Luke 17:1-4

I want to make 2 quick points in this passage that I read yesterday:

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

1. God’s sovereignty doesn’t exclude us from being responsible.

God has a plan, and he will fulfill it. But we still have a choice in our life. God allows the devil to tempt (and really tempts himself, because he has control over everything), but we are still held responsible for our deeds, as the first verse makes clear. This isn’t the only passage you can take this from. There are probably many more, but I can think of 2:
In Luke 22:22, Jesus tells Judas that he “will die as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed”. Again, we have both aspects of our life in one single sentence by Jesus.
The other passage I can think of is Romans 9:19: You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” I heard a good sermon on this passage once, in which the preacher also addresses this topic – I don’t really remember what he said, though. I can point anyone to it who wants to hear it. Anyway, fact is that we are sinful and God is just and must hold us accountable to our sin – even though, in a way, he has control over it: because he gives us choice.

What can we do with this knowledge?
I take comfort in God, because I know that he is good, and just, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I trust the Lord that he knows how to glorify himself. He may do with me as he pleases (he does anyway) and I am glad about it, for I know that he will do better than I would. I also work hard, fight the devil, try to die so that Christ may live in me, because: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15) (By the way, everyone should have studied James 1:2-18. This passage is really, really important). Finally, I have good faith, because “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Word is stronger that a double-edged sword. The devil can go right back home – his future doesn’t look so good anyway!

2. Love doesn’t ignore sin in a brother.

Okay, I already wrote a lot… I’ll keep this short.
There are several passages that teach how to deal with sin in the community. Matthew 18:21-22 would be another example, if you are interested. In short, the correct response to sin isn’t to ignore it. True, there is 1 Corinthians 13, but that’s not what that passage means.

If you love your brother, then rebuke him! If he is godly, he should be glad about any guidance he can get and try to conform himself to scripture. Then, when he repents, forgive him. This is where 1 Corinthians 13 comes into play. You don’t ignore sin, you forget and forgive past and acknowledged sins. By the way, this command is old: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. (Leviticus 19:17) As you can see, Moses already taught this as a basic rule for the community. Sin has to be fought, for the Lord is Holy. Sin cannot be tolerated in the community: either the sin, or the Holy Spirit have to leave. They cannot coexist. If we tolerate sin, we ourselves sin against the Holy Spirit in us and the others, as Leviticus teaches.

It’s important to guide our brothers and sisters in Christ within their daily life, so that they may “present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship.”

Luke 16:19-31 – The sufficiency of scripture

This will be a very short post, but I wanted to talk about this. During my first quiet time today, I really enjoyed this story. You should go ahead and read the whole context, but I’ll briefly talk about verse 31:

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

This is very clear evidence of the sufficiency of scripture. We have everything we need in the word – the living word – and should not have to ask for visions, or wonders to strengthen our faith. Jesus also said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. This passage reminds of the pharisees that wanted to kill the resurrected Lazarus because he attracted too much attention in John 12. It was just as Jesus said: someone rose from the dead, yet they didn’t believe. I’ll even go further and say that we don’t need evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to believe in him. Thomas could have believed when the others told him that they had seen Jesus. We should strive to strengthen our faith through scripture – we won’t regret it!

Isn’t it  amazing how much we have been given through the Holy Spirit?

Luke 13: 23-30 – God saves!

When reading Luke 13 today, I saw yet another example of God’s sovereign salvation:

23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,
24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.
30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

This passage underlines several important aspects of salvation.

First, not everyone will be saved. This shouldn’t be news, although it might be for some. We will only be able to be saved if we seek Jesus himself, rather than pursuing salvation for it’s own sake.

Second, we cannot save ourselves. Again, this shouldn’t be new to anyone. Only Christ Jesus, through his blood, can save us. If we stick to our own good deeds (which aren’t), to some romantic view of a loving God that forgets everything to save everyone, or even to some exotic religion, we will “not be able” to save ourselves. Romans 10:9 – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way, and it is HIM that saves us by his sovereign grace. The Lord will save whom he pleases, as he says in Romans 9.

And finally, the end is near. There is a time for choice, but that is running out. It is time to reach out and spread the word – for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). This passage teaches what will happen to the unrepenting – we need to let the Lord save people through us!

An encounter on the train

Yesterday, I met someone on the train home from germany. (off-topic: ICE3’s are awesome) I had experienced a lot of delay, but I was in a good mood, because I knew that God had me right where he wanted me to be. I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to talk about him with someone. Guess what happened: When I got my connection, I met a woman from Indonesia. We talked a little, and she looked like she prayed, so I asked her if she was a christian after my quiet time. It turned out she was a believing catholic! Our talk was quite encouraging for both of us, though I think she got more from it than I did.

It fits even better when I think of the fact that one of the sermons I had listened to that day was a sermon on God’s sovereignty by Paul Washer…

I’m back!

Hello everyone following this blog,
I’m back to writing. I will probably start slowly, but I’ll definitely work on making it a habit.

The last weeks were pretty intense for  me. I was a litte behind on my reading plan, and the english camp didn’t exactly help there; I also didn’t have much time during my visit in Germany, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on.

Besides that, I’m doing really well; I am well underway in making good time-spending habits for the holidays, listening to sermons and reading. I have had great talks at english camp, and my quiet times were abundant. I miss the people and the environment, but I’m also thankful about the time I have now – now it’s just up to me to spend it well.

I restructured the blog a little: I am learning too much by heart for that to be a category, so I made it a tag instead. I will also try to write more, and reflect more of the thoughts I have. (Though I have to admit that relationship did occupy most of my thoughts last year – I guess it was worth it…). If anyone has suggestions about the visual style and the content of the blog – or my writing, for that matter – I’ll happily take them by email.

It’s good to be writing again!