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Bible Insights

Jesus is God’s Child and So Are We

The Bible says that Jesus is God’s one and only son.

However, God also calls the church his children. How can we be God’s children if he has only one son?

Although the Bible is full of paradoxes—which are hard for modern people to accept but not so difficult for post-modern people and certainly not an issue for ancient people—I don’t think this is one of them.

Another truth may explain this seeming contradiction. One metaphor in understanding our relationship with God is that of a bride and groom, with Jesus being the groom and the church being the bride.

Therefore, by virtue of this union, Jesus, the only son of God, brings the church into his family through marriage, thereby making us, the church, become children of God.

This is just a thought, but it’s an interesting one.

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

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 is Love

In the Old Testament of the Bible we read the command to “fear God.” In the New Testament we read “God is Love.”

How can we fear someone who is loving? Is it even possible to do?

Is there a difference between fearing God in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament? Although it’s the same God in both, one who doesn’t change, the difference is Jesus. Jesus alters the way we understand and perceive God.

True, God is to be feared and God is love. This is a spiritual paradox we need to accept.

God is to be feared and God is love. Click To Tweet

In the Old Testament, the focus is on the law (rules) and the result is fear because we fall short. In the New Testament, Jesus fulfills the law (overcomes or replaces rules) with love. The result is that love trumps fear.

This doesn’t mean we should completely disregard a healthy fear of God, but instead to temper our fear with his love.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 John 1-4 and today’s post is on 1 John 4:8 and 16.]

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 Knew and I Don’t

In continuing with the story of Jesus driving the demon out of the mute man there’s an interesting phrase. It is “Jesus knew their thoughts.” (In another account about Jesus, the Bible says, “Jesus knew what they were thinking.”)

This suggests a divine power as being a part of Jesus’ human existence. Perhaps this is why it’s been said Jesus was fully man and fully God.

This is a difficult concept to grasp. It’s hard to conceive of divinity and humanity coexisting in one entity. Logic would suggest Jesus could be either fully man or fully God, but he couldn’t simultaneously be both. Yet he was.

God’s awesomeness allowed Jesus to be man and God at the same time. Click To Tweet

While it may be frustrating to some over not being able to understand this, I am not so affected. This is one more mystery of God, which cannot be fully grasped. It reminds me I am finite and he is infinite, I am limited and he is not.

God’s awesomeness allowed Jesus to be man and God at the same time. And when I think about this, I am in awe—and perhaps that’s the intent.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 10-12, and today’s post is on  Luke 11:14-28.]

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.

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Christian Living

The Spirituality of Giving

When it comes to giving to others there are two schools of thought. One is to give to whoever asks and the other is to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. The problem is, both of these are taught in the Bible, so which is it?

The answer, as with many spiritual paradoxes, is both. In this case God does not give us an immutable law to obey, but instead guidelines to follow. I think we need to discern which path to take for each individual situation.

Giving to others is a spiritual thing; may we do it well. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we need to give generously without hesitation, while other times, the good stewardship rule applies. This may mean sharing what we have, or withholding resources, or perhaps coming up with a creative response that while not giving what is requested, does provide for what is actually needed.

Giving to others is a spiritual thing; may we do it well.

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

Did Daniel Need to Ask God to Rescue the People?

Another Thought about Predestination

Another curious thing with Daniel’s prayer is that he may not have even needed to make it.

After all, God, through Jeremiah, foretold that the nation would be in captivity for 70 years and then return. The seventy years are about up; it is time to go home.

God decreed it, so there’s no need to pray. Yet Daniel prays anyway, asking God to do what he already said he would do.

Could there be causality?

Is Daniel’s prayer needed for God’s intention to come to fruition?

Or perhaps God’s decree is given with the foreknowledge that in 70 years Daniel will pray for deliverance.

Was it predestined that the people would be repatriated after 70 years or was it predestined that Daniel would pray, resulting in their return?

In another wonderful God paradox, the answer is yes!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 7-9, and today’s post is on Daniel 9:2.]

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

Free Will and Predestination

Embrace the Paradox of Choice versus Destiny

A theological conundrum is the concept of free will versus predestination. While the Bible teaches that we have the ability to make our own choices (we have free will), it also says that things are predetermined (predestined). Which is it?

It is both, presenting us with a delightful paradox. Though my mind somewhat grasps this as a holistic, unified truth, I am woefully unable to articulate it.

It helps a little to consider that one understanding of “predestined” is to “foreknow.” Another helpful consideration is to realize that God —who created time-space, exists outside of time—likely seeing the past, present, and future as a singular reality.

However, it is the book of Daniel that gives me the most help.

A prophecy is given about evil king Nebuchadnezzar. Because of his prideful arrogance, he will be struck with insanity until he acknowledges God (free will) and for seven years (predestination).

Free will and predestination are not mutually exclusive concepts, but opposite sides of the same coin.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 4-6, and today’s post is on Daniel 4:25.]

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

Is God Like a Hard Man?

Doctor Luke records a parable of Jesus. It is about a nobleman who, before going on a journey, entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money to invest for him. He is a “hard man.”

The first two invest their amounts and earn a good return, apparently doubling their stakes. The third, however, to whom little is entrusted, makes no effort to invest it. He lazily does nothing and merely returns the original amount to his master.

This is done under the guise of keeping it safe, calling his master a hard man. The master judges him accordingly, taking the money away from him and giving it to the first servant.

Although we must guard against reading too much into a parable, the nobleman in this one parallels God. When the servant declares that the noble is a “hard man,” is this a characteristic that we can apply to God?

God does have a hard side to him, but that's not all there is to him; he is also loving and gentle. Click To Tweet

At first glance it is difficult, perhaps even seeming sacrilegious, to call God “hard,” but is there truth that can be gleaned from this? In balancing the paradox of a God of love with a God whom we fear, does a “hard” God fit somewhere into the picture of who he is?

For those who think God will give them a free pass regardless of how they act or what they do, the image of God as hard, that is a strict God, might be a good characteristic for them to ponder.

However, there are also those who view God as mean and vindictive, just waiting for them to mess up so that he can inflict ill-will upon them. Their view of God is already way too “hard.” They will do well to focus on his loving nature instead.

Yes, God does have a hard side to him, but that’s not all there is to him; he is also loving and gentle.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 19-21, and today’s post is on Luke 19:20-24.]

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.

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Bible Insights

Do You Want Justice or Mercy?

Do You Want Justice or Mercy?

I have a friend who pursues justice; she wants everything to be fair. The bad thing about absolute justice is that it leaves no room for mercy. In many ways, justice and mercy are opposites:

  • Mercy is getting off with a warning, while justice says you deserve a ticket.
  • Mercy is having a test question thrown out, while justice says you got it wrong.
  • Mercy is receiving probation, while justice says you deserve jail.
  • Mercy is getting a second chance, while justice says there are no “do-overs.”
  • Mercy is being permitted to retract your chess move, while justice says “sorry, you took your hands off it.”

In a paradox of Godly proportions, God is both fully just yet full of mercy.

Justice says that an imperfect person cannot be in the presence of a perfect God, while mercy through Jesus allows us to do so anyway.

Thank God for his justice and his mercy—and for paradoxes!

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

Praise God or Fear God?

Praise God or Fear God?

After Jesus performs a miracle—healing a paralytic man—the people were fearful of God, yet full of praise at the same time (this precise wording is not apparent in all translations—see the New Living Translation or the Amplified Bible).

Although it seems like a paradox to simultaneously fear God and praise him, perhaps this is a view we should adopt.

There are reasons to fear him, but they must be carefully balanced with praising him. Click To Tweet

Yes, there are reasons to fear him, but they must be carefully balanced with praising him. It may be in the midst of that balance that we are able to best connect with him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 8-10 and today’s post is on Matthew 9:2-8.]

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.