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Hope for the Future

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). This is one of the most popular verses shared when people are going through trouble, but the context is often forgotten. The original recipients of this verse were the initial wave of exiles (people who had been taken into captivity) who were residing in Babylon. They were hoping for deliverance from their current situation immediately, but God had other plans.
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are complete for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jer. 29:10) Many of the people who first heard this verse would have died before it came to pass. God's plans are not individual but collective, and they are not necessarily fulfilled in our life time. We need faith to help us comprehend that whatever we are going through is for the best even if we don't understand it.
But seek…

Forgiveness without Repetance

The other night I gave a talk which touched on the topic of forgiveness. During the group discussion afterward the enduring question was brought up, do you forgive if the person does not repent? The answer to this question is a straightforward no, but the situations are not. How can you forgive if someone is not sorry? On the other hand, who is on what side of that equation?

The problem is that not all situations are black and white. In cases of rape, murder, and abuse it is clear that there is a victim and a criminal, but in cases of slander, gossip, and greed the line isn't so clearly etched. Naturally, the parties involved don't see it that way, but that should be expected. Although God is infallible, Christians are not.

Jesus, completely innocent and justified, on the cross said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This example of forgiveness is what should guide our hearts when dealing with our fellow man. Jesus did not wait for man to come t…

Church Discipline - Part 3

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on church discipline.

In Part 1 of this series we discovered that church discipline has a process that aims at restoration. The accused is given multiple opportunities to repent and to have their case heard to ensure that justice is done. Likewise, the accuser's claims are verified by multiple people to avoid false accusations and they are exhorted to have a heart of forgiveness like God's heart towards them. Those responsible for the discipline must also act in accordance with the will of God in order for it to be binding.

In Part 2 of this series we saw a practical example that illustrated that Christian's should shun someone who claims the name of Jesus yet their life is characterized by their sin and they refuse to repent, in order that this person might be restored a…

Church Discipline - Part 2

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on Church discipline.

Part 1, covered Matthew 18:15-35, and Part 2 will cover 1 Corinthians 5. Part 3 will look at the practical application of discipline.

The Corinthian church had many problems one of which was not dealing with persistent sin in their midst. In chapter 5 we find a particularly startling example.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who had done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor. 5:1-2) It appears that the church in Corinth was arrogant with regards to their spirituality. They thought they had it all together when really they should have been in mourning that such a sin could be in …

Church Discipline - Part 1

Previously, I wrote about the importance of the disposition of the heart in church discipline. In this series of articles I want to expand on that a bit further with regards to the major biblical teaching on Church discipline.

Church discipline is necessary for at least two reasons: (1) Local churches can be easily corrupted by one bad apple. (2) It is a mechanism for restoration when people sin. Therefore, discipline is needed for the health of the church. In the Bible, there are two major passages that deal directly with discipline, Matthew 18:15-35 and 1 Corinthians 5.

In Matthew 18:15-35 we see the process, authority, and forgiveness required for church discipline.

Process (Matt. 18:15-17):
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he doesn't listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he …

Worldviews - Part 6

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan. WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives
Part 6. What is Truth? Pilate, who tried Jesus before He was crucified asked, “What is truth?” We are asking the same question today. You cannot trust the news sources from the right or the left since their innate biases colour the news they report on. One of our greatest challenges today is establishing what is true and what is not true. We are rapidly approaching the era of “post-truth,” if we are not already there.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to rely on the information you are receiving to be true because it is “fake” or so biased it does not correspond to reality. We need to reflect on how we know something to be true and something that is not true. How do we know we know and how do we know we don’t know? The Christian believes that truth is found in Jesus and in the Word of God as revealed in the Bible. It is revealed truth beca…

Worldviews - Part 5

This is a six part series on worldviews by guest blogger Frank Allan. WorldviewsThe windows through which we interpret the meaning of our lives
Part 5.  What is the Basis of Morality?

What many secularists do not address is the problem of establishing law and order independent of an objective morally. James Bryce, a British ambassador to the United States in the early twentieth century, in his book, The American Commonwealth, stated that “Christianity is in fact understood to be, though not legally the established religion, yet the national religion.” He was “startled by the thought of what might befall this huge but delicate fabric of laws and commerce and social institutions were the foundation it had rested on to crumble away.” Will and Ariel Durant also questioned the survival of a civilization cut from a religious moral base. “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” Western civiliz…