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Bible Insights

How to be Saved

Discover What the Bible Says about Salvation

Paul, in writing to the church in Ephesus, shares a succinct and essential truth about salvation. He tells them how to be saved, which reminds them how they were saved.

He writes “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).

By Grace

Our salvation starts with God’s grace. Grace gives to us what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve our right standing with Father God that came to us through Jesus when he died in our place for the wrong things we have done

As we explore how to be saved, it doesn’t start with us but with God and his grace.

Through Faith

The second related item is faith. This is our part. We must receive the grace that God offers to us through faith. We must believe.

It doesn’t make sense to most people. It seems too easy. So they pile more requirements upon it, as if making it hard will make it mean more.

Yet through faith we can receive God’s grace. This is how to be saved.

A Gift

Lest there be any doubt, salvation is a gift that God freely gives to us. It’s a no-strings-attached present from the Almighty. That’s what God’s grace does.

Not Works

We can’t earn our salvation anymore than we can earn a gift that’s already been freely offered to us. Yet when many people consider how to be saved, they think there’s a list of requirements they must meet, that is, there are a set of prescribed steps they must go through to earn their salvation.

But we can’t work to become eligible to receive a present from God that he’s already given to us. All we need to do is open that gift.

To be saved, we make a U-turn with our lives and follow Jesus. Click To Tweet

How to be Saved: Follow Jesus

When we consider how to be saved, we must acknowledge that God’s gift of grace is something that we receive through faith. But how do we do that?

It’s simple. We make a U-turn with our lives and follow Jesus. That’s the essential message that Jesus tells people when they ask him how to be saved, how to have eternal life. He simply says follow me (Matthew 9:9, John 1:43, John 8:12, John 10:27, and many more.

I follow Jesus. Do you?

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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Can We Have a Superhuman Spirituality?

Don’t Be Merely Human

Paul reprimands the church in Corinth for many things. One time he points out that they envy one another and argue a lot. There is jealousy and quarreling in their church. It happened then and it’s still happening now.

We want what others have. Although this often relates to money, possessions, or prestige, we can also envy the faith of others, their spiritual journey, and even their intimacy with God. Though it seems spiritual, it is just as wrong. Jealousy is jealousy, regardless of what we long for.

Next is their quarrels. We disagree and fight with words. It seems no church is immune to arguing, yet Paul decries this as wrong. Don’t do it.

Jealousy and quarreling are worldly traits. They are not godly, but worldly. By allowing these conditions to persist, we are mere humans.

By saying mere humans, Paul implies there is another way, a higher ground we can take. We don’t need to be merely human; we shouldn’t be merely human.

Superhuman Spirituality

Through Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit we can rise above being mere humans. We can become more than human, superhuman, if you will: not superhuman in physical strength but superhuman in a spiritual sense, a superhuman spirituality.

As followers of Jesus, being merely human is who we were, but our future is a superhuman spirituality.

Are we willing to pursue it?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 1-4, and today’s post is on 1 Corinthians 3:3.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus 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.

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Bible Insights

7 Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

Discover What We Can Learn from the Final Words of Jesus

We’ve talked about the Bible’s first recorded words of Jesus and his last words before he ascends into heaven. But what people focus on most is what he says as he hangs on the cross, dying in our place for the wrongs we have done. Let’s explore the 7 last sayings of Jesus.

Three of these come from Luke and three from John. The seventh one appears in both Matthew and Mark’s biographies of Jesus. Here’s what he says, the 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross.

1. Jesus Forgives

Jesus addresses the people who are killing him and those who brought about his execution. He says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

In doing so he models the forgiveness that he taught his followers to do. He said to them that if they don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive them (Matthew 6:15).

Stephen, the Bible’s first martyr, follows this as he is being stoned to death. He asks God to not hold his attackers accountable for what they did, to forgive them (Acts 7:60).

2. Jesus Promises Salvation

To the thief crucified next to him on the cross, Jesus promises that they’ll spend eternity together. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, NIV).

Though this directly applies to the criminal being executed for his crimes, we too can receive the promise of salvation when we follow Jesus.

3. Jesus Cares for His Mother

As Jesus dies an agonizing death, he carries concern for his mother. He wants to make sure she’s cared for when he’s gone. He asks John to make it happen. He says to Mary “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27, NIV).

Jesus’s concern for his mother warms my heart. Yet it also perplexes me because Jesus has four brothers and some unnamed sisters (Mark 6:3). Couldn’t one of them—shouldn’t one of them—have cared for their mother?

Regardless, in Jesus’s deepest despair, he still thinks of others. We should do the same.

4. Jesus Talks to God

Jesus faces his darkest moment at the time when the weight of humanity’s sins throughout all time rests squarely on him. He must complete this journey on his own. He calls out to God “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, NIV).

This fulfills David’s prophetic words in Psalm 22:1.

Though it’s necessary for Jesus to complete this on his own, we never need do anything by ourselves. God is always with us and will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

5. Jesus Shares a Physical Need

Being thirsty while undergoing one of history’s most brutal forms of execution is minor in comparison to all else that Jesus is physically enduring. Yet no one can help him deal with any of those sufferings. But someone can give him a drink.

This may be why he says, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28, NIV). We see this foreshadowed again by David (Psalm 22:15). Earlier Jesus taught his followers to give water to those in need (Matthew 10:42).

Jesus dies so that we may live. Click To Tweet

6. Jesus Completes His Mission

As Jesus is about to die, he has fulfilled what he came to earth to do. He confirms this when he tells everyone who is keeping vigil, “It is finished” (John 19:30, NIV).

7. Jesus Gives Himself to His Father

Death will complete Jesus’s earthly mission. Rather than suffer any longer, he wills himself to die and gives his spirit over to Papa: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46, NIV). This also fulfills David’s prophetic words (Psalm 31:5).

The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

These are the 7 last sayings of Jesus

The result is that Jesus dies so that we may live.

Thank you, Jesus.

Read the 7 last sayings of Jesus during his crucifixion and the events that precede it in Matthew 26:14-27:66, Mark 14:12-15:47, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19.

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

The Final Words of Jesus

Consider What Jesus Says Just Before He Ascends into Heaven

Jesus’s first recorded words in the Bible are when he’s twelve years old and disappears. His parents eventually find him in the temple. His perplexing answer explains he belongs in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49). With these as his first words, now let’s look at the final words of Jesus.

To be specific, we’ll look at the last words that Jesus speaks while on earth. Though the book of Revelation records many later words from Jesus, we’ll set these aside because they occur in a vision of the apostle John. In total Revelation records eight things Jesus says, with Revelation 2-3 being the longest passage.

Though we might think that Jesus’s seven last sayings on the cross give us Jesus’s last words in the Bible, this is incorrect. Instead, we’ll consider what Jesus says after he rises from the dead and before he ascends to heaven.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts all record passages to consider.

Matthew

The most familiar may be what many call the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Over the years I’ve heard many sermons on this inspiring charge from Jesus when he tells his followers to go out and make disciples. Though this is one of the last things Jesus says, it’s not his final words.

Mark

A parallel passage in Mark 16:15-18 repeats the same instructions, with more details included. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a message on this passage. Though it’s more comprehensive, the added text is problematic for many people, so they choose to dismiss it.

I have, however, heard some ministers who try to explain away the phrases in Mark’s account that makes them squirm, but they’re unsuccessful. (It’s worth noting that not all historical texts of Mark’s gospel have the last eleven verses, including this passage.)

John

In John’s account, Jesus’s last words are a discussion with Peter about what will happen to John. Jesus says, even if I want him to live until I return, what does it matter to you? (John 21:22).

Luke

The final words of Jesus recorded in Luke’s biography of Jesus is an explanation about the need for the Savior to die and rise from the dead. Jesus then says they’re to be his witnesses but to first wait until they receive Holy Spirit power (Luke 24:46-49).

Acts

In the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote and picks up where his gospel leaves off, we see a continuation of Jesus’s discussion about waiting for Holy Spirit power. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, his disciples are to be his witness throughout the whole world (Acts 1:4-8).

Immediately after he says this, Jesus ascends to heaven. This is the last thing he says before he leaves his disciples.

Many people overlook the essential element of having Holy Spirit power within them. Click To Tweet

Therefore, the final words of Jesus are “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

Though many people focus on the going part and being his witnesses, they often overlook the essential foundational element of having Holy Spirit power within them.

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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Christian Living

Learning from Jesus’s First Words

When Christ Speaks, We Should Be Ready to Listen

What Jesus says is important to us as his followers. The passages in the Bible that we need to pay the most attention to are the words of Jesus. Some Bibles even highlight Jesus’s words by putting them in red. We call these red-letter editions. People often focus on the final words of Jesus. But what about Jesus’s first words?

Let’s look at what the Bible records as Jesus’s first words. This doesn’t occur when he first learns to talk, and it’s not the first words he speaks when he begins his ministry. Jesus’s first words recorded in the Bible happen between these two times.

Twelve-Year-Old Jesus

Jesus’s first recorded words occur when he’s twelve, and it’s the only story the Bible gives us about Jesus’s youth. In this account we see the balance between his divine side and his human side.

Jesus goes with his parents to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. When the festival ends, his parents head home, traveling with a group of others headed in that direction. They assume Jesus is with the caravan. He isn’t. He stays behind without their knowledge.

After traveling all day, Mary and Joseph discover that Jesus is missing. They’ve lost their son, one of a parent’s most dreaded nightmares. Yet for them it’s even worse. They also lost the Son of God.

Panicked they head back to Jerusalem. They search. And they search. After three days they finally find him.

He’s in the temple having a deep spiritual conversation with the religious teachers. He listens to what they say and asks insightful questions. The twelve-year-old amazes everyone with his depth of understanding.

His parents are astonished too. Yet they’re also irritated with him for causing them needless worry.

Jesus’s First Words

Young Jesus responds incredulously. “Why were you searching for me?” he asks. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, NIV).

These are the first recorded words of Jesus.

From the perspective of tween Jesus, his parents shouldn’t have spent three days looking for him. The temple should have been their first stop. In his mind, it was a given. In their mind, it was the last place they expected to find their twelve-year-old son.

Jesus doesn’t address the fact that he didn’t head home with them and caused them untold worry for three days. Like many who aren’t yet fully mature, he knew he was safe, so there was nothing for anyone to worry about.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? Click To Tweet

The human side of Jesus missed spending time with his Father, Father God. The temple may have been where he best felt he could make a spiritual connection with Papa. It was also an ideal place to find other like-minded Jews who could teach him about Scripture and guide him forward on his spiritual journey.

But Jesus’s parents don’t understand what he means. Regardless Jesus obediently returns home with them. He grows in wisdom and stature, enjoying the favor of both God and men. This prepares him for ministry, which he’ll start in eighteen years, when he’s thirty years old.

Where do we go to best connect with God and spend time with other like-minded believers? When our friends look for us, where will they find us?

Discover more about Jesus in Peter’s upcoming book, The Advent of Jesus, which will release in October 2022.

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

A Light to the World

Jesus Comes for Everyone: All Nations, All People

The phrases God’s people, the chosen ones, the chosen, and other similar references appear in multiple places throughout the Old Testament. This designation certainly makes the Jewish people feel special. After all, God chose them to be his people.

This must mean he likes them better than everyone else. Or to extend this thought a bit further, it must mean he doesn’t like any of the other nations as much.

It’s easy for God’s people to assume that he loves them and hates everyone else. Therefore, when God’s prophets tell of rescue, salvation, and favor, the Hebrew people (the Jews) surely assume he directs his words to them, his chosen ones. They are in, and everyone else is out.

A quick reading of the Old Testament supports this exclusive perspective. But if we slow down and read carefully, we see that God has a different point of view.

Yes, he wants a relationship with his chosen people, the Jews. But he also wants a relationship with everyone else, all nations and all people, regardless of their ethnicity or country of origin. He wants to be a light to the world. God is inclusive. Never forget this.

Jesus comes for everyone: all nations and all people. Click To Tweet

We first get a glimpse of this in Genesis. God says he will bless Abraham and through him God will, in turn, bless all nations. What will this blessing through Abraham look like?

We could interpret this as material blessing—and there is some argument for that—but a more enlightened understanding is that God wants to spiritually bless everyone through Abraham. Jesus, a direct descendant of Abraham, fulfills this by dying to make all people right with Father God.

We find this salvation for all nations repeated throughout the Old Testament. The Psalms mention it, along with several of the prophets: Jeremiah, Daniel, Joel, Obadiah, and Haggai.

But Isaiah leads them all in reminding God’s chosen people that he wants to save everyone, not just the Jews. This means Gentiles too. The Jews—through Jesus—will be a light to the Gentiles, a light to the world. I’m so glad to hear this because I’m a Gentile. I suspect you are too.

Jesus comes for everyone: all nations, all people—the Gentiles. He is s light to the world. And to make sure we don’t miss this, John’s epic revelation about the end times confirms that all nations will come to God and worship him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 49-51 and today’s post is on Isaiah 49:6.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah 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 Insights

Jesus Christ or Jesus the Christ?

Celebrate Jesus as the Messiah and Savior

In our current usage today, many people talk (and think) that Christ is Jesus’s last name, as in Jesus Christ. Though the identifier of Jesus Christ does appear in most of the New Testament, it didn’t start out that way.

Christ

The label of Christ does not appear at all in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, arguably the three oldest books in the New Testament. In addition, the name Christ only appears four times in the book of John, the fourth biography of Jesus. (And of course, the word Christ doesn’t appear at all in the Old Testament.)

Yet Christ is mentioned in every other book in the New Testament, aside from 3 John. Some versions of the Bible include a footnote for Christ, explaining that it means Messiah.

And the dictionary definition of Christ uses Messiah to explain what Christ means.

Messiah

Instead of using the name Christ, the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke use Messiah exclusively. John also predominantly uses that label. Messiah also appears throughout the book of Acts (which Dr. Luke also wrote.) After that Messiah only appears in three other books in the New Testament (Romans, 1 Peter, and Revelation). In this we see a biblical shift from using the label of Messiah to Christ.

In this instance, the dictionary entry for Messiah defines it as Jesus. It also notes that Messiah is usually used with the, as in the Messiah. Another definition for Messiah is Savior.

Jesus the Messiah

In addition to using the label Messiah, Matthew and Mark also refer to him as “Jesus the Messiah” (Matthew 1:18 and Mark 1:1, NIV). Matthew also writes “Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16, Matthew 27:17, and Matthew 27:22, NIV).

The Christ

In two of the instances where the Christ appears in the Bible, it’s with the explanation that “Jesus is the Christ” (1 John 2:22 and 1 John 5:1, NIV). John also parenthetically notes that the Messiah means the Christ (John 1:41).

Jesus Christ

After not being used at all in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and appearing only twice in the book of John, the label of Jesus Christ shows up often in the rest of the books of the New Testament, in Acts through to Revelation (except for 3 John).

Moving from Messiah to Christ

In looking at the New Testament text, we see a transition taking place, with earlier writers referring to Jesus as the Messiah and later writers referring to him as the Christ. Just as we might say “Jesus, the Messiah,” we could also rightly say “Jesus, the Christ.” But it seems Jesus, the Christ was conveniently shortened to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah Click To Tweet

Why It Matters

You may wonder why this trivial discussion about Jesus Christ versus Jesus the Christ matters. It’s simply to encourage us to not mindlessly say “Jesus Christ” as if it’s his full name.

Instead, we must remind ourselves that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. That he is our Messiah and our Savior.

May we always be mindful of this truth.

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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The Branch of the Lord

Let God Prune Us So We Can Produce More Fruit

Isaiah looks forward to the day when the Branch of the Lord will appear. Branch, with a capital B, is a euphemism for Jesus, who will come to rescue God’s people.

Isaiah says this Branch will emerge as awesome and full of wonder, which is an understatement considering all that Jesus did, is doing, and will do. Jesus will produce fruit for the people. They will take pride in what the Branch produces and glory in it.

Jesus, the Branch of the Lord, will come for us, spiritually feeding us with his fruit: beautiful, wondrous fruit, the source of pride and glory.

Just as Jesus is the Branch, we are his branches, that’s branches with a lowercase b. We are branches connected to the Branch (which John calls the “true vine”).

But being a branch connected to the Branch isn’t enough. Having a mere connection with Jesus is insufficient. When we’re connected with the Branch of Jesus, we must bear fruit. And we must produce good fruit. That’s what Father God, our Papa, expects from us.

If we produce no fruit, God, our gardener, will cut off our branch. Yikes! He’ll lop us off. We’re not worthy of remaining connected to Jesus if we produce no fruit—if we do nothing for him. That’s a sobering truth.

We can’t pledge our allegiance to God and then coast through life unchanged. Click To Tweet

Having a connection with Jesus isn’t enough if it produces nothing. We can’t pledge our allegiance to him and then coast through life unchanged. He expects us to produce fruit because of our connection to him.

To further the analogy, every branch that produces fruit will eventually face pruning. This isn’t punishment. Instead, it’s a beneficial process that will allow us to produce even more fruit.

While an untrimmed tree will yield some fruit, a tree pruned properly will produce much more. God, our gardener, will prune us so that we can make even more fruit for him.

But to do this we must remain with God, connected to Jesus—the Branch of the Lord—and bearing fruit. Else we risk him cutting off our branch, throwing us into the fire, and having the flames consume us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 1-4 and today’s post is on Isaiah 4:2.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah 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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Christian Living

Be a Peacemaker

Do What You Can to Promote Peace

In Jesus’s best-known sermon, which we call the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaims that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” They’ll be known as God’s children (Matthew 5:9).

Though Jesus doesn’t explicitly command us to advocate for peace, he proclaims blessings on those who do. And the blessings are most significant. Peacemakers will be “called children of God.” The inference is that those who do not promote peace are not his children, or at least not known by others as his children.

In similar fashion, James writes that peacemakers will plant peace and then reap righteousness (James 3:18). Again, James doesn’t command that we be peacemakers. He merely says that a significant reward awaits those who are: righteousness; a great harvest of righteousness.

Here are some ideas of what we can do to be a peacemaker.

Guard What We Say

The first step to be a peacemaker is to avoid saying things that stir up dissension. James writes that if we can’t control what we say, our religion is worthless (James 1:26). Paul says that our speech should be gracious (Colossians 4:6) and to block unwholesome speech from our mouths (Ephesians 4:29).

There are many more verses, too, such as asking God to guard our mouth (Psalm 141:3), a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), and letting our speech be acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14), along with scores more.

Focus on Silence Not Speech

Just because we can say something, doesn’t mean we should. We often celebrate a right to speak, that is, freedom of speech. We live in a world where much of it abuses their speech.

Social media overflows with people who proclaim opinions as fact and vilify those who disagree with them. The more outrageous they are, the better. The more adamant their pronouncements, the more that like-minded people celebrate them—and the more that they hurt others.

News sources do the same thing.

Next consider reality TV. It seeks those with outrageous behavior. The more shocking they are, the more airtime they receive. The rest of the entertainment industry follows, pushing the envelope with what many view as offensive behavior, treating outlier perspectives as normal.

The result is a polarization of society.

As followers of Jesus, we should avoid promoting division whenever possible. The easiest way to do this is to not add to the fray, but to keep our mouth shut. We should listen first and then speak (James 1:19)

Jesus modeled silence, even when it seemed in his best interest to defend himself (Matthew 26:63).

We should guard what we say, exercise silence instead of freedom of speech, and speak the truth in love. Click To Tweet

Speak the Truth in Love

If we feel we must speak out about a subject, we should cover our speech in love (Ephesians 4:15) but only after first praying and seeking insight from the Holy Spirit. Too often—especially in the church and religious circles—people decry evil, but they do so in the most unloving way.

We judge, we condemn, and we withhold forgiveness. Instead, Jesus tells us to do the opposite (Luke 6:37). The world is watching, and they rightly dismiss us as a result.

Peacemaker Tips

Following these three ideas can move us closer to becoming a peacemaker. We should guard what we say, exercise silence instead of pursuing freedom of speech, and when we must talk to speak the truth in love.

If we all did this, our world would be a much better place. And our witness for Jesus would have much greater impact.

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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Christian Living

The Bible Tells the Church to Meet Together, Worship, and Witness

We Can’t Witness for Jesus When We Sequester Ourselves on Sunday Mornings

Just before Jesus leaves this world to return to heaven, he instructs his followers to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). In an expanded version of this incident, Jesus tells his followers to wait for Holy Spirit power and then be his witness, both near and far (Acts 1:4-9).

Witness and Make Disciples

The church of Jesus doesn’t do a good job of being witnesses and making disciples. To do so requires an outward perspective, yet most all churches have an inward focus: they care for their own to the peril of outsiders, with many churches excelling in doing so.

Yes, God values community and wants us to meet together (Hebrews 10:25). And the Bible is packed with commands and examples of worshiping God, with Jesus noting that “true worshipers” will worship God in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

Meeting Together and Worship

Most churches do the meeting together part reasonably well, albeit with varying degrees of success. Many of those churches have a time of worship as they meet together, though perhaps not always “in the Spirit” or even “in truth.”

Yet few churches look outside their walls in order to go into their community to witness and make disciples. Though Jesus said to wait for the Holy Spirit, he didn’t say to wait for people to come to us, to come to our churches so we could witness and disciple them.

No, we are supposed to leave our church buildings to take this work to them. We can’t do that at church on Sunday morning, safely snug behind closed doors.

Maybe we should forego the church service in order to be a church that serves. Click To Tweet

Go into the World as a Witness

Yes there is a time to come together and a time to worship, but there is also a time to go. And we need to give more attention to the going part.

I know of two churches that have sent their congregations out into their community on Sunday mornings, foregoing the church service in order to be a church that serves. One church did it a few times and stopped after they saw little results and received much grumbling.

The other church regularly plans this a few times each year and garners a positive influence on their community.

Shouldn’t every church make a positive impact on their community? Yet so few do. They are too busy meeting together and worshiping.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

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. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

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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