The fear and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming. Worries about our health, the economy, the well-being of the people we’re close to—as well as those all over the world—threaten to engulf us. It’s easy to get swept away by the constant stream of alarming news reports and commentary on social media. At the same time, many things we’ve relied on to comfort or entertain us are rapidly disappearing, and it seems impossible to find lasting peace.
In a previous post, we saw that the first step in understanding the Bible is to read it for ourselves, cover to cover. This is how we begin to acquire the building blocks of Scripture that are the foundation for our understanding of God’s Word. But how do we get started? What can we do to develop this healthy and necessary habit of regularly reading the Bible?
In this post, we’ll go over seven practical tips that will help you build up a daily habit of reading the Bible.
The Bible is an incredible book filled with wisdom, poetry, history, and teachings. It contains mysterious prophecies, symbols, and figures, along with lengthy genealogies and detailed laws. Above all, it reveals who Christ is and God’s eternal purpose for mankind.
As Christians, we may know that we should read the Bible, but we might feel apprehensive about it. Maybe our previous attempts to understand the Bible discourage us, or maybe we think it’s a daunting task to read and digest such an important, complex book. But the Bible is God’s Word written for us. Surely He wants us to read and understand this gift He’s given to us. Today, we’ll take a look at the first important step in understanding the Bible.
We’ve probably asked God at some point, “What’s Your will for my life?” Maybe we wanted to know God’s will regarding what we should study in school, the kind of job we should have, or who we should marry.
It’s human nature to be intensely focused on our own affairs and not on God’s. After all, since God is all-powerful and divine, what could He want or need?
Our God is exceedingly great.
You only have to look up at the stars at night to see how wondrous He is as the Creator. When we view the physical universe, we’re awed by His greatness and wisdom. Yet though His magnificence fills us with wonder, God sometimes seems far away from our personal universe.
As believers, we know God is real, but as we go about our daily lives, it can seem like He’s quite distant from us, way up in the heavens. Sometimes even when we pray, God feels out of our reach. At times we might even find ourselves asking, “God, where are You?”
We need to eat food to sustain our physical life and to keep ourselves healthy. But just because we have to eat doesn’t mean it’s a tedious chore. In fact, eating is enjoyable to us, especially when the food is tasty.
Similarly, the Bible tells us that God’s Word sustains us and keeps us spiritually healthy. But how do we feel about reading it? Is our time in God’s Word a dry, tedious duty we feel like we have to fulfill? Or is it a time of enjoyment and nourishment? God desires that our time in His Word would not be a duty, but a delight.
When we first repented to God and received Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were forgiven of all our sins, and peace flooded our hearts. Moreover, God’s Word assures us that our salvation is for all eternity and can never be undone.
But although we’re saved, we know from our personal experience that doesn’t mean we’re immune to sin. We still sin after experiencing salvation, despite our best efforts. So what should we do when we sin after being saved? The Word of God tells us that we should confess our sins to the Lord.
Confessing to God the sins we commit after we’re saved is absolutely critical for our life as a Christian. In this post, we’ll cover why we need to confess our sins, what it means to confess, how to confess, and the results of confessing.
You’re not alone if you’ve ever asked yourself this question. Many of us didn’t know what came next after we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
We surely appreciate the tremendous steps God took to redeem us and impart His eternal life into us so that we could be born again. But believing in Jesus Christ is just the beginning of our Christian life. So much more lies ahead! Let’s look at some things that should occur after we first believe in the Lord.
When the love of the Lord Jesus first touched us and we repented and confessed His name, a deep joy we’d never known before filled our hearts. What a joy it was to be forgiven and born again! God wants all His children to continue to rejoice in His wonderful salvation for their whole lives. This should be the normal experience of every believer, as we see in 1 Peter 1:8: “You exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.”
We’ve experienced such a wonderful salvation, and now we have access to all the riches of Christ. We should be overflowing with unspeakable joy. But while we can never lose our eternal salvation, we can sometimes lose the joy of our salvation. How does this happen? Let’s look at two possible causes.
The day we get saved is a wonderful, momentous day. However, after experiencing the initial joy of salvation, it’s not unusual to wonder how to continue experiencing the Lord Jesus. You may have questions like How can I know Jesus personally? How can I experience Jesus in my life? Is being forgiven and saved from God’s judgment all there is to the Christian life?
Some may try different ways to experience Jesus like they did on the day they were saved. Perhaps they study the Bible, but though they learn something new, the Lord Himself may still seem far away. It’s like trying to enter a locked room with the wrong key; you need the right key to unlock the door. In the same way, we need to use the “right key” to experience Jesus. So what’s the key for us to know Jesus personally in our daily life?
Previously, we discussed how as believers in Jesus Christ, we can be fully assured that we’re really saved and can never lose our salvation—it’s eternally secure.
Since we can’t lose our salvation, some might wonder if this means it doesn’t matter how we live after we’re saved. Are we free to do whatever we want? After all, nothing can change our salvation.
It’s important to know that being saved eternally doesn’t give us license to disobey God or sin freely. In fact, when a believer commits a sin, it results in three huge problems that involve three parties: God, ourselves, and Satan. Let’s look at these problems and the unique solution to each one: the blood of Jesus.
In a previous post, we discussed one of the biggest questions we may have as Christians: Can we lose our salvation? We saw the clear and definite assurance the Bible gives us that once we believe in Christ and receive Him as our Savior, we’re saved eternally. We can’t lose our salvation.
But here’s another question: Does it make any difference whether we know we can’t lose our salvation?
The answer is yes, and in this post we’ll discuss why this is so important.
Have you ever wondered if you can lose your salvation? Or if you can be “unsaved” if you do something wrong or sin?
It’s extremely important for us believers to be clear about several fundamental matters. One of these is having the assurance that we’re saved once we believe in Christ. Another fundamental matter we must be clear about is the security of our salvation. Just how secure is our salvation? What safeguards it? Does its security depend on us? Can we lose our salvation?
Let’s get into five points that address the security of our salvation.
As Christians, although we’ve believed in the Lord Jesus and received Him as our Savior, at times we may wonder, “How do I know I’m saved?” Sometimes we feel we’re definitely saved; at other times, we’re not so sure. When we’re tossed back and forth between certainty and uncertainty, it’s difficult for us to progress in our Christian life.
But we don’t have to be unsure. God provides three clear ways for us to have the full assurance of salvation, which we’ll discuss in this post.
When we repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, some wonderful things happen to us. We are forgiven of all our sins and delivered from God’s condemnation and eternal punishment. As a result, for the first time in our lives we have untold happiness and peace. We can’t help but love the Lord Jesus who died for us on the cross.
Forgiven, delivered, and born again
Being forgiven by God and delivered from eternal punishment are truly wonderful, yet there’s even more. Perhaps the most amazing thing that happens to us when we believe in the Lord Jesus is that we’re born again, or regenerated.
What do the words born again mean?
We previously discussed how man was created by God for His own purpose but became fallen, sinful, and unable to live in a way that fulfills God’s plan. The consequences of the fall of mankind are tragic, and we see their effect in our own lives and everywhere we look today.
But God can never be defeated! And, though frustrated for a time, God’s plan can’t be derailed. In His wisdom, God took three tremendous steps to carry out His original plan of imparting His eternal life into us so we could share His life and express Him.
In a previous post, we saw that God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in order to protect them. That tree represented Satan, the enemy of God and the source of death. Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. This disobedience was serious enough, but by eating the fruit of that tree they were also corrupted with Satan’s evil nature.
In this post, we’ll see the consequences of their action, as well as what God did and is still doing today to recover humanity, which He created for His purpose.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The disobedience of Adam and Eve is usually what gets our attention in this story, and this makes sense. Disobeying God is a serious matter.
But have you ever wondered what was so bad about eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? How could doing that lead to the fall of all mankind? And when God told Adam and Eve not to eat of that tree, was He testing them, just to see whether they would obey Him?
In a previous post, we were calibrated in how we approach the Bible by discovering its essence. In another post, our trust in God’s Word was fortified by seeing its source. Now we’ll look at the contents of the Bible and its focus.
The Bible consists of two sections, the Old Testament and New Testament; sixty-six books; and many chapters. With so much material, what should we focus on when we read the Bible?
Where did the Bible come from? Are its words simply religious lore, written down by people over the centuries? Are they the product of the thoughts and imaginations of men? Or is the Bible the inspired Word of God? Did God write the Bible? Or did men?
Since our faith is based on this book, it’s crucial for us as Christians to know the source of the Bible.
As one who has believed in Christ, have you ever wondered, “How can I get to know the Lord Jesus more? How can I know Him in my daily life?”
In a previous post, we discussed how important it is to know that the essence of the Bible is the Spirit. Since only the Spirit can give life, for us to get life from reading the Bible we need to contact the Spirit in the Word. By receiving life, we’ll be spiritually nourished, and by that nourishment, we’ll grow in Christ. So being able to receive life from the Bible is crucial to our Christian life.
We may not often think of the word essence in relation to the Bible, but the Word of God does have a particular essence. If we want to grow in Christ, it’s critical for us to know what that essence is.
In this post we’ll discuss a practice by God’s people seen throughout the entire Bible: the practice of calling on the name of the Lord. Let’s see what it is to call on the name of the Lord and how this practice can benefit us.
In a previous post we saw that when the apostle Paul said, “Jesus Christ is in you,” he was not speaking metaphorically. He was speaking of the wonderful fact that Christ as the life-giving Spirit actually comes into those who believe in Him. We looked at eight verses that confirm and enrich our understanding of this wonderful reality.
Of course, our knowing Christ is in us isn’t for a mere doctrinal understanding. Christ lives in us to be our life. So in this post, we’ll discuss how we can experience Christ living in us in a practical way.
People, even Christians, have many concepts about what the church is. But what is the church exactly? Is the church a building Christians go to on Sundays to worship? Is the church an organisation of people who believe in Jesus Christ? To discover what God’s thought is concerning the church, we must come to the Bible.
While we can’t cover this enormous matter in a single blog post, we’ll begin to look at what the church is according to God’s Word.
The church is people
What is the church according to the Bible? A good principle in reading the Bible is to pay special attention to the first mention of a matter. This sets the stage for understanding that matter in the rest of the Bible. The first mention of the word church in the entire Bible is in Matthew 16.
When we’re little children, many times we play with our toys in a random way, exploring as we learn. But we have no grand scheme or purpose to our play. We simply make it up as we go.
But can you imagine God doing something like that? Would the God who is wise, loving, and eternal create the universe without a purpose? Could He create human beings without a purpose?
The terms soul and spirit have been discussed at length throughout philosophy, literature, and religion. Even scientists have ventured remarks about the soul. Often, though, soul and spirit are interpreted to mean the same thing and end up being used interchangeably.
This can lead to the question: ‘Is there a difference between the soul and the spirit, and does it really matter if there is?’
Regardless of what philosophy, literature, religion, or some scientists say, we have to ask, ‘What does the Bible say?’ The Bible clearly makes many references to both. So what does God’s Word say about our soul and our spirit? And why can knowing this be a crucial factor in our spiritual progress and relationship with God?
Are they the same thing?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says: ‘And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
This verse clearly tells us that human beings are made up of three parts—the spirit, soul, and body. In the original Greek language, the conjunction ‘and’ in ‘spirit and soul and body’ indicates the three are different from one another. So just as the body is separate and distinct from the soul, the soul is also separate and distinct from the spirit, as illustrated in the diagram below:
In Philippians 4:6, we’re given a seemingly impossible command:
‘In nothing be anxious.’
Each of us has a long list of anxiety-inducing circumstances — relationship issues, financial woes, naughty children, pressure at work, no work, and so on. And in addition to our personal life, the world today seems to manufacture large-scale anxiety-inducing events — economic uncertainty, war, social upheaval — delivered to us on a conveyor belt of 24-hour news coverage. Is God’s command outdated or unreasonable, given so many difficulties?
What does the New Testament mean when it says ‘life?’ For instance, when the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10: ‘I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly’, what did He mean? Did He mean He would help us to have a better human life, that He would enrich our life or improve our life?
We’ve all heard someone say, ‘I’ve been blessed by God’, usually in relation to success, health, family, wealth, or a job. We’ve even heard athletes say this after winning a big game. We all want to be under God’s blessing.
The common understanding of what it means to be blessed by God is that He gives us good things. In this respect, we can say that God’s blessing is on everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. Matthew 5:45 says that the Father who is in the heavens causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.
But does God’s blessing pertain only to material things? Though these are included, thinking of God’s blessing as mainly material things severely limits our understanding of what is in God’s heart for us as believers. So what is the fuller meaning of being blessed by God?
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: ‘Or do you not realise about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?‘ We might find this phrase, ‘Jesus Christ is in you’ surprising, or perhaps we just read over it without thinking too much about its significance. But what does this phrase mean? And what is its importance for our Christian lives today?