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March 29th, 2009 – Luke 19:28‐44

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

The Triumphal Entry

Luke 19:28‐44


In an earlier study we saw that when the Lord Jesus began to present Himself to the nation of Israel, He referred to Himself as the “son of man.”1 Only privately, to individuals, did He confess that He was the Messiah, the Christ of God (e.g., John 4:25‐26). His preaching was clearly focused on the moral and ethical requirements of the promised kingdom. The miracles that He performed authenticated both His message and His person (cf. Matt. 11:2‐6). Those who heard Him and who witnessed His miracles were left to wonder and contemplate who He might be. Some believed in Him – that He was the promised Messiah (cf. John 1:12), but most did not.

The day of His formal presentation to the nation has now arrived. The prophet Zechariah described it long ago: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). But would the people see its fulfillment in the events of this day?

Our Study of the Text


    The events of this day introduce the second of Luke’s two themes. The first was to picture Jesus as the confronting prophet; like Moses, but one who is greater than Moses (see Deut. 18:15). As such, He called upon the people to repent in order to escape God’s judgment – an appeal they failed to heed. This second theme pictures Jesus as the deliverer. As the greater Moses He leads a new exodus into God’s presence and promises a seat at God’s banquet table (see 14:15‐24). Repentance which results in forgiveness comes to the humble who draw near to God and experience His grace on His terms.

    As the Lord approached Jerusalem, the people spontaneously cried out: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (19:38). No doubt the Holy Spirit prompted the outcry – it was, in fact, a recognition of the presence of their King! The multitude recognized that this incident was a fulfillment of messianic prophecy and responded accordingly.

    Of course, not all saw Him as such. The response of the Pharisees exemplifies the position of the unbelieving nation: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” (19:39); to which the Lord replied, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”


    Luke alone records Christ’s response as He approached the city. Rather than seeing momentary recognition of His person, He saw the rejection of His person by the nation. He was moved to tears (19:41). The term for tears (Gr. klaiō) is a very strong term. It refers to full sobbing or wailing. It is the term used to describe those who were weeping because of the death of Lazarus (see John 11:31‐33).

    Long ago, through the prophet Daniel, God had revealed the specific time in which Messiah would be presented to the nation Israel. While the nation obviously did not have God’s timetable in mind, Jesus certainly did. This was the specific day foretold by Daniel for Messiah to be presented to Israel.

    Daniel’s prophecy was specific: “Seventy ’sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ’sevens,’ and sixty‐two ’sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty‐two ’sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan 9:24‐26a).

    The phrase “seventy sevens” refers to 70 periods of seven years or 490 years. The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued by Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:5‐6 on March 5, 444 B.C.2 Multiplying the sixty‐nine weeks by seven years for each week by 360 days gives a total of 173,880 days. Adding the 173,880 day to March 5, 444 B.C. brings us to Monday, March 30, A.D. 33 – the precise day of the Triumphal Entry! Messiah as the Prince of Peace came on the appointed day to bring peace to the nation. It was the day of the official presentation of Himself as Messiah to Israel. The precise nature of the date adds significance to our Lord’s statement, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes” (19:42).

    Because of their rejection of Him, He not only had announced withdrawal of the offer of the promised kingdom – which would be given to a future generation (see Matthew 21:43), but He also pronounced temporal judgment upon that generation – the generation that had rejected Him: “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (19:43‐44). This happened in A.D. 70 when the armies of Rome came against and destroyed Jerusalem.

    • Though the kingdom promised to Israel has been postponed, it will be established at the second coming of Christ.
    • Gentiles share in the kingdom blessings because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Are you trusting in Him for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life?

1 Luke records twenty‐six occasions when the Lord referred to Himself as the Son of Man: 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21: 27, 36; 22: 22, 48, 69; 24:7.
1 The dates used in this summary are taken from Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, Harold W. Hoehner, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977, pp. 137‐138

March 1st, 2009 – Luke 9:18‐20, 28‐36

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Who is He? Can’t afford to be wrong!

Luke 9:18‐20, 28‐36


When God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate God‐Man, He fulfilled promises He had made to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants (lit. seed) after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants (lit. seed) after you” (Gen. 17:7); and to David,” When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. . . I will be his father, and he will be my son. . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:12‐16; see also Gal. 3:15‐29; Luke 1:30‐33).

As the Lord Jesus began to present Himself to the nation of Israel, He referred to Himself as the “son of man.”1 Only privately, to individuals, did He confess that He was the Messiah, the Christ of God (e.g., John 4:25‐26). His preaching was clearly focused on the moral and ethical requirements of the promised kingdom. The miracles that He performed authenticated both His message and His person (cf. Matt. 11:2‐6). Those who heard Him and who witnessed His miracles were left to wonder and contemplate who He might be. Some believed in Him – that He was the promised Messiah (cf. John 1:12), but most did not. Did His disciples believe that He was the promised Messiah? That is where our story today picks up.

Our Study of the Text

  1. THE LORD ASKS A QUESTION (9:18).The question is direct and to the point: “Who do the crowds say I am?” The plural pronoun – in reference to the disciples, indicates that His question was to all of them. He was specifically interested in who the disciples thought He was.Just a short time earlier, the disciples had witnessed – had even participated in, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, or the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Some two years had passed since John the baptizer had announced to them: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Miracle after miracle had authenticated who Jesus was. Were they convinced?
  2. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER (9:19).Perhaps the Lord’s eyes scanned the group as He looked to them for an answer. Several identities were suggested: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
  3. THE LORD ASKS A SECOND QUESTION (9:20a).Though Luke never mentions specifically that the disciples believed in Him, John certainly does (see John 2:11). Jesus now draws them to an acknowledgement of their belief: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
  4. THE DISCIPLES ANSWER (9:20b).The question had been put to the group, but Peter responds for them all: “The Christ of God.” Jesus did not want others to know of this (2v. 21) because it was not time for Him to be proclaimed publicly as Messiah.
  5. THE CONFIRMATION (9:28‐36).”About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Matthew and Mark say that “after six days.” The accounts are not contradictory if one understands Matthew and Mark to be speaking of the intervening days and Luke as including the days of Jesus’ teaching as well as the day on which the transfiguration took place.2During the transfiguration three things happened:
    1. Jesus’ face and clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. This would have immediately reminded those present of Moses’ face shining with a bright light when he received the tablets of the Law (Ex. 34:29‐35).
    2. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. The bodies of Moses and Elijah were never found. God buried Moses’ body (Deut. 34:5‐6), and Elijah did not die but was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11‐12, 15‐18). These two men represent the beginning and the end of Israel, for Moses, as the Lawgiver, founded the nation, and Elijah, who represents the prophets, is to come back before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5‐6).
    3. Moses and Elijah spoke about His departure (Gr. exodus, which literally means “going out or away”, but figuratively refers to departure or death) which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. “Departure” referred to Jesus’ leaving the world through which He would bring salvation—much as Yahweh had brought deliverance to Israel in its Exodus (departure) from Egypt. From this point on, Jesus indicated several times that He was headed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31). Jesus did not want His miracles widely publicized at that time, for the fulfillment had to be at Jerusalem. This was confirmed by Elijah’s and Moses’ words.3
    • Jesus Christ is God’s promised Messiah‐Savior.
    • The events of our Lord’s life clearly authenticate that He is the Christ of God!

1 Luke records twenty‐six occasions when the Lord referred to Himself as the Son of Man: 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:22, 26, 44, 56, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 10, 40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8, 31; 19:10; 21: 27, 36; 22: 22, 48, 69; 24:7.

2 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983‐c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:230). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
3 Ibid.

February 22nd, 2009 – Luke 8:4-15

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Parable of the Sower

Luke 8:4‐15


Jesus has been going from one city and village to another proclaiming the kingdom of God. Some who heard His words believed in Him as the promised Messiah of Israel. Others, however, had heard what He said but did not believe. The parable before us is intended to illustrate the various responses people make to the proclamation of the Word of God.

Luke notes that a large crowd was gathering from many towns. The crowd presumably included people who would respond in the four different ways that Jesus was going to set forth in the parable. It is best to understand the parable as a parable proper, that is, as reflecting a particular situation, and not as a similitude, where a typical situation is in view. A unity of development is imposed upon the parable by the single character, the sower, and the single activity, sowing.1

Our Study of the Text


    An allegory is a story in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning. A parable, on the other hand, is a short simple story intended to illustrate a moral or religious lesson.2 Therefore, as students of the Bible, we need to be careful not to interpret a parable as if it were an allegory, and thus make it say more than is intended.

    Since the soils of this parable are later interpreted by the Lord as representing people – “those who have heard,” we might want to change its title to The Parable of the Soils. As indicated above, the gathered crowd most likely represents the various responses to our Lord’s teaching that he will now illustrate in the parable.


    When the Lord began to teach in parables, it represented a marked change in His method of communication. His disciples immediately picked up on it: “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matt. 13:10). Our Lord answered by telling them that “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ” ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand’ (Luke 8:10).

    Jesus’ quote from Isaiah 6:10 was to explain that the nation as a whole was unable to believe. Because they had constantly rejected God’s revelation, He had punished them with judicial blindness and deadness of heart. The people in Jesus’ day, like those in Isaiah’s day, refused to believe. They “would not believe” (John 12:37); therefore they could not believe (v. 39).3


    The seed is the word of God (v.11). That being so, it follows that the various soils upon which the seed falls represent people ‐ “those who have heard” (v. 12). Their varied responses are set forth below.

    1. The first group represents unbelievers (v.12).

      Though they hear the word, “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved” (v.12b). There are at least two things that need mention here: first, the spiritual condition of all unbelievers is such that they do not receive the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolish to them, and they cannot understand them (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:11). Unbelievers can only receive God’s Word when they are drawn to do so by the Father (cf. John 6:44). Second, God also allows Satan to hide and/or remove His truth from those who do not believe (see 2 Cor. 4:3‐4).

    2. The second group represents believers (v.13).

      These people are said to have “received the word with joy.” In the original text, the term for “receive” is dechomai, which is a very strong word. It is the word used in 1 Cor. 2:14 to tell us what an unbeliever does not do: “does not accept (Gr. dechomai) the things that come from the Spirit of God.” But they are said to “have no root” and later “fall away” some have concluded that such people must be unbelievers. However, the text not only says that they “received” the word, but also that they “believed” it. The most natural sense, therefore, is to see them as believers who are spiritually weak and immature – lacking the spiritual quality of perseverance, which times of testing are intended to develop (cf. James 1:2‐4). Many in the Corinthian church – and perhaps many churches in our day, would illustrate this sort of believer (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1‐3).

    3. The third group represents believers (v.14).

      Though the text does not say that they received or believed the word they heard, in this context it seems safe to assume that they had done so. But the word did not become productive in their lives – because its productivity had been “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” Their experience is very similar to the second group and is a clear explanation of why the word of God is so often unproductive in many believers’ lives.

    4. The fourth group represents believers (v.15).

      These are said to be “the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.” In John 15:2, our Lord taught the disciples that every branch “in Me” that does not bear fruit, the Father “lifts up” (the contextual meaning of airo„, to take away or lift up) – to be exposed to the sun so as to facilitate productivity. He also told them that “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). This fourth group clearly illustrates that point.
      In Matthew’s use of this parable, he adds that the crops produced by these people varied: “some a hundred times as much, some sixty and some thirty” (Matt. 13:8). His point is this: even among those who have a meaningful relationship with God’s word, there can be a great variance in their productivity.

    • God calls people to Himself through the proclamation of His word – so that they may be saved.
    • Through the proclamation of His word God also instructs those who have believed in how they are to think and live. He expects His children to embrace His word and to live out its reality in their lives.
    • Because of inability to properly handle conflict with the demands of the world – and their own lust patterns, the productivity of the word in many believers’ lives is often “choked.”
    • If this parable illustrates how people tend to respond to the word of God, then it might be concluded that within the typical local church, only about a third of the people would be expected to have a meaningful, productive relationship with the word.

1 John Nolland, vol. 35A, Word Biblical Commentary: Luke 1:1‐9:20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 372.
2 Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993‐2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
3 John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983‐c1985), 2:318

December 14th, 2008 – Joseph’s First Christmas

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 7:14; Proverbs 3:5-6

The Christmas season is one of those times that people anticipate for the celebrations, gifts and often to watch children and their innocence and awe until the big day. On the flip side there are soften some inconveniences included in travels, families and other arrangements.

Think through some of your holiday stories as you read the text for Sunday December 14, Matthew 1:18-25.

What Christmas stands out as particularly inconvenient…traveling, sleeping arrangements, no reservations, lost luggage, awkward gifts, family tension, times that were more enduring than enjoying, compounding stress or overwhelming discomfort?

Matthew’s genealogy in the preceding verses has brought to mind some of the heroes of Judaism. Now Matthew introduces us to Jesus Christ…beginning with his remarkable birth. As the litany of this genealogy comes to a close Matthew describes a “genesis” ( which is the Greek word), translated “birth”, in verse 18. It is a new beginning from the Eternal One; this is no ordinary birth.

Read John 1:1 for another beginning.

According to verses 18 and19 Joseph must have been more than a little surprised! Mary, to whom he was “pledged,” was found to be pregnant (Matthew tells us by the Holy Spirit). His hopes and dreams of a family seemed to be coming to a crashing end. When we see such a situation today it is generally on the evening news once the jilted boyfriend has carried out a crime of passion. However, Joseph’s response to Mary’s situation captures a sense of his “righteousness” even as it propels him out of his comfort zone. Instead of thinking only of himself he sees something bigger in these circumstances. Matthew relates to the reader Joseph’s desire to “quietly” fix the situation for both his and her reputation.

Consider this couple to whom God trusts His son.
Read how Luke describes Mary by her response, Luke 1:26-38, 46-55.
Matthew tells about Joseph in v. 19.
How would you describe their character?

At the first Christmas this holy couple would experience the stress of the holidays in a profound way. People would be talking and question their character. They would create stories with faint murmurs of truth but not ever know the whole story. The glances and stares from people in their village would pierce the couples’ heart. There may even have been places they wouldn’t be welcomed after the pregnancy became too obvious.

In the face of stress how open are you to hear from God?

Joseph surely approached these circumstances with a prayer for wisdom. In verse 20 as he “considered” these things, God shows up. I have to wonder if that scared Joseph a little more. Here is a dream with a divine visitor then, he is told that Jesus, God’s Salvation, will be living under his roof and that Jesus will save the people from their sins. Whew! He could have even said, “Marrying a girl who is already pregnant is enough, don’t you think, God?” When life doesn’t make sense God is there. His will is best.

Read Proverbs 3:5-6
How flexible are you when God’s best plan differs from your good plan?

According to law Joseph could have divorced Mary and still been considered righteous but the truly righteous seek God and are open to His plans. Looking at his own plans alongside God’s plans Joseph chooses God’s. In a dream God tells Joseph to look at the eternal purposes in his circumstances. Joseph was open to God’s words and further demonstrated his righteousness through obedience as “he did what the angel commanded him,” verse 24. Joseph didn’t settle for a legal sense of righteousness, he pursued rightness in God’s eyes.

Here are a couple of verses about righteousness: Genesis 15:6; Psalm 17:5; Matthew 5:20, 6:33; 1 Peter 2:24

In Matthew 1:22 we find prophecy fulfilled. This specific reference is to Isaiah 7:14. Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience and he uses the Old Testament they would be familiar with to point out the signs of the Messiah. I’m sure you have heard the astronomical probabilities of these prophecies coming true in one person (Professor Peter Stoner found that the probability that 8 prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be 1 in 1017 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). Check out several more prophecies found in the Old Testament:

Genesis 22:18, 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalm 22:6-8, 35:11, 41:9, 69:4, 9, 78:2; Isaiah 7:14, 9:1, 11:1, 35:5-6, 40:3, 50:6, 53:7, 12; Jeremiah 23:5, 33:14-16; Daniel 9:24; Amos 8:9; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 11:12-13, 12:10; Malachi 3:1*

Lastly, notice the name of God’s son. The Hebrew form of Jesus is “Joshua” which means Yahweh is Salvation. In verses 21 and 25 this name becomes reality. Jesus will save people, redeem people, free people, love people… He will embody the name Immanuel, God with Us. He will mark God’s presence on earth dramatically changing history with His mission.

Now that God is with us as Christ followers, how is your mission (Matthew 28:18-20)?

This holiday season we will demonstrate lots of emotion/s. What will be noticed about you?

What is the best thing about Christmas gifts…who they are from or how thoughtful they are?

*verses and probability taken from Josh McDowell’s book Beyond Belief to Convictions.

November 30th, 2008 – Equipped to Serve

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Equipped to Serve

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and make some notes about any words or phrases of interest and write down some questions and possible application points.

You have probably read this passage and heard it preached many times about your gift/s and what to do as a result. Always notice the context around a passage of study. The early church most likely would have been listening to this being read as a letter so the audience would have had heard it in light of their situation. Paul is reminding them about some practical application points of being the church in their community of Corinth.

When you think of spiritual gifts what do you think of first:

Why do we have them?
Every believer has at least one?
They are for the good of the whole church?
They are only for the 1st century church?
They should only be used by the more mature Christ follower?
They are so confusing so they must not be necessary?
Other thoughts?

This early church was beginning to hit some road blocks about being the church. Paul writes about dissension and differences in the preceding verses and how that affects unity and personal motives during worship and the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, this same theme is carried over to the spiritual gifts, specifically how to they fit in the body life of a church community.

“Ignorance” as it is used by Paul could refer to their pride as they used their gifts or, the misuse of the gifts in worship setting. He reminds the Corinthians the gifts should magnify God and not focus on the individual. The gifts are for the common good moving the kingdom forward and how each person has a role or job.

Think about the number of jobs you have held in your lifetime? What was the best one, toughest one, most rewarding?

Paul also wants to clear up any misunderstanding about what may have been perceived as similarities between idol worship and Christianity. In verses 2-3 mute idols and pagan worship practices are mentioned. Some in the church may have brought those influences to Christianity when they trusted Christ. We need to be clear and careful that we don’t take the world’s practices and blindly accept them within the Church body. There was a lot of spiritual babbling but no one appears to be sure of the source. So Paul reminds them to test the origin or source. Ultimately it boils down to, “Can they confess Christ?”

Read Romans 10:9-10 what does this confession declare?

The Greek word for gifts charismata, means a favor or gift that is given not based on the Giver’s goodness not on the receiver’s merit or even personality.

Make a special note of the used of the titles related to the Trinity in verses 4-6.

There is One Spirit but many gifts. This variety of gifts creates a way for dissension if used to promote the individual but there is also great potential for wholeness and unity like you find in the Triune Godhead.

Notice the overall purpose according to Paul in 12:7 is to benefit or be profitable for common good of the church not individual. The church should have impact within and then out in the community. But if it is divided in worship, the Lord’s Supper or spiritual gifts that power is lost.

The gift of “wisdom” in v. 8 is not man’s wisdom but God’s wisdom to make plans within circumstances in light of eternity.

Mentioned in v. 9 “faith” is not saving faith but miraculous faith as in “throw the mountain into the sea” type of faith.

Lastly in v.10 the type of powerful miracles would most likely not be healing since that has been mentioned but likely signs and wonders that reveal God’s power.

Take a look at how each gift is followed by a preposition and the Spirit. Reliance on God’s Spirit remains essential in the use of the gifts and growth of the church!

What was the best gift you remember from a Christmas or birthday? Why do you remember it or what made it special? What if we remembered our spiritual gifts with such clarity and used them with the Spirit’s efficiency?

For further study read Exodus 31:6; 35:34; 36:1-2; 38:23- what do you notice about the skills and abilities of Bezalel and Oholiab?

What are the differences or similarities between the gifts, fruits and qualities of the divine life? 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Galatians 5:22-25; 2 Peter1:3-8

September 21st, 2008 – Family Fortune and Finances

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Family Business Study Guide
Matthew 16:26-27

Family inheritance

Matthew chapter 16 contains several critical topics related to discipleship. At the start of the chapter, Jesus challenges the need for a sign then he uses yeast as a symbol that characterizes the religious leaders of that day. Next, Peter confesses the truth about Jesus, “You are the Christ…” Lastly, when we reach the portion of scripture for today’s lesson Jesus has predicted his death and resurrection and rebuked Peter. Whew!

Jesus’ condensed version of discipleship follows in verses 24 and 25. Most might think that making the most of one’s life through activity and trying to measure up to God’s standard of holiness would be enough. However, Jesus reminds us of the downward spiral to greatness, deny self, and then he asks, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” This could be a rhetorical question but it should make people think about the pursuits of their lives. Many spend a lot of energy trying to get to the next level of whatever; digits in a salary, next executive tier, more square footage in a house… People in that day considered riches to be a sign of God’s blessing. Remember Jesus’ comments in Matthew 19:24, 25; Mark 10:25, 26; Luke 18:25, 26; the disciples were shocked at this! Working to gain the whole world (or what we think of as our world) costs more than it is worth. Yet, we often miss that obvious point.

Read the story in 2 Kings 5:20-27 Gehazi runs after Naaman for a “payment” he thought he was entitled to but what he ends up with is more than a set of new clothes… If we go after what we thought we wanted we may end up with more than we could imagine.

These verses are also about value. Jesus talks about what “good” and the “forfeit of a soul.”

Have you ever tried to teach a child about value? You try to explain that 1 quarter is worth more than 8 pennies but they still hold onto the pennies.

Where does value come from and how do you teach it most effectively?
The family plays a large role in communicating value and values, sometimes they are even taught by default. A wise person has asked, “If love is spelled T-I-M-E but dad lives like time is MONEY then what do the children learn?”

What characterizes a family…when spouses, parents and children are consumed with stuff and thinking about getting more stuff?
What are the effects of a consumer mindset on these relationships?
How does one teach/live/model what Jesus is talking about?

There are great losses in family life if money and the pursuit of the rat race trophy require all of an adult’s attention. A commentator remarked how all of the possessions in the world are worthless to a dying man…

Consider these scriptures:

  • John 3:30
  • 2 Corinthians 5:15 how do we live for someone who died for us?
  • Luke 12:15 man’s life doesn’t consist in possessions

How does it all add up?
Can you really gain the whole world? The question may be more about enjoyment and contentment than anything. It is like a child on Christmas moving from present to present and looking for more right after she unwraps the last one. There on the floor in her wake is everything from her list but she still wants something else. What if we found enjoyment with what we already have? A lyric from a song sung by Point of Grace states, “Have what you want, but want what you have.”

These scriptures speak to contentment:
Philippians 4:11; Ecclesiastes 5:19

When you realize the gift/s of God and value it, life changes. Adults and parents with such a view of life motivate the heart of children and teenagers. The joy and contentment in the smile of such individuals becomes contagious. So that what is handed down as an inheritance is more than a number and a reputation.

Read Genesis 5 …and “so and so” became the father of “so and so”… possibly the most boring chapter in the Bible. But Gary Thomas in Sacred Parenting wonders if the point of these verses is to tell us that what will be remembered and what really lasts beyond us is our offspring more than our titles and stuff?

Don’t miss that our soul can be affected by our earthly pursuits. Jesus mentions how one can “forfeit your soul.” A wise person once said, “Let me see you bank account and your daily schedule and I can tell you what you think is important.” So can your children. They almost have a sixth sense for integrity. I read this the other day, “Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they’re going to catch you in next.” They learn so much from parents.

Children can be quite good at judging lots of different things but Jesus is the ultimate judge. As Jesus begins to talk about rewarding people for what they have done he is the judge we should be mindful of when he comes again. He uses a term that may not be too clear to us, Son of Man. This title is one of Jesus’ favorites for himself (he used it 69 times in the Matthew, Mark and Luke and 13 in John). To the Jewish hearer they would have quickly thought of OT books like Ezekiel, Daniel and some messianic prophecy in the Psalms. In Ezekiel, God addresses the prophet as Son of Man so Jesus could be referring to his role as speaker of God’s word and himself as the Word. Definitely it would highlight him as messiah referring to Psalm 8:4 and 80:17. However, it is the use in Daniel 7:13 that many believe Jesus had in mind. When Jesus uses that title he defines his mission instead the political and popular overtones of titles like Son of David, King and others.

When Jesus returns there will be a reward according to what each person has done. Clearly there is a return of sorts on the eternal treasures we have been a part of by our actions. One of those areas in a family with eternal influence is that of parents and the effect of their lives on their children. It is hard to underestimate the role of parents.
Read Acts 16, it contains an example of this influence. Notice verse 33, that is impact!

Profit won’t last near as long or bear as much fruit as the impact of a true Christ follower in a family. Jesus’ picture of his return reminds us of the business at hand. We should be faithful to our families no matter our work or position; spouse, parent or child. If we will cultivate a heart that values the eternal and understands true treasure we’ll have something to look forward to with joy with Jesus comes in his Father’s glory.

Other scriptures for study: Psalm 49:5-9; Job 41:11; Proverbs 11:29; Luke 16:11

September 7th, 2008 – Family Chats

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

September 7th, 2008
Family Chats
Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Communication within the home and among family members
Creating an environment of openness and honesty
Goal: developing skills/ strategies to improve communication

Read through Deuteronomy 6:4-6 several times and in different translations and write down some of your thoughts…

One Big Priority, Listening
This really familiar scripture still guides individuals, couples and families in their day to day living. Jesus also used it in his answer to the inquisitive lawyer about which is the greatest commandment. Truly it summarizes and simplifies the myriad of OT laws but it doesn’t make them any easier to keep. It may sound simple but that doesn’t mean it is easy. The same idea is true about marriage and family; it sounds simple to love someone but it may not be easy.

The title of this book, Deuteronomy, means “second law” or a repetition of the law. One can read the book as a reminder to be faithful to the original commandments. Some scholars also consider the structure of these speeches by Moses reminiscent of many treaties between a conquering king and a defeated nation. So we have Moses acting as the messenger between God and Israel describing the parts of the contract. In a similar role Moses takes the lead for the nation in a kind of covenant renewal because they have seen God do many miraculous things since they left Egypt and now they are ready for their next step.

Marriages and families are based on commitments, covenants and vows. As a part of a family we each have a vital part to play in our relationships and there are times that a renewal of those original plans may lead us to a new level in relationship. Relationships grow from tiny seeds to sprout into a plants with branches sticking out everywhere. Sometimes we forget where we’ve come from or we fail to give a familiar relationship the attention it needs. When that occurs we each need to listen and truly hear from God’s heart and those closest to us.

  • How is your family’s health?
  • Read Ephesians 3:14-19 and notice God’s plans…

Has someone ever asked you “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you’ve said, “Did you hear what I said?” A favorite of parents is, “Do I have to repeat myself?” Or has someone had to say, “Put down the remote and look at me when I’m talking…” (nope? me neither)

Moses starts to recount the law as God had revealed it and he begins with, “Hear O, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This verse would have been a dramatic attention getter for what follows, “Hear!” For communication to occur we must hear what God says. It is a matter of priorities. “God, our God, is one.” The declaration, that “God is one,” settled religious matters for Israel in the midst of their polytheistic culture. As the only “One” he is self-existent and self-sufficient. Therefore, religion must move from duty to delight. Religion shouldn’t be that something that is boring or dull. One should just go through the motions hoping God will check it off for them. Knowing God and loving God should be a great motivator. Making your relationship with God a priority of the heart lays the foundation for other earthly relationships to be built upon. As God created marriage He also mapped out a plan for intimacy, companionship and family and all of those things involve deep communication.

Read Genesis 2:20-24; Ecclesiastes 4:12 and notice how God enters the equation of a marriage and family.

What amount of time do you spend talking to:

  • Your spouse?
  • Your children?
    (Studies show that the average couple spends less than 4 hours a week in true conversation. Another study showed that children between 6th and 12th grade had not had a conversation with a parent lasting 10 minutes in over a month. Also, fathers and teenagers average about 35 minutes a week!)
  • God, in prayer?

When was the last time you spent 10 minutes being quiet before God? Make a plan this week to block out that kind of time to be quiet. Then, listen…

Most couples have probably heard that there are some glaring gender differences when it comes to communication. Generally speaking, ladies use about 20,000 words in a day and men about 7,000. That may not be totally accurate but gender differences are perceived to be a major issue. Maybe it’s the way we are wired, women would like personal details and the men just pass on the facts. A couple must find a balance point here and not settle for less. Another factor is tone in conversation and how one translates the message being sent. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has written a book, Love and Respect, which looks to Ephesians 5 to find one of the keys to good communication between the two genders. He believes men and women hear “differently” as if men have a blue hearing aid and women a pink one. In summary, men as they listen “hear” words in terms of respect or disrespect. For women they “hear” similarly in terms of love or apathy. Basically he finds that most communication problems happen when we aren’t clear about communicating love and respect to our spouses.

  • Read Ephesians 4:29 and Colossians 4:6 and reflect on your own communication style.

Hearing generally implies communication but one must act on the message to demonstrate that it was received. So, Moses follows with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Knowing God has spoken/is speaking, the next step is a response of love on our part and it involves all of who we are. The areas of our heart and mind capture who we are and how we make decisions. While these may be considered private, internal matters they become public through our actions or “strength.” The first persons to visually observe those actions are our families. If there is a disconnect between what we say we believe and what we actually do then there may be trouble with communication in the home. Remember, simple but not easy… This kind of love for God requires everything so that our spiritual relationship guides our homes.

  • Read 2 Timothy 1:5, 6 and reflect on who passed on spiritual truth to you.

The Work of Communication
Communication and love take work. Don’t forget that even in the perfect environment of Eden there was still work to do. Marriages and families require the same whole-hearted effort of love. With a foundation of love for God, the family unit is addressed in verses 6-9. Each one of these verses highlights the daily necessity of talking about the spiritual nature of life. Pastor/author Rob Bell is known for saying “everything is spiritual.” Parents in particular, must put forth this effort in their home. These commands are to be “upon your hearts.” One must know God’s word in such a way that it becomes like an internal compass guiding us towards righteousness. As a result communication within the family is affected.

Notice the word “impress” in verse 7. Some early translations used the word “whet” as in to sharpen your children. When one is whetting a knife they are keeping it sharp for use. So, the commandments become of means of shaping the family to see that God is at work in the little things of life. Keeping those “little” things holy is what creates character. In family life events happen everyday that a mom or dad can point out that highlight the work of God. When a child sees a parent consciously aware of God at work they learn to recognize God, too.

Moses reminds parents to talk about these things often: when you “get up” or “lie down”, walking/riding down the road or “sitting at home”. These everyday situations draw attention to hearing from God. God clearly uses his word but he also uses people, nature, circumstances and many others. When one attempts to listen to God in these daily things they grow to recognize his voice. As a result we can be immediately obedient. When we aren’t listening to God but instead following our plans we miss the work of God. Our focus becomes us or stuff and we short circuit our heart’s conversation with God. We also cheapen the conversations within our family. They become temporal instead of eternal about schedules and stuff instead of ministry and mission. Moses’ instructions are to use those daily, basic circumstances as reminders to talk to God. Imagine if you said a prayer every time you walked though a door.

What are the subjects that are talked about most in your home? What would your spouse says is most important based on the conversations? What would your children say is most important?
Read Matthew 6:19-24 what is your treasure?

Try an experiment this week, every time you touch a door handle say a quick prayer…

Husbands, if you are really daring, read 1 Peter 3:7 what does that say about the importance of the relationship with your wife and its effect on your prayers?

August 31st, 2008 – Family Business

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

August 31st
Family Business . . .
Genesis 1:26-28 and Proverbs 29:18

God’s design, purpose and mission for home, marriage and family
What is it and why is it important for a healthy church/community/nation?
Goal: discover and implement God’s design and mission for home/family

Gen. 1:26-28 Read through these verses and write down several thoughts

God is Relational
The Bible just begins with God, “in the beginning God…” When we read that sentence we can know God takes the initiative. Then, as we read the description of creation and the timing of the days we find God bringing order out of chaos, that He works with purpose and that His creation is “good.” As we arrive on the 6th and final day of creation it is as if God has saved the best for last.

The author writes in verse 26 that God says, “Let us make man in our image…” Who is God talking to? Scholars give support to several possibilities: 1) the author may have in mind the cultural influence of other creation stories that refer to many gods in conflict or warring as the cause of creation; 2) the Hebrew language has several nouns that are only found in a plural form (heavens, God-Elohim, majesty, water, etc. words kind of similar to our English ones for deer, fish, which are both singular and plural) so the author is being grammatically correct; 3) this could be a reference to a Divine Assembly or heavenly court similar to other parts of the OT (1 Kings 22:19-22; Isaiah 14:13; Job 1); so perhaps “us” and “our” references other angels conversing with God. This thought would believe that God is speaking rhetorically and then acts without help or assistance. 4) it is a reference to the Trinity at creation (Genesis 1:2, John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-18).

Whatever the case, the theme of these first chapters proclaims that creation at its foundation begins with relationship. Ultimately as God creates man and woman he infuses them with this powerful sense of fellowship and connection to Him. Moreover, “in our image” refers primarily to this relational nature not a physical description. Humanity’s creation supersedes that of all of the other wonderful creatures because mankind was created in His image, specifically our souls and its relationship to God. No other created thing enjoys this privilege.

For further study: Psalm 8:6-8, 104:24-35; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:22-24.

Another sense of being created in His “image” means we are God’s representatives, beings who declare God is present. Like an ambassador in a foreign country represents the president or king, we are God’s image in this world. As such we can act like God to those around us.

Think about how that principle could affect your relationship within your family: your spouse/mom/dad/child is one of God’s representatives.

  • How should they be treated?
  • How should they be loved?
  • How should they be spoken to?

Being made in God’s image also relates to the sense of purpose and power God gives people over the earth. He reigns as supreme Creator but we are to tend the land, be good stewards of the air, rule or have dominion over the animals. Take this idea of mission to your life, your family, your marriage or future marriage.

What is your life mission?
How do you see this sense of mission in the family you grew up in?

  • What is your family’s mission?

In verse 27 God acts, He makes male and female. Two different individuals were created but both are the result of being made in God’s image. There is the potential for greater depth in this relationship with God through these differences (remember in v. 31 God called all that he created “good”). Later in Genesis 2 we discover the kind of free flowing fellowship they had with God walking in the Garden. In a marriage and family each person brings their spiritual personality to participate on an interpersonal level and a spiritual level. God knew this and you may see another sense of the Trinity in a marriage, God-husband-wife. So we can see that the marriage and family foundation is being formed by God on this day of creation as well.

Dan Allender and Tremper Longman write in The Intimate Mystery, “Marriage is the key human relationship designed to make known who God is. Because that is true when a marriage goes bad it not only affects the couple but also the nature of reality.”

  • What truths do you see in that statement and in the beginnings of the marriage relationship?

For further study read: Genesis 2:20a-24; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 5:21-33

God’s Blessing and Purpose
Made in God’s image, mankind enjoys even more special blessings, verse 28. Knowing that God created us is quite a blessing but life is given meaning in God’s presence and purpose. This divine destiny drowns out the drudgery of duty before the Fall. The blessing God bestowed upon the married couple was the privilege of being the right environment for new life. The committed couple, in God’s plan (God blesses His plans not always ours), would be blessed to raise children with a right understanding of their “image” and relationship to God. As God intended, marriage and family is the environment for growth of love, forgiveness, individual uniqueness and identity, serving and suffering; salvation and more.

  • What else would you add that the marriage environment expresses?

Another privilege found in the blessing is the subduing of the earth. God says to, “rule over…” The jurisdiction given to mankind comes with a great responsibility. In our handling of this charge there should be some sense of order and care reflecting God’s character. After the Fall, arrogance and ignorance has taken hold at creation’s expense. Satisfying humanity’s need should not be the sole purpose for nature. Man was to responsibly take care of the earth and as a result show God to the world. (Romans 8:18-22 makes one wonder how deeply the result man’s sin, affected the rest of creation, too.) Care for the earth continues to be a part of our mission passed on to our family as a result of our relationship with God.

  • How involved are you in being responsible for the earth as God’s representative?

The Family Plan
Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

The context of this verse relates directly to the family and the home. Before and after verse 18 “children” and “servants” are discussed. Some translations of verse 18 use the word “vision” instead of “revelation” but it is often misunderstood. The Hebrew word for vision/revelation would have reminded the Old Testament audience of prophets and the “revelation” of the word of the Lord. The prophets often described this word as a result of a vision. Therefore, in this verse “vision” cannot simply be relegated to 5 and 10 year business plans with a bunch of action steps. The writer has more in mind when he speaks of “revelation.” God’s word spoke creation into existence and now it guides people, created in His image, to an abundant life. The word of God remains vital to the community and the individual. Here the truth points out that without such a “revelation” there is nothing to guide the people and they are out of control or “cast off restraint.” What can be done for the family without a “revelation” or mission?

There remains a way to live so that such a circumstance doesn’t happen. The verse concludes with a comment about one who “keeps the law.” God’s written word is the “law” which is singled out to replace the lack of revelation. “Keep[ing] the law” refers to a lifelong mission of being God’s representative here. To do that individually one must be in constant contact with their Creator. As a home each member must make loving God their priority.

  • How do you live by God’s revelation in His word?
  • How does your life reflect your need for His word?
  • How would you grade your family as a whole?

For further study: Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 8:3 (Jesus quoted this in his response to Satan and the temptations!); Jeremiah 31:33-34; John 1:1, 14; Colossians 3:16

If mankind is a biological accident then we have no need for a word or revelation and we are robbed of a sense of purpose. If the foundation of the family is merely coincidence then we don’t need a plan. However, God gives a revelation of Himself and His purpose for our lives and homes. In this verse we find a reminder that God blesses His plans, this time through one keeping the law. Being a Christian, and even a Christian home, is more than rule keeping, it is being and becoming what God planned at creation: the capacity to reflect His image and to do so throughout the world as individuals, as couples and as families, Psalm 64:9.

Resources used in preparing this guide:
The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, (2001) John H. Walton
Hard Sayings of the Bible, (1996) Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch
The Intimate Mystery, (2005) Dan B. Allender, Tremper Longman III

August 24th, 2008 – Know, Grow, Go

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Know, Grow and GO
Mark 1:14-20

Read this passage a couple of times and then write down some things that God draws to your attention:


One of the subjects that may have caught your attention is the issue of timing. Jesus doesn’t begin to preach until John the Baptist is arrested. Seems odd since they could have made a good team; cousins, powerful teachers, they could have been traveling evangelists… But that wasn’t a part of God’s plan or timing. How many times have you said or heard it said, “It was right time,” “it was perfect timing,” or “I was in the right place at the right time.” God is a God of perfect timing. And for John and Jesus one left the scene and the other took center stage.

There are several Greek words for time; two of them are kairos and chronos. Chronos speaks of the duration of a period of time, and it also marks quantity of time. Kairos is used to define a fixed amount of time marked by certain features; it also marks the quality of the time.

Kairos is used here by Jesus in verse 15. In this sense of time Jesus is referring to two ideas. The first is that of history that had already occurred; creation, the Patriarchs, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the exile and leading up to his birth. The second idea is that of God entering history at just this moment marking the nearness of the kingdom of God. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Think back through your life’s circumstances; can you see God’s hand in the timing of events? Think about your salvation experience… What about decisions made at certain crossroads? How about relationships that resulted in prosperous opportunities of some kind? There may even some missed opportunities because of choices or bad timing but there are no coincidences. Timing is in God’s hand and His timing is perfect.

In this passage the timing has John exiting and Jesus beginning his ministry and preaching as He ushers in God’s kingdom.

For further study read Galatians 4:4 and its context. What do you notice about time here?

Read Matthew 26:18 and its context. What is unique here?

Read Proverbs 15:23. How powerful is our sense of timing even in conversation?

Jesus’ Preaching
The message for the beginning of the Kingdom of God is Jesus’ preaching. The silence between the two testaments is broken by John’s message that the Messiah is coming and then Jesus begins to preach. The gospel writers use the word euangelion which is translated good news or gospel. You can see where we get our English word, evangelism. In verse 14, Mark uses that phrase to describe Jesus’ content and again in verse 15 he speaks of belief in the good news.

  • What is the good news?
  • What is so good about it?

For thousands of years people had tried to be good enough to relate to God. They offered sacrifices and kept commandments without much effect on the heart. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, God declares that there will be a time when a new covenant will be in place and the law will be written in a person’s heart and they will know God. As God in the flesh enters history, OT prophesies become reality and God’s redemptive plan for His people is fulfilled in Jesus. There is a way to God and that is good news.

  • What are some other OT prophecies Jesus drew upon for his preaching?

The emphasis at the heart the kingdom of God is, God. God the Father is taking the initiative to reach mankind. He is creatively using all of His power to redeem man who strives to alienate himself and rebel against his Creator. The kingdom dawns with Jesus arriving on the scene and Jesus sets in motion more kingdom things through his ministry.

Repent and Believe
The theme of Jesus’ message found in Mark 1:15, is “repent and believe in the gospel.” Both of the words repent and believe are imperatives which imply a command, “you repent…you believe.” The focus becomes the heart instead of the external action of keeping a list of rules.

Repentance is critical to salvation. To repent, metanoeo, meta means implies change; noeo is the Greek word for the mind. This kind of change requires going a different direction or changing one’s life goal. Anything less is selfishness. One cannot combine your way and God’s; it must be God’s way. The centrality of repentance in salvation is linked throughout the New Testament to preaching and the good news. Read the following scriptures and note their use of the word: Matt. 4:17; Mark 6:12; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9.

Today many preachers and churches are slow to tell people they are sinners and about the need to repent. Instead they often point people in the direction of self-fulfillment or improvement. If we go down that road, doctrine becomes irrelevant. However, Jesus preached both “repent and believe in the gospel.” The doctrines of the gospel are: Who God is, The truth about mankind, Jesus is God’s son and why he came, The Cross, The Resurrection, the Bible…all must be taught and learned. The FAITH strategy is a brief outline of the doctrines of the gospel that can be shared in 5-10 minutes (you may have someone share the outline in class this Sunday).

To believe meant to the New Testament Christian, to act. If one only has a belief that is not acted upon that could be construed as make believe or a creative imagination. Belief as spoken of in scripture requires action; it is not merely an intellectual exercise.

The Call to Follow

Having introduced Jesus, the kingdom of God and the good news, Mark turns his attention to followers. As we have read about the historical timing, the message and Jesus’ purpose the next step is to call followers, v.17. To become a follower meant that they left their way of life to follow a teacher who would show them how to live like he lives. Notice Jesus calls these brothers, Andrew and Simon, from their work of fishing to become (not just “do”) another type of fisherman. They are to join Jesus in the work of the kingdom, preaching repentance and faith.

In the process of following Jesus, he “will make” those who respond, disciples. That process requires something, time with Jesus. Lots of people make a decision that has been described as mere “fire insurance.” Clearly that is not the call Jesus had in mind. For that early disciple it required leaving what was known for the unknown, what was comfortable for the uncomfortable and what may

  • Is that still true today?
  • How do you see that in your own life?
  • What kind of cultural effect do you see in relation to discipleship?

Being “fishers of men” becomes their mission. The mission wasn’t only to spend time huddled around Jesus but to become instruments that advance the kingdom. The disciples learned from Jesus’ words and life what was important and slowly they got it.

Fishing was an everyday vocation, so is our mission. It is BIG, we all want to be a part of something bigger than we are and something that will last longer than we will. These 4 men had likely heard bits and pieces about Jesus and his vision of the kingdom. Mark describes their response as immediate, v. 18, 20.

Our culture and society values options. Think of all the ways you can have a burger, or choosing the options for a new car or upgrades for a house… Many tend to weigh out the pros and cons prior to making a decision. We check the contingencies and forecasts. Some may even flip a coin. For these 4 disciples and disciples everywhere the options for their life must have seemed simple, follow Jesus and participate in his mission or settle for something less with your life.

To wait to make the decision to follow Jesus as a disciple is to delay God’s plan. The time for us is now. For the church the time is now, for our community and world the time is now. How will you respond to the call to follow Jesus?

June 29th, 2008 – James 2:1-13

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

The Book of James
Are There Favorites in Mercy?
James 2:1-13


At the moment we believe in Jesus Christ – that is, the moment we put our trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life, many things occur. Here are but a few: we are forgiven all our sins (Col. 1:14); we are born into God’s family (1 John 5:1); the Holy Spirit indwells us (Rom. 8:9); we are transferred from darkness to light (Eph. 5:8); from death to life (Eph. 2:1, 5).

Following the moment of our justification, we begin the process of sanctification – growing up to spiritual maturity. As James has already explained, that process involves receiving or embracing the implanted word (1:21) – which we are learning from our study of the Bible, so that we can apply it within the context of the momentary tests of our faith. It is through that process that we grow and mature spiritually (1:2-4).

Changed thinking and behavior are obvious results of spiritual growth. Sometimes the New Testament writers use the metaphor of walking to address how we are to live our lives: walk in good works [works of faith] (Eph. 2:10); walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Eph. 4:1); walk no longer as the Gentiles walk (Eph. 4:17); walk in love [the "royal law"] (Eph. 5:2); walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8); and walk as wise people (Eph. 5:15).

We must choose to live in this manner. But since we still have to deal with old habits and desires [approbation lust/lusts of the flesh], sometimes we choose not to live as we should. James now draws our attention to one of those problem areas.

Our Study of the Text

    Partiality: A biased attitude or behavior — an unfair preference for one person or thing over another.

    1. Generally, the problem is one of approbation lust (cf. Matt. 6:5,16).
      1. We want those “of reputation” to respond to us in a certain way. Example: Gal. 2:11-14.
      2. We want to be a part of the “in group”: 1 Cor. 1:11-13.
    2. Showing partiality is SIN.
      1. It violates the moral character of God. cf. Rom. 6:9; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25.
      2. It violates the “Royal Law” (vv. 8-9). (See 2A. below)
    3. How we show partiality:
      1. Letting someone get away w/ something that you will not let another get away with.
      2. Conducting ministry to people based on socioeconomic or cultural considerations.

        Note: We are not talking about differing levels of friendship; we are talking about dealing with people on the basis of different standards. It is perfectly acceptable to do something for one person that you would not do for another, but only when moral standards are not violated.

  2. THE ROYAL LAW (2:8)

    James is writing from a doctrinal point of view that represents an admixture of what the Law of Moses taught and what was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. The summary of both is this: Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. These are the two great commandments (Matt. 22:34-40) and are a statement of the moral character of God.

    1. The Law of Moses was introduced by these two laws (Ex. 20:3-17).
    2. They are also included in the New Covenant (Ro. 13:8-10; Ga. 5:13-16).
    3. James has used the expressions “The perfect law of liberty” (1:25), and “the royal law” (2:8), in ref. to the two great commandments.
      To illustrate how we violate the “royal law” he has addressed the matter of showing partiality or making distinctions between Christians – with wrong motives (vv. 1-9). When we show partiality (with wrong motives), we “commit sin and are convicted by the law (i.e., The Law of Liberty) as transgressors” (v.9).
    1. Recall 1:21: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Recall, too, that the doctrine of the salvation of the soul is addressing the matter of sanctification and is directly related to our rewards and inheritance in Christ.
    2. There are serious consequences for living contrary to the “Law of Liberty.”

      NOTE: Remember, there is no condemnation for sin (Ro. 8:1), but there are consequences that will be faced, one of which is loss of reward and inheritance.

      1. The fact of transgression (10-11). Showing partiality is the example before us.
      2. “So speak and so act” (12) i.e., live your lives as those who will be judged by the law that gives freedom (the Law of Liberty).
      3. The way we live should be a reflection of a walk of faith and that we are living according to the “Royal Law.”
    • Put God first in all that you do (intent of the heart).
    • Learn to make adult decisions (How does the royal law apply in this situation?).
    • Live your life with the realization that you are accountable for your thoughts, words and actions; they will be judged by the standard of the Royal Law.