Peace of mind

A Duke University study looks at 8 Key factors for building emotional and mental stability (peace of mind), it’s amazing how Scripture speaks to each one. 

8 Ways To Peace Of Mind

See – Moving from anxiety to peace

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How great is our God!

Deep reflections on our Great God

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4). 

“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (I Chronicles 29:10-16, Emphasis mine).

“The Lord heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (Psalm 147:3-5)

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (Psalm 139:1-6)

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

Worship in song – How great is our God!

Posted in Fear of God, Glorify God, God, God's control, God's Heart, God's Love, God's power, God's Protection, Seeing God, Seeking God, Study of God, Walking with God, Worship, worship song | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why study God?

The study of God is important to help us…

  1. Worship the true God  
  2. Strengthen fellowship with God
  3. Better represent God (Eph. 5:1)
  4. Make sense of life
  5. For accurate teaching about God
  6. Increased awareness of the lostness of mankind
  7. Give comfort and hope in life and death
  • Those who know their God are characterized by confidence, commitment, and contentment (Heb. 13:5-6).

On January 7, 1855, Charles Spurgeon (at the age of twenty) gave the following invitation in his sermon,

“Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”

Hosea 4:1,6; 6:6

“Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.'”

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

A.W. Tozer

“The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech.  She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.  Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow” (The Knowledge of the Holy).

Apart from God life does not make ultimate sense. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee” (Ecc. 3:1; Rom. 1:19,21,28; Col. 1:16).

J.I. Packer

“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul” (Knowing God, p. 14-15).   

Meaning in life                        

Concerning people who do not seem to search for deeper meaning in life – “Many of them have uncomplicated assumptions about meaning and take a great deal for granted.  If life has been good to them, they probably have some personal goals in their job or marriage which give them enough satisfaction that the question of deeper meaning seems a bit remote. Unfortunately, however, the realities of life have a way of ganging up on a person with shallow assumptions. Something almost always comes along to shatter the dream and raise the issue of meaning for them.

The reason for this is simple: Happiness based on worldly security alone is endlessly vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which may come in the form of illness or inflation or the loss of a loved one.  There are all manner of threats to the meaning of our lives both internal and external which can conspire to destroy it if it is inadequately grounded.

What the Christian faith offers us is a structure of deeper meaning based upon the love of the Father which is not vulnerable to destruction (Rom. 8:38-39). Of course, it is easy to deny God verbally.  What I am saying is that it is not at all easy to deny him in the living out of life because only the existence of God can adequately support the meaning of life. Confessing the atheist’s creed is certainly possible; but living consistently on the basis of it is practically impossible (Acts 17:27-28)” (Clark Pinnock, Reason Enough, pp. 34-36).

Speak accurately about God

“After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” (Job 42:7-9)

Steve Cornell

Posted in God, J. I. Packer, Meaning in life, Meaning of life, purpose, Questioning God, Seeking God, Spurgeon, Study of God, Walking with God, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Who is God?

The God of Scripture is the only true God (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5-7; Jn. 17:3). He a living, personal, invisible Spirit, who is infinite, eternal, and unchanging – existing in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is sovereign overall and through Him all things have their origin, support, and consummation.

  1. LivingDan. 6:20, 26; I Thess. 1:9; I Tim. 4:10
  2. Personal – Understood through personal titles – Isa. 9:4; Ps. 23:1; Jn. 17:1, 7:1, and personal pronouns (He, Him, His; not “it”), and the qualities of personhood – 

“If God is not a personal being, the result must be either atheism or pantheism. It matters little which. The dark and deadly implications are much the same. There is no God with self-consciousness or the power of rational and moral self-determination, no personal divine energy in the universe. A blind, necessitated force is the original of all. The existence of the world and the heavens is without reason or end.  There is no reason for the existence of man, no rational or moral end.  God has no interest in him, no rational or moral rule over him. The universal sense of moral obligation and responsibility must be pronounced a delusion. There should be an end of worship, for there is wanting a truly worshipful being. All that remain is the dark picture of a universe without divine teleology or providence” (Dr. John Miley, Systematic Theology, I p. 173).

3. Invisible Spirit I Tim. 1:17; Col. 1:15; Jn. 1:18 – no graven images. Spirit: immaterial and incorporeal – Lk. 24:39; Jn. 4:24

4. Infinite – Unlimited and unlimitable (Jer. 23:24; Isa. 66:1-2)

5. Eternal – Not limited by time (Ps. 90:2; Gen. 21:33; Isa. 40:28)

6. Unchanging – In essence, character and determination to punish sin and reward righteousness (Ex. 3:14; Deut. 32:4; Ps. 90:2; Prov. 11:1,21; Mal 3:6; Heb. 6:17; 13:8; II Cor. 5:19-21).

  • His Word – Ps. 119:90; Mt. 24:35; I Pet. 1:24
  • His Work – Eccl. 3:14; 7:13; Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:38-39
  • His Ways – Ps. 33:1; Isa. 46:10; Heb. 6:17,18; Rom. 11:29
  • I Samuel 15:29 – “The strength of Israel will not lie or repent.”  To repent is to change one’s judgment and/or plan. God’s plan has always involved judging evil and blessing righteousness (Nu. 23:19; Jer. 18:7-10).

“God is not a frozen automaton who cannot respond to persons; he is a living person who can and does react to others as much, and more genuinely, than we do to each other. Thus the same word repent, is used for two different concepts both in this passage and elsewhere in the Bible. One shows his responsiveness to individuals and the other shows his steadfastness to himself and to his thoughts and designs” (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the OT, pp. 114-155), (see – Gen. 6:5-9; I Sam. 15;11; Jon. 3:10). God does not change quantitatively – (Increase or decrease). God does not change qualitatively – (No modification of nature)

7. Sovereign – Absolute authority and rule over his creation (Deut. 10:17; I Chron. 29:11-12; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 22:28; 24:1; 33:6-17; 103:19; 115:3; 135:6; Prov. 21:1; Isa. 45:6-7; I Tim. 6:15-16).

8. Through whom all things have their origin, support, and consummation.  (Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 8:6). Of Him – Origin: beginning, founding – I Cor. 8:6; Heb. 11;13; (Christ: John 1:3,10,14; I Cor. 8:6) (also Gen. 1 & 2; Rev. 4:11). Through Him – Support: Preserver, Sustainer – Rom. 11:36; Dan. 5:23; Ps. 104:27-30; Isa. 45:5-7; (Christ: Col. 1:17). To Him – Endconsummation – Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16; I Cor. 15:25-27. (Christ: Phil. 2:10,11; Heb. 13:20; Eph. 1:11). 

Triunity of God

We worship God in “trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor separating the substance” (Athanasian Creed). The entire witness of Scripture requires a triune understanding of God. “We assert simply that the same God who is one with respect to His essence is three with respect to the internal distinctions of that essence. The possibility of this cannot be denied, except by assuming that the human mind is in all respects the measure of the divine” (H. Thiessen).

Three persons recognized as one God

An honest reading of Scripture, reveals the same three persons operating throughout the account. The reader will also notice an equality recognized for each of the three who are at work.

  1. Statements on the oneness of God (monotheism)
    Deut. 6:7; I Cor. 8:4, 6; I Tim. 2:5-6; Ja. 2:19
    These statement were given to people who lived in polytheistic cultures.
  2. Allowances for oneness in a compound sense – There is a plurality within the oneness of God. In Gen. 1:1 the word for God (Elohim) has a plural ending; In Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:17; Isa. 6:8 we observe plural pronouns in reference to God. Deut. 6:4 uses a compound unity noun in reference to God (Cf. Gen. 2:24; Num. 13:23; Ez. 2:64; Jer. 32:38,39). Consider also: Theophanies/Christophanies – “The Angel of the Lord” – Gen. 16:7-13; Ex. 3:1-6; Jud. 13:21-22; The Angel of the lord is called God. Zech. 1:12 – “Then the Angel of the Lord answered and said, ” Lord of Hosts”… The Angel of the Lord talks to God. YET: John 4:24 “God is Spirit”; John 1:18 “No man hath seen God”.
  3. Distinctions of Father, Son, Holy Spirit –(Mt. 3:16-17; 28:19-20; Jn. 5:32,37; Acts 7:56 w/Heb. 1:3; Isa. 48:16; Jn. 14:16,17; 15:26; I Cor. 12:4-6; II Cor. 13:14).
  4. Co-sharing of attributes, works and titles between Father, Son, and Spirit

a. Each is immutable –

  • Father – Ma. 3:6; Ja. 1:17
  • Son – Heb. 13:8
  • Spirit – Heb. 9:14

b. Each called God –

  • Father – I Pet. 1:2
  • Son – John 1:1; 20:28; Ti. 2:13; Rom. 9:5; II Pet. 1:1
  • Spirit – Acts 5:3-4; I Cor. 3:16; I Cor. 6:19 – Our body – temple of the Holy Spirit

c. Each involved in creation –

  • Father – Heb. 11:3; Ps. 102:24, 25; Rom. 11:35
  • Son – Col. 1:16; Jn. 1:3
  • Spirit – Heb. 9:14

d. Each is eternal –

  • Father – Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40;28
  • Son – Jn. 8:58; Rev. 1:8
  • Spirit – Heb. 9:14

5. Father, Son and Holy Spirit at work in salvation –

  • Eph. 1:3-4 – Chosen by the Father
  • Eph. 1:5-7 – Redeemed by the Son
  • Eph. 1:13-14 – Sealed with the Spirit
    The Father sent the Son (Jn. 3:16), the Son sent the Spirit (Jn.16:7-14).

Practical Implications of this doctrine – A Church father once said, “He who would seek to understand the trinity is in danger of losing his mind; yet he would deny the trinity is in danger of losing his soul.” The practical implications of this doctrine relate to who God is, how He works, and how He is to be approached by people. For example, in His tri-unity, God is a relational being and has made us relational beings (in His image).  Yet since God is one, we must not divide our worship and allegiance (Ex. 20;3-5; Deut. 6:13, 14; Mt. 10:37).

The difficulty of this doctrine – This truth about God may appear self-contradictory to some people. Yet we must always be ready to distinguish things that are beyond our knowledge from things that contradict what we know. The God revealed in Scripture infinitely transcends our finite comprehension. What we do know about God, we know because he has revealed himself to us.  But we are wise to expect truths about His majestic existence that would be beyond the realm of finite minds (Is. 55:8-9; Job 11:7; Rom. 11:33). This is not truth that contradicts our knowledge but truth that is beyond it. 

The unified testimony of Scripture in its entirety leads to the triune understanding of God.

Steve Cornell

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Jesus was crucified by Rome and rose from the dead

It is an indisputable fact of history that there existed in the first century a man identified as Jesus of Nazareth. We possess detailed accounts of his birth, life, contemporaries, and death.

  • We know when he lived (5/6 BC through 30/32 BC).
  • We know where he was born (the town of Bethlehem).
  • We know where he spent most of his life (Nazareth of Galilee).
  • We know about many historical figures of the same period of history.
  • We know more details surrounding the death of Jesus Christ than any other person in the ancient world.
  • We know of the events leading up to his death: his betrayal, arrest, religious and civil trial.
  • We know what was said to him by the leaders of Israel and Rome, by the crowd – by those who were crucified with him. We know what he said to these people as well as what he said to his followers.
  • We even know the name of an obscure person who carried his cross, and the names of those who assisted in his burial.

The crucifixion of Christ was the most famous death in history. Scholars debate its significance but they cannot debate that it happened.

Did this same Jesus who was crucified by Rome rise from the dead?

The same New Testament that records his death documents his resurrection. It also assures those who believe in him that because he broke the power of death, they will break its power one day. It records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25). Yet, is the resurrection a reliable fact of history?

The answer to this question largely depends on the historical reliability of the New Testament. Again, scholars do not debate that the gospels document Jesus’ resurrection. But they differ on the meaning and reliability of the record. Is it possible to trust the historical accuracy of the gospel accounts? Among possible answers, two extremes emerge.

Some simply say, “Of course the New Testament is reliable—it’s inspired of God.” At the other end, radical critics, because of their anti-supernatural bias, dismiss the historical integrity of the gospels. Those who take the first extreme are accused of circular reasoning because they only affirm what is already taught in Scripture. The radical critics are accused of inconsistent application of the standard methods of historical enquiry. They “bow to the pressure of consensus, reiterating what is most academically respectable without ever seriously grappling with unfashionable alternatives” (Craig Blomberg).

Between the extremes, a reasonable case can be made for the historical reliability of the New Testament. If the rules that guide standard historical scrutiny are applied to the New Testament, a solid case can be made for its trustworthiness.

When evaluating the integrity of documents, historians look for internal and external evidence. This would include the following seven considerations:

1. Eyewitness perspective – Does the author claim to be an eyewitness or that he uses eyewitness sources?

2. Self-damaging material – Are the heroes of the account only presented in a positive light? When the gospels recorded a woman as the first witness of the resurrection, they risked rejection of the account. In the culture of that time, a woman’s testimony was not considered credible. Why would they risk a potentially damaging detail like this if the account was an intentional fabrication?

3. Specific and irrelevant material – Authentic documents, unlike fabricated ones, tend to include details that are not necessary to the main story. Falsified accounts tend to generalize.

4. Reasonable consistency and differences – Are the four gospel accounts consistent on the major points? Minor differences are expected in authentic accounts. If the four gospels were later products of the early church, a greater effort would have been made to iron out all differences.

5. Features of mythology – “…as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the gospels are, they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend, and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of things” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock).

6. Confirmation – Do contemporary documents or archeological finds substantiate or falsify the material?

7. Character and motivation – Is there anything about the character or motivation of the author that would indicate that he fabricated the material? Would the author’s gain something from their story?

“The idea of a crucified god really did not make sense in the first century. It’s not a message you make up if you’re going to start a religion in the first century A.D.” (Ben Witherington).

We also know that the early disciples suffered great persecution for their message about the resurrection.

Consistent application of the rules yields a firm case for the reliability of the New Testament documents.

The good news is that we have reliable evidence for belief in the resurrection of Jesus. This means we have a strong basis for expecting that those who turn to Jesus for salvation will also be raised from the dead. Jesus said, “I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I hold the keys that unlock the prison of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:18).

Those who trust in Jesus have reliable evidence for believing that they will be freed from the power of death.

7 truths about God’s gift of salvation

  1. Eternal salvation from the judgment our sin deserves is a gift God gives to undeserving people who recognize their need for God’s grace and forgiveness (Luke 18:9-12;Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23).
  2. Salvation was accomplished by an act of God’s love and only through Jesus Christ our savior (John 3:16-17; 14:6; Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:4-6; II Corinthians 5:19, 21;I John 2:1-2).  “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become right with God.” (II Corinthians 5:21)
  3. Salvation is based on the mercy and grace of God – not good works we do to try to gain God’s favor (Ephesians 2:8-9). “God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5).
  4. Salvation is given to those who turn to Jesus Christ and trust him as their savior (John 1:12; I John 5:11-12),
  5. The kind of faith that trusts in Christ for salvation also transforms our lives. James 2:26 – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
  6. Salvation received by God’s grace must be our motive for godly living. It’s all about what God did through grace, not what we do to try to keep ourselves worthy of grace.
  7. Salvation is eternally secure in Christ (John 6:37-40; 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39).

Steve Cornell

Posted in Bible, Bible from God, Birth of Jesus, Cross of Jesus, Deity of Jesus, Easter, Jesus Christ, Origin of Bible, Resurrection, Salvation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Take a closer look at 21 subjects!

My goal in the following resources is to offer a more in-depth look at each subject. It is my prayer that these links will help in understanding and teaching the subjects listed.

1. A closer look at sowing and reaping

2. A closer look at Romans 9-11

3. A closer look at Colossians 3:11-14

4. A closer look at Hebrews 12:16-17

5. A closer look at Hebrews 12:14-17

6. A closer look at Proverbs

7. A closer look at wisdom

8. A closer look at weakness

9. A closer look at adoption

10. A closer look at hope

11. A closer look at death

12. A closer look at repentance

13. A closer look at accountability

14. A closer look at forgiveness

15. A closer look at marriage

16. A closer look at parenting

17. A closer look at discouragement

18. A closer look at love

19. A closer look at self-deception

20. A closer look at anger

21. A closer look at tolerance

Posted in Accountability, Adoption, Anger, Death, Fear of death, Forgiveness, Love, Parenting, Parenting teens, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A closer look at sowing and reaping

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330c

If someone asked you to explain how he can receive eternal life, would you answer by saying, “whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8)?

Most Christians would be uncomfortable with this answer because it appears to imply a works-based salvation. 

What does this verse teach?

The words “to please” used by the New International Version are not in the original text. The New Living Translation renders this verse more explicitly as a lifestyle, “those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8). 

Is this what Paul meant by “sowing to the Spirit”? 

Both versions translate Paul’s words in reference to lifestyle or personal choices (flesh or Spirit). Yet the end of the verse is clearly about outcome in terms of eternal destiny.

How should we understand the original intention?

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8, ESV).

These are familiar verses reminding us of a general truth about reaping what you sow. But what was the intended application when these words were written to the believers in Galatia? 

Is there a purpose to these words (in the context of the book of Galatians) that has been overlooked?

The difficulty is not really with what is presented in verse 7 where the Apostle Paul simply issues three warnings that are applicable in many circumstances. In a kind of staccato form, the apostle warned,

  1. Do not be deceived (cf. I Corinthians 6:9;15:33; James 1:6, 22)
  2. God is not mocked (cf. Genesis 3:1-6; II Chron. 36:16; Ezek. 8:17;Pr. 1:26-27)
  3. You reap what you sow (cf. II Corinthians 9:6; James 1:13-18)

Each warning has broad application to many areas of life. The question in context, however, is why the warnings were given to the believers in Galatia. Why do they appear at this point in the letter?

The opening of verse 7 has an abrupt and unexpected feel to it following verse 6. Why such a seemingly significant shift of tone and focus?

The apostle had already issued strong words of rebuke and dismay about how easily the believers drifted from the true gospel toward a blend of gospel and law (Galatians 1:6-9). He referred to them as “foolish” and “bewitched” (3:1-3) and said he was “perplexed” by their actions (4:20).

False teachers had gained influence in the Churches by teaching that believers could not have acceptance with God unless they were circumcised. This was a direct assault on the gospel because it required works of the law as an addition to faith in Christ.

This is the primary concern of the book of Galatians – addressed pointedly in Galatians 5:2-4.

  • “Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace” (Galatians 5:2-4, NLT).

Earlier he wrote,  “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law…. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:16,21, NLT).

This concern had eternal implications because it was an assault on the very basis of salvation. “… those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law’” (3:10, NLT).

The part of the law that the false teachers were pushing was a need to be circumcised. This was a way to elevate Jewish identity as necessary for acceptance with God. They wanted the Gentile believers to honor the sign of the old covenant. 

This is the issue behind the contrast that dominates the book – between faith and Law in the first half and Spirit and flesh in the second. Reference to flesh has a range of meanings from physical flesh (as in circumcision), to relying on human effort instead of God; to works of the flesh in moral terms.

Toward the close of Galatians, the apostle exposes the motivation of the false teachers,

  • “Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13, NIV).

How should all of this help our understanding of Galatians 6:7-8? 

Is the apostle primarily concerned about sowing to the flesh in terms of salvation or way of living? Recent translations like the New International Version and the New Living Translation make the decision for the readers by applying these verses to Christian living.

These contemporary translations involve more interpretation in the process of translation. This is done to help the reader understand what is being said in a way that they can apply more readily to their lives. 

These two versions have done a helpful job in most places. The tricky point for the teacher of Scripture is to decide if he agrees with the interpretation reflected in the translation. (Remember that all translation involves some interpretation). For example, Galatians 6:7-8 are translated as follows:

  • “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV).
  • “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8, NLT).

“Sowing to the flesh” is applied in these translations as “sowing to please the flesh” (NIV) and “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature.” The English words “please” and “satisfy” (although not in the original) are used by the translators to explain the intended meaning. They both imply lifestyle choices that reach back to a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit (5:19-23).

This is the way most people have understood and applied these verses. But there is possibility that the original intention was an application to the gospel itself — a reference to eternal salvation. The verses end with this in view. 

Consider the way the English Standard Version translates these verses:

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8, ESV).

As with the New American Standard, the ESV tends to render more of a word for word movement from Greek to English. In verse 8, the concern is about “the one who sows to his own flesh.” The word “own” translates the Greek reflexive pronoun and raises a question as to why “his own flesh” is emphasized. 

Could this be a reference to the primary concern about these believers being deceived into thinking that salvation requires “works of the Law” in relation to the act of circumcision of the flesh?

Earlier the apostle used rhetorical questions with salvation in view, “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3)

If “sowing to the flesh” is about distorting the gospel by adding law to grace, we understand more clearly the contrast at the end of verse 8 between reaping “corruption” or “eternal life”? The term corruption or destruction could have a more general meaning than eternal ruin (II Corinthians 4:16-18), but when placed in contrast with eternal life, it likely refers to an ultimate destiny in contrast with eternal life.

One could argue that those who live lives of sowing to the flesh show by their actions the eternal destiny that awaits them. After listing the works of the flesh, Paul clearly stated that, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:21). 

It is possible that a choice of “sowing to the Spirit” involves both a rejection of salvation in Christ alone and an expected lifestyle of the works of the flesh resulting in destruction rather than eternal life? We must always be sure that this is what the text means and is not our effort to rescue the text with our theology from what we don’t want it to mean.

The hard-hitting warnings of Galatians 6:7 about deception, mocking God, and reaping what one sows, (along with the implied responsibility and accountability in sowing and reaping), could be aimed at the issue of how one approaches God regarding salvation. The close reference to “flesh” in Galatians 6:12-13 draws the focus back on circumcision.

  • “Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13, NIV).

Conclusion

While I see how one could apply sowing and reaping to lifestyle choices about flesh and Spirit (cf. Romans 8:5-9; 13:14, see: You harvest what you plant), the focus at the end of v. 8 is clearly on eternal salvation. This is what requires careful explanation.   However we choose to apply Galatians 6:7-8, the clear appeal to personal accountability reminds us that we are not passive recipients of God’s work in our lives. We are unworthy recipients. 

We cannot attract God to us by personal worthiness. He loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and we can only love Him because he first loved us (I John 4:19). But we are called to believe (John 3:16) and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because “God works in us to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Steve Cornell

Posted in Flesh vs. Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians, Holy Spirit, Spirit filled, Spiritual Detox | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is not a vague force. He is a person. The 10 resources below will offer a in-depth look at the Holy Spirit.

Extra

Posted in Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Spiritual disciplines, Spiritual growth, Spiritual inventory, Spiritual transformation, Theology, Trinity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The life-giving power of God’s Spirit

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Wisdomforlife

“The Gospel, the Spirit, and Community”Play Audio!

The same Spirit who placed us in the Church (I Corinthians 12:12-13), dwells in each believer (I Corinthians 6:19-20) and transforms us into the image of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18). This transformation is both an individual and a community experience.

be149-flesh-spirit

The six phrases below(mostly from Galatians 5 & 6) remind us of the importance of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Walk by the Spirit
  2. Be led by the Spirit
  3. Bear the fruit of the Spirit
  4. Keep in step with the Spirit
  5. Sow to the Spirit
  6. Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 5:18)

“The life giving power of God’s Spirit is effective only in those who continue to let the Spirit change their lives” (Douglas Moo).

My prayer –“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in…

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Longing for her father’s approval

Julie learned from her father that love had to be earned. Good behavior merited her father’s favor, whereas disobedience to his standards and beliefs drew his anger and distance.

It was all about performance. She received approval from her dad if she displayed to others what he thought to be right and proper behavior. As long as she pretended to be the obedient and respectful child, she was accepted.

Julie grew up not really knowing her father’s love, but trying desperately to gain it. He was absent emotionally and, as a grown woman, Julie does not know him, though she still clearly hears his disapproval.

As Julie grew up, she made more choices that displeased her dad. According to him, she did not eat, dress, or date appropriately. Rather than gaining what her heart desired, she was farther away from the hope of ever being loved for who she was. As a result, she turned to other male relationships to find affirmation and acceptance. During this phase of her life, the connection with her father severed completely.

Julie became a people-pleasing, empty, broken mess. All her male relationships only further splintered her soul. When she could not bear the self-deception any longer, she enrolled in a Bible College as a final effort to ease the overwhelming pain in her heart. Perhaps total abandonment to God would release her from consuming turmoil and grant her the acceptance from her father. If she embraced God, she thought that perhaps the emptiness of her heart would fade away.

During her time at college, Julie began to see layers of deception to her troubled mind and determined to be honest about herself and to seek God’s plan for her life. When she finally stopped running, she met a stable guy and married him, believing her past could now become a distant memory.

Distant, but not forgotten…

For the next seventeen years of marriage, Julie was baffled by unexplainable outbursts of anger and an almost continual feeling of discontentment — even though she was married to a loving, supportive husband and had four beautiful children. What could be missing?

Unable to pinpoint the cause of her unrest, she finally broke. Julie hit a wall and admitted failure—personal, marital, parental, social and to her dismay, even spiritual. Attacked on all fronts, everything she tried so hard to keep in balance came simultaneously crashing down. Depression consumed her for the next three years.

More on Julie’s story and many others in my book – “The 18-Year factor: How Our Upbringing Affects Our Lives and Relationships” Purchase here 

Steve Cornell

Posted in 18 Year factor, Abuse, Child Abuse, Emotions, Family life, Fathers, Parenting, Parenting teens | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment