Sunday, September 19, 2010

Problem / Sin Relationship?

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. [Luke 13:1-5 NKJV]

It is interesting to hear people compare other's sin to the problems they experience. For example they may say that since John Doe is having so many problems it is because of the magnitude of sin he has in his life. Not only do we hear this today, this was also a common Jewish belief of the time. We have to understand a few things about sin and consequences. Never forget that we face the consequences of our decisions. This is true, however, it is not the case that all problems are in proportion to the level of sin we are in the middle of.

Think about Job. He was a man that the Bible says was upright and blameless. He was a man of complete integrity. If you read the book that bears his name you will see the he loses almost everything in his life. He loses his kids and all of his possessions. What did he do wrong? He did nothing wrong. Remember the Bible called him blameless.

So, what do we make of all of this? Sometimes we go through trials in life as part of satan's attempt to steer us off course. Sometimes we are allowed to experience trials to build faith or character. But through it all we experience the power and hand of God to guide and comfort us. We may not know why God allows up to experience certain trials in our lives but we can be sure that He loves and cares for us and has our best interest at heart.

Remember, God sent His only Son to this world to live a perfect life and become the sacrifice for the sins of this world. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, He conquered death and the grave giving anyone who believes in Him everlasting life (John 3:16). This gives us comfort to know that God loved us so much that He provided the way for us to live eternally with Him. Sin, however, does create a problem for mankind. Without repenting and coming to Christ as Jesus said in Luke 13 we will perish no matter how great or how small the sin.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 3)

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him,  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:61–62.]

In the third part to this series of Divided Interest we are going to look at the third man in Luke 9:57-62. The third man responds to Christ that he will follow Him but he first wants to go home and say good-by to his family. We might not think that this is too great of a request but Jesus throws the man a curve. He says that no one who has his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

What may not be evident in this passage is the knowledge of the Jews who would immediately have recalled the situation between Elijah and Elisha. Elijah had allow Elisha to do this very thing when Elisha was plowing (1 Kings 19:19-20). So why does Jesus seem harsh with this man? First, Jesus is placing a great emphasis on the kingdom. He is essentially saying that the kingdom is more important than anything, even family. The message of the Messiah cannot wait. In comparison to Elijah's message, the message of Christ is far more important and demands complete and total allegiance.

Followers of Jesus cannot have a divided interest. How much of our time do we sacrifice kingdom things in light of good things? I believe that we can learn a lot from Jesus' attitude toward the priorities of man. Are there things that we need to lay aside for Christ?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 2)

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him,  “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:59–60.]

I have been asked many times about this passage. Most people are concerned that Jesus apparently did not allow this man to bury his father. The people who interpret the Scripture in this manner may be overlooking the fact that if this man's father was already dead, then he would have already been involved in the burial process. This passage is better interpreted that the man's father was not already dead and thus he preferred to wait until his father passed before committing.

It is interesting that Jesus used the same words ("Follow Me") to call this man to follow Him as He did His disciples. To compare the disciples response, this man was not willing to leave on Jesus' terms but rather his own terms. Jesus' reply illustrated that his response was not acceptable.

The priority placed on the message of the kingdom is apparent. Jesus is calling people to be radically changed followers committing themselves to His will. Is our commitment pleasing to Christ or do we have other commitments that take priority?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 1)

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him,  “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:57–58.]


I have been studying Luke 9:57-62 this week. This has always been a fascinating passage of Scripture. Jesus, His disciples, and three individuals are presented in verses 57-62 of this passage. The first person who enters the picture tells Jesus that he will follow Him where ever He goes. Jesus replies that foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. At first glance the meaning may not be as obvious to the reader without some thinking into the situation.

Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. We find earlier in the chapter that Jesus gave His disciples instructions on how to find rest and food when entering into a new city. He told them about His coming death and the cost of being a disciple. As we come to the close of this chapter a man approaches and expresses his desire to follow Christ. Jesus' reply expresses that anyone who desires to follow Him must be willing to give up the necessities of life. Essentially, Jesus was asking if the man was willing to give up everything to be a follower.

We have to ask ourselves the same question. I feel too many people expect to live the life they have always wanted while calling themselves a Christian. When the trials come they reply that this was not what they bargained for. Jesus wants us to know that the cost of being a follower may not be the life that we expect. Being a follower of Jesus involves sacrifice and sometimes hardships. However, when we truly see our relationship to Christ as the result of the sacrifice that was made for us then it is not too difficult to face whatever may come before us.

Our love for Christ should not be second to our love for the luxuries of this world.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Logos?

I know many of you recently have heard me talk about Logos software. I am usually not one to advertise other's products on my blog, Facebook, twitter, etc., however, this one product is one of my greatest helps to the study of God's Word. Here are some of the questions that I am routinely asked that has partially prompted me to write a post concerning this subject:

  • What is your opinion of the best Bible software on the market?
  • Is there a really good Bible app for the iPhone?
  • What Greek language helps are there on the market?
  • What do you spend most of your time studying in preparation for teaching or preaching?
Let me try to answer each one of these briefly. First, to the question of the best Bible software on the market, I would have to answer Logos Bible Software. I used to be a big fan of the PC Study Bible, however, in seminary I was introduced to Logos and life has never been the same. In my opinion there is no comparison between the products. Logos will allow you to search every book in your Logos library (you can have thousands of books consisting of Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries, Bibles, and others) and link all of the search results to the Bible passage you are studying. As you move through the Scripture, the results move with you. It is absolutely incredible! You can search your entire library in just seconds.

Second, is there a really good Bible app for the iPhone? The answer is Logos. It is a free app, but if you own the Logos Bible Software version 4 then most of your library comes with you on the iPhone. The app is also for the iPod Touch and the iPad. You just have to overcome the feeling of people thinking you are text messaging while you are sitting in the services. 

Third, what Greek language computer helps are available? Logos offers the Greek and Hebrew texts (depending on the level your purchase) and has the ability to present, not only the Strong's Numbers, but a complete reverse interlinear against the English text! To me this has become one of the greatest tools for understanding the original language of the Scripture. It walks me through the grammar, tense, and other language difficulties that I have. I don't know any other software that currently does this. 

Finally, what do you spend most of your time studying when preparing to preach or teach? The first answer is the Bible. I always start with God's Word in print in front of me when I am studying. Second, I have my laptop open with Logos Bible Software running. Not only do I have all of the commentaries open but I also have Greek or Hebrew open as well as any other supporting information found within the Logos library. I can compare translations as well as understand the historical and grammatical context of the Scripture. 

I say all of this as a help to others. If I did not love and use the product, I would not back the product. But let me also say that it is a learning curve. Out of the box will require some time to really tap into the power this software has to offer. Don't worry though, the website has a ton of training videos to help you through the process. The software runs on Mac, PC (a beefy one I might add), and the devices listed earlier in this post. As a matter of fact the company is in the process of releasing version 4 to the Mac community as of this writing. 

If you want to know more information you can check out their website at http://www.logos.com. If you are really interested, make sure you understand what you get in each different level. Information can be found on the comparisons page.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV

Have fun studying!
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Dark Side of Change

Most change happens slowly over time. From day to day this seems to be unnoticeable, but in comparison over a decade or a century, it can be drastic. As we grow older we look into the mirror and we don't see a change from one day to the next. But, heaven forbid, when someone pulls out the photo album we run into the next room hiding from the pictures of our past. I had a teenager recently see me in an old high school yearbook. With the laughter and the comments and I had to come to the realization that I don't look like I did 25 years ago.

Understanding that change constantly happens how can we apply this to Christianity? Life surrounding the Old Testament illustrated that the family was responsible for the training of a child in the areas of Spiritual things as well as a trade. From the times of the New Testament Church to the 21st century we have deviated from a home educational environment to a government controlled public school setup.

In the last 2000 years one of the major changes that happened was during the Industrialization period. It was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that industry began to arrive on the scene which demanded the attention of a larger workforce. Young people left their home towns and moved to metropolitan areas to fill the demands of new jobs. By doing this they broke close contact with extended families and their beliefs. It was during this time that the learning of new trades began to be taught within the workforce or public institution.

Our current educational system was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin and John Dewey. In 1859 Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published. This became revolutionary in the school system and could be felt in almost every discipline of education. Born in the same year was and American educator and philosopher by the name of John Dewey. He was brilliant in educational methods and structure, however, his influence to the system was one of naturalism. He left no room for God or creationism. This did not happen overnight. In fact the Industrialization period practically paved the way for Dewey and Darwin to darken the view of God and creation by first weakening the influence and structure of the family.

In the twentieth century our public school system managed to practically remove any element of God and creation out of our public schools. Textbooks scream with evolution and its philosophical disciplines and teachers risk their jobs by presenting Biblical truths as its opposition within their classrooms.

Therefore, if we take a photo album that spans the course of 2000 years we will see a major shift in what influences our children and our society. I am sure that from one year to the next the change that happened could not be seen. But the fact is, we live in a world where Christianity and its foundations are being challenged by unsupported theories and people who desire no connection to a Holy and living God. Darwinism, naturalism, and any other theory that attempts to blind the individual of the truths of the foundations of this universe is only a ploy by the father of lies. His objective is to deceive and destroy without allowing for the reconciliation between man and a Holy God.

So, did all of this happen naturally? No. It was a plot of Satan himself, the father of lies. Even today he will use people to twist the truth and steer others off course. Therefore, we need to be awake and prepared for those who will try to deceive.

2 Peter 2:19 says of those teaching a false gospel: While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.


In Christ,
Doug Johnson
www.dougjohnson.net