When I feel that a patient I visit (I am a home visiting medical doctor in Chicago) will not be offended, I may say to them as I leave their home, “Read your Bible and pray every day.” They usually respond, “I do. Are you a Christian? Praise the Lord.” A few days ago, Ben Westerhoff encouraged David Lovi and I via email to read the Bible together in 2012. Ben proposed and we agreed to follow the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, along with D.A. Carson’s Daily Commentary, which covers the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice in 2012. You can print out a hard copy of the M’Cheyne chart of Daily Bible Readings. Since, we like to have many choices, you can also chose many other Bible Reading Plans.
I am a firm believer that grace is the bedrock and unshakable foundation of the Christian life (Acts 20:24). In the NT, the word “grace,” a translation of χαρις (charis) in Greek, occurs over 170 times. Paul Zahl, an evangelical Anglican and author, said, Grace alone achieves what the Law demands. When I shared this, a missionary friend asked me last week, “How do you teach Genesis 4:7? Didn’t God press upon Cain to ‘do what is right’? Shouldn’t we help our Bible students to ‘do what is right’? Or should we just extend grace to them, and let them do whatever they want?”
Whenever I taught Cain and Abel in 1:1 Bible study since the early ’80s, I emphasized the utmost importance of “doing what is right” from Gen 4:7. I even titled my Bible study “DO WHAT IS RIGHT.” I taught Gen 4:7 as an imperative/command: “You must do what is right.” But was this how God was communicating Gen 4:7 to Cain? Continue reading →
As suggested by Ray and seconded by David Bychkov and Oscar, let’s give this question a try without an article. A good friend emailed me this question yesterday: “Hey Dr. Ben! I’m having some troubles understanding Chapter 13 of Deuteronomy, where God has commanded that people who try to sway believers from the gospel should be put to death? Did God mean this in the literal sense?”
Readers, thank you for making UBFriends a fun interactive Christian website. Jesus says that he came so that we may live life “to the full” (Jn 10:10), including blogging and commenting for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). As we close out 2011, have you any thoughts or comments? Any suggestions for 2012? How should we continue UBFriends? Should we stop? Should we change? If so how? Should we leave UBFriends as it is? Should we expand? Anything else?
As you consider these questions, let me comment on some snippets as reminders and for reflection from About This Site:
Does your God, boss, or pastor look like this judge? This past Mon, Dec 12, I appeared in traffic court for 2 offenses: a moving violation and no insurance papers. My insurance ticket was dismissed when I showed it in court. Then the judge asked me about making an illegal turn, “How do you plead: Guilty or Not guilty?” Since I have already waited for 2 hours, I pled, “Guilty,” knowing that it will take several more hours to wait for a trial after recess. (Also, I was guilty!) I was fined $25 plus $165 “court fees” (that took 1 min before the judge) for a total of $190 paid to the Circuit Court. This made me to think of the day I will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10) and before the Judge of all the earth (Gen 18:25). How would I plead on that day? “Guilty or not guilty?” (Incidentally, the week before on Dec 7, Rod Blogojevich, the former impeached governor of Illinois, who pleaded “Not guilty” was found “Guilty” and sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.) Continue reading →
This Christmas, consider with thanksgiving the Bible verses that have significantly affected you. Think about them (Phil 4:8), meditate on them (Psalm 1:2) and share them if you wish, as I share the ones that have shaped and transformed me in Christ over the years (Mt 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33). Continue reading →
Why do you do what you do as a Christian? A previous post, Christianity is the End of Religion, contrasts Religion with the Gospel. As a Christian, we do something in order to get something, if we functionally operate from the perspective of Religion. We repent and change so that God will bless me with what I want. But the Gospel compels us to do what we do because God has already blessed us by giving us His Son Jesus Christ (Rom 8:32).
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) understood the difference between Religion and the Gospel when he told the Tale of the King, the Carrot, and the Horse:
Once upon a time there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.” The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I own a plot of land right next to yours. I want to give it to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.” The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. Continue reading →
Contrasting Religion and the Gospel has intrigued me the last few years. Here is an account from Tim Keller’s book King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (p. 48), which was a previous book review entitled: How’s Your Mark’s Gospel Study? Dick Lucas, the renowned British minister, once preached a sermon in which he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her pagan neighbor in Rome.