We have an obligation to forgive others

We must extend the love and forgiveness of God that we have received to others.

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how a recognition of the depth of our forgiven state should motivate us to forgive others.

Colossians 3:13 – “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Paul is here reminding the Colossian believers of an obligation they have to forgive anyone who offends them.

The faults that Paul mentions here in this verse speak of those who have complaints or blame to assign to another. In my experience, there will always be blame to assign to someone, and there will always be complaints about others. The exhortation that Paul gives for overcoming this blame and complaining attitude of others is that those who are to forgive need only to recognize how much God forgave them.

If we are honest about this kind of thinking, we have been in this same condition before God; grumblers and complainers, assigning blame to others. Like our natural parents Adam and Eve, we have looked for excuses as to why we have not obeyed God, and we have been quick to assign blame to another:

Genesis 3:11-13 – “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then Yahweh God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

In our natural state prior to coming to faith in Messiah, if you’ll pardon the expression, the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. And yet, even in our new relationship with God, as we seek to grow the “new man” within us, sometimes those old tendencies rear their head and cause us to stumble.

Now, at this point, many believers may agree with this challenge of being led astray by our old, sinful tendencies and be reminded of Paul’s monologue in Romans seven. This is where he describes the challenges of overcoming the flesh to be obedient to the word of God. It’s a long quote, but worth reviewing in the context of our current discussion:

Romans 7:14-23 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

This passage has been used by many to justify the condition of sin in their lives, saying, “See, even the apostle Paul struggled with sin so much that he couldn’t always faithfully follow God’s law, even though he wanted to.”

Well, that is certainly how it appears by reading this passage in isolation. However, if we place it back into its context within the overall message of Romans, we may see that it is teaching something completely different. In a moment, we’ll take a look at what this passage looks like within the wider context of Paul’s letter to the Romans.


When we step back and take a wider view of Paul’s line of reasoning starting back in the beginning of chapter six of Romans, we can get a better perspective of where this line of reasoning goes, and how he illustrates various points along the way.

In the opening verses of chapter six, Paul writes, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

With this plain statement, we can already see how Paul is of the opinion that believers should not be continuing to struggle with sinful lifestyles. This is the opening salvo in the argument which follows, in which Paul attempts to show how believers are no longer subject to the sin they have become so used to.

In one of his first illustrations, he describes how the believer has in essence died with Messiah, and therefore should be living a new life.

Romans 6:11-12 – “So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.”

He then uses the example of slavery, and declares how believers have been set free from the slavery of sin.

Romans 6:22 – “But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification ​– ​and the outcome is eternal life!”

In the beginning of chapter seven, he then uses an illustration from marriage, saying how death of one partner releases them from the bonds of marriage, and the survivor is free to marry another without committing adultery.

Romans 7:2 – “For example, a married woman is legally bound to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law regarding the husband.”

This is an illustration of moving from the letter of the law in Moses to the spirit of the law in Messiah.

He then even goes so far as to demonstrate how the very law of God itself, that which was intended for life, can produce death because of the sinful tendencies of the unregenerate human heart. That long passage in chapter seven which we have already reviewed is the continuation of that thought. It’s as if he is expressing the thoughts, not of a believer, but of an unregenerate Jew who is still attempting to hold to the law of God by their own merit, through their flesh.

But the culmination of all of these examples and illustrations comes in the triumphant exclamation of verses 24-25 of chapter seven: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Messiah Yeshua our Lord!”

He comes to the conclusion that God, through belief in Messiah, has the ability to overcome all of these challenges. He raises believers to life, sets them free from sin and marries them to a new husband!

Then, it’s as if Paul, taking one final look over his shoulder at all of the illustrations he has just made, re-states the problem of the one who is not born from above:

Romans 7:25-8:5 – “So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but the flesh, the law of sin.”

As the narrative then moves into the next chapter, his line of reasoning then ascends to the beautiful reality of the regenerate believer, one who has become born again through a vibrant faith in the Messiah:

Romans 8:1-5 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Messiah Yeshua, because the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.”

The answer to the problem of sin and the flesh, Paul says, is to live by the empowering of God’s Spirit. This should be the reality for the believer, not the see-saw of frustrated obedience in Romans chapter seven; no, that is the result of trying to serve God in the flesh and not through his indwelling Spirit.

This teaching on living by the Spirit actually dovetails perfectly with our current discussion regarding forgiveness of others, because when we are attempting to serve God in the flesh, we open ourselves to all of the negative connotations of worldly religion. Among other things, we can fall prey to a measure of hypocrisy, something hated by all and cautioned against by Messiah.

Matthew 6:14-15 – “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

When we refuse to forgive, it’s the flesh that is rising up because it has been offended by something that it does not approve of. That is the natural reaction of the natural person, the one who has not been regenerated by the Spirit of God. But it is hypocritical of us to be subject to the flesh and to remain unforgiving of others. Why? Because the admonition of Paul in Colossians 3:13 says because “the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” A literal rendering of this instruction would be “in the same manner or to the same degree that God has forgiven you, you should do in like fashion to others.”

When we tie this admonition to the realization of the believer’s new and empowering life in the Spirit, we can see how this instruction can be observed and followed in our lives today. Our flesh may recoil at the idea of forgiving someone who may not seem to deserve it, but the Spirit living inside us can empower us to provide that forgiveness anyway. This is not only a suggestion but an urgent command: “you must forgive others.”

This is how believers can be witnesses to those around them that they have been regenerated by the Spirit of God. This is how the kingdom of God continues to grow: through our faithful obedience to the commands of God, and through extending the love and forgiveness of God that we have received to others.

We have to remember that we have been disobedient before God in any number of ways that only we know within ourselves, yet somehow God was willing to overlook these rebellious faults and still call us to himself. If his same Spirit resides in us, then is it not reasonable that he wants to extend that same forgiveness through us?

With what measure and how much has God forgiven you? When we realize the depth of that forgiveness, it should reveal our ability, and our obligation, to forgive others in a new light.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A kingdom of sincere obedience

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

1 Chronicles 28:5, 7, 9 – “And out of all my sons ​– ​for Yahweh has given me many sons ​– ​he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of Yahweh’s kingdom over Israel. … “I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping my commands and my ordinances as he is doing today.’ … “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever.

As David was bringing to conclusion his life’s activities, one of his greatest desires was to build a magnificent temple for Yahweh as a permanent replacement for the Mishkan or tent of the Tabernacle. However, Yahweh had refused him this privilege due to his warrior background, but would allow David’s son Solomon to continue and finish the task. In this grand speech recorded for us at the close of 1 Chronicles, David transfers the kingdom and authority to Solomon, along with tasking him with the building of the temple.

More importantly, he charges Solomon with the keeping of the commandments of God, since a grand temple means nothing without sincere hearts of the faithful. In this instruction, we find that the real foundation of the temple was not all of the stone and gold and silver that David had set aside for the task; no, the real foundation was to be based on the sincere faithfulness of Solomon and all of the people.

David charged Solomon with the lofty ideals of a true heart that seeks out an obedient lifestyle in the presence of God: “know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought.”

A thousand years later, the writer to the Hebrews would convey the same convicting sense of God’s immanence to his readers.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

It is upon this recognition of God’s individual attention to every person that the kingdom of God is built. To become part of his kingdom, the individual opens his or her heart to the ultimate scrutiny of an all-knowing Creator. There is nothing outside of God’s gaze in his kingdom; not even what we would consider the hidden recesses of our individual hearts.

The permanent dynasty that David was seeking to establish for God’s glory was based on heart obedience. The message of the kingdom did not change over a thousand years. Even today, a further two thousand years removed from the writing to the Hebrew congregation, God’s kingdom is still based on heart obedience.

And to ensure that we have the ability to remain faithful, he still desires believers to hold each other accountable to the truth of his word so that all may be able to overcome the deceptive nature of sin.

Hebrews 3:12-13 – Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living, and dying, for others

Compassion and obedience are not just for this life only.

Compassion and obedience are not just for this life only.

John 10:14-15, 17-18 – I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. … For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

In teaching his disciples of how he is to be likened to a good shepherd, Yeshua reveals how God had provided him the authority to not only lay his life down for the sheep, but to take it back up again. With this obvious reference to the resurrection, we gain a small but tremendously powerful insight into the compassion and obedience of the Son of God to his Father.

Yeshua’s connection with God was so close that the bond of obedience surpassed life itself. Yeshua had received the command of God that he would have the ability to take up his life on the other side of the grave. This demonstrated a huge measure of trust and confidence that Yeshua placed in his Father. He was to demonstrate a compassion so extreme on behalf of his brothers that it would cost him his life.

Yet he was to trust in the resurrection on the other side, and not for himself, but that God’s purpose would be completed through his resurrection. Yeshua was not simply trusting God that he would be restored to life for his own benefit, but that he was being restored to life for the benefit of others. He died for others and was restored to life for others. Everything about the death and resurrection of Yeshua was for others; it had nothing to do with his own personal survival for himself.

We don’t understand this principle enough. We struggle to grasp an obedience to God that is so complete that it willingly succumbs not only to death on behalf of others, but to continued service for others on the other side. That is what compassion looks like to God. It does not have any selfish ambition whatsoever, and yet when it is accomplished, God provides every honor and glory upon that individual.

I believe we have erred when we look to God for our own continued survival, that hoped-for eternal life, based on the fact that we believed in him and served him to the best of our ability during this life. Then we hope to enjoy peace and security for eternity, a kind of spiritual retirement allowing us to enjoy the privileges gained for sacrifices made during this life.

But this is not the message of the gospel. The good news of the kingdom is that we serve God and accomplish his purpose here and now, and we serve God there and accomplish his purpose then and there. Believing in God should never be about ourselves or our personal security. If we are following the example of our Messiah, it should always be about others; we should be constantly laying our lives down on behalf of others, dying to ourselves over and over again.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. It is a dichotomy of two contradictory principles: a sacrifice is to die yet somehow remains alive. The believing life is one of paradox: living in a kingdom that exists in eternity, yet is present here and now; dying to ourselves yet living for God; existing in a world of darkness yet being a light to those around us. We are reconcilers of opposites, peacemakers of things that are at war with one another. Just like our Messiah obeyed in death and life, we are to remain obedient in dying to ourselves and living for him. The life that feeds on the resurrection power of the Messiah is a life of obedience and compassion.

1 John 3:14, 16 – We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. … By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Copying the mercy and blessing of God to others

Only when we rise above do we demonstrate we are born from above.

Only when we rise above do we demonstrate we are born from above.

Matthew 5:44-45: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”

Two qualities are here spoken of by Yeshua: one is being like your Father in heaven, and the other is doing good equally to those who are good and those who are evil. The conclusion is that in mimicking the good actions of God to all people, we demonstrate we are his children.

In view of these qualities, a couple of other observations become apparent, as well. Firstly, God is the one supreme Being over all, since everyone in this world experiences sun and rain to varying degrees. This demonstrates God’s sovereignty over his creation.

Secondly, there is also an element of good in those provisions of sunlight and rain as opposed to common misconceptions of God’s indifference or dispassionate separation from that what he has created. Closely aligned with this “indifference” mindset, but worse still, is the idea that everything we see and experience is the result of chance and random mutation. This type of worldview leads individuals to act in accordance with the hopeless lack of meaning throughout life. Following this logically, if the natural conditions of the weather are purposeless effects of a random physical process, then this analogy that Yeshua arrives at loses its meaning as well.

By contrast, the believer in the God of the Bible can take heart that even the ubiquitous nature of weather is imbued with a sense of purpose from the Almighty Creator. The mere act of existing within this cosmos is a gift beyond measure. Living with this type of Creation worldview imbues all experiences with meaning and purpose. Because of this purpose and meaning, Yeshua then urges his hearers to copy the gracious purpose of their Father by bestowing favor on all others.

As much as we may desire to act and react to others in the like fashion in which we are treated by them, Yeshua urges us to rise above these petty differences and treat others with the same blessing and provision that God bestows on all men. This involves forgiveness when we have been wronged and turning situations around by inserting gracious energy back toward those who, by all natural appearances, may not seem to others to deserve it.

This is what it means to be a child of God, not just in what we believe, but in what we do and how we act. Believers are to be better, more noble than others in the world who do not know God. However, this is not to be a distinction of prideful privilege, but a recognition of duty to always represent the best of Yahweh as we are created in his image and likeness. As we conform more fully to him, we demonstrate we are truly his children.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living out an attitude of generosity

When we trust Yahweh for all we have, providing resources to others, both physical and spiritual, becomes a way of life that honors him.

When we trust Yahweh for all we have, providing resources to others, both physical and spiritual, becomes a way of life that honors him.

Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua warns how all of the glittering things that attract our attention in this world are things that can divide our heart and purpose from the things of God.

Matthew 6:19-20: ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

When it comes to earthly riches, Yeshua warns about two factors that can affect what we have: the moth, and also what is here called rust. Interestingly, although we use the word rust in English, the Greek word simply means “that which consumes until it disappears.” Of course, rust is a consumer of metals and anything that may seem to have some stability and longevity in this world. Surely anyone who has had a vehicle in a climate where roads are salted in the winter is familiar with the effect of rust on something as tangible as a vehicle.

In reality, rather than talking specifically about the effects of rust on metal, Yeshua is explaining how everything that we can possess in this life, whether it’s money or tangible goods, are all consumed in one way or another. Ironically, in our current market-driven culture, the populace is known as “consumers.” Economically speaking, we even have a “consumer index” to determine how the economy is performing. We consume food, we consume entertainment, we consume housing, we consume energy; just about everything in this life is about using up resources.

By contrast, the life of a believer is all about generously giving: to give to those in need, to give back to God, to create new opportunities and second chances, to give freely and with cheerfulness. This is the contrast that Yeshua is placing before his hearers.

This teaching about earthly treasure is less about stuff and more about attitude. When we as believers can have the right attitude, and switch from selfish consumerism to generosity and giving, then God knows our heart is in the right place. It is then that his will can be accomplished through us.

1 Timothy 6:17-19: “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Abiding in God’s presence produces holiness 

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him.

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him. 

A life of holiness is one in which the believer is purposefully and continually set apart from others. In the book of Haggai, the prophet confronts the priests with some of their practices and poses a question that illustrates how purity is something that must be maintained by the individual. 

Haggai 2:11-14 – “This is what Yahweh of Armies says: Ask the priests for a ruling. “If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled. 

In this instance, God is confronting the nation with their impurities. They were going about reestablishing themselves in the land after their captivity, yet they were not giving the due respect and honor to the temple of Yahweh. They had assumed that because they were God’s people, that they were somehow automatically holy. But there is no such thing. 

In the example provided by Haggai, the meat that had been consecrated had only become consecrated because it was in the presence of Yahweh. It was meat that had become dedicated to the purpose of Yahweh by the offerer, however the meat itself did not contain the ability to make anything else holy. On the contrary, defilement easily spreads from object to object and place to place when something becomes corrupted. Through this example, Haggai shows how closely a believer needs to remain in the presence of Yahweh in order to remain sanctified and holy.  

This principle was carried over even into the teachings of Yeshua. He explained that the keeping of his commands and his teaching would allow believers to remain in God’s presence, which would be evidenced by the holy Spirit of God living within them.  

John 14:15-17 – “If you love me, you will keep my commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you. 

John 15:4-6, 8, 10 – “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. … “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.  … “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 

The application of this principle becomes clearer when we recognize that we, as believers, do not have the ability to create holiness by our own efforts. We become holy only when we are imbued with that which is holy. The holy Spirit of God is most evident within us when we abide by the commands of God and teachings of Yeshua. In this way, we have the ability to bear fruit for God which honors him and grows the Kingdom of God. 


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The regathering of the tribes resulting in a unified faith

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

During the first century, the dynamic of the gospel of the kingdom being spread across the known world was one of irregular, but steady growth. One of those stages which took this growth to the next level is when the message began being shared even with those outside the accepted Jewish faith. This group of outsiders consisted of Hellenists.

Acts 11:19-21: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Messiah. The hand of Yahweh was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to Yahweh.”

Scholars have several opinions about who these Hellenists were. As they are mentioned in the Bible, many times the context determines who is being discussed. Were they former Jews who had assimilated into the surrounding Greek culture, or were they just the pagan Greeks who had never known the Bible, commonly referred to as Gentiles?

The weight of history, at least the history of Christianity, has fallen on the side of these people being Gentiles, explaining why so many non-Jewish believers have populated the “Church” over the millennia. However, a strong case exists for these Hellenists being descendants of the Jews who had been scattered during the Diaspora (the captivities of Assyria and Babylon) and who had over time assimilated into the regional cultures. This makes sense of passages which speak of God bringing all of the former tribes back together into his everlasting kingdom.

One of the most famous and descriptive of these passages is the prophecy of “two sticks” in Ezekiel 37.

Ezekiel 37:19-27 – “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him, and put them together with the stick of Judah. I will make them into a single stick so that they become one in my hand.’ “When the sticks you have written on are in your hand and in full view of the people, “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. “They will not defile themselves anymore with their idols, their abhorrent things, and all their transgressions. I will save them from all their apostasies by which they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my ordinances, and keep my statutes and obey them. ” ‘They will live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live in it forever with their children and grandchildren, and my servant David will be their prince forever. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be a permanent covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them and will set my sanctuary among them forever. “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

The apostle Paul even quotes this passage directly when speaking of believers as the temple of God:

2 Corinthians 6:16 – And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.

This also explains why the “missionary” emphasis was so strong during the first century, since it was imperative the message of the kingdom was spread as far as possible to include all of the former tribes.

Regardless of the specific spiritual intent of these missionary journeys, the ultimate goal was that everyone, Jew, Hellenistic former Jews, and Gentiles would come to Messiah. Once involved in a local congregation, they were all encouraged to respect their differences but to maintain a vigilant unity in Messiah.

Acts 11:22-24: “News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to Yahweh.”

As Barnabas exhorted the believers in Antioch, he encouraged them all to remain faithful to Yahweh with “steadfast devotion.” This phrase speaks to the demonstrable nature of the early faith of the believing communities. The phrase in the original Greek can be translated as “resolute purpose” or “openness of heart.” It is a phrase that is also used in describing the “showbread,” the twelve loaves of bread that were continually placed before Yahweh in the temple. This bread was a reminder of how each of the twelve tribes of Israel was to recognize how they were to remain purposefully open and evident within the presence of God Almighty at all times.

To me, this is a poignant illustration of the work that God was doing among those first-century believers: calling all of the tribes, whether in scattered Jewish outposts or Hellenists, back to himself with the message of Messiah and the kingdom of God. Through their combined reunification, other “God-fearers” of the Gentiles would also be welcomed into the new movement that would grow to become a worldwide phenomenon, which continues to this day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Core of the Bible podcast #76 – Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust, and how true trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced.

To help illustrate this principle, we can take a closer look at the story of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. For those who know their Bibles, the story is familiar.

When the Hebrews are captured by the Babylonians, they are taken captive, and the leading families are held in the king’s palace. The king has set up an idolatrous monument to himself and commanded that everyone in the area pay homage to it at a specific time, or be killed by being thrown into a furnace. These three prominent Hebrews with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, being Torah-observant, know of course that God has commanded that idolatry is forbidden, and honoring of any other gods is an abomination to him.

Daniel 3:17-18 – “The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Their act of defiance enrages the king, and he does indeed throw them bound into the fiery furnace. But, to everyone’s amazement, they not only survive, but their bonds disappear and they are visited by a mysterious angelic individual while in the midst of the flames. The king commands them to come out, and not even their clothes or their hair has been singed or burned.

In response to their miraculous survival, the king, who just previously wanted all people to worship him and his idolatrous monument, now commands everyone to honor the one true God of the Hebrews.

Daniel 3:28-29 – “They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God.”

While there are many fascinating facets to this story, the essence of what it conveys is both practical and challenging. True trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced. These men were not trusting God to save them, they were simply trusting God regardless of the outcome. This demonstrates that their trust was not in a hoped-for resolution, their trust was in God alone, whatever was to come of it, even if death resulted.

So, this situation begins to draw us toward our application for today: If you are a believer, why are you trusting God? Are you trusting him to save you from the flames of a fiery hell? What if, for his own purpose and glory, there was no guarantee that he would deliver you from that fate, would you still trust in him? What if when you die, you cease to exist; would you still trust in him today?

Now, most of you might say, “This isn’t a legitimate question, since a belief in God assumes a belief in life after death, and therefore you are setting up a false premise.” Well, I guess that’s fair. But if nothing else, then, try to think hypothetically as if there was no understanding of a heaven or hell or promise of some sort of conscious existence beyond this life. Would you still trust in God based on what he has revealed about himself? I believe a real trust in God would say yes. Real trust believes that God has revealed himself to us as the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe and he alone is Sovereign. Because this would be accepted as fact, regardless of any consequence, nothing should be able to dissuade that trust. It should have nothing to do with our personal condition or situation, or salvation, for that matter.

Some might say, why believe in a God who doesn’t give you what you want? Isn’t that the purpose of a belief in God, to gain his favor so you can have things go your way? Shouldn’t we believe in him so we don’t go to hell, so we can spend eternity with him? Those kinds of questions belie an undercurrent of self-centeredness masked with false humility that runs deep in this world, and even within the halls of Christendom, today.

If the God of the Bible truly is God of all, then whatever he chooses to do with his creatures and his Creation is up to him. He has demonstrated he won’t ever go against his own word, so he is not arbitrarily creating chaos at his own whim; however, what specifically occurs in each person’s life and how it fits into his overall purpose is not always clear to us. Sometimes deliverance glorifies him most, and sometimes sacrifice.

Cases of deliverance are still circulated among believers today, especially from the mission fields. What follows is a story that took place in Peru in recent decades. I found this story on a website that includes many different examples of recent Christian testimonies:

Julio, a young lay evangelist, had been threatened by a terrorist group. “You must stop preaching,” they said. “If you do not obey us, you will pay with your blood.”

This terrorist group had taken control of the area where Julio walks from town to town to preach. They had closed the police outstations and governed the region by their own rules. Any individual or group that would not cooperate with them was in danger.

Julio ignored the threats and continued his usual rounds, preaching in the small mountain churches and encouraging the believers. Again the terrorists warned Julio, and again he disregarded the threats against his life. The terrorists were outraged. “Our vengeance will be complete. We asked for your cooperation, and you disobeyed us. Now we will make an example of you,” they said.

A few days later Julio was ambushed and taken to the center of one of the larger towns in the area. A crowd gathered to witness the sentencing. The terrorists hoped that Julio’s fate would put fear into the hearts of Christians and perhaps even result in closing some churches.

Julio was tied to a chair and carried to the middle of the square. Sticks of dynamite were tied to each of his arms and legs. The fuses were lit as Julio began singing praises to God. Other Christians joined him in praise, encouraging him with songs about heaven.

Then came the miracle! Suddenly there was a loud boom as the dynamite exploded. The terrorists thought nothing would be left of Julio. But when the smoke cleared, there sat Julio unharmed and still singing praises to God! The terrorists were shocked. They were so overcome by fear that they ran away. At the same time, all the Christians were saying, “It’s a miracle of God!”

Julio left the square with the Christians. He continued his ministry in spite of persecution. He held firmly to the truth that Jesus gives strength to be courageous when needed.

Christian Testimonies – Protection in Peru (the-new-way.org)

Of course, the Bible contains stories of deliverance, like Paul escaping from Damascus, or Peter being set free from prison. But it also contains accounts of those giving the ultimate sacrifice for their faith, such as Stephen being stoned to death, or the apostle James who was killed by the sword at Herod’s direction. Just because someone is a believer is not a guarantee that nothing bad or tragic will ever happen to them. It’s all about what serves God’s purposes best, not the individual.

As a testament to this, a common classic work among Protestant orthodoxy is a book titled “Foxe’s book of Martyrs,” first published in 1563 by John Foxe, detailing primarily Catholic persecution of the Protestants. However, it also covers many stories telling of heroic courage and overcoming faith, stories of the grace of God that enabled men, women, and children to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths. To illustrate, here is an excerpt of some stories regarding persecutions of believing Christians while it was still an “outlaw” religion around the year 200 AD.

“The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192

Severus, having been recovered from a severe fit of sickness by a Christian, became a great favorer of the Christians in general; but the prejudice and fury of the ignorant multitude prevailing, obsolete laws were put in execution against the Christians. The progress of Christianity alarmed the pagans, and they revived the stale calumny of placing accidental misfortunes to the account of its professors, A.D. 192.

But, though persecuting malice raged, yet the Gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success. Tertullian, who lived in this age, informs us that if the Christians had collectively withdrawn themselves from the Roman territories, the empire would have been greatly depopulated.

Victor, bishop of Rome, suffered martyrdom in the first year of the third century, A.D. 201. Leonidus, the father of the celebrated Origen, was beheaded for being a Christian. Many of Origen’s hearers likewise suffered martyrdom; particularly two brothers, named Plutarchus and Serenus; another Serenus, Heron, and Heraclides, were beheaded. Rhais had boiled pitch poured upon her head, and was then burnt, as was Marcella her mother. Potainiena, the sister of Rhais, was executed in the same manner as Rhais had been; but Basilides, an officer belonging to the army, and ordered to attend her execution, became her convert.

Basilides being, as an officer, required to take a certain oath, refused, saying, that he could not swear by the Roman idols, as he was a Christian. Struck with surpsie, the people could not, at first, believe what they heard; but he had no sooner confirmed the same, than he was dragged before the judge, committed to prison, and speedily afterward beheaded.”

The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192 – Fox’s Book of Martyrs (biblestudytools.com)

These are just a few of the thousands of examples of courageous conviction throughout this single volume documenting these events. Faced with similar circumstances, would you have responded in like kind with these dedicated men and women?

Returning once again to our story in Daniel, what if God had chosen to abandon those three men in the furnace? Perhaps he could have decided that their perishing in light of their undying trust in him would have better served glorifying his name: three martyrs for Yahweh. It would still be a good story and they would still be honored as heroes of the faith. Yet God chose their miraculous preservation as a way of honoring their faith and converting a pagan king. That served his purpose better. Case in point: we’re still talking about the impact of this incident thousands of years later. It is still serving his purpose to this day.

Do you think those three men had stronger trust in God after that incident? I’m sure they were relieved, but to the point I am attempting to convey here, quite honestly, I believe that if they were asked about it, they would consider that an unnecessary, silly question. I believe they would say the point of their preservation was not to enhance their faith, but to enhance others’ faith by demonstrating God’s glory. As his glory was revealed, others came to know him.

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God? Then you are believing in God for what he can do, not for who he is. As believers, we need to remove ourselves from the center of our own faith universe and make sure that we are recognizing and trusting God simply for who he is: God. We need to let him be God, and to unswervingly place our everything: our well-being, our lifestyle, our security, into his hands and let him accomplish his own purpose in his own way. The end result may not look like we expect it to, but it shouldn’t matter. We can be confident it will always be the outcome that best serves his purpose and provides him the most glory.

For me, I believe it would be a fitting testimony to the honor of God to have said about me what was said about those three brave Hebrew men: “he chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except his own.”

We need to check where our trust is truly placed: in our salvation, or in the God who can provide that salvation. Place your trust in God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Learning from Job’s life of integrity

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

Job 2:3: – “Yahweh said to the Accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.””

Out of all of the people in the Bible who are mentioned as doing what is right, Job is described by his wife, his friends, and even God himself as a man of integrity.

  • Job 2:9: – “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? …”
  • Job 4:1, 6: – “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: … “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”

In Yahweh’s honoring of Job as a man of integrity, we find one of the briefest and most succinct definitions of a life of integrity from Yahweh himself: “a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” At its most basic level, being a person of integrity involves at least two things: fearing God and turning away from evil.

To fear God is to recognize him for who he is as the Creator of all that exists. It is to respect and honor him by choosing to be obedient to what he has conveyed to us as his creatures. It is the fear of God that gives us the ability to gain wisdom so we can make the right choices.

Proverbs 1:7: – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Additionally, a life of integrity involves turning away from evil. This is known as a life of repentance, constantly viewing our choices in the context of the greater purpose of God among humanity. When we see or encounter the things that don’t honor God, it is our obligation to turn away from those things, to take a different path than perhaps the rest of those around us blindly follow.

Proverbs 4:26-27 – “Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.”

A life of integrity it is formed around a pattern of walking in the light, not the darkness. The light that shines is the wisdom that God provides when we choose to recognize him as the Creator of all.

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 – “And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. …”

It is also a recognition that we shall have to answer for the choices we have made during this life, even as Job himself understood.

Job 31:6: “let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!”

Fear God and turn from evil. This is the life that believers are called to exemplify for themselves and for others. This hunger and thirst for doing what is right is what creates the purity of heart that God desires.

Matthew 5:6,8: ““Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. … “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Entering the Kingdom of God

Yeshua taught his disciples: “Do God’s will, don’t just say you believe in me.”

Yeshua taught his disciples: “Do God’s will, don’t just say you believe in me.”

Matthew 7:21: ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

As Yeshua is concluding his sermon on the mount, he provides a clear qualifier for those who would be considered God’s children, those who would be populating the kingdom of God.

Two things can be understood here regarding Yeshua’s teaching on the kingdom. First, this is not just a teaching on who qualifies to enter heaven after this life. God‘s kingdom is something that is present now, a representative body of those who abide by the Torah, or instruction of God.

Secondly, as he is done repeatedly throughout his teaching, Yeshua condemns the hypocrisy of those who only give lip service without actually living by the standards they profess. Even in regard to his own disciples, he explains that many who would claim to be his disciples would be doing so in speech only, not with their actions.

Yeshua says only those who would be doing the will of God would enter the kingdom. What is the will of God so we can know what to do? He makes it abundantly clear in another teaching.

John 6:24,28-29: “So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. … Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.””

To more modern ears, doing the works or will of God sounds as if one simply needs to place their faith in Yeshua and they are automatically granted access to the kingdom.

However, what does it mean to believe in Yeshua? It means that one one must abide by the principles that Yeshua taught, not just have a heart feeling about following him in principle only.

So much of modern Christianity is based on points of belief only that are structured on specific doctrines and principles. If one believes the “right” things about baptism, communion, worship, etc., then one is “saved” and will be guaranteed entrance to heaven upon death.

But true biblical belief, and thereby participation in the kingdom of God here and now, comes from actually acting on the principles and doctrines of Yeshua, not just believing certain things in the heart. Certainly, belief in the heart is where the process begins, but it is only through the actions that the heart believes can be made now on it.

James famously teaches about this as well:

James 2:17-18: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”

True faith, and thereby participation in the kingdom, is evidenced by the works and actions that substantiate Yeshua as Messiah. To have Yeshua as lord and master means that one’s lifestyle is built around the principles that Yeshua taught, not just having certain feelings about what his teachings mean.

When believers actually live out their faith and demonstrate the principles that Yeshua taught: integrity, vigilance. holiness, trust, forgiveness, and compassion, the kingdom shines and others are drawn to its light. This is what entering the kingdom requires. This is our true calling, and that which honors Yahweh, the God of the kingdom.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.