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Thanks Be Unto God “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” swordify.com

Thanks Be Unto God
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

There are innumerable things for which we could—and should—give thanks to God. But there are three notable gifts mentioned by Paul in his letters to the Corinthians in which he was led to use this particular exclamation: “Thanks be to God.” We shall do well to look at these great blessings, and then—like Paul—pour out our own thanks to God for them!

The first is in our text above, giving thanks for God’s gift of victory. And what victory is that? “Death is swallowed up in victory” (v. 54), and death has lost its terrible sting for the believer, for Christ conquered death forever when He died for our sins and rose again.

The second is similar yet goes beyond even the first gift: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Not only victory over death but victory in life!

By the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ, we are enabled to triumph over circumstances and “shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). But the greatest gift of all is Christ Himself! Therefore, we join with the apostle Paul as he exclaims, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The value of this gift is beyond language to describe, “unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). The Lord Jesus Christ is both our Creator and Savior, giving us triumphant peace and joy in life, and eternal victory over death. Thanks be unto God! HMM

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How a Fool Responds to Suffering Job 2:4–10 Look at the Book by  John Piper

How a Fool Responds to Suffering

Job 2:4–10


In this lab, John Piper reminds us that we have a refuge in times of trouble, safety amid life’s storms. Only a fool curses the shelter and runs into the eye of the storm.

Some questions to ask as you read and study Job:

  1. Do you know people who walked away from God because of suffering? What did they believe about God that led them to reject him?
  2. Watch the lab. What was Job’s wife’s error? Why were her words so foolish?
  3. What might you say to someone who is on the verge of walking away from God in response to their suffering?

Watch this video offline by downloading it from Vimeo or subscribing to the Look at the Book video podcast via iTunes or RSS.


Principle for Bible Reading

The LORD

When you see LORD spelled in all caps, it signifies the use of God’s personal name, Yahweh. Revealed in Exodus 3:14 (“I AM”) this name is not a generic title (e.g. king, boss, president) but his personal name (e.g. John, Paul, Peter) given to those in covenant with him.

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Was Jesus crucified on a cross, pole, or stake ? www.swordify.com

Question: “Was Jesus crucified on a cross, pole, or stake?”

Answer: The cross is arguably the most beloved symbol in all of Christianity. It adorns our churches and cathedrals, our jewelry, our books and music, and is used in numerous marketing logos. The empty cross symbolizes the work performed there by our Savior who went to death willingly to pay the penalty for our sins. Among Jesus’ last words before He died were “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Law was fulfilled, the Messianic prophecies pertaining to His first advent were accomplished, and redemption was complete. It is no wonder that the cross has come to symbolize all that is the greatest story ever told—the story of the sacrificial death of Christ.

This may come as a surprise to many, but the precise shape of the object on which Jesus was crucified cannot be proved explicitly from the Bible. The Greek word translated “cross” is stauros, meaning “a pole or a cross used as an instrument of capital punishment.” The Greek word stauroo, which is translated “crucify,” means “to be attached to a pole or cross.” Outside of the Bible, the same verb was also used in the context of putting up a fence with stakes. Though stauros can mean either “pole” or “stake,” many scholars argue that Jesus most likely died on a cross in which the upright beam projected above the shorter crosspiece. But a biblical, airtight case cannot be made for either a cross or a pole/stake. The Romans were not picky in regards to how they would crucify people. Historically, we know the Romans crucified people on crosses, poles, stakes, upside-down crosses, X-shaped crosses (such as the apostle Andrew is said to have been martyred on), walls, roofs, etc. Jesus could have been crucified on any of these objects, and it would not have affected the perfection or sufficiency of His sacrifice.

Certain cults, most notably the Jehovah’s Witnesses, are adamant that Jesus did not die on a cross and that the cross is in fact a pagan symbol. Their insistence on this point is curious, given the ambiguity of the Greek word. But they have worded their New World Translation to say that Jesus died on a “torture stake” rather than a cross. Given that the Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny the deity of Christ and His bodily resurrection, it stands to reason that they should object to other details of traditional Christianity.

Arguing against the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teaching that Jesus died on a “torture stake” are some indirect clues in the New Testament. One of these is found in John 21. Jesus gives Peter a glimpse of the manner of his death: “‘When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God” (verses 18–19). The fact that Peter (who tradition says was crucified) would “stretch out” his hands indicates that Roman crucifixion usually involved outspread arms such as would be positioned on a crosspiece.

The other clue that Jesus was crucified on a cross is found in John 20. Thomas, in his famous moment of doubt, said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (verse 25). Note Thomas’s mention of the nails (plural) that had scarred Jesus’ hands. If Jesus had been crucified on a stake or a pole, only one nail would have been used. The fact of two nails in the hands suggests a traditional cross.

Completely lost in arguments over the shape of the cross is its significance to us. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25). The cross/stake/pole was an instrument of death. By telling us to take up our cross and follow Him, Jesus says that, in order to be His true followers, we must die to self. If we call ourselves “Christians,” then we must deny ourselves and give up our lives for His sake. This may take the extreme form of being martyred for our faith, but even in the most peaceful political settings, we must be willing to lose the self—crucifying self-righteousness, self-promotion, selfish ambitions—in order to be His followers. Those who are not willing to do so are “not worthy” of Him (Matthew 10:38).

So, did Jesus die on a cross? We believe He did. Could it have been a pole or stake instead? Possibly, if we ignore Thomas’s words in John 20:25. But even more important than the shape of the object on which Jesus was crucified is that Jesus shed His blood for our sins and that His death purchased for us eternal life.

 

culled from gotquestions.org

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NETCHURCH – 5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart www.swordify.com

 

by Leslie Vernick

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart. If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

 

 

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

[1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172

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