Not Inheriting God’s Kingdom

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What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 6:9? What does Malakoi in 1 Cor. 6:9 mean? Provide evidence to back your interpretation.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11, ESV)

Paul says twice that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom. That is the message of the three versus that encompass 1 Corinthians 6:9. He’ll use a device list to describe what the “unrighteous” entail.

He tells Christians to not be deceived about this point. This list is not complete. The unrighteous do more than just these activities. But these activities are included under the unrighteous. Unrighteous means those who do not do what God sees as right or just.

Paul starts with sexually immoral (pornos), a junk drawer term in Greek for any sexual activity that falls out of God’s will or desire for us. The biblical place to enjoy sexual desire is a marriage. Anything outside of marriage is sexual immorality.

This includes anything we can think of outside marriage. The reason Paul uses this inclusive term is because humans continue to invent ways to sin against God not listed in Scripture. The Bible lists many sexual practices outside of God’s standards like adultery, lust, fornication, bestiality, and homosexuality to name a few, but if we make up a new sexual practice outside of marriage, it would be considered under sexual morality. Even thinking about sex or sexual things outside of marriage would fit under this term.

A current move in our culture is to attempt to redefine marriage from the biblical definition of an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. Most redefinitions focus on a loving relationship between two people (or more) instead of the parties involved in the biblical definition.

Next Paul lists idolaters (eidōlolatrēs) or those who worship idols. This is one who makes a carved image, worships that carved image, or prioritizes anyone or anything above God. The first four of the Ten Commandments describe an exclusive relationship with God. It makes sense that idolaters will not inherit God’s kingdom since they are seeking a relationship with an idol or false god Instead of Him.

From those who violate their exclusive relationship with God through idolatry Paul next lists those who violate their marital covenant with their spouse, adulterers (moichalis). This is a person who commits sexual immorality by having sex with a person other than their spouse.

But Jesus mentions the commandment about not committing adultery and expands the meaning to anyone who lusts after the opposite gender. Adultery includes not only the outward act but the inner thoughts that begin a person down the path to commit the physical act.

The next term Paul uses in the vice list has to do with homosexuality (malakoi). Since you asked specifically about this term, the most respected Greek lexicon, BDAG, defines the term this way:

②    pert. to being passive in a same-sex relationship, effeminate esp. of catamites, of men and boys who are sodomized 1 Cor 6:9 (‘male prostitutes’ NRSV is too narrow a rendering; ‘sexual pervert’ REB is too broad)=Pol 5:3. [1]

This specifically refers to the passive partner in a male to male homosexual relationship, the effeminate partner. It may not be a partner but a victim. Because the term is plural for sexual relationships it may refer to both men involved in such an act or relationship.

It is not the usual term for homosexuality that is used in these vice lists. But it may refer to a person who does not speak up if violated or may speak to complicity in a homosexual relationship. It is a very specific term that must not be broadened or made too specific.

In more general terminology, the Bible condemns homosexuality in eight verses in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Although Paul is referring to a very specific part of the homosexual relationship in this verse the Bible speaks to the issue of homosexuality more generally.

It is not popular to talk about homosexuality in these ways, but this is what the Bible says about it. I have found in my ministry that people want to ask me about what the Bible says about homosexuality to see if I will cave into new social standards and try to equivocate between the Bible and the world or if I will be honest about what the Bible says.

If I tell them what the Bible says they paint me and other Christians as homophobes. They want their “gotcha” moment. Christians must be faithful to what the Bible says. The Bible calls homosexuality sin. It’s clear in the text and if we do not admit that we do a great disservice to ourselves and to God.

But there are a host of sins the Bible calls out that we must agree calls them what they are. Being honest about what the Bible says about homosexuality does not make as homophobes. The way we treat homosexuals should be the way we treat any sin and sinners. One of the best ways to treat them is to hate the sin and love the sinner.

I don’t have anybody complaining to me about murderers being considered sinners. So we must treat every sin the same. I have a feeling this question is coming from that state of mind, as a litmus test to see if I will equivocate to the world or state the biblical standard.

Next Paul references thieves (lēstēs), people who break the commandment to not steal from others. This term is self-explanatory. Next are those who are greedy (pleonektēs). Greed and coveting can be considered under the same umbrella. This violates the last commandment. These are people who take advantage of others and always pressed for more than they need.

Next on the list are drunkards (methysos), those who drink alcohol in excess and become drunk, intoxicated. Paul has stated elsewhere that getting drunk on alcohol is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19). It is not ascended drink, but it is a sin to get drunk.

Revilers (loidoros) are those who insult or verbally abuse others. They assault the character of other people, usually out of anger. This refers specifically to sinful speech. An example of these would be the ones who reviled Jesus while he was on the cross.

Swindlers (harpax) are next. These are people who rob others, sees or snatch their property. It may refer to a more violent approach to thieving than the word mentioned earlier. This is the last group mentioned in the vice list.

For the second time Paul mentions that anyone on this list (and those who do like-minded things) will not inherit God’s kingdom. There are other vice lists in the New Testament that have other sins with the same warning.

My favorite part of this passage is what Paul says next. He says that some of the Christians he is speaking to in the letter of 1 Corinthians used to do these things before they met Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:11). There is hope for anyone on this list or doing these things.

If they wish to repent and come to Christ, become believers in Jesus, he wipes their slate clean. It’s as if they never did any of these things and are welcomed into God’s kingdom as one of his children. Paul speaks of the washing and making holy of such individuals by Jesus.

With any of the terms in this vice list Christians must react in the same way toward any sin that disqualifies a sinner from entering God’s kingdom. We cannot treat one sin worse than another. All sins separate us from God and disqualify us from the benefits of relationship with Him.

We must treat every sin with truth and love. We must speak the truth of Scripture toward the sin in a loving manner. No Christian wishes for any sinner to be separated from God and miss the opportunity to dwell with him forever in heaven.

If we don’t share these truths of Scripture, God’s requirements for righteous and holy living, with sinners then we do not love them. There must be balance in our approach.


[1 William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 613.

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Word of Accountability

This entry is part 497 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What does Deuteronomy 31:26 mean?

“Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.” (Deuteronomy 31:26, ESV)

Several times throughout the Book of the Law, or the Torah, there are prophetic foreshadowing’s of how the people will deny the Lord and do their own thing. He says they will follow idols once they get in the land. The rest of Scripture bears out this truth.

Just as Israel in the wilderness for 40 years questioned Moses, made their own gods, and complained when God provided for them, so they would do in the Promised Land. God knew this beforehand because of their actions in the wilderness.

So as he was finishing the Torah he told both Moses and Joshua to make witnesses against the people and place them in prominent places like near the Ark of the Covenant. Then when the people lived in the land they would find that these predictions of what they would do were true.

When they were with Moses and Joshua they committed themselves to following the whole of God’s law and never turning against him. As an example Joshua challenged the people and they promised that they chose Yahweh (Joshua 24:14-18).

It was easy for the people to commit to the Lord in the wilderness but when they would get into the land of Canaan it was much harder because of the temptations around them. One of the reasons God wanted them to utterly destroy the peoples of the land is because he knew they would lead the Israelites into idolatry.

So these were set up as a witness against Israel that they would fully commit to the Lord in the wilderness but failed to continue to commit to him in the Promised Land. They would see if they looked at the witness against them how they had committed and failed to continue their commitment.

It’s almost like God gave them the covenant commitment form and they signed it in the wilderness. Now they would look at this legal document that stood against them as a witness of their failure to maintain that commitment.

In case anyone would say, “I have followed the Lord and am fully committed to him,” these documents would show that they were not committed to him in the wilderness or in the Promised Land he gave them.

Why would God do this? In case the people became delusional about themselves or wanted to lie about themselves and say they were trusting Yahweh even though they were not he would have this witness against them.

We must be careful not to deceive ourselves about our relationship with God. If we do not continually have a vibrant abiding relationship with him we may deceive ourselves and think we do. He reminds us through his Word that we can fall prey to thinking we have what we don’t.

Such witnesses should give us accountability in our walk with God. If we ever get to a place like the apostle John points out in the beginning of First John where we are saying we walk with the Lord but we are walking in sin it helps us to see our true place in God (1 John 1:5-10).

So these witnesses against the Israelites reminded them that they would turn against God and he had predicted it way before they came into the land. The witnesses would not allow them to deceive themselves and kept them accountable to their true relationship with God. They can also be helpful for us to stay on the path with our Lord.

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Knowing the Languages

This entry is part 496 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Must a person know Greek and Hebrew to interpret the Bible?

Not necessarily. It all depends on how deep you want to go. Translators and scholars provide a ton of resources, many of them going into Greek and Hebrew for you. You can use commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, lexicons, and so forth. Many of these resources do not require a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew as far as learning the language.

The only trouble this approach is that you may not be exactly right on everything you learn or read. If you know Greek and Hebrew you will be able to navigate these resources even faster. Knowing Greek and Hebrew gives you a leg up when you’re studying the Bible.

After all, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Any tools you use without knowing the languages will help you to understand what’s happening in the text. But knowing the languages means you don’t need as many of these resources as you study.

The Bible can be understood and interpreted without the original languages. God makes his Word available to us. But anytime you read an English version of the Bible you are reading something that a translator or interpreter already is giving you interpretation of.

If I want to read something written in another language, and I use an English translation of it, I am relying on the scholarship of that translator and the group of translators who put the book together.

But if I understand the original language I am making my own interpretive and translation moves. For instance, I don’t need someone else to tell me with this original preposition or verb was. I can see for myself and interpreted according to my knowledge of the language.

If you don’t know the original languages you are placing trust in the scholars you are using to read and interpret the text of Scripture. This isn’t a bad thing. But the more you know the original languages the more you can rely on your own interpretation.

Other scholars and people who have studied the Bible can provide major insights that you cannot see even if you know Greek and Hebrew. But you will also notice yourself making these connections or connections other scholars have not made.

There are upsides and downsides to both approaches. If you don’t know the original languages or have access to original language tools you will be at a disadvantage on some level. There are classes in many Bible schools and seminaries where you get a crash course on how to use these resources without knowing Greek and Hebrew.

If you have the ability and aptitude you should take Greek and Hebrew to help you interpret the Bible better. They do help you to see things right off the bat as you read. You’ll be able to see things in the text for yourself.

But knowing the languages will help you make connections to other parts of Scripture. As you take a bigger picture looking at whatever passage you study, knowing the language is only takes you so far. Interpretation requires understanding how this passage fits into the rest of Scripture.

The languages won’t help you with your study of literary context, historical context, theological context, and a host of other studies that help you interpret what you read. They will help you within your passage to notice connections between clauses and sentences. Perhaps a word used in the passage you study shows up in another passage you may not have made the topical connection with.

So while the languages will help you with some things in your study they won’t help you with everything. But the more tools you can put on your tool belt to study the Bible will help you make a better interpretation.

Knowing the languages is well worth the time it takes to learn them. There are great benefits to knowing the original languages. But there are also benefits to having good resources and knowing how to use them properly.

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Relationship Rules

This entry is part 119 of 122 in the series Holiness Matters
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They are basic to every one of us. We are social creatures and without relationships with one another it would be an awfully boring existence. But along with relationships come the rules and the ways we conduct them.

It’s not hard to destroy a relationship, or at least harm it. As much as Christians don’t like to refer to their relationship with Christ as a religion, a set of rules that govern belief, it is that. But it is more than a religion. We have a relationship with the living God.

Like any other relationship, it is governed by rules. Some of them are written rules as we’ll see. But many of them are unwritten in a relationship. This is how it is so easy to harm or destroy a relationship with someone. If we don’t know the rules we can’t play by them.

Not about Rules?

Christians make the distinction that Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion full of rules to follow. The whole idea of rules makes it sound like a rigid relationship or a religion. And people are afraid of committing to a rigid, rules-based religion.

It’s not a wrong thing to say, that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion. But the fact is it is a religion. It is one of the five major world religions. So to say that it is not a religion is misleading. We don’t stop at a religion. It is a relationship with Jesus.

But even that relationship with Jesus has rules. If we do certain things to upset the Lord or his Holy Spirit the relationship will be threatened. We see throughout Israel’s history that their continual flirting with, and acceptance of, idolatry kicked them out of the Promised Land God gave to them as part of his covenant with them.

So we can mess up relationships if we don’t know the rules. But the best part about our relationship with Jesus is that he is very forgiving even when we break the rules. This doesn’t mean that breaking the rules should be a regular occurrence either.

We must accept the fact that this is a relationship based on rules. God expects certain things from us and we receive the benefits of our relationship with him. We don’t always get it right, but we must do our best to enjoy our relationship within the bounds Jesus has set for us.

All about Identity

Like every relationship we begin with God on the basis of his identity and ours. Before God begins to lay out the Ten Commandments, part of his covenant with Israel through Moses, he opens by establishing his relationship with them.

Exodus 20:2 says, “I am the Lord God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.” He lays the foundation of being the Lord God to Israel. Not only that, but his relationship with Israel begins with him as their Redeemer who brought them out of Egypt, the land of slavery.

This is all the Israelites know. They know God is the one who freed them from slavery. Today Christians can hear God say, “I am the Lord God who brought you out of the slavery of sin and death.” We all have a foundation for how we know God.

But every relationship is based on a foundation. Usually the way we meet a person is the foundation of our relationship. Perhaps you have a friend from school who still friend. Perhaps it’s a friend you met at work. That relationship beginning is the foundation for how that relationship will proceed.

So we all as Christians begin our relationship with the Lord knowing that we are sinners and he is gracious. He was faithful to us before we were faithful to him. Knowing who we are in Christ and who he is to us shows him as Lord of our lives.

But he also gives us an identity in Christ unlike any identity we’ve had before. While we start as knowing God as Savior and us as sinners, he declares us righteous and makes us part of his family. He federally changes our identity from the ground up. And now that we know Christ we walk in a different way before we knew him.

Unwritten Rules

Every relationship has unwritten rules. These are the things we generally pick up on the longer the relationship goes. These are the kinds of things you begin to realize as you get to know a person.

Some people like certain things, or don’t like certain things. These are things you were never told in the relationship but have a good understanding of. Your friend may like certain activities and not like others. They may mention it one time but they expect you to remember it.

Sometimes you find out these unwritten rules by breaking them and finding out the hard way that they are rules to the relationship. But no matter how you discover them they are unwritten rules that you must follow if you wish to continue in that relationship.

In our relationship with God we don’t have too many unwritten rules. God is very clear about what he expects from us throughout the pages of Scripture. So now let’s start looking at some of these written rules that guide us in our understanding of how to proceed with him.

Written Rules

We notice right away as we look at Exodus 20 that God starts with the written rules of his relationship with Israel, the Ten Commandments. These ten written rules set up his relationship with them and show them what he expects throughout the relationship.

Sometimes we refer to these as moral laws and God still expects them of us today. They have not changed and the first four helped of in our relationship with God himself. The last six show us how to live with other people.

God will go through many other written rules for Israel, which we call the Torah or the law of instruction. Christians are not expected to fulfill all of these 613 laws. However, we can learn something from every one of them.

But God does expect us to fulfill the “moral laws.” When Jesus was asked about the laws of the Old Testament he said that you love the greatest laws are expected of us (Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-28).

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). And the second greatest is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).

The way we treat God and other people matters to him very much. If we hurt one another we hurt God. He cares because other people are made with his image. They are his creatures just as much as we are. So we must value one another as much as we value God.

Conclusion

As we look at Christian relationships we will be examining our relationship with God and our relationship with others. These unwritten and written rules govern our relationship with both. The Ten Commandments will be our main guide, but we will explore other relationships with these commandments in mind.

Our relationship with God is not just governed by the Commandments. There are also principles in place and we will look at these as well. Commandments and principles tell us how to live for God and how to deal with others. Leave a comment and describe how you see commandments and principles coming into play with all of your relationships.

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Peter’s Personality

This entry is part 495 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds

Did the Apostle Peter boast too much before his denial of Christ?

This is an interesting question to consider. I don’t know if I would call Peter’s responses to Jesus boasting. I think he thought he could handle whatever was in front of him. But on the night when Jesus was arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin Peter got cold feet.

All of a sudden it became real. The possibility Jesus was going to the cross became more and more likely with every passing hour that Thursday night into Friday. Peter may have made commitments he didn’t realize he couldn’t keep.

Many of us have no idea how we would handle persecution when it comes upon us. We may think we are brave and faithful but when the moment comes we will definitely be afraid and consider another way out.

Peter made commitments he didn’t realize at the time he could not keep. I don’t think it’s really boasting. I think he had a desire to be with Jesus no matter what happened. They may have been statements made out of faith rather than pride.

I’d like to give Peter the benefit of the doubt here. He was clearly distraught after he denied Jesus three times at night. It took Jesus reaffirming him three times at the end of the Gospel of John to make enough of an impact that Peter stayed on course.

Jesus knew how Peter would react in the moment. He forgave Peter for his inability to follow through. Each of us could be in the same spot depending on how much we suffer in our trials. We are all human and we get weak when the moment comes upon us.

I want to know that Jesus has mercy on me if I failed to measure up to what I think I can do. I may speak out of faith, expecting I can handle whatever comes my way with his help. But I am only human and I don’t always measure up. Peter was the same way. We all are.

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Children of God

This entry is part 119 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
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For most people they are born into a family and don’t even think about what it needs to be a child to a mother and father. For others they have been rejected by their biological family and left to be part of the foster system.

Some become adopted into a family and hopefully it’s the family they wanted to be a part of. Some grow up without a family. Others don’t want to be part of their family for some reason and try to get out of it.

But those who believe in Jesus have become part of God’s family. There are some incredible benefits to being a child of God, but we don’t want to start there. I want to focus first on what it’s like to be part of God’s family and to be a child of God.

A Blessed Privilege

God does a truly amazing thing when he makes us his children. When you begin to think of all of the benefits of being part of God’s family, from where we all started as sinners to the saints he makes curiously, it astounds the mind.

But we must guard against thinking we deserve to become his children. We all know the children that act like they are privileged to be part of certain families. And we know the children who been adopted into great families that are humbled that anyone would care about them that much.

We need to come to God with a “humble confidence.” Instead of treating our adoption as his sons and daughters as an entitlement to demand things from God because we are part of his family, we need to come to him as though we are privileged children.

Nowadays when we use the word “privileged” it is a bad word used by people to describe certain individuals in our country. I don’t mean it that way. What I mean by privilege is that it’s our privilege to be part of God’s family.

We didn’t fight our way into the family. We didn’t demand to be part of it. But God gave it to us as a gift, as part of his grace. And so it’s a privilege for us to be part of his family. We are honored by his invitation and by our adoption.

After all, we don’t deserve to be here. We didn’t do anything to earn it. We weren’t born into his family either. So it’s a privilege, not a right. When we approach God with this humility we honor him as he honored us. We know how we got here.

But it’s also a confidence we have as being part of his family. We don’t have to think we don’t really belong. Some adopted children can never really fit in. We fit in to God’s family. He’s making sure of that. And we can approach him with anything we need.

He gives us authority over sickness and sin. We don’t have to live the way we did before we were part of his family. So we have confidence in his presence. He has given us all things, including an incredible inheritance in him.

So while we need to be humble and not demand things of God we know that he has given us many blessings. We can approach him humbly and get confidently. We know what he has done for us and what he has given us.

All in the Family

“But for all who received Him, He gifted to them the authority
to become children of God, to those who trusted in His name,
these neither from blood, nor from the will of the flesh,
nor from a husband’s will,
but have been born from God.”
John 1:12-13 (author’s translation)

When we think about being God’s children and part of his family John tells us how amazing our adoption truly is. We become part of God’s family in a way special to him. It’s not like any other way to become part of a family.

The most natural way to be in a family is to be born into it physically. We are blood relatives. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Blood is thicker than water.” It generally means that we go to bat for our family. We are willing to fight for them because we’re related blood.

The best I can understand John’s second way of entering a family is through the will of the flesh, the simple act of impregnating a woman to carry an offspring to conception. This seems more clinical than relational. Perhaps these are unplanned surprises. They can go either way. They might be rejected, or feel rejected, by the family. Or they could be readily accepted as wonderful surprises.

It was not a surprise for God to adopt us as his children. He made the choice to bring us in even when we didn’t deserve it. The final way John talks about becoming part of a family is through a husband’s will. This sounds more relational, the husband who chooses to have a child and follows through. To me it sounds like this is a father who wants the child.

The thing is we didn’t come into God’s family by any of these means. We came into his family through belief in Jesus. We trusted in God and he made us part of his family. Our adoption is not like the experience of the estranged adopted child.

This is the best kind of adoption. The New Testament writers when they talk about being adopted into God’s family are thinking of the Roman system. This was a system where you became not only a legal heir but also a full-fledged and full-blooded child.

You didn’t just get the name of your adopted family. You got the inheritance and were treated as a if you were a natural son or daughter. One of the most famous adoptions in Roman history was the son Augustus adopted by Julius Caesar.

The name may sound familiar because he became the first Emperor of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar adopted him as a boy and he literally became the next ruler of the Empire Julius Caesar built. No one questioned his adoption as making him improbable for the throne.

When Jesus adopted you as his son or daughter you became everything that he wants you to be. You are fully part of his family. God took you in, hook, line, and sinker. You are his. He has no question about whether or not you belong. So why do we wonder if we really belong?

In and Out

I want to make some clarifications about what it means to be a child of God. If I may step on my soapbox for just a moment, not everyone is a child of God. I know you hear it from every politician to kingdom come, “We are all God’s children.”

I cringe when I hear that. It is not biblical and it is not true. Remember above I said that we become God’s children through belief in Jesus. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re not one of God’s children. I know it sounds terribly harsh but I’m speaking scriptural truth.

Just because you are not one of God’s children if you don’t believe in Christ does not mean you are left with nothing. Every single human being bears God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). So you still bear God’s image even if you aren’t one of God’s children.

There are a lot of theological ideas about what it means to bear God’s image. For the most part it means that every human being has God’s authority to rule and steward his creation. But more than that the image of God has the idea of being able to spiritually connect to God.

Animals cannot spiritually connect to God. But we can. So every person even though they are not part of God’s family has the ability to connect with God, to know him, and become part of his family through belief in his Son.

So we must make a distinction between being a child of God, someone who believes in Jesus and receives the privilege of being part of God’s family, and every person on the planet who bears the image of God. There’s a world of the difference between being able to spiritually connect with God and being a full-fledged member of his family.

Now that we have described the difference between being in the family as God’s children or being out of the family but still bearing his image, some people feel insecure about their family membership. Even though God has no trouble seeing them as his children and never really feel like they fit in to the family.

The Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). We must never question our identity in Christ as God’s children. If he made as part of the family we are part of the family. We don’t have to worry about whether or not we fit in. We already do.

We need to accept it and enjoy the privilege of being known by God in this unique way. The privileges and blessings are ours. The inheritance is ours. The relationship is ours. And we approach the throne as his children. We enjoy being part of the family. No one can take that away from us.

Our Blessed Inheritance

I mentioned one of the greatest blessings of being part of God’s family a couple of times already. But I want to stress how amazing it is. Our inheritance is like no other inheritance in any other family. Jesus gives us the inheritance of living eternally with him.

First, when you become part of God’s family he places the Holy Spirit in you as a seal (Ephesians 1:13-14). This seal doesn’t mean he locks you and like a Tupperware seal see you can’t get out. It is the kind of seal a king or government official used.

They would take a piece of hot wax and put it on top of the letter and while it was still hot the king would take his signet ring and push it into the wax. It would imprint the sign of the King. The letter would be identified with that king and would carry his authority in its message.

As we are sealed with the Holy Spirit we carry the authority of Jesus. We belong to him and identified as his children. We walk in his authority because we have relationship with him. The Holy Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance.

Some translations use the word “guarantee” but if you don’t do your homework and look up the word you will think he is saying that our salvation is guaranteed. That’s not what he’s saying. He is saying that the Holy Spirit inhabits us as a down payment of heaven.

Having God’s presence dwell within us is just a little bit of what it will be like to be in heaven with God forever. To be in his presence forever will be a permanent and eternal situation as part of our inheritance. But the down payment of the Holy Spirit is God’s presence for now. It only gets better with time. That is giving us a down payment, a part of the whole of our inheritance with him.

Our final inheritance is to live with God forever in the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth. Revelation 21-22 describes the greatest dwelling place in God’s presence with us. We will physically dwell with him forever.

There are a ton of other parts of our curtains that we get a glimpse of even in the here and now. He has many promises that he fulfills in us. He heals is and delivers us from evil. He has saved us from God’s wrath and made us his children.

As you search the Scriptures you will find many other things that God has done for us as part of our inheritance as his children. He will spend the rest of your life enjoying and learning about God’s inheritance given to you.

Conclusion

As we look into what it’s like to become a child of God we realize our privileged place in him. We see what Jesus gives us as an inheritance in him. He does great things in and for us. Now all we have to do is believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

God does the rest. And we can live in his presence forever. There is great joy in being part of God’s family. We have the privileged authority that comes with being his child. Leave a comment and describe one of your favorite parts of being in God’s family.

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Translating Languages

This entry is part 494 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Can I translate Koine Greek into modern Greek into English?

I suppose you could translate from one language to another language to English. But why would you want to do the extra work? Aside from that you may run into issues as you translate. For instance, even though it’s the same language Koine Greek has different meanings even from the same words than modern Greek.

So a word may have a slightly different meaning or range of meanings between the two eras of the language. This could produce a wrong translation in English. It’s an extra step to go from Koine to modern Greek. Why not just go from Koine Greek to English?

Even though it’s within the same language there are hundreds of years between these two languages. One is a dead language and the other one is a modern living language. There’s a lot of change that happens in English even over the last 15 to 20 years, let alone hundreds of years for Greek.

I would counsel you to just go from Koine Greek to English. You don’t have to worry about making sure you choose the right word or range of words. Your translation will flow better if you don’t have to figure out whether or not the word is accurate to the time period.

If your audience was a completely Greek audience, they would be no need for the English translation. You want to translate from whatever time period in Greek you are translating from.

If you are translating from the New Testament it is better just to go from Koine into English. If you are translating from modern Greek audience can go from Koine Greek to modern Greek. The less languages you involve in your translation process the better. Involving other languages and even other times in those languages changes the meaning significantly.

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Heavenly Language

This entry is part 493 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Ana_J from Pixabay

What is the heavenly language and the unknown language in 1 Corinthians 13:1?

This is a great question that can only partially be answered until we get to heaven. Here is a short piece of that passage for our review to answer this question as best we are able now.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3, ESV)

Although you hear this passage at weddings around the world, it is not a passage about marital love. This is a passage couched between discussions of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 and specific instructions on how to operate prophecy and speaking in tongues 1 Corinthians 14.

So 1 Corinthians 13 is still a discussion on the gifts of the Spirit. Paul’s point is that the gifts must be operated with the motivation of loving one another. Some of the gifts can be abrasive, like prophecy. Without love these gifts will not have their desired and intended effect.

Any spiritual gift that doesn’t have the motivation of love will not help others. No matter how powerful and amazing we think that gift is, it must be done in love for it to minister to others around us.

That introduction given, Paul is referring 1 Corinthians 13:1 to the gift of speaking in tongues, not just speaking in tongues or languages in general. It concerns languages but it is how the Holy Spirit uses that gift in his people.

Paul speaks a lot about the gift of speaking in tongues, which requires interpretation in a congregational setting (1 Corinthians 14). While I will not take the time to go into all of the understanding of speaking in tongues there, Paul gives indication here that speaking in tongues does not have to be a purely human language.

If you have ever been in the service before for a person speaking in tongues, or maybe you have heard it as a “prayer language” used to pray personally, you would notice that sometimes it doesn’t sound like language at all.

Paul indicates that speaking in tongues can either be a human language or an angelic language. If it is an angelic language we will not understand the structure or syntax of the language when used by people speaking in tongues.

This should not be a copout to make up a language when speaking in tongues. The gift of speaking in tongues is given by the Holy Spirit and is prompted by him. It is not something anyone does to show off or acts spiritual. It is a gift for the body of Christ.

But when it happens, it might be a human language as shown in Acts 2:1-13 or it could be an angelic language we cannot understand while here on earth. We are familiar with human languages because we are the ones who make them. French, Spanish, Mandarin, English (if you are in a foreign country) are all human languages.

We are unfamiliar with the angelic languages. It appears that anytime angels appeared in the Bible they spoke English so as to be understood human beings they contacted. So we do not know what kind of language is spoken by angels or any heavenly beings. Either way, it is a language that is not native to the congregation. That is why it must be interpreted.

If you want further exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 I have written some commentary on these chapters elsewhere.

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It Was Good

This entry is part 492 of 507 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by 11066063 from Pixabay

In Genesis 1:1, why does “it was good” keep getting repeated?

The word “good” appears seven times throughout the creation narrative in Genesis 1. There is great significance as to why the word appears so much. When there is repetition in the Bible it usually has a great purpose.

When we review the times that it is used we will see a pattern that explains why God evaluates his creation so often and its significance to us.

  1. Good – The light was good on the first day (Genesis 1:3)
  2. Good – The land and sees on the third day (Genesis 1:10)
  3. Good – Vegetation on the land on the third day (Genesis 1:12)
  4. Good – Sun, moon and stars on the fourth day (Genesis 1:18)
  5. Good – Fish and birds on the fifth day (Genesis 1:21)
  6. 6.     Good – All land animals on the sixth day (Genesis 1:25)
  7. Very Good – Human beings on the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)

There’s a pattern as both the third and sixth days received two evaluations. Six times God says his creation is good. The first three days were days of forming the earth to receive life. The next three days were days of filling the earth with life.

God formed the earth by providing light, atmosphere, and land with vegetation already on it. And he filled the waters and sky with fish and birds, the land with animals, and the land with humans. This is the pattern most scholars agree with.

At each step that he evaluates what he has done it is good because it goes toward preparing humanity to dwell in it. Everything leans toward providing the environment and everything that humans need to survive.

The environment of having light and darkness to govern time, the atmosphere to govern weather, and the land and vegetation to provide food was necessary for life. Then God provided birds and fish, as well as land animals to provide further food for humanity. They also provide for other needs humans would have.

Then God created humans in his image to govern over his creation that he gave them as an environment to live in. It’s only this seventh time that God evaluates what he has created that he says it is “very good.”

Everything is just right to house humanity, made in his image. They represent God on the earth and are stewards of all he has entrusted to them. That is why God evaluates his creation so much. This is why many scholars the creation of humanity was the pinnacle of God’s creation. He creates humanity in his image and evaluates his creation to be very good for the first time.

The number seven is the number of perfection or completion in Hebrew literature. It suggests that the seventh time God said creation was good was a sort of seal of completion on it. He was done creating, and the seventh day rest bears that out. Once he had created an environment for humans he rested on the seventh day and inhabited the whole earth.

The idea of rest in Scripture can convey God’s filling the earth with his presence. The same type of rest happens when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated (2 Chronicles 7). Though the word “rest” is not used God does inhabit the Temple to show his pleasure. So there is a completion on the seventh day that is signaled by the sixth day’s evaluation of “very good” for the seventh time in the chapter.

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Redemption Story

This entry is part 118 of 122 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by yogesh more from Pixabay

Everyone has a story. It could be funny, sad, dramatic, suspenseful, and any number of adjectives. Stories draw people in and keep them entertained. Authors live to tell great stories and readers love to read them.

It takes artful patience and skill to tell a great story. The characters have to be engaging. Setting has to be interesting. And all that is just a backdrop. Some of the most iconic stories of our time and before us are celebrated and loved by all.

But the greatest story ever told has all of these things. It’s a story that’s been repeated through other stories throughout time. It’s so compelling it’s become the pattern for many stories. But why are we talking about stories?

This story is all about holiness. You wouldn’t think so at first but you will see holiness woven through it. As I talk about what God has done for all of us we will see how important: this is, the very backbone of the story of God and his grace.

Sin on Center Stage

God existed before everything else. It’s because of him that anything exists at all. He powerfully created everything we know. But of all the things he did in those seven days of creation his favorite part was creating humans.

But he did a couple of things that would later cut right to his heart. After putting his heart into all of creation, the pinnacle of which was humanity, he gave them free will. He wanted them to choose to love and worship him but that’s not what happened.

He placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and gave him his most precious gift, woman from his rib and side. There were so many things for humans to be grateful for and to worship God for doing. He wanted them to avoid the pains of rebellion and its consequences.

So he told them not to eat from one tree in a garden full of them. But Adam and Eve could not stay away. Their curiosity got the best of them. It only took a talking snake to get both of them so far off track. And they would never be able to get back on their own.

They chose to listen to the word of a serpent instead of the voice of God. They opened the door to sin and the consequence of death. But it wasn’t what they thought – at first. God said they would surely die if they ate from this tree. But when they did, nothing happened.

If only that were true. Right away the knew they were both naked. Before that day they loved walking with God in the cool of the day. But when he came to lock with them that day they ran and hid in the bushes. Death is first separation from God. And then is physical death.

The God who did everything he could to create humans to worship and love him found himself walking alone in a garden he made to walk with them. Just like any good story, it starts with the sad part. But don’t count God out yet.

Sacrificing for Sins

Because sin separates us from God there was no way for us to walk with him or know him by our own means. This is a story of God choosing between his justice and his mercy. When Adam and Eve used their free will to choose against him he further started over. There were only two people on the planet.

But he didn’t. He chose more mercy and grace than we can imagine. God was the first to sacrifice for humanity and he would be the last. It would cost him more and more each time he had to do it.

It started with an animal in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve tried to fix their nakedness, representing lack of intimacy with themselves and God, with fig leaves. God knew this would never be enough. So he sacrificed an animal to put skins on them.

But it didn’t stop there. Humans continued to sin until he couldn’t let it go any longer or it would destroy everything in creation. So he started over with a great Flood. But it wasn’t long before humanity was back to its old choices.

So God chose a nation out of all the other nations to be his own. It belonged to him. He gave them his laws so they would know what he expected. But all his laws dead was show them how far away from him they were.

To avoid everyone dying from the death penalty in his laws he made the sacrificial system. Animals would die in their place so they could be holy before him. But every time they sinned against him they had to kill another animal. It didn’t last.

There was only one more thing he could do. He must sacrifice himself. And so he did. He sent his one and only Son to teach the people what he was really like. Even his nation had gotten off track. Instead of hearing his Son and being drawn back to him they killed him.

The first time he saved his people was from the Egyptians. They were slaves in that land and he sent the Destroyer to show the Egyptians their evil hearts. The Destroyer took the lives of all of their firstborn sons.

The only thing that saved his nation was to be obedient, to sacrifice a lamb, smear its blood on their door posts, and eat the lamb in preparation for their exodus. When his Son came on the scene his forerunner called him, “The Lamb of God who takes the sin of the world.

Sure enough, the Son of God would soon hang on a cross, his smearing the wooden posts like the blood of the Passover lamb. Except this time it would be a once for all, ultimate sacrifice that would take away sin from anyone who chose to trust in his sacrifice.

God gave the ultimate sacrifice. It started in a garden but it ended on a hill. The Father who wanted people to come to him went to them. He has given his all over and over. And this time it would change everything about his creation.

Forgiveness for Failures

People want to call their sins failures or give them another fancy name. They certainly don’t want to get involved with the Father’s sacrifices. No one understood why God would do this. But this became the only way anyone would become holy and able to dwell with him.

Holiness was required of everyone to dwell with him. It’s why he gave his nation’s laws. It’s why he provided sacrifices, to continue to bridge the gap sin had caused. To anyone who hears the story of his sacrifices and believes on the sacrifice of the Son he gives the right to become his children and join him forever.

His Son on the cross displayed his forgiving nature as everyone around him screamed at and enjoyed his crucifixion. He chose once again to act first. In the midst of the chaos he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The one Person in all of history who didn’t need to forgive anyone was the first to forgive. And as he held out the olive branch to bring peace to humanity, reconciliation twin God and his creation, he died to save them.

What he did on the cross, especially his act of forgiveness and opening the door for those who trust in his sacrifice and live for him echoes through the ages and is available even today. God’s high standards are impossible for humans to reach on their own, so he gives his Spirit to come alongside them. He has done the work from beginning to end.

Love for the Lost

Before he died on the cross the Father’s Son taught humanity all about his love for them. They were like lost sheep and lost sons that the Father was drawing back to himself. But they must choose to come to him.

He taught them how to love. Their shallow ideas of what love truly was weren’t even close to the truth of love. With every action the Father throughout history has shown them how to love. And then his ultimate display of his love happened as God gave himself to save them.

Now he demands that same love from everyone who comes to him. But humans can’t do it in themselves. They need his help, the help of his Spirit. And so he waits with open arms, an invitation to come and see, and then do, what he does.

But for many this compelling story still does not have a happy ending. It’s God’s story – but it’s also our story when we choose to follow him. When we come under his sacrifice and learn from him it becomes our story.

It’s the story of the sin that separates us from the one loving Creator who drained the dregs of his plan for us. It’s the story of a God who sacrificed everything, even himself, to open the path to peace with him. It’s the story of a God who forgives even the worst sins. And it’s the story of a God who loves with an unconditional love that cannot be measured. It’s the story of the God who waits for you.

Conclusion

If this is a familiar story to you, and it’s become your story, share it in the comments. It’s a story that’s happened over and over, bigger than just you and me. And it won’t stop until the Father sends the Son to pick up everyone whose story the Father has finished. Join me in telling his story and your story once again. It never gets old.

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