All in Doctrine

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart – A Spiritual Perspective [4]

Doubts swarm as life takes a hairpin turn away from the expected path, and you wonder: did I really know God as well as I thought? Perhaps I misunderstood the Scriptures that I thought were speaking directly to me. Perhaps I was mistaken after all. Have you been there, dear believer? As we will observe in the Upper Room, this very issue pressed upon the disciples. God’s ways are higher than our ways and accomplish more than the singular goals we conceive, so naturally there are times when we don’t understand how things are unfolding. We are not unlike young children, given a pat answer in order to pacify us for a time because we have no framework for understanding the great undertakings the parent has planned on our behalf. In time, as we grow in spiritual wisdom and knowledge, the Lord will give us eyes of understanding, upholding us with sustenance that the world knows nothing about.

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–You’ll Never Walk Alone [3]

In difficult times, having someone come alongside to help and strengthen you is a breath of life. Here, the disciples are confused. The Lord Jesus had been this helper to them, and now He announces His departure. They are filled with fear of abandonment. Their expectation of a Messiah who would reign in power and glory, like the prophets said, is unravelling. In John 14, a chapter full of interrupting questions, the gracious and patient Lord reveals that He is sending a Strengthener and that He Himself will not be gone for long. We learn for ourselves that we don’t need to wait for the Lord to send someone to help because the promised Paraclete is in us presently to strengthen. Even if everyone abandons you, you’ll never walk alone.

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–The Diagnosis and Remedy [1]

“In every pew sits a broken heart.” If the title of the book co-authored by Billy Graham’s daughter Ruth is true, then surely in every pew there must be multiple troubled hearts. Circumstances tend to send our minds swirling as we ponder the hypothetical outcomes of our present dilemmas. We have all been there: distracted in our seats by events that are affecting our lives, tuning in and out of reality. For the disciples in the upper room, bewilderment was agitating what should have been a peaceful Passover meal. However, the Master of the gathering was near to assure them that their heart didn’t need to be troubled if they would just have faith. We will examine this cause and cure that the Lord presents to the troubled heart.

Teaching in the Upper Room: God’s Purposes are never Surprised

Have your plans gone awry? Even if you’ve paid attention to the greatest detail, your plans are still subject to change. In contrast to God, we’re neither all-seeing nor all-knowing. Yet God is never surprised by circumstances and His purposes are never thwarted. Satan’s schemes and man’s sinfulness doesn’t bewilder the Godhead, as we will examine in this passage. When we are stunned by life’s trials, we must seek closeness to Him in order to be reminded that God’s purposes are never caught by surprise.

Teaching in the Upper Room: #Blessed

#blessed. Not too long ago, it was the hashtag we saw everywhere. About 100 million times to date, people have used it. Maybe you have used it. A scan through what people have tagged as “blessed” reveals selfie after selfie of people trying to look their best while portraying their idyllic life. Others use it to show themselves at the beach on vacation, or attached it to a saying about accomplishing goals. But are these things what it is to be #blessed? The first lesson the Lord Jesus teaches His disciples is about what it is to be blessed.

Either/Or Doctrines

Last week I developed some thoughts around the problem with viewing doctrine through an either/or lens. We saw that when God is revealing His eternal purposes to His creation He sometimes presents truths that appear contradictory. The basic human reflex is to work out how this can be and so we set about using our logic to understand how they co-exist. My point was that God doesn’t ask us to do this. He doesn’t ask us to elevate one over the other (either/or); He asks us to believe both. To some this is to disengage the brain. To others it is to rest where God rests.

Both/And Doctrines

Last week I wrote about the problem that stems from approaching scriptural truth with an either/or approach. Specifically I dealt with the way in which love and doctrine are pitted against each other, or at least one is subordinated to the other. My conclusion was that the view that it is either love or doctrine that is more important than the other, is error. Actually it is both love and doctrine that are equally important. This got me thinking throughout the week about a number of scriptural truths that are presented in a both/and manner. Here is a quick outline of three.

Knowing Things Vs. Loving People

In reading through 1 Corinthians lately I was reminded of a conversation I had recently about the supposed dichotomy between doctrine and love; the tension between knowing things and loving people. On the face of it, it looks clear. Here is the verse in question (I’ve abbreviated it to the present it in the form in which it was explained to me in my recent conversation);

A Paradox or Two (Jn. 5:1-19)

A paradox is “a seemingly contradictory proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true”. An example of such would be George Orwell’s famous quote in Animal Farm; “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Mr Orwell used this paradox to make a political point, but the Bible uses them in order that we might know God and serve him better.

Practical Living with Eternal Perspective - Part 1

Culturally acceptable, Non-confrontational, Popular, Fluid…

Hopefully these aren’t “pillars” on which your life and the local church stand. The Hebrew readers have come to an understanding, as you should, that the demands of God on a true Christian’s life aren’t easy. They have been taught for 12 chapters about the superiority of Christ in His person, His priesthood, His sacrifice, and His provisions for them. Now they are about to learn what that all means practically for them. What is acceptable with God is not some kind of “popular” Christianity.

Warning: Follow Peace and Holiness

Will all who appear to start the Christian race endure to the end? Contemporaries of these Hebrews had abandoned their faith. What will happen if they follow their example? As the writer closes the teaching of the book, there is one final warning for the Hebrews. There are two outcomes for those who seem to start the race, and only the one who follows or pursues peace and holiness will see the Lord. They are the ones who have started and are continuing in the race.

The Life of Faith: The Race of Endurance

The marathon is growing in worldwide popularity year by year. World class athletes, who have given their life to the 26 mile 385 yard (42.195km) run are currently attempting to complete this distance in under 2 hours, and large-scale attempts have used wind-breaking pacemakers and a laser line to pace runners attempting this goal. Every detail, from the time of day, appropriate weather conditions, to the clothing of the athlete and undulation of the roadway was carefully measured and controlled to produce the best possible results. Every detail of our race as a believer is carefully controlled by the Father, from examples who have gone before, to the encouragement necessary to keep moving forward with renewed tempo toward the goal. We will examine the opening verses of Hebrews 12 which considers the life of faith as a race of endurance.

Hebrews 11 – Faith in Action – Part 2

Does God ever miss seeing our faith? Will He bless me because of faith? Since faith pleases God, He never misses it. We may miss seeing it, as will be demonstrated in Isaac and Jacob, but God will not. Then when God sees faith, He does indeed bless us, but we will learn that blessing may not always be so naturally evident. Our blessing may simply be to show our faith to others in what seems to be the most difficult circumstances. Is that blessing? We’ll find out it is when judged as servants before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our faith should speak to others in all circumstances, expressing our confidence in God.

Hebrews 11 – Faith in Action – Part 1

 “The just shall live by faith.” The Hebrew writer continues on the topic of faith into chapter 11. Those who turn back, demonstrating that they were not true believers, did not have faith. But is faith something new to the New Testament? Has God changed? What does the history of men and women that pleased God demonstrate? The writer selects 23 specific individuals or groups, elaborating minimally on some of them, to show that works demonstrate faith and that faith pleases God. Faith has always been what pleases God.

The Word (John 1:3) [2]

John says that every single thing in this universe came into being through him. We have already learnt that the Lord Jesus owes his existence to nothing because he is eternal, we now see that everything else in time and space owes its existence to him. He as God, is a necessary being but his creatures are contingent beings. All of the universe, from the microscopic to the telescopic, from the billions of cells in our bodies to the billions of stars in space, originates in him. He is the creator we are his creatures.