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Basic Facts from 1 Corinthians (Part 3)

As we come to First Corinthians chapter 7, there are three important – indeed, fundamental – things that relate to Paul’s inspired instructions about marriage. First is that the context of his words is specific to the time and circumstances of the Corinthian Christians. Christianity was beginning to be persecuted with the force of law, so less “leverage” could be applied against an unmarried Christian than against one who was married. Those trying to force a Christian to renounce their…

Basic Facts from 1 Corinthians (Part 1)

The church at Corinth was established by the apostle Paul when he arrived in that ancient city in Acts 18. The social and moral environment he encountered there was very similar to our modern western society; Corinth was an very wealthy city, and the Corinthian people were famous in the ancient world for their obsession with luxury and decadence. They were also renowned for both religious “diversity” and for flagrant immorality. To describe someone as a “Corinthian” in that era…

Basic Facts from Romans (Part 5)

In Romans 14, Paul speaks to the matter of “judgement” as it relates to the way Christians view one another and evaluate one another’s motives. Those engaged in sin often try to rationalize their misbehavior by asserting, “I’m not hurting anybody but myself, so butt out and quit judging me!” Paul points out in vs. 7, however, that “None of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.” In other words, the claim that a sin affects “only”…

Basic Facts from Romans (Part 4)

In the ninth through eleventh chapters of Romans, Paul writes extensively about national Israel’s relationship with God, and he emphasizes that it was based on God’s covenant with Abraham – not on the law given through Moses. Although Israel had enjoyed many benefits and advantages because of their relationship with the Lord, Paul points out that these blessings were not restricted only to the physical descendants of Isaac and Jacob. Instead, he emphasizes that all those who are “children” of…

Basic Facts from Romans (Part 3)

From a secular perspective, one of the most controversial statements in Romans appears at chapter 6:22-23, where Paul points out that Christians have been set free from sin so that we can become servants. (The Greek word here – douloo – can mean both bond-servants or slaves.) What is often ignored here is the fact that this “slavery” is the voluntary and grateful response of one who has received the gift of “holiness” (sanctification) and eternal life! The alternative (in…

Basic Facts from Romans (Part 2)

Beginning at Romans 2:12, Paul offers an extensive explanation of how the ancient Jews were justified by Moses’ law. He notes at the outset that the law applied only to Israel, not to all people generally. (Christians need to understand that we are not – and never have been – “under the ten commandments” because that law was never addressed to us). Paul em- phasizes that those under that law would be judged according to its requirements, while those not…

Basic Facts from Romans (Part 1)

Romans is Paul’s great, inspired treatise on the subject of righteousness. It is the longest of his thirteen letters (fourteen, if he authored Hebrews), and it addresses the subject of salvation is a very logical, organized way. While Romans is often the favorite biblical book for denominations that assert salvation is “by faith ONLY,” the Holy Spirit’s main point is that justification comes through obedient faith in Jesus Christ. The first six chapters of Romans present a very systematic explanation…

Basic Facts from Acts (Part 6)

When Paul met with the elders of the Ephesian congregation at the coastal town of Miletus, he gave them these instructions about their position in the church: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28, NKJ – emphasis mine, DR). Paul’s words make it very plain that God – acting through His Holy Spirit…

Basic Facts from Acts (Part 5)

Of the MANY lessons to learn from Acts 17, here are two important ones: First we see a vivid contrast in the response between the Jewish community in Thessalonica and the Jews at Berea, when they heard the gospel (vv. 5-11). The Jews of Thessalonica did not welcome Paul’s message, and responded by causing a riot and assaulting Jason and other Jews who did become Christians. In Berea, however, the members of the synagogue responded to the words of Paul…

Basic Facts from Acts (Part 4)

In Acts 6:7, we learn that the expression “the Jews” (commonly used throughout Matthew – John), is NOT a blanket description of all the people in Judæa. Aside from the fact that we can read in Mark 12:37 that “the common people heard [Jesus] gladly” we also learn from Acts 6 that many priests in and around Jerusalem became Christians. This shows that many educated people in the general Jewish population were sincere, and were genuinely looking for the Messiah…

Basic Facts from Acts (Part 3)

Acts 3:17-19 presents an important – though currently unpopular – lesson on the subject of sin: In addressing people who had gathered in the area of the temple called “Solomon’s porch” (Acts 3:11), Peter spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion and noted three things with respect to those listening to his words: First, he emphasized their liability and guilt in the matter of Jesus’ death; they had denied Him and followed the Jewish rulers in asking for the release of Barabbas in…

Basic Facts from Acts (Part 1)

The book of Acts is the Holy Spirit’s record of the establishment and growth of the church. Penned by Luke as an inspired “sequel” to the gospel record that bears his name, Acts illustrates how the apostles fulfilled Jesus’ instruction to spread the gospel message throughout the ancient world; “…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The people, places, doctrines and…