Tag Archive: Hindu


Without question the greatest reason that we live for God is our unwavering belief in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through His resurrection from the grave that we have hope and the promise of life eternal with him. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul explains that, because of these promises of a future resurrection and of living eternally in the kingdom, believers have not only the motivation but also eternal responsibilities for our lives here on earth.

The apostle Paul touches on such responsibilities in his concluding statement in the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. He declares that, if we really believe and if we are truly thankful that our resurrection is sure, we should “therefore” demonstrate our assurance and our thankfulness by “standing firm, letting nothing move us” and “always giving ourselves full to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This, then, is the believer’s responsibility: to stand firm in the faith and give himself completely to the Lord.

The Greek for “standing firm” is hedraios, which literally refers to “being seated, being settled and firmly situated.” The Greek for “letting nothing move you” is ametakinetos, and it carries the same basic idea but with more intensity. It means “being totally immobile and motionless,” indicating that we should not even budge an inch from His will. And with our being totally within the will of God, we are to be “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord,” being careful not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Why did Paul give us this warning? Simply because, if our confident hope in the resurrection wavers, we are sure to abandon ourselves to the ways and standards of the world. Therefore, if there are no eternal ramifications or consequences of what we do in this life, the motivation for selfless service and holy living is gone. In other words, our eternal responsibilities are abandoned.

Conversely, when our hope in the resurrection is clear and certain, we will have great motivation to be attending to the responsibility we have to “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord.” The Greek for this phrase carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. A good example of this is found in Ephesians 1:7-8 where the word is used of God having “lavished” upon us the riches of His grace. Because God has so abundantly provided for us who deserve nothing from Him, we should determine to give of ourselves abundantly in service to Him, to whom we owe everything.

The Bible teaches us that our responsibility as believers is to work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life. We must fully understand that until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be performed. We are responsible for our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits, and we should invest in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. James tells us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, cannot fail to accomplish what He wants accomplished. Every good work believers do has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Simply put, our responsibility lies in working for the Lord, whether it is in “looking after orphans or widows in distress” (James 1:27), giving to the hungry, the naked, visiting those in prison (see Matthew 25:35-36), serving in our workplace (see Colossians 3:22), or doing whatever we do (Colossians 3:23). And our motivation is that we have God’s own promise that our work “is not in vain” in the Lord “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).

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It has been said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism. Before a certain point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies using common things that would be familiar to everyone (salt, bread, sheep, etc.) and their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching. Parables required more explanation, and at one point in His ministry, Jesus began to teach using parables exclusively.

The question is why Jesus would let most people wonder about the meaning of His parables. The first instance of this is in His telling the parable of the seed and the soils. Before He interpreted this parable, He drew His disciples away from the crowd. They said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:10-17).

From this point on in Jesus’ ministry, when He spoke in parables, He explained them only to His disciples. But those who had continually rejected His message were left in their spiritual blindness to wonder as to His meaning. He made a clear distinction between those who had been given “ears to hear” and those who persisted in unbelief—ever hearing, but never actually perceiving and “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The disciples had been given the gift of spiritual discernment by which things of the spirit were made clear to them. Because they accepted truth from Jesus, they were given more and more truth. The same is true today of believers who have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He has opened our eyes to the light of truth and our ears to the sweet words of eternal life.

Our Lord Jesus understood that truth is not sweet music to all ears. Simply put, there are those who have neither interest nor regard in the deep things of God. So why, then, did He speak in parables? To those with a genuine hunger for God, the parable is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths. Our Lord’s parables contain great volumes of truth in very few words—and His parables, rich in imagery, are not easily forgotten. So, then, the parable is a blessing to those with willing ears. But to those with dull hearts and ears that are slow to hear, the parable is also an instrument of both judgment and mercy.

Buddhism is one of the leading world religions in terms of adherents, geographical distribution, and socio-cultural influence. While largely an “Eastern” religion, it is becoming increasingly popular and influential in the Western world. It is a unique world religion in its own right, though it has much in common with Hinduism in that both teach Karma (cause-and-effect ethics), Maya (the illusory nature of the world), and Samsara (the cycle of reincarnation). Buddhists believe that the ultimate goal in life is to achieve “enlightenment” as they perceive it.

Buddhism’s founder, Siddhartha Guatama, was born into royalty in India around 600 B.C. As the story goes, he lived luxuriously, with little exposure to the outside world. His parents intended for him to be spared from the influence of religion and protected from pain and suffering. However, it was not long before his shelter was penetrated, and he had visions of an aged man, a sick man, and a corpse. His fourth vision was of a peaceful ascetic monk (one who denies luxury and comfort). Seeing the monk’s peacefulness, he decided to become an ascetic himself. He abandoned his life of wealth and affluence to pursue enlightenment through austerity. He was skilled at this sort of self-mortification and intense meditation. He was a leader among his peers. Eventually, his efforts culminated in one final gesture. He “indulged” himself with one bowl of rice and then sat beneath a fig tree (also called the Bodhi tree) to meditate till he either reached “enlightenment” or died trying. Despite his travails and temptations, by the next morning, he had achieved enlightenment. Thus, he became known as the ‘enlightened one’ or the ‘Buddha.’ He took his new realization and began to teach his fellow monks, with whom he had already gained great influence. Five of his peers became the first of his disciples.

What had Gautama discovered? Enlightenment lay in the “middle way,” not in luxurious indulgence or self-mortification. Moreover, he discovered what would become known as the ‘Four Noble Truths’—1) to live is to suffer (Dukha), 2) suffering is caused by desire (Tanha, or “attachment”), 3) one can eliminate suffering by eliminating all attachments, and 4) this is achieved by following the noble eightfold path. The “eightfold path” consists of having a right 1) view, 2) intention, 3) speech, 4) action, 5) livelihood (being a monk), 6) effort (properly direct energies), 7) mindfulness (meditation), and 8) concentration (focus). The Buddha’s teachings were collected into the Tripitaka or “three baskets.”

Behind these distinguishing teachings are teachings common to Hinduism, namely reincarnation, karma, Maya, and a tendency to understand reality as being pantheistic in its orientation. Buddhism also offers an elaborate theology of deities and exalted beings. However, like Hinduism, Buddhism can be hard to pin down as to its view of God. Some streams of Buddhism could legitimately be called atheistic, while others could be called pantheistic, and still others theistic, such as Pure Land Buddhism. Classical Buddhism, however, tends to be silent on the reality of an ultimate being and is therefore considered atheistic.

Buddhism today is quite diverse. It is roughly divisible into the two broad categories of Theravada (small vessel) and Mahayana (large vessel). Theravada is the monastic form which reserves ultimate enlightenment and nirvana for monks, while Mahayana Buddhism extends this goal of enlightenment to the laity as well, that is, to non-monks. Within these categories can be found numerous branches including Tendai, Vajrayana, Nichiren, Shingon, Pure Land, Zen, and Ryobu, among others. Therefore it is important for outsiders seeking to understand Buddhism not to presume to know all the details of a particular school of Buddhism when all they have studied is classical, historic Buddhism.

The Buddha never considered himself to be a god or any type of divine being. Rather, he considered himself to be a ‘way-shower’ for others. Only after his death was he exalted to god status by some of his followers, though not all of his followers viewed him that way. With Christianity however, it is stated quite clearly in the Bible that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 3:17: “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’”) and that He and God are one (John 10:30). One cannot rightfully consider himself or herself a Christian without professing faith in Jesus as God.

Jesus taught that He is the way and not simply one who showed the way as John 14:6 confirms: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” By the time Guatama died, Buddhism had become a major influence in India; three hundred years later, Buddhism had encompassed most of Asia. The scriptures and sayings attributed to the Buddha were written about four hundred years after his death.

In Buddhism, sin is largely understood to be ignorance. And, while sin is understood as “moral error,” the context in which “evil” and “good” are understood is amoral. Karma is understood as nature’s balance and is not personally enforced. Nature is not moral; therefore, karma is not a moral code, and sin is not ultimately immoral. Thus, we can say, by Buddhist thought, that our error is not a moral issue since it is ultimately an impersonal mistake, not an interpersonal violation. The consequence of this understanding is devastating. For the Buddhist, sin is more akin to a misstep than a transgression against the nature of holy God. This understanding of sin does not accord with the innate moral consciousness that men stand condemned because of their sin before a holy God (Romans 1-2).

Since it holds that sin is an impersonal and fixable error, Buddhism does not agree with the doctrine of depravity, a basic doctrine of Christianity. The Bible tells us man’s sin is a problem of eternal and infinite consequence. In Buddhism, there is no need for a Savior to rescue people from their damning sins. For the Christian, Jesus is the only means of rescue from eternal damnation. For the Buddhist there is only ethical living and meditative appeals to exalted beings for the hope of perhaps achieving enlightenment and ultimate Nirvana. More than likely, one will have to go through a number of reincarnations to pay off his or her vast accumulation of karmic debt. For the true followers of Buddhism, the religion is a philosophy of morality and ethics, encapsulated within a life of renunciation of the ego-self. In Buddhism, reality is impersonal and non-relational; therefore, it is not loving. Not only is God seen as illusory, but, in dissolving sin into non-moral error and by rejecting all material reality as maya (“illusion”), even we ourselves lose our “selves.” Personality itself becomes an illusion.

When asked how the world started, who/what created the universe, the Buddha is said to have kept silent because in Buddhism there is no beginning and no end. Instead, there is an endless circle of birth and death. One would have to ask what kind of Being created us to live, endure so much pain and suffering, and then die over and over again? It may cause one to contemplate, what is the point, why bother? Christians know that God sent His Son to die for us, one time, so that we do not have to suffer for an eternity. He sent His Son to give us the knowledge that we are not alone and that we are loved. Christians know there is more to life than suffering, and dying, “… but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

Buddhism teaches that Nirvana is the highest state of being, a state of pure being, and it is achieved by means relative to the individual. Nirvana defies rational explanation and logical ordering and therefore cannot be taught, only realized. Jesus’ teaching on heaven, in contrast, was quite specific. He taught us that our physical bodies die but our souls ascend to be with Him in heaven (Mark 12:25). The Buddha taught that people do not have individual souls, for the individual self or ego is an illusion. For Buddhists there is no merciful Father in heaven who sent His Son to die for our souls, for our salvation, to provide the way for us to reach His glory. Ultimately, that is why Buddhism is to be rejected.

The gospel of Thomas is a Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This manuscript contains 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Some of these sayings resemble sayings found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Other sayings were unknown until their discovery or even run counter to what is written in the four Gospels.

One December day in 1945, far up the Nile Valley, two Egyptian peasants were looking for a local variety of crumbly nitrate rock used as fertilizer. They came across a large jar, about a meter tall, hidden by a boulder. Inside they found a collection of ancient leather-bound books or codices. The spot where the books were found is within a few miles of the site of an early monastery, established by the founder of Christian “cenobitic” monasticism in Egypt, Pachomius. Nag Hammadi, a nearby village, has given this remarkable collection its name.

The Nag Hammadi Library consists of fifty-two texts or “tractates” written in Coptic on papyrus and gathered in thirteen volumes, twelve of which have separate leather bindings. Forty of the texts had previously been unknown to modern scholars. Most of the writings are of a Gnostic character. Scraps of paper found in the binding of eight codices bear dates indicating that the books were made in the mid-fourth century, and at least one of these clearly appears to have come from a monastery. Efforts to date the books more precisely continue. In general, it can be said the collection dates from about the middle of the fourth century. The Coptic texts could be many years earlier, and the originals (probably written in Greek or Aramaic) from which the Coptic translations were made could have been still earlier.

To understand how we got the Bible as we know it, please see the following two articles:   What is the canon of Scripture? and  How was the Canon determined?

Should the gospel of Thomas be in the Canon?

The early church councils followed something similar to the following principles to determine whether a New Testament book was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit: 1) Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? 2) Was the book being accepted by the Body of Christ at large? 3) Did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching? 4) Did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit?

The gospel of Thomas fails all of these tests. The gospel of Thomas was not written by Jesus’ disciple Thomas. The early Christian leaders universally recognized the gospel of Thomas as a forgery. The gospel of Thomas was rejected by the vast majority of early Christians. The gospel of Thomas contains many teachings that are in contradiction to the biblical Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The gospel of Thomas does not bear the marks of a work of inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Are there any other arguments that preclude the gospel of Thomas from being included in the Bible? If we examine the 114 sayings in this writing, then we find some that are similar to existing sayings, some that are slightly different, but the majority cannot be found anywhere in the entirety of Scripture itself. Scripture must always confirm itself, and the majority of sayings in the gospel of Thomas cannot be confirmed anywhere else in Scripture.

One argument for precluding the gospel of Thomas from the Bible is found in the overt “secretness” attributed to these 114 sayings by the work itself. Nowhere in Scripture is God’s Word given “in secret” but is given for all to read and understand. The gospel of Thomas very clearly tries to maintain an air of secrecy in its words.

The gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic gospel, espousing a  Gnostic viewpoint of Christianity. The gospel of Thomas is simply a heretical forgery, much the same as the gospel of Judas, the gospel of Mary, and the gospel of Philip. Perhaps the disciple Thomas’ nickname of “doubting Thomas” is appropriate here. We should all be doubting the gospel of Thomas!

We should thank God for the example of “doubting Thomas”! The famous story of the disciple Thomas, whose name literally means “doubter,” is recorded in John 20:24-29. All Christians suffer doubt at one time or another, but the example of doubting Thomas provides both instruction and encouragement.

After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared alive and glorified to His disciples to comfort them and proclaim to them the good news of His victory over death (John 20:19-23). However, one of the original 12 disciples, Thomas, was not present for this visitation (John 20:24). After being told by the other disciples of Jesus’ resurrection and personal visit, Thomas “doubted” and wanted physical proof of the risen Lord in order to believe this good news. Jesus, knowing Thomas’s human frailty resulted in weakened faith, accommodated Thomas.

It is important to note that Jesus did not have to fulfill Thomas’s request. He was not obligated in the slightest bit. Thomas had spent three years intimately acquainted with Jesus witnessing all His miracles and hearing His prophecies about His coming death and resurrection. That, and the testimony Thomas received from the other 10 disciples about Jesus’ return, should have been enough, but still he doubted. Jesus knew Thomas’s weakness, just as he knows ours.

The doubt Thomas experienced in the face of the heartbreaking loss of the One he loved is not unlike our own when facing a massive loss: despair, heartbreak, and exceeding sorrow, all of which Christ sympathizes with (Hebrews 4:15). But, although Thomas did in fact doubt the Lord’s resurrection appearance, once he saw the risen Christ, he proclaimed in faith, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus commended him for his faith, although that faith was based on sight.

As an extra encouraging note to future Christians, Jesus goes on to say, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emphasis added). He meant that once He ascended to heaven, He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would live within believers from then on, enabling us to believe that which we do not see with our eyes. This same thought is echoed by Peter, who said of Christ, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Although we have the Spirit within us, we can still experience doubt. This, however, does not affect our eternal standing with God. True saving faith always perseveres to the end just as Thomas’s did, and just as Peter’s did after he had a monumental moment of weakness by denying the very Lord he loved and believed in (Matthew 26:69-75). This is because, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Jesus is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Faith is the gift of God to His children (Ephesians 2:8-9), and He will mature and perfect it until He returns.

So how do we keep from doubting as Thomas did? First, we must go to God in prayer when experiencing doubt. That may be the very reason God is allowing a Christian to doubt—so that we will depend on Him through prayer. Sanctification is the process of growing in Him, which includes times of doubt and times of great faith. Like the man who brought his demon-possessed child to Jesus but was unsure whether Jesus could help him, we go to God because we believe in Him and ask Him for more and greater faith to overcome our doubts, crying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-27).

Second, we must recognize that Christians fight a spiritual battle daily. We have to gear up for the battle. The Christian needs to daily be armed with the Word of God to help fight these spiritual battles, which include fighting doubt, and we arm ourselves with the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-19). As Christians, we must take advantage of the lulls in spiritual warfare to polish our spiritual armor in order to be ready for the next battle. Times of doubt will become less frequent if we take advantage of the good times to feed our faith with the Word of God. Then when we raise the shield of faith and do battle with the enemy of our souls, his flaming darts of doubt will not hit their target.

Doubting Christians have two things doubting Thomas did not have—the indwelling Holy Spirit and the written New Testament. By the power of both the Spirit and the Word, we can overcome doubts and, like Thomas, be prepared to follow our Lord and Savior and give all for Him, even our lives (John 11:16).

Quite simply, for followers of Jesus Christ prayer is the best way to communicate with God. Prayer is the vehicle for daily dialog with the One who created us. The importance of daily communication through prayer cannot be overestimated. It is so important that it is mentioned over 250 times in Scripture. So why is daily prayer so important? First, daily prayer gives us an opportunity to share all aspects of our lives with God. Second, daily prayer gives us the chance to express our gratitude for the things He provides. Third, daily prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and asking for help in overcoming that sin. Fourth, daily prayer is an act of worship and obedience. And finally, daily prayer is a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives. Let’s take a look at each of these important reasons in a little more detail.

Daily prayer gives us an opportunity to share all aspects of one’s life with God. Life’s circumstances change on a daily basis. In fact, things can go from good to bad to worse in a very short time. God calls us to bring our concerns to Him for disposition and potential blessing. He also calls us to share our joys and triumphs with Him. In fact, Jeremiah 33:3 states, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” God wants us to call on Him so that He can answer our prayers. He also wants to share with us incredible blessings that we might otherwise have missed had we not reached out to Him through prayer. And finally, James 4:8 tells us to “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” God wants us to be close to Him at all times.

Daily prayer gives us the chance to express gratitude for the things in life that He provides. It is no secret that we must give thanks to the Lord for all the things that He provides and all of the things He does on our behalf. His goodness and lovingkindness to us should be recognized on a daily basis. In 1 Chronicles 16:34, we are commanded to “give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” The psalmist tells us in Psalm 9:1, “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” We pray on a daily basis to acknowledge His faithfulness and His abundant provision in our daily lives.

Daily prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and asking for help repenting of that sin. Let’s face it, we all sin daily whether we know it or not. So as followers of Jesus Christ, what must we do? Scripture makes it very clear: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’— and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Tell God what He already knows and do it on a daily basis. Daily prayer time is a great place to unburden one’s self from the debilitating effects of sin. So often Christians walk around with unconfessed sin that hinders our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, when we should humbly submit ourselves and ask for forgiveness in prayer. Another important element of daily prayer is asking God for the strength to repent of our sins. Only God can help us turn from our sins, and, for this to be so, He needs to hear our plea to repent.

Daily prayer is an act of worship and obedience. Perhaps no other verse better summarizes why we should pray on a daily basis than 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s God’s will for His children to rejoice in Him, to pray to Him and give thanks to Him. To pray without ceasing simply means that we should make prayer a regular habit and never stop doing so. Prayer also is an act of worship because by praying to Him we are showing Him how much we adore Him. Daily prayer is also an act of obedience that brings joy to the Lord to see His children following His commands.

Daily prayer is a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives. As Christians, we know who is really in control. God is sovereign. Nothing happens without God knowing about it (Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:17). Because He is sovereign over all, He deserves our worship and praise. “Yours, O 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, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11). God is our great King and as such He controls every aspect of our lives. Each day we should acknowledge His proper place in our lives humbly and with a reverence reserved for such a great and awesome King.

Finally, prayer is something that we all should want to do on a daily basis. Yet for many Christians it can be a challenge to humble one’s self in daily prayer. For those who have been walking with the Lord for many years, daily prayer may become stale and lacking in proper conviction or reverence. Whether one is a new believer or an established one, prayer should always be considered as THE best way to speak to God. Imagine not speaking to a loved one or a close friend. How long would the relationship last? Daily prayer with God is daily fellowship with our heavenly Father. It is truly amazing that God would want to have fellowship with us at all. In fact, the psalmist asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). Daily prayer is a good way to understand this incredible truth and the marvelous privilege God has given us.

Some people give special honor to Mary since she was the mother of the Savior. Some even think she was perfect. But the Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and the Bible forbids worshipping mere humans or praying to them. Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).

When a woman pronounced a blessing a Mary, Jesus pronounced a different blessing: “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’” (Luke 11:27-28).

Those who worship or pray to Mary disobey God’s commands. Mary herself worshipped God after she found out she was to give birth to God’s Son:

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever’” (Luke 1:46-55).

While the virgin birth doesn’t mean Mary was perfect, it does point to Jesus’ perfection. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed, every person has inherited the same guilt and sin nature: “. . . sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Every one of us has sinned, breaking God’s laws such as these:

• Loving God above all (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37)
• Loving neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
• Honoring parents (Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4)
• Not committing adultery or lust (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28)

Jesus, however, was born of a virgin and didn’t inherit the sin nature. Although He was tempted to sin, He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Instead, He displayed God His Father’s perfect righteousness.

Just as Adam’s sin affected all born after him, Jesus Christ’s righteousness affects those who are born again and cry in faith to Jesus: “For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

How can we be “made righteous”? We cannot make ourselves righteous. We are “made righteous” by God through the righteous Jesus. According to God’s Word the Bible, Jesus lived as the perfect God-Man, died on the cross to take the punishment for believing sinners, and rose from the dead as living Lord and Savior.

God awakens the sinner’s heart, who responds by turning from sin to trust in Jesus alone for salvation from sin and hell. God pardons the sinner and declares the sinner righteous based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-4). Because God made the believer’s sin Christ’s when He bore sin on the cross, God makes Christ’s righteousness the believer’s. A matchless exchange!

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

A man once opposed these truths, throwing Christians in jail and watching as a Christian was stoned to death. This man thought he could please God by following God’s law perfectly. But when Jesus called and saved him (Acts 9), Paul testified of righteousness by faith in Christ:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

With  a 50% divorce rate in America and many more marriages in shambles, we are in  trouble as a culture and as a church in America.  It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to  stop pointing her finger at the nation and at the government and begin taking  some responsibility for correcting this problem using the authority of God’s word.

As  teachers of the word of God, we must be prepared for people in our modern  culture to be initially shocked by what the Bible teaches regarding marriage  and the husband’s responsibility to his marriage.  There is a lot of role reversal in today’s marriage,  in the culture and in the church when viewed according to the standard taught  in the word of God.

It  is my prayer that you will take seriously what the Bible says about marriage  and specifically what it says about the husband’s role in marriage.  Let me encourage you to take immediate steps  to implement it in your marriage.  Let me  reassure you that God is more interested in your implementing those changes  than you can possibly understand at this time.

Jesus  attempted to reach His generation during a similar time of cultural marital crisis  with the same Biblical teachings on marriage that we study today in Matthew  19:4-6. He began by asking this question: “Have you not read, that He  who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Gen.1: 26-27),  and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall  cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh (Gen.2: 24)?’”  Jesus was saying that the cultural problem of  divorce was related to the problem of Scriptural teaching on marriage (“Have  you not read?”).

The  Bible teaches that marriage is more a spiritual covenant or contract than it is a legal contract.  Marriage is a divine institution for man and  not a human institution for God. This is why the bride and groom exchange  wedding vows before God and invited guests.   This is a covenant with vows that are not to be broken – “What therefore  God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt.19: 6)

This  principle was stated in the first wedding ceremony of human history as recorded  in the Bible (Gen.2: 18-25).  Moses wrote  about this wedding between Adam and Eve, “For this cause [marriage union based  on Gen.2: 23] a man (ish) shall leave his  father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife (ishah); and they shall become one flesh [monogamy math is 1+1=1].”  (Gen.2: 24)

Notice  that during the wedding ceremony the groom becomes (ish) and the bride becomes (ishah).  The reason is explained by Paul in 1Cor.11:  8-9 which was based on Gen.2: 18-25.   When the bride becomes ishah, she becomes bone of the groom’s bone (ish)  and flesh of the groom’s flesh (ishah) as they cleave and become one (Gen.2: 23-25). This led Paul to remind his  generation of these Biblical teachings on marriage during his own time since  they were facing similar marital problems (Eph.5: 22-33).

The ish and ishah concept of Gen.2: is interpreted by Paul as, “husbands (ish idea) ought also to love their  own wives (ishah idea) as their own  bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever  hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.” (Eph.5: 28-29).

The Christian husband has certain Biblical  responsibilities to his marriage.  These  are outlined in the word of God.  We will  discuss several of them in this lesson.

One  responsibility of the Christian husband to his marriage is to understand that  he has been promoted        from rulership authority to headship authority as a  result of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Prior  to the fall of Adam (Gen.2: 17-25), the husband was a fellow joint heir of the  grace of God with his wife under his headship authority. After the fall  (Gen.3:6-19; Rom.5:12), the husband was demoted to ruler (mashal) [to have dominion] over his wife  as part of her curse due to her participation in the fall of Adam. “He shall rule  over you” (Gen.3:16). Rulership can be harsh and even violent. Many husbands  still live in the concept of rulership and do not understand that it is not  scriptural for Christians in marriage. (The Christian husband is the head of  the marriage and not the ruler of the marriage). By not understanding the  difference, even Christian husbands can become involved in marital or even  family abuse.  By the end of 20th  century, 1 out of 5 families reported experiencing violence in the home. 1 in 4  teens are reporting violence while dating which further indicates a  misunderstanding or ignorance or even a refusal to accept proper roles. Today,  20% of the American population thinks that it is sometimes acceptable to strike  a spouse.  It is never acceptable!  However, spousal abuse can take several forms.

Let  me give you three examples by which you may recognize the spousal abuse of rulership.

  1. The “Control  freak” abuser: This type person will  threaten or act out in violence by hitting, kicking, throwing, or even slamming  objects in front of you as a fear tactic in order to control you.
  2. The  Verbal/Emotional abuser: This type person  is the name calling, belittling, threatening to leave, cut you off financially  in order to make you fearful and to control you.
  3. The Physical abuser: This type person is the pushing,  slapping, punching, or destroying your favorite possessions (even animals) to  make you fearful in order to control you.

DO NOT ACCEPT ANY OF THESE  ABUSES. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY, TELL A CLOSE FRIEND AND GET HELP, AND GET  COUNSELING.  This is not the function of a Christian  husband’s headship. In fact, the husband  is commanded to not embitter (pikraino/  present, passive imperfect) his wife.”  (Col.3: 19).  Pikraino means to treat harshly or critical so as to crush her spirit  to make her submit.

Once  a husband believes the Gospel: that Jesus Christ died as his substitute for the  imputation of the penalty of Adam’s sin, that Jesus was buried and raised from  the dead on the third day to give him         eternal  life (1Cor.15: 3-4; Rom.1: 16; John 5:24), he is promoted from ruler (mashal) to head authority (kephale) over his wife by the saving  grace of God (Eph.2: 8-9).

“For  the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head  of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph.5: 23)

Peter  taught that the Christian husband is  restored to his original status as: “fellow heir of the grace of life” (1  Pet.3: 7).

The  Christian husband’s headship authority is connected to the divine chain of  authority as outlined in 1  Cor.11: 3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man,  and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” [Rank in  the divine chain of authority is from top to bottom – God to Christ to  Christian husband to wife].

Under  headship, the subordinate is never considered inferior since both are fellow heirs of the grace of life in  Christ.  It refers to order,  responsibility, biblical roles, and divine protection.  You are always protected by the next rank in  the divine chain of authority.  This  principle was taught once again in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah as  referred to in 1 Pet.3: 1-6.  Sarah  applied this principle in the Pharaoh incident of Gen.12: 10-20.  Her husband (ranked authority) failed her, so  she appealed to the authority over her husband, the Lord. Abraham and Sarah  were only 21 generations from Adam and Eve in the genealogy of Luke 3:34-38.  Yet, this same principle applies to all those marriages in between as well as  to all the thousands of marriages from Adam down to today.

The  Christian husband is commanded to love (agape) [unconditional and  sacrificial relaxed mental attitude love]. “Husbands love (agapao) your wives, just as Christ (kathos) [kata and hos is used to  intensify this comparison] loved the  church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph.5:  25)

In your workbook, write  how Christ demonstrated His love for the Church?

“But  God demonstrated His own love towards us (church), in that while we were yet sinners  (our worst condition), Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8)

This  is what is meant about the Christian husband loving his wife unconditionally  and sacrificially.  Love, being commanded by God can be difficult for a husband who doesn’t understand the resources that  God has provided which enables him to do that very thing – Love  Unconditionally. However, Headship love would never withdraw his love to  teach his wife a lesson, where Rulership would!   Listen Christian husband, if you want to understand how far your  unconditional love is to extend, read the Book of Hosea.

Paul  instructed the Christian husband that besides responsibilities of headship and  unconditional and sacrificial love, he also has the responsibility for  nurturing and cherishing his wife.  Paul  introduced nurturing and cherishing as part of natural as well as spiritual  reasoning: “For (gar) [reasoning] no  one ever hated his own flesh [natural  reasoning of self], but [in  contrast] nourishes (ektrepho) and cherishes (thalpo) it, just as Christ  also dies for the church [spiritual reasoning of wife].” (Eph.5: 29)

Consider  these three things:

  1. Husband, the mental attitude sin of hatred will hinder loving, nurturing,  and cherishing your wife.
  2. Husband, nurturing is providing for your  wife’s spiritual growth and development as a Christian wife.
  3. Husband, cherishing is fostering your  wife with tender care. (1 Cor.7:3-5, 33).

Have  you noticed that I have not spoken about providing a wife with things such as  food, shelter, and clothing (1 Tim.5:8).   It is true that I didn’t give much print to those things.  The reason is because husbands tend to use  providing those things as an excuse for ignoring all the other responsibilities  to marriage.

The  Christian husband is instructed to love, nurture, and cherish his wife because  loving, nurturing and cherishing fulfills the original cleaving of marriage (Eph.5: 31 quoting Gen.2: 24).

At  this point, you might be thinking, “How can God expect me to be held to the  standard of Jesus Christ?”

God will never ask of you  anything that He will not provide for you by grace (Gal.5: 16, 22-23; 1  Cor.13: 4-8) [filling ministry of indwelling Holy Spirit].  This principle can be illustrated in the  marriage of Abraham and Sarah as recorded in Romans 4:17-21.  Pay attention to the following verse because  it can be applied to your marriage as well: “And (Abraham, the husband) being fully assured that what He (God)  promised, He (God) was able also to perform (for them as a couple).” (Romans 4:21) [Faith cycle, see glossary].

No matter how your earthly marriage has turned out, our  heavenly marriage is eternal: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy;  for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a  pure virgin.”  (2 Cor.11:2)

Shouldn’t all our prayers include expressions of thankfulness?”

It does seem odd, given the apostle Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 to “pray without ceasing” and to “give thanks in all circumstances,” that the Lord’s Prayer does not include instructions for thanksgiving. It seems especially odd since Jesus models thanksgiving in prayer elsewhere in the Gospels.

Jesus thanks God for the meals that He provides, including the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:16-21) and the 4,000 (Matthew 15:35-38). He gave thanks for the cup and the bread at the Last Supper (Acts 27:35). He thanked God for hearing His request to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41). He even thanked the Father from keeping the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and revealing them to the poor, the ignorant and the obscure (Matthew 11:25). Yet He leaves thanksgiving out of the Lord’s Prayer.

If we examine the passage containing the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we first note why Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray a certain way. Jesus was critiquing the way the Pharisees prayed. They prayed out in the open where all could see and hear. This was a way to show the public how holy and pious they were. Jesus condemns this way of praying: “They have their reward,” the reward of being seen by men. Jesus is not condemning public prayer, only the practice of praying with the goal of being “seen by men.” We also see Jesus critiquing the way the Gentiles prayed by constantly praying the same thing over and over again as if to make sure their god heard them, such as the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18.

Jesus’ corrective against these modes of prayer was to give His disciples a model prayer. Now, we don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer by simply reciting it, as do the Roman Catholics. This does not mean that corporate recital of the Lord’s Prayer is wrong. Jesus is referring to private prayer here, not corporate prayer.

It’s best to think of the Lord’s Prayer as a general guideline for prayer—a means to shape our prayer life. The prayer contains six petitions. The first three relate to God, and the last three relate to us. After addressing God as “our Father in heaven,” we first pray that God’s name be honored and glorified. Next, we pray that God’s kingdom will come. There is a sense in which God’s kingdom is already present since the advent of Christ, but we pray for the kingdom to come in its fullness. Third, we pray for God’s will – His moral, or revealed, will – to be done here on earth, starting with us. After these three petitions, which address God’s glory and majesty, we continue with the petitions that pertain to us—our daily provision, our forgiveness from sin and our deliverance from evil.

As for why we don’t find thanksgiving in the Lord’s Prayer, the best answer is that thanksgiving is the attitude in which we pray to God. For those who are children of God, thanksgiving will fill our hearts and pour forth from our lips to God because we know, among other things, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. The more we contemplate what God has done for us, the more thankful we will be. Thanksgiving becomes natural in our relationship with God at all times, under all conditions and in all circumstances. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

The original thanksgiving celebration was held by the Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts during their second winter in America in December, 1621. The first winter had killed 44 of the original 102 colonists. At one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived, swapping them beaver pelts for corn, providing for their severe need. The next summer’s crop brought hope, and Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, be set aside as a day of feasting and prayer to show the gratitude of the colonists that they were still alive.

These Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom and opportunity in America, gave thanks to God for His provision for them in helping them find 20 acres of cleared land, for the fact that there were no hostile Indians in that area, for their newfound religious freedom, and for God’s provision of an interpreter to the Indians in Squanto. Along with the feasting and games involving the colonists and more than 80 friendly Indians (who added to the feast by bringing wild turkeys and venison), prayers, sermons, and songs of praise were important in the celebration. Three days were spent in feasting and prayer.

From that time forward, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November, in 1863, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941, Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November be observed as Thanksgiving Day and be a legal holiday.

Scripturally, we find things related to the issue of thanksgiving nearly from cover to cover. Individuals offered up sacrifices out of gratitude in the book of Genesis. The Israelites sang a song of thanksgiving as they were delivered from Pharaoh’s army after the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15). Later, the Mosaic Law set aside three times each year when the Israelites were to gather together. All three of these times [Unleavened Bread (also called the Feast of the Passover) (Exodus 12:15-20), Harvest or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21), and the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36)] involved remembering God’s provision and grace. Harvest and Tabernacles took place specifically in relation to God’s provision in the harvest of various fruit trees and crops. The book of Psalms is packed full of songs of thanksgiving, both for God’s grace to the Israelite people as a whole through His mighty deeds, as well as for His individual graces to each of us.

In the New Testament, there are repeated admonitions to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is to always be a part of our prayers. Some of the most remembered passages on the giving of thanks are the following:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Of all of God’s gifts, the greatest one He has given is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid our sin debt, so a holy and just Judge could forgive us our sins and give us eternal life as a free gift. This gift is available to those who will call on Christ to save them from their sin in simple but sincere faith (John 3:16; Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). For this gift of His Son, the gift which meets our greatest need, the Apostle Paul says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children.

May the God of Abraham,  Isaac and Jacob continue to bless you and yours – may His Grace and Love forever cause you to Rejoice and give thanks to Him who provides so much.

Yours in Christ;

Michael