ancient Israel:

You gave abundant showers, O God;
You refreshed your weary inheritance.

Your people settled in it,
And from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor.
(Ps. 68:9-10)

A later psalmist points to the fact that God himself is He who provides such things as food: “He provides food for those who fear him” (Ps. 111:5a; cf. Ps. 132:15). Not only that, but God is “gracious and compassionate” (Ps. 111:5b). Moreover, it was He who “provided redemption for His people” (Ps. 111:9). Accordingly,

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise. (Ps. 111:10)

Therefore, believers may “sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Ps. 147:7), because

He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call. (Ps. 147:8-9, 11)

As Van Gemeren remarks, the psalmist observes that God is to be praised not only because he is the good king over his creation but, “because he justifies those who look to him in faith.”4

All of this reminds us that not only was the Lord gracious to the ancient Israelites despite their faults and shortcomings, but to all believers everywhere. Christian friends, may we happily sing Lela Long’s hymn “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know”.

Jesus is the sweetest name I know,
And He’s just the same as his lovely name.
And that’s the reason why I love him so.
Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.5


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms”, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed.  Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il.: Tyndale House,2009), VII:219.

3 Willem A, Van Gemeren, “Psalms”, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E, Garland, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:200.

4 Ibid, 999.

5 Lela Long, “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know”.

Related Topics: Character of God, Devotionals, Prayer

Graça e Paz

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Introdução

As epístolas de Paulo começam com uma saudação que inclui sempre as palavras “a vós, graça e paz”, ou “graça, misericórdia e paz”, como sucede em 1 e 2 Timóteo. As saudações de Paulo incluem o autor, o destinatário e a secção de cumprimentos, seguindo o estilo de outras cartas daquele tempo. Contudo, as suas saudações acrescentam um novo sabor, dado o significado que os termos “graça” e “paz” possuem para aqueles que acreditam em Cristo.

Apesar de “a vós, graça e paz” fazer lembrar as saudações gregas e hebraicas comuns, Paulo basicamente inventou uma ligeira variação, a fim de sugerir a verdade cristã aprofundada a respeito da graça. Charis (“graça”) vai além do típico chairein (“saúde”; veja Actos 15:23; 23:26; Tiago 1:1). Desta forma, enfatizou as bênçãos imerecidas que os crentes recebem em Cristo. Através da maravilhosa graça de Deus, os pecadores são salvos dos seus pecados e trazidos para uma relação salvadora com um Deus santo, mediante a Sua obra em favor deles, de modo completamente gratuito. Esta graça não se cinge à salvação do castigo pelo pecado, estendendo-se como alicerce da vida do crente com Deus, por toda a eternidade. São estas bênçãos de graça que Paulo e seus associados desejam para os seus leitores.

A graça traz sempre benefícios, um dos quais se reflecte na palavra “paz”, que o Apóstolo associa sempre à graça de Deus. De facto, a ordem é importante. Primeiro graça, depois paz. Até conhecermos e tomarmos posse da graça, não conseguimos experienciar paz. “Paz” constituía uma saudação judaica típica (confira Juízes 19:20) mas, para o cristão, carrega um significado muito mais profundo do que para os antigos hebreus. Assim, o que é que Paulo desejava exactamente para os seus leitores? O estudo que se segue é uma breve perspectiva geral acerca da graça e paz, oferecidas aos que crêem em Cristo.

A Importância e Significado da Graça

Para muitos crentes, o conceito de graça não vai muito além da definição básica de “favor imerecido” ou “dom gratuito de Deus”. Porém, uma vez que a graça se encontra no cerne do verdadeiro Cristianismo, sendo realmente o seu pilar e fonte, deveríamos compreender melhor o significado e verdade desta palavra.

As implicações que a graça de Deus tem para nós em Cristo afectam extremamente as nossas vidas, em todos os aspectos. Ao longo do Novo Testamento, os efeitos da graça de Deus são enfatizados. Onde quer que procuremos, deparamo-nos com esta palavra (104 referências – NVI). De facto, o Senhor É descrito como epítome e manifestação da graça de Deus.

Tito 2:11 Porque a graça de Deus se há manifestado, trazendo salvação a todos os homens.

Para além disso, a doutrina da Graça de Deus em Cristo é multifacetada. Enquanto doutrina da Palavra, incide, de uma ou outra maneira, sobre qualquer área de verdade ou doutrina. Todos os aspectos da doutrina estão relacionados com a graça. Não admira que “graça” seja uma palavra importante, que Paulo desejava que todos experienciassem. É uma fonte da qual todos devemos beber profundamente, mas que é contrária às nossas tendências naturais. Em vez de bebermos da fonte de Deus, tendemos a construir as nossas próprias cisternas rotas.

Jeremias 2:13 Porque o Meu povo cometeu uma dupla perversidade: abandonou-Me, a Mim, fonte de água viva, para cavar cisternas, cisternas rotas, que não retêm a água.

Definição de Graça

Uma Definição Básica – Lexical

A palavra grega para graça é caris. A ideia básica é, simplesmente, “favor não meritório ou imerecido, dom imerecido, bênçãos ou favores concedidos como dom, gratuitamente e jamais como merecimento pelo trabalho realizado”.

Definição Expandida – Teológica

A graça é “aquilo que Deus, através do Seu Filho, faz pela humanidade, aquilo que a humanidade não consegue obter, não merece nem nunca merecerá”.1

A graça é tudo aquilo que Deus, livre e imerecidamente, faz e tem a liberdade de fazer pelo homem, com base em Cristo e Sua obra na cruz. A graça, poder-se-á afirmar, é a obra de Deus pelo homem, e abrange tudo o que recebemos d'Ele.

Efésios 1:3, 6 Bendito seja o Deus e Pai de nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, que nos abençoou com todas as bênçãos espirituais nas regiões celestiais em Cristo,... 6 para o louvor da Sua gloriosa graça, a qual nos deu gratuitamente no Amado.

João 6:27-29 “Não trabalheis pela comida que se estraga, mas pela comida que permanece para a vida eterna, a qual o Filho do homem vos dará. Deus, o Pai, n'Ele colocou o Seu selo de aprovação.” 28 Então lhe perguntaram: “O que precisamos de fazer para realizar as obras que Deus requer?” 29 Jesus respondeu: “A obra de Deus é esta: crer n'Aquele que Ele enviou”.

Deveremos recordar que a vinda de Cristo é descrita como manifestação da graça de Deus. “A graça resume-se no nome, pessoa e obra do Senhor Jesus Cristo.”2

João 1:14, 16 E o Verbo se fez carne, e habitou entre nós, e vimos a Sua glória, como a glória do unigénito do Pai, cheio de graça e de verdade. ... 16 E todos nós recebemos, também, da Sua plenitude, e graça por graça.

Efésios 2:8-9 Porque pela graça sois salvos, por meio da fé, e isto não vem de vós, é dom de Deus; 9 não vem das obras, para que ninguém se glorie.

Tito 2:11 Porque a graça de Deus se manifestado, trazendo salvação a todos os homens.

Descrição – uma explicação alargada

As Características da Graça

(1) A graça realça o carácter de Deus e a iniquidade humana, enquanto a misericórdia enfatiza a força de Deus e a impotência do homem. A graça encontra a sua necessidade no (a) facto da santidade de Deus e da iniquidade humana, e (b) na natureza de Deus, enquanto Criador, e do homem, enquanto criatura.

(2) A graça opõe-se e exclui qualquer ideia de obras meritórias, obras executadas de modo a obter bênçãos ou recompensas. A graça significa que nunca poderá merecer aquilo, nem poderá conquistá-lo através do antigo método de trabalhar para isso. A afirmação de Paulo em Romanos 4:1-2 é digna de nota:

Romanos 4:1-5 Que diremos, pois, ter alcançado Abraão, nosso pai, segundo a carne? 2 Porque, se Abraão foi justificado pelas obras, tem de que se gloriar, mas não diante de Deus. 3 Pois, que diz a Escritura? “Creu Abraão em Deus, e isso lhe foi imputado como justiça.” 4 Ora, o salário do homem que trabalha não é considerado como favor, mas como dívida. 5 Todavia, àquele que não trabalha, mas confia em Deus que justifica o ímpio, a sua fé lhe é creditada como justiça.

Romanos 11:6 Mas, se é por graça, já não é pelas obras; de outra maneira, a graça já não é graça.

Um grande homem como Abraão poderá gloriar-se das suas obras diante de pessoas impressionadas com os seus feitos, mas nunca há espaço para vanglória diante de Deus – nem mesmo para um homem como Abraão.

A partir do momento em que acrescentamos obras para conquistar a aprovação de Deus, passamos da graça para a existência meritória. Tal é óbvio em Romanos 4:4-5 (vide supra).

Mas o que pensar acerca de Efésios 4:1, que diz “Rogo-vos que andeis como é digno da vocação com que fostes chamados”?  Não sugere a existência de obras com valor? Em vez de obras que merecem a aprovação de Deus, a ideia é que devemos viver de um modo consistente ou adequado à nossa vocação, não de um modo que mereça o amor de Deus.

(3) Mas, simultaneamente, a graça é a fonte a partir da qual devem ser produzidas as boas obras na vida cristã, desde que recebida pela fé na graça de Deus.

Tito 2:11 Porque a graça de Deus se há manifestado, trazendo salvação a todos os homens.

2 Timóteo 2:1 Tu, pois, meu filho, fortifica-te na graça que há em Cristo Jesus.

1 Coríntios 15:9-11 Porque eu sou o menor dos apóstolos, que não sou digno de ser chamado apóstolo, pois que persegui a igreja de Deus. 10 Mas pela graça de Deus sou o que sou; e a Sua graça para comigo não foi vã, antes trabalhei muito mais do que todos eles, todavia não eu, mas a graça de Deus que está comigo. 11 Então, ou seja eu ou sejam eles, assim pregamos e assim haveis crido.

Por outras palavras, a graça proporciona poder e motivação para uma vida à imagem de Cristo. Tito 2:11 ensina-nos que a graça de Deus em Cristo é o método dinâmico de instrução e motivação na vida cristã. Mostra-nos, literalmente, como devemos viver, motivando-nos a agir de forma concordante.

Romanos 12:1 Rogo-vos, pois, irmãos, pela compaixão de Deus, que apresenteis os vossos corpos em sacrifício vivo, santo e agradável a Deus, que é o vosso culto racional.

Efésios 4:1 Rogo-vos, pois, eu, o preso do Senhor, que andeis como é digno da vocação com que fostes chamados.

Efésios 6:10 Finalmente, fortalecei-vos no Senhor e na força do Seu poder.

(4) Embora a graça seja o modo de vida do Novo Testamento, também contém regras e imperativos que Deus espera que sigamos, não para obtenção de mérito, mas por causa da Sua graça. Não é antinomiana, ou anti lei.

1 Coríntios 10:31 Portanto, quer comais, quer bebais, ou façais outra qualquer coisa, fazei tudo para glória de Deus.

Romanos 6:14 Porque o pecado não terá domínio sobre vós, pois não estais debaixo da lei, mas debaixo da graça.

Romanos 8:1-5 Portanto, agora nenhuma condenação há para os que estão em Cristo Jesus. 2 Porque a lei do Espírito da vida, em Cristo Jesus, te livrou da lei do pecado e da morte. 3 Porquanto o que era impossível à lei, visto que se achava fraca pela carne, Deus, enviando o Seu próprio Filho em semelhança da carne do pecado, e por causa do pecado, na carne condenou o pecado, 4 para que a justa exigência da lei se cumprisse em nós, que não andamos segundo a carne, mas segundo o Espírito. 5 Pois os que são segundo a carne inclinam-se para as coisas da carne; mas os que são segundo o Espírito para as coisas do Espírito.

Tito 2:12-14 Ela nos ensina a renunciar à impiedade e às paixões mundanas e a viver de maneira sensata, justa e piedosa nesta era presente, 13 enquanto aguardamos a bendita esperança: a gloriosa manifestação de nosso grande Deus e Salvador, Jesus Cristo. 14 Ele Se entregou por nós a fim de nos remir de toda a maldade e purificar para Si mesmo um povo particularmente Seu, dedicado à prática de boas obras.

Romanos 12:1-2 Rogo-vos, pois, irmãos, pela compaixão de Deus, que apresenteis os vossos corpos em sacrifício vivo, santo e agradável a Deus, que é o vosso culto racional. 2 E não vos conformeis com este mundo, mas transformai-vos pela renovação do vosso entendimento, para que experimenteis qual seja a boa, agradável e perfeita vontade de Deus.

Conforme Tito 2:12-14 e Romanos 12:1-2 (ver acima) nos ensinam, a graça de Deus em Cristo exige o abandono das coisas erradas (pela força da graça de Deus), bem como inclinação e obediência às coisas certas. Assim, torna-se bastante evidente que a graça jamais implica o direito a uma vida desregrada, fazendo aquilo que se quer só por nos encontrarmos na graça de Deus.

Romanos 5:20 - 6:1 Veio, porém, a Lei para que a ofensa abundasse; mas, onde o pecado abundou, superabundou a graça; 21 para que, assim como o pecado reinou na morte, também a graça reinasse pela justiça, para a vida eterna, por Jesus Cristo, nosso Senhor. ...1 Que diremos pois? Permaneceremos no pecado, para que a graça abunde?

Ryrie descreve esta ideia da seguinte forma: “A razão última da revelação da graça de Deus em Cristo não é a doutrina, mas sim o carácter.”3

(5) A graça glorifica a Deus porque revela a Sua pessoa, glória e excelência. A graciosa salvação de Deus e a obra de Cristo em favor do homem destinam-se ao “louvor da Sua gloriosa graça”.

Romanos 4:1-5 Que diremos, pois, ter alcançado Abraão, nosso pai, segundo a carne? 2 Porque, se Abraão foi justificado pelas obras, tem de que se gloriar, mas não diante de Deus. 3 Pois, que diz a Escritura? “Creu Abraão em Deus, e isso lhe foi imputado como justiça.” 4 Ora, àquele que faz qualquer obra, não lhe é imputado o galardão segundo a graça, mas segundo a dívida. 5 Mas, àquele que não pratica, mas crê n'Aquele que justifica o ímpio, a sua fé lhe é imputada como justiça.

Efésios 1:6 Para o louvor da Sua gloriosa graça, a qual nos deu gratuitamente no Amado.

Efésios 2:8-9 Porque pela graça sois salvos, por meio da fé, e isto não vem de vós, é dom de Deus; 9 não vem das obras, para que ninguém se glorie.

2 Pedro 1:2-4 Graça e paz vos sejam multiplicadas, pelo conhecimento de Deus, e de Jesus, nosso Senhor! 3 Visto como o Seu divino poder nos deu tudo o que diz respeito à vida e piedade, pelo conhecimento d'Aquele que nos chamou por Sua glória e virtude; 4 pelas quais Ele nos tem dado grandíssimas e preciosas promessas, para que, por elas, fiqueis participantes da natureza divina, havendo escapado da corrupção, que, pela concupiscência, há no mundo.

(6) A graça garante a salvação do crente. Faz com que seja impossível a qualquer homem sair do plano de Deus, do ponto de vista da sua posição em Cristo. Porquê? Porque a salvação depende do carácter e obra de Deus em Cristo, não do registo ou obras do homem.

Romanos 8:33-39 Quem intentará acusação contra os escolhidos de Deus? É Deus quem os justifica. 34 Quem os condenará? Pois é Cristo quem morreu, ou, antes, quem ressuscitou de entre os mortos, o qual está à direita de Deus, e também intercede por nós. 35 Quem nos separará do amor de Cristo? A tribulação, ou a angústia, ou a perseguição, ou a fome, ou a nudez, ou o perigo, ou a espada? 36 Como está escrito: “Por amor de Ti, somos entregues à morte todo o dia; fomos reputados como ovelhas para o matadouro”. 37 Mas, em todas estas coisas, somos mais do que vencedores, por Aquele que nos amou. 38 Porque estou certo de que nem a morte, nem a vida, nem os anjos, nem os principados, nem as potestades, nem o presente, nem o porvir, 39 nem a altura, nem a profundidade, nem alguma outra criatura nos poderá separar do amor de Deus, que está em Cristo Jesus, nosso Senhor.

As obras dos crentes serão julgadas ou examinadas para a atribuição de recompensas, mas não como base para a salvação.

1 Coríntios 3:12-15 Se alguém constrói sobre esse alicerce, usando ouro, prata, pedras preciosas, madeira, feno ou palha, 13 a sua obra será mostrada, porque o dia a trará à luz; pois será revelada pelo fogo, que provará a qualidade da obra de cada um. 14 Se o que alguém construiu permanecer, esse receberá recompensa. 15 Se o que alguém construiu se queimar, esse sofrerá prejuízo; contudo, será salvo como alguém que escapa através do fogo.

Aqueles que não crêem serão julgados, com base nas suas obras, diante do Grande Trono Branco do Juízo, mas apenas porque rejeitaram a obra que a graça poderia ter realizado neles em Cristo. As suas obras tornam-se provas da sua iniquidade e, evidentemente, são também a base para o grau da sua punição (confira Mt. 11:21, que implica vários graus de punição).

(7) A graça assegura-nos o amor de Deus e Sua provisão em qualquer circunstância que tenhamos de enfrentar.

Romanos 8:32-39 Aquele que nem mesmo a Seu próprio Filho poupou, antes O entregou por todos nós, como nos não dará também, com Ele, todas as coisas? 33 Quem intentará acusação contra os escolhidos de Deus? É Deus quem os justifica. 34 Quem os condenará? Pois é Cristo quem morreu, ou, antes, quem ressuscitou de entre os mortos, o qual está à direita de Deus, e também intercede por nós. 35 Quem nos separará do amor de Cristo? A tribulação, ou a angústia, ou a perseguição, ou a fome, ou a nudez, ou o perigo, ou a espada? 36 Como está escrito: “Por amor de Ti, somos entregues à morte todo o dia; fomos reputados como ovelhas para o matadouro”. 37 Mas, em todas estas coisas, somos mais do que vencedores, por Aquele que nos amou. 38 Porque estou certo de que nem a morte, nem a vida, nem os anjos, nem os principados, nem as potestades, nem o presente, nem o porvir, 39 nem a altura, nem a profundidade, nem alguma outra criatura nos poderá separar do amor de Deus, que está em Cristo Jesus, nosso Senhor.

As Bênçãos da Graça

A provisão da graça de Deus engloba quatro áreas ou bênçãos principais. Apesar de pecaminosos e merecedores da ira de Deus, a graça significa...

(1) A Bênção da Aceitação

Efésios 1:6 Para o louvor da Sua gloriosa graça, a qual nos deu gratuitamente no Amado.

1 Coríntios 1:29-30 … para que nenhuma carne se glorie perante Ele. 30 Mas vós sois d'Ele, em Jesus Cristo, o qual para nós foi feito, por Deus, sabedoria, e justiça, e santificação, e redenção.

A graça significa que somos inteiramente aceites, por causa da obra perfeita de Cristo, que... nos redime (Rm. 3:24), nos reconcilia (2 Cor. 5:19-21), nos perdoa (Rm. 3:25; Ef. 1:6,7), nos salva (Cl. 1:13), nos justifica (Rm. 3:24; 5:1) e nos glorifica (Rm. 8:30).

(2) A Bênção da Capacitação (poder e capacidade espiritual)

1 Coríntios 15:10 Mas pela graça de Deus sou o que sou; e a Sua graça para comigo não foi vã, antes trabalhei muito mais do que todos eles, todavia não eu, mas a graça de Deus que está comigo.

Apesar de fraco e desprovido de habilidade para coisas espirituais, a graça assegura ao crente uma capacidade especial e divina, através da graça de Deus, que é nossa em Cristo. Tal é realçado pelo seguinte:

  • Não mais sob a Lei, mas sob a graça (Rm. 6:14; 2 Cor. 3:6-13).
  • Cristo em vós, a esperança da glória (Cl. 1:27).
  • Baptizados e circuncidados em Cristo para uma vida nova (Rm. 6:4 ss; Cl. 2:11).
  • Habitados pelo Espírito de Deus, que confere poder e capacidade para uma vida cristã (Rm. 8:2 ss).
(3) A Bênção de uma Nova Posição

Efésios 1:3 Bendito o Deus e Pai do nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, o qual nos abençoou com todas as bênçãos espirituais, nos lugares celestiais, em Cristo.

Efésios 2:1-5 E vos vivificou, estando vós mortos em ofensas e pecados, 2 em que noutro tempo andastes, segundo o curso deste mundo, segundo o príncipe das potestades do ar, do espírito que agora opera nos filhos da desobediência; 3 entre os quais todos nós, também, antes andávamos, nos desejos da nossa carne, fazendo a vontade da carne e dos pensamentos; e éramos, por natureza, filhos da ira, como os outros também. 4 Mas Deus, que É riquíssimo em misericórdia, pelo Seu muito amor com que nos amou, 5 estando nós ainda mortos em nossas ofensas, nos vivificou juntamente com Cristo (pela graça sois salvos).

Colossenses 2:10 E estais perfeitos n'Ele, que é a cabeça de todo o principado e potestade.

Embora em Adão e morto no pecado antes da salvação, a graça significa que o crente adquire em Cristo uma nova posição, trazendo para a sua vida toda a espécie de bênção espiritual. Tal implica diversos dons, tais como...

  • Todos os crentes são sacerdotes – membros de um sacerdócio real (1 Pd. 2:5,9).
  • Cidadãos do Céu e, desse modo, deixados aqui na terra como embaixadores de Cristo (Fl. 3:20; 2 Cor. 5:20).
  • Filhos de Deus, membros da Sua família (Ef. 5:1).
  • Adoptados como filhos adultos, com todos os direitos, privilégios e responsabilidades (Gl. 4:5).
  • Equipados com dons para o ministério (1 Pd. 4:10; 1 Cor. 12:4-7).
(4) A Bênção de uma Herança Eterna

1 Pedro 1:4 Para uma herança incorruptível, incontaminável, e que se não pode murchar, guardada nos céus para vós.

Finalmente, apesar de antes estarmos alheados de Deus e destinados ao inferno, a graça implica a bênção de uma herança eterna, intocada pela morte, “incorruptível”, não manchada pelo pecado, “incontaminável”, e não danificada pelo tempo, “que se não pode murchar”.

As Necessidades em Relação à Graça – Orientação e Multiplicação da Graça

2 Eleitos segundo a presciência de Deus Pai, em santificação do Espírito, para a obediência e aspersão do sangue de Jesus Cristo: graça e paz vos sejam multiplicadas. 3 Bendito seja o Deus e Pai do nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, que, segundo a Sua grande misericórdia, nos gerou de novo, para uma viva esperança, pela ressurreição de Jesus Cristo de entre os mortos. 4 Para uma herança incorruptível, incontaminável, e que se não pode murchar, guardada nos céus para vós, 5 que, mediante a fé, estais guardados, na virtude de Deus, para a salvação, já prestes para se revelar no último tempo. 6 Nisso exultais, embora, no presente, por breve tempo, se necessário, sejais contristados por várias provações, 7 para que, uma vez confirmado o valor da vossa fé, muito mais preciosa do que o ouro perecível, mesmo apurado por fogo, redunde em louvor, glória e honra na revelação de Jesus Cristo; 8 a quem, não havendo visto, amais; no qual, não vendo agora, mas crendo, exultais com alegria indizível e cheia de glória, 9 obtendo o fim da vossa fé: a salvação da vossa alma. (1 Pedro 1:2-9)

A tendência natural do homem é pensar em termos de obras e méritos. Uma salvação pela graça, através da fé, é simplesmente fácil de mais. É comummente denominada “crença fácil”. Tal é óbvio quando se consideram as diversas religiões mundiais, que enfatizam a prática de algum tipo de boas obras como forma de obter a aceitação de Deus. Isto é exemplificado em João 6, na resposta dos judeus às palavras de Jesus em João 6:27. Assim que lhes foi dito que trabalhassem não pela comida que perece, mas sim pela que dura até à vida eterna, que o Filho do Homem (repare, por favor) vos dará, responderam: “Que faremos para praticar as obras (plural) de Deus?” (vs. 28). A questão passou-lhes completamente ao lado, porque pensavam em termos de obras humanas, destinadas a conquistar o alimento espiritual que Deus tinha para oferecer. A resposta de Jesus é esclarecedora e orienta-nos em direcção à graça. Ele afirmou: “A obra (singular) de Deus é esta: que creiais n'Aquele que Ele enviou”. A salvação é obra de Deus, concretizada no Seu Filho, que o homem recebe como dom através da fé, crendo no Filho de Deus.

A orientação da graça e respectiva multiplicação advém do conhecimento da Palavra e da fé. 1 Pedro 1:2 diz, literalmente, “graça e paz vos sejam multiplicadas”. Mais tarde, em 2 Pedro 3:18, Pedro exorta os fiéis a crescer na graça e conhecimento de nosso Senhor e Salvador. Não só precisamos de ser orientados pela graça, mas também de crescer na nossa compreensão das suas múltiplas facetas, em todos os aspectos da vida.

Riscos em Relação à Graça – Desorientação da Graça

Uma vez mais, por causa da nossa mentalidade vocacionada para as obras, tendemos a deixar passar a graça de Deus (Hb. 12:15). Consequentemente, voltamo-nos para as nossas próprias soluções, estratégias e modos de vida, do humanismo ao legalismo – ignoramos as vantagens divinas, operadas por Deus, ou a graça, e passamos a depender de nós mesmos para o oposto, a libertinagem – o uso da graça de Deus como ocasião para a carne.

Hebreus 12:15 Tendo cuidado de que ninguém se prive da graça de Deus, e de que nenhuma raiz de amargura, brotando, vos perturbe, e por ela muitos se contaminem.

Gálatas 5:1-5, 13 Para a liberdade foi que Cristo nos libertou. Permanecei, pois, firmes e não vos submetais, de novo, a jugo de escravidão. 2 Eu, Paulo, vos digo que, se vos deixardes circuncidar, Cristo de nada vos aproveitará. 3 De novo, testifico a todo homem que se deixa circuncidar que está obrigado a guardar toda a lei. 4 De Cristo vos desligastes, vós que procurais justificar-vos na lei; da graça decaístes. 5 Porque nós, pelo Espírito, aguardamos a esperança da justiça que provém da fé. ...13 Porque vós, irmãos, fostes chamados à liberdade; porém não useis da liberdade para dar ocasião à carne; sede, antes, servos uns dos outros, pelo amor.

Existem várias imagens bíblicas que advertem contra esse perigo:

  • Confiar no braço de carne, que nos deixa em condições desérticas (Jr. 17:5)
  • Cavar cisternas, cisternas rotas, que não retêm água (Jr. 2:13)
  • Militar segundo a carne, usando armas humanas contra forças espirituais (2 Cor. 10:3)
  • Apoiar-se num caniço rachado que trespassa a mão (Is. 36:6)
  • Caminhar à luz das nossas próprias tochas (Is. 50:10-11)

Repare em algumas das formas que os perigos adquirem:

ESTRATÉGIAS HUMANAS PARA A VIDA

De

Para

Indiferença

Trabalho Excessivo

Mecanismos de Fuga

Mecanismos de Defesa

Perda de Controlo

Controlo Rígido

Libertinagem

Legalismo

Repare em algumas das consequências às quais conduzem os perigos:

Gálatas 5:1 ss mostra claramente que, quando nos voltamos para as nossas próprias soluções (confiando no braço de carne), excluímos de imediato a fé na provisão de Deus, anulamos o Seu poder nas nossas vidas, desonramos Deus, extinguimos o Espírito, praticamos as obras da carne e experimentamos miséria global, em lugar da paz de Deus.

Romanos 4:4 Ora, ao que trabalha, o salário não é considerado como favor, e sim como dívida. 

Romanos 11:6 Mas, se é por graça, já não é pelas obras; de outra maneira, a graça já não é graça.

Gálatas 3:1-5 Ó gálatas insensatos! Quem vos fascinou a vós outros, ante cujos olhos foi Jesus Cristo exposto como crucificado? 2 Quero apenas saber isto de vós: recebestes o Espírito pelas obras da lei ou pela pregação da fé? 3 Sois assim insensatos que, tendo começado no Espírito, estejais, agora, vos aperfeiçoando na carne? 4 Terá sido em vão que tantas coisas sofrestes? Se, na verdade, foram em vão. 5 Aquele, pois, que vos concede o Espírito e que opera milagres entre vós, porventura o faz pelas obras da lei ou pela pregação da fé?

Gálatas 5:1-5 Para a liberdade foi que Cristo nos libertou. Permanecei, pois, firmes e não vos submetais, de novo, a jugo de escravidão. 2 Eu, Paulo, vos digo que, se vos deixardes circuncidar, Cristo de nada vos aproveitará. 3 De novo, testifico a todo homem que se deixa circuncidar que está obrigado a guardar toda a lei. 4 De Cristo vos desligastes, vós que procurais justificar-vos na lei; da graça decaístes. 5 Porque nós, pelo Espírito, aguardamos a esperança da justiça que provém da fé.

Importância e Significado da Paz

Definição de Paz

A palavra para paz é eirhnh. Aparentemente, provém de eirw, “unir”. Significa um estado de tranquilidade despreocupada, sem guerra, facções divisórias ou inimizade. Refere-se a um estado de harmonia e bem-estar. Porém, abrangidos pelo uso desta palavra na Escritura, existem vários aspectos de paz conferidos pela graça de Deus, de acordo com diversos contextos.

Descrição – Tipos de Paz

A Paz da Reconciliação, Paz com Deus

A paz com Deus refere-se à paz da salvação, na qual barreiras como o pecado humano e a santidade de Deus, que separa o homem de Si, são removidas através da fé na obra graciosa de Deus em Cristo. Em Efésios 2, Cristo é visto como o Pacificador.

Efésios 2:14-18 Porque Ele é a nossa paz, o qual de ambos fez um; e, tendo derrubado a parede da separação que estava no meio, a inimizade, 15 aboliu, na Sua carne, a lei dos mandamentos na forma de ordenanças, para que dos dois criasse, em Si mesmo, um novo homem, fazendo a paz, 16 e reconciliasse ambos em um só corpo com Deus, por intermédio da cruz, destruindo por ela a inimizade. 17 E, vindo, evangelizou paz a vós outros que estáveis longe e paz também aos que estavam perto; 18 porque, por Ele, ambos temos acesso ao Pai em um Espírito.

Romanos 5:1 Justificados, pois, mediante a fé, temos paz com Deus por meio de nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo.

Gálatas 6:12-16 Todos os que querem ostentar-se na carne, esses vos constrangem a vos circuncidardes, somente para não serem perseguidos por causa da cruz de Cristo. 13 Pois nem mesmo aqueles que se deixam circuncidar guardam a lei; antes, querem que vos circuncideis, para se gloriarem na vossa carne. 14 Mas longe esteja de mim gloriar-me, senão na cruz de nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo, pela qual o mundo está crucificado para mim, e eu, para o mundo. 15 Pois nem a circuncisão é coisa alguma, nem a incircuncisão, mas o ser nova criatura. 16 E, a todos quantos andarem de conformidade com esta regra, paz e misericórdia sejam sobre eles e sobre o Israel de Deus.

A Paz da Comunhão, a Paz de uma Consciência Desprovida de Ofensa

Esta é a paz pessoal que Deus dá a cada indivíduo, através da sua comunhão com o Senhor, caminhando em concordância com Deus, confessando todo o pecado conhecido e entregando o mesmo à graça de Deus.

1 João 1:9 Se confessarmos os nossos pecados, Ele é fiel e justo para nos perdoar os pecados e nos purificar de toda injustiça.

1 João 3:21 Amados, se o coração não nos acusar, temos confiança diante de Deus.

Gálatas 5:22 Mas o fruto do Espírito é amor, alegria, paz, longanimidade, benignidade, bondade, fidelidade.

1 Timóteo 1:5 Ora o fim do mandamento é o amor de um coração puro, e de uma boa consciência e de uma fé não fingida.

Actos 24:16 “Por isso, também me esforço por ter sempre consciência pura diante de Deus e dos homens.”

Tito 1:3 E, em tempos devidos, manifestou a Sua palavra mediante a pregação que me foi confiada por mandato de Deus, nosso Salvador.

A Paz da Confiança, a Paz de Deus

Esta é a paz ou o repouso da alma, proveniente da confiança na provisão de Deus e no Seu controlo sobre todos os aspectos da vida. É a paz que nos acalma, que preenche as nossas almas e nos permite relaxar, mesmo no meio do tumulto circundante.

Filipenses 4:6-9 Não andeis ansiosos de coisa alguma; em tudo, porém, sejam conhecidas, diante de Deus, as vossas petições, pela oração e pela súplica, com acções de graças. 7 E a paz de Deus, que excede todo o entendimento, guardará o vosso coração e a vossa mente em Cristo Jesus. 8 Finalmente, irmãos, tudo o que é verdadeiro, tudo o que é respeitável, tudo o que é justo, tudo o que é puro, tudo o que é amável, tudo o que é de boa fama, se alguma virtude há e se algum louvor existe, seja isso o que ocupe o vosso pensamento. 9 O que também aprendestes, e recebestes, e ouvistes, e vistes em mim, isso praticai; e o Deus da paz será convosco.

Salmos 119:165 Grande paz têm os que amam a Tua lei; para eles não há tropeço.

Provérbios 3:13-17 Feliz o homem que acha sabedoria, e o homem que adquire conhecimento; 14 porque melhor é o lucro que ela dá do que o da prata, e melhor a sua renda do que o ouro mais fino. 15 Mais preciosa é do que pérolas, e tudo o que podes desejar não é comparável a ela. 16 O alongar-se da vida está na sua mão direita, na sua esquerda, riquezas e honra. 17 Os seus caminhos são caminhos deliciosos, e todas as suas veredas, paz.

A Paz da Harmonia, Paz com os Outros

Esta é a paz da união e unidade no corpo de Cristo; unidade de mente e propósito.

Efésios 4:3 Esforçando-vos diligentemente por preservar a unidade do Espírito no vínculo da paz.

1 Tessalonicenses 5:13 E que os tenhais com amor em máxima consideração, por causa do trabalho que realizam. Vivei em paz uns com os outros.

Princípio: Deus recolhe uma colheita de paz quando os fiéis semeiam e regam as suas mentes com a Palavra. Mas Satanás, agente de desunião e conflito, procura semear o medo e a raiva, de modo a colher a discórdia através de ressentimentos, incapacidade de perdoar e ambições egoístas. Tal acontece quando os cristãos recusam agir com base nos princípios e promessas da Palavra.

1 Coríntios 2:6-11 Entretanto, expomos sabedoria entre os experimentados; não, porém, a sabedoria deste século, nem a dos poderosos desta época, que se reduzem a nada; 7 mas falamos a sabedoria de Deus em mistério, outrora oculta, a qual Deus preordenou desde a eternidade para a nossa glória; 8 sabedoria essa que nenhum dos poderosos deste século conheceu; porque, se a tivessem conhecido, jamais teriam crucificado o Senhor da glória; 9 mas, como está escrito: “Nem olhos viram, nem ouvidos ouviram, nem jamais penetrou em coração humano o que Deus tem preparado para aqueles que o amam”. 10 Mas Deus no-lo revelou pelo Espírito; porque o Espírito a todas as coisas perscruta, até mesmo as profundezas de Deus. 11 Porque qual dos homens sabe as coisas do homem, senão o seu próprio espírito, que nele está? Assim, também as coisas de Deus, ninguém as conhece, senão o Espírito de Deus. 

Marcos 9:50 Bom é o sal; mas, se o sal vier a tornar-se insípido, como lhe restaurar o sabor? Tende sal em vós mesmos e paz uns com os outros.

Filipenses 2:1-4 Se há, pois, alguma exortação em Cristo, alguma consolação de amor, alguma comunhão do Espírito, se há entranhados afectos e misericórdias, 2 completai a minha alegria, de modo que penseis a mesma coisa, tenhais o mesmo amor, sejais unidos de alma, tendo o mesmo sentimento. 3 Nada façais por partidarismo ou vanglória, mas por humildade, considerando cada um os outros superiores a si mesmo. 4 Não tenha cada um em vista o que é propriamente seu, senão também cada qual o que é dos outros.

A Paz do Estado, Paz Pública

Esta é paz do governo justo, que advém de bons governantes ou governos, agindo de acordo com os princípios da Palavra e através de um núcleo forte de cidadãos piedosos, que aplicam e vivem à luz da verdade da Escritura (confira os primeiros capítulos de Isaías).

Romanos 13:1-7 Todo homem esteja sujeito às autoridades superiores; porque não há autoridade que não proceda de Deus; e as autoridades que existem foram por Ele instituídas. 2 De modo que aquele que se opõe à autoridade resiste à ordenação de Deus; e os que resistem trarão sobre si mesmos condenação. 3 Porque os magistrados não são para temor, quando se faz o bem, e sim quando se faz o mal. Queres tu não temer a autoridade? Faz o bem e terás louvor dela, 4 visto que a autoridade é ministro de Deus para teu bem. Entretanto, se fizeres o mal, teme; porque não é sem motivo que ela traz a espada; pois é ministro de Deus, vingador, para castigar o que pratica o mal. 5 É necessário que lhe estejais sujeitos, não somente por causa do temor da punição, mas também por dever de consciência. 6 Por esse motivo, também pagais tributos, porque são ministros de Deus, atendendo, constantemente, a este serviço. 7 Pagai a todos o que lhes é devido: a quem tributo, tributo; a quem imposto, imposto; a quem respeito, respeito; a quem honra, honra.

Actos 24:2 Sendo este chamado, passou Tértulo a acusá-lo, dizendo: “Excelentíssimo Félix, tendo nós, por teu intermédio, gozado de paz perene, e, também por teu providente cuidado, se terem feito notáveis reformas em benefício deste povo,”

1 Timóteo 2:2 …em favor dos reis e de todos os que se acham investidos de autoridade, para que vivamos vida tranquila e mansa, com toda a piedade e respeito.

A Paz Mundial ou Global

Esta é a paz de um mundo sem guerra nem desarmonia, apenas possível com o retorno e reinado do Senhor (confira Rv. 20). Até então, haverá guerras e rumores de guerras (Mt. 24).

Romanos 16:20 E o Deus da paz, em breve, esmagará debaixo dos vossos pés a Satanás.  A graça de nosso Senhor Jesus seja convosco.

A Paz da Ordem

Esta é a paz ou tranquilidade que experimentamos ao fazer as coisas com decência e ordem.

1 Coríntios 14:40 Tudo, porém, seja feito com decência e ordem.

A Paz da Bênção

Trata-se de um desejo de segurança e prosperidade física e espiritual, manifestado a outras pessoas na forma de um cumprimento, como na expressão “Paz, amigo”, ou “Shalom”.

As Esferas em Que a Paz de Deus Existe nas Nossas Vidas

Assim, constatamos que, se nos apropriarmos da graça de Deus, encontrada nas promessas e princípios da Escritura, que nos relacionam com o amor e cuidado de Deus, podemos experimentar a paz da segurança eterna, a paz de uma boa consciência, a paz de conhecer a vontade de Deus e a paz de saber que Deus irá providenciar, bem como paz pessoal de muitas outras formas práticas.

Naturalmente, tal facto levanta questões importantes. Onde procuramos a nossa paz? Como estamos a procurar a nossa paz?

Ao reflectirmos sobre esta questão, devemos reparar que Deus é chamado “o Deus de toda a graça” (1 Pd. 5:10), e também o Deus da Paz. O Evangelho é denominado o Evangelho da paz (Ef. 6:15), o próprio Cristo é descrito como a nossa paz (Ef. 2:14) e a Escritura fala em dirigir os nossos passos “no caminho da paz” (Lucas 1:79). Mas recordemos o que Jesus disse:

João 14:27 “Deixo-vos a paz, a minha paz vos dou; não vo-la dou como a dá o mundo. Não se turbe o vosso coração, nem se atemorize.”

Mais tarde, o Senhor acrescentou estas palavras: “Tenho-vos dito isso, para que em Mim tenhais paz”. Onde encontramos essa paz? Na esfera da Sua vida enquanto Salvador ressuscitado e glorificado, sentado à direita de Deus; no domínio dos Seus propósitos, valores e carácter. Então Ele disse: “No mundo tereis aflições. Mas tende bom ânimo (ficai encorajados, reconfortados)! Eu venci o mundo.”

João 16:33 “Tenho-vos dito isso, para que em Mim tenhais paz. No mundo tereis aflições, mas tende bom ânimo; Eu venci o mundo.”

  • Sente falta de paz em alguma área da sua vida?
  • Está em paz com Deus e com Cristo, enquanto seu Salvador?
  • Possui a paz de Deus, confiando na Sua provisão?
  • Possui a paz da comunhão, com uma consciência livre de ofensa (livre de pecados conhecidos e não confessados)?
  • Tem paz no seu lar, com os demais fiéis?

Quando não temos paz, isso significa que, de alguma forma, não confiamos ou não nos apropriamos da graça de Deus. Lembre-se de que a graça não significa ausência de dor ou sofrimento. Significa que gozamos de paz na dor e no sofrimento, por conhecermos o Senhor e sabermos que Ele controla a situação.

Recordemos novamente as palavras de Pedro, “crescei na graça”, bem como as palavras de Paulo, “fortifica-te na graça que há em Cristo Jesus”.

Nunca nos é dito que procuremos a felicidade, mas o autor de Hebreus incita-nos a procurar a paz, advertindo-nos contra o perigo de nos privarmos da graça de Deus.

Hebreus 12:12-13 Por isso, restabelecei as mãos descaídas e os joelhos trôpegos; 13 e fazei caminhos rectos para os pés, para que não se extravie o que é manco; antes, seja curado.

O autor de Hebreus também nos recorda do seguinte:

Hebreus 13:9 Não vos deixeis envolver por doutrinas várias e estranhas, porquanto o que vale é estar o coração confirmado com graça e não com alimentos [obras religiosas], pois nunca tiveram proveito os que com isto se preocuparam.

Fortalecer o nosso coração na graça de Deus concede-nos a paz que o mundo não consegue dar. O mundo pode proporcionar felicidade e prazer temporários, mas não a paz, pois desconhece a graça de Deus.

J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M., licenciou-se em 1966 no Seminário Teológico de Dallas, trabalhando como pastor durante 28 anos. Em Agosto de 2001, foi-lhe diagnosticado cancro do pulmão e, no dia 29 de Agosto de 2002, partiu para casa, para junto do Senhor. Hampton escreveu diversos artigos para a Fundação de Estudos Bíblicos (Biblical Studies Foundation), ensinando ocasionalmente Grego do Novo Testamento no Instituto Bíblico Moody, Extensão Noroeste para Estudos Externos, em Spokane, Washington.


1 Charlse Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, Moody Press, Chicago, 1986, p. 416.

2 Swindoll, p. 416.

3 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Grace of God, Moody, Chicago, p. 52.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines, Law, Spiritual Life

What Does The Future Hold?

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At one time or another everyone has wondered what lies ahead in the near future. Will things be good, not so good, or not at all good? Will things happen quickly – even quite soon? Many passages in the scriptures speak of the future, yet often in varying ways.

In this regard it is interesting to note that several Psalms address the question of the future (e.g. Psalm 1:5 depicts the future of the wicked). One of the most informative is the 37th Psalm. Indeed, Psalm 37 is an extremely informative Hebrew text and is well-known as an alphabetic psalm. It is also a psalm that is rich in its teaching concerning God’s will. Two passages are especially meaningful: verses 1-2 and 35-36. As a note in the NIV Bible points out concerning verses 1-2, these verses speak of “the problem of the apparent prosperity of the wicked and the need of the faithful to trust the Lord and find refuge in him.”1 In verses 35-36 we read that the evil-doer, however temporarily successful, will “soon pass away and cease to exist”.

As well, it is of great interest to note that verses 3-7 in Psalm 37 teach the value of a whole-soul committal to God – intellectually (v. 3), emotionally (v. 4), and willingly (vv. 5-6). Having done so, the believer may and should use his whole personality to trust in God and, as well, be patient as he waits for God’s help (v. 7).2

As a later psalmist observes, without the Lord’s help one could quickly lose everything – even his life (Ps. 94:16-19). Moreover, in a Korahite psalm, we are assured that the Lord ultimately is in control and he can and will serve as mankind’s “guide even to the end” (Ps. 48:14). Therefore, believers can and should tell others of the Lord’s “mighty acts” and his unequalled “righteousness”:

But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.

I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. (Ps. 71:14-16)3

May we all, then, as did the ancient Israelites, teach others saying:

I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old –

What we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation. (Ps. 78:2-4)

This we should do so that the next generation will be informed, know, and respond to the Lord’s enablement:

He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,

Which He commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children. (Ps. 78:5-6)

May we live out each day in consistent commitment to the Lord, to His standards, and to His will. As B. Mansell Ramsey writes:

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, Teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford – Teach me Thy way.
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heavenly light, Teach me Thy way! …
Long as my life shall last, Teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, Teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, Until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, Teach me Thy way!4

And as Kate B. Wilkinson writes,

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self-abasing –
This is victory.5


1 See further, the NIV Study Bible, “Faith in Action Study Bible”, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 850.

2 It is of interest to note that the Holy Spirit has these same personal attributes, although in divine proportion.

3 All scripture references are from the NIV.

4 B. Mansell Ramsey, Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord”.

5 Kate B. Wilkinson, ‘May The Mind of Christ, My Savior”.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Devotionals

Underneath The Sheltering Psalms

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All of us look for shelter when seemingly surrounded by troubles. The believer’s genuine place of safety is in communion with the Lord. Several Psalms deal with the need and desire for shelter.

In Psalm 27, David opens his psalm with a declaration of his confidence in God. So confident is he that he can declare:

The LORD is my light and my salvation –
whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life –
of whom shall I be afraid. (Ps, 27:1)1

No matter how great the difficulty may have been, David’s underlying desire was to “dwell in the house of the LORD” (vs. 4), because he is certain that:

When evil man advance against me
to devour my flesh,

When my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;

Though war breakout against me,
even then will I be confident. (Ps. 27:2-3).

David assures the Lord that “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” He then goes on to plead with the Lord, “For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name” (Ps. 61:4-5). As Futato observes, David “was … the Lord’s anointed, reigning as the Lord’s vice-regent on the earth. Reigning in the presence of God entailed being guarded by God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.”2

David could make such prayer requests to the Lord because he was certain that the good Lord shelters believers due to of His concern and with His care:

How great is your goodness
which you have stored up for those who fear you,

Which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.

In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;

In your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues. (Ps. 31:19-20)

As Van Gemeren has correctly remarked: “Yahweh is ‘good’, for he works things out righteously for those who fear him” (cf. Ro 8:28).3 So it was that David could declare at a time when he suffered at the hands of others:

But I called to God,
and the LORD saved me.

Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.

He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me. (Ps. 55:16-18)

Doubtless such was hinted at previously when he remarked,

Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I will fly away and be at rest –

…….

I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm. (Ps. 55:6-8)

Accordingly, another psalmist could say:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust”. (Ps. 91:1-2)

Remarkably, the Lord himself concludes his words saying:

“Because he loves me” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation”. (Ps. 91:14-16)

For as all of this was the case in the days of the psalmists, it is no less true for today’s believers as the hymn writer expresses it:

Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.
Under His wings, Under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide
Safely abide forever.4


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms”, in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, 2009), VII:61.

3Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms”, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman II and David E. Garland, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:309.

4 William O. Cushing, “Under His Wings”.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Faith

Psalms Of Trust

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Several psalms remind us of the need to put our trust in God and His name. As David points out, the believer who understands that the Lord “will judge the world in righteousness” … because “those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Ps. 9:8, 10).1 Indeed, as David says elsewhere,

The LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with his saving power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Ps. 20:6-7)

Accordingly, in yet another psalm it is reported:

We will wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name. (Ps. 33:20-21)

In the famous alphabetic Psalm 119 we read that the believer says:

May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;

then I will answer the one who taunts me,
for I trust in your word. (Ps. 119:41-42)

May all believers come to realize that it is imperative that he or she put their full trust in God, His name, and His word. In doing so, the believer will not only grow in grace, but spirituality. He will then love the Lord, His word and thus experience more fully God’s love. As David says, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you”. (Ps. 33:22)

Yes, full trust in the Lord will enable the faithful believer to pray wholeheartedly, and experience God’s care and deliverance, just as the psalmist’s stated:

To you O LORD I lift up my soul
in you I trust, O my God.

Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,

but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse (Ps. 25:1-3; cf. vv. 8-10).

One of the most interesting psalms of trust is Psalm 56. Here the psalmist builds upon his opening plea for God’s acting on his behalf and his remarks concerning that which those who attack him are saying. He points out that:

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
what can mortal man do to me? (Ps. 56:3-4)

The psalmist here declares his ultimate trust in the Lord’s acting to see him through his difficulties. As Van Gemeren suggests, “I [will] ‘trust’ conveys his confidence in the Lord”.2 Later in the psalm David builds upon his earlier statement by expressing his confidence and full trust in God saying:

In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise –

In God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me? (Ps. 56:10-11).

Indeed, full trust in the Lord takes away fear (cf. Ps. 34:9; 11).

So, it is that even today, those who are truly believers may and should put their trust in the Lord, even in the midst of life’s difficulties. Thus,

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss, not a frown nor a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.3

As those who believe and are committed to the Lord, may we trust Him to do that which is good. Such is not only a standard in the Christian faith, but is a key to full Christian living:

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. (Ps. 37:3)

This is one of the four distinctive traits for proper Christian living expressed in this psalm. Believers should not only trust in the Lord but delight themselves in the Lord (vs. 4) and having done so “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like a noon day sun” (Ps. 37:6). Such is evidence of a whole-soul Christian experience: intellectually (v.3), emotionally (v.4) and willfully (v.5). When this is true, they may follow David’s further advice, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (v.7).

From the above discussion we may safely conclude that David properly prayed in a later psalm for God’s guidance and support.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go
for to you I lift up my soul (Ps. 143:8; cf. v. 10).

This David could do despite having some who opposed him strongly (cf. vv. 3-4; 9, 11-12).

David was a man who trusted the Lord.

I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me. (Ps. 13:5-6; cf. vv. 1-4)

This he could do despite strong feelings at times of despair.

May we all learn from these scriptural examples. When we do so, we may well echo David’s firm expression of absolute trust in the Lord. We may also be reminded of God’s unfailing presence and support. As believers may we be aware of the fact that as united in Christ we have the satisfaction of knowing that because the Holy Spirit indwells us, he or she may whole-heartedly trust in the Lord. May we each enjoy that full assurance that Fanny Crosby expressed in her well-known hymn Blessed Assurance:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His spirit, washed in His blood.

…….

Perfect submission – all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed;
Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.4

So also H.G. Stafford writes:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.5


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Williem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms”, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, rev. ed., eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:458.

3 John H. Sammis, “Trust and Obey”.

4 Fanny J. Crosby, “Blessed Assurance”.

5 Horatio G. Stafford, “It is Well with My Soul”.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Faith

Q. What Are The Boundaries A Husband Should Observe Regarding Other Women?

Answer

Dear Friend,

Here is how I understand this question.  A husband is having an inappropriate relationship with a married woman.  When confronted with this, he excuses himself by insisting that this relationship is not sexual, while admitting that there is an ongoing (non-sexual) relationship with this person.  How can one convince this husband that he is sinning by continuing in this relationship?

Speaking from many years of experience, it is very difficult for me to believe that an inappropriate “friendship” does not include a sexual relationship.  Even if this were the case, and that only an ongoing non-sexual “friendship” is being maintained, there are a number of Scriptures which would indicate that this is wrong.  The sad the reality is that when one persists in this kind of sin they become very skillful at avoiding the teaching of Scripture and instead become skillful at excusing their sin through rationalizations and justifications.  It is no wonder that we read these words in Scripture, which address our willingness to hear and to heed God’s Word:

"If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. (Jn. 7:17 NAU)

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt. 11:15 NAU)

This said, here are some biblical texts which directly or indirectly confront those persisting in an inappropriate relationship outside of marriage.

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 "It was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE'; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:27-32 NAU)

I would point out that these strong words are found in the very middle of Jesus’ teaching about adultery and divorce.  In the broader context of our Lord’s teaching, Jesus is correcting the inadequate teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.  The scribes and Pharisees taught that it was wrong to murder; Jesus taught that hatred was the root of murder, and that it was also wrong (Matthew 5:21-22).  The scribes and Pharisees taught that the physical act of adultery was wrong; Jesus taught that adulterous thoughts were also wrong (and often the root of adultery – Matthew 5:27-28).

Anyone who is seeking to justify an inappropriate relationship because it does not include actual sexual immorality fails to take our Lord’s words seriously.  And, beyond this, note just how seriously Jesus says one should respond to actions or thoughts leading to sin.  He says that if it would prevent sin, one should cut off a hand or pluck out an eye.  Obviously, such actions don’t prevent sin, but they do illustrate how serious we should be about avoiding sin.  “Cut it off” may very well apply to a husband’s inappropriate relationship with another woman.

Here are some other passages which address sexual sin:

And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH '? 6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matt. 19:4-6 NAU)

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:22-33 NAU)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thess. 4:3-8 NAU)

It came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me." 8 But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 "There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?" 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. (Gen. 39:7-10 NAU)

The Book of Proverbs has much to say about sexual immorality, making it clear that the one who is wise does everything possible to avoid a woman who is immoral (and this works in reverse as well).  A man should be enticed by his wife and not another:

Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. 20 For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? 21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. 22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray. (Prov. 5:15-23 NAU)

Notice that in Proverbs that the words (lips) of the “strange woman” play a large part in her seductions:

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; (Prov. 5:3 NAU)

To keep you from the evil woman, From the smooth tongue of the adulteress. (Prov. 6:24 NAU)

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” And call understanding your intimate friend; 5 That they may keep you from an adulteress, From the foreigner who flatters with her words. (Prov. 7:4-5 NAU)

With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him. (Prov. 7:21 NAU)

Therefore, it seems foolish to say that ongoing conversations with another man’s wife can not be a serious problem.

Proverbs speaks a great deal about a person’s character (simple, fool, scoffer, sluggard, scoffer) and encourages us to associate with the wise, while avoiding the unwise.

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, (Prov. 1:5 NAU)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Prov. 12:15 NAU)

Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel. (Prov. 13:10 NAU)

In order for a man (or woman) to pursue an intimate relationship outside of marriage he or she must do so by ignoring the clear instructions and warnings of Scripture.  And the consequences, as we see in Proverbs 5, are substantial.

I hope this helps,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Adultery, Boundaries, Marriage

Q. Some teach that love requires that we consistently affirm and support (enable?) those who are living sinful lives. Where does one draw the line between enabling or disciplining the wayward person?

Answer

Dear Friend,

We would do well to begin with a few definitions. The first definition is that of a fool:

The wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined. 9 He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out. 10 He who winks the eye causes trouble, And a babbling fool will be ruined. 11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. 13 On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. 14 Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. (Prov. 10:8-14 NAU)

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid. (Prov. 12:1 NAU)

Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge. 8 The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit. 9 Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will. (Prov. 14:7-9 NAU)

Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly. 13 He who returns evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house. (Prov. 17:12-13 NAU)

Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool. (Prov. 26:1 NAU)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes. 6 He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence Who sends a message by the hand of a fool. 7 Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling, So is he who gives honor to a fool. 9 Like a thorn which falls into the hand of a drunkard, So is a proverb in the mouth of fools. 10 Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by. 11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit Is a fool who repeats his folly. 12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Prov. 26:4-12 NAU)

Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him. (Prov. 27:22 NAU)

A fool is one who takes pleasure in folly and sin. The fool hates wisdom. The fool is set in his (or her) ways and will not be corrected. The fool thinks himself to be wiser than others.

The first step in dealing with a wayward person is discerning their character. That’s one of the reasons the Book of Proverbs was written – to define character types such as the simple, the fool, the scoffer, the sluggard, and the wise. Each character type is to be dealt with in the light of their character. The fool (above) is not to be enabled, but rather is to be faced with the consequences of his (or her) folly. The one who fails to deal wisely with a fool actually shares in the outcome of the fool’s unbridled foolishness.

In my experience, the slothful and foolish person is often cunning and clever, and will take advantage of the fact that others (a wife, a child) may very well be impacted by their folly. And so, because of this, some are tempted to give the wayward sinner a pass, and even to “enable” them for the apparent good of the more vulnerable person in their care. (If I don’t give the fool the money they ask for, their children may go hungry.) A call to child protective services might be necessary in such cases, which would likely separate the vulnerable person(s) from the wayward one. Now the fool suffers the consequences of their sin without harming those who depend on them.

Let us now seek to discover a biblical definition of love:

Let love be without hypocrisy.

Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom. 12:9 NAU)

A righteous man hates falsehood,

But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully. (Prov. 13:5 NAU)

He who withholds his rod hates his son,

But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Prov. 13:24 NAU)

Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way;

He who hates reproof will die. (Prov. 15:10 NAU)

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Heb. 12:7-13 NAU)

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers. (Prov. 6:16-19 NAU)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,

But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Prov. 27:6 NAU)

Biblical love will imitate God’s love (John 3:16-18). God’s love prompted Him to reach out to sinful men by the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who acknowledge their sin and need of salvation, and who trust in the saving work of Jesus will be spared from judgment. It is also assumed that if one has died to sin and risen to new life in Christ their lives will no longer be lived in willful sin (Romans chapter 6).

The New Testament spells out how sin should be dealt with in the church, and with those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus:

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt. 18:15-20 NAU)

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Gal. 6:1 NAU)

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:1-8 NAU)

Biblical love distinguishes between that which is good and that which is evil. Biblical love confronts evil, and does not endorse or enable it. Biblical love disciplines evil, rather than to reward it. Biblical love proclaims the gospel which liberates men from sin’s grip by pointing them to the freedom God offers us in Christ. The same Paul who penned 1 Corinthians 13 is the Paul who took on error in Galatians 1 and 2. Love abhors sin, and does not facilitate it.

Blessings,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Boundaries, Love, Relationships, Scripture Twisting

Heartbreak To Hope: Good News From Mark

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This world is full of heartache and pain. Chronic illness. Persecution. Poverty. Unrealized dreams. Job struggles. Broken relationships. Bondage to guilt, fear, destructive behavior, and fatigue. God looked upon your life with compassion and provided a solution—His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus understands every single one of your heartaches. He experienced human life for more than 30 years. He gets your physical pain, rejection, strained relationships, abuse, grief, and impatience because those were part of His life as well. When you go to Him in prayer, you can trust that He understands, that He knows how you are feeling and what your needs are at that moment.

Through Heartbreak to Hope: Good News from Mark, you will learn how your heartbreak, pain, and uncertainty can be overcome by the hope, healing, and love of Jesus.

Related Topics: Gospels, Women's Articles

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