Could you explain the basics of the faith? How do we know we can trust the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? How is a person saved? If you had the opportunity to share your faith, would you know how to answer those questions?
1 Chronicles 11 & 12
Could you explain the basics of the faith?
Wise as Serpents & Harmless as Doves
Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin and falsely accused of blasphemy and here in chapter 7, instead of answering directly, Stephen began to speak the truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had said:
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” ( Matthew 10.16-20).
We are living in a society where more and more restrictions are being placed on believers in our schools, in the workplace, and in the civic arena. It seems many in our culture want to give freedom of religion and expression to everyone except believers in Jesus Christ. While we need to be respectful of our civil laws, teach our children to respect authority in their schools and elsewhere, and be the best possible employees, we must sometimes risk censure to speak the truth to a lost world. When we do, we must do it out of a desire to please God and a love for the lost and not self-righteousness or an argumentative attitude.
Though we may not be killed for doing so, there will be times when it will be costly. We should pray that God will help us be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” as Jesus said in Matthew 10. For instance, we can take a co-worker to lunch instead of sharing the gospel at work and we need to be informed of our freedoms under the law and take advantage of them. Many people keep quiet because they are uninformed about the freedoms they do have.
The Basics of the Faith
We also need to learn to defend our faith. Many of us hold back because we don’t even know why we believe what we do. It doesn’t mean you have to have a degree in theology, but we should all know the basic tenets of our faith!
How do we know we can trust the Bible?
Why did Jesus have to die?
How is a person saved?
What is “justification by faith”?
If you don’t know the answers to those questions, ask your church leadership if there is a discipleship class or program. Many churches, like ours, offer courses to help you get grounded in the truth.
Today’s Other Readings:
Betrayal & forgiveness
1 Chronicles parallels 2 Kings and repeats much of the same narrative story, but because of the viewpoint of the return from Babylon, it emphasizes certain points. So as I said yesterday, don’t be confused by the repetition.
Notice in 11.41 in the list of David’s mighty men—those who served him so well—the name Uriah the Hittite. He was the husband of Bathsheba. David’s sin of adultery and murder would have been bad enough no matter who Uriah had been, but it was aggravated by the fact that Uriah was a loyal associate.
Yet, though there were consequences, some of which affected David for the rest of his life, God forgave him and Bathsheba. Because of His faithfulness and grace, their son Solomon would be the next king in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
The Power of God
The psalmist continued to extol the works of God. In these verses he painted a vivid picture of the power of God:
16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters …
The Consequences of Anger
Verse 19, “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
Many people blame their anger on others or on their circumstances, but anger is a heart issue. Too often when we are associated with an angry person, we make excuses for them or seek to get them out of the consequences of their anger. When we do, we just slow down the work of God in their lives. They are acting foolishly and a fool only understands consequences.
“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back” (Prov. 26.3).
Instead of trying to help them get out of the consequences of their anger, we need to lovingly rebuke them and warn them of the danger that lies ahead if they don’t repent.
Galatians 6.1-2 says:
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
And 2 Timothy 4.2 says:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
Can you explain those things from Scripture? If not, how are you working to change that? There are books you can read, studies you can do. Ask someone to disciple you. Get in motion. The church’s job is to equip you, but you must take advantage of the opportunities.
Let’s be “ready to give an account for the hope that lies within us” (1 Pet. 3.15), amen?
Basic Christianity by John R.W. Stott
If Jesus was not God in human flesh, Christianity is exploded,” writes John Stott. “We are left with just another religion with some beautiful ideas and noble ethics; its unique distinction has gone.” Who is Jesus Christ? If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the whole superstructure of Christianity crumbles in ruin. Is it plausible that Jesus was truly divine? And what would that mean for us? John Stott’s clear, classic book examines the historical facts on which Christianity stands. Here is a sound, sensible guide for all who seek an intellectually satisfying explanation of the Christian faith.
If there is “nothing new under the sun,” perhaps the main task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or be relevant, but to remember.
The truth of the gospel is still contained within vintage faith statements. Within creeds and catechisms we can have our faith strengthened, our knowledge broadened, and our love for Jesus deepened.
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung explores the Heidelberg Catechism and writes 52 brief chapters on what it has shown him. The Heidelberg is largely a commentary on the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer, and deals with man’s guilt, God’s grace, and believers’ gratitude. This book is a clear-headed, warm-hearted exploration of the faith, simple enough for young believers and deep enough for mature believers.
DeYoung writes, “The gospel summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is glorious, its Christ gracious, its comfort rich, its Spirit strong, its God Sovereign, and its truth timeless.” Come and see how your soul can be warmed by the elegantly and logically stated doctrine that matters most: We are great sinners and Christ is a greater Savior!
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