Early last week, news surfaced of the discovery of sunken treasure off the coast of the South American country of Columbia. It is believed that the wreckage is that of the Spanish galleon ship, the San Jose, which was carrying 600 passengers and eleven million dollars in gold that disappeared in 1708. For over 300 years the search has been on to find the treasure that many believe now to be worth between four and seventeen billion dollars in gold coins and jewelry. If true, this would be one of the greatest recoveries of sunken treasures in all of history. Ownership of the contents of the find is being highly contested by the Columbian government, the salvage company, the Spanish, and several other “interested” parties.
I don’t know about you, but the holiday season is one of the toughest times for me to eat healthy. As a Type-2 diabetic, there are certain foods that seem to magically appear during this time of year that are simply impossible to resist. Whether it might be stuffing, cakes, pies, homemade cookies, egg nog, or mashed potatoes (which are available all year, but are much easier to resist in July), there are certain “comfort foods” that I have trouble saying “no” to.
- 1.The forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed force before an enemy, or the withdrawing of a naval force from action.
- 2.The act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.
- 3.A place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy
- 4.A retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation
We will be taking our teens, along with a great group of adult chaperones, to Palmetto Bible Camp next weekend (October 23-25) for our annual Fall Retreat.
Over the last few weeks it has been my pleasure to spend more time with some of my grandchildren. They love their granddaddy! And, you better bet he loves those two little boys very much, too. Within reason, there is not a thing in the world I would want to deny them, especially if it is sweet and yummie. One of the things I have been reminded of late has been how much children rely on adults. Those little guys are as sweet as they can be, but they can do very little for themselves. They are learning to pick up their toys, and to be nice to each other, but they depend so much on their mom and dad for so much.
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. YouTube. Online blogs. 24-hour news. Cable television. The internet.
Would it be safe to say that the 1st century church lived in a simpler culture?
Would it also be fair to assume that our constant access to unlimited information has been a bit of a “game changer?” I think that we would all agree that there are both positive and negative elements to this glut of information that we are constantly exposed to.
As the Israelites were about to enter the promise land, Joshua rose up “and commanded the people, ‘As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.’”(Joshua 3:3–4 ESV)
Watch as a little girl sits in her chair on the first day of the 1st grade. See the man with no cooking skills in the kitchen with the idea that he is going to make an apple pie. Then, there is the woman who has raised her children as a stay-at-home mom as she walks into her new job in the work force. Or, the young couple, unable to have a baby of their own, waiting, as just the other side of the door is the infant they will take home and raise as their own. Uncharted territory!
What does God look like? Imagine being able to look into the eyes of the Most High God! A number of years ago while working as a missionary in New Zealand, the little church our family was working with were meeting in a school hall. I received a call one Friday from the school saying that over the weekend the floors in the hall were going to be redone. We were told we could use the hall, but everyone had to take their shoes off if they had hard soles; otherwise, they could keep them on when we gathered Sunday morning. So, I reached out to all the members and made them aware of the plan. It just so happened that I had a pair of dress shoes that were soft soled, and I wore them that morning. As I was standing near the door to remind those who may have forgotten, one family arrived and began removing their shoes at the door. The mother told her little five-year-old boy to take his shoes off, but he did not want to do it. A quarrel between them ensued. It was then I heard the boy make what he thought was the perfect argument. He looked at me, pointed to my shoes and said, “Well, god doesn’t have to take his shoes off!” Hmmm!
We have seen very clearly so far that, although our approach towards our salvation should be taken quite seriously, our works do not put God in a position of “owing” us anything whatsoever. We are saved “by grace…through faith…not as a result of works.” (Eph. 2:8-9) This teaching is made crystal clear in a number of other passages, to the point that the “works-based” concept of salvation is seen to be absolutely indefensible and unbiblical.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippian saints, he says to them in 2:12:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Thanks a lot, Paul. Everything seemed pretty simple until we got to this verse!
Last week, we began a study on our “works” and their relationship to our salvation/justification. This week, let’s continue this study and see what else we learn.
According to multiple passages in the New Testament, God has made one thing crystal clear: WE ARE NOT SAVED BY OUR WORKS (Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:5). The Bible teaches that there is absolutely nothing that you and I can do to earn, merit, work towards, or deserve the salvation that God has offered. In fact, it is described as a “gift” 8 times in Paul’s letter to the Romans (4 of those instances describe it as a “free gift”)! In Paul’s words (inspired by the Holy Spirit), he explains, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due” (Rom. 4:4). Let’s break this down, by way of “nailing down” this concept: