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Quotes by Randy Smith


I love all the passages in the Bible that take the heart of a mother and then use it to explain other biblical relationships. For example, when God wanted to illustrate His tenderness for His people, He said in Isaiah 66, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). When Paul spoke of his pastor’s heart for the church he said, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children” (1 Thes. 2:7). When David considered his hope in the Lord he said, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother” (Psm. 131:2).


The excellence of the Apostles’ evangelism was found in the reality that they were “filled with the Spirit” (Ac. 4:7). That means they were bold, self-controlled, gentle, fearing God and not man, peaceful, faithful and wise – ultimately demonstrated by making the discussion not about themselves, but rather Jesus Christ. They drove the conversation to the tip of the spear, displaying the highest good and greatest love possible, by proclaiming their Savior and the desire for evil men to be saved. For them, it wasn’t about winning approval or even an argument for their own glory, but winning lost souls to Jesus Christ.


I always find it so amazing when you allow people to present their religious conviction, or we could say, “their worldview.” In other words, what helps them believe they will have a successful life after death or what gives them hope, strength and happiness? Often, they come up with some customized cocktail personally created composed of conversations and experiences they have picked up along the way. Take a few marvel movies. Add a memorable talk with the bartender after the night club closed. Sprinkle in some new age reasoning. Add a pinch of Confucius. Take some of the current talking points from “The View.” Insert a splash of your own intuition and there you go! A customized worldview, one that everyone in the history of humanity has missed, but they are absolutely certain they are correct, and they are willing to base their life and eternity on it.


Always, always, always, when providing Christian counseling or sharing the Gospel – give hope! There is absolutely no sin that a believer cannot overcome in Christ. And there is no degree of sin that God cannot forgive if someone embraces Christ for salvation.


The Greek word translated “tongues” is glossa. The word translated literally means, “languages” and it would save a lot of confusion if translators of our English Bibles would begin using that word. There is nothing in this passage that suggests undetectable, ecstatic, so-called “angelic” communication. The miracle that took place at Pentecost is that uneducated and often derided Galileans were speaking in different languages, identifiable languages, that they previously did not know. How much clearer can the text be? Verse 6, “Each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language “dialectos” – dialect).” Verse 8, “How is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” Verse 11, “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”


It is my firm conviction, based on the Scriptures, that the gift of “tongues” from Acts 2 is speaking a previously unknown language. It came to authenticate the apostles before Scripture was written and served as a sign to the Jews that judgment was upon the nation. We see tongues spoken only two other times in Acts when the Gospel reached the concentric spheres mentioned in 1:8 and then it ended in Acts 19 when the Gospel reached the so-called “remotest part of the earth” (cf. Ac. 2:4; 8:17; 10:46 and 19:6).


You see, when God’s judgement came upon Israel from the Babylonians, the prophets all said the nation would know that judgment has come because they will hear “a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say (Jer. 5:15) and “unintelligible speech which no one comprehends, of a stammering tongue which no one understands” (Isa. 33:19) and “through stammering lips and a foreign tongue (Isa. 28:11). That final verse is quoted by Paul in the famous “tongues chapter” in 1 Corinthians 14. Therefore, in the same way, people speaking foreign languages (Acts 2, 10, 19) was a sign to the Jews that judgment was once again upon the nation.


We often call the gift of tongues a “sign gift.” That is a good description. We know signs are welcomed because they point us to a destination. Yet when we arrive at the desired destination, there longer remains any need for the sign. Unlike the first century, we now know the Bible is complete, Israel is judged (Jer. 5:15; Isa. 28:11; 33:19) and the church is composed of Jew and Gentile. Therefore, the sign (for those purposes) has taken us to our destination and is no longer necessary – tongues have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8). So, any use of tongues spoken of in the Bible (and there are only two beyond Acts – an obscure passage in Mark 16 and the rebuke to the immature Corinthian church), must be interpreted in light of the Acts passages that clearly reveal a known language. Can God still enable a person to speak a previously unknown foreign language? Perhaps, but it is not “tongues” in the biblical sense.


The Bible warns against being self-willed or creating factions. Furthermore, James tells us that when it comes in corporate worship, we should not play favorites or create distinctions among one another. Of course, we celebrate family and friendships, but Sunday morning is not to celebrate the people we like the most. It is to celebrate the oneness we have in Christ with each other. That’s what makes us different than the world. That’s what heaven is all about. That’s a biblical church with one accord with each other, not several factions splintered among family and friendship distinctions or at worse “toxic tribalism.” That gets celebrated outside the body, but not when the body of Christ gathers. Understanding the balance calls for discernment and self-control and love. It calls for Christian maturity.


You ever have a big decision to make? I believe we should follow what Scripture says the Apostles did in Acts chapter 1. First, verse 24, “They prayed” (cf. 1:14). Second, they followed the Scriptures (1:16, 20). Third, they used common sense (1:21-22). And fourth, they drew lots (1:26). That was the last we hear of lots, because in the following chapter the Holy Spirit will arrive. In the place of lots, we now trust the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking, put good desires on our heart and led us in peace.


So why don’t we obey as professing Christians? It really comes down to a lack of faith. For some reason, we believe we’ll be happier if we pursue a life contrary to Scripture. But in doing so, we not only bring needless pain into our own lives, but we also commit treason against the one we call our Lord and give Him a vote of no confidence. We are all guilty to some degree, but the mark of a true believer is a desire and ability to obey.


It’s fascinating to note that the first thing mentioned that the early did when they gathered together was to pray. Before there is any comment regarding the preaching of the Word, singing or fellowshipping (or even the myriads of “ministries” we engage in today), the Bible says they were “continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Ac. 1:14).


We must not be consumed with our past pain. We need to get beyond our poor choices (guilt, regret) and the ways others have hurt us (bitterness, self-pity). This is the unnecessary baggage we must discard. Satan wants us focused on the past. God want us to move forward and by His grace we can. Discard the weight you are needlessly bearing by casting your cares upon the Lord. Appreciate His forgiveness (for your sins), and the forgiveness He expects us to extend to others (for their sins). Learn “the peace of Christ that surpasses all comprehension.”


Tight races are lost when a runner chooses to look over his shoulder. It’s a strong temptation that needs to be resisted. Looking behind in many ways will deter our momentum going forward. The same is true in the spiritual race. We are commanded to “forget what lies behind.” Both our forgiven spiritual failures and successful spiritual efforts will significantly hinder us from “reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13).


It only stands to reason among those who are truly saved that they will spend the duration of their existence with the desire to grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is a clear indication that we not only love our Savior, but find Him so magnificent that we wish to continually explore new elements of His perfections. Expanding our relationship with Him through biblical awareness and personal experience is at the heart of knowing Christ, is at the heart of a genuine relationship with Him.


Does God want you to fret and squirm your way through life, bearing crushing burden, carrying enormous guilt and confusion, wondering if you were “good enough,” wondering if He’s your Father, wondering where you’ll spend eternity once you die? What does the Scripture say? “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:13).


Our only hope for salvation is receiving by grace the righteousness of Christ. He is much too glorious to lower His standard by grading on a curve, rewarding effort or accommodating whatever means we employ in thinking it’s making us acceptable.


Salvation is grace alone, faith alone and Christ alone. Or by grace, through faith in Christ. Or using the FAITH acronym, “Forsaking all I trust Him.”


If Jesus Christ made the complete atonement for our sin, how can we choose another option and believe it is a viable option in God’s eyes? How can we assume His work was incomplete and seek to supplement it with our own works? How can we in any way believe that we can merit our salvation in whole or part and take glory (to some degree) for what we have attained and thus rob Him of the complete glory that is due His name?


Salvation is achieved either through our work or God’s work. And since salvation is only and entirely a work of God, anything we relied upon for merit actually competes with and cancels out the work of God.


In Philippians 3, Paul explained how his “righteous merit” exceeded any on the planet. If anyone could have earned heaven it would have been him. Yet Paul knew we can never earn God’s favor. The only hope we have is the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to us as a gift when we embrace Him by faith. Though the specifics are different, the boasts are the same: I was born in America. I grew up in a devout Christian family. I was baptized. I read my Bible and pray every morning. I faithfully attend church. I serve in the church. I participate in the Lord’s Supper each month. I am blameless in my obedience to the Scriptures. All of these are excellent, but when we use them to earn God’s saving favor, they are but “rubbish.”


Parents, like it or not, you are an example for your children for good or for bad. Your children may have other examples, but would they say you are their primary “example” (Phil. 3:17) in their lives? Or what about the other word Paul uses in verse 17 – “pattern” (Tupos)? Here’s the Lexical illustration for that word in the original language: “Taking a stone out of the ground leaves a hole that bears the contours of the stone, but in effect the stone has made the impression.” Parents, your children will follow an impression set for them. Are you the one setting the positive impression, that mold that they can fit into? We may differ with giftedness, but every Christian has the potential to live a godly life and be an example and pattern for their child. Who are your child’s heroes? Are they spiritual? Do you make the list?


Since we can’t see Jesus for the day-to-day living, God has provided in our lives godly men and women whom we can watch, question and follow within the church. Let’s remember, this is a team race. We need examples to imitate. Mavericks in the church only hurt themselves and others. To say you don’t need human examples is prideful and clearly unbiblical (1 Cor. 4:16; 1:11; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:2).


Throughout Scripture we see the Bible testifying of the generating power of God’s Word. Beginning in Genesis 1 we read that God spoke this world into existence creating life out of darkness. In Ezekiel 37 we have the fabulous vision where the Prophet is called to preach to the dry bones and through the preaching of God’s Word, God’s Spirit would bring deadness to life. This is how God gives us spiritual life. This is how God takes spiritually dead corpses and regenerates them through the teaching of His Word. 1 Peter 1:23, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (cf. Jas. 1:18). In Romans 10 the familiar verse says “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). That is why Paul told the Corinthians, “God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (2 Cor. 1:21b; cf. 1 Cor. 1:17; 23; 9:16, 18; 15:11).


In the past God spoke in a variety of forms. Listen to the opening verses from the book of Hebrews. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2a). In Jesus Christ, the Word of God became incarnate. His words are God’s words. And His words were God’s final and most supreme revelation to mankind. On that holy mountain the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (Mt. 17:5). Through Christ, Scripture is complete and sufficient for “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). God designed it whereby no other revelation would compete with that of His Son. From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are closed, and Christ had the final say.


All our minds are working in overdrive recruiting files to “dwell upon” (Phil. 4:8). Do those thoughts successfully pass through the spiritual grid presented to us in Philippians 4:8? Are we needlessly putting thoughts in our minds that are contrary to Philippians 4:8? Therefore, think twice before you look at that picture, watch that movie, entertain that gossip, visit that place, receive that counsel, read that article and listen to that song. Are you guarding your heart by living a disciplined life in the pursuit of righteous living and practicing self-control at to what you choose to dwell upon?


We put off all worry (Philippians 4:6) by bringing everything to God in prayer with a heart of thanksgiving. Could Paul have made his point any clearer? He uses three terms for the same activity in this verse: “Prayer,” “Supplication,” and “Requests made known to God.” Here is the solution to the sin we all struggle with: Be anxious for nothing, prayer about everything. Or put another way, instead of taking your troubling matters in your own impotent hands, place your matters in God’s omnipotent hands. Worry is a preoccupation with yourself. Prayer is a preoccupation with God. Which preoccupation will bring you the greatest joy (Philippians 4:4)? Which one will bring you the greatest peace (Philippians 4:7)?


Think about it. If love is the dominant mark of our lives as it should be, what does it say about us if we claim to believe the Gospel, but fail to share it with others? In other words, we acknowledge that in Christ we have abundant life and the fullness of joy (Jn. 10:10). We accept the fact that Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). And we believe the wages of sin are an eternal death in hell (Rom. 6:23). Once again, what does it say about us if we claim to believe the Gospel, but fail to share it with others whereby they might experience the same blessings?


If I realize that the Greatest Being, with the Greatest Power, who cares for me with the Greatest Love, who is empowered by the greatest wisdom who put the Greatest Desires on my heart, is also the Greatest Giver – it will naturally breed in me a spirit of contentment.


Randy’s Nine Personal Guidelines for Contentment (1 Tim. 6:6):

1. Pursue the gold, not the tin – Remember only Jesus Christ is sufficient to bring the fullness of joy that my heart desires. Anything less is not built to bring me the highest satisfaction. God is not in the business of creating idols (Mt. 13:45-46).

2. Be thankful for what you have – Anything beyond hell is a gift of God’s grace (1 Thes. 5:18).

3. Tame those tastebuds – I won’t want what I don’t know is out there (1 Cor. 9:27).

4. Be wary of commercials – The goal of advertising is to breed discontentment to get me to want something I never thought I needed (1 Tim. 6:9).

5. Prioritize your needs, not your wants – Pursue that which God promises, not that which is seldom received or breeds a desire for more. What does God want me to want (1 Tim. 6:7-8).

6. Know when enough is enough – Does a bigger income always need to translate into a bigger lifestyle (Phil. 4:11-12)?

7. No U-Hails behind hearses – The temporary things don’t last in this life and are definitely not transferred to the next. Pursue what I’ll cherish for an eternity (Mt. 6:19-21).

8. The two greatest commandments – The four sins of discontentment, doubt and complaining against God and jealously and coveting against people, will end when I love God and love others (Mt. 22:38-40). 

9. Who’s the boss? – Do I own my stuff or does my stuff own me (1 Cor. 6:12)?


True biblical love is the solution to the sin of discontentment If we truly love God, we will trust His wise and good care for our lives and thus not doubt or complain. And if we truly love for others, we will not be jealous or covetous toward their blessings. Learn to trust God and rejoice in the blessings of others.


The key to contentment is to limit our wants. For starters, we rarely get all that we want. And second, even when we occasionally do, we often want an increase in quality or quantity of that object. Therefore, the more I want, the more I will have to deal with the temptation toward discontentment. Actually, if we can only focus on our needs, that which God does promise to provide, we are guaranteed contentment. “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:7-8).


Gentleness says I will fight God’s wars God’s way. I can trust that His way of graciousness is right without resorting to manipulation or intimidation. It says I can bear up under abuse and not be mad at the world in the process. It says my testimony to Christ is more important than winning at any cost. It says His Spirit is working in me, producing the fruit of gentleness. As a matter of fact, gentleness is so important that Paul says in Philippians 4:5 that it should “be known to all men.”


Gentleness imitates the character of Christ. Paul pleaded with the Corinthian church “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). Jesus came down to earth as Almighty God for 33 years. Has there ever been or will there ever be and individual gentler than Him? The more you conform to the image of Jesus, the gentler you will become.


The Greek word the Bible often translates “gentle” is epiekes. It technically has a richer meaning than any English word. In the language of the day, it was used in a way similar to being kind, courteous or tolerant. Patience to endue injustice, mistreatment or disgrace. Yielding. Willingness to remain self-controlled when wronged. Humility. Someone once said it could be called “graciousness of humility.” This word shows up when describing the character of an elder who must not be “pugnacious, but gentle (epiekes)” (1 Tim. 3:3). In Titus 3:2 we are “to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle (epiekes).” James tells us the wisdom that comes down from above is, “First pure, then peaceable, gentle” (epiekes). In Philippians 4:5 we are to “let [our] gentle (epiekes) spirit be known to all men.”


As Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 say, for the Christian, our joy is “in the Lord”. If you look elsewhere, don’t expect to find it.


When we don’t rejoice, we are basically giving God a vote of no confidence. Like an unbeliever, we are concerned only for our temporary happiness or happiness in a way that is contrary to His will.


For the Christian, joy is a deep-seated belief of the heart that trusts God regardless of the circumstances. It’s connected to faith knowing that He is in control and working everything in your life for good. It’s knowing that He always loves you. It’s knowing that this life is short, and thanks to the work of Christ, you will be with Him for all of eternity. It’s knowing that even your worst times are under the sovereign dominion of God, producing in you your greatest goal – Christlikeness. Therefore, the pursuit of joy in Christ is commanded in the Bible. It’s even produced in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our greatest joy will always be in Christ. And when we reach this pinnacle, God will be most glorified in us.


What makes a soldier for Jesus? Metaphorically speaking we could say, notable sacrifice for the gospel. Zeal to win the lost for Christ. Willingness to suffer for the faith. Desire to be an example to others even at the personal expense of your own liberties. Acknowledging and being victorious over the enemy. Working fearlessly and tirelessly for the Lord. Devotion. Obedience to your Commanding Officer. Prioritizing the needs of the church. Working as a team. Epaphroditus was Paul’s “fellow soldier” (Phil. 2:25). Paul’s spoke similar words to Timothy, his other son in the faith. “Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:3).


Humble accommodations – not a five-star resort. Humble parents – not esteemed individuals. Humble shepherds – not religious leaders. And humble magi – not worldly kings. All of it to frame the Mighty God, who that first Christmas would humble Himself, take on flesh and enter the world He created.


Here’s the Christmas message: The shepherds believed and their belief resulted in action. They immediately departed for Bethlehem. The Bible says they “found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” They also proclaimed the good news to others as the first Christian evangelists when they told others what was told them about the Child. And then they worshipped. Luke 2:20, “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”


So, why do we serve in the church? One, because we are a spiritual body and each “body” part needs to perform his or her function. Two, we are commanded to serve by the Lord. Three, there will be accountability. Consequences toward those who refuse to use their gifts and rewards toward those who faithful discharge them as a good steward. Four, it is an honor and joy to be used by the Lord to build His eternal kingdom. And five, we want to see our investment in a person or persons to witness their spiritual fruit (Rom 1:13).


It helps me to think of it this way. As a Christian, there are three stages of our salvation. In the past, we were saved from sin’s penalty. In the present, we are saved from sin’s power. And in the future, we will be saved from sin’s presence. Or, in the past – justification. In the present – sanctification. In the future – glorification. Or, we have been saved. We are being saved. And we will be saved.


Let’s remember, we enter with faith and continue to live by faith. We believe the Gospel and live Gospel-centered lives. We are saved by grace and we are continually empowered by His grace. We work, but give God all the glory for His working in us.


Because of our Lord’s exalted status, the day will come when all of creation, beginning at the return of our Lord and throughout eternity, will bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord (see Philippians 2:10-11). Believers will do that willingly and joyfully. All the rest of creation will do it against their will. Bottom line, in the end all will surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation, chapter 5, verses 13-14 declares, “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’”


We must trust the sovereignty of God in all our unfavorable circumstances believing that He has a good plan for us. But we need to do this through a Christ-centered, Gospel-focused perspective knowing that the good that our Lord desires – growing in Christlikeness and making Him known.


We know worry doesn’t change our circumstances. All it accomplishes is disrupted sleep, headaches, difficulty concentrating, nausea, muscle tension, exhaustion, irritability, ulcers and high blood pressure. But most of all, worry expresses no confidence in the sovereignty and promises of God.


What does it mean when we read of Christians needing to “all agree” (1 Cor. 1:10) and be “of the same mind” (Phil. 2:2)? On the lowest level, all of us have personal interests with no spiritual significance. I like to call these “preferences.” Your favorite ice cream flavor. Where you choose to vacation. What you think makes a person attractive. Unless you are an egotistical moron, you respect the phrase, “to each their own.” On the middle level are non-salvific spiritual conclusions on how to live your life. These are the issues where Christians must decide, but often (even within the same church) have different perspectives. I call these “convictions,” or we could say “non-essentials.” Watching movies. How to school your children. Women’s clothing. What to do with Halloween. In these things, we respect another’s freedom (or liberty) in Christ. Then at the top level are the essentials for salvation and church unity. The doctrine of justification by faith. Obeying the Bible. Sharing Christ with others. These are the essentials and it’s in these things and these things alone we have unity – total agreement.


Fellowship is from the Greek word, “koinonia” which literally means “to have something in common.” What comes to mind when you think of fellowship? Is it conversations with other believers, Christian parties, a “fellowship hall” – the name of the room behind the sanctuary? Fellowship in the biblical usage is the verbal exchange of encouragement between two or more believers. It’s taking about trials and how we can be encouraged. It’s talking about blessings and their source in God. It’s talking about special insights from the Word. It’s encouraging a brother or sister in Christ through divine means. Discussing the weather, sports or bodily pains is not biblical fellowship.


Are you holding fast to the Word of life? Are you revealing your desperation for the Bible by making it a priority to read it on a regular basis, both individually and as together as a family? Are you daily seeking to learn something new from the Scriptures? Do you follow what the Bible teaches regardless of the financial, emotional, or relational cost? Do you believe the Bible is sufficient to live a victorious spiritual life? Do you believe the Bible is the voice of God without error? Do you believe the Bible has authority over you? Do you hold fast to the Bible when everything in you during a trial screams at you to rely on your own wisdom?  Do you believe you will have more joy and peace by following Scripture? Do you believe you live in a “crooked and perverse generation” that by necessity demands you hold fast to God’s Word? Are you standing firm in no way overcome by your trials because you are fully relying on the promises of God?


So, what’s so bad about complaining? One – it reveals a thankless heart. How much easier is it to complain about the two things we don’t have as compared to being grateful for the thousands of things we do have? How can we follow the commands to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4) and be thankful for all things (1 Thes. 5:18) if there is a mere morsel of complaining in our hearts? Two – complaining reveals greater sins. Why do we complain? Because we are jealous that someone has what we want. Because we are selfish that things are not going our way. Because we are discontent and unsatisfied in Christ’s sufficiency. And three – complaining distrusts the sovereignty of God. Complaining implies that God made a mistake; that He not ruling the world with perfect justice and wisdom and quite frankly, we could do a better job. That He’s personally unloving and unkind to us. Can we rightly accept the fact that God has a good plan for our lives, or do we complain in believing ours is better and thus cast doubt on our sovereign Creator?


Philippians 2:7 says Jesus “emptied Himself.” Here’s what that does not mean: Jesus did not place Himself in demonic powers nor did He empty Himself of His deity. The latter is commonly referred to as the kenosis theory or kenoticism. It comes out in the second stanza of the popular hymn, “And Can it Be.” “Emptied Himself of all but love.” It is best to think of Christ’s “emptying” Himself as a laying aside of the privileges that were His in heaven. Some like to think of it as what Jesus took on. Taking on humanity forced Jesus to often operate within the limitations of humanity. So, He emptied Himself, verse 7 tells by “taking the form of a bond-servant [“doulos” – slave], and being made in the likeness of men.”


Jesus “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). “To be grasped” literally means “to seize, to be carried off by force.” We could say, Jesus did not regard equality with God a thing to be used for His own advantage. This in no way means Jesus lost His divine attributes. We know He could read minds, walk on water and forgive sins. Yet this verse is teaching us that He chose not to use His divine attributes for His own advantage. Jesus fed others, but He went hungry. He defended others, but He accepted criticism. He delivered others from demons, but He was tempted by the devil. He raised others from the dead, but gave His own life on the cross. Rarely do we see Him reveal the glory that was due His name, especially in a way that worked for His own advantage.


Philippians 2:6 declares Jesus “existed in the form of God.” Although Jesus never lost being God, His form at a point in time did change. Originally, He was in the form of God. He shared the same external features of the Father – commonly identified in the Old Testament as a shining light. He was clothed in garments of diving majesty and splendor. We see a glimpse of this at the Transfiguration. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” This is emphasized because for Jesus (who is entirely glorious) to change in any way demanded a decent in His glory (humility!). Yet the One who existed in the form of God willing traded it for the “form of a slave” (Phil. 2:7). He left His glorious form for the ignoble form of man.


We know our sin brings personal consequences, but let’s remember it also affects others. You are part of a body. You sin, others in the church are hurt. Yet most of all, it affects how other people think about Christ. The stakes cannot be higher regarding the need for your personal moral integrity. Our entire life must be seen in the light of the Gospel’s proclamation through Christlike personal transformation. 


Only the Gospel can take people that are externally diverse and internally bent on serving themselves and living according to their sinful desires and make them value the lives of others and then to contribute to healthy relationships in a unified church. And when we act this way, there is a power of Gospel presence and a purpose of Gospel attractiveness.


Being unified in a church means: We know the difference between enjoying our small group, but understanding that the church is one – not separated along the lines of many small groups. Between having personal priorities within the church, but not losing the one core overarching mission of the church. Between respecting politics, but not making the church political. Between having good friends, but not forming alliances in the church to the exclusion of others. Between having differing beliefs, but honoring the church’s doctrinal statement.  Between having personal convictions, but not legalistically pressing them upon others. That’s how we stand together as one for the Gospel.


Consider those sharing the Gospel. Anyone who believes the validity of this message, has been transformed by this message, seeks to be obedient to God by declaring the message, loves people enough to proclaim this message and willingly receives persecution for sharing this message, shows that he or she has truly received “salvation” (see Philippians 1:28).


Suffering has a way to refine our faith, prove to others our faith is genuine and prove to ourselves that even our lives are less valuable than the worthiness of Christ. When we contemplate our immeasurable riches in Christ, nothing God calls us to can really be considered a sacrifice.


Grateful hearts will always find an outlet to express their gratitude. Grateful hearts among believers, will find that outlet primarily fulfilled in their prayers to God – the sovereign giver of all good things.


The work of the Holy Spirit in John 3 is applied to the wind (the same word as spirit). From a human perspective, the wind has a point of origin and a destination that is unknown, yet we know the wind is present based upon the effects it leaves behind. Likewise, we are totally at the mercy of the free and sovereign will of God. Just as the wind is invisible and unpredictable and uncontrollable, God’s Spirit is moving among human beings, regenerating their hearts, and enabling them to willingly trust Christ for salvation. And when people do trust Christ, there will be evidence of His presence.


So, we all sin. How do we know when we sin? Usually in one of four ways. Right after we violate a known command. A biblical rebuke from a fellow believer. After we read our Bible and discover something we have been doing is wrong. Or during prayer as we desire the Lord to search our hearts and reveal any sinful way within us. This is the ongoing biblical process of “self-examination.”


The modern tactics to combat racism with more racism is an idol posing as God. Technically, it’s a new religion brought to us from zealous evangelists. Converts are brought to its side by fear and intimidation. Rational debate, examination of the beliefs or verification of the narrative is not tolerated as this religion demands blind faith. And the heretics of this new religion are those who do not agree wholeheartedly with its dogma. The yoke is heavy and its burden impossible to bear. You might surrender today, but more will be demanded of you tomorrow. Your profession will never be remorseful enough. Your financial offerings never large enough. There is nothing you can do to appease the wrath of this god. Most frightening, your greatest sin is your unchangeable skin color. Therefore, there is no opportunity to repent. Hence no forgiveness and no grace. You live the rest of your life in perpetual guilt with no lasting atonement. The god of this religion has condemned you for the race you didn’t ask for, the motives you’ve never imagined and the sins you never committed. Those are your original sins. There is no hope, but you still must bow to the demands or face the eternal wrath of being labeled a racist (some content adapted from Voddie Baucham).


Racism is real. It’s existed in the world and will to some degree, if there are people, always be present in society. Its root is in pride, the superiority of self and is manifested in the sins of anger, envy and hate. It’s really a bizarre sin to hate someone because of their skin color. We need to start with God. Obvious God created and sees skin tone, but His primary concern is the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” To reduce life to skin color, not only diminishes the primacy of character, but also negates God’s universal love for all mankind that all are created equal in His image. Racism is superficial, hateful, prideful, self-defeating and godless.


The more I grow in godliness is the more I will understand God’s love. And the more I understand God’s love the more I will be able to discern (Phil. 1:9-10). Discernment is telling the difference not between what is right and wrong, but what is good and what is excellent.


True love is God’s character and the reflection of that as it is revealed in Scripture. Who He is and what He loves is the definition of love. If God is indeed the embodiment of all true love and truth and goodness and we are His created beings made in His image to reflect His glory, it makes absolutely no sense – it’s blasphemous and self-destructive behavior – to imply we know better than Him when it comes to love.


Love is not just emotional. Biblical love starts and continually involves the mind. The affections are merely the expression of the love. Jeremiah tells us the heart is desperately sick. If we let our affections direct our love, we’ll be no different than the world – falling in and out of love. Biblical love is also a self-sacrificial action that puts the needs of others above ourselves. Affections will never get you to that level. Additionally, biblical love only loves what God loves. Again, mere affections will never rise to that level.


Does “love win? Absolutely! A redemptive plan was set in motion immediately after man fell into sin – love wins. When all hope was lost, Jesus rose from the dead – love wins. God will complete the good work He began in His people – love wins! When the Lord returns, every knee will bow to King Jesus – love wins. We know that despite the evil in this world, true goodness will prevail, because God will always prevail – love wins! Love wins, because God who is the definition of love always wins!


God sanctifies us though our trials. It’s been said, the same boiling water will soften a potato, but harden an egg. Trials don’t naturally shape our hearts, but our response to them will make us either bitter or better. What is the Gospel-centered response to trials? To live the crucified life with our Savior. Growing in humility. Becoming less and He becomes greater in us. It’s making a name for Jesus and not ourselves. It’s finding greater identity with Him. In Philippians 3:10 Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”


If we as a church are not unified in Spirit-driven Gospel ministry, there is nothing strong enough to hold this flawed and diverse group of people together as one.


Biblical love is one that is first deliberate and modeled after God’s love. It starts in the mind, but it is not stoic. It’s personal, passionate and practiced, flowing from the heart as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.


It was God who chose you from the foundation of the world. He sent Christ to die for your sins. At the appointed time He regenerated your heart and called you to Himself through the preaching of the gospel. He justified you. He is in the process of sanctifying you. And one day you will be fully glorified. No true Christian can lose his or her salvation. It’s an immutable unbreakable chain (Romans 8:29-30; also see John 6:37, 39; 10:27-28; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:6).


Here are a few key principles for good Bible interpretation: 1. Read within the context. What is the context of the immediate verse in relation to the paragraph and the book as a whole? 2. Seek to determine what the author intended to convey to his original audience. What was his purpose in writing? Who were his recipients? 3. Interpret literally unless grammatically called to do so otherwise. 4. Interpret in line with the history and culture of the author’s day. 5. Compare Scripture with Scripture. Cross-reference starting with the book, author, testament and Bible. 6. Use commentaries to check your work.


So, how can you “hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Pet. 3:12)?” Share your faith so the fullness of God’s people will come to salvation. Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” And pray – “Come [quickly], Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) and “Your kingdom come” (Mat. 6:10).


There will be a dramatic end of the world and it will not be caused by human beings. As a matter of fact, they think too small. It will be the fullest of global warming. The fullest of an all-out nuclear war. Everything will be destroyed with intense fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10, 12). And based on what we know, why is this so hard to fathom? After all, God made the sun and it sits at a toasty 10 thousand degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at the core. I’d says God can easily create “intense heat (2 Pet. 3:10, 12).”


Jesus is not indifferent, unconcerned or unable to fulfill His promise. He knows after He returns there will be no opportunity for salvation. His so-called delay “as some count slowness” (2 Pet. 3:9) is a token of His mercy – giving people just a little more time to repent and trust Him. Jesus is being patient for His enemies to come to repentance. It was the same before His judgment with water. “When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). God is always looking to show mercy to the guilty (cf. Eze. 33:11).


Headship in a marriage works when both a husband and wife love Jesus, want to show Gospel and are both walking in the Spirit. Together they ultimately want the Lord’s glory. Together they discuss everything. The husband should never need to demand the wife to submit. They are a team. They have a shared vision for the family. When a certain spiritual direction is needed, the husband provides the leadership. But that decision is not implemented until they both have time to talk and pray through the issue. Together they may seek wise counsel. Perhaps the wife will give a new perspective to the husband. This is what teamwork is all about. This is the meaning of “one flesh.” If we both have the Holy Spirit, why would the Spirit guide us in two different directions? Yet only when all these avenues have been exhausted and the husband feels a certain direction is necessary for the family, then does the wife need to support her husband’s decision. Realizing it is the husband, not her that stands accountable before God.


Specifically, how does a wife submit? She does so by trusting God’s good commandments. By being thankful God’s accountability is not on her. By understanding that someone needs to be in charge of any institution. She does it with joy, like the church submits to Christ, without nagging and with respect. Wives, to agree with your husband’s leadership is wonderful, but that is not submitting. What do you do when you do not agree? And what is your attitude? Is it resentful compliance or is it encouraging your husband’s desire to spiritually lead the family? Remember the curse of the fall from Genesis 3? “Your desire will be for your husband.” Even as a Christian, wives, you are continually tempted to usurp your husband’s authority. Be aware of that and fight against it.


Why is the wife in marriage required to be the one who submits (Eph. 5, Col. 3, Tit. 2, 1 Pet. 3)? Because God set it up this way, based on the order of creation (1 Timothy 2) and ultimately to show the primary purpose on marriage. Marriage is to be a visual picture of the Gospel. Sex before marriage is wrong because we do not have intimacy with Christ until covenant. Adultery is wrong because we are to be entirely devoted to Christ and not other idols. Divorce is wrong because God would never leave us nor would we ever want to leave Him. We are one flesh in marriage to show the oneness we have with Christ – Him in us, us in Him. We leave our parents and cleave to our spouse to show how we leave the world and cleave to Christ. Marriage is between one man and one woman to show the marriage between Christ and His bride. And we have God designed roles in marriage whereby the husband would show Christ by leading through example and sacrificial love and the wife would show the bride of Christ (the church) by trusting her husband’s spiritual leadership for her well-being. After a lengthy discourse on the marital roles, Paul in Ephesians 5 makes the point clear in verse 32. “This mystery is great [marriage]; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. It’s all Gospel-centered.


Submission in marriage is not a bad thing. The entire principle is based on God the Son’s submission to God the Father. Consider 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman [his wife], and God is the head of Christ.” Submission does not imply inferiority. The Son in not “less God” than the Father. We are not talking about essence, but role or function. And regarding essence, the Scripture is clear that women have the same value and worth as men. They are equally saved and loved by God. They are, verse 7, “Fellow heir[s] of the grace of life.” Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”


Genesis 3:6 tells us that after Eve was tempted by the serpent that “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Both were guilty, but I’d say the fall was primary Eve’s fault. But who did God blame? According to verse 9, “Then the LORD God called to the man.” Adam was held responsible. The fall is not known as “Eve’s Sin”, but throughout the Bible as “Adam’s sin.” And Jesus came to be the “second Adam” to fix the mess that the “first Adam” created. God expects the man to provide leadership.