Last week I wrote a post called – Precious Faith – which looked at the opening words of Peter’s second letter. Having reminded his readers of his slavery and apostleship, and the like precious faith they share, Peter continues.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)
Living A Godly Life
In his opening, Peter tells us that we share a faith given to us by God. Likewise here, we see another example of what God has given to us. Namely, everything!
Well, not strictly true… although I once heard a preacher say that this verse does mean just that. That God has given us everything we might want, need or desire. If we were not fallen, sinful creatures, then that might not be so bad.
Peter, however, does not mean literally everything but rather qualifies his words. God, by His power, has given us everything we need for “living a godly life.” God has indeed blessed us richly, and gives us what we need that we might live godly lives. He does not empower us to commit sin, nor to swallow up all we want in selfish greed.
It can be very difficult to be a Christian in today’s world. Some days it feels like we live on a different planet to the rest of the population. We are criticised, laughed at and persecuted, and at times it can feel almost impossible to live in a godly way.
Yet, Peter would encourage us by reminding us of what we have been given – everything! We can do it, because we have what we need. This is not to depend on ourselves to live righteously, but instead to draw on that “divine power” that the Holy Spirit brings. We live godly because we follow Christ, and want to be like Him. We have courage to stand out from the world even if it costs us something.
Verse 3 continues by saying we have received all of thins by coming to know Him – that is, the One who has called us by His marvellous glory and excellence. So, this means that we receive this as we come to know Jesus Christ. It is not received in church attendance, daily devotionals, doing good works (as profitable as those things are), but it is also about knowing Christ.
I am reminded of Paul’s words from Philippians:
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
Philippians 3:8 (NLT)
I have been challenged lately by asking myself how Christlike I am. I often do not feel a whole lot like Him, and as I examine what it means to be like Him, I have to first truly know Him. I challenge you in the same way today; are you Christlike? How well do you know Jesus?
Last time, we thought about the precious faith we share, and now Peter points to precious promises.
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
2 Peter 1:4 (NLT)
Because of His glory, because of how excellent Christ is, He has bestowed upon us promises as precious as our faith.
These promises allow us to share in Christ’s nature, and that is also what allows us to become Christlike. I hasten to point out that these promises are not given to us because we are good, have earned them or are superior to anyone else; no, they are given to us simply because we know the Lord.
The corruption of the world is what I touched on earlier. We are surrounded by sinfulness, and temptation seems to appear from every direction. How can we Christians escape such wickedness and not be overwhelmed by it? By receiving these very valuable promises, by drawing on Christ and all His strength and abiding in Him (as a branch linked to a vine) we can deny human (sinful) desire and seek the Spirit’s lead.
Practically, what does this all mean?
Put simply, I believe these verses point us back to God’s Word. We find these precious promises in the Bible. We come to know Christ fully as we see Him revealed in Scripture. As we study the Word, it changes us from the inside out and, over time, we become more like the Lord we serve.
Seek out those promises today. Read the Gospels and learn about who Jesus is. As you do so, you will be eternally blessed.
I love it when the Bible catches you off guard. And especially so when it is a passage you think you know well. That very thing happened to me this morning. I was looking over the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. I cannot say I was actually reading it, but was more just…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/04/17/the-challenging-word-of-god/
Listening to some Christian radio the other day, the person being interviewed happened to mention the name of a fairly well-known speaker who I listen to quite often. They suggested this person was a “false teacher,” and make a passing remark about why they thought that.
I then did what I probably should not have done… (check out my series on Proverbs for advice on wise choices!). I googled! A few simple key words led me straight to a web site which laid out in detail why this particular preacher was a false teacher. Naturally, they had links to other Bible teachers I am familiar with, and foolishly, I clicked.
Before long, I had a whole list of so-called “false teachers” to deal with. This was, of course, just one opinion, but I personally find it difficult once seeds of doubt have been sown.
We should be wary of false teachers:
But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2 Many will follow their immoral[a] ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned. 3 In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn’t linger, and their destruction will not slumber.
2 Peter 2:1-3 (WEB)
There are clearly false teachers in the world and in the church, proclaiming a distorted gospel which is no Gospel at all. Some deny Christ, and others deny the truth of the Bible. We must be on the look out for such people, and defend the faith against those who would malign it (to borrow from Peter’s words above).
There are clearly false teachers in the world and in the church, proclaiming a distorted gospel which is no Gospel at all. #Bible #truth #Christianity
This is a very difficult issue however, and the problem with being deceived is that you do not know about it, otherwise you would not be deceived at all. How do we guard against such things? I will give you my thoughts shortly.
Before I do, I want to point out that there is no ministry of criticism. The website I stumbled across yesterday listed many preachers and their faults, but gave little or no alternatives. It is no one’s job or calling to simply point out what everyone else is doing wrong. We should be alert to false teaching, and address it appropriately when we encounter it, but that is very different to setting yourself up as the Gospel police.
So how do we defend against false teaching? Here are a few thoughts.
Know your Bible
You cannot hope to detect falsities if you do not know the truth. Set about knowing the Scriptures for yourself. If someone makes a claim which is clearly contrary to what the Bible says, you know you can safely dismiss it.
When travelling on a journey, you need to know your route. If you know the destination and how to reach it, then you will soon know if you take a wrong turn. If you know now the destination nor the path to get there, every road looks the same.
Systematically study the Word of God. Let Scripture speak for itself. Let it be its own defence. One verse out of context does not a doctrine make. Scripture must be interpreted in the light of other Scripture.
Know the teacher
Get to know the Bible teacher you are listening to, and I do not mean personally (although that is always helpful!). Find out a bit more about them. Anyone who’s anyone can get a website, write a blog or publish a book these days (including me) and unfortunately that does not always qualify them to speak into your life.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)
If the teacher is bearing bad fruit, then I would suggest not listening to them, even if they are charismatic, interesting or exciting – or if everyone else listens to them.
If they are bearing good fruit, then it gives you confidence that they are at least attempting to follow Jesus.
Listening to the radio or watching Christian TV makes it very difficult to be a fruit inspector however. What someone portrays on screen may be very different to what they are like behind closed doors. Be discerning, do your research (bearing in mind it is easier to criticise than anything else) and measure what you hear against the Bible.
Know the Truth Giver
If you have made every effort to get to know the teachers you are following, and based that against your hopefully good knowledge of the Bible, then the last and most important point I can make is this – know the Bringer of Truth.
However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
John 16:13 (WEB)
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He will guide you. Do not attempt to follow the Spirit without first knowing your Bible, as it can be all too easy to be deceived if you do. But, the Spirit, hand in hand with the Bible, will lead you into all truth.
Avoiding false teachers is not as easy as it might seem. If you search for anyone on the web, you will find something wrong with them. We are all imperfect, and not one of us has complete understanding. All we can do is be mindful of false teaching around us, take the steps above and ensure we are following Christ and bearing fruit.
May the Lord protect you from all falsehood and deception, and may the Spirit of Truth bless you with insight and understanding. In the name of Jesus! Amen
I remember writing this post from a few years ago, and the algorithms which drive traffic to one’s blog still baffle me today!
For me, what remains true, is that even if one person read my blog and is blessed by it, it was all worthwhile.
I hope you enjoy this repost
This post lands on Tuesday 31st March, and I think is the 15th day in a row where I have posted. That is a pretty good run, and although I did not start this because of COVID-19, I am carrying on because of it. There is so much negative news going around, and I just…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/03/31/on-christian-blogging/
It was my pleasure to speak at our church is online service this morning on the first Sunday in Advent.
Unfortunately, a few technical hitches meant we lost the last few minutes of the message and if it appears that I lost my way in the middle… that’s because somebody walked into the room during the recording!
I have now written and published a series of posts on Genesis 37, which covers the early part of the story of Joseph. I know it is a familiar story to many, and I hope that you have found my thoughts helpful.
Let me summarise chapter 37 for you now:
There once was a son, beloved by his father, and he made some very bold claims about himself. He was hated by his brothers, so much so that they bound him and beat him. They wanted to kill him and left him for dead. They thought they had gotten rid of him for good for the price of a few silver coins. They did not realise that one day, he would return to rule over them.
Who am I talking about here? Joseph? Or Jesus? With some careful wording, the above seems to apply rather well to both the son of Jacob and the Son of God.
Joseph is a “type” of Christ, and by type, I mean something akin to a prototype. In the Hebrew Scriptures, prophecy is less about predicting the future, and more about establishing a pattern. Joseph is a pattern for Christ.
Let’s walk back through Genesis 37 and see if we can spot the similarities between Joseph and Jesus.
Joseph was hated by his brothers. Jesus was largely rejected by the people of Israel. (Gen 37:4)
Joseph was beloved by his father, as was Jesus beloved by His Father (Gen 37:4)
Joseph’s brothers hated him for telling them the truth (his dreams). Jesus was hated by the religious leaders of the day for telling them the truth. (Gen 37:5)
Joseph told his brothers that they would one day bow down to him. Jesus said that one day we all will bow down to Him (Gen 37:6-7)
Joseph’s father sent him to his brothers. Jesus was sent by the Father to the people of Israel (Gen 37:13)
Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him; Jesus’ fellow Israelites plotted to kill Him. (Gen 37:18)
They threw Joseph in a pit, and Jesus was put in a tomb hewn from rock. (Gen 37:19)
They stripped Joseph of his tunic, and the same was done to Jesus (Gen 37:23)
Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver; Jesus was sold for thirty pieces. (Gen 37:28)
Reuben returned to Joseph’s pit and found it empty. Likewise, the women found Jesus’ tomb empty on the third day (Gen 37:29)
Joseph’s brothers killed a male goat to hide their sin. Jesus became a sacrifice for us all, and His blood covered our sin (Gen 37:31)
Some of these, alone, may seem just trivial or coincidental. But when you look at the list as whole, you must admit there is certainly something here.
Is Joseph a perfect, prophetic representation of Jesus? No, not exactly of course. However, there are signs here and patterns set out which we must not gloss over. This passage alone is surely not enough to convince anyone of Jesus’ future coming, but take it alongside the many other Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, and a picture forms.
I am not suggesting you bend Scripture to make it say whatever you wish. IF you look however, you will soon see that Jesus is ever present in His Word. The old Testament is a shadow of things to come, and that shadow is that of Christ Himself.
Genesis 37 is not the only place in Joseph’s story where we see Christ. As we continue on through his story, I will try to point them out to you. If you spot one that I miss, do let me know!
Rest assured; the Bible is true! It is the only truth we can rely on! I have not just bet my life on it, but my whole eternity as well. How about you?
Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts on the early part of the book of acts. The below post, which is about a protective father seems appropriate for this fathers day!
To all of the fathers out there, I wish you a very happy Father’s Day! It is both a very difficult and very rewarding job to raise children in this difficult world. Be encouraged and God bless you and your children today.￼￼￼
At long last, we move on to Acts 5. This chapter opens with a rather disturbing set of events, and I want to try to shed some light on what is happening here. This particular passage is a difficult one, and I admit to having struggled with it for many years. I will explain why,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/06/16/a-protective-father/
Reuben returned to the pit, and saw that Joseph wasn’t in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The child is no more; and I, where will I go?” 31 They took Joseph’s tunic, and killed a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32 They took the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, “We have found this. Examine it, now, and see if it is your son’s tunic or not.”
33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s tunic. An evil animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.” 34 Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “For I will go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” His father wept for him. 36 The Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard.
Genesis 37:29-36 (WEB)
If you cast your mind back to an earlier part of the story, you will recall that Reuben was the one who convinced his brothers not to murder Joseph in cold blood. Instead, he talked them into leaving him in the pit and letting nature take its course. This somehow seemed more palatable to them.
Secretly however, Reuben had planned to return and rescue Joseph so that he could return him to his father, and claim the credit. This is pretty low…
Our passage today picks up the account and opens with Reuben’s return. His is more than a little dismayed to find Joseph gone!
Reuben tears his clothes as a sign of grief, or perhaps regret. It does not appear to be a sign of repentance, as he was not exactly acting out of the purest of motives. Rather he recognises that he won’t be able to “save the day” and claim the credit now. He is sorry of course, but for quite the wrong reasons.
I acknowledged my sin to you.
I didn’t hide my iniquity.
I said, I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 32:5 (WEB)
Psalm 32 is one of the Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Repentance. Here in verse 5, the psalmist asked to be forgiven for the iniquity of their sin – other translations say the “sinfulness of my sin.” See my post of the same name – The Sinfulness of my Sin.
Often when we are caught in wrongdoing, we are sorry for the consequences, not the sin itself. A bank robber is sorry he got caught red-handed, but would feel no guilt had they gotten away with it. Reuben, here, is likewise sorry for the consequences of his sin, not the wrongdoing itself.
The Cover Up
There is a possible gap between verse 30 and 31, as the text moves from Reuben’s cries straight to the brothers’ cover up of events. Presumably one of them told him what had happened in his absence.
Joseph is gone, and the brothers must now deal with the obvious. What will they tell their father? Taking Joseph’s coloured coat, they kill a goat and use its blood to stain the tunic. This will be evidence enough of Joseph’s supposed fate.
Taking it to Jacob, they ask him to identify it. In the absence of a body, this is the next best thing and they do not correct him (of course) when he assumes Joseph has been killed by a wild animal.
Look at the grief they inflict on Jacob! His heart is broken and he descends into deep mourning for many days. His other sons and daughters try to comfort him, but to no avail.
Did they feel any guilt, I wonder, as they looked upon their father during this time? He was so broken that he wished to go to Sheol – the place of the dead – so that he might be with his beloved son. Would a spark of remorse have been felt by any of them? The Bible does not record it.
To what lengths people will go to cover up their sinfulness. I see it in myself at times too. I make a mistake at work and there is clear temptation to sweep it under the carpet, or to give a version of events which look less unfavourable. Surely I am not alone in feeling such temptation in those moments?
Christians must not lie however. We must be honest and truthful, even if it means admitting we’ve done wrong and facing the consequences.
The passage, and this chapter, close by telling us that Joseph (meanwhile) is taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar, who is a servant of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard. This will later turn out to be another divine appointment for Joseph – but we’ll pick that up another day.