Taking correction to heart

We must overcome a casual approach to godly living.

In the text of the New Testament, we find the apostle Paul had written to many different congregations of the early believers. In his writings to the congregation at Corinth, we have an example of a preliminary communication and a secondary, follow up letter, as well.

One of the things that becomes obvious is that the tone of the first letter expresses frustration over their apparent careless attitude and shallow understanding of message of the gospel of Messiah. Yet, the second letter delves into matters with more depth and a demonstration of their overall growth in their spiritual development.

This can be shown by how they were dealing with those who were conducting flagrant sin within the congregation. In his first letter, Paul had learned that one of their members was a man who was having a relationship with his step-mother.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 – It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is intolerable even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been stricken with grief and have removed from your fellowship the man who did this?

This type of relationship was forbidden by Torah, and yet the congregation was not taking it seriously.

Leviticus 18:8 – ” ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

This was just one specific instance of their casual approach to maintaining their purity and abiding by the Torah, or instruction, of God. Yet, in the second letter, we find that the upbraiding they had received from Paul had actually caused them to regather their spiritual senses and become vigilant in their earnestness to be obedient and holy.

Proverbs 15:5 – Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; but whoever learns from correction is wise.

Paul, acting as their parent, had the difficult task of outlining correction for them. And yet this upbraiding had its desired effect; so much so, in fact, that he praises them for their taking his instruction to heart and following through in taking their faith more seriously. The Amplified Bible captures the sense of his parental pride:

2 Corinthians 7:11 – For [you can look back and] see what an earnestness and authentic concern this godly sorrow has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves [against charges that you tolerate sin], what indignation [at sin], what fear [of offending God], what longing [for righteousness and justice], what passion [to do what is right], what readiness to punish [those who sin and those who tolerate sin]! At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

From these insights, we can learn that sometimes we need to be confronted with our shortcomings so that we may understand what course corrections we may need to take. When we begin to take our favored status as believers in the one true God for granted, we can become lax in our conduct and our interactions with one another. We can become dismissive of the instruction of God and the high standards God has for his people. However, for those who are truly seeking God, being made aware of inadequacy will typically fuel a driving desire to become more diligent in our walk.

While the Bible teaches we are accountable to one another, the primary way that God reminds us of our present state is through his Spirit and his Word. By faithfully and prayerfully seeking to understand him more, he can provide the deepest level of guidance and correction through his Word. If we are wise, as the proverb says, it is up to us to demonstrate with all that we are and all that we do that we are learning from his correction. Our goal is to become more like him and to become earnestly vigilant in whatever he requires of us to become his representative people.


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.

Bringing faith to completion through perseverance

The trial and proof of your faith are one and the same.

James 1:2-4, 12 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

According to the first verse in this epistle, James is writing to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. These are the scattered Israelites who were the descendants of those who had been taken captive during the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns to overthrow Israel roughly six hundred years previous. Some of them had attempted to maintain their Hebraic identity, but most had been assimilated into the cultures of the nations to which they were taken. James is writing to them as a believer in the Messiah; this is a call to return to the faith of their fathers with the fulfillment of the restoration of Israel through faith in Messiah.

In living among the pagan nations, they experienced many trials in attempting to live as Hebrew believers in the one true God. James addresses this as the primary issue they faced, but he does so in a way to encourage them that these trials actually demonstrate the truth of their faith. Though their faith was being tested, it was also being proven. The word for testing also serves to illustrate the proof of that faith. As they remained vigilant and steadfast in their faith, the quality of their faith was being proven to those around them.

This steadfastness of faith is a term derived from the original Greek which means “to remain under.” It is sometimes translated as endurance or perseverance. It illustrates that their faith was being proven as they remained under the pressure of the trial.

This is a similar characteristic that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

James takes this endurance a step further by saying that the endurance or perseverance during trials provides a completeness to one’s faith; it’s as if the faith is lacking something until it actually undergoes a trial to see if it is genuine. In doing so, one receives the crown of life, the reward of the victor through conquest. In the culture of the day, the wreath or crown was only awarded to the athlete who endured through the contest of strength and overcame the adversity by persevering above all others. However, in the spiritual contest of the new believers in Messiah, their reward was life itself, not just a wreath to adorn their heads.

We today are in a similar situation as those scattered Israelite descendants of long ago. We have echoes of a spiritual heritage that has become enmeshed with the culture around us. Yet, through the same faith in Messiah, we are tasked with demonstrating a perseverance in that faith which results in a continuation of that same life that has been provided throughout the intervening millennia, “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”


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.

Where the authority of the throne resides

Overcoming sin requires sacrifice.

Revelation 3:21 – “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

The Kingdom of God is all about authority, and this authority is captured in the imagery of a throne. A throne is the source of power and the residing place of one who wields that power.

When we read of kingdoms and thrones in the Bible, we tend to immediately think of them as literal thrones and literal, physical kingdoms that exist someplace and sometime. From a historical, earthly perspective, there are many kingdoms and thrones listed in the Bible that have to do with the physical nation of Israel and those surrounding nations and empires within which the Bible story is told. However, when it comes to the Kingdom of God, we move away from physical locations and enter in to a representation of authority; specifically, the authority of God within his Creation.

Since the beginning of the physical Creation, God has desired that mankind “rule” over his Creation.

Genesis 1:27-28 – “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Being created in the image of God, it is man’s role to represent Him in all things in this world, and to overcome and conquer all rebellious activity known as sin.

Genesis 4:6-7 – Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This idea of ruling over sin only comes from having a sense of authority over it. The Bible makes it clear that no matter how much we understand “about” sin and doing what’s right (illustrated by the law provided through Moses) unless we demonstrate authority over it, we cannot conquer it; instead, it tends to conquer us. That is a picture of the human condition outside of the spiritual Kingdom of God.

However, when Yeshua arrived at the culmination of Israel’s history, he taught that the Kingdom of God was the very thing that believers should pursue at all costs, and in doing so, they would be fulfilling the very will of God.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
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.”

Since the time of Yeshua, those who are believers in Messiah (as the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel) have been tasked with carrying the light of God’s word and authority to the world. We are not born into a physical kingdom, but must be born again or born from above to recognize and experience the authority of this Kingdom. Yeshua taught that the key to overcoming this tendency to sin is to die to oneself and one’s own selfish desires and live instead for God, serving others in his authority, not in our own.

Those who conquer sin can only do so through the authority, the throne, of the Kingdom. The caveat is that the throne of that Kingdom is not in a stately palace with precious metals and gems, it is instead an altar of sacrifice, where we lay down our lives for the will of God.

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

Yeshua set the example for us and will be recognized for all eternity for this demonstration of abiding within the will of God through sacrifice.

Revelation 5:5-6 – Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders….”

This is why he has the authority of the throne and the ability to overcome; and he urges believers to do the same, to rule and reign with him through sacrificially living for the will of God for all time.


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.

Acceptance by God has always been by faith

The principles of Torah are eternal.

Leviticus 4:27, 29-31 – “Now if any of the common people sins unintentionally by violating one of Yahweh’s commands, does what is prohibited, and incurs guilt, … “He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering. “Then the priest is to take some of its blood with his finger and apply it to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He is to pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. … The priest is to burn it on the altar as a pleasing aroma to Yahweh. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf, and he will be forgiven.”

In our modern view of the Torah, we typically are taught to look at the sacrifices offered according to the methods that God instructed as being works designed to bring forgiveness; as if the offerer is doing some kind of work to gain their “salvation,” or their right-standing with God. We then paint with a broad brush the entire Torah and say, “See, the whole system was a system of works that God abhors, since there is nothing we can do to become righteous with God on our own.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, why would God abhor the very system he himself put in place for the Israelites to follow? The reason the system had validity was because God designed and commanded it.

The whole system was not a system of works for personal righteousness (even though that is what it had become over time). It was a system designed to bring the offerer before God in faith that the sacrifice they were bringing would be accepted by him. To bring a sacrifice according to Torah was to approach God in faith of being forgiven.

Through all of the sacrifices and offerings prescribed by Torah, there had to be an element of faith that the offerer brought with their sacrifice, otherwise, there would be no point to the sacrifice. If the offerer did not believe that they would be forgiven of their offense against God after following the prescribed method, then there would be no need to do so at all. The sacrifice or offering meant nothing without faith.

Through this process, God was attempting to teach the Israelites (and now, the rest of the world) that every action according to Torah is an act of faith, and it is only on the basis of faith that God would accept anyone.

Paul even taught that faith was the very basis of what maintained the structure of the Torah.

Romans 3:31 – Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

If the ancient Israelites were to bring a sacrifice without faith, God would not accept it. If they performed the rituals of the annual festivals without faith, God would not be pleased. Inspired by the Spirit of God, the prophet Amos condemned the nation for these very things.

Amos 5:12, 21-22 – For I know your crimes are many and your sins innumerable. [You] oppress the righteous, take a bribe, and deprive the poor of justice at the city gates. … I hate, I despise, your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.

The reason God would not accept them was not because they were following Torah commandments, but because the people were only doing them for “religious” reasons, not because they actually had faith in Yahweh. They would offer these sacrifices and celebrate the feasts and then turn right around and worship the idols of Molech and Remphan and take advantage of their countrymen, denying them the justice due them. This demonstrated that their hearts were far from God, and they were not operating within the parameter of Torah in faith. The actual practices of Torah themselves, the sacrifices and offerings, did not have magical abilities to wipe away sinfulness of those who were not interested in bringing them in the first place; their hearts had to be right in order for the sacrifices to become effective.

The writer of Hebrews alludes to this same principle at the height of his epistle to the early believers in Messiah:

Hebrews 10:4, 26-27 – For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. … For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.

Whether the sacrifice was an animal or a grain offering or the symbolic sacrifice of the Messiah himself, they would only become effective when offered or accepted in faith with hearts that were sincere before God. Someone today who claims to believe in Yeshua within the congregation of believers and yet lives like every other non-believer the rest of the week is not a person of faith and does not stand forgiven of their sins. This is the same eternal principle of Torah for all time, and will never change.

We must always approach God in faith, with hearts that are truly repentant and sincere for God to restore us. Thankfully for believers today, the animal sacrifices of Torah are no longer necessary since all of the priestly rites and temple rituals have been fulfilled once for all in the symbolic offering of Messiah.

Hebrews 10:10 – By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua Messiah once for all time.

We can now boldly approach God according to Torah, now through Messiah, but only with humility and true faith.

Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.


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 holiness of God’s people, then and now

God’s standards of holiness don’t change.

Leviticus 20:26 – You must be holy because I, Yahweh, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.

This admonition to holiness is set amidst the context of the practices of the nations of Canaan that Israel was displacing.

Leviticus 20:23 – “You must not follow the statutes of the nations I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and I abhorred them.

In the context of Leviticus 20, the “things” the nations were guilty of were the contaminations of idolatry (which included spiritism and child sacrifice), sexual immorality, and eating of unclean foods. Avoiding all of “these things” is what would set ancient Israel apart from the other nations; this is what would make them “holy.” This setting apart is the holiness that distinguished Israel as God’s people.

In consistent fashion, the holy Spirit of God led the first recorded council in Jerusalem to similar conclusions. As those among the nations were coming to faith in Messiah along with the scattered Jews and God-fearers in the synagogues, there were idolatrous practices being introduced into the community of believers, such as food offered to idols and cultural promiscuity. Paul and the other apostles deal with some of these issues in their epistles to various groups of believers. But the council, through the guidance of the holy Spirit, had issued a decisive template for the believing congregations to follow that was worded very similarly to the injunction of Moses to the ancient Israelites in remaining holy.

Acts 15:28-29 – “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision ​– ​and ours ​– ​not to place further burdens on you beyond these requirements: “that you abstain from idolatrous offerings, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things. Farewell.”

As can be seen by these comparative texts, avoidance of practices associated with idolatry, sexual immorality and unclean foods have always been the earmarks of God’s people that set them apart from the other nations. Therefore, I believe these distinctions should in like fashion remain as the defining characteristics that demonstrate the holiness or set-apartness of God’s people even today.


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 Anointed One is the exclusive Lord of the Kingdom

Yeshua has a radical message in light of a culture of inclusion.

1 John 2:21-23 – I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah? This one is the anti-messiah: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

The apostle John lays out some ground rules for spiritual truth and error. He begins with “no lie comes from the truth.” This statement on its own would do much to identify false teaching we see in the world today if we would simply take it at face value. Anything that is not true cannot be from the truth; simple in its profundity.

But then John takes it a step further by claiming that anyone who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah is a liar. This is strong language in today’s culture of inclusion. But the Bible is not limited by any cultural definitions. It can’t be, or it could not have survived for the millennia of its existence. The Bible rises above all culture because it is eternal.

John then ties faith in Messiah to belief in God as the Father. To deny one is to deny the other. This is how closely Yeshua is identified with the teaching and character of the Father. Yeshua clarified this for us prior to his crucifixion in his conversation with Philip.

John 14:8-11 – “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Yeshua said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.”

John goes so far as to say that those who deny Messiah are antichrists, or anti-messiah. This also substantiates another teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 12:30 – “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.”

Not recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah results in opposition to the purpose and plan of God for all time. John equates not believing that Yeshua is the Messiah means one does not have God, either.

To believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, or the “Christ,” is to acknowledge that he was anointed by God, for this is what the term itself means. If he was anointed by God to do and to teach the things he did, as he explained to Philip, then he maintained the exclusivity of his relationship with the Father as God. This is why to have one is to have the other, and to deny one is to deny both. This is also validates the Bible, because he only taught what was prophesied in the prophets and Writings (i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanakh).

Luke 18:31- Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.
Luke 24:25, 27 – He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! … Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

The Messiah is the Lord of God’s Kingdom. Trust in Yeshua as the Messiah provides stability beyond any cultural variability. This stability carries over into one’s personal life and provides the believer with a solid basis for consistent practice in harmony with God’s will.

And accomplishing God’s will on the earth is what the Kingdom of God is all about.


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.

How Yeshua describes his followers

There is no room for partial commitment.

John 8:30-32 – “As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”

Yeshua says that in order to be his followers or disciples, one must abide in his word. What does this mean and how is it done?

Yeshua’s word is his teaching, the principles he sought to bring to the people of Israel from God. It is my belief that the bulk of Yeshua’s teaching is summarized in the Sermon on the Mount, but it includes all of his doctrinal statements throughout his public ministry among the Israelites.

John 8:40, 47 – “but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. … Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Yeshua reiterated time and time again that the message he brought was from God, the Father. To abide in his word is to abide in the very teaching of God. When we are faithfully in the word, we can see how Yeshua’s teaching lines up in fulfillment with everything that God intended for his people.

The word abide is also a demonstration of the vigilance needed to be faithful in the word. It means to remain, to stay, or wait. Remaining in the word of Yeshua requires a great amount of fortitude and intention. Every day, we encounter challenges that can test our commitment to the word of God. Yeshua says that his disciples are the ones who stick it out and remain faithful regardless of what else may be going on in their lives.

Yeshua mentions two other benefits from remaining in his word: knowing the truth and being set free. The truth is a rare commodity these days, and having the confidence to assert and rely on the truthfulness of the word of God can be a welcome stabilizer in a sea of constantly shifting opinions.

There is also a freedom, not to do whatever we want, but a freedom from sin that allows us to obediently serve God. We have been set free to serve, and are now enabled to do so when we are disciples of Yeshua.

Are you a disciple of Yeshua, or are you instead a disciple of your pastor or church or denomination? Remaining vigilantly alert and aware in the word of God will free you from the hollow traditions and opinions of men and allow you to be empowered by the Spirit of God, bringing to life his very words in the presence of those who need to hear them most.


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.

To forgive is to leave it behind

Separating oneself from offense can lead to reconciliation.

1 Corinthians 7:12-13 – But to others I am saying, not my Lord, if there is a brother who has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to stay with him, let him not leave her. And whichever wife has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to stay with her, let her not leave her husband.

This text explains the situation Paul addresses between spouses of differing levels of faith. While typically evaluated in light of divorce, this passage actually has more to do with forgiveness than divorce. How can this be?

As usual, the issue goes back to the original language. In the Greek, the word used here for leaving or not leaving a spouse is the same root word used for forgiveness. Here are some other examples of how this word is used to demonstrate leaving something or someone.

Matthew 4:20 – Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 13:36 – Then he left the crowds and went into the house.
Matthew 22:22 – When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Mark 1:31 – And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

All of these instances of leaving something or someone are using the same root word for forgiveness. This helps understand how the concept of forgiveness was understood by the culture. To forgive means to leave or turn away from an offense. In one sense, it could be said that to forgive someone is to divorce yourself from the offense.

What offense do you need to be divorced from in order to demonstrate forgiveness to that individual? When looked at from this perspective, forgiveness can become more clearly understood and readily applied.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


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 flexible life of faith

Living here but energized from above.

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Those individuals listed out in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews are all said to have had great faith, and that by their faith they accomplished great things. But one thing their faith did not provide was a receiving of the promises of rest in the land that were made to them and their forefathers. However, the text says they discerned them through the eyes of faith and welcomed them, as it were, from a distance, since they did not receive them themselves.

They confessed to being foreigners and “temporary countrymen” alongside the actual residents on the earth. The passage says because of this faith and declaration of not being permanent residents, it was apparent that they were seeking their own country or residence, a heavenly one.

Most commentators conclude that this passage speaks of an eternal residence “in heaven” taking place after this earthly life, and that is not an incorrect assessment. However, this phrasing does not solely necessitate that the residence actually be in the heavens, just that its source is from there. This is similar to the statement of Yeshua when he was being questioned before Pilate.

John 18:36 Yeshua answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

When Yeshua says his Kingdom is not OF this world, he doesn’t just mean to say that it is ethereal and heavenly and can only be experienced after this physical life. But his phrasing means it does not emanate FROM or OUT OF this world; its source of authority and reign is FROM the heavens, hence it is the kingdom of God or of heaven.

What that implies is that this heavenly country or place could also be experienced here while they lived here temporarily. It’s similar to earthly foreigners living in a country different from their own, yet abiding by the cultural practices of their home country in the foreign land.

A life of faith, then, based on the lifestyle of the patriarchs, is one that is lived here but energized from above. It is a life of interacting with this world but understanding it is only on a temporary basis. It is similar to how a temporary worker or substitute teacher might perform necessary tasks in their respective roles, yet they should just not expect to always be doing those things in the same way with the same group of co-workers or working with the same students every day.

This way of living comes with its own challenges, but also with its own freedoms: the ability to have a fresh start on a regular basis; to experience a variety of locations or establishments to work in, along with a variety of co-workers to interact with on a regular basis. While there may not be the permanency of one’s own workspace or classroom, there also is no ongoing maintenance of that space or facility.

Similar to renting an apartment is contrasted with owning a home, a renter has more ability to move on into new ventures or locations, while the homeowner must take the time to sell the home and possessions and is less likely to move around as much.

Regardless of one’s choice of work or residence, the life of faith is one of non-attachment to things. If one has a permanent job and home, they should not become so attached as to think it could never be affected by change. Likewise, if one has more temporary workstyle and living conditions, one should not always expect to simply move on if more permanent opportunities or needs arise. In all situations, believers should maintain a sense of transiency and flexibility in all things.

The key is to live for the King and his Kingdom in this place, and to be prepared to be available for whatever may be needed within that reality while we are living in this one. This is the life of faith.

Matthew 6:19-21, 33 – “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”


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.

Set apart for obedience to God’s will

The culmination of the biblical imagery is fulfilled in Messiah.

Hebrews 10:4-10 – For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, ‘You didn’t desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.’ Previously saying, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn’t desire, neither had pleasure in them’ (those which are offered according to the law), then he has said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

While most believers look to the book of Romans as the most theologically dense writing of the New Testament, in actuality, I believe the book of Hebrews provides the most depth of theology, and also provides us the perspective of how the early believers, who were all Jewish, viewed the work and ministry of Yeshua.

The book never names its author; many think it is Paul, some think it may have been Timothy. The individual carries many of the same long phrases and characteristic nuances of Paul. Regardless, throughout the book, a well-planned and graduated argument is laid out for the meaning and purpose of what Messiah came to do.

By chapter ten, the book is reaching a crescendo of thought and focuses on the work of Messiah contrasted with the sacrifices of the priests according to the law of Moses. Almost all commentators focus on Yeshua’s blood sacrifice against the animal sacrifices of the priests. But is that the true comparison or contrast being laid out here? I don’t believe so, and here is why.

First, it is established that animal sacrifices don’t take away sin. This was not a new concept to biblical thought, since Psalm 40 is then quoted to demonstrate this. The problem begins with the representation of Psalm 40 in this passage of Hebrews and it being mis-quoted (in our modern Bibles) in this passage where it says “you prepared a body for me.” If we actually go back to the text in the Psalms, we see that it reads:

Psalm 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and offering you didn’t desire. You have opened my ears. You have not required burnt offering and sin offering. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come. It is written about me in the book in the scroll. I delight to do your will, my God. Yes, your law is within my heart.’”

So the original text does not include a body being prepared for Messiah, but that his ears were opened. Opened to what? “Your law is within my heart.” Yes, the Messiah exemplified receptiveness to the law which is equated with the obedience of “delighting to do God’s will.”

The writer of Hebrews then states the crux of his argument: “He takes away the first (i.e., the animal sacrifices) that he may establish the second (the doing of God’s will in obedience from the heart). That is the contrast of thought in this passage, NOT the animal sacrifices vs. the sacrifice of Yeshua. The thought is concluded by saying “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua once for all.”

You see, Yeshua offered his body in obedience to God’s will, and THAT is the characteristic that sets believers apart: when we, in like fashion as our Lord and Messiah, are obedient to God’s will from the heart. THAT is the “second” (the doing of God’s will from the heart) that is being contrasted with the “first” (animal sacrifices).

This is what sanctifies or sets believers apart from the rest of the world. We have received God’s eternal torah or instruction written in our heart, and we are willing to obey it to the death, if needed. That is how Yeshua’s death “sanctifies” believers; he provided the ultimate example for us to follow.

The blood of the new covenant is not the physical sacrifice of a man in Judea two thousand years ago for some spiritual “blood debt,” because the writer tells us plainly that physical blood cannot take away any sins, and this was known throughout biblical history. But what the blood represents is what is important: this blood is the life of an individual who was willing to pay the ultimate price in obedience to his God. The “first” has been fulfilled with the “second.”

The Bible plainly teaches that the blood carries the life of the individual, which is why it is forbidden to eat or drink blood.

Leviticus 17:11 – ” For the life of the flesh is in the blood. I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.”

The blood makes atonement by reason of the life not the death. This was the symbolic significance that God was attempting to teach his people to understand with every animal sacrifice. It was not the death of the animal that was the point, but the representative life that was being forfeited on behalf of another.

This passage in Hebrews is the culmination of all of those spiritual lessons that had led up this point; the law is the “schoolmaster that leads to Messiah,” (Galatians 3:24). This is the contrast that illustrates what the whole New Testament points to. This man Yeshua is who believers are called to follow; this is who we are called to imitate. This is the new covenant of having our “ears opened” to the instruction of God, and being willing to follow him wherever he leads, even to the ultimate act of giving our life on behalf of others, if needed.


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.