This fall, we start a new sermon series on the book of 2 Corinthians. Context is always helpful in preparing for a new book study, so we've compiled some resources to provide background....Keep Reading
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My heart grieved as I watched the events unfold yesterday in our nation’s capital as a mob of protesters forced their way into the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Regardless of political persuasion, as Christians, we must condemn the violence and hostile insurrection that led to the deaths of 4 individuals and displayed reckless disrespect of law enforcement and our governing authorities....
A perennial favorite carol has been “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” My love for this song goes all the way back to childhood - watching Charlie Brown and the gang singing the carol, gathered around that magical scrawny little tree. (“I never thought it was such a bad little tree!”)...
Dads, look at your schedule, look at your pastimes, and ask yourselves how you can make God and his Word a more central part of your day and week. Lead your family to see God and how he is at work in the everyday moments....
When I discipline my children, the false gospel of self-righteousness comes out of my mouth in ways that I would cringe to display before others. I know that Jesus is the only righteous person who ever lived; that I am a sinner saved by grace alone; that breaking one part of the law is breaking the whole law. I would never say differently. But this is not the gospel I preach to my children through my reactions to their sins....
We want to help your marriage flourish with gospel fruit during the coronavirus pandemic! In our Forming Healthy Marriages in Hectic Times series, we will highlight four ways to leverage this season and cultivate a healthy marriage. Here's the first thing to consider: the importance of knowing your spouse!...
This fall, as we walk through the Hall of Faith together, we invite you to join us in memorizing Hebrews 11. Over the next 11 weeks, our challenge is to memorize all 40 verses of this chapter. Our staff has compiled several tools and resources to help you rise to the challenge!...
Why do we pray "in Jesus' name"? Maybe it’s important to ask ourselves, do we know what this phrase really means? Do we fully understand the meaning and power of these words? Do we think that God will hear us better if we say that we come to him in Jesus’ name?...
This trip not only fueled and stirred my affections for God and missions, but having the Providence church body commission us the Sunday before we left was a moment I will never forget. Being obedient to the call of missions embedded me even further into the heartbeat of Providence because I was a member who was sent....
Recently God has impressed one thought on my mind: Keep looking for joy, even in the mundane or the very difficult times. If all I’m doing in my current season is wishing for the next season, then I am missing so much joy and so many gifts which God has given me in the here and now....
As The Christ-Centered Home sermon series comes to a close, our staff has curated a list of recommended resources to continue to equip you and your family. You'll find books, articles, podcasts, and other great resources that we've found helpful. Our hope is that your home would be strengthened by one or more of these resources....
The term “sound doctrine” is a term that I have always associated with people who know more than me. I thought pastors, seminary students, or biblical scholars dealt with doctrine. It never occurred to me that doctrine was something I should be concerned about. It was always over my head and above my pay grade....
This building process reminded me that it takes many people to help build the spiritual foundation for our children as well. Mothers have a unique opportunity to shape the lives of their children by providing a firm foundation on which to build a godly life, but we are not meant to go it alone....
I hope that after taking a closer look, this verse will give you a more complete view of your past, present, and future salvation. It should also provide you with another Scripture for your arsenal to combat the lies of the evil one. Most of all, though, I pray that God will use it to reassure you of his faithfulness to finish what he started in you....
Prayer is hard. I’ve been following Jesus for nearly 30 years and I still don’t have this figured out. A little over a year ago I began feeling convicted that God wanted me to love Him with more of my heart, not just my mind and my habits. After reflecting on the matter, I loaded up with some books on prayer and study materials for the Psalms and asked God to lead me into a more powerful and intimate prayer life....
The fact that Jesus lists persecution as a beatitude and mentions it twice underscores the reality of persecution for every believer. This doesn’t mean that we should be persecuted for our faith at all times. But this does mean that persecution is inevitable and that it is a mark of being a Christian....
When Josh asked the students during the debrief Sunday morning to raise their hands if they loved Jesus more than they did before the weekend started, I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand. God did some unbelievable things in my heart and the hearts of many other students during FOCUS 2017, and I was so blessed to be part of such an amazing weekend....
I was barely 22 when I became pregnant by a guy that I wasn’t really dating at the time. I was scared, confused, lonely, and felt like I let everyone down. The world told me that marriage or abortion were the only solutions, and at least with abortion nobody would have to know....
This past week we started our new sermon series walking through the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. I spent a considerable amount of time giving introductory remarks that I believe will help us as we navigate through Jesus’ most famous sermon....
My favorite Christmas song is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” I’ve heard a lot of versions of this song, but it’s hard to find a good one. You can sing the notes perfectly but miss all the emotion. This song expresses such deep longing for freedom that it’s almost impossible to sing without tears of joy and desperation. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” helps us explore life’s trouble and our need for help, and it’s a call to rejoice in the God who rescues....
Two short-term mission teams returned from South Asia just a few weeks ago. We are so grateful for everyone who prayed for these trips (much was needed, and much was given), for those who helped support the team members for both teams financially (again much needed and much given), and for your support of Advance that is helping the word go out in a dark area of the world....
My kids beg me often to tell the story of the cactus. They love hearing about kid-sized Jeremy who was told that he couldn’t have a cactus from the neighborhood park. At the end of that story, we always talk about how it’s better to obey because parents don’t want to keep good things from their children, but because we want them to have the most fun possible....
At Providence Students, our goal is to fulfill the church’s mission by making disciples who love God, love the church, and love the world. Everything we do, from our big annual events to our regular weekly gatherings, is meant to encourage 6th through 12th grade students as they learn to grow in their faith and live it out....
The new season marks the kickoff of another year of women’s bible study. I’m forever grateful for how God has used studying his word with other women to encourage me. I want to encourage you to come to this fall women’s bible study by listing 10 reasons that I love it!...
As we’ve been going through 1 Corinthians, we’ve talked a lot about marriage and singleness. Ever since we looked at 1 Corinthians 7, I’ve had really interesting conversations with my single and married friends, and thought it might be helpful to share a few things singles wish married couples knew, along with bits of my own story....
Have you been here before? A friend offers to pay for you, or you are complimented, or someone offers you some practical help, yet you feel that you just can’t accept it? You feel uncomfortable or like you need to contribute something. And in one way or another, you decline it. Or accept it reluctantly. What is it about receiving grace that is so hard?...
How would you feel if the Taliban or ISIS gave you the choice to join them or leave the country because you work for the government, are a soldier, or because they just don’t like you? If you stay and don’t join the Taliban, then you and your family will be killed. On our recent trip to Athens, Greece, we met several families who relayed this story of total despair at the choices forced upon them. Without any real choice, they flee their home countries with only what they can carry....
“Dad, God loves me even when I sin.” I remember hearing my son say this when he was only three years old. My wife and I quietly laughed together at the truthfulness of the statement, but we also realized our need to teach and model the pursuit of holiness in a grace-drenched environment....
For so long, I believed that my fears, anxieties, and people-pleasing tendencies were a product of my circumstances. But when my circumstances changed… surprise! All those tendencies were still there! With encouragement from my Community Group, I cautiously ventured into Redemption, knowing that there was something more beneath the surface of my sin, and wanting to see more clearly....
The purpose of Focus 2016 was to take a weekend (Friday night through Sunday morning) away from distractions and dive into fellowship with our youth group and with God. We had a lot of time to grow closer to each other and really begin to know one another as not only friends but as siblings in Christ....
Looking back over the early years of my Christian journey, I realized that I was young and immature. I needed to learn a lot about God and the spiritual discipline of reading his word. I knew that reading my bible was a good thing but struggled to be consistent....
We’re often too busy trudging through the mountains to stop and take in the majestic view of what God is doing. And unless we stop for a second and intentionally look outside the day-to-day specifics, we’ll keep moving and keep living without making it a point to seek God in our purpose and rhythms of life....
It’s the week of Christmas and everyone is busy with last minute preparations. Some are running to the store to buy the perfect gift for that loved one, and others keep checking the front porch to see if Amazon has delivered the gift they ordered. But as we enter into another Christmas celebration, let us remember that the greatest gift was not a last minute decision but rather a gift that had been planned and in the heart of God from the beginning of time....
As a church staff, we work to equip and encourage one another with resources that help focus our lives on the gospel and teach us more of what it means to follow Christ. We've compiled a list of the books each of us has found most helpful in 2015 which we hope are helpful for you as well....
I love so many things about Perspectives. But what I love most is what motivated me to change. It’s wasn’t a powerful speaker (though there are great speakers). It’s wasn’t the numbers, although the need is urgent. It was the simplicity and inarguable truth of looking at Scripture. I was motivated by focusing on God’s heart and his mission....
In this season, we celebrate how God kept all of his promises and came to rescue us, and we encourage you to use this Advent season to kindle the flame of our hearts. This year we are highlighting three resources that we pray are an aid to you and your family....
Orphan Sunday is an annual reminder to churches across the world of this call to serve these children. Ultimately, it is a reminder that caring for orphans is about making disciples. But making disciples requires action, and action requires preparation. So, how do we prepare?...
I don't know any Christian who would disagree with the statement, “We should love all people." Scratch that, I don’t know anybody – religious or not – who would disagree with it. What’s not to like about it? Wouldn’t it solve the world’s problems if everyone just loved each other?...
"Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." Habakkuk 1:5...Keep Reading
Questions like “Why?” and “How long?” are part of the Bible’s vocabulary. These complaints (or “laments”) are found throughout the Bible and reflect the attempts of God’s people to process their pain with God. ...Keep Reading
The author’s aim in this passage is to remind his readers of just how privileged they are. They needed this because the difficulties of living the Christian life was taking its toll on them, and returning to their former life of Judaism was sounding appealing. ...Keep Reading
The author has pleaded with his audience not to “grow weary or fainthearted” at God’s discipline, but to endure it, knowing it proves they are his children and that he does it “for our good, that we may share his holiness.” (Hebrews 12: 3, 7, 10) The need for endurance and holiness converge again here in this brief encouragement and warning. ...Keep Reading
It’s easy to begin something. Finishing something, however, is hard. That’s because finishing what we begin requires us to endure the setbacks we face along the way. ...Keep Reading
Forty years before the walls of Jericho fell, God had brought the nation of Israel to the brink of the land of Canaan. Most of the spies who scouted out the land had returned in despair, saying the land’s inhabitants were too strong for them (Numbers 13:25-14:4). In response, the people refused to enter, and God in turn punished them by causing them to live in the wilder...Keep Reading
The recipients of Hebrews would have thought highly of Moses. So the author devotes several verses to showing them that the difficult road of faith they were tempted to turn off was the same road their hero walked. ...Keep Reading
Faith is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Sometimes, what is “not seen” is how God is working in our present circumstances. Other times, what’s unseen is future realities. ...Keep Reading
Abraham’s faith was demonstrated in his obedience to leave everything behind and follow God to a land yet to be revealed: “he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8; Genesis 12:1). ...Keep Reading
You can’t have a discussion on faith without mentioning Abraham, a man known specifically for his faith. Because of this reputation, the author devotes several more verses to him and his family than he did to Abel, Enoch, or Noah. ...Keep Reading
Noah is the third and final example of the author’s point that walking by faith is something God’s people have been doing before even Abraham, the man of faith. And again, Hebrews 10:38 (quoting Habakkuk 2:3-4) is prominent in the author’s mind: “my righteous one shall live by faith”. Anyone “righteous” or pleasing to God (v 6) are, by definition, people of f...Keep Reading
The author now mentions a second pre-Abraham example of faith, Enoch, whose story is told in Genesis 5:21-24. We’re not told much, but after Enoch’s son Methusaleh was born, he “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22). The last thing we’re told about him is that he “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24) That is, this man who walked with G...Keep Reading
In Hebrews 11:4, the author begins his journey through the Old Testament’s many examples of faith in action. And in verses 4-7 he shows that walking by faith is something God’s people have done even before Abraham’s time. ...Keep Reading
Hebrews was written to believers whose enthusiasm for the gospel was being worn down (10:32-34). Following Jesus was costly, and the idea of giving it all up and returning to their former life of Judaism was starting to look appealing. ...Keep Reading
This section concludes the author’s discussion of Jesus as our high priest (7:1-10:18). In closing, he again emphatically contrasts the New and Old Covenants. ...Keep Reading
Under the Old Covenant, God’s people stood to gain an earthly inheritance. If they obeyed the laws given to them at Sinai, God would give them a peaceful life in Canaan with more than enough to live on (Leviticus 26:1-13). ...Keep Reading
In Hebrews 8, the author showed that Jesus is the High Priest of a new and superior covenant God made with his people. His superiority to the Levitical priests is demonstrated by the fact that he serves in “the true tent” (8:1) that the Old Testament tabernacle was merely “a copy and shadow of” (8:5). ...Keep Reading
Some commentators consider Hebrews to be more like a sermon than a letter. If we think of it that way, Hebrews 8:1-2 is where the preacher says something like, “Here’s the main point I want you to get, so listen…” ...Keep Reading
The author has discussed his readers’ immaturity (5:11-14) and offered a prescription for growing out of it (6:1-3). In the verses that follow, he paints a sobering picture of what happens when that medicine isn’t taken....Keep Reading
In Hebrews 5:1-10, the author briefly introduced Melchizedek (5:6, 10). He still has “much to say” (v 11) about Melchizedek and Jesus’ high priesthood which he’ll get to in chapters 7-10. But first he shifts gears to address his readers’ immaturity (5:11-6:3), to warn them against falling away (6:4-8), and to call them to endure in their faith (6:9-20)....Keep Reading
In the Old Testament, there were two primary qualifications for a high priest. First, he needed to be from among the people he represented (v 1). As one of them, he could represent them. And by sharing the nature and weaknesses of his people (and by having his own sins to atone for) the high priest could deal gently with the people’s sins (vv 2-3). In other words, while ...Keep Reading
Because of their “disobedience” (4:11) and “unbelief” (3:19), the first generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt were forbidden from entering the land of Canaan - God’s “rest” (3:11). But the next generation, led by Joshua, did enter it. ...Keep Reading
In Hebrews 3:1-6, the author compared Moses and Jesus. Now he compares the people each of them led. He shows that Christians living in these “last days” (1:2) are in a similar spot that the Israelites were in the wilderness - free from slavery but not yet home....Keep Reading
In Hebrews 2:17, Jesus was referred to as a “faithful high priest”. Now the author reflects on Jesus’ faithfulness by comparing him to an Old Testament model of faithfulness: Moses....Keep Reading
Regarding angels, the author has so far argued that the Son is superior to angels (1:5-14) and thus deserving of our full attention and obedience (2:1-4). In 2:5-9 he focused on the Son becoming human to restore humanity’s rule over the earth. Now he meditates on why the Son had to be truly human....Keep Reading
When God created people, he created them in his image to rule over the whole earth (Genesis 1:26-28). In Psalm 8, David reflects on humanity in its pre-fallen state. Looking at the stars in the sky, he marvels that the God who created such a vast universe should pay attention and give such great honor to humans. ...Keep Reading
Everything the author has been saying about the Son’s superiority to angels has been building to 2:1 ...Keep Reading
Angels were highly revered by the Jewish people. God had often used angels in the Old Testament to give his people guidance (Genesis 19:17), protection (Psalm 91:11), deliverance (Isaiah 37:35-37), and even judgment for their sin (2 Samuel 24:16-17). As one author writes: “When an angel spoke, people listened.”...Keep Reading
When life gets hard, what do you turn to for comfort? And where do you go for relief when the Christian life in particular becomes difficult? Do you persevere in your walk with Jesus despite the hardship? Or do you return to the comfortable habits and patterns of life that marked your life before becoming a Christian? These were the kind of questions facing the original re...Keep Reading
Genesis 23:1-25:18 wraps up the life of Abraham by focusing in the land, offspring, and blessing God had promised him. In Genesis 23, Abraham became the legal owner of a small plot of the promised land when he purchased a cave in which to bury Sarah. In Genesis 24, the focus shifts to the promise of offspring....Keep Reading
Having waited decades for the promised child to arrive, Abraham was tested by God to see if he valued God above all other things, even his beloved son. In the climax of the whole Abraham story, he proved that he did by being willing to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice (see Genesis 22)....Keep Reading
In between God’s initial promise to Abraham of offspring and Isaac’s actual birth were years of waiting as well as numerous trials. But the greatest test to Abraham’s faith in God’s promise wouldn’t come until after Isaac came on the scene. ...Keep Reading
In Genesis 20, Abraham again tried the “Sarah is my sister” ruse out of fear for his life (see Genesis 12:10-20). This time, he tried it with Abimelech, king of Gerar. God intervened to assure that Abimelech didn’t touch Sarah, and for the entire time she was in his palace, the women of Gerar couldn’t get pregnant. After the truth came out, Abimelech returned Sarah...Keep Reading
In Genesis 12, God promised Abraham that he would give him offspring and make him into a great nation. Since then, many obstacles have threatened to stand in the way of that promise. Some were circumstantial, such as Sarah’s barrenness (11:30) and eventually her age (18:11). Others were moral, like the incidents in Egypt (12:10-20) and the one with Hagar (16:1-16). On th...Keep Reading
In Genesis 18:1-15, Abraham was met by three visitors: God himself and two angels. After being treated to Abraham’s remarkable hospitality, God told him that his promise to give him and Sarah a son would be fulfilled in a year. In response to Sarah’s skeptical laughter, God reminds her that because he is God, nothing is impossible for him....Keep Reading
In Genesis 17, God gave Abram several new details regarding the covenant he had made with him in chapter 15. First, Abram was to be the father of not just one nation but many, so God changed his name to “Abraham” which means “father of a multitude”. Additionally, kings would come from him, this covenant would be an everlasting one that included his descendants, and...Keep Reading
God’s plan for Abram has been slowly revealed in stages. First, Abram was promised that he would become a great nation and that his descendants would occupy the land of Canaan (12:1-9). Later, God clarified that this nation would come from Abram’s biological son, not an adopted heir, and he made a covenant with Abram to fulfill his promise (15:1-21). In Genesis 17, God...Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION In Genesis 15, Abram believed that God would fulfill the promise of offspring (12:2) through his servant Eliezer (15:2-3), probably assuming he was too old to physically have a child. But God made it explicitly clear that Abram himself would have a son. But the passage of time continued to put a strain on him and Sarai, and chapter 16 presents us with an ex...Keep Reading
After his military victory against Chedorlaomer’s armies, Abram was met by two kings: Melchizedek, the king of Salem, and the unnamed king of Sodom. While Melchizedek celebrated Abram’s victory and blessed him, the king of Sodom offered him a business transaction: “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” (Genesis 14:21) Not wanting to be indebted to ...Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION After a "trial of abundance" in which the land was not big enough to accommodate both Abram and Lot's possessions, Abram graciously offered to let Lot choose whatever portion of the land of Canaan he wished to dwell in. Instead, Lot chose to leave the land of promise and dwell near the beautiful (but ungodly) city of Sodom. MAIN POINT Love inconvenien...Keep Reading
After failing to trust God to provide for him in famine and a disastrous trip to Egypt, Abraham returns to the land of promise and worships God again. Back in Canaan, he now faces a new test....Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION In obedience to God’s costly call, Abraham left his family and homeland to go to a new land that God would show him. Upon arrival, God promised to give this land to Abraham’s offspring. In response, Abraham worshipped God....Keep Reading
After the flood, God told Noah and his descendants to “the fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Instead, they proudly settled in one place and attempted to build the tower of Babel (11:1-9). In judgment, God confused their language, causing them to separate from one another and form the nations of the earth (Gen. 10). Following the account of Babel is a genealogy (11:10-32) tha...Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION Jude's short letter has been called by at least one scholar as the "most neglected book in the New Testament." That may be due in part to how short it is and its being tucked away near the back of the New Testament. Nevertheless, this short letter contains God's very words which are given to us for our good, and therefore we should pay close attention to it. ...Keep Reading
After God created the world, after Adam and Eve sinned, then what? Join us for our sermon series on Genesis 4-11 as we see how sin escalates from Cain and Abel through the flood to the Tower of Babel. You can pick up a hard copy on Sunday morning if you prefer. Many Community Groups take a break during the summer, so this is a great resource to encourage and equip you to ...Keep Reading
In this final section of the Sermon on the Mount so far, Jesus has used a series of contrasts to demand a response from his audience. They are to choose the narrow road as opposed to the wide road (7:13-14), listen to true teachers as opposed to false ones (7:15-20), and to do God’s will over and against merely professing to love him (7:21-23). Jesus turns to one more co...Keep Reading
Every good sermon closes with a call to action. Having established what life in the Kingdom of Heaven is to look like (Matthew 5:17-7:12), Jesus now invites us to choose whether we will follow the path he has laid out in this Sermon or the way of the world. ...Keep Reading
After instructing his followers not to judge others, Jesus begins to close out the main body of the Sermon on the Mount with an appeal for his followers to regularly approach their heavenly father in prayer....Keep Reading
As Jesus begins to wind down his sermon, he returns to the theme of hypocrisy that dominated 6:1-18. In this case, he deals with hypocrisy in the way that believers address sin in each other’s lives....Keep Reading
In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus addressed our values, the things we treasure. This leads quite naturally to the subject of anxiety, for if our heart is where our treasure is (v. 21), and if our treasure is something on earth that can be lost, then our hearts will always be restless with worry that our treasure might be taken from us....Keep Reading
A major theme in the Sermon on the Mount is how different Jesus’ followers are to be from the rest of the world and what role our distinctiveness plays in God’s mission. In 6:1-18, Jesus illustrated the Christian’s distinctiveness in terms of his devotional life. Now he addresses our perspective and values. As citizens of the kingdom, the things we value (vv. 19-24) ...Keep Reading
Jesus spent much of Matthew 5 illustrating the principle he stated back in 5:20: that his followers’ righteousness should be an inner one that delights to obey God’s commandments. This theme of inner righteousness carries over into this next section (Matthew 6:1-18) where Jesus contrasts hypocritical and authentic faith. In 6:1, he states a principle and illustrates it...Keep Reading
In his discussion on prayer so far, Jesus has critiqued two methods. In contrast to the Pharisees, Christian prayer should be sincere rather than hypocritical. In contrast to the pagans with their multitude of gods, Christian prayer should be purposeful and direct, knowing full well that we are addressing our Father. To drive home his point, Jesus now gives his listeners a...Keep Reading
In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said that his followers’ righteousness should exceed that of the Pharisees who were considered by many to be the pinnacle of godliness. For the rest of the chapter, he illustrates the kind of righteousness he’s calling for by contrasting the true meaning of various Old Testament laws with how they were being misapplied by the Pharisees. In these ...Keep Reading
The Pharisees thought they had discovered loopholes in several laws of the Old Testament. They won’t murder, but they’ll hate. They won’t commit adultery, but they’ll lust. In this section, Jesus calls them out on their attempts to justify adultery and lying....Keep Reading
To many in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were the pinnacle of righteousness. It was shocking then to hear Jesus tell his followers that they must have a greater righteousness than them. The Pharisees’ problem though was that their righteousness was often only outward, whereas Jesus’ followers were called to inward righteousness as well. The remainder of chapter 5 (vv. 21...Keep Reading
Matthew 5:21-48 is made up of six examples of the “greater righteous” that Jesus calls his followers to; a righteousness that is not just external but internal. In this second example, Jesus unpacks the deeper implications of the Old Testament prohibition against adultery....Keep Reading
The Sermon on the Mount contains some of the most well-known, loved, and even challenging sections of the entire Bible. As we continue to walk through these chapters, here are some resources we recommend if you’d like to do further study....Keep Reading
In the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12), Jesus described the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven’s citizens. Shockingly, the kind of people God values in his Kingdom are quite different than the kind of people the world values. Jesus now turns to address the role that his followers are to play in a world that deems their lifestyle undesirable and perhaps even dangerous....Keep Reading
Jesus has taught his disciples and the crowds who it is that belongs in the kingdom of Heaven (vv. 3-12) and what their role in this world looks like (vv. 13-16). But what role does the law play in the lives of those Jesus has been calling “blessed”? Jesus now turns to address how the Old Testament fits in with what he has been saying....Keep Reading
In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that he would bless all the nations of the world. As his descendants grew into the nation of Israel, God made it clear that they would bless the nations by modeling God’s character for them, and to do this, they needed to be holy, or “set apart” from them. But instead of being different from the kingdoms around them, Israel cons...Keep Reading
Having addressed the major issues and questions of the Corinthian church, Paul brings his letter to a close with instructions regarding the collection for the Jerusalem church, his own travel plans, and personal greetings....Keep Reading
In the first eleven verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul emphatically stressed the historical reality behind Jesus’ resurrection as well as the central place it holds in the gospel message itself, a message which is “of first importance”. It is crucial for the Corinthians to understand how important the resurrection is, and Paul will now explain why....Keep Reading
Before closing out his letter, Paul devotes an impressive fifty-eight verses to the topic of the resurrection, and it’s not until verse 12 that we learn why: some in the church were saying that “there is no resurrection of the dead”. Paul spends the first eleven verses highlighting how crucial Jesus’ resurrection is to the gospel itself and how well-attested it is....Keep Reading
The importance of some spiritual gifts were being exaggerated in Corinth while others were minimized. Those with more “impressive” gifts saw their gifts as proof of their spiritual superiority and as a means of serving themselves rather than others. So far in this section, Paul has reminded the church that God has given them numerous indispensable gifts (ch. 12), and t...Keep Reading
Many in the church at Corinth were exaggerating the importance of certain spiritual gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, and the church was fracturing because of this. Those with these gifts deemed themselves more important than those who didn’t, and those who didn’t were tempted to feel useless and unimportant in the church. In chapter 12, Paul reminded the...Keep Reading
The Corinthians found no shortage of things to be divided over. There was Team Paul vs. Team Apollos (1:12), weak Christians vs. strong Christian (chs. 8-10), and wealthy Corinthians vs. poor Corinthians (11:17-34). In chapters 12-14 we’re introduced to yet another point of division: spiritual gifts. Instead of appreciating the many ways God gifted his people, many in th...Keep Reading
So far, Paul has written to the Corinthians about divisions (1:10-4:21), sexual immorality (chs. 5-7), and Christian freedom (chs. 8-10). In this next section of his letter (chs. 11-14), he turns to address how the Corinthians should conduct themselves in the context of public worship, beginning with their conduct regarding head coverings and the Lord’s Supper....Keep Reading
Paul has used the controversial issue of eating in pagan temples to teach on Christian freedom and love. In chapter 8, he argued that Christ-like love forbids us to do anything, however lawful, if it will harm other believers. We ought to be more concerned with building each other up than asserting our “rights”. In chapter 9, he pointed to himself as an example of this...Keep Reading
Paul began this section of his letter (8:1-11:1) by addressing foods sacrificed to idols and emphasized the priority of sacrificing one’s rights for the good of the “weaker” brother who could not eat those foods with a clear conscience. Love for others, he said, should take precedent over our “rights”. Paul now turns to show how he has modeled this in his own lif...Keep Reading
In chapters 5-7, Paul addressed issues relating to sexuality. In addition to being sexually promiscuous, Corinth was also steeped in idol-worship, and Paul now turns in this section to address how to live faithfully in such a culture (8:1-11:1). Specifically, he addresses the matter of eating food that’s been sacrificed to idols. In doing so, he addresses the more founda...Keep Reading
First-century Corinth was well-known for its sexual immorality, so it was no surprise that Paul had to address reports of it within the church (1 Cor. 5-6). Others in the church, however, perhaps as an over-reaction to Corinth’s blatant immorality, promoted an ascetic lifestyle which looked down on sex, even within marriage. Paul now turns to address this group in the ch...Keep Reading
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul rebuked the church for its failure to deal seriously with the sin of the of sexually immoral man in their midst. He concluded by saying that churches are responsible to pass judgment among themselves. In 6:1-11, Paul expands on this topic and rebukes them for “outsourcing” judgment to unbelieving courts. ...Keep Reading
Paul has been emphatic that the gospel stands opposed to worldly thinking or “wisdom” (1:18-25). The cross, which demands a humble confession of our own helplessness, is at odds with and offensive to the Greek understanding of wisdom and power. As evidence of this, Paul pointed out that the church was predominantly made up of Corinth’s poor and unlearned (1:26-31), a...Keep Reading
Though Paul has already addressed sexual immorality in chapter 5, his main emphasis there was not so much on the sin itself but how the church should respond to the man sleeping with his stepmother. In this section, Paul addresses sexual immorality more broadly, urging the church to flee from it and to glorify God with their bodies....Keep Reading
The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that "there is nothing new under the sun," and that's certainly true of sexual sin. From Genesis to Revelation we see sin's effects in this area and are reminded that all generations experience temptation to sexual immorality. Yet the unlimited and anonymous access to pornography that technology has provided has allowed this ancient sin ...Keep Reading
First Corinthians is Paul’s response both to reports he had heard about the church and to questions the church itself had sent him. Having addressed the report of divisions (1:10-4:21), he now turns to address reports of immorality within the church (5:1-6:20)....Keep Reading
This week's passage: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Discussion guide...Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION Division within the church is the first issue Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and it's an issue that dominates the letter's first four chapters. Having mentioned the divisions in 1:10-17, Paul went on to argue that worldly wisdom lay at the root of them, and that such wisdom is at odds with godly wisdom (1:18-2:6). He then went on to show that only the Holy ...Keep Reading
INTRODUCTION Having established that the divisions within the Corinthian church were the result of worldly wisdom and that such "wisdom" is incompatible with godly wisdom, Paul now brings this first major section of the letter to a close by reminding his readers how they are to view him as an apostle and as their "father". MAIN POINT Christians should not boast about wh...Keep Reading
In Genesis 37 we're introduced to the tense family dynamic between Jacob's children that culminates in Joseph's betrayal and enslavement. The final verse of the chapter tells us that he ended up in Potiphar's house, and Genesis 39 picks the story up from there. But between these two chapters is one that can feel unnecessary. Despite the presence of one familiar face from ...Keep Reading
I don't know any Christian who would disagree with the statement, “We should love all people." Scratch that, I don’t know anybody – religious or not – who would disagree with it. What’s not to like about it? Wouldn’t it solve the world’s problems if everyone just loved each other?...Keep Reading
While we can never fully understand how sovereignty and responsibility interact with one another, the Bible provides us with some relevant insights about how predestination is compatible with free will....Keep Reading
Why did Paul write these chapters? What were they meant to accomplish and how do they fit in with Romans as a whole?...Keep Reading
Understanding what Paul means when he says, “…all Israel will be saved,” is something that has divided Christian readers for a long time. Brilliant, godly men and women even within the same denominations and theological camps are often at odds on how to best interpret what this phrase means....Keep Reading
You’re not going find this verse on a coffee mug at your local Christian bookstore. If we’re honest, it makes God sound unfair, doesn’t it? Especially when we take in to account that God’s treatment of Jacob and Esau is something he determined before they’d even been born “and had done nothing either good or bad” (Romans 9:11). So did God just decide to hate ...Keep Reading