boasting

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

A tough guy pushing his chest out and strutting around like he owns the place – that’s my mental image of “boasting.” As usual, the Word of God tears me apart (in the best way).

You may be wise, mighty, or rich. You may be pretty or well-liked. You may have worked hard for years, with a moral lifestyle and the respect of your peers. Yet – boast in none of these things; in fact, count them as loss (Philippians 3:8). Not one of these things is worth boasting about, finding your identity in, living for. There is one reality in whom you are to invest your zeal, commitment, and life, and he alone will prove trust-worthy in the end.

In Philippians 3, right before Paul makes the famous statement that everything he once counted as gain he now counts as loss for the sake of Christ, he gives a list of convincing reasons to show why he has good cause to do just the opposite – to, as he says, “put confidence in the flesh” rather than in Jesus. Paul had a lot of reasons to boast. He had a lot of reasons to feel confident in himself, before both God and people. And yet…

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

“Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” Where is it, Christian, that the relentless love of God, the unstoppable justice of God, and the blazing righteousness of God, converge? Where is it that his love is poured out, his justice satisfied, and his righteousness demonstrated? Where else but at the cross? In the cross, in the gruesomely disfigured face of a man being tortured – boast in nothing else but this. The cross of Jesus alone is our boast, our identity, worthiness, confidence, and calling.

In losing your claims to false identities, find your true individuality. The aimless pursuit of self-gain or glory, which is what life is like apart from “boasting in the cross,” promises to let you be who you really are. In reality, it deadens who you really are. It sucks up every limited resource of self until it finally runs out. The cross, meanwhile, of the crucified and risen Jesus, is limitless in its scope and power. Lose yourself in God and in him find your true personality; lose yourself in you and get nothing but emptiness and limitation.

Because he boasted only in the cross – because Paul’s whole claim on life was wrapped up in how Jesus had sacrificed himself for Paul – Paul boasted also in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), suffering (Romans 5:3), and the people he evangelized (1 Thessalonians 2:19), among others. Yes, seriously: weakness, suffering, and churchy people. Thus there is no room left for boasting about anything at all which does not flow from a boast in the cross. The Lord of the galaxies, the Lord beyond the galaxies, has died for us. Therefore we are strong when we are weak, rejoicing when we are suffering, joyful when we are poured out and used up for the sake of other people’s faith. Incredibly, that is what the Bible says, unapologetically.

The call of the cross to you and me, then, is the same: come and be crucified to the world. Give up your claims of self, of wisdom, strength, money, morality, plans, likability, because the Son of God gave himself up for you. Let the almighty God who delights in steadfast love, and justice, and righteousness, have his way with you. Boast only in the Lord and in so doing find life so amazing, so worth living, you will never want to go back.

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:28-31

the answer to life, the universe, and everything (pt. 2)

In our day of materialistic secularism, we are taught to believe that the physical world is the only reality. There is no spiritual world, no God, and there are no souls in humans. Evolutionary science says that humans are nothing special – just animals. Materialism says that the physical world is all that exists – human consciousness results from nothing more than complex chemical reactions in the brain. The American Dream says whoever dies with the biggest bank account, the most successful kids, the most comfortable lifestyle, “wins.” 

Yet at the same time:

  • Everyone who lives knows fundamentally, with conviction, that something is wrong with the world. Why do we believe that? If “this” is all there is, why do we suppose things ought to be any different? Why do we humans, uniquely among the organisms on the planet, refuse to accept as natural the “natural order” of cruelty and unjustness and “might makes right” that exists in the world? If nature is all that exists, how can we describe anything, ever, as being “unnatural” or “unfair”?
  • Human societies universally express belief in a spiritual world. Why is the human race so doggedly convinced there is something else to reality beyond what we see and experience? Why is the search for God, for something higher, so deeply ingrained in the human mind?
  • Every person instinctively attempts to ascribe meaning to their life, both to what they do and to what happens to them. Why is this? What lamb ever asked the lion why it was devouring her, or pondered the purpose of eating grass? Why do we suppose anything has any meaning or purpose at all, if “this” is all there is?
  • Secular humanism – a world without God – has no answer.

C.S. Lewis said it this way: “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. ‘Dark’ would be without meaning.”

Christianity says, yes: there is an objective purpose for the universe and for your life. You are invited to reach out to it and know it for yourself. The answer is not “in” you, nor can you create it for yourself, for it is far bigger and more real than you. Certainly it is nowhere to be found in a materialistic universe. Rather, it is found in a Person – a King, if you will – who exclusively claims your life as belonging to him. He declares for all the world to hear, “You are mine!” How, then, will you answer him? “Yes Lord, I am yours. Glory to God, all glory to him, praise to him forever and ever, because I am yours.” Or, “No, thank you. I belong to myself, I live for myself, I decide my own destiny. Leave me be, for I am just fine deciding the purpose of my life on my own.”

By nature we look for meaning. We seek it out with zeal. The gospel alone gives a meaning, an answer, which satisfies. You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore know the infinite God – live before him forever – glorify him by being satisfied in him. Truly, there is nothing better, there can be nothing greater, than this.

the answer to life, the universe, and everything

 

Have you ever looked up at a night sky away from the city? Stared out, alone, at an ocean? Failed at something you saw as important? Then you’re probably one of the 7 billion people in the world asking, what is the meaning of life? the universe? and… everything?

According to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Google, the answer is 42. 🙂 According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the answer is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Here are some really awesome verses that tell the Bible’s answer to the question on everybody’s minds:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

And this is eternal life: that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:25-26

lessons from the psalms

Of any single book of the Bible, the book of Psalms is perhaps the most quoted, most sung, most prayed, and most memorized. This would be no surprise to its authors. The psalter (the book of “praises” in Hebrew) was the hymnal and book of common prayer for ancient Israel. From Moses straight through to the closing of the Old Testament canon, Israelite believers of all kinds cried out to God through the writing of the psalms.

The psalms contain the full range of the spiritual life of ancient Israel, from overwhelming joy to impassioned sorrow, bristling confidence to crippling insecurity, abandoned worship to withdrawn confusion. No one would call this people Stoic, unemotional, or detached – neither should it ever be said of Christians. The psalmists never thought of the God they worshiped as a distant, irrelevant old man in the sky: he was the center of their universe.

The honesty of the psalms is breathtaking. Sometimes I don’t understand the Bible. Sometimes I get disillusioned with church. Sometimes I feel afraid of God. Sometimes I wonder if everything I believe is just a myth, if I really am the self-deluded hypocrite my culture says I am. The psalms, thank God, give me the freedom and the precedent to present these very fears and doubts to God, and to do so with full disclosure. The psalmists’ heartbroken cries of “how long?” and “where are you?” surface again and again. God does not demand that I clean myself up before I come to him. I am poor and needy for mercy and he knows this. The blood of Jesus alone presents me as acceptable to God. As one redeemed and purchased by this blood, I can, I must, be honest and vulnerable before him. He beckons me to come as I am, simply entrusting myself to his grace – amazing.

The psalms do not deny the deep “valleys” of the believer’s life. Rather, they validate these valleys, these times when life feels dark and dangerous, these “dark nights of the soul.” Are you familiar with the “regions dark and deep,” whether spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise, of which the psalmist speaks in Psalm 88:6? Be comforted. God is familiar with your suffering; he chose to give it a voice in his book some three thousand years ago. He gives it a dignity which no other system of thought quite manages to do.

As amazing and satisfying as the honesty of the psalms is, however, there is something even more. What is truly incredible, and unusual, about these ancient prayers is that there is suffering – with hope. Doubt, with trust. A desperate feeling of abandonment with a resolute confidence in the promise of God’s presence. Over and over the psalmists say: “God, I do not understand what is happening. It looks as if you have abandoned us. I feel lonely, angry, hated, afraid – and yet I know who you are. I know the promises you have made to us. I know you have redeemed my life and I know you are good. Therefore I will praise you still.” That is what living faith looks like. Faith does not deny what it sees and feels or stifle its thoughts and emotions. It does just the opposite. Faith confronts what it sees with what it knows to be true, and decides to find rest in the promises of God.

When the fear and doubt come, which they surely do and surely will, I must also remind myself of the truth I know. I know how Jesus Christ changed my life. I know the testimonies of others. I know that his word alone speaks the words of life and the message of redemption. I remember what God has done for me and I remember what I know of him – and that is enough. I do not need all the answers, as much as I may want them. All I need is to cling to my God, my refuge and my strength. As many times as the cry of “how long” can be heard echoing through its chapters, the true chorus of the psalms is “hallelujah” – praise Yahweh.

If you are not familiar with the book of Psalms, dive in. Read them, pray them, mull them over. Some are not easy to understand, but all of them are wonderfully real. Come to God with empty hands, a broken heart, a guilty conscience; lay these before him and find rest.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

compartmentalizing God

In my personal devotions, I am currently in the Old Testament book of Hosea. It’s one of my favorites. I love it because in it, God is so passionate about capturing his people’s hearts. He addresses Israel as a wounded husband whose wife plays the part of a whore by chasing after other “lovers” – i.e., other gods and the things of this world. He does everything he can – pleads, promises, threatens, woos, thunders, mourns – to get Israel’s attention back on him. The God of Hosea, and of the whole Bible, never submits to being put in a box, never resigns himself to the sidelines, never rests content as one among many (whether among ancient pagan deities or the equally idolatrous modern equivalents of comfort, doing what we want with “our” time, other people’s respect, etc.). And do we really believe that he should?

We “compartmentalize” God all the time. For me, it often goes something like this: “God is relevant to what I pray about and to what happens after I die, but not to how I spend or save my money. Or to how I treat my parents. Or to my attitude when I get up in the morning. Or to how I drive, what standard of living I live at, my choice of college major, or…” On and on. Fill in the blanks for yourself.

The lie we believe is that we can create a “religion” compartment in our lives, into which God fits quite nicely, and call it satisfactory. We try to “fit” God into our lives instead of fitting our lives into him. The assumptions behind this compartmentalizing attitude can be basically summed up with the title of a J. B. Phillips book I read last year: “Your God Is Too Small.”

Phillips discusses some of the “too small gods” that Christians attempt to worship, such as: the resident policeman; the parental hangover; the grand old man; the meek-and-mild; the managing director; the pale Galilean; the impersonal force. Sometimes God’s holiness gets minimized, leaving him as a friendly, cosmic grandfather-type who just wants people to be happy. Other times his grace is ignored and he becomes something like the cosmic projection of an impossible-to-please, emotionally distant human father. In every way these conceptions of God are lies. The holy, infinite, active, personal, Lover-God of the Bible does not resemble them at all.

God is “above the earth and heavens;” he is “over all the nations” (Psalm 113:4, 99:2, 148:13, and many more). He is beyond the vastest expanses of the universe. He is the king of and provider for every creature that has ever walked, crawled, swum, grown, or breathed on the earth. He knows the full personalities of all people, and he understands every facet of who they, and you, are. His glory is inexpressible and his character is irrepressible. He is a consuming fire, a thundering lightning storm, brighter than the brightest star, deeper than the deepest ocean; he exhausts every metaphor. How else can we respond to him but to join with the psalmist in saying, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 96:4)?

Stop limiting God, and thereby limiting your life with him. Refuse to believe the lies of American culture and your own biased take on things, both of which are so often based on inaccurate, unquestioned assumptions. Look up quietly at the stars on a dark night, embrace your own smallness, and begin to understand the greatness of our God. His creation, his word, and his Son declare him to be so big, so glorious, so much more solid and powerful than us, that the only thing for it is to bow down in worship.

The Israelites in Hosea’s day viewed Yahweh, the true God, as just another deity among many, who, like all the others, would be easily appeased with the religified offering of some dead animals (cf. Psalm 50). We too expect God to be appeased with a nice show of religion, an average-type level of commitment, a half-hearted spiritual life. Thank God we are saved by none of these things, but only by the cross of Jesus; thank him that because of the cross he does not hold our complacency against us. With him, there is inexhaustible forgiveness! Really, truly, God is good.

Do you understand that he demands total allegiance in all things and in every way? He is a “jealous God.” He loves you as a husband loves his wife, yet so much more than any man has ever loved a woman. He loves you as a father loves his firstborn son, yet so much more than any parent has ever loved their child. He is the great Lover, the eternal Giver. His passion concerning you is that he himself will be your beloved, your sole refuge and greatest joy, your closest friend, your one and only. He wants deep, uncompromised intimacy with you. What was the purpose for which he bought us back with his blood? To “dwell among us.” To be, he himself, our God. How breathtaking – we are so foolish and blind to settle for anything less than all of himself.

Allow God to begin breaking out of the compartments you put him into, and witness the changes in how you live. Cling to the cross as your only hope for bringing you close to this God “above the universe,” as your sole salvation, as your greatest proof of the never-running-out love of God. Live in awe, for our God is great; live with confidence, for our God is good.

Who among the gods is like you, LORD?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders? Exodus 15:11

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called. Isaiah 54:5

But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared. Psalm 130:4

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3

book review: “Redemption” by Mike Wilkerson

 

The word “redemption” is one of my all-time favorites. Though some of its meaning has been generalized and corrupted by overuse, it still manages to capture much of the awesome power of the concept that lies behind the word. The Bible itself has been frequently and accurately called “God’s story of redemption.” Ultimately, Mike Wilkerson tells us in this book that redemption is all about drawing near into the presence of God (Revelation 21:3). The subtitle is: “Freed by Jesus from the idols we worship and the wounds we carry.” That is essentially what the book is about – how Jesus redeems us from the double-edged sword of this fallen creation, sin and suffering. Anyone who lives experiences both. 

Wilkerson unpacks the concept of redemption by examining its Biblical prototype: the Exodus story. Recorded in the second book of the Bible, the Exodus story is the record of how God freed his people, the descendants of Jacob, from slavery in Egypt. A constant drumbeat-like theme of the Bible is “remember the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” When the Jewish New Testament authors wrote about the redemption in Jesus, they had the Exodus story in mind (see Romans 3:24-25, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13-14). Wilkerson therefore uses it as his outline, exploring its many aspects and showing how Jesus himself is our redemption.

I loved reading this book because it is so real. The real-life examples Wilkerson uses are filled with intense human brokenness, and are devastatingly relatable, yet brimming with hope. He looks honestly at abuse, addiction, and the many other brutal manifestations of sin faced by so many in the world. He also goes deeper, penetrating the heart of these issues by examining idolatry, shame, desire, repentance, forgiveness, and more, as well the both obvious and subtle manifestations of each. Thankfully, he treats both sides – the idols we worship as well as the wounds we carry – with justice and clarity. He also relentlessly does away with every counterfeit redemption which may so easily substitute for the real thing: Christ the one mediator between God and man. Cloaked in religious language or not, anything else is simply another idol.

To anyone seeking healing and restoration from a really screwed-up life, especially from abuse or addiction, this book will introduce you to a God who sees and knows, and who ransoms and redeems. You will be amazed at the faithfulness of God, the applicability of the Bible, and the reality of what Jesus’ sacrifice means for your life. God is good, and trustworthy, and he holds out true, transforming redemption to you, personally. He forbids that you settle for anything less.

To others who have been relatively sheltered (so far) from life’s more brutal side, this book is for you too. It will unveil the slavery you settle for and the freedom you may be missing out on by looking towards your own “Egypt” or “golden calf,” whether by minimizing sin, rationalizing sin, partially confessing sin, accepting sin as part of who you are, or in any other way serving an idol that is not the living God. Understanding redemption by reading this book will greatly help you in reaching out to the very broken people around you who, underneath their hardened exterior, are yearning for the forgiveness and renewal found only in Jesus, just as you are.

Chapter 1 – When You Suffer, God Is Near
Chapter 2 – Bricks without Straw: How Long, Oh Lord?
Chapter 3 – The Passover: At Your Worst, God Gives His Best
Chapter 4 – Crossing the Red Sea: Into a New Life Free from Shame
Chapter 5 – Demanding Manna: The Subtle Significance of Everyday Desires
Chapter 6 – The Golden Calf: Volunteering for Slavery
Chapter 7 – The Covenant-keeping God: Our Only Hope for Lasting Change
Chapter 8 – Is God Your Promised Land?

Also included are an epilogue about the responsibility to pass on the truth of God’s redemption to others (“The Redeemer’s Mission”) and an appendix about the temptation to substitute a living faith with the trappings of religion (“Religious Addiction”).

I plan on buying my own copy for future use. If anyone would like to borrow it, I will gladly share it with you.

“being there”

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Job 2:11-13

If you’re familiar with the story of Job, you probably remember how greatly he suffered. Within a few days, raiders murdered all his employees and servants, destroyed his livelihood, and stole all his possessions; a house collapsed and crushed all of his children to death; he contracted a horrible, painful disease; and his wife left him. You may also remember that his friends kind of sucked. They told him he must have done something to deserve everything that happened to him. They presumed to have a handle on his problems, and they responded mostly by offering explanations, solutions, platitudes, and even accusations. God later rebuked them for their presumption (Job 42:7).

Yet, his friends were not all bad. God rebuked them but did not punish them, and forgave them soon after. These verses from Job 2 demonstrate the depth of their friendship with Job. Can you imagine sitting beside someone, silently, for an entire week? A few minutes of silence go by and I can hardly hold myself back from speaking, if just to break the quiet. In that way I am even more presumptuous than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They came to Job with a deeply felt respect for his pain, a deeply shared grief, and an amazing solidarity with him as his friends. Seven full days went by, and still, they allowed him to be the first to speak.

There is something beautiful about just “being there” for someone. It says: I’m not here to fix you. I am hurt by what’s hurting you but I don’t fully understand what you’re going through, for ‘each heart knows its own bitterness’ (Proverbs 14:10). You are not a project to me. All I want you to know is that I’m here, I love you, I respect you. I want to help carry your burden (Galatians 6:2).

That kind of friendship can speak volumes more than a flat “don’t worry, God is in control” or “what do you think God is trying to teach you?” Is God in control? Yes. Is he using our circumstances to teach us about himself? Yes. Is it real love to respond to someone’s pain with an easy generality, which, if they are anything like me, they will promptly ignore? Not so much. That’s just the way Job’s friends let him down. Does God oppose the wicked and bless the righteous? Indeed. Is that the truth Job needed to hear be extrapolated upon for some 40 chapters? Certainly not.

In hard times, I don’t want friends who run, and I don’t want friends who preach. I don’t want friends with all the answers. What I want is friends who love me “steadfastly,” as the Bible puts it. I want friends who mourn with me while I mourn, and who let me grieve with the kind of honesty of a Psalm 88 or 137. I want friends who, through their own rock solid trust in God’s goodness, remind me who my King is.

Outside Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus was one-hundred percent confident of his own power and glory. He knew exactly what he planned to do. Yet when he saw Mary’s weeping, he felt her grief deep in his spirit and wept right along with her (John 11:32-36). He did not preach at Mary and Martha, though he did gently remind them of who he was (vs. 26-27). He gave great dignity to their sorrow simply by sharing in it as a friend. The King of Glory felt the pain of the human condition more deeply than any of us.

That is the kind of friend I want to be. I want my faith in God to be so unshakable that a suffering person can see it even when all they are thinking is “why me?” I want my compassion to be so real that they take my faith seriously. I want to refrain from quoting Bible verses or sermons long enough for the person to actually desire the wisdom found in them. God help me to know how to point to the Redeemer not with a finger, or a lecture, or a cliché, but with the steadfastness of faith expressing itself through love.

At this,  Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

a portion of my own “shorter catechism”

Come, soak up these messages from God’s word with me. If you want, create your own “personal catechism.” Writing this list blessed me so much. The beauty and hope found in these basic truths is amazing, and never gets exhausted.

Some things to remind myself of frequently:

#1
Q: What does it mean to be a Christian?
A: To be a Christian means to trust Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, for salvation and to seek to be his disciple.

Titus 3:4-7, Acts 4:12, John 1:12, 15:1-8

#2
Q: Why am I a Christian?
A: I am a Christian because Jesus offers the only reliable answers to life and the only redemption, and because his resurrection backs up his claim to be God.

John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

#3
Q: How do I know God is good?
A: I know God is generous because he created me and sustains me every day, and I know he is good because Jesus Christ became a man and died for sinners.

Psalm 139:14, Romans 5:8

#4
Q: What is the meaning of life? What is the point in living?
A: The purpose of life is to love and worship God and to be loved by him. This is the glorious point of being human.

Matthew 22:37-38, Micah 6:8, Psalm 143:8

#5
Q: What is sin? What does it mean that I am a sinner?
A: Sin is rebellion against God; it is the worship of self or creation rather than him. It is rooted in pride and it separates humans from God and their God-given purpose. Because I am a sinner, I am in desperate need of the Savior, every day. By myself I am never “good enough.” Amazingly, God continues to pour out his mercy and forgiveness on me without fail, for Jesus’ sake.

Daniel 9:5, 18, Isaiah 59:1-2, 1 John 1:7-9, Psalm 51:1

#6
Q: What is grace?
A: Grace is the unearned free gift of God of himself and his benefits, received by faith.

Romans 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Isaiah 55:1-3

#7
Q: Why do people suffer? What good are trials and tests to Christians?
A. People suffer because of the wickedness of mankind and the fallenness of creation. In this world God uses suffering and trials to bring his people close to himself and to make them more holy and deeply joyful. A day is soon coming when God will recreate the world, removing from it all sin, pain, fear, and death, forever.

1 Peter 4:12-19, James 1:2-3, Romans 8:18-25, Revelation 21:1-5

#8
Q: What are my responsibilities to the world, along with the whole church of God, while I live on this earth?
A: My responsibility to the world is to reflect Christ to it; not to “be” Christ or the world’s savior, but to present to the world a reflection of the true Savior through all that I say and do. This means loving people, even people who hate me, living in holy community, helping the poor, defending the weak, seeking justice and mercy in all things, and above all sharing the gospel and making disciples.

1 Peter 2:12, Matthew 5:44-48, Romans 12:4-5, James 1:27, Isaiah 58:6-14, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Colossians 4:5-6

#9
Q: How does God help me in my daily life?
A: God speaks to me through his Word to instruct and guide me; he answers prayer; he encourages me with reminders of his love; he gives me fellowship with other believers who possess wisdom and compassion; he even goes so far as to pour out his Holy Spirit into my life, who counsels and convicts me and enables me to live for God.

Psalm 19:7-11, Matthew 7:11, Psalm 25:8-9, Philippians 1:3-8, John 14:26, Romans 8:8-11

#10
Q: Why bother getting up in the morning?
A: Get up in the morning because Jesus has given life to you and has purchased you with his blood. Get up because he loves you and will never let you go. Get up because he is your Lord, Shepherd, Master, and Friend. Get up because he has given you things to do, missions to accomplish, and has given you the solemn promise to help and enable you, through his very Spirit living inside you, to do all that he has asked of you. Get up simply because today is one more day to be lived for the all-consuming, all-pervading, wonderful and unimaginable glory of God.

Ephesians 1:7, Isaiah 54:10, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Ezekiel 34:11-16, Galatians 1:10, Revelation 3:20, 1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Isaiah 43:1-7