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Bible Insights

Does God Receive Our Actions as a Memorial Offering?

Cornelius is a commander in the Roman army; he’s also a man of faith, who prays often and gives to the poor. One day, during his afternoon prayers, he has a vision. An angel appears to him and says that God has received his prayers and gifts as a memorial offering.

Imagine that. God sees Cornelius’s prayers and help of those in need as a gift directly given to him. It is an offering, something done in his name.

I don’t know if God accepts all our prayers as memorial offerings or holds all our efforts to help others in such high esteem, but it is something to contemplate.

I think to be counted as a memorial, it must be done in Jesus’ name. And to be received as an offering, it must be presented with right motives. So when we do things for Jesus with pure intentions, it may be that God will likewise receive our actions as a memorial offering to him.

As a kid, I was confused by how we could directly give to God. Maybe this is how. May all we do be a memorial offering to him.

Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Acts 8-12, and today’s post is on Acts 10:4]

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 1: Word of Life

Today’s passage: 1 John 1:1

Focus verse: This we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)

We notice many similarities between the beginning verses of 1 John and the opening passage of the gospel of John. We don’t know which one John wrote first, but we sense that one informed the other.

It could be that John wrote his letter first and then expanded on the opening verses when he wrote his biography of Jesus. Or it could be the other way around, with John penning his gospel first and condensing the first eighteen verses to begin his letter.

In the opening lines of 1 John, the disciple confirms Jesus’s presence at our world’s formation (also consider John 1:1–2). And John confirms Jesus’s presence during the apostle’s lifetime.

Consider other biblical writers. We can applaud Luke for investigating the life of Jesus to write his biography of the Messiah (Luke 1:3–4). We can also affirm Paul’s experience with Jesus who appeared to him last (1 Corinthians 15:7–8) in a supernatural encounter (Acts 9:3–6).

Yet John reminds us that his knowledge of Jesus is firsthand. He has an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. Using the pronoun we, John says he’s not alone in his testimony of the Messiah. It was a group encounter.

Along with others, John heard Jesus’s words. John saw Jesus with his own eyes. And after Jesus rose from the dead, John experienced the resurrected Christ, looking at him and seeing his scars (John 20:20).

John writes his letter to tell others of his experience with the Savior. He proclaims what he knows about the Word of life—about Jesus—to his readers then and to us today.

In addition to being the Messiah (the Christ) and our Savior, Jesus is the Word of life. 

Just as the words he spoke brought forth life during creation, the words he spoke during his time on earth brought forth life to those who followed him then—and to us now.

And when we die, the Word of life will bring forth eternal life for us so we can join him and live with him in paradise.

Yes, Jesus is the Word of life. 

And John proclaims the Word of life to the readers of his letter so that we can personally experience Jesus. His kingdom is for us now and for eternity. As the Word of life, he guides us in how to live our lives today and guides us into living with him forever.

Questions

  1. What do you think about Jesus taking part in creation?
  2. What does the phrase Word of life mean to you?
  3. Do you believe in the Word of life?
  4. How might John’s firsthand witness of what Jesus did elevate John’s writing above most other books of the New Testament?
  5. What do you think about Jesus’s kingdom being for us now and for eternity?

Discover more about the Word of life in Philippians 2:16 and the words of eternal life in John 6:68.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

What Does Nondenominational Mean?

Many Churches Misuse This Word and Don’t Even Know It

Some churches call themselves nondenominational. But from a practical perspective and a functional standpoint I doubt how true their assessment is.

Nondenominational Definition

Nondenominational refers to a person or an entity—usually a church—that does not restrict themselves to or affiliated with a particular denomination. They do not have any denominational association; they are not related to a denomination.

A synonym for nondenominational is nonsectarian. The definition is similar, in some dictionaries it’s identical.

It means not being associated with a particular denomination or limited to the perspectives of that denomination. Its root word of sect gets at the impact behind this word. Effectively it equates a sect with a denomination.

The Nondenominational Label

In my experience, most churches that use the nondenominational label do so for marketing purposes. They want to eliminate any negative connotations their attendees would have with a certain brand of Christianity, that is, a specific denomination.

At first this seems an enlightened approach. They distance themselves from any denominational limitations and are free to approach God without any denominational baggage.

Yet digging beneath the surface represents a different reality.

When you consider what they believe, it most always mirrors a specific denomination. And when you look at the credentials of their pastors, they usually hail from a denominational school or seminary. Their teaching reflects this influence, whether they know it or not.

It is not, therefore, surprising to find many of the attendees also have this denomination in their past as well. Whether or not they embraced this denominational influence, its teaching continues to form their perspectives.

Recall our definition of nondenominational. One phrase is that they’re not related to a denomination. In truth, most nondenominational churches are in fact related to a denomination, albeit not by name. But they are related by their beliefs and practices.

They may even believe they’re nondenominational, but this perspective is delusional—and even dangerous. I can only think of one truly nondenominational church. They seemed to smartly transcend denominations.

Most all the nondenominational churches I visited over the years have had a Baptist vibe, history, or connection. In one case, however, the nondenominational church was Pentecostal in disguise, as evidenced by their practices, beliefs, and the training of their ministers.

I have nothing against Baptists or Pentecostals, along with their beliefs and practices, but I do dislike them calling themselves nondenominational when it’s not really true.

Nondenominational Marketing

As already covered, this use of the nondenominational label is often a marketing strategy—whether they acknowledge it or not. Their brand carries negative connotations they want to avoid, so they disavow any connection with that denomination.

Yet this tactic is little different than a bait-and-switch sales and marketing ploy.

A related trend is denomination churches removing any hint of their affiliation from their name. Though they maintain their connection with their denomination and don’t claim they’re independent, their name suggests otherwise.

If your denomination’s name is a deterrent to attracting people to your gathering or reaching the world for Jesus, it warrants serious reconsideration. Perhaps cutting all ties is the better approach if you’re serious about growing the Kingdom of God.

Nondenominational in Practice

To be truly nondenominational means to not have the appearance of any one denomination. It means to transcend denominations. Being nondenominational requires taking a comprehensive approach to church practices and beliefs.

This starts by using the Bible as the foundation and studying it afresh and not through the perspective of your experience or the teaching of a particular denomination.

Though this is most challenging to do, it’s not impossible. With God’s help we can reform our thinking to move past denominations and center our focus firmly on him.

This is my goal, and I hope you will make it yours too.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Peter DeHaan News

The Ministry of Jesus Audiobook

New Format Now Available

The audiobook for The Ministry of Jesus is now available. In addition to audiobook, it is also available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats. The audiobook is auto-narrated by Maxwell.

The Ministry of Jesus is powerful a devotional for Christians who want to celebrate the work, words, and witness of Christ.

Audiobook Sample

The Ministry of Jesus is book two in the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

The Ministry of Jesus audiobook is now available from GooglePlay, Apple Books, Kobo, and Booktopia, with more outlets being added.

Get your copy of The Ministry of Jesus today.

Book Trailer

Explore the life and teachings of Jesus like never before with The Ministry of Jesus. This 50-day devotional offers insight, inspiration, and a fresh perspective on biblical events.

Draw closer to God, experience grace and mercy, and celebrate the impact of Jesus every day. Get your copy now!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

The Church with a Fundamental Vibe

People Make the Difference

All day Saturday I fight the threat of a cold, applying equal parts prayer and pills to conquer it. What I need is sleep—desperately. By Sunday morning, my wife, Candy, is not surprised when I tell her I’m staying home.

“Fine, I’ll go myself.” She’s not defiant, just decisive. She’s an independent spirit. I appreciate her confidence to go alone and without complaint.

Shopping for Church: Searching for Christian Community, a Memoir

Relieved at her acceptance of my decision to stay home, I nod in agreement as I close my eyes. Sleep overtakes me.

The church she picked is an independent congregation with an evangelical past and fundamental vibe.

She knows two couples who attend there, former coworkers whose company she enjoys and whose faith walk she respects. I’ve met them briefly over the years. They’re good folks.

During the week we talked about visiting this church. While I had a different destination in mind—another megachurch—Candy lobbied for this one.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I didn’t much care, giving my assent because it was too hard to discuss.

I don’t hear her leave, and the next thing I know she’s back.

Though still needing rest, my two-hour nap offered some improvement.

“What was it like?”

She responds, but I struggle to focus and don’t remember what she said.

Later, I ask again. She liked the church but mostly talks about seeing her friends. I wish I’d felt good enough to go, but I know that would’ve been a mistake. Today I needed rest much more than I needed community.

A third time, I question her further. It reminds her of a church we attended twenty years ago. She means this in a favorable way, but what I hear is this church is at least a decade out of date.

“I’d like you to go with me sometime,” she says, “but I don’t think you’ll like it.”

My expectation sinks. I want to groan, but that would take too much effort. Confused, I nod to show I heard. Then I fall asleep again.

I’m sure she’ll take me there sometime. Unfortunately, she did little to sell me on it.

Takeaway

If you’re enthusiastic about your church or your faith, be sure to communicate it and not leave people wondering.


Experiencing The Church with the Fundamental Vibe

Today Candy makes a return trip to The Church with the Fundamental Vibe, this time with me in tow. The first time she went, I stayed home sick. She didn’t tell me much about the service, but she enjoyed reconnecting with friends.

She also predicted I wouldn’t like it, so I’m not sure why we’re going back. I pray for a good attitude and an open mind.

It’s the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. The weather is unseasonably warm, with no snow on the ground and no clouds in the sky. The drive is pleasant and quick. Flanking the large facility is ample parking. I expected something smaller.

A Most Helpful Welcome

As we hang up our coats, a woman talks with Candy. I assume they know each other. Wanting to be supportive, I join in. However, they don’t know each other.

Despite that, our new acquaintance concisely shares a lot of helpful information.

“Normally we have a Bible study hour after the church service but not today because of the holidays.” She pauses and then smiles over what she’s about to share next. “And normally we have a Sunday evening service but not today because of the holidays.”

I smile. “Taking a break?”

“We want to focus on family time. Some people are traveling, and others have family visiting.”

They’re between senior pastors and their interim pastor will speak today. “He’s really good.” Then she adds, “We’d like him to become our regular pastor, but he’s not interested.”

Not having anything to add, I nod to show I’m listening and encourage her to share more.

“It’s been about a year so far and we expect it to take another year,” she adds. “But while we wait, we’re in good hands.” She beams.

“I really appreciate knowing all this. Thanks so much for telling us.”

She points us to the sanctuary and then excuses herself. Never has someone shared so much helpful information about their church before the service. I feel informed and not so apprehensive over what awaits me.

Finding a Seat

Candy guides me into the sanctuary, a huge square room of newer construction. It boasts a minimalist vibe but with smatterings of elegant furnishings scattered about.

She heads to the section on the far left. Last time her friends sat in this area, and she expects to find them here again.

Along the way, she surprises another person as she walks by. “Candy? Candy, is that you?”

I stop and nod to the stranger. “Yes, that’s Candy.” I wait for my wife to realize I’m no longer following her and to come back. She does and reconnects with yet another former coworker.

This friend, we learn, lives a couple miles from us. Today she is running sound and excuses herself to make last-minute preparations.

Candy does indeed find two of her friends, sitting right where she expected. They make room for us to sit with them.

Settling in, I glance at the bulletin, a trifold affair, more attractive than most and packed with useful information. However, it’s not until we get home that I spot the part about stopping by the visitor center and staying afterward for the Visitor’s Coffee.

Distracting Staging

I miss reading this in the bulletin because the stage distracts me. At first glance it gives a pleasant vibe, but it’s an overdone arrangement that visually assaults me. Do we really need faux trees on the platform?

Interspersed among the staging, the worship team prepares for the service.

The worship leader plays a baby grand piano, and then there’s a violin, with a conga drum next to it but pushed into the background. Also part of this eclectic group is a guitar, harp, and keyboard, with the lead vocalist front and center.

I suspect they think the service is contemporary—and thirty years ago it was—but today it’s merely safe, skewing toward traditional.

What captures my attention is the girl on the conga. Accomplished, I’m sure she’s holding back to match the rest of the group.

Occasionally the hint of a smile threatens to overtake her already pleasant face. I sense she’s itching to cut loose and play her heart out. Though I’m sure that would please God, the rest of the congregation might not be so appreciative.

I estimate the sanctuary seats 1,200, and it’s mostly full by the time the service starts. I try to sing along, but my efforts fall flat. The words elude their formation on my lips.

I’d rather watch the conga girl and her mesmerizing playing. Her demeanor exudes peace as her inviting rhythm draws me to God.

Is it possible to worship God vicariously through the musical skill of another? I think I can. I hope I am. If not, God will be disappointed today with my worship of him.

Failing to engage in anything other than the drum player, everything else blurs. There’s more singing, a prayer or two, some announcements, and a greeting time, but the details escape me.

I want to connect, both with God and with others, but I’m mired in the routine of church boredom. Though Candy’s prediction of my reaction is proving correct, I really hoped she would’ve been wrong.

A Christmas Message

We segue into the sermon. Part four of a four-part series on “Christmas Names for Jesus,” today the focus is on the “Prince of Peace,” courtesy of Isaiah 9:6.

I once memorized this passage for a church Christmas play when I was in middle school. Though the minister isn’t reading from the King James Version, that’s the version I learned for the program and those are the words that resound in my head now.

Memories of that performance resurface: My parents’ pleasure over my flawless recitation—after weeks of practice:

  • My pride in turning an ordinary bath towel into a reasonable representation of shepherd head garb, inspired by Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
  • Fun hanging out with my church friends.
  • And a random classmate who unexpectedly showed up and mocked my involvement in something so hokey. Fortunately, he forgot about it by the time we returned to school, so I was spared further embarrassment.

Oh yeah, Prince of Peace. I push aside these memories and try to focus on the words of the preacher. He unpacks the word peace as I scribble key phrases in my notebook. Jumping to Luke 2:14, “. . . and on earth peace . . . .”

He then follows with a dozen or more New Testament verses about peace.

Easy to listen to, he moves effortlessly from one verse to the next, from one thought to another. After his resurrection, Jesus gives his disciples peace (John 20:19, 21, and 26).

The end of his message doubles as the benediction: “Peace be with you through Jesus.”

Post Service Interaction

The daughter of Candy’s friends, whom we sat with, wasn’t feeling well and left midway through the message. By the end of the service, the entire family is gone so we can’t talk with them.

The others sitting near us are also unavailable, though we do talk with her friend who ran sound, which is good.

Later, as I wait for Candy outside the women’s restroom, a lady comes up who recognizes me. What a surprise. In this area, my bride often runs into people who know her, but this is only the second time it’s happened to me.

The woman is on staff at the church, and she knows me from a writers’ conference where I spoke. We have a warm conversation. It’s nice to be known and welcomed.

On the drive home, I process my thoughts aloud about the preacher and his message. “He’s a gifted speaker: polished, articulate, and accomplished.”

Candy nods in agreement.

“He’s comfortable in front of a group and most knowledgeable about the Bible. He’s easy to listen to . . . and I was completely bored.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think you’d like it.”

She was right.

Takeaway

If your church is still doing what you did thirty years ago, what should change?

Read the full story in Peter DeHaan’s new book Shopping for Church.

Travel along with Peter and his wife as they search for a new Christian community in his latest book, Shopping for Church, part of the Visiting Churches Series.

This book picks up the mantle from 52 Churches, their year-long sabbatical of visiting churches.

Here’s what happens:

My wife and I move. Now we need to find a new church. It’s not as easy as it sounds. She wants two things; I seek three others.

But this time the stakes are higher. I’ll write about the churches we visit, and my wife will pick which one we’ll call home. It sounds simple. What could possibly go wrong?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Martin Luther’s Concerns

Martin Luther’s 95 Concerns Were Distributed in Printed Form and Essentially Went Viral

Martin Luther lived five hundred years ago. He was born at the dawn of the modern era. He became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation. A key technology in birthing the modern era was the printing press.

The printing press also helped drive the Reformation. It propelled the spread of information. This moved a premodern society into the modern era. (A similar change occurs today, as the internet helps us move from the modern era into the postmodern era.)

This printing technology broadcast a message of spiritual enlightenment to a people poised for religious change. We politely refer to the transformation that emerged as the Protestant Reformation, but the word revolution might better describe the spiritual rebellion that followed.

Luther’s List of Concerns

The fuse that ignited this came from a list of ninety-five concerns that this German monk had about the abuse of one specific church practice: the sale of indulgences, which, at the risk of oversimplification, allowed people to buy their salvation.

We call Martin Luther’s concerns, his talking points, as his ninety-five theses. He wrote it in Latin, so the masses wouldn’t know about his concerns.

However, without Luther’s knowledge, well-meaning followers translated his ninety-five theses into German and printed copies for the people to read.

This turned his handwritten list into a printable tract, which saw wide distribution throughout the country and spread his concerns to a much larger audience.

Widespread Distribution

Though not all Germans could read German, they could understand it as others read to them. What they heard disturbed them, likely in part because many of them had paid for full indulgences, which Martin essentially outed as a scam.

Then others translated his ninety-five points into other European languages. This spread his message across the continent. Though five centuries prior to the internet, his list of ninety-five theses went viral—long before the information super highway and Twitter existed.

Outrage ensued. The private, internal discussion he sought with Church leaders never happened. Instead, a revolution resulted.

But Martin never wanted to lead a rebellion or become its figurehead, he didn’t intend his ninety-five points to attack the Roman Catholic Church, and he certainly didn’t mean to spark a revolt.

Martin wanted to work for change within the system. But the laity, now aware of his concerns, were poised to rebel against what they saw as an unsympathetic Church that exploited them and didn’t care about them or their plight. The people wanted a religious revolt, and that’s what they got.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God Answers Prayer

Take a Look at Prayer from the Almighty’s Perspective

In the post, The Implications of Omnipotence, I noted that there is nothing that an all-powerful God can’t do, yet, not every prayer is answered—at least not the way we think it should be. Let’s consider how God answers prayer.

Before we criticize God, however, consider:

  • Maybe our request is contrary to God’s nature, such as, asking him to harm another person.
  • Perhaps what we ask would require someone’s freewill to be superseded, such as, to make someone do something they don’t what to do.
  • What if God said “yes” to everything? (Consider the movie Bruce Almighty for a demonstration of how bad that would be.)
  • If God answered every prayer every time, immediately solving all our problems, getting us out of jams, and shielding us from the consequences of our actions, God would become our grant-a-wish-genie, literally spoiling us rotten.

When Jesus was teaching about prayer, he noted that even flawed parents know how to give good things to their children, so even more so, our heavenly father will give good things to his children.

  • Just as parents may wisely withhold some things for the long-term good of a child, God will do so too.
  • Children need chance to learn, grow, and mature, sometimes through failure or disappointment, so too do we.
  • Doting and indulgent parents keep a child from maturing and becoming stable adult. God loves us too much to let that happen.

Sometimes, “No” is the best and most loving response. It’s another way God answers prayer.

When it’s in our best interest, however, there’s nothing God can’t and won’t do for us when we ask.

That is the Almighty’s nature. He is omnipotent.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 10-12, and today’s post is on Luke 11:13.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

John’s First Letter

Some refer to the book of John as the gospel of love because he mentions the word love thirty-nine times, more than Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined and more than any other book in the New Testament.

In all the Bible, only the lengthy 150-chapter book of Psalms uses love more often.

In John’s much shorter letter of 1 John, love shows up twenty-seven times (and seven more times in 2 and 3 John).

John, it seems, is all about love. And as followers of Jesus, so should we. That is, we should love one another. This is what Jesus tells us to do and what John repeats to us.

Unlike most of the letters in the New Testament, John doesn’t address 1 John to a specific church or person, with content unique to them. Instead, he gives universal truths for everyone.

As such, we can apply 1 John to ourselves to follow Jesus with more intention and greater confidence. 

Questions:

  1. What does love mean to you?
  2. How well do we do at loving others? 
  3. What can we do to love more fully?
  4. As followers of Jesus are we known for our love? What does that say about us?
  5. How willing are you to consider 1 John as more applicable to us than Paul’s letters?

Discover more about love in John 3:16, John 13:34–35, and 1 Corinthians 13.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Beware of Reading the Bible Through the Lens of the World We Live In

We Distort Scripture If We Try to Adapt It to Fit Society’s Views

I write about the need to be careful when reading Scripture to not interpret it through the lens of our experiences, perspectives, and practices. When we do so it clouds our understanding. We must likewise be careful not to read the Bible through the lens of the world we live in.

The world’s perspective is not a biblical one. Society is anti-God and anti-faith in most every way.

We’re bombarded with their messages all day long through music, movies, and television. We’re assaulted by advertisements and social media. It comes to us at work and sometimes even at church.

If we don’t guard our thoughts and our attitudes against these negative influences, we run the risk of buying into their warped perspective that runs counter to what the Bible teaches.

And as we slide into accepting their distorted mindset, it affects the way we understand God’s word.

We begin to interpret passages differently. We begin to put a slant on God’s truth to better align with society’s misguided perspectives. And we begin to ignore passages that don’t align with their secular views.

Yet this is what happens when we try to read the Bible through the lens of the world.

We must stop.

God doesn’t change and neither does the truth he proclaims (Numbers 23:19 and Psalm 55:19). When it comes to his word—which we read in Scripture—it’s the same today as it was a generation ago, as it was a millennia ago, as it was when it was first written.

The Lens of the World Says to Accept Everyone

Scripture doesn’t talk about accepting everyone, regardless of their lifestyle.

Instead, it teaches that we are to love everyone. Jesus tells us to love one another (John 13:34-35). Another time he says we are to love our neighbors—that means everyone who is in need—as much as we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-33).

One way we love them is to tell them the truth—even if they’re not ready to hear it.

The Lens of the World Says Each Person Decides What’s Right and Wrong

The world maintains there is no such thing as absolute truth, that everything is relative. They insist that each person should decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. But it’s not good when everyone does as they see fit.

It’s happened before and God intervened (Genesis 6:13). Then it happened again (Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25) and repeatedly throughout the Old Testament.

The Lens of the World Says to Not Talk about Sin

The Bible teaches us what to do and what not to do. When we fall short of God’s expectation, it’s sin. We all sin and miss the mark (Romans 3:23).

But the world doesn’t want us to point this out. Talking about sin makes them uncomfortable. Yet they wouldn’t be uncomfortable if deep down in their hearts they didn’t know that what we say is true.

There is right and there is wrong, but they don’t want to hear it. They want to do what they want to do with no one telling them to stop.

We Need a Biblical Standard

Yet we dare not leave it to each person to decide what is right on their own. This is because one person’s right and wrong will inevitably conflict with another person’s right and wrong. Without a consensus on what is right or wrong, conflict ensues.

Without a moral ethic to guide us, society runs amok. People act with selfish intent. In the process they end up hurting one another.

Instead, we need a standard of what is right and what is wrong. God gives us this. It’s in the Bible. We’ve had it from the beginning.

All we need to do is believe what he teaches us and not attempt to filter it through the lens of the world, less we distort what Scripture says.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

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New Book: The Ministry of Jesus

A Devotional Celebrating the Work, Words, and Witness of Christ

Peter DeHaan’s latest book, The Ministry of Jesus: A Devotional Celebrating the Work, Words, and Witness of Christ released October 18, 2023. It is the fourth book in the popular “Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.”

In The Ministry of Jesus, readers will delve into the life and teachings of Jesus like never before.

This 50-day devotional is perfect for individuals, families, and small groups who want to keep the work of Jesus fresh in their minds and hearts throughout the year.

With insightful wisdom and heart-felt teachings that offer lasting spiritual encouragement, devoted Christian author Peter DeHaan takes you on a spiritual journey to explore the biblical events between the birth of Jesus and his death and resurrection.

Benefits from reading The Ministry of Jesus:

  • Learn how to draw closer to God, nourishing your soul as well as your mind.
  • Discover relevant perspectives on biblical events instead of the same old stories rehashed and served up the same tired way.
  • Experience grace and mercy instead of judgement and guilt.
  • Be inspired to celebrate the life-changing impact of Jesus every day.

What’s included in The Ministry of Jesus:

  • Insights into the life and teachings of Jesus
  • Heart-felt teachings that offer lasting spiritual encouragement
  • A chance to skip the fluff of a typical devotional without getting bogged down by a lot of academic pomp

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity.

Buy The Ministry of Jesus and celebrate all that our Savior did!

Available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Other Books in the “Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series”

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.