Jul 21

What happens when we sin?

Christians don’t lead perfect lives. We sin and each time we sin there is a choice. We can agree that it is wrong and decide not to do it again and be restored. We will sin again and the process will be repeated. We will mature and change but we will always be plagued by our bad choices until we die and are perfected in God’s presence. Or, we can focus on the sin, enjoy the sin, and become further ensnared by the sin. We eventually become blind like the Pharisees and sin in ways that may lead to our premature death. (1 John 1:8-10; 5:16-17; James 1:13-15; 1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

I once listened to a seminary professor tell a story about a young woman who approached him after a sermon. She told him about a sin in her life that she committed regularly, enjoyed, and couldn’t stop. She also told him that she loved God and both were equals to her. He told her that he could not help her. He asked her to spend some time alone and decide which of the two, her sin or her love fo God, was the most important part of her life. Then he could help her deal with the one she wanted to change but, he insisted, both could not be together at the top.

How people deal with their sin reveals their deepest self. Judas betrayed Jesus, felt remorse, made an attempt at making it right, failed, and killed himself. Peter denied Christ, wept, and when Jesus reached out to him, renounced his sin, and was restored. (Matthew 26:69-75; 27:3-5)

In a pivotal meeting before he ascended, Jesus completed Peter’s restoration. He asked Peter if he loved him. Peter repeatedly responded yes. He told Peter to feed his followers. He told Peter that his commitment would lead to his martyrdom. Peter asked Jesus about John’s future. Jesus told him that John’s future was none of his concern but Peter was to follow him. (John 21:15-23)

Peter’s restoration has lessons for all Christians

Do we love Jesus? (more than our sin)

Are we will to follow him? (wherever it leads)

Are we willing to not focus on others? (are they getting a better deal?)

Are we willing feed Jesus’ followers? (actively make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching) (Matthew 28:18-20)

Each time we sin, we face a critical choice.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right-hand column

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jul 07

How should we live if we think the world is going to end soon?

When Peter wrote to the Christians of Asia Minor near the end of his life, he reminded them that since Jesus had come they were in the last days. Throughout his first letter there are themes of hope, purity, living well in relationships and suffering. Jesus had told him and the other disciples that the world would hate them because of their commitment to Christ. Once a person follows Jesus fully, they are not of this world. They are citizens of heaven. They have a hope that other people do not have or understand and are often hated for it. (1 Peter 1:20; John 15:18-16:33)

As he brought the letter to a close, Peter gave a powerful summary of the priorities of end-times Christians, Christians who believe that Jesus came return at any time. (1 Peter 4:7-11)

He began, “the end of all things is near.” Because Jesus can come back at any moment there are four priorities for his followers.

We are to order our lives so that we can pray well. We must think correctly about God, ourselves, and our world. We must also be self-controlled, not distracted by gluttony, lusts, envy, and frivolous pursuits. (1 Peter 4:7; 1:13; 2:11-12; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-26)

Secondly, we must have a love that overlooks those may little ways that people mistreat us. Soon they will be on no consequence whatsoever. (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12; James 5:12)

Thirdly, we should be hospitable people. There are people who are lonely. We should reach out to them. Loneliness is being alone. Solitude is being alone with God. There is a big difference and many people are truly lonely. (1 Peter 4:9)

Finally, we are to use our gifts to the glory to God. Those with speaking gifts should be clear channels for God’s truth, not mixing it with personal opinions. Those with serving gifts should serve with all the strength that God provides.

We are to live as end-times Christians so that our lives may bring praise to God.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right hand column

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jul 02

The Just Shall Live By Faith- Hebrews

From the first grade until halfway through sixth grade I attended Trinity Evangelical Lutheran School in the Bronx. I can still remember a theological problem that confounded me in the fifth grade. We were studying Hebrews, chapter 11, and I could not understand how “The Just Shall Live By Faith” could be in chapter 10. We were taught that this battle cry of the Reformation applied to salvation and that we were saved by faith. But no one in chapter 11 is getting saved, they are doing great things for God but not getting saved. I remember the religion teacher, the principal’s wife, giving me an answer but I forget what she said.

After one of those perplexing warning passages in chapter ten the unknown author of Hebrews tells his readers that their faith will be rewarded and that the just shall live by faith. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

The heroic acts recorded in chapter 11 are based on three pillars of faith

1- God exists 11:6

2- God is the Creator and created what exists from nothing 11:6

2- God is the judge and there is a future judgement and vindication. Because of this:

We have a hope 11:1

Abel’s faith speaks even after he died 11:4

God rewards those who earnestly seek him 11:7

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob looked forward to better future beyond their lives 11:8-10; 11:13-16

Moses looked beyond Egypt for his reward 11:26

God has planned something better for them and us with them 11:39-40

My fifth grade mind was right about chapter 11. It is about more than conversion. But, I did not grasp the breadth of “The Just Shall Live By Faith.” The principle was given to a prophet about how to live through a time of judgement. Paul saw it as encompassing the entire Christian experience from beginning to end in Romans 1 and reminded the Galatians in Galatians 3 that Christians begin by faith and continue by faith not law. The just shall live by faith

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right hand column

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jun 25

The Just Shall Live By Faith- Galatians

Paul had founded the Galatian churches on either his first or second missionary journey. The explosion of faith among the Gentiles challenged the Church. Christians were divided as to whether Gentiles needed to become Jews in order to become Christians.

Paul was converted as a result of a direct experience of the risen Christ. He was sent to the Gentiles and preached that they could come to faith without becoming Jews.

Some Jewish Christians came to the Galatian churches after Paul and taught them that they must be circumcised and live as Jews under the Mosaic Law.

Paul wrote this letter to defend his ministry and the message he preached. In the first two chapters he reviewed his pilgrimage from a persecuting Pharisee who approved of the stoning of Stephen to the apostle to the Gentiles. He detailed his relationship to the apostles in Jerusalem and his confrontation with Peter over this issue. He called this gospel of circumcision another non-Christian gospel. Those who preached it were cursed.

He concluded chapter two with a strong statement of the power of the atoning death of Jesus and the life of faith.

In chapter three, he told the Galatians that they have been tricked into changing from faith to law. When he contrasted law and faith he quoted Habakkuk 2:4, the just shall live by faith.

Paul’s point was that the Galatians had started the Christian journey by believing and now wanted to continue the Christian life by law keeping.

It is living by faith from conversion and beyond.

Law keeping as a way to justify ourselves to others and God is a simplistic temptation in any era but, like Habakkuk, we are to live each day by faith.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right hand column

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jun 16

The Just Shall Live By Faith- Romans 1

Good writers often plant subtle “bookends” in their work to emphasize key points of their message.

In Romans Paul began and ended the book with paragraphs containing core elements of its teaching.

Romans 1:1-6

1:1 gospel

1:3 concerning his Son

1:2 through his prophets in the holy Scriptures

1:5 obedience of faith

1:5 among all the nations

Romans 16:25-27

16:25 gospel

16:25 preaching of Jesus Christ

16:26 through the prophetic writings

16:26 obedience of faith

16:26 to all nations

These phrases give the focus of the book. It is about the gospel, the preaching of Jesus. This is a message seen in the Hebrew Scriptures for all the nations resulting in the obedience of faith.

After the introduction there is a powerful beginning to the main section of the book

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.” (My emphases. Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

This powerful paragraph which quotes Habakkuk contains the core concepts of the bookends of Romans. Paul took the advice that God gave to a prophet facing a time of judgement and showed how it was not only for that situation. It summed up the entire Christian life from beginning to end. The rest of the book developed this truth. The just shall life by faith from their spiritual birth through faith in the message of salvation through their growth in Christlikeness during their pilgrimage on earth.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right hand column

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jun 12

The Just Shall Live By Faith- Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel

God told Habakkuk that the just, people who wanted to follow God, would live by faith through the time of judgement. We are not told what happened to Habakkuk but we have the examples of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. They each followed God through those dark years.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel were priests, descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Daniel was a member of the royal family, a descendant of King David.

The Jewish nation was led by two privileged families. The kings were absolute dictators. The majority of them did follow God enthusiastically, if at all. The priests were to be authorities on the covenant given to the Jews through Moses and led the temple worship.

The Jewish people were living in the blessing of God’s promise to Abraham. They lived in the promised land.

Exile was the final punishment given in the covenant for continued disobedience of God.

Jeremiah was a priest who stayed in the promised land. Ezekiel was a priest who was exiled from the land promised to the Jews. Daniel was a member of the royal family and would have served in a minor role in the political leadership of Judah. He became one of the most powerful men of his era, more powerful than the kings who reigned in Jerusalem during that time.

Jeremiah remained a priest in the promised land. However, he was put in prison. His family plotted to kill him and his prophecies were rejected by the other priests and royal advisors. In his final years he was taken to Egypt by the rebellious people. One of the revelations God gave him was of two baskets of figs. The basket representing those, like him, who stayed in the land was full of rotten figs. The basket of good figs were those who went into exile. God’s future for the Jews was with them. He was called to serve those who were rejected. (Jeremiah 1; 4-6; 11-12; 23-24; 26-29; 36-38; 41-43)

Ezekiel lost the land and his priesthood. When he was thirty years old, the year he would have started serving as a priest if he had stayed in Jerusalem, he was called to be a prophet. His wife died as an illustration of the destruction of the Jewish nation. But he was given great visions of God’s plan including a glimpse of the restoration of the promised land and worship of the true God. (Ezekiel 1; 24:15-27; 40-48; Numbers 4:1-3)

Daniel was taken from the land and his place in the royal family. He quickly became a powerful, influential man who advised the leaders of Mesopotamia. However, Nebuchadnezzar was a hard man to serve. He was mercurial at best, vacillating between bizarre displays of arrogance and amazing proclamations of humility, acknowledging the power fo the true God. The jealousy and betrayal of his colleagues led Daniel to the lion’s den. Over the decades of service he was given great visions of God’s future for the Jewish people. (Daniel 1-12)

In the school of faith each of us receives a customized curriculum

After Jesus predicted Peter’s crucifixion, Peter asked about the future of the Apostle John. Jesus told Peter that John’s future was not his concern. Jesus gave him the advice that is for all who follow Jesus in any era, “Follow me.” (John 21:15-25)

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right-hand column


Jun 06

Habakkuk 3- The Just Shall Live By Faith- Habakkuk’s Psalm

Chapter three of Habakkuk is a psalm. In the last verse of the book he wrote “to the choirmaster with MY stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:19, my emphasis. The possessive is not translated in some translations.) Habakkuk was probably a leader among the Levitical musicians.

This psalm answers the question of chapter one. The wicked do not go unpunished. God is coming to defeat his enemies. Habakkuk reflected on what God has done in the past and trusted him for the future. The psalm asked God to come and do what he has done before. God is praised in this way in other Scriptures. (Deuteronomy 33:1; Judges 5:4-5; Psalm 18:7-15; Psalm 68:4-10, 32-35; Psalm 77:16-19; Micah 1:3-4).

The psalm has many references to God’s past actions. Teman means southland and alluded to the time of the Exodus. Mount Paran is near Kadesh Barnea. God used plagues against Egypt. Rivers and streams may refer to the Nile, the Red Sea and the Jordan. Midianites were involved in plots against the Jews with the Moabites. The sun standing still alluded to Judges 10:12-13. The leader of the land of wickedness is probably Pharaoh and the Egyptians were crushed in the Red Sea. (Habakkuk 3:3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13-15)

This recounting of God’s mighty acts left the prophet in awe. He will wait. The Babylonian invasion will be real and devastating. Through it all the Sovereign Lord will be his strength. God will give his people strength to bear this trial. Habakkuk began by questioning God and ended by praising him (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

What happened to Habakkuk? We read his dialogue with God. We can identify with his longing for justice. He was told that judgement was coming and that the just will live by faith through this perilous time. The twenty years between his prayer and the destruction of Jerusalem was one of steep moral and political decline for the Jews.

What happened to Habakkuk? We do not know. However we do have the words and significant life events of three prophets who lived through those times and are examples of living by faith. Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel lived through the time of decline and judgement.

The Scriptures were not given at an even pace over the centuries. There were time of great outpouring and times of relative silence in the 1500 years between Moses and the Apostle John. The book of Psalms contains a psalm written by Moses and some from the time of the exile 900 years later.

There was a great outpouring during the time of the greatest judgement. The prophets who spoke just before, during, and after the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity were evidence that even in a time of judgement and consequences God did not abandon his people..

Like Jonah, Habakkuk gave insight into his thoughts that only he could give. He was humble enough to let readers see him grow as he questioned God. He learned that God was in control and he has a plan. He uses wicked people. His plan is not always clear to us.

Habakkuk also shows us that we can question God about the most basic issues. Why is there evil in the world? Why does evil go unpunished? Why doesn’t God answer prayer? How does he answer prayer?

Abraham in Genesis 15 who was told that his descendants would not receive the promised land for four hundred years. We may not see the full answer to our prayers in our lifetime. We are fallen and finite and can’t fully fathom God’s plan unless it is revealed to us. Job and his friends couldn’t see into heaven. (Job 1-2; 42:7-17; 38-41)

God’s majesties should provoke us to praise. We can be confident in his plan to bring history to its consummation.

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

If you like the blog, you can sign up for email updates in the upper right hand column

May 29

The Just Shall Live By Faith- The Proud and the Just

In his dialogue with God, the prophet begins with his problem. Ungodly Jews were being allowed to disobey the covenant and oppress others with no consequences. What was God going to do about this?

God raised his sights and told him that he was not only the God of the Jews but also the Lord of the nations and would judge ungodliness.

Habakkuk found fault with God’s solution. He sights were raised but not much higher. He now saw the problem as a Jew-Gentile issue and the Jews were more righteous. God would raise the prophet’s sights again. The issue was really about the just and the proud, those who lived before God rightly and those who were a law to themselves. The Babylonian’s real problem was not that they were Babylonians but their arrogance, their self- reliant pride.

God told the prophet that his plan was a sure thing and that the just person would live through this time of judgement by faith. (Habakkuk 2:1-4)

The rest of God’s answer focused on the other people, the proud. God wanted Habakkuk to have a clear picture of their identity and what would happen to them. (Habakkuk 2:1-20)

The first picture of the proud is that they are never content, never satisfied. They are as greedy as the grave. They never have enough. (Habakkuk 2:4-5)

The rest of chapter two is a series of woes interrupted by two pointed applications. Woe in an archaic, flimsy word. It would better be translated as “You are doomed.” It predicts the certainty of God’s judgement. It is used by some of the prophets and Jesus used it against the religious leaders who opposed him. (Isaiah 5:8-23; 10:1, 5; 28:1; 29:15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1; Amos 5:18; 6:1, 4 and others; Matthew 23: 13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29)

You are doomed if

you steal,

you build your empire by theft and think you are not accountable, and

you are violent. (Habakkuk 2:6-13)

The first application

In the end creation will be filled with the knowledge of God’s glory. (Habakkuk 2:14)

You are doomed is

you like to humiliate other people, and

you worship idols. (Habakkuk 2:15-19)

The second application

God is in heaven. Those on earth should be silent before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

The silence of idols and the power of the true God is a theme in the prophets. Elijah sarcastically taunted the prophets of Baal on his silence. (1 Kings 18:16-46; see also Isaiah 44)

Those who follow God must not be conformed to the world but be transformed. We must be different. When we see in ourselves the characteristics of the proud, it is time for a reality check and a change of heart. (Romans 12:1-2)

Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

May 27

The Just Shall Live By Faith- Habakkuk’s prayer

About six hundred years before Christ was born there was a time of great crisis among the Jews. King Josiah, the boy king who had grown to be a godly leader, was killed in battle against the Egyptians. He brought revival to Jerusalem, restored the temple, and held the greatest Passover in four hundred years. (2 Chronicles 34-35)

The army of Egypt was marching north to face the upstart Babylonians who had routed the former rulers of Mesopotamia, the Assyrians. Pharaoh Neco led the Egyptians against Crown Prince Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Egyptians were routed at Carchemish and retreated. Nebuchadnezzar heard that his father had died and returned to Babylon to be crowned king. As he retreated, Neco deposed the eldest son of Josiah and installed a second son as his puppet. Josiah was followed on the throne by three of his sons and one grandson in the last twenty years of the Davidic kingdom. None of them followed God or ruled effectively. (2 Chronicles 35:20-36)

During these times Habakkuk, a Levite, musician and prophet, prayed to God about the spiritual condition of the Jews. He accused God of ignoring evil among his people. There was oppression and violence. The revival under Josiah was over. (Habakkuk 1:1-4)

God responded and said that he was going to do the unbelievable. The Babylonians would come and destroy the Jewish kingdom. As Moses has warned, the rebellion would get to the point where the people would be expelled from the Promised Land. This judgement would happen during Habakkuk’s lifetime. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Habakkuk 1:5-11)

Habakkuk responded to God’s revelation. He had  two complaints. The Babylonians were worse than the Jews and they would not make a distinction between those like Habakkuk who feared God and those who rebelled against the covenant. (Habakkuk 1:12-17)

After he made his complaint, Habakkuk knew that there would be an answer from God. He took his post as a watchman and waited for God’s response. God told him that there were two types of people, the proud and the just. The just would live by faith through the time of judgement and the proud would be judged, whether they were Jews or Babylonians. (Habakkuk 2:1-20)

The just shall live by faith is quoted three times in the New Testament. It was the battle cry of the Reformation. The principle was first given to a prophet as advice on how to live through a period of crisis for him and his people. (Habakkuk 2:4)

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

May 21

Faith and Experience- The Crowd- Experiencing a miracle

Jesus’ ministry had three emphases. He presented his messianic credentials to the religious leaders. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the crowds. Finally, he trained the Twelve to inaugurate the Church after he ascended to the Father. These are not chronological periods or exclusive missions. They were integrated parts of his first coming.

The leaders saw the miracles and declared that Jesus worked in league with the devil. (Matthew 12:22-32)

The disciples were mercurial at best. They understood and then they failed to understand. The last question Jesus was asked before he ascended to the Father was if he was going to restore the temporal kingdom to the Jews at that time. When they were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they finally understood and the Church exploded. (Acts 1:6-11)

The ministry to the crowds culminated at the Feeding of the 5000. It was the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. John gave the most complete account of the feeding and the surrounding events. Even after decades, his memory gave great details of the day the crowds departed. (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)

Jesus fed the crowd by multiplying the lunch of a boy and the people marveled, declared that he was the expected prophet who would restore the fortunes of the Jews. Jesus perceived their intent to make him king and went away to be alone. (John 6:1-15)

The disciples rowed across the Sea of Galilee that night, ran into a storm, and Jesus came to them, walking on the water. (John 6:15-21)

The crowd followed Jesus across the lake. Jesus began to teach them. He challenged them to believe in him and they challenged him to produce a better sign than one meal. After all, Moses fed the entire nation for forty years with manna. Jesus answered that Moses did not provide the food but his Father in heaven fed the people. (John 6:22-34)

Jesus changed the issue from bread to eat to accepting him as the true food from heaven. They found his words difficult. Jesus pushed them further and further on the real issue. They needed to receive him. (John 6:32-65)

The crowd did not accept his teaching and most left, never to return. Jesus turned to the Twelve and challenged them, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69, ESV)

No miracle can guarantee faith. When people saw that Lazarus was raised from the dead some believed but others quickly told the religious leaders who then plotted to kill Jesus. In his parable of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus, Jesus concluded that even the testimony of a resurrection would not convince some. When the religious leaders were confronted with the testimony of the guards at the tomb when Jesus rose from the dead, they paid then a bride, and gave them a fabricated story. (John 11:45-52; Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 28:11-15)

The central issue is Jesus. Experiencing miracles does not guarantee faith.

The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

Older posts «

%d bloggers like this: