Survey of Galatians

Survey of Galatians 

The epistle of Galatia is believed to be written in either 49 or 55 8.D.and addresses issues in the church the dealt with issues of salvation by faith alone and Christian ethics. Paul addresses the question of how: can a man, who is sinful by nature, come to a God, who is holy by nature. His answer is this: there is only one way – to accept the salvation of God’s grace that is made available through Christ death and resurrection. Salvation cannot be obtained through obedience to the law of Moses. Man, by his very nature is too weak and too self-serving to be able to accomplish selfsalvation and self-centered occasion. Certain Jewish Christians referred to as Judaizers, or teaching that works are necessary, and that Paul’s gospel was not true gospel and that Paul was not a genuine apostle. Paul answer was to clarify his doctrine of justification by faith plus nothing, and of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, not the law of Moses he reasserted his apostolic authority received from Christ Jesus who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul’s theology of salvation by faith effectively negates any other form of salvation that includes human effort through works, adherence to the law of Moses, or self-justification. 

Authorship 

Galatians is authored by Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul starts this letter of by proclaiming who he is, and by what authority he is writing in. (Galatians 1:1).  It is believed that the letter to the Galatians may have been one of the earliest writings of the New Testament.  

Historical Settings 

The term Galatia was used in both the geographical and political sense. The former referred to the North – Central Asia minor, North of the cities of Pisidian Antioch (Atcs 13:14), Iconium (Acts 13:51), Lystra (Acts 14:8), and Derbe (Acts 14:19-21); the latter referred to the Roman Providence (organized in 25B.C.) that included the southern district of those cities just mentioned. If the letter was written to Christians and North Galatia, the churches were founded on the second missionary journey and the epistle was written on the third missionary journey, either early from Ephesus (about a. D. 53) or later (about 55) from Macedonia. In favor of this is the fact that Luke seems to use Galatia only to describe North Galatia (acts 16:6; 18:23 and parent. 

If the letter was written to Christians in South Galatia, the charges were founded on the first missionary journey, and the letter was written at the end of the journey (probably from Antioch, about a. D. 49, making it the earliest of Paul’s epistles) and the Jerusalem counsel (acts 15) convene shortly afterward. In favor of this dating is the fact that Paul does not mention the decision of the Jerusalem counsel that more directly on his Galatians argument concerning the Judaizers, indicating that the Council had not yet taken place. 

Key Verse 

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  – Galatians 1:8 

Major Themes 

The major themes discussed in his epistle, justification by faith and its defense, explanation, and application of the items discussed include Paul’s three years in Arabia (1:17), his correcting of Peter (2:11), the law is a teacher (3:24), and the fruit of the spirit (5:22 – 23). 

Doctrine 

  • Justification By Faith Alone 
  • Blessings received by faith in Christ 
  • Must be untied to Jesus by faith 
  • Blessings cannot be “earned” 
  • To abandon faith is to lose 

Outline 

  1. Greetings and Introduction 1:1-10 
    1. Paul’s Confidence in the Gospel 1:1-5 
    2. Paul’s Confusion and Rebuke 1:6-10 
  2. Paul’s Defense of Justification by Faith  
    1. His Authority 1:11-2:21  
      1. Premise of Revelation 1:11-24 
      2. Premise of Jerusalem Church 2:1-10 
      3. Premise of Authority to Rebuke Peter 2:11-21 
  3. Paul’s Explanation of Justification by Faith 3:1-4:31 
    1. The Believer’s Own Experience 3:1-5 
    2. The Children of Abraham 3:6-9 
    3. The Legal Requirement Satisfied 3:10-4:11 
    4. Personal Testimony of their Teacher 4:12-20 
    5. An Allegorical Argument 4:21-31 
  4. How Then to Apply to Life 5:1-6:10 
    1. How does Justification by Faith relate to our Liberty in Christ? 5:1-12 
    2. How does Justification by Faith relate to Love? 5:13-15 
    3. How does Justification by Faith relate to the Flesh and the Spirit? 5:16-26 
    4. What the Sins of a Brother? 6:1-5 
    5. What about Giving? 6:6-10 
  5. Instructions and Exhortations 6:11-18

References 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print. 

Survey of Amos

Survey of Amos 

Amos’ bold proclamation is set early in the book.  “And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall morn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” (Amos 1.2) The book of Amos contains three major sections.  The first section begins with oracles against the nations (chaps. 1-2), then by judgements against Israel (chaps. 3-6), and finally with five prophetic visions (chaps. 7-9).  Amos is concerned with social injustice and the treatment of the poor.  This is a concern also viewed by the early Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:22; James 1:27; 5:1-6) God has a genuine concern for the poor as discussed in James 2:5.  The fierceness of the Word of the Lord should have caused a great repentance in the land.  However, the words that Amos brought to the kingdom of Israel only infuriated the rebellious inhabitants of the land, and Amos was required to return home. 

Authorship 

Amos 1.1 tells us that Amos from Tekoa is the author of this book.  While he is identified as a shepherd or a herdsman, and a caretaker of Fig trees, the general impression of most theologians is that Amos would have been in the middle to upper-class of society.  Tekoa was approximately five to ten miles south of Bethlehem.  This is located in the southern kingdom, so he was called to basically be a foreign missionary, as his mission was located in the norther kingdom in the area of Beth-el.  He was not a professional profit and he declared this to Amaziah in chapter 7.4.  Instead it appears he was called by God for a specific prophesy and then retired to write his book. 

Historical Settings 

During the time of Amos, Judah was under the direction of King Uzziah (791-740).  
Even though Judah was prosperous during this time King Uzziah was under the influence of King Jeroboam II, of Israel (793-753).  Israel in outward appearances was at the highpoint of power, however inwardly it was full of idolatry and corruption. Idolatry and sexual immorality had taken root in Israel and Judah was in apostasy.  “And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed above all that their fathers had don, For they also built them high laces, and images and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.  And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” (2 Kings 14:22-24)   
Social evils characterized the times (2.6-8; 3.10; 4.1; 5.10-12; 8.4-6). 

Key Verse

But let judgement run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream – Amos 5:24

Major Themes 

There are four major themes in the book of Amos.  Amos attacked social evils, idolatry and false worship within the kingdom.  Amos issued urgent pleas for repentance in order to escape the judgement of God. “That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Beth-el: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” (Amos 3.14) The themes are: 

  • Everyone answers to God 
  • Cruelty (1.6-8,11,13) 
  • Sexual Immorality 
  • Complacency (2.4,7-12) 
  • Oppressing the poor (2.6) 
  • Selling the poor into slavery  
  • Exploiting the poor 
  • Unlawful Usury 
  • Superficial Religion (5.18-27) 
  • Idolatry 

The end result of the book is a stern warning that no one escapes the judgement of the Most High. “Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.” (Amos 5.1). “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nation, to whom the house of Israel came!” (Amos 61) Israel’s or no one’s status, for that matter, is no reason to take advantage of the blessings of the Lord.  God’s moral character must be satisfied.  Amos’ message is largely a “cry for justice”.   

The ending of the book is a promise that when the Lord has finished his chastisement of Israel, He will again restore her and keep her forever. “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:” (Amos 9.11)… “And I will pant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” (Amos 9.15) 

Outline of Amos 

  1. Identity of Author and Theme of the Book 1:1-2 
  2. The Prophecies 1:3-2:16 
    1. Damascus 1:3-5 
    2. Philistia 1:6-8 
    3. Tyre 1:9-10 
    4. Edom 1:11-12 
    5. Ammon 1:13-15 
    6. Moab 2:1-3 
    7. Judah 2:4-5 
    8. Israel 2:6-16 
  3. The Sermons 3:1-6:14 
    1. Doom of Israel 3:1-15 
    2. Depravity of Israel 4:1-13 
    3. A Dirge over Israel 5:1-6:14 
    4. Destruction in Judgement 5:1-17 
    5. Rebuke of the Religious 5:18-27 
    6. Reprimand of a nation 6:1-14 
  4. The Visions 7:1-9:15 
    1. Vision of Devouring Locusts 7:1-3 
    2. Vision of Fire 7:4-6 
    3. Vision of a Plumbline 7:7-9 
    4. Historic Interlude 7:10-17 
    5. Vision of a Basket of Summer Fruit 8:1-14 
    6. Vision of Future Blessings 9:11-15 

 References 

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print. 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print. 

Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Amos.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print. 

Commentary 1 Corinthians 8 Touching Things Offered to Idols

1 Corinthians 8 – Touching Things Offered Unto Idols

There came a question to Paul that was directed against sanctification and idolatry. The Jewish Christians had raised a good point of conversation that Paul is about to confront.  The root of this debate may very well be rooted in such scriptures as these:

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

Exodus 20:1-6, KJV

“And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

Exodus 23:13, KJV

“I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

Deuteronomy 5:6-10, KJV

“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

Deuteronomy 6:13-15, KJV

This means that likely the concerns had been brought up by those who had influenced by Judaizers or Messianic Jews who were familiar with the customs of the Hebrews from antiquity. They were struggling with a real issue of faith.  Sometimes when we come from a legalistic background we cling to some of the structures that were involved in our upbringing because they give us a certain amount of security.  The danger that these individuals were facing wasn’t one of eating mean and displeasing God and being therefor condemned.  What they did not realize is that they were running a chance at putting themselves back into the bondage of legalism in trying to fulfill the law.  Paul’s gospel of Grace goes allow deeper than most of us would be willing to publicly debate. I venture that most Christians have not idea how radical the gospel that Paul preached really is.  This is just one little glimpse into the liberty that Paul says we have in the Gospel.

Paul makes an argument that is directly related to the dispensation of Grace that is now upon the world.  Just as Paul will argue concerning that salvation is by grace through faith, walking in faith is different from walking in the Law.  Paul has to open the eyes of the believers to a fact that they may not have considered.  The fact is that there are actually, no other gods to worship.  Knowledge of the truth of God can sometimes take a little longer to set free some of those who have lived in bondage, than other believers.  We are all growing in this knowledge of God and the truth of salvation by grace.  None of us, even Paul had a full understanding of the ramifications of the effects that faith in Jesus gives us.  Grace has truly set us free.  Our understanding of this is made through the process of the sanctification of the Spirit towards us and the development of our knowledge and relationship to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The best way I know to describe this is through my personal grow.  I converted to Christ out of Roman Catholicism.  I was raised up from a baby to believe the atonement for my sin was made through.

  • Confession to a Priest
  • Penance
    • Making a restitution
    • Repeating Prayers from the Rosary
    • Performing some other work that showed repentance and obedience to the church and to God. (Community Service, etc…)

Now these were so engrained in me that after I converted, I still had the intense urge to go to a confessor.  Even though I knew that I was now a priest to God and could confess directly to him.  I also carried a rosary years after, not because I prayed the prayers, but because it still gave me a sense of security.  As I grew in the knowledge of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, I eventually understood that these things were unnecessary and were just crutches that held no real power to affect my relationship with God.  God loved me for who I was.  In accepting his love, I was made free of these trinkets and idolatry. But God never rejected me, he allowed me to grow and love him, because at my heart I was seeking him and the truth in him.  I know several converts from Catholicism that struggle with these same issues when they are first converted.   Grace allows them to grow in full discipleship and love. Spiritual maturity takes time, patience, and some enduring.  Most of all it takes love and fellowship.

1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

The apostle Paul now turns his attention to a specific question or questions in relation to foods that were offered to idols and if it was lawful for Christian to eat of these foods. We must understand that when foods were offered to pagan gods in Corinth there would often times be remains that were left. If this offering was a private offering than the offer would be allowed to take them home. These remains would then be used in other meals provided to guess that would attend. If the remains poor from public sacrifices then the remains will be sold to the market. These remains would then be purchased by the local citizens and again they would wind up in the evening meals. The question became can a Christian eat meat that was sacrifice to idols, no matter how they came to the table.

2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

This issue; issue of presumption of knowledge, has often caused problems in the Christian community and in the church. Some of us are just smart enough to be dangerous. (Job 32:13; Ecclesiastes 7:16; Jeremiah 8:9; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 3:18; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Proverbs 3:7:26:12: 28:11) In arrogance some of us set ourselves on a pedestal to tell others how what they do is misunderstood are incorrect.(Romans 12:16) We don’t do this an attitude of love rather we do this in a demonstration of our perceived intelligence. (Psalm 36:3; Jeremiah 8:8)

Paul says if you think you know something about God, you better rethink what you thought. The truth of salvation and a God himself is deeper than any of us could ever comprehend with our carnal mind. There is no greater evidence of ignorance more common than a conceit of knowledge. You see he that knows the most and understands it also understands his own ignorance and the imperfection of human knowledge. So he that imagines himself as a knowledgeable man is being vain and conceited and only tempts his own imagination. So Paul says it’s one thing to know the truth but another thing to understand the truth. We would say it’s one thing to have book knowledge and another to have common sense.

3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Here said Paul says that if a man loves God everyone can see it. It doesn’t matter whether he eats food of idols or not. The testimony of his life reads like an open book. A man of God lives a certain way, treats people a certain way, and has expectation of how he should be treated before God. Anyone who encounters a man that loves God, knows that the man loves God by his countenance. A man or woman of God does not need to put on pretense, or have the need to give false impression, because their heart is what reveals their love for Christ and their actions. These actions include not only a love for God but a love for others. (Luke 10:27) This love is manifest and their day-to-day life.  This love of God is not only evidenced to others, but God loves those who love him. (John 14:21-24; Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 John 4:19; Proverbs 8:17; John 10:14,27-30)

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

Paul is trying to make a point that the educated Christian should understand. There are no idols, because there are no other gods. All other gods are from the imagination of men and their evil desires and possess no power or authority because they are not real. This means there is only one God. Since there’s only one God, the meat could not have been sanctified to another god because the other god does not exist.

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

Paul recognizes that there are many cultures that worship many different gods. Some of the gods found in Corinth would be Artemis, Nike, Tyche, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Zeus, Helios, Asklepios, Pan, and Dionysus.

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Paul’s realized that others believed that these idols actually represented other gods. Paul makes a point to clarify, even though people worship these idols, there is actually only one God. This God we call our father. Our father created all things, and everything belongs to him, and his son our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who created all things and sustains, us we belong to him and the father through him.

7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Now Paul makes a distinction. Paul says I understand that some of you come within upbringing that determines that there are other gods. Paul also understands that even though they have been converted to Christianity they still have tendencies and beliefs that are centered on their old gods. In coming to Christ these individuals have placed Jesus into a category with other gods; false gods. Paul understands this as a weak point and their faith that must be strengthened. So he says, if your conscience bothers you concerning the eating of meat offered to idols even though the are no other idols then you should not eat food offered idols, because your faith is incomplete. You don’t have an understanding yet that those other gods really do not exist. As one grows in faith we learn to put away the child’s things that we once knew.

8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

Since we are held by Christ and on the grace period meat cannot be what commands us to Christ. Since we love and live in the grace there is no law that condemns us before God. What we eat has nothing to do with our spiritual us. That is eating the meat of idols or refraining from eating the meat of idols has no effect on our standing with God through Jesus Christ. Spiritually it does not make us healthier or weaker in the spirit. Meat is for sustainment of the body.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

We must understand that each of our faiths are at different points of maturity. We also come from different backgrounds which give us different weaknesses and our belief. We must be cautious to ensure that the liberties or freedoms that we take in Christ do not hinder someone else and their walk. Just because we are free to do as we would, it does not mean that we should do as we would. This in itself shows a weakness in our own belief. If we move in selfishness and not in love then we show the incompleteness of our faith in Christ.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

The reason why we must be careful with how we live our liberty is that if someone else a week or faith sees us to do something that they think is wrong, then they would be encouraged to do what they think is wrong. This does not help their faith instead it allows them to live in compromise of their convictions.  If they do not adhere to the convictions of the Holy Spirit in their lives, then they will never mature.  Being a Christian requires the ability to stand up against the world system, and to resist temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 26:41; James 1:3; James 1:12-16; James 4:7; Hebrews 2:18; Ephesians 6:11)

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

Knowledge without understanding can be a dangerous thing.  I once saw a young man hurt themselves rather seriously.  His car had over heated.  He knew that he needed to check his radiator.  He opened the hood, and removed the radiator cap.  When he did the pressure build up from the overheated liquid cause an eruption that spewed scolding hot water up into the air, and onto the young man.  He pulled away as fast as he could but it was too late.  He received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his hand, arm, and parts of his chest and face.  His knowledge of what needed to check the radiator was correct.  However, his understanding of the functioning of the radiator was insufficient, and it nearly killed him.  This is the same thing.

If someone does not know why the eating of something offered to idols is no longer a sin, then making them to eat the meat will only lead to their destruction.  It is then that sin can be taken too far.  For instance Paul makes a distinction between, sin and being judged by sin, when he says that we can sin no more.  However, we all know that there are other consequences to sin.  Paul makes a designation between sins of sexual immorality and other sins also.  He says that sins of sexual immorality are against your very nature. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)  James and Paul both say that us to willfully live in known sin is an abomination to God, and Christ.  They even beg you to consider that if you do these things that you really do not believe in Jesus and the painful sacrifice he performed on your behalf, nor do you believe that he lives and sees your behavior.  If you did believe and understand that, you would act differently, out of love and respect. (Hebrews 10:26)  Paul’s periphery is that knowledge of Christ must be in juxtaposition with the understanding of its implications on liberty and sanctification with regard to our spiritual maturity and conscience.

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

And this we must remember our primary motivation of love and the second commitment to Christ gave. We are commanded to love one another as we love ourselves. So to cause a brother to fall or doubt his faith is an act of selfishness, especially if it is a boast of one’s own spirituality. This selfishness is a sin against our brother because we wound their conscience and we calls them to sin against Christ by violating their own conscience.

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Paul sums up his argument at this point and gives us a guiding principle that regulates our conduct and morally in different matters; a principle of love. We should voluntarily regulate our liberty so that we don’t cause someone to commit offense and stumble. In Galatians chapter 5 verse 13 it reads “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty fornication to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Our liberties are given to us to be servants of one another, and to allow us the freedom to relate to one another and to the lost in a manner in which we can lead them to Christ, and encourage the fellow believer. These liberties are a benefit for the Kingdom of God and his Christ, not of our own.

Paul addressed this same principle in Romans 13:8-14.  In this passage Paul tells us to accept the brother (or sister) who is weak in their faith.  He adds to is that we should not accept them in to vain argumentation and pointing out the weakness of their faith with conjecture or cynicism.  Instead we should accept them in love.  It is in love that the commandments are fulfilled, not in the refraining of the eating of meats, or other traditions of man.  “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 8:10)

The Execution of Rev. Hans Bret on January 4, 1577

The Execution of Rev. Hans Bret on January 4, 1577

In 1660, Author, Thieleman van Braght published a book cataloging some of the events of the martyrdom of the Anabaptists.  This work was titled, “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians – “Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660.”

The Anabaptist believed that infant baptism was not scriptural and did not save the soul of the infant.  They maintained that in order to receive salvation, one had to first believe on Jesus Christ, and repent of their sin.  Baptist was an act of obedience required by Christ for all who believed on his name.  Since an infant was unaware of personal or generational sin, they could not repent.  To add to this, an infant does not yet have a manner to understand who Christ is nor what atonement should mean, so therefore could not believe on Jesus Christ as their savior.  The Anabaptist required that any adult coming into their folds have a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized in believer’s baptism.  This meant that they were to be re-baptized.  The Anabaptist did not initially call themselves Anabaptists, this was a mocking name placed on them by the Catholic and Protestant religions of the period.  Eventually they accepted their title as a badge of distinction.

This distinction would cost them dearly for their lives would be the price to stand on the scriptures and adhere to their faith in Christ.  The persecution of the Anabaptist by the Catholic and Protestant religions is reported to be so severe that more Anabaptist were martyred in the sixteenth century then the amount of Christians  martyred by Rome and pagan religions in the first three centuries of the origins of the church.

Hans Bret, a baker by trade, and Anabaptist by faith is one such life laid down for Christ.  He was in his twenties and an earnest bible scholar who supported his widowed mother and drew many converts who sought his teaching and preaching of the Word.  On May 6, 1576 in the evening hours his home and bakery were surrounded by the bailiff and his posse. They arrested young Hans and several others who were meeting in his establishment.  Thrown into prison and charged with heresy for being re-baptized Hans Bret was sentenced to execution by burning at the stake.  He was tortured and beaten multiple times while awaiting his execution.  This young man never retracted his statement of faith.  In his dark prison cell, he wrote several letters to friends and family and encouraged them in their faith and the faithfulness of God.   Tradition tell us that before they carried him out for his sentence, his tongue was burned up by torch, so that he could not preach from the steak.

I often wonder when I read these accounts of the horrific way a fellow believer has been martyred; if I could endure such an event.  Could you endure such an event for your faith?  We are living in a time where Christians have no backbone.  We cower down when confronted about our faith.  We are afraid to lose friends, family or our jobs, of social standings.  It makes me wonder if we really believe at all? I know that Hans Bret believed.  I know that Rev. Bret only wanted to share the truth and to care for those that he loved.  He loved enough to die for them, so that they could keep the faith.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus.

Reference: https://www.nobts.edu/geauxtherefore/articles/2018/Martyr.html

Noel! Come See What God Has Done!

Noel! Come See What God Has Done!

I was listening to Lauren Daigle sing Noel.  Her voice is so powerful and inspiring that it began to fill my heart with excitement and my mind with wonder.  Her strong vocals cry out, “Noel! Come see what God has done!”  Wow!  I began to ponder on what the shepherds must have felt like when they saw the angels after Christ was born. Here is the scripture that relays that account.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. –Luke 2:7-11

Now this word, “Noel” has a Latin root ‘natalis’, which means ‘birth’.  The French word ‘nouvelles’ means ‘news’.  Then we have the English, ‘nowel’, meaning “shout of joy”.  Historically a noel was a joyous herald of a new born baby.  It is now almost unique to Christmas and the Christmas Carol and associated with this scripture reference in Luke.

This song, Noel, and the verses strongly associated with it brings some great thoughts to my mind’s eye.  When I most often here of this in a sermon much is made of the fear that the shepherds felt.  This is quite understandable.  God is holy and is not to be toyed with.  In ancient times, angels were not perceived like they are now days.  These shepherds were not looking at little fat babies flying around with stubby feathered wings, looking down from white, cotton soft clouds, playing miniature harps.  In ancient times angels were seen as enforcers of God’s will on man.  When an angel appeared, someone was going to receive the judgement of God.  They were seen as battle hardened soldiers of the Most High and carried his full authority in the matter they were sent to deal with.  They represented God directly.  However, I want to take a different look today.  What about the herald?

Imagine the excitement that the angels had in being able to announce the arrival of the messiah.  The possibly billions of angels that could have been selected to give this message, and God chose them.  All of creation moaned and desired deliverance from the bondage of sin and death that was brought into it through the fall of just one man.  Now, through the birth of just one man, that very deliverance was now made possible.  There was no more waiting.  God’s plan from before the beginning of time was starting to unfold before their very eyes, and they were the ones who were to announce to the world, a savior is born.  God had now entered the stage!

So now back to Lauren Daigle and Noel.  “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  This is an amazing event, probably the most amazing event in the history of mankind.  God himself became flesh and now dwelt among men.  Israel’s king was now preparing for his kingdom. God had just directly intervened in the fate of man.  The love of God so compelled him that he could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch the love of his life destroy itself.  This wasn’t the first time God intervened.

I can see Adam and Eve proclaiming, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  When God shewn mercy and covered their sin with the skins of the first sacrifice. I can see Noah stepping out of the ark and calling to his children, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  He has saved man from total destruction and turned away from his anger. I can see the angels talking to one another, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  When God shewn mercy at the Tower of Babble and confused the languages instead of condemning man for their rebellion.  Then I can see Moses looking on the destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea and telling the children of Israel, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

Time and time again God has delivered us from destruction.  I can think how my own heart declares to all who will listen, “Noel, Come see what God has done!”  See how he took this broken vessel and remade it into a new vase.  Those of us who have heard others declare this message, “Noel, Come see what God has done!” now have our own message of hope and redemption to share.  We can declare to others the love and healing given through the mercies of his love. “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

What God has done is to provide for us, a way to return to fellowship with him.  The one who created the universe, thought enough of you to give you the gift of eternal life.  Although this gift is free to all who accept it, was not free to God.  God had to make a sacrifice that we could not make.  He had to sacrifice his only son.  This one we call Jesus who is Christ.  His birth heralded an event that had never been seen before, nor would it ever repeat.  God himself became man, born for the sole purpose of physically dying to make a way for us to live spiritually in the presence of God.  “Noel, Come see what God has done!”

Matthew 7:6 Judgement and Spiritual Discernment

Matthew 7:6 Judgement and Spiritual Discernment

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Jesus starts this chapter off by saying that we should not judge one another.  Then he gives the reason why.  He says that we do not have proper understanding to judge one another and therefor put ourselves in danger of judgement.  Instead, Jesus says that we should concentrate on our own faults and seek to correct ourselves.  To assume that you have no faults is to lie to yourself.  But more directly Jesus says that you who judge others of hypocrisy would do well to make sure that you are not being hypocritical yourself.  This then would mean that we should use wisdom in judgement because there is a terrible responsibility and consequence for not using righteous judgement.  In addition, this set of verses is not talking about judging if something is right and wrong.  Instead it is a discussion on the weight of the judgment.  Remember in this discourse, Jesus has drawn several contrasts and comparisons between the religious and the ones who would seek the Kingdom of God. He corrected misconceptions, in what true sanctification is verses what it was perceived as. He addressed matters of the heart, clarified the Law of Moses and the Law of Reconciliation.  Jesus gave us an understanding that God sees what a man is like in his heart and not in his appearance. He also said that love should be the primary motivation in everything we do. In judgement then, we should not judge harshly or put undue burdens of punishment.  In these verses in Matthew, it also does not say that we should not judge the brother with a “mote” in his eye. It does say that we should be more concerned with our own sinfulness than someone else’s.  Paul says that we should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In Matthew 7:1-5 we receive a warning that our judgement is subject to review by God who is the rightful judge, so be aware. It does not say that we cannot be discerning.  The whole of Proverbs is concerned with us seeking wisdom and making correct decisions in order that we may be prosperous in the will of the Lord. So it is a discussion of judging with a good heart, in love, and in accordance with scripture. So what does scripture say about this?

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Romans 14:4 it tells us, “who art thou that judgest another man’ servant?  To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand”.  We are all at different levels of spiritual maturity in Christ, but it is the Spirit that instills knowledge and understanding.  To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  This is a point where we all have to start at.  We have to recognize that God exists and is the Creator and source of all existence.  Without God nothing can exist.  He is the supreme authority over all the Creation.  It is God who then establishes all kingdoms, and all their rulers.  He established all powers, principalities, and dominions.  This includes Pastors, teachers, musicians, church counsels, deacons, and other ministers of the Word.  Each God has given authority fit to their position and function.  This is established and blessed by God. We also then can trust that God knows what he is doing and that he established these for our benefit.  He gives according to his will.  He is the master who will ultimately judge the work of his servant.  For you to judge his servant is to assume the place of God and thereby expose yourself to judgement from God.  We are then forbidden to make judgements of condemnation.

We are warned several times in scripture that there will be those agents from the enemy who will try to infiltrate our churches in order to lead astray the flock with misleading doctrines and smooth talking sentiments of partial doctrines.  Those who feed us what we want to hear instead of the truth.  The most dangerous lie is one half-based in truth. (Matthew 7:15;24:24; 1 Timothy 4; Ezekiel 13:9; Jeremiah 23:6; Luke 6:26; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1 John 4:1-6; Matthew 7:15-20)

That being understood; in our verse, Jesus reveals that we are still to use discernment. Because although we are not to judge hypocritically, we are to discern with scripture and hate evil and the deeds of the wicked.  Our opinion is not the standard by which we make decisions judgement of others.  Because our opinion is inherently flawed.  However, scripture has definite ideas on what sin is, its effects, and how it should be dealt with.  Just to note, our opinion of someone should never be used as a basis for judgment either.  Bias distorts discernment. Instead we should be looking to be a loving family member, seeking to help our brother or sister in Christ. We should make sound decisions based on the things we have learned and been taught in sound doctrine.  The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy concerning this very issue when advising him on ordaining elders in the church and what their responsibilities are.  Take a quick look:

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)

So a Bishop (Pastor, Elder) is to hold fast (depend on in obedience) the faithful word (the scriptures and teachings of the faithful) that he was taught (the elder is instructed) so that he will have the ability to teach others and convert the lost by the use of sound (proper, complete) doctrine. Why? Well in verse 11 it tells us so that the mouths of the unruly, vain talkers, and deceivers may be stopped from subverting the teachings.  They are to be rebuked sharply (Titus 1:13) Discernment of the believer is an absolute necessity. Even though we love, love does not dictate that we turn our eyes from correcting sin in the church. Just to clarify, correcting sin in the church is not everyone talking about it behind someone’s back. That is gossip and gossip is a sin.  I hope also you understand that this is not a lofty gaze on someone who is being the “police” of the church.  We should do all things in love and humility.

Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” We all like the first part of this verse, Love without hypocrisy, be sincere.  However; we also see that a part of loving with sincerity is to hate evil and to cling to goodness.  This is a choosing between good and evil.  We should choose to be good, not evil. This is a part or our sanctification. “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.” (Psalm 26:5) We should love those around us, and especially in our church to care enough to confront sin issues.  While a loved one is in sin they are out of communion with God, the church, and their family.  This is easily seen in cases that involve extreme behavioral sins.

Everyone who sees signs of drug dependency, alcoholism, or spousal or child abuse, knows that there is a sin issue that needs to be confronted.  I mention these issue specifically because most everyone understands that these typically require internal and external intervention.  These will most often require the removal of the offender for a limited time.  This is in order to allow repentance, forgiveness, and healing to take effect.  When these are done in love, restoration is always the goal.  The separation or removal of the offender is done for love and is best for all parties involved.  To allow such behaviors to go on would actually indicate a lack of love and concern for family and church members involved.

Jesus in Matthew 7:6 tells us to be discriminating. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, …“.

The Apostle Paul give us an example of this in his correspondence with the Corinthians. In 1st Corinthians Paul has to address the issue of sin in the church.  In chapter five, Paul is confronting an issue of incest among members of the church.  The matter was no small or private thing.  It had affected the church on many levels, so much that people outside of the church were talking about it.  Paul told the church that they should be ashamed of what was being allowed to happen in the membership of the local church.  He accused them of having a false doctrine of love.  He said they were puffed up, proud, of their tolerance of the sin, when they should have executed church discipline and confronted the sin.  This is what love does.  Love confronts sin, it does not turn a blind eye, or become an excuse for acceptance of sin.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3). 

Now Paul says that they should be taken away from among you.  We must understand that in the verses following this Paul talks about the need for personal sanctification and the detrimental effects that willful sin has on the individual and the church.  It takes over the whole of the host that allows it to remain. Paul is saying, for the good of the individual and the church, the sin must be identified and removed. A patient suffering from Cancer has to have the cancer physically removed and follow up medical procedures initiated in order to have any hope of recovery. This is the drastic measure of church discipline.  It is never entered into lightly, and should always be done with the end result focused on reunification of the believer in fellowship with God first, and the church second.  Christ himself give us the process of moving from individual confrontation of sin to ultimate church discipline.

  • Have a conversation (Matthew 18:15)
  • Take a witness to confront again (Matthew 18:6)
  • If the individual will no listen – Involve elders of the church (
  • If they still do not listen – bring the matter before the whole of the church (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4)
  • If they are unrepentant- Remove them from membership/ fellowship (Matthew 18:17)

This is an unfortunate step that is sometimes necessary.  No one likes to have to take this step.  We are in the business of the spread of the gospel.  However as our verse in Matthew 7.6 tells us, not everyone will receive criticism well.  Let’s face it, no one likes to be corrected, especially if they already know what they are doing is wrong. Some will even become violent.  In our efforts to reach out to the community in love and care for their needs, we will expose ourselves to some who would take the generosity, but reject the love of Christ.

Unfortunately some will pretend to believe, in fear that if they do not act like a church person, the church will stop helping them.  When the church asks them to conform to what they confess, instead of doing what is good, they return the good for evil.  They do this because they were never really a believer.  Now we must also see that Paul is not calling for condemnation of the rebellious believer.  Instead, he says “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that they spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5) Paul is saying that if they desire to live in the flesh, then return them to the world.

There are many benefits to being in fellowship in the church.  Those benefits could keep someone living comfortable in sin by absorbing some of the consequences that sin brings.  Paul is saying let them go out into the world and suffer the consequences of their actions.  This suffering of consequences of sin, may bring them to true repentance, and the allow them to be restored into fellowship with the Lord and the church. This drastic measure does not apply to the majority of believers who sincerely seek to walk in the Spirit and are seeking to grow closer to the Lord, but have a besetting sin, that they are struggling to overcome.

Some believe, but have difficulty in their walk and need close discipleship in order to grow.  We must be wise to the difference in trying but failing and not trying but lying. We are called to be discerning.  In 1st Corinthians, Paul says “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” Paul later tells them that it is shameful that they are so ignorant that they cannot be discerning among themselves to use proper church authority and discipline. This all being said, Jesus gives his own warning. He said, “lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

They will disregard your sharing of that which is holy, or sanctified (gospel, truth) and treat it like rubbish to be trampled on.  Then they will rend you.  Rend means to violently tear apart.   This is where you hear phrases like: “who are you to judge me?”; “you think you’re not a sinner?”; “they think they are better than me”.  Then they spread lies, and even become physically confrontational, and violent.   James tell us, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” (James 3:14)  James therefore says, if you have contentions in your heart, then stop lying to yourself.  If you are filled with hatred and anger then you are not filled with the love of Christ.  So then someone who says they are a believer, but responds with arrogance and returns condemnation or violence against someone who loved them enough to tell them of their error before God, instead of repentance is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. They have not clear judgement.  This is a point of understanding raised in Proverbs 9:7.

He that reporveth a scorner getteth to himself shame:  and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. – Proverbs 9-7

  • One who corrects a scorner or a wicked man will be turned on by the one they are trying to help.
  • The wicked man will lash out against the one trying to help them.
  • Like a dog who bites the one who feeds them.

Interestingly, this verse does not tell us, “don’t reprove a scorner, nor rebuke a wicked man”.  The, verses 6-9, of this text draw a comparison and contrast between the wise and the wicked in their response to correction.  The correction, or how it was managed, or by whom it was directed is irrelevant to the response. In other words, it would be great if the correction was delivered in a very tactful way, which was discrete and sensitive to the receiver’s feelings and privacy.  However; the delivery method does not change the reaction of the rebellious hearted man or woman.  Especially in light of the Politically Correct attitude so prevalent today. This generation looks for a reason to be offended where there would otherwise not be one, except that it was invented in the ever self-absorbed, mind of the spoiled child.

What good is this discernment and correction then?  Well believe it or not, it is a sort of “leave no man behind” focus of discipleship.  We should be concerned with our fellow believers, and their needs, physical and spiritual.

  • Ephesians 4:26–27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
  • Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
  • 1 Peter 3:8–9 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

The whole reason for discernment and church discipline is based on forgiveness and restoration.

Galatians 6:1–2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

We should walk in Sprit not in the flesh (Galatians 5:16).   So then focus on yourself and encourage others to be vigilant, rejoice in the hope of the Kingdom of Heaven, being patient in tribulation, and in continuous prayer.

There will always be differences in opinion in a church and feelings will get stepped on from time to time.  Clergy are human also and will make errors in judgement.  Church members will take offence to the preacher and hurt the preacher’s feelings.  But we must always keep in mind that we are all part of the same body.  When one part of the body is hurt, the whole body suffers.  Sin hurts the individual, and it hurts the whole body of Christ.  Sin must be dealt with directly and swiftly.  In being dealt with we mean that it should be addressed out of love for the benefit of the believer and the church.

1st Corinthians 7:10,11 – Paul’s Underlying Theology on Marriage and Divorce 

1st Corinthians 7:10,11 – Paul’s Underlying Theology on Marriage and Divorce 

This chapter is so important because it teaches us principles in dealing with intimate relationships. It addresses such issues as celibacy, marriage and separation, mixed marriages, and social and economic relationships. All of these are still issues that we struggle with every day. Let’s take a closer look now at what the Lord tells us through his Apostle to the Gentiles, and the underling theology behind his answer to marriage and divorce.

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Here Paul makes an important distinction.  What he is about to say is not his opinion, rather it is the commandment he received from the Lord in scripture. The commandment is that we should not deal treacherously with our spouse. The putting away of a wife for no just cause, and to marry another is one such treachery. It is a violation of the marriage covenant and profanes God himself. (Malachi 2:14-17)  Now if he were writing to only Jews, they would likely know this.  However, the gentiles may not have been as familiar with the Law or the Commandments.  So Paul informs them that it is the will of God that he now speaks. Since they are all now servants of the Lord, compliance with his will is an expectation not an option based on opinion.  Interestingly, Paul does not quote scripture or Jesus, this would lead to believe that they were well aware of God’s view of divorce and were seeking a way to justify divorce for certain circumstances that were not written in the law originally.  Possibly verse 12 has the underlying reason.  Better yet we should look at all of the questions that were asked concerning marriage and how the relationship was affected by the new birth in Christ.  Since we are new creatures in Christ and all sin is done away with, and our previous manner of living is to be left behind, does this include our marriages? This is a good question.  What of the marriage we had prior to salvation?  Are we bound by that contract? If we were married in a relationship that now would be considered sinful, how do we deal with that marriage relationship now? Paul will address these questions in detail later in the letter. What is important at this point is that Paul gives a stern reminder that God does not sanction divorce.  For us we can take a look at Mark 10:2-12.

Here in Mark we see that Jesus trains his disciples in the very same way that Paul is teaching his disciples in Corinth.  Jesus give the answer to the Pharisees.  Jesus tells us that God created a man and a woman to be together, for life.  This is the reason that a man should leave his family.  They should cleave to one another. The usage of cleave here is to stick to one another.  The husband and wife should be stuck with one another because they are stuck on one another.  Nothing should separate them.  Jesus says that this cleaving is so sealing that they become intertwined.  God sees them no longer as individuals, but at one flesh.  This is a picture of the triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit = 1 God). So a husband and wife are one person.  A couple should not be treated as individuals.  They should be viewed, treated, and act like one person.  Individuality is lost in the relationship.  The Jesus utters those famous words, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9)

Later to his disciples Jesus gives them a deeper explanation.  If a man divorces a woman, and marries another wife, then he is guilty of committing adultery against his first wife, and makes the second wife commit adultery.    The same is true for the woman who divorces her husband and marries another. (Jeremiah 3:1; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11-12)  This is such a spiritual principle that Paul uses it in the letter to the Romans to illustrate the far reaching implications of the Law.

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. –Romans 7:2-3)

This is the will of God; that once a man and a woman have joined together, they should live in that relationship and treat one another as if their spouse were themselves.  Anything less is sin. Now this is the truth, if we were to do this simple thing in marriage then we would not have to worry about abuse, infidelity, or simple irritations that grow into a mountains that could never be climbed. If we consider our spouse in the love that God gives us and apply it to one another there would be no need to look elsewhere for gratification, empathy, or compassion and forgiveness.  Loving God first and then loving our spouse, as we love ourselves, would not allow us ill feelings towards one another. (Ephesians 5:33)  This is very important to understand. This is the principle with which Paul basis the rest of his answer concerning marital issues on.

Astonishingly, if you were to ask Christians if divorce is wrong, they will immediately start defending reasons why it might be legitimate under certain circumstances.  They would start the “what if” game, and try to get you to consent to their reasoning.  They would totally avoid the simple answer. They will never admit the truth in God’s word, it is not the will of God, but a product of sin in full rebellion against the scriptures. Knowing the truth, Christians still move to divorce rather than repentance and forgiveness.

Keeping in mind the spiritual principle of oneness in God, we should understand that a husband and wife should never sin against one another, and should never have a reason for divorce or separation. Divorce and separation of a married couple is then spiritually unnatural. If such an occurrence should happen then the relationship should be restored as soon as possible. Because of the spiritual principle of reconciliation, neither should they marry someone else as long as the other ex-spouse lives. Christians then and now did not want to hear this. This is why Paul had to make a clear point to this.

If you separate or divorce, do not marry another. Notice also, this enforced celibacy is done so that the husband has no reason to divorce her for sexual immorality. This also infers that the husband does not commit sexual immortality either.(Matthew 19:8-9; Hebrews 13:4; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Jeremiah 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:39)  We must keep in mind that not all couples separate or divorce for reasons of sexual immorality. Some divorce over issues of finances, work stresses, emotional or psychological issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and some just want a change in their partner out of selfish desires. In scripture, any separation of covenant parties is always meant as a means to allow repentance and reconciliation.

This spiritual principle of reconciliation is seen throughout scripture. It is the basis of our faith. That God so loves us that he gave his only Son that if we should believe on Jesus, then we would be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16). It is also included in Christs and Paul’s instructions of healing of relationships and restoring fallen brothers and sisters.
Scriptures on Reconciliation:
• Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
• 2 Corinthians 5:18 – And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
• Matthew 18:15-17 – Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. …
• Romans 5:10 – For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
• Matthew 5:23-26 – Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
• Colossians 1:20 – And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven..
• Luke 17:3 – Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
This spirit of reconciliation is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How is it that we who profess to being recipients of the love of Jesus Christ, who endured so much for us, cannot forgive one another.  We who have had our sinful past removed should see a way to dismiss the past and look forward to the future with hope? The marriage relationship is the most important relationship in life outside of our relationship with Christ. It is so important that God himself uses it as an example of our relationship to him.

God even forgave our adultery against him, and in doing so made a way for us to be reconciled. He did not give up on mankind and just decide to turn his affections to some other creation. Make no mistake, God had every right to divorce us and put us away. Yet his love for us prevented his anger. We should have the same kind of love for our spouse.   Love demands reconciliation.  Love accepts repentance.  Love hopes.