The true blessing of mercy and compassion

There is a reciprocal and regenerative nature to being generous and compassionate.

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

When Yeshua taught that the merciful shall be blessed, the term he used for mercy was exemplified in a parable he was to tell later on in the book of Matthew. It is known variously as the parable of the unforgiving or unmerciful servant. I won’t recount the entire passage here, but it is found in Matthew 18:21-35. In brief, it explains how, after receiving forgiveness of a large debt from his master, a servant then goes out and begins demanding repayment of others who owed him small amounts of money. When his master finds out, he brings him back and scolds him for being unmerciful.

Matthew 18:32-33 – “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. “Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘

This word for mercy is the same word Yeshua used in Matthew 5 regarding those who are blessed. It implies that one who is demonstrating mercy has a right to perform a measure of judgment on someone and yet refrains due to a granting or bestowing of favor.

In context, the whole parable was told in answer to Peter’s question of how many times must he forgive someone who repeatedly comes to him. In fact, Yeshua ends the parable with a lesson in forgiveness:

Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

From this we can see how closely this mercy and forgiveness are. When we forgive, it is because we are exercising mercy, that is, granting or bestowing favor on someone with whom we have a legitimate right to hold to account for something.

The broader lesson in Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5 indicates that mercy begets mercy; there is a reciprocal and regenerative nature to being generous and compassionate. This is why the servant in the parable was ultimately held to account: he was not regenerating mercy after receiving mercy himself.

1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The apostle Peter writes that as God’s people we have received mercy from God. The regenerative nature of mercy then demands that we show mercy to others, and when we do so, we will be blessed in reciprocation. This mercy can be demonstrated not only in forgiveness of others, but in acts of compassion toward those who cannot help themselves.

When we live in this way, we begin to generate ripples of mercy that flow outward from us into the lives of others, and we open ourselves to reciprocal acts of mercy from others and from God. This is the true blessing in being merciful and compassionate.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The ancient practice of non-retaliation

If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility.

Matthew 5:39 – “But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

While many people claim that Yeshua began a revolutionary concept of non-retaliation in his day, it was actually a godly principle from ancient times, evidenced by the narrative of Scripture.

1 Samuel 24:12-13 – “May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. “As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you.

As David was confronted with the continuing persecution of Saul, he makes the commitment that he would never do Saul harm as Saul was attempting to do to him, since Saul is God’s anointed ruler. David fulfilled that commitment.

What I find fascinating from an historical perspective is that David quoted “an old proverb” regarding how wickedness in action stems from those who are wicked. As far as we know, this is not a quote from Moses or any biblical writer prior to David, but it was a quote that had become common enough to be routinely mentioned as proverbial within that culture. This idea of non-retaliation appears to be very ancient, indeed.

Ironically, or perhaps because of David’s parenting influence, his son Solomon would become associated with thousands of proverbs. Likely influenced by that same godly motivation of his father, Solomon would ultimately pen the following proverb:

Proverbs 24:29 – Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.”

This is a line of thinking carried all the way down to New Testament writers. Even beyond the life and teaching of Yeshua, the apostle Paul expands on this perspective that was modeled by his Lord and Master and the ancient forefathers.

Romans 12:17-19 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh.

That vengeance belongs to God is a statement that is an echo of David’s words to Saul. If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility, and allow him to do whatever is appropriate in regard to our situation. This takes a strong measure of faith on our part, as we may have an opportunity to “right” a wrong, or provide a retaliatory measure of what we would consider justice.

By staying our hand and allowing God to work, we may endure injustice for the moment but in the process God can be glorified. When others see that we are willing to suffer an injustice at the hands of others and yet not retaliate, we provide a strong witness to our faith that God is in control and that only he is the true judge.

When we choose to forego those opportunities and instead trust God for ultimate judgment, we also demonstrate our like-minded discipleship and faithfulness to our Lord and Messiah and can rightfully assume our place in a long line of historical and spiritual ancestors before us.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Faith in the greater purpose of God

We must always be faithful in sowing the seeds of truth.

Many times today, I have heard people say that if God would only give them a sign, then they would believe in him. But what kind of sign would be a true indication? They haven’t defined what that sign would be, just that they won’t believe until they see some sort of evidence.

Well, we can tell from the book of Deuteronomy that signs are not the answer to people believing in God or not. Time after time, Moses is upbraiding the people for their lack of faith, regardless of the signs they have personally witnessed.

Deuteronomy 6:22-23 – “Before our eyes Yahweh inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, “but he brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that he swore to our fathers.

Deuteronomy 11:2-3, 7 – “Understand today that it is not your children who experienced or saw the discipline of Yahweh your God: His greatness, strong hand, and outstretched arm; “his signs and the works he did in Egypt to Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land; … “Your own eyes have seen every great work Yahweh has done.

Deuteronomy 1:30-33 – “Yahweh your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as you saw him do for you in Egypt. “And you saw in the wilderness how Yahweh your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. “But in spite of this you did not trust Yahweh your God, who went before you on the journey to seek out a place for you to camp. He went in the fire by night and in the cloud by day to guide you on the road you were to travel.

In spite of the signs they had seen, they refused to believe. Yet even as he is concluding his narrative, Moses provides us a glimpse into why they had rejected the signs:

Deuteronomy 29:2-4 – Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything Yahweh did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to his entire land. “You saw with your own eyes the great trials and those great signs and wonders. “Yet to this day Yahweh has not given you a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.

Now we get to the meat of it; regardless of the amount of signs they experienced, Yahweh had not provided them “a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.” Why would he do that? Doesn’t he want everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)?

We can understand this a little better as we find Yeshua, quoting the prophet Isaiah, saying the same thing to the religious leaders of his day:

Matthew 13:10-17 – Then the disciples came up and asked him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables? ” He answered, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. “For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. “That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. “Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, but never understand; you will look and look, but never perceive. “For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back — and I would heal them. “Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. “For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them, to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.

When he spoke in parables, it was with the idea of sharing the truth of the kingdom with them but also providing them opportunity to reject it. The ones who were sincere in seeking God would understand the parables for what they were, while those who were not sincere in seeking God would reject them.

This was how the apostle Paul also understood the principle of receiving spiritual truths:

1 Corinthians 1:19-23 – For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Messiah crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the nations.

For Moses, Yeshua, and Paul, those who would not understand their message have been kept from understanding something, not necessarily because of some direct intervention of God, but by the condition of their own hearts.

The idolatry of ancient Israel hardened them to the signs they received. The pride of the religious leaders in Yeshua’s day prevented them from hearing the truth of his words. The philosophy of the elite that Paul preached to prevented them from accepting his message. Yet through all of these rebellions, the larger purpose of God was ultimately served.

When we share the clear measure of the word of God with those around us and they don’t receive it, it could be that God has not yet prepared their hearts for understanding at that moment for some other greater purpose he has. This requires a great measure of faith on our part. However, we can be sure that as Paul told Timothy, God desires that we intercede on behalf of others that they would receive the truth:

1 Timothy 2:1,3-4 – … I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, … This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We are not to determine how the seed may grow or what kind of soil it lands on, only that we are faithful in the sowing of it.

Acts 13:46-47 – Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you [Jews] first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the nations. “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light for the nations to bring salvation to the end of the earth.”

We should remember that through the discipline of unbelief in the wilderness, God hardened and prepared a people to have the strength to take the land he had promised them. That was the larger purpose. And through the discipline of unbelief in New Testament Judea, God’s largest purpose was then realized: his word was spread throughout the world, and even down through the millennia, to us.

Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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


The antidote against covetousness

We demonstrate God has our heart when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us.

Core of the Bible podcast #46 – The antidote against covetousness

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance, and how we need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives. In Luke 12, Yeshua cautions his followers to be mindful and vigilant that they are not to allow themselves to be overcome with covetousness. He stated it this way:

Luke 12:15 – He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

There are two main aspects to this verse, and I think there is value if we are to break it down and view these aspects separately.

In the first aspect, Yeshua focuses on the importance of alertness to the subtilty of greed. He says to “Be aware to keep yourselves from every kind of greed.” Let’s look at the meanings of some of the main words in the text to understand it a little more deeply.

What’s translated here as “be aware” conveys the idea of staring at something intently, or to clearly discern something. It is the idea of a guard in a watchtower scanning the horizon for any evidence of invaders. This takes full attention and careful observation. Greed and covetousness are concepts that can quickly overtake us if we are not keeping a watchful eye for their sometimes subtle influence.

To keep oneself from something implies a measure of  isolating oneself. It means being on guard to avoid bad influence, or with the idea of preserving that which is good. This involves intentional effort and in the context of believers, it involves obedience to the things of God.

Yeshua says believers are to exercise this kind of watchfulness and protection to avoid “all covetousness.” The word used for covetousness includes a host of negative characteristics such as greed and aggressive materialism, which we typically associate with covetousness. However, it also includes ideas of fraudulence, extortion, or desire for any kind of advantage. Essentially, this type of person usually will do just about anything to get what they want. All of these things fall into the covetousness category.

The Geneva Bible says: “By covetousness is meant that greedy desire to get, commonly causing hurt to other men.”

John Gill writes: “all sorts of covetousness, and every degree of it, which of all vices is to be avoided and guarded against, being the root of all evil; and as the Persic version renders it, is worse than all evil, and leads into it”

Matthew Poole expands on this idea further when he writes:

“The pleonexia, here translated covetousness or immoderate desire of having of this world’s goods, which discovers itself either by unrighteous acts in procuring, or uncharitable omissions for the keeping, of the things of this life. It is that filarguria, love of money, which the apostle determines to be the root of all evil. It is also discovered by a too much thoughtfulness [of] what we shall eat, drink, or put on, or by the too great meltings of our hearts into our bags of gold or silver. All these come under the notion of that covetousness which is here forbidden. In short, whatsoever it is that hindereth our contentment with the portion God giveth us upon our endeavours, though it amounts to no more than food and raiment, according to the apostle’s precept…”

He then wisely refers us to a familiar passage in Paul’s letter to Timothy, and also the book of Hebrews:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.

Now that we have defined what this covetousness is that we should constantly be on guard against, Yeshua then focuses on why this intense level of scrutiny is necessary. He then says, “Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

According to Yeshua, life is not found in the abundance of ones material things. Having an abundance literally means to “superabound;” that is, to not only have enough to meet ones needs, but well beyond.

In the words of John Gill: “a man’s natural life cannot be prolonged by all the good things of the world he is possessed of; they cannot prevent diseases nor death; nor do the comfort and happiness of life, lie in these things; which are either not enjoyed by them, but kept for the hurt of the owners of them, or are intemperately used, or some way or other imbittered to them, so that they have no peace nor pleasure in them: and a man’s spiritual life is neither had nor advantaged hereby, and much less is eternal life to be acquired by any of these things; which a man may have, and be lost for ever, as the following parable shows.”

As Gill mentions, Yeshua then tells a parable to explain the pointlessness of the common perspective that most people have.

Luke 12:16-21 – Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. “He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? “I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. “Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared ​– ​whose will they be? ‘ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

I think most of us instinctively know this to be true, but it doesn’t always stop us from desiring more, whether it is more things to possess or more power and authority or advantage over others.

Now I believe a significant caution is necessary here in saying that many commentators and preachers will use this parable and teaching to admonish those who are rich, or those who are being prudent in regards to their income and assets, but is that the true meaning of what Yeshua is teaching us here? Is he trying to say it is better to be poor than to be rich?

Here are a few examples of how commentators will typically view the meaning of this parable of Yeshua regarding the man who built bigger barns for himself:

Albert Barnes: “The passage, then, means: Be not anxious about obtaining wealth, for, however much you may obtain, it will not prolong your life. “That” depends on the will of God, and it requires something besides wealth to make us ready to meet him.”

Hermann Olshausen says that there are two propositions blended together: “Life consists not in superfluity” (the true life), and “nothing spiritual can proceed from earthly possessions.”

Heinrich Ewald says: “If man has not from his external wealth in general what can be rightly called his life, he has it not, or rather he has it still less by the fact that this, his external wealth, increases by his appeasing his covetousness.”

Matthew Poole writes: “The poor are as merry, and many times more satisfied, more healthy, and at more ease, than those that have abundance. It is a golden sentence, which deserves to be engraven in every soul.”

These great commentators from the past are drawing out many useful and helpful maxims and ideals that we can truly benefit from. But as Luke is using this parable for a specific purpose, it would serve us well to determine what he is trying to emphasize in Yeshua’s teaching.

On the surface, this parable appears to teach that saving up for an uncertain future is to no avail, as we cannot have any certainty of the length of our lives. While this is certainly true, I believe the real essence of the parable, based on the teaching of Yeshua that it is meant to illustrate (that of the vigilance needed in avoiding greed) is summed up in the last sentence: “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Notice, it is not the storing up of the treasure that is the issue, but storing up treasure for oneself, that is, for one’s own ease and comfort, without being rich toward God.

And herein I believe is the real essence of what Yeshua is teaching us: the antidote for greed and selfish advantage is not necessarily being poor, but it is being rich toward God. This then begs the question, how can one be rich toward God? How are we to abound and exhibit wealth toward God?

In Luke’s telling of the story, here Yeshua goes right into the teaching of seeking first the kingdom and trusting God’s provision and not relying on our own. This is another indication of the intended meaning that I believe Luke is highlighting in this passage, and which he now has Yeshua illustrating from this complementary perspective of the kingdom.

Luke 12:22-34 – “Then he said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. “For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens: They don’t sow or reap; they don’t have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than the birds? “Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? “If then you’re not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest? “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. “If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you ​– ​you of little faith? “Don’t strive for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. “For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If one simply stores up treasure for oneself, the result can be as uncertain as the man in the parable experienced. He spent time, effort, and money to build bigger barns to hold all of the stuff he simply wanted to use for his own purposes. However, if one seeks first the kingdom, God’s provision will be sufficient, and those things that a person might have been storing up for themself can then be used to also help those who are in need. In this way, by being generous with those who are in need, according to Yeshua, people can store up true treasure, real treasure in heaven.

Luke 12:31, 33-34 – “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. … Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A desire to have an abundance of wealth or material possessions is, for most people, a desire for security in life. Whether it’s financial savings plans, 401K retirement plans, or winning the lottery, we desire to have an assured future. If we know we have more than enough for the moment, then our ongoing provision is accounted for. Yeshua provides the reasoning behind why this should not be our primary focus in life.

First of all, we may work hard to save for our future, only to have our life end prematurely (from our perspective), and who would then be the recipient of everything we had worked so hard to attain? Was all that work and time spent collecting all of that wealth really the best use of our resources while we lived?

Additionally, it does not allow us to be rich towards God. If God blesses us, we should be faithful in using those material blessings to bless others, as he has done with us. This is how the child honors the Father and demonstrates their true spiritual lineage; by becoming like him.

Further, one more final and important point regarding our vigilance against covetousness in our lives, the apostle Paul provides a stern warning regarding covetousness to the believers in Colosse:

Colossians 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Greed, the desire for more and more material things for personal security and satisfaction, is idolatry. This must be put to death, a term of finality; there is no middle ground. We need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives, and idolatry is the primary indicator of rebellion against God. When we seek to trust our provision (which we can see) more than our Provider (whom we cannot see), then we have fallen prey to idolatry.

God promises to meet our needs, not our wants, but in so doing, he instructs us that we should demonstrate generosity with others out of respect for his care for us. If you really desire to have a godly abundance, then rather than being an idolater, be an abundant giver.

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket.”

This is not meant to teach us that we can get more earthly possessions for ourselves by giving to others, which is the basis of the prosperity gospel. But it is the representation that the large quantity that is placed in our account will be the heavenly treasure, the true wealth that only God can give. That is the wealth that will not ever be lost, as Yeshua taught: “an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

God wants our hearts, and when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us, rather than storing up everything for our own purposes, we will gain true wealth within his purpose for all eternity.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Set apart through unity of the truth

Understanding the power of Yeshua’s prayer, the Spirit, and the word of God.

John 17:17 – Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.
1 John 5:6 – …and it is the Spirit that is testifying, because the Spirit is the truth…

Truth is a rare commodity these days. Objective reality is giving way to personal perception. What is true for one individual is no longer necessarily considered true for another; rather, situational circumstance and opinion are considered as being the guiding standards. The truth has become fluid and fills the shape of whatever container it is represented in.

This should be concerning for believers, but not unexpected. What is happening in the world around us has been happening among the congregations of Messiah for millennia. There is so much factionism and disunity evidenced by the multiplicity of denominations that it is small wonder the world is being influenced in this direction. The inward segregations of Messiah’s believing community are being evidenced by the outworking of societal divisiveness.

Counter to this chaos runs the stability of God’s word and his Spirit, at least according to Yeshua. “Your word is truth…your Spirit is the truth.” Yeshua believed in bedrock, foundational and objective truth; so should we.

The Greek word for truth is used in the following ways throughout the New Testament:

  • universally, what is true in any matter under consideration (opposed to what is feigned, fictitious, false)
  • of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly
  • what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man
  • the truth, as … opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians

According to Yeshua, the truth is what sanctifies and sets apart believers from all other humans on this planet and distinguishes false groups from true. Through this sanctification by truth, we are subject to his rule and guidance.

Yeshua prayed for our unity in the truth, so that others would know that God truly sent him. If we are frustrated that the world does not recognize him, then we must realize it is because we are not fulfilling his prayer for us of unity and oneness. James says that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” (James 5:16); how much more so the prayer of the Son of God? I cannot envision a world in which a prayer of the Messiah would not be fulfilled.

John 17:20-22 – “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.

The apostle Paul likewise encouraged and sought for the unity of believers:

Ephesians 4:11-15 – And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Messiah, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Messiah’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head ​– ​Messiah.

There it is again: the truth, spoken in love. This is what causes us to grow together toward maturity in Messiah. When we speak the truth, the word of God, in love, we open up opportunities to build bridges and strengthen internal ties. The truth, guided by the Spirit of God, draws us together in the Messiah and provides the goal of increased unity in our community. As we unify internally, there becomes less disunity in the outworking of our social lives and culture. This striving together in the truth of God’s word, guided by his Spirit, creates unity. This unity then reestablishes a basis for all truth, and subjective opinions once again become subject to the objective reality of God.

This is how we can become set apart for God’s purpose and bear his image and his truth to the world, fulfilling the prayer of that most righteous man, Messiah Yeshua.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Guarding against moral degradation

We must protect ourselves against falling into old, destructive patterns.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 – Do not be deceived: “Bad associations corrupt good moral habits.” Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.

The text here speaks of bad associations; those companionships and conversations that have little to no redeeming value. In our association with these types of relationships and interactions, the apostle Paul warns that we are in danger of becoming deceived. We need to demonstrate vigilance in our activities among those who are ignorant about God as we can be led into sinful areas.

While we certainly need to interact with those around us who may not presently know God, we may sometimes feel that our remaining involvement with them, especially those closer acquaintances and relationships, can help to pull them toward God. However, I once received some sage advice from a former pastor. He mentioned how if someone is standing on a chair, it is much easier for a group of people to pull them off of the chair than for the person on the chair to pull others up.

Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with the wise will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

While these cautionary admonitions apply to those around us, the same logic holds true for those who may be within our congregations. We may feel more confidence that those inside our local groups can be reliable companions. However, earlier in the same epistle to the Corinthians, Paul has some similar advice.

1 Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?

Paul here uses the analogy of how yeast can overtake an entire batch of dough with just a little bit of time. In Hebraic thinking, an unleavened batch of dough that is left to itself can absorb yeast particles from ambient conditions and become leavened in as little as a day or two, sometimes only a matter of hours. In this sense, we need to guard ourselves and our local believing communities from those who could potentially bring in harmful ways.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 – I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

While we can’t escape all worldly influence in our daily lives, we can certainly be vigilant with those who claim to be believers and yet persist in ways that are ungodly. Our role then switches from one of shared companionship to one of accountability.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you.

While we are not in a position to be judgmental of how those in the world conduct themselves, Paul says ultimately God judges them. In closer relationships with non-believers, we can distance ourselves when we see that our familiarity with them is not bearing fruit, and we ourselves may be in danger of falling into old, destructive patterns.

Within our congregations, however, our responsibility is to ensure that we are not associating with those who claim to be believers but are unrepentant. Then we do have the right, and the responsibility, to confront their sinfulness.

Ultimately, with all of our interactions in life, we need to be vigilant about maintaining truth and following Yeshua in sincerity and obedience. When we do so, we can be led to further areas of wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 9:6 – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The necessity of faith in having a good conscience

Sincerity before God provides confidence in actions.

1 Timothy 1:5 – Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

The idea of conscience is an interesting concept that can become a safeguard in our own journey of faith. The Greek underlying term can be translated literally as “co-perception,” this idea of some sort of conscious agreement within oneself to certain standards. It is this internal agreement which provides confidence of correctness in spiritual understanding.

2 Corinthians 1:12 – Indeed, this is our boast: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.

According to Scripture, the conscience is not something completely constrained to human wisdom, but somehow sits as an arbiter of acceptability when it comes to matters of right action. It is appealed to as a standard, yet it is a standard that can be damaged or disregarded when not combined with faith in God.

Titus 1:15 – …to those who are defiled and nonbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled.
1 Timothy 1:19 – …[have] faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have shipwrecked their faith.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 – …some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of other gods; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

However, when nourished on biblical principles and combined with faith in God, the conscience can serve as a helper along the path of navigating right and wrong actions. Our goal should be to encourage righteous actions by maintaining clear, faith-filled consciences in the sight of God and men.

Hebrews 13:18 – Pray for us, for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.
Matthew 5:8 – “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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Are we only sharing half of the gospel?

God established his eternal kingdom, and the resurrected Yeshua as the Lord of that kingdom.

If you were to ask almost any preacher or believer in any congregation today what the gospel is, you will most likely receive the answer: “the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua.” Where does this basic understanding come from?

As the apostle Paul is wrapping up his first epistle to the Corinthians, he includes this passage.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you ​– ​unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.

So this isolated passage is the source of the death, burial and resurrection gospel of the Messiah. It’s not completely without reason, because Paul is obviously trying to “make clear” the gospel that was saving them and on which they have “taken their stand.” Messiah died for their sins, was buried, and raised, all in fulfillment of Scripture. What could be clearer than that?

Well, when we look at an isolated passage, even if it is in the context of the book it is in, we can sometimes draw incomplete conclusions. So if we want to really know what the gospel is, the simplest way is to see what Yeshua taught on the subject, since Paul’s teaching would obviously have to line up with Messiah’s. Did Yeshua go around preaching about his own death, burial, and resurrection?

In fact, he did prophetically reveal to his disciples what would happen to him, even if they didn’t fully understand.

Matthew 17:22-23 – And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Yeshua said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.
Mark 9:9-10 – As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.

He also did declare that his death, burial, and resurrection would be the “sign” to the non-believing Jews that he was indeed the Messiah:

Matthew 12:39-40 – But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Luke 11:29 – As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.

But this was all very cryptic to both his disciples and his detractors, especially since he had not yet died and been risen. However, we do find a gospel, or good news message, that Yeshua clearly preached throughout his public ministry.

Matthew 4:23 – Yeshua was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
Matthew 9:35 – Yeshua was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 24:14 – “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Luke 4:43 – But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”
Luke 8:1 – Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
Luke 16:16- “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it.

The good news or gospel message that Yeshua taught was the message of the kingdom, the kingdom of God that would establish the Messiah upon the throne of his ancestor David. This good news of the kingdom arriving was the message of Yeshua’s gospel.

So was Paul’s gospel about Yeshua’s death and resurrection different than Yeshua’s gospel about the kingdom? Only if we think that the message of Yeshua’s death and resurrection is the WHOLE gospel. In reality, we find that this is only HALF of the gospel. Yeshua dying for sin and being resurrected only makes sense in the overall context of the good news about the kingdom of God. Messiah’s resurrection allowed him to assume the throne of his ancestor David in an eternal kingdom, just as had been covenanted with David and was prophesied in Scripture.

Psalm 132:11 – Yahweh swore an oath to David, a promise he will not abandon: “I will set one of your offspring on your throne.”

When we look at the larger perspective of what the apostles were actually preaching throughout the world as the gospel, it contained both the death and resurrection of Messiah AND the kingdom of God.

Acts 2:29-32 – “Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay. God has raised this Yeshua; we are all witnesses of this.

Peter here in his famous sermon spoke both about the throne of David and the resurrection of Messiah, which made attainment of that throne possible.

Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua Messiah, both men and women were baptized.
Acts 28:23 – After arranging a day with him, many came to him at his lodging. From dawn to dusk he expounded and testified about the kingdom of God. He tried to persuade them about Yeshua from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
Acts 28:30-31 – Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua Messiah with all boldness and without hindrance.

Notice Philip and Paul were both teaching about the kingdom of God AND about Yeshua as the Messiah, the Lord of that kingdom. The two narratives tie together in perfect harmony: God establishing his eternal kingdom, and the resurrected Yeshua as the Lord of that kingdom.

Even in the epistle to the Corinthians where the death/burial/resurrection gospel idea comes from, time after time Paul speaks about the kingdom:

1 Corinthians 4:20 – For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:24, 50 – then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. … Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

While Paul clarifies good news in the gospel passage of 1 Corinthians 15, he says, “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received…” The most significant aspect of the good news, or that which is of primary importance, is the death of Messiah for sin and his resurrection to eternal life, witnessed by hundreds of people. If this is not true, then the kingdom of God cannot be established, since the covenant with David requires an immortal descendant of his to sit on that eternal throne.

However, if we look only at the death/burial/resurrection as the totality of the gospel message, we are missing half of the story. The real reason that his death and resurrection is important is because now the kingdom of God is established with its rightful Lord, the immortal Messiah Yeshua. He rules until all of his enemies are made his footstool; i.e., until all come to recognize his lordship.

Psalm 110:1-2: “Yahweh said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. Yahweh shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: rule in the midst of your enemies.”

Messiah has been firmly established upon the throne of his ancestor David and is ruling from Zion, the New Jerusalem, until his enemies are no more. This is the motivation we have to continue to spread this good news, the gospel of the kingdom AND its Lord, the Messiah Yeshua, who died for sin and rose to live as the Lord of the eternal kingdom of God.

Let’s be sure that when we are sharing the gospel or good news, that it is the WHOLE gospel of the kingdom of God and its Lord, Yeshua the eternal Messiah.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

True compassion is not hypocritical

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs.

Matthew 6:2 – When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

We live in an age where everything we do gets posted online, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, our family moments, and where we spend our vacations. We have become so accustomed to “sharing” everything we do, that sometimes even our good acts of helping others get brought into the limelight of social media, as well.

Yeshua is very particular about ensuring that if we are helping others, we are doing so from a genuine concern for their welfare, not for the opportunity to appear to others as being generous. He states this privacy in an unusual way, saying that the left hand shouldn’t even know what the right hand is doing. This is a hyperbolic way of stating how the privacy of our acts of charity to others should be viewed.

When we do things for others expecting to get rewarded for it in some way, whether from our social group or from God, then the act loses its honest intent. Suddenly we are simply doing things for our own benefit, and not truly for the benefit of others. At its root, this is hypocrisy.

Yeshua had no kind words to say about hypocrisy:

Matthew 6:5 – “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
Matthew 6:16 – “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
Matthew 23:23 – “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

The apostle Peter, following his Messiah’s lead, includes hypocrisy in a list of evil behaviors that believers should be done with.

1 Peter 2:1 – So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.

Our lives of faith should be based on genuine care and concern for others to meet their needs, not out of a selfish desire to appear righteous to others. Be sure to always check motives when you are in a position to help someone else, and that you are doing so out of a sincere desire to love and help them in their distress, not to benefit yourself.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Understanding God’s purpose can empower forgiveness

God is always working out larger purposes than we may be able to see.

Genesis 45:4-5, 7-8 – Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. “And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. … “God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. “Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

If anyone in the Bible had a good reason to hold a grudge, it was Joseph. Hated by his brothers, left in an underground cavern in the wilderness, consciously sold by them into slavery, he would have every right to not want to see them ever again, or to punish them if he ever got the opportunity.

Yet, as time would prove, all of this occurred for a much larger reason, a purpose beyond what any of them could see. What had started as a severe case of sibling rivalry ended up as one of the most momentous humanitarian events in the ancient nation of Egypt and the middle East.

Because of their hate for him, through a series of events Joseph ended up in the presence of Pharaoh and was used of God to interpret dreams that were given to him. God was warning Pharaoh that a long famine was coming, and by being prepared for it, Egypt would become an even stronger power in the known world. In saving Egypt, God was saving his own people, the family of Jacob, and providing the catalyst for a series of events that would ultimately create the nation of Israel.

When the brothers realized that the second in command in Egypt was their brother Joseph, they thought all of their rough treatment of him would now be countered with Joseph’s new position of authority over them. Due to the fact that their father Jacob, the authority of the family, had died, they schemed to prevent Joseph from treating them harshly.

Genesis 50:15-21 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: “‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin ​– ​the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves! ” But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result ​– ​the survival of many people. “Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

However, we can see that Joseph had forgiven them when he told them not to be afraid, and that he would take care of them and their families. Joseph’s forgiveness was based on the fact that he related all of the events to the planning of God who was ultimately working out a larger purpose than their family dysfunctions.

Joseph replies with a question that applies to all of us who are unforgiving of others: “Am I in the place of God?” By asking this question, Joseph conveys his humility and deference to the justice of God. Joseph realized he was not put into a position of authority to selfishly punish his brothers, but to save many people. This type of humility in forgiveness allows God to be God and for us to move past the harms of the past.

When we don’t forgive others, we think we know better than God how somebody should be treated. This is what Joseph’s brothers were guilty of. However, when we forgive others, we allow God to be God. We can usually find strength to forgive when we can see that God always has a larger purpose in mind than any personal injustice we may have experienced. Keeping our focus on the purpose of God allows us the ability to forgive, and when forgiveness occurs, relationships can be restored and larger good things can happen.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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