Jesus’ Creation of Authorities

Jesus did not only create the seen and unseen things of the natural world, but also conceptual entities like hierarchies of authorities in heaven and earth. When we think of Him as Creator, we usually don’t go that far, do we? We just focus on the physical things of our world.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16). Continue reading

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How can the Kingdom of God “suffer violence”?

In Matthew 11:12, we read an interesting aspect of the Kingdom of God:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

How is the kingdom taken by violence? Continue reading

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The Cultural Christian versus the Called-out Christian

It has been said that if you were born in India, you would most likely be a Hindu because your parents were. If you grew up in the Middle East, then you would be one of the three strains of Islam. If you grew up in Mexico, you would be a Catholic. And so it goes. In other words, the atheist contends that Christianity as a religion is no different than all the other world religions.

You know what? In a sense, they are right. Many Christians are cultural Christians. They have taken on themselves to follow the religious practices of their parents. They say exactly what all the other religious followers say: “I am a good person. I go to church/synagogue/mosque/temple. When I die, will go to Heaven.” Continue reading

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Eternal life is a healthy relationship with God

Each of the Bible’s spiritual values have a natural-life counterpart that we live out, whether we believe in God or not. Eternal life is one of those aspects that we already know in our natural lives. The average church-goer probably believes that eternal life is the same as living a long time, of never dying. Actually, it is quite different. Eternal life is best understood as a deep and abiding friendship. It focuses on the quality of life, not its mere length. Continue reading

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Saved, but not yet delivered

In Romans chapter seven, Paul agonized over his inability to do the good he expected to do as a saved person. At the end he poses the heartbreaking question, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me?” This is spoken by a Christian man, one who had been saved by Jesus. On the one hand, he had responded to the gospel of salvation. On the other hand, he had yet to experience the saved life of deliverance from sin.

He was crying out for deliverance. He seemed to know the promises of a better life, and knew it should result in victory over sin. Sin separated us from God, and Jesus came to reconcile us to Him, so He came to deal with sin. Yet Paul still did not experience the blessings he assumed would come from a new life with God. Continue reading

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Suffering: the training ground for spiritual maturity

How does the Spirit get mature, spiritual fruit in us? He doesn’t wave his hands over us or sprinkle pixie dust. No; he does it through suffering. That seems like a negative way of looking at the process, doesn’t it? Yet the idea of suffering, particularly of crucifying the flesh, is to remove everything that gets in the way of following the Spirit. With the flesh crucified, the Spirit is free to move and work in and through us. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible

2013 Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler
Harvest House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7369-4485-4
http://www.christianbook.com/popular-handbook-archaeology-and-the-bible/norman-geisler/9780736944854/pd/944854

  • Did you know that 25,000 archaeology artifacts give support for the Bible?
  • Did you know that archaeology has unearthed historical details of the lives of over 60 major characters of the Bible?
  • Did you know that archaeology is the Bible’s greatest friend, is a scientific discipline, and provides great support for the reliability of the Old and New Testaments? (We just can’t say this for any of the other world religions’ holy books.)

I’ve always wondered why we don’t see any evidence of the Exodus and the events in Egypt. I took it for granted when other books said there is no evidence, and any existing evidence was covered up by the sands of history. Until I picked up this book at an apologetics convention at our church.

Here I learned for the first time that researchers had unearthed the dwelling of the Israelites in Goshen where they stayed as slaves of the Egyptians. The archaeologists found that their dwellings were of the same structures as those they’ve unearthed in Canaan. This gives support to the story of them moving from Egypt to Canaan, as the Bible teaches. It makes sense, doesn’t it, for people to rebuild their homes in a new land in a way that they were accustomed to? And there’s more.  Continue reading

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My Prayer List Benefits

I’ve been using a prayer list to keep my prayer times productive. Here are some of the blessings I’ve discovered after keeping to it almost every evening. These benefits are for anyone who wants a better prayer life! Continue reading

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Second Corinthians insights

Morning Meditations by Steve Husting

Morning Meditations by Steve Husting

My family is being blessed as we follow this method of Bible study: http://www.stevehusting.com/doubtbusters/2013/10/19/whats-a-good-way-to-study-the-bible/

My family is going through the book of 2 Corinthians together, chapter by chapter, and sharing our results on Monday evenings at the dinner table. What follows are the results of my own meditations in the first few chapters of this book. There’s no need to restrict the blessings to my dinner table! After you read the following, try the Chapter Summary method of studying and meditating on the Bible on your own.  Continue reading

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Blessings of our Salvation

Our salvation is more than “my sins are forgiven,” or “I’m going to heaven when I die.” Here is a partial list of gratitude-inducing blessings that belong to the child of God. Our salvation is greater than we can conceive of. Don’t deprive yourself of experiencing the fullness of salvation that Jesus has won for you. “I’m a good person who goes to church” doesn’t come close.

There’s a hymn that tells us to count our blessings. May this list be a starting point to relish all that has been given us. In addition, for those who long for more out of their life, check through these to see what you still have ahead of you. Not all blessings of salvation come on the first day of receiving Christ. Many take time and effort to develop or appreciate. For instance, the believer who keeps complaining during hard times has not developed hope yet, which is being confident of a positive future in spite of present circumstances. True hope develops over time as we weather the trials and see God follow through. Continue reading

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How do you respond to the light?

People respond to rebukes in different ways. The wise and righteous in God’s eyes will be grateful for the insight shared about their shortcoming. All others will get angry and some even violent. We’ve read of words getting out of hand at a party and someone storming out and returning with a gun: or a table conversation turning uncomfortable when the offended party responds to the accusation with tension. Continue reading

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Cultural Christianity

When I was having a discussion with an atheist the other day, he voiced the usual objection about Christianity being the only way to Heaven while other religions were unfairly left out. Over time, I had come across several different ways to address this, but there is one aspect about this issue that is seldom brought up. It’s the issue of cultural Christianity.

We take on the religion that is dominant in our area. If you live in Mexico, then you are probably growing up Catholic, for example. Middle East countries have their distinct sects of Islam. Other countries have their dominant religion. Although we treat Christianity as unique among these religions, we fail to take note that many church-goers attend because of culture; that is, they go because it is the usual thing to do, and they’ve been going that church because their parents did. Continue reading

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You can tell you are a Pharisee when …

… you are told an uncomfortable truth about yourself and you get angry.

Sometimes when I tell the truth about someone’s sinful condition, people get mad and say hurtful words in response. (These are people who go to church.) This is no different than the way the Pharisees responded to Jesus and the truths He spoke about their lives. Their darkness was brought to light and they did not like it. They got mad and wanted to destroy Him.

When Jesus said uncomfortable things in His disciples’ hearing, what did they do? Many disciples left Jesus while those close to Him responded, “To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Continue reading

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Hope and the Christian

Hope is not merely a religious word for a theological concept, but an internalized, deep conviction developed over time, just like many other convictions that have grown on us. For example, we may develop a deep appreciation for someone when we observe how helpful she is to us. The appreciation is a conviction that wasn’t there before, even though the word “appreciation” has long been a part of our vocabulary. So we can know what hope means without really possessing it. Continue reading

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Dealing with a Deceitful Heart

God spoke to us through Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked. How is this seen in our lives? Here is one example. When I am overwhelmed by worries and fears, then my heart has fooled me, since it is making my imaginary troubles greater than the Savior can handle. The heart is also desperately wicked in these circumstances, for in choosing to deal with the problems apart from God, I have put myself in the place of God. Continue reading

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Grace and Works Go Together

I fear we are limiting God’s grace in our lives. I’ve seen two different aspects of God’s grace testified to. We often emphasize salvation is by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this passage, grace is God being merciful and benevolent toward sinners, especially toward the undeserving, to save through faith. We could not do anything to save ourselves, so God in His grace saved us apart from any works of our own when we simply trusted in His Son. This absolutely biblical aspect of grace is rightly preached and believed in the churches. When it comes to salvation through Jesus, it is by faith apart from any works of our own. But there is another aspect of biblical grace that seems to be little known and applied. Continue reading

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Called to Forgive

How important is it to forgive those who have wronged us? Jesus spelled it out for us by first telling us the horrible fate of those who offend us:

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Why does He pronounce such a terrible judgment upon these offenders? Because He came to save and recover people’s faith in God. If we are the offender who breaks up people’s relationships, we destroy God’s work. We become enemies of God. Continue reading

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What character traits does Jesus want to see in His church when He comes again?

Or, are you ready for a reward?

When I wrote my book, Ready for a Reward, I examined verses that were related to the end times which also mentioned a character value. That is, the verses had two aspects:
1. A time frame of just before, during, or just after the Lord’s return
2. A value that pleases the Lord

For example, in Matthew 25:21 we read: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Both key aspects are in this verse. These words will be spoken after the Lord returns, when He rewards His servants. Plus, this verse emphasizes the Lord’s values of faithfulness and a job well done. So I can be confident of a joyful meeting when I follow through to the end on the task the Lord has given me, and do it well. This is a person who is ready for a reward. Continue reading

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Reflections on salvation from John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ

I am currently enjoying John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, as an eBook on my Nexus 7. I’m going slowly, savoring Christ on every page, even going back a few chapters to re-read them before moving on. In this post I want to share about four aspects of our salvation that are so huge that the Bible gives us long, jaw-breaking words to describe them. The ideas are not new; the book just explains in a way that made them so rich and God so praiseworthy. I’ve been able to add these new reasons to my stable of ways to praise of God. I’m confident that you will too. The four words are propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. Let’s take them in turn, in my own words. Continue reading

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What did Jesus mean when He said that unless we renounce all things, we can’t be His disciples?

The Gospels record the instances when Jesus approached someone and invited him to come. One by one the people left their livelihood to travel with Him. To fishermen Simon, Peter, and Andrew He said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-20). The disciples literally left all — jobs, homes and families — to follow Jesus. Is that the call Jesus is making to us? For He said, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).

Question: Are we to be followers who leave our jobs, homes, and relationships for Him, literally walking or driving away from all that is familiar to us? Continue reading

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We’re Kidding Ourselves

There’s something about us that just refuses to take correction from others. Whether they tell us our fault timidly or strongly, we just don’t get it. The Bible tells us why, though: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In that verse, the Lord tells us the enormity of our fall into sin. The heart is deceitful. The heart is desperately wicked.

When we hear correction and refuse to listen, that is our heart being deceitful; it has fooled us into thinking that we are better than we are. It keeps us in our cocoon of self-righteousness. Then we act inappropriately (that is, in any way other than with repentance) – that is the wickedness in us acting in rebellion against God’s truth. Continue reading

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Top 10 Posts of Doubt Busters

These are the all-time top 10 posts for Doubt Busters by page count.

10

Don’t reason and faith contradict each other?

People ask this question because they have an erroneous definition of faith. They think that faith means to believe something without proof. The Bible never uses that definition. On the contrary, the God who said, “Come, let us reason together,” left many proofs to build up our faith. Faith is knowing something is true. Biblical faith is not about hoping something is true, or wanting to believe something is true.

http://www.stevehusting.com/doubtbusters/2011/01/18/dont-reason-and-faith-contradict-each-other/ Continue reading

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A Sure Thing

Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 remind us that God rescued the Israelites from their slavery among the Egyptians, bringing them through the Red Sea miraculously, then through the desert for training in trust. God promised them a land filled with “milk and honey,” a good land, unlike anything they had experienced in the days of slavery past. But in the desert trek, things take a turn for the worse: instead of praising God for the Promised Land to which He is surely leading them, they complain over their current harsh conditions. After one final act of rebellion, in which they sent spies into the land and panic when they find it filled with monsters, God decides to leave all the complainers outside the Land and let in only the two who held fast to God’s promise – Joshua and Caleb – and bring in the children of those who did not believe. So all the adults of that time died in the wilderness. Continue reading

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Let us give thanks to the Lord!

In Everything Give Thanks (art by Steve Husting)

In Everything Give Thanks (art by Steve Husting)

Thanksgiving message I gave in 2015 

1
One phrase repeated in Psalm after Psalm after Psalm is, “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good” (Psalms 136:1). Maybe it’s repeated so often because we forget. When we give thanks, it’s because we remember. We are called to remember. We see this when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them up to the Promised Land. At that point, Moses told the children of Israel to remember that God brought them out of Egypt’s slavery (Deuteronomy 15:15). Instead of being afraid of the inhabitants of Canaan, remember what God did to Pharaoh and his mighty army, drowning them in the depths of the sea (Deuteronomy 7:18). We remember what great things God has done for us, and the right response is thanksgiving. The children of Israel then entered the land, fought and won it. Continue reading

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What is Faith?

First we start with faith’s source, which is God:

Romans 10:9
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

Faith comes as a the result of knowing that God has spoken to you. In the context of Romans 9-10, God speaks the good news of the gospel through a preacher, and the hearer is convicted of sin because he recognizes the truth of what is said and connects it with God. He is so convinced of its source that the person repents and changes as though the inner speaker was actually God. The person has a confidence that God has spoken. Continue reading

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How do we harmonize the nativity accounts of Matthew 2 and Luke 2?

Some Bible scholars have tried to harmonize the birth stories of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. When they have been unable to do so, they have concluded that the stories are fictional, myths, merely figurative. Most of the public Christian seminaries and Bible colleges, even many of the more famous names, teach that much of the historical Bible accounts are not literal.

How dangerous is this kind of thinking? In one case, they say that the signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24 to help us determine the true Christ at His coming from the false christs are merely figurative, rendering them absolutely useless for detecting who the real Christ is. Just the kind of deception the Father of Lies loves to pass around, isn’t it? So one false christ years ago justified himself by saying that just as the Christ will come in the clouds, so he came from the clouds in an airplane. When we don’t take the historical aspects seriously, we open the door to much deception and confusion. Continue reading

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If we are saved by grace, then why would God judge us afterward?

“Why would God judged us if we are saved?” Throughout all the statements of judgment in the Scripture, especially in the gospels and epistles, God is stating that we are responsible for our actions after we are saved. All of life teaches us that there are consequences for the choices we make. That is a spiritual law as well. You cannot expect to break a civil law and receive no consequences, even if you have been awarded a prize as the most noteworthy citizen of the state. Likewise we cannot expect to break a spiritual law and not suffer the consequences. God is now our Father, and He will deal with us as His children (Hebrews 12:7-11) and discipline us to train us to be godly men and women. We will receive chastisements in this life; God will administer negative consequences for us making poor choices if God is really our Father. Continue reading

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Is there a difference between children of God and sons of God in the New Testament?

Is there a difference between children of God and sons of God in the New Testament? Yes. Galatians lays a good foundation for the meaning of these two terms, and from those verses we can see echoes throughout the NT. These passages imply that God is not satisfied that we are “saved,” going to church, and being nice people. He is looking for mature believers who have specific qualities, and those qualities cannot be developed in our own strength, doing good deeds that we’ve thought up, or participating in religious routines, such as Jewish laws. It must begin with the training of the Spirit, and continue with Him.

God sees the end of the life and what character our choices and responsibilities are making of us. He wants His children to grow up into persons of responsibility so they could handle the heavier duties of ruling in the kingdom. No father will place his sons at the top of his business empire without carefully targeted training over the years, and it is so with God and His children as well. Continue reading

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Morning Affirmation

Reviewing God’s truths for me.

I am a new creation in Christ. God is my heavenly Father and has abundantly proven His love for me by the willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins. (So there is no need for me to start a question with, “If God is love, then why….?”) He has placed me into His family and I have the right and privilege of coming to His throne at any time.

Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, my sinful self was laid in the grave and the new creation has risen with Him to the heavenly places. I can now die to the sinful temptations that come my way and resist their feeling of power – for they are only feelings with no real power. Continue reading

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Why is there suffering in the world?

Someone asked this question on suffering at Christianity Stack Exchange, a site where I answer questions now and then. One of the answers to this question (given by a resident of Cape Town, South Africa) was so comprehensive regarding suffering that I thought it worth sharing his or her nine points here. This is my edited version of the answer given; you could read the original on this page.

Why is there suffering in the world?

1. The first and best answer to suffering is the free will defense, in which people are able to make choices for good or evil. God made us as free people, not robots — people who cannot do certain things are not truly free. So we endure affliction at the hands of people who use their liberty to hurt us deliberately or indirectly.

2. The ability to suffer physical pain fulfills a valuable function: it signals that our body is about to be damaged. Without it we may be incurably harmed. Many medical diseases are accompanied by pains of all kinds, and they rouse us to seek a cure before it is too late. Emotional and psychological pain can also drive us to seek help.  Continue reading

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