Friday, January 27, 2012 2 comments

Faith and Love: my first blog post

What follows is a note that I posted on Facebook on March 10, 2011, before I started this blog. However, it's similar in nature to a lot of the posts in this blog, so I plan to retroactively consider it my first blog post. Enjoy!

Faith and love are intrinsically connected.

26 verses in the New Testament contain both "faith" and "love"! Here they are:
  1. 1 Corinthians 13:2
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:13
  3. 2 Corinthians 8:7
  4. Galatians 5:6
  5. Ephesians 1:15
  6. Ephesians 3:17
  7. Ephesians 6:23
  8. Colossians 1:4
  9. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
  10. 1 Thessalonians 3:6
  11. 1 Thessalonians 5:8
  12. 2 Thessalonians 1:3
  13. 1 Timothy 1:5
  14. 1 Timothy 1:14
  15. 1 Timothy 2:15
  16. 1 Timothy 4:12
  17. 1 Timothy 6:10 
  18. 1 Timothy 6:11
  19. 2 Timothy 1:13
  20. 2 Timothy 2:22
  21. 2 Timothy 3:10
  22. Titus 2:2
  23. Titus 3:15
  24. Philemon 1:5
  25. James 2:5
  26. Revelation 2:19
In comparison, here are the number of verses that contain some other pairs of words:
  1. "faith" and "grace" - 12
  2. "faith" and "peace" - 9
  3. "faith" and "spirit" - 13
  4. "grace" and "love" - 6
  5. "grace" and "peace" - 8
  6. "grace" and "spirit" - 7
  7. "love" and "peace" - 8
  8. "love" and "spirit" - 9
  9. "peace" and "spirit" - 8
Why do the writers of the New Testament connect faith and love so often? Faith is toward Christ and brings us into an organic union with Christ the Head. Love is toward other believers and brings us into a proper relationship with the members of the Body. Vertically, there is faith. Horizontally, there is love. But they are not separate matters! You cannot have faith without love, and you cannot have love without faith.
Sunday, January 22, 2012 1 comments

Growth as a Christian: what does it look like?

As Christians, we often seek big, flashy experiences from God. However, we sometimes forget that our Christian life is just that - life. All kinds of life grow slowly and almost imperceptibly. It's true for human children. It's true for the plant pictured below. It's also true for the life of Christ within us.

Check out this list of verses about the normal Christian life that I received from Kyle Barton at the first Christians on Campus meeting of the semester last night:
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 - "Therefore we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."
  • Exodus 23:30 - "Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have become fruitful and inherit the land."
  • Proverbs 4:18 - "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day."
  • Isaiah 50:4 - "The Lord Jehovah has given me the tongue of the instructed, that I should know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to hear as an instructed one."
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 - "But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit."
  • Psalm 84:5-7 - "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion...they go from strength to strength; each appears before God in Zion."
  • John 1:16 - "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace."
  • Isaiah 28:13 - "Therefore Jehovah's word to them will a little, there a little."
  • 1 Corinthians 14:31 - "For you can all prophesy one by one that all may learn and all may be encourage."
  • Acts 2:46  - "And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they partook of their food with exultation and simplicity of heart..."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 1 comments

Review of my Favorite Chapters

Unveiling my ten favorite New Testament chapters over the past ten days has been great fun. Here's a summary of my list:
  1. Romans 8
  2. Ephesians 4
  3. John 1
  4. Colossians 1
  5. First Corinthians 15
  6. Ephesians 2
  7. First Peter 2
  8. John 4
  9. Philippians 3
  10. First Timothy 4
Some of the honorable mentions that barely missed the cut:
Luke 15, John 14, John 15, Acts 9, First Corinthians 3, First Corinthians 14, Second Corinthians 3, Galatians 6, Ephesians 1, Ephesians 3, Colossians 3, Hebrews 12, First John 1, Revelation 12
For your viewing pleasure, here's the list from my partner at Sidekicks Anonymous:
  1. Romans 8
  2. Ephesians 4
  3. Hebrews 12
  4. Philippians 2
  5. First Corinthians 14
  6. Ephesians 1
  7. John 6
  8. John 15
  9. Ephesians 2
  10. Matthew 5
In addition, here's a bonus list from my dad:
  1. John 14
  2. Romans 8
  3. First Corinthians 15
  4. Colossians 2
  5. Revelation 21
  6. Revelation 22
  7. Hebrews 7
  8. Revelation 12
  9. Ephesians 2
  10. Philippians 2
Unfortunately, school has started for me at UT, so my posting frequency will probably drop dramatically over the next several weeks. But now it's time for your input. What are your favorite New Testament chapters? Which chapters did we get right? Which chapters did we miss? Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 0 comments

1. Romans 8

(This is the LAST in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

Well, we made it to the end, folks. We made it to Romans 8. I doubt I can do this chapter justice with my writing, so I will just try to focus on a few of the major themes and hit some key verses. Then you can go read the chapter for yourself and see how much more is there.

The focus of Romans 8 is the mingled spirit, which is actually the focus of the entire Bible. Even more, verses 19-23 show us that all of creation is awaiting the full revelation of this mingled spirit. But what is the mingled spirit? Did you know that there are two different spirits in the Bible? One is the Holy Spirit (uppercase "S") and the other is our human spirit (lowercase "s"). Verse 16 says:
"The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God."
Yet in many instances, translators have a hard time picking which spirit to use. That's because the Spirit dwells in our spirit. The Spirit has even been joined with our spirit so that the two are one (see 1 Corinthians 6:17). Thus, both the Holy Spirit and our human spirit witness that we are children of God.

But Romans 8 actually shows more than just the Spirit indwelling our spirit. Romans 8 shows the entire Triune God giving life to the entire tripartite man. In verse 10, we see the Son dwelling in us and our spirit receiving the life of Christ:
"But if Christ is in you...the spirit is life because of righteousness."
In verse 6, we see the mind, the leading part of the soul, receiving the life of Christ:
"...but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace."
In verse 11, we see the Spirit dwelling in us and the Father giving the life of Christ to our bodies:
"...He who raised Christ from the dead [the Father] will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you."
The Triune God imparts life to our entire being, starting with our spirit, by indwelling us! What are the results of this impartation of life?
  • No condemnation (v. 1) - see more in this video
  • Freedom from the law of sin and death (v. 2)
  • The fulfillment of the law of God (v. 3)
  • The putting to death of the practices of the flesh (v. 13)
That's a lot of good stuff already, but I must mention a couple more themes in this chapter: the process that Christ went through to indwell us and the process we go through to become fully one with the life of Christ. Christ's process involves the following steps:
  • Incarnation: "...God, sending his own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin..." (v. 3)
  • Crucifixion: "...condemned sin in the flesh." (v. 3)
  • Resurrection: "...raised Christ from the dead..." (v. 11)
  • Ascension: "...Christ Jesus...who is also at the right hand of God." (v. 34)
On the other hand, the process that man goes through is given in verse 30:
"And those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified, and those whom He justified, these He also glorified."
If all this sounds impossible, don't's not up to you! The following verses give some comforting thoughts showing how the Triune God is taking care of everything:
"Moreover, in like manner the Spirit joins in to help us in our weakness, for we do not know for what we should pray as is fitting, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (v. 26)

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (v. 28)

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (v. 31)
 The Triune God is dwelling and working within us to give us life and bring us to full salvation.
Monday, January 16, 2012 0 comments

2. Ephesians 4

(This is the ninth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

The everyday posting schedule was starting to wear me down a little bit, so I took a breather yesterday. Today, I'm back at it with Ephesians 4. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), David also chose Ephesians 4 as his #2 chapter. We've already seen from Ephesians 2 and 1 Peter 2 that God's desire is to build the church. But how does this building occur? Ephesians 4 gives us a glimpse at the answer, starting with verse 3:
"Being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace."
The key word here is keep. As members of the Body, we need not strive after oneness, because the oneness is in the Spirit, and we have the Spirit. Thus, we already have the oneness! Though outwardly, the church may appear to be divided, the true condition of the church, in God's view, is just oneness. Verses 4-6 go on to name seven items of the oneness:
  1. One Body (v. 4)
  2. One Spirit (v. 4)
  3. One hope of your calling (v. 4): the hope of glory in Colossians 1:27
  4. One Lord (v. 5)
  5. One faith (v. 5)
  6. One baptism (v. 5)
  7. One God and Father of all (v. 6)
Now, Romans 12:4-5 confirms that the Body is one, but also has many members. Back in Ephesians 2, we find in verse 7-11 that the different members give the Body variety. Grace is given to each member (v. 7), but some of the members are given special gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. Of course, we thank the Lord for the gifts, but these gifts actually do not build up the Body directly. Rather, the gifts perfect the saints, who build up the Body. And we're all in this together. One part of the Body cannot grow without other parts of the Body. Verse 13 says:
"Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the knowledge of a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
The growth of all the Body unto maturity depends on all the members functioning. Several gifted members cannot possibly cause the the entire Body to grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ. That leads us to verses 15-16, which were addressed in a previous post:
"...the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love."
Even though Christ promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), even though the Body grows out from Christ, and even though Christ gave gifts to men, the proper growth of the Body on the function of EVERY member. That's why 1 Corinthians 14:26 says that whenever you come together, each one has.

It doesn't matter if you were saved only yesterday. Every member has a function in the Body of Christ. We all can shepherd others, we all can nourish others, we all can feed others, we all can teach others, we all can prophesy, we all can evangelize, and we all can build up the church.

Saturday, January 14, 2012 1 comments

3. John 1

(This is the eighth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

The gospel of John reveals Jesus Christ as God, so it's appropriate that the first chapter in John spans eternity past to eternity future. There are six key phrases in six different verses that cover six major steps along this pathway:
  1. The Word - divinity
    • "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (v. 1)
    • Chronologically, this verse precedes the creation of the world in Genesis 1:1. This verse also shows Jesus Christ's divinity. Jesus Christ has been God since eternity past.
  2. Flesh - incarnation
    • "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us...full of grace and reality." (v. 14)
    • This verse reveals the incarnation of Christ. God came to dwell in a man, bringing divinity into humanity for the first time.
  3. Lamb - redemption
    • "The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (v. 29)
    • Jesus shed His blood as the fulfillment of the sacrificial lambs in the Old Testament in order to redeem us of all our sins and trespasses.
  4. Dove - the Spirit
    • "And John testified, saying, I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He abode upon Him." (v. 32)
    • Just as the Spirit was with Jesus Christ on the earth, today we have the life-giving Spirit with us and inside us at all times to meet every need.
  5. Cephas - the stone
    • "Jesus said, You are shall be called Cephas (which is interpreted, Peter)." (v. 42)
    • Peter means stone in Greek. Jesus here indicated that He would transform Peter into a living stone for God's building (see 1 Peter 2). This is the major work of the Spirit in all the believers.
  6. Heaven opened - the house of God
    • "You shall see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (v. 51)
    • The last verse in the chapter hearkens back to Jacob's dream in Genesis 28. There Jacob saw a ladder joining heaven and earth and called that place Bethel (the house of God). The ultimate issue of God's work will be the building of the house of God in which heaven and earth, as well as God and man, are joined by Christ for all eternity! 
 John 1 also contains some great verses for preaching the gospel, including verses 17: 
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and reality came through Jesus Christ." 
So many religious people focus on the law, but the purpose of the law was merely to lead us to Jesus Christ, who is grace and reality! Jesus was even the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17).
 You also have verses 12-13:
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name, who were begotten not of blood nor of the will of man, but of God."
Wow! To receive the Lord is simply to believe into His name, and anyone who does so is begotten of God as a legitimate child with the same life and genetics (not just an adopted child). I'm so happy that this one chapter reveals the plan of God from eternity past to eternity future, and also how we can participate in this wonderful plan, simply by receiving Him!
Friday, January 13, 2012 0 comments

4. Colossians 1

(This is the seventh in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

If I had to choose one chapter to explain to someone who Christ is, I would choose Colossians 1. Just like Christ and the church are counterparts, Colossians 1 and Ephesians 2 are counterparts. Colossians 1 reveals many different aspects of Christ, while Ephesians 2 reveals many different aspects of the church.

After some introductory verses, we get to verses 12-22, which are the meat of the chapter discussing the person and work of Christ. In these verses Christ is revealed as...
  • The allotted portion of the saints (v. 12): Christ is our all-inclusive land and each of the saints has a portion in this land, just like the children of Israel each had a portion of the good land of Canaan.
  • The image of the invisible God (v. 15): No one has ever seen God (John 1:18) because He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), but Christ is the image of God on the earth.
  • The firstborn of all creation (v. 15): Christ is the creator, but also part of the creation, and in this, like all other things, He has preeminence.
  • The glue that holds the universe together (v. 17): Okay, the verse says "all things cohere in Him", but the Greek word literally means to hold everything together.
  • The head of the body, the church (v. 18): Like the head of a human body, Christ is the one orchestrating the movement of all the members of His body, which is the church.
These verses also reveal that Christ has...
  • Delivered us out of the authority of darkness (v. 13)
  • Transferred us into the kingdom of the Son (v. 13)
  • Created all things (v. 16)
  • Made peace through the blood of His cross (v. 20)
  • Reconciled us to God through His death (v. 22)
But despite all the revelation about who Christ is and what He has accomplished, it is a small verse at the end of the chapter that really catapults Colossians 1 into top four status. This verse shows us that the Christ who we learned so much about earlier in the chapter is not just for our objective knowledge, but for our subjective experience, because he actually lives inside of us! Here it is, verse 27:
"To whom [the saints] God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
This Christ lives in us in our spirit (2 Timothy 4:22), and He is spreading in us by transforming our soul (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), and He will eventually transfigure our body with His glory (Philippians 3:21). Christ dwelling in us and desiring to spread in us is our hope of glory!
Thursday, January 12, 2012 0 comments

5. First Corinthians 15

(This is the sixth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)
On to the hallowed top five...

Following chapter 13 about agape (the Greek word for unconditional love) and chapter 14 about prophesying (speaking Christ for building up), the penultimate chapter of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians is easily one of my favorites. Most of First Corinthians focuses on the cross of Christ as the solution to all problems in the church, such as divisions, lawsuits, and idol worship. However, chapter 15 goes a step further than Christ's death on the cross by focusing on the importance of resurrection. Resurrection is crucial to the Christian faith because it overcomes Satan's strongest attack - death.

Paul starts the chapter by placing Christ's resurrection with His death and burial as the essential items of the gospel (v. 3-4). Paul then uses Christ's resurrection to dispel the Corinthians' disbelief in the resurrection of all men. In verse 22, we see that all men will be made alive in Christ. In verse 19, we see that our experience of Christ in this life is but a foretaste of the experience of Christ in resurrection:
"If it is only that we have hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most miserable."
Without resurrection, we have no eternal hope! Paul then continues by explaining how the body of resurrection is a spiritual body, not a soulish body, with Christ Himself as an example in verse 45:
"The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit."
Christ was the last of the soulish race descended from Adam and through resurrection, He became a life-giving Spirit. What's more, First Peter 1:3 tells us that all the believers were regenerated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We received a spiritual life, and when we are resurrected we will also receive a spiritual body. What was corrupted by the fall of Adam will be raised in incorruption!

I'll let Paul give you the details of the victory of resurrection over death and corruption (verses 52-57):
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality...then the word which is written will come to pass, 'Death has been swallowed up unto victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
What can you say to that? Nothing but "Amen" and "Praise the Lord" for the victory of resurrection!

First Corinthians 15 also contains two precious verses about our labor in the Lord. Verse 58 encourages that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (no matter how little fruit appears outwardly). After all, according to verse 10, we really aren't the ones laboring, but the grace of God is laboring in us.

Finally, verse 33 is a hidden gem that would almost seem more appropriate in Proverbs:
"Do not be deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals."
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 1 comments

6. Ephesians 2

(This is the fifth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

While we're on the topic of building from First Peter 2, lets jump right into Ephesians 2, a chapter whose last three verses all mention building. Ephesians is without a doubt my favorite book in the Bible because it contains the highest revelation of the church, which is God's heart's desire. I'm not joking when I say that all six of the chapters in Ephesians were considered as serious candidates for the top ten. Ephesians 2 is special because it reveals at least four different aspects of the church all by itself!

But the chapter begins with a negative tone: 
"And you, though dead in your offenses and sins..."
The two major problems that hinder the building up of the church are our sins and our deadness. God cannot use us in our pitiful, fallen condition as the building material for the church. So first, he had to go through the processes of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to redeem us from our sins and impart his life to us. Along with Galatians 2:20, verses 5-6 in Ephesians 2 show us that we were with Christ every step of the way:
"Even when we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus."
Once Christ has solved our problems with God on the negative side of things, He could start building us together into the church with its many different aspects on the positive side of things. Ephesians 2 reveals the church as:
  1. The masterpiece of God (v. 10): God's greatest work as an artist is not creation, but the church. See more in this post.
  2. The one new man (v. 15): God has united the Jews, the Gentiles, and all the races in the church through the cross.
  3. The household of God (v. 19): The church is composed of redeemed sons of God as God's family with the right to enjoy all His riches.
  4. The dwelling place of God (v. 22): In the church, God can finally find the place of rest He desired in Isaiah 66:1.
Other verses in Ephesians reveal the church as the body of Christ, the mystery of Christ, the bride of Christ, the kingdom of God, and the warrior. Praise the Lord for the church!

Paul gives us one more reminder about the church in the end of chapter 2 in verse 20: 
"Being built upon the foundation...Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone..." 
The work done in Ephesians 2, from redeeming us to making us alive to seating us in the heavenlies to forming us together as the masterpiece of God, the one new man, the household God, and the dwelling place of God, was all accomplished by Christ. Christ is the cornerstone of the church today, and He will be for all eternity!

Five chapters down, five to go...we can do this thing!

P.S. David has already placed Ephesians 2 on his list at #9. You can read his take on the chapter by clicking here.
Monday, January 9, 2012 3 comments

7. First Peter 2

(This is the fourth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

The end of First Peter chapter 1 mentions regeneration, which is the beginning of our Christian life, but chapter 2 covers just about everything that happens throughout the rest of our Christian life - growth, transformation, building, and suffering. In verse 23 of chapter 1, Peter likens regeneration to the planting of a seed. So naturally, the next step is for that seed to grow. How does the seed, which is the life of Christ, grow within us? Verse 2 has the answer:
"As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation."
As newly regenerated believer is a newborn babe in the Lord and ready for some nourishment. As Christians, we all grow by taking the word of God as our nourishment, and the result of that growth is further salvation. But as we grow, we are also being transformed, as revealed in verses 4-5:
"Coming to Him, a living yourselves also, as living stones..."
Christ is the living stone (He is also the cornerstone, topstone, foundation stone, precious stone, stumbling stone, smiting stone, and the cleft rock in the Bible). As we grow, more of Christ's stone element is added to us and we also are transformed into living stones. Transformation indicates an inward metabolic change. It doesn't make too much sense scientifically for stones to be living, but the fact that the stones are living allows for transformation.

But what are stones for? Stones are for building. God is not after a bunch of individual transformed stones; he is after transformed stones built together corporately as a spiritual house (verse 5). The purpose of the spiritual house is found in verse 9:
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession, so that you may tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Everything that the Lord has done for us - regenerating us, growing in us, transforming us, and building us up together - is for the proclaiming of Christ so that others may enter into this same process.

Finally, the chapter ends with a more sober message, but one all Christians need to hear. The Christian life is many times a life of suffering. Sometimes, the suffering may be entirely unfair. Verses 19-20 are encouraging word for Christians under a time of suffering:
"For this is grace, if anyone, because of a consciousness of God, bears sorrows by suffering unjustly...if, while doing good and suffering, you endure, this is grace with God."
Christ Himself left us a model how to receive grace by suffering (verses 21-25). Actually, the section on suffering is very much related to the early part of the chapter. If we remain open to the Lord, it is often in times of suffering that we experience the most growth, transformation, and building.
Sunday, January 8, 2012 4 comments

8. John 4

(This is the third in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

On my preliminary list of top ten chapters from the first half of the New Testament, John chapter 4 was ranked behind five other chapters. Since then, John 4 has leapfrogged over some of those chapters to #8. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the name of the blog comes from verse 29:

"Come, see a man who told me all that I have done. Is this not the Christ?"
This verse is the response of a Samaritan woman after her encounter with Jesus at the well. The story of the woman at the well is only found in the gospel of John, but it is my favorite story among all those in the gospels. The Samaritan woman was a typical person living in the world, thirsty for satisfaction. However, she could never find what she desired. She tried five different husbands, and by the time she met Jesus, she was on her sixth (verses 16-18). Just like this woman, we all have many different husbands we turn to for satisfaction: education, wealth, entertainment, sports, relationships, food, etc. However, none of these things can satisfy us.

But once the woman met Jesus, she met someone that could satisfy her thirst! We need to meet Jesus in the same way! Jesus told the woman in verses 13-14:
"Everyone who drinks of this water [the wordly water] shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life."
The water that Jesus gives us, which is just Himself as life, not only quenches our thirst eternally, but also wells up and overflows from us like a fountain! At this point in the story, the woman was amazed enough to realize that Jesus was a prophet (verse 19), but she still thought she had to go to Jerusalem to find the living water and worship the Father. Jesus' response in verse 24 is crucial to our Christians life:
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness."
We don't have to go to Jerusalem or any specific place to worship God and receive the water of life. We just have to turn inward to our human spirit, where the water of life is springing up! Finally, the woman was convinced that Jesus was not just a prophet, but rather the Christ. All she could do was to go tell her friends and all the people in her city to come see Jesus (verse 29). When we meet Jesus Christ as the water of life, we will also spontaneously tell people to "come, see a man."

The previous paragraphs explain John 4 from the view of the woman's need as a thirsty sinner. However, we can also examine this chapter from the view of God's need as the thirsty Savior. Actually, Jesus was the first person to indicate his thirst, before the woman, in verse 7:
"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give Me something to drink."
But at the end of the chapter, Jesus is no longer thirsty or hungry. When the disciples offer him food, he refuses, saying in verses 32 and 34.
"...I have food to eat that you do not know food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work."
In between these two verses, what happened? Jesus met the woman's need by giving her the living water! God's need is to meet our need. He is satisfied when we allow Him to satisfy us.

What an awesome chapter! I have written three previous posts about John chapter 4, which just underscores how much I like this chapter. How can there possibly be seven chapters that I like more? Those chapters must be pretty good...
Saturday, January 7, 2012 1 comments

9. Philippians 3

(This is the second in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

Philippians 3 may soon move up in my top ten because I will be participating in a semester-long Philippians bible study once school starts. Paul gives a brief testimony in this chapter. Verses 4-6 explain his background as a circumcised Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin, a strict follower of the law, and a zealous persecutor of the church. Paul was simultaneously a very good person in terms of following the law and a very evil person in terms of his treatment of the believers. He also had a most noble birth.

But in verse 8, Paul counts all these things, both the good and the bad, loss on account of Christ:
"But moreover, I count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse..."

The word refuse can also be translated as garbage, rubbish, or dung. Those are pretty strong words which show the absoluteness of Paul's conversion. And how can you not love a chapter that talks about fecal matter?

Verse 8 continues into verse 9 showing the turn in Paul's life. The things that were previously gain to Paul (the law, his own righteousness, etc.) were replaced by Christ:
"...that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ..."
But verses 13-14 show that Paul was never satisfied with the amount of Christ he had gained. Christ is unlimited, and Paul knew that there was always more Christ to stretch forward into and pursue after:
"...Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward."
This is a very good pattern of the way we should live, and in fact in verse 17, Paul encourages us to be imitators of his pattern. This is a great chapter for us as we enter a new year. Did you have a bad year in 2011? Forget about it. Did you have a good year in 2011? Forget about it. In the year 2012, pursue after new experiences of Christ, counting all other things as loss, to gain more of Him.
Friday, January 6, 2012 1 comments

10. First Timothy 4

(This is the first in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)
Three great verses do not necessarily a great chapter make, but in the case of First Timothy 4, the three verses have meant enough to my life as a Christian to squeak the chapter into my top ten.

The chapter begins on a negative note with a prediction of ones departing from the faith and being hypocrites in later times. Verse 6 marks the change, as Paul starts to explain the contrast from those mentioned in verses 1-5 to a good minister of Christ. That leads us to verse 8, which is the first of the three great verses:
"Exercise yourself unto godliness. For bodily exercise is profitable for a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the present life and that which is to come."
Okay, I included the end of verse 7 for a little contextual help. This verse gave me some perspective in my days as a competitive runner. All of the hours I spent running were not wasted; they were bodily exercise that was profitable for a little. Running greatly benefited my physical health and gave me something useful to do with my time. But the benefits of running are not lasting, and they definitely will not carry over into the life which is to come. But spiritual exercise unto godliness is profitable for all things in this life and the next life! That's awesome, but exercise is not always fun. Just like I had to force myself to exercise physically, I continually have to force myself to exercise spiritually. But the benefits are always there.

The next great verse is verse 12:
"Let no one despise your youth, but be a pattern to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
When he received this letter from Paul, Timothy was a young man, probably in his early twenties like me. This verse helped me see that I do not have to be full-grown, physically or spiritually, to live a godly life as a pattern to others. Recently, I have also met several believers younger than me who have been definite patterns to me in their word, their conduct, and their love.

The third great verse is verse 16:
"Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things; for in doing this you save both yourself and those who hear you."
This verse revolutionized my gospel preaching. Through this verse, I realized that my speaking and teaching about the Lord was not only to save others, but also to save myself. Of course, I desire that others to hear and respond to the gospel, but it's up to the Lord whether or not their hearts are prepared to receive it. But now, each time I preach the gospel, at least one person gets saved - me!
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2 comments

Coming this Saturday...

To a blog near you...

More specifically, to "Come, see a man"...

The finalized, updated, and always entertaining top ten chapters in the New Testament!!

Mr. Fulton over at Sidekicks Anonymous and I are both big fans of rankings as well as the Bible. A few months, we decided to prepare personal lists of our ten favorite chapters as we read through a New Testament reading schedule with Christians on Campus. The reading schedule ends on Saturday, so that day we will each begin with a post about #10. From there, we will count down simultaneously to #1 by unveiling one chapter a day.

Both of us assembled a preliminary top ten at the halfway point through the schedule a few weeks ago. My preliminary list can be found here and his preliminary list can be found here.

By now, I know you can hardly wait for the first post to come out on Saturday, so here’s something to keep you busy until then. Look at the picture from an arm's length. Who do you see?

Then look at it from 10 feet away. Now who do you see?

We'll be back on Saturday!