How to Understand the Love and Judgment of God

Did God really destroy ALL the people on the earth except Noah and his family?! Would a loving God do that? Did they deserve it? Listen to this teaching on Gen 6:1-7 to discover how to understand God's heart for his creation, our purpose and freedom, and his judgment.

  1. The sinfulness of man violates God's creative purpose.
  2. The sinfulness of man grieves the heart of God.
  3. The sinfulness of man will be destroyed by God.

Teaching on Eph 1:5-6

We are studying through the book of Ephesians together as a church. This particular message includes teaching on predestination, but the main idea is that God has blessed us by adopting us. You can listen to it, download it, or subscribe in the teaching audio box in the right side bar.

Thoughts on Ministry and Money

The following thoughts on ministry and money are primarily a personal conviction, upon which I am basing my own approach to ministry and financial support. I know there are many sincere believer who take other approaches. I submit these ideas for discussion, hoping to encourage reflection and biblical study on the subject.

“You received without paying; give without pay.” Matt 10:8b

A common method local churches use to support their pastors financially is through a salaried position set up through the church budget that is funded by the regular, undesignated giving of its members. I would like to suggest that such a financial set up does not best honor the biblical principles of giving and finances in the church.

The first reason is based on my understanding of what a church would look like that most honors the biblical principles of discipleship, fellowship, and leadership for the church.  As I argued in my Ph.D. dissertation, Scripture indicates that elders are a group of local believers who have already demonstrated their ministry abilities and qualifications within a local church, who are called by God, and who are appointed by the fellowship to be elders. This is in contrast to the common structure in which a single man from outside the community is hired to be the senior pastor.

In addition, a strong argument can be made for the wisdom, benefit, and ministry effectiveness of maintaining smaller, church-starting churches, as opposed to building mega-churches. Some of the reasons that smaller churches are positive include pastor/believer ratio, less need for institutionalization and buildings, conducive for intimacy and accountability, reproducibility, etc. The point for leadership is this: If a group of men were pastors of a relatively small church, sharing shepherding responsibilities, there would be little need for a full time pastor.

It is clear, however, that the local church is called to support those who are ministering the word them (1 Tim 5:17-18; Gal 6:6). I suggest, though, that it is still not best to support such elders and teachers through any type of salary budgeted from the undesignated gifts of believers. Instead, they could be supported through the designated gifts of anyone who is convinced they should support them. Here are the reasons why:

  • Elders are warned in Scripture not to shepherd God’s people for personal gain (Acts 20:33-35; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; 6:5; Titus 1:7, 11; 1 Peter 5:2).
  • Elders are not employees of the church, and the appearance of such should be avoided.
  • The gospel, truth, love, and ministry should be offered freely (Matt 10:8b).
  • The biblical pattern for supporting those in ministry seems to be that the ministry is given first and the support is offered after, based on the ministry (Matt 10:9-11; 1 Cor 9:11).
  • Money can become an obstacle for the gospel (1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9).
  • Believers who support those in ministry, as with all other giving, should do so freely, out of conviction, according to God’s leading, and in obedience to God’s Word (2 Cor 8:1-12; 9:1-7).
  • Examples of giving in the NT indicate that when believers gave corporately, they were giving to a particular need or types of needs (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 6:1; 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 9:1, 5).


The Necessity of Christ's Divinity for the Atonement

I have heard and often reasoned myself for the necessity of the divinity of Christ for the efficacy of the atonement. If Jesus were merely a man, and not God, then he could not pay for the sins of all who come. At best a perfect man could replace one other. I have never really seen this reasoning in Scripture, though, before this morning:

“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of this life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, For he will receive me.” Psalm 49:7-9, 15

Ever Active, Yet Always at Rest

"You, my God . . . are the most hidden from us and yet the most present amongst us, the most beautiful and yet the most strong, ever enduring and yet we cannot comprehend you. You are unchangeable and yet you change all things. You are never new, never old, and yet all things have new life from you. You are the unseen power that brings decline upon the proud. You are ever active, yet always at rest. You gather all things to yourself, though you suffer no need. . . . You grieve for wrong, but suffer no pain. You can be angry and serene. . . . You repay us what we deserve, and yet you owe nothing to any. . . . Can any man say enough when he speaks of you? Yet woe betide those who are silent about you!" - Augustine, Confessions, 1.4

"Theology is inseparable from spirituality. Theology is concerned not only with the Logos but also the Spirit who reveals and applies the wisdom of Christ to our hearts." - D. G. Bloesch, "Prayer," in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 866.

St. Matthew?!

I recently read again about "saints" in the Bible. What does it mean to be a saint? First, we move past the Roman Catholic understanding of a saint as an especially holy and officially recognized believer in the church. The Bible refers to all believers as saints. Paul wrote "to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Rom 1:7). But what does saint mean? The word saint comes from a Latin word that refers to something sacred. It is used to translate the Greek words oi agioi, which is literally translated "the holy ones." To be holy, according to this Greek word, mean "dedicated to God, holy, sacred, i.e. reserved for God and God’s service" or "pure, perfect, worthy of God" (BDAG, 10-11).

So, what does it mean to be St. Matthew (not that I want anyone to call me that!)? It means that I am a holy one. It means I am set apart as one who is in a special relationship with God. I am one of "God's people." It also means that I am set apart for the purpose of serving him. This is who I am and this is my purpose. It strikes me now how weak and slavish that would sound to people who don't know him. But just remember, HE IS LIFE and HE IS LOVE. If that is what I am going to be forever bound to, then hook me up!

Since God is holy, in the pure and perfect sense, the purity of those who relate to and serve him is essential. Positionally, God has provided for my purity through the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. By faith and his grace, I am pure before him; I am cleansed and forgiven. That does not mean I live a pure life, but it means that I CAN. And if I do live a pure life then I am able to be more and more intimate with him and more and more useful to him (2 Tim 2:19-22).

Sometimes we don't live like we belong to God. We live like we belong to ourselves and are very happy to have God on our side. Sometimes we don't live like our all consuming purpose is to serve him. We are glad to have someone who will provide good advice and help as we go our own way. Living as his for him is a very different way of living. And that is what it means to be saints, holy ones, God's people.