Categories
Bible Insights

God’s Spirit to Be Poured Out on All People

The New Testament Cites the Old Testament

Many passages in the New Testament of the Bible quote parts of the Old Testament, which was written hundreds of years before. In some versions of the Bible, footnotes—added by the translators—refer us to the original text.

Holy Spirit

One verse, however, cites the source in the text, not a footnote. It’s in the book of Acts, where Peter directly references what the prophet Joel said. Here’s what happens:

Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit to them to help and guide them. The Holy Spirit shows up and things get crazy. There’s the sound of a strong wind, the appearance of flames of fire, and the disciples preach in other languages (Acts 2:1-13).

The people can’t comprehend what’s happening. They freak out. They blame it on too much wine. This explanation is plausible for the crowd, who has never seen the Holy Spirit at work, empowering people to speak in other languages.

God’s Spirit

Peter sets them straight. He reminds them that Joel foretold about this infilling of the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit. The prophet wrote, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28-30).

Joel says it will happen. Peter and his pals experience it. And spiritual power and reality changes forever. God gives the Holy Spirit to them. And from that day forward, all who follow Jesus will have God’s Spirit in them too. Yes, everyone—all. That means them, and it means us. You and me. All. 

As a result, crazy, Holy Spirit things can happen to us too. But many of Jesus’s followers today dismiss this indwelling Holy Spirit. In doing so, they dismiss the power of God’s Spirit in them and in directing their lives.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joel 1-3, and today’s post is on Joel 2:28-29.]

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.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

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

Freedom in Jesus

Our Right Standing with Christ Frees Us from Rules, but Don’t Abuse This Freedom

Jesus’s sacrificial death releases us from the obligation of Old Testament laws. We have freedom in Jesus and don’t need to follow rules. Instead, we follow Jesus.

Yet we need to guard against getting carried away with our freedom. The Bible has much to say on the subject.

Free in the Spirit

Paul writes to the church in Corinth that Jesus (the Lord) is Spirit. Through his Spirit we have freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Free in Christ

Paul reminds the church in Galatia, that Jesus has set them free, free from sin. Therefore, they aren’t obligated to be weighed down by being slaves to rules and regulations.

Free to Do Good

Yet some of the people in the church in Corinth overreach when they pursue their freedom through Jesus. They claim that they had the right to do anything, but Paul points out that not everything is beneficial. Not everything is constructive.

Instead of doing whatever they want to do, they should seek to use their freedom to do good for others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

Free to Love One Another

In similar fashion, Paul writes to the church in Galatia. He reminds them that they are free through Jesus. But this doesn’t give them the freedom to pursue self-gratification, that is, to indulge in human desires. Instead, they should use their freedom in Jesus to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Free to Live

Peter also confirms what Paul says, writing that we are to live as free people (that is, not under the law or bound by rules). We must take care, however, not to use this freedom in Jesus as a cover for evil living, that is, as an excuse to sin (1 Peter 2:16).

We have freedom in Jesus to do what is right and to benefit others. Click To Tweet

Freedom in Jesus

We have freedom in Jesus to do what is right and to benefit others, not out of obligation but as a response to what Jesus did for us.

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

Be Careful What You Say

Control Your Tongue and Watch Your Words

There’s a saying of disputed authorship, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” As such, we need to be careful what we say. The Bible has much to share about our words and our tongue.

Tame the Tongue

James tells us that we verify our religion—our faith—by what we say, good or bad. We must keep a tight rein on our tongue, or our beliefs mean nothing (James 1:26).

Later, he writes that we are to tame our tongue. Just as we can control a horse by putting a bit in its mouth or steer a ship with a rudder, our tongue—though small—can do much. With our mouth we can praise God. But from the same mouth can flow forth curses.

Our words can do good. They can also cause much damage. In this way, what we say can corrupt our entire body. But with God’s help we can control what we say. In doing so we can keep our whole body in check (James 3:1-12).

Keep Your Tongue from Speaking Evil

Peter adds to the discussion, saying that if we love life and want to experience good, we must keep our tongue from speaking evil and uttering deceitful lies (1 Peter 3:10). In writing this, he quotes the words of King David as found in Psalm 34:12-13.

God wants us to be careful in what we say and control our words. Click To Tweet

Be Careful What You Say

The Pharisees confront Jesus because his disciples aren’t following their tradition of ceremonial handwashing before a meal. He launches into a teaching to remind them what matters more.

He concludes by saying that what we put into our mouth—that is what we eat—doesn’t matter to God nearly as much as what comes out of it. Our words matter. And when wrong words come out, it defiles us more than the foods we eat.

Our words come from our heart and reveal evil thoughts, thoughts of murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander (Matthew 15:11-20).

Yet when we speak positive words, we reveal our good heart. Proverbs reminds us that the wise person chooses words carefully and is even-tempered (Proverbs 17:27).

Keep Our Words in Check

God wants us to be careful of what we say and keep our words in check. When we do so, we honor him and provide a positive example to others, building them up and pointing them to Jesus.

[Discover some practical, biblical steps to do so.]

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 Insights

Jesus Says “Follow Me”

The Simplicity of Faith

In Peter’s darkest moment, he denies that he even knows who Jesus is. I don’t criticize Peter for this, however. Despite a desire to respond differently, I suspect that if facing death, I could easily do the same thing.

Later, after returning to life, Jesus restores Peter to right relationship with him. Three times Jesus asks, “Do you love me?”

Three times—each one corresponding to one of Peter’s three betrayals—Peter confirms that he does indeed love Jesus.

Then, for Peter to show his love for his master, each time Jesus asks Peter to take care of Jesus’s flock, that is the Christian church.

Love Jesus, and follow him. Click To Tweet

Peter doesn’t realize the importance of repeating this exchange three times, that he must affirm his love for Jesus in equal number to his three betrayals.

Then, when his pledges of support offset his prior denials, Jesus can complete Peter’s restoration. Jesus concludes with the simple instruction, “Follow me.”

That’s the essential requirement of Jesus, the simplicity of faith: To love Jesus, and follow him. It’s that simple.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 20-21, and today’s post is on John 21:15-19.]

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere 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
Christian Living

Don’t Let Your Prayers Be Hindered

Understanding the Weaker Vessel

When Paul talks in the Bible about marriage, I struggle with his words because he was a bachelor. What does he know about the subject? Peter, on the other hand, was married so I give more credence to what he says on the subject. Even so I struggle a bit when he talks about women as the weaker vessel in 1 Peter 3:7.

This verse is specifically about husbands and wives. It’s part of a longer passage that talks about the marriage relationship. Let’s breakdown what Peter says.

The Weaker Vessel

In looking at multiple versions of this verse, most use the phrase weaker vessel. It offends my sensibilities because I strive to view men and women as equals. Some verses clarify that this weakness refers to physical characteristics, which I understand to be true, even if I don’t want to dwell on it.

The Message translation doesn’t use the phrase weaker vessel. Instead. it says, “as women they lack some of your advantages” (1 Peter 3:7, MSG).

The Expanded Bible clarifies this even further using the phrase as “the less empowered one” and explains that in the society of that time, women tended to have less power and authority (1 Peter 3:7, EXB).

Can we expand our understanding of this teaching beyond marriage to produce a general principle? Or is that taking the verse out of context?

If we choose to extend Peter’s instructions beyond marriage, we should all—men and women—take care in how we treat others who may be a weaker vessel to us: those who lack our advantages, who aren’t as empowered, and who possessed less authority.

As we do so we promote a God-honoring justice.

Joint Heirs with Jesus

Not only is this verse about husbands and wives, but it also refers to a Christ-centered marriage. Husbands and wives who follow Jesus are his heirs.

Some translations say co-heirs or joint heirs. The rendering I appreciate most, however, is that we are equal partners (1 Peter 3:7, NLT).

As heirs of Jesus, we receive an inheritance from him, both now and later. That is, we inherit eternal life.

So That Your Prayers May Not Be Hindered

The outcome of husbands treating their wives properly, as joint heirs with Jesus, is a more effective prayer life. In this way, Peter gives a command with a promise: treat your spouse well and your prayers won’t be hindered. Other renderings say “blocked” (1 Peter 3:7, CJB) and “ineffective” (1 Peter 3:7, AMP).

Peter gives a command with a promise: treat your spouse well and your prayers won’t be hindered. Click To Tweet

Moving Forward

Putting this all together, when husbands treat their wives properly—when everyone treats everyone else with respect—our prayers will be more effective.

Don’t we all want a more vibrant, effective prayer life? Then we should take care how we treat 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
Bible Insights

Do You Think Like an Exile? Do You Act Like a Foreigner?

If You Are a Citizen of the Kingdom of God, Then You Live Here as an Alien

Peter writes his first letter to Christians scattered about in pagan cities. He first calls them exiles (1 Peter 1:1). He also refers to them as foreigners (1 Peter 2:11). Though foreigner is accurate, I prefer the label of alien. It has an otherworldly connotation.

The point is that they don’t fit in where they are. They are outsiders subsisting in a society that doesn’t understand their thinking and their way of life. They live in a culture that is opposed to Jesus.

Peter doesn’t tell them they need to adapt and settle down. Instead he tells them to live careful lives, hold onto their awe of God, and refrain from immorality. They are to persist as foreigners, as if they are just passing through—because they are.

If you are a citizen of the kingdom of God, then you live here as a foreigner. Click To Tweet

Foreigner or Citizen?

They are citizens of the Kingdom of God, children of the King of kings. Their allegiance is to God. Their real domicile, their eternal home, is in heaven. Holding onto this perspective, they realize they are here for the short-term.

With eyes fixed on Jesus, they maintain their earthly status as foreigners, as exiles, and as aliens—both in an actual physical sense and with a faith-filled, future-focused, spiritual expectation.

I wonder how well I do to live like that.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Peter 1-3, and today’s post is on 1 Peter 1:17.]

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

Is Christian a Noun or an Adjective?

Let’s Stop Using Christian as an Adjective

Do you call yourself a Christian? What does that word mean to you? What might it mean to others? Especially to those who aren’t part of our faith community? Let us consider if we should use Christian as a noun, Christian as an adjective, or Christian as something else.

Christian in the Bible

The word Christian does occur in Scripture, but not often.

Luke uses it twice in the book of Acts. He first confirms that the word popped up in Antioch (Acts 11:26). It was a label given to those who follow Jesus, that is, the Christ (the Messiah). Later King Agrippa uses it when talking to Paul at his trial (Acts 26:28).

Peter is the only other biblical writer who uses the word, Christian. He writes about those who suffer for their faith as followers of Jesus. He encourages them to not be ashamed but to praise God (1 Peter 4:16). Implicitly, when our walk with Jesus aligns so closely with him, that we face attack, this persecution, in effect, confirms our faith. Although unwanted, this opposition becomes a praiseworthy event.

Noun Versus Adjective

In each of these cases, the writers use Christian as a noun. This is an appropriate convention for us to follow. However, we often encounter this word misused as an adjective: as in Christian music, Christian movie, Christian business, Christian community, and Christian book, to name a few common usages. And singer Steve Taylor facetiously sang a song that mentioned a Christian cow. This jest certainly shows the absurdity of employing Christian as an adjective

Although the dictionary now permits using Christian as an adjective—no doubt prompted because of its common misuse—we must remind ourselves that this usage isn’t a biblical application for the word. Rob Bell writes that “Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective” (Velvet Elvis, page 84).

Yet even as a noun, Christian means different things to different people. Because of that it’s a label packed with misunderstanding. For this reason, I personally don’t like the tag of Christian, and I try to minimize using it. I prefer calling myself a follower of Jesus, or if I’m being overly confident, a disciple of Jesus. Yet to avoid confusing my audience, I sometimes resort to saying that I’m a Christian.

As an author who often writes books for the Christian market—that is, for followers of Jesus—I’m often confronted with the need to use Christian as an adjective for the sake of clarity. This results in admitting that I am a Christian author and that I write Christian books. (More correctly, I am an author who is a Christian—that is, I follow Jesus. And my books are for other Christians—that is, other followers of Jesus.) My attempts to explain these two truths without using the word Christian, only confuses people and leads them to make wrong assumptions about me and the topics I cover.

Would we benefit by thinking of Christian as a verb? Click To Tweet

Should Christian be a Verb?

I, along with many others, have advocated that love is a verb. That is, love isn’t how we feel or think; it’s how we act. We show our love by what we do.

I wonder if we would likewise benefit by thinking of Christian as a verb. Yes, being a Christian is about belief and faith, but if we don’t put our faith into action, what good is it? Can we have a true faith without doing good (James 2:14-19)?

Moving Forward as Christians

I encourage you to embrace Christian as a noun, stop using it as an adjective, and explore how you can turn it into a verb. This may be the most effective witness we can offer.

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 Insights

3 Unusual Examples of God’s Healing Power

God Uses His People to Heal the Hurting

Elisha dies, but his influence lives on. Yes, Elisha continues to teach us today, thousands of years after his death, through the words recorded about him in the Bible. However, he also has a practical effect on someone postmortem. It’s one example of God’s amazing healing power through his people.

1. The Healing Power of Elisha’s Bones

A man dies, and his friends are burying him when a gang of bandits come into view. Not wanting to end up like their buddy, the pallbearers dump the body in the nearest tomb.

It happens to be Elisha’s final resting place. When the body touches the bones of Elisha, the dead man becomes undead and jumps to his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

This is an amazing example of God’s power to heal. It’s the ultimate healing: resurrection. But that’s not all. Here are two more stories.

2. The Healing Power of Peter’s Shadow

The Bible also tells about people bringing their infirmed friends and placing them on the street where they expect Peter to travel. They hope Peter’s shadow might fall on the sick as he passes by.

Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that people received healing this way, why would they go to this trouble if Peter’s shadow hadn’t healed others in the past? (Acts 5:15).

3. The Healing Power of Paul’s Handkerchief

Later in the book of Acts, we read about God doing astonishing miracles through Paul. This supernatural power is so extraordinary that even handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul touches have the power to heal people.

They bring these garments to people who need healing. The people who receive them are cured and evil spirits are cast out, even though Paul isn’t physically present (Acts 19:11-12).

Is God still in the business of healing people? Click To Tweet

God’s Power to Heal Is in Us

God’s healing power occurs through a dead man’s bones, a shadow, and articles of clothing. Is God still in the business of healing people? How can these examples inform our view of miracles and how we act today?

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 11-13, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 13:21.]

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 Insights

What Is Your Path?

When we focus on other people, we may lose sight of our own calling

As Jesus wraps up his stint on earth, he spends some time with his disciples, the core group he trained for three years. They will need to carry on without him, and he wants to make sure they’re ready.

First, he must deal with Peter, who, a few days earlier, denied he even knew Jesus. Jesus is gentle but sure. To counter Peter’s three denials, Jesus has his wayward disciple give three affirmations of love. After each one, Jesus tells Peter to “Care for those who follow me.”

Then Jesus tells Peter what his future will entail. It ends with execution. But Jesus tells Peter to follow him, regardless.

Likely squirming and wanting to change the subject, Peter notices John and asks Jesus what the future holds for this disciple, “What are your plans for him?”

Jesus won’t play along. He basically says, “It doesn’t matter. You must do what I told you to do: follow me.”

God says, “It doesn’t matter what others do, you must follow me." Click To Tweet

It’s easy to become distracted by other people: People who seem to have more success, at least by the world’s standards; people who radiate God’s love in a way we fear we never will; or people who pray with a faith that eludes us.

Frustrated and discouraged, we may ask God, “What are your plans for them?”

To which God says, “It doesn’t matter what others do, you must follow me.” That is your path.

Look straight ahead and follow Jesus. We shouldn’t concern ourselves with what others are doing. Don’t look to the right or to the left, but look right at Jesus (Proverbs 4:25-27).

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is John 20-21 and today’s post is on John 21:20-22.]

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere 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.

SaveSave

Categories
Bible Insights

Peter Speaks at Pentecost

Pete’s Powerful Sermon

The first sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 2:1-41 (specifically Acts 2:14-36).

Setting: Jerusalem on Pentecost

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews from many nations

Preceding Events: The Holy Spirit arrives and empowers the disciples to speak in other languages. Unable to comprehend what is happening, some in the crowd conclude that the disciples are drunk. (This may be the original source for the phrase “drunk on the Holy Spirit.”)

Overall Theme: Jesus died but is alive again—and he is Lord

Scripture Quoted: Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, Psalm 110:1

Central Teaching: Repent (change your ways) and be baptized

Subsequent Events: 3,000 respond

Key Lesson: Through the Holy Spirit, amazing things can happen that go far beyond man’s capabilities to accomplish on his own.

Jesus died but is alive again—and he is Lord. Click To Tweet

This post is from the series “Sermons in the book of Acts.” Read about sermon #2.

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.

Exit mobile version