jump to navigation

The Rich Young Man July 8, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Here are my thoughts on Matthew 19:16-30.

Summary: In this passage, a rich young man asks Jesus how he can obtain the life of God. Jesus responds by asserting that one obtains the life of God by keeping His commandments.

The rich young man asserts that He has kept all of God’s commandments – yet it turns out that he cannot place all of his possessions under His Lordship.

Jesus then stresses the following point: it is impossible for a rich man to obtain the life of God.

His disciples are dumbfounded; they wonder if anyone can obtain the life of God. Jesus responds by stating that while men cannot obtain it by their own efforts, God can enable them to obtain it by causing them to submit to His Lordship. Moreover, at His Second Coming, His disciples will:

  • reign with Him
  • inherit the entire body of Christ.

Thoughts: Here, Jesus asserts that a rich man cannot obtain the life of God by his own efforts. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

Riches, which all desire to obtain – riches, for which people labor and toil and become gray before their time – riches are the most perilous possession. They often inflict great injury on the soul; they lead people into many temptations; they engross people’s thoughts and affections; they bind heavy burdens on the heart, and make the way to heaven even more difficult than it naturally is.

While I lead a (relatively) spartan life, I strive to retain the comforts that I enjoy. Since I crave security and comfort, I strive to retain my job; moreover, the prospect, however remote, of unemployment is worrisome. I posit that many believers experience at least some stress regarding their finances at some point in this life; even if one has achieved financial security by accumulating great wealth, I posit that the process of building a nest egg is stressful. I struggle to maintain my confidence and trust in God’s providence on a daily basis, and I certainly need His forgiveness for those instances where I have doubted His willingness to supply my daily needs.

Jesus also asserts that each believer inherits the entire body of Christ. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

Christ can raise up friends for us who will more than compensate for those we lose; Christ can open hearts and homes to us far more warm and hospitable than those that are closed against us; above all, Christ can give us peace of conscience, inward joy, bright hopes and happy feelings, which will far outweigh every pleasant earthly thing that we have cast away for his sake.

I do not know if I have lost any friends due to my faith, as none of the unbelievers whom I have known have ever stated that they could not interact with me due to my Christian worldview. I do know that I have enjoyed the hospitality and care of various believers over the years. I am grateful for those believers whom God has placed in my life to bless me and encourage me in my walk with Him; I am curious as to how God will enable me to maintain – and deepen – those relationships in the next life…

To the Church in Smyrna November 23, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Here are my thoughts on Revelation 2:8-11.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus Christ commands John to write to the minister of the church in Smyrna. In particular, He commends them for their spiritual wealth – even though they are destitute. He also steels them to face impending persecution. Indeed, He promises that those who overcome persecution will never die a spiritual death.

Thoughts: I certainly hope to meet the believers from the church in Smyrna in the next life and learn how they responded to this letter. I hope to ply them with queries such as:

  • who were the Jews who opposed them in Smyrna?
  • why were they imprisoned?
  • who persecuted them in Smyrna?
  • did that persecution last for ten days?

I should also note that they are a paragon for modern-day believers, since they stored up spiritual riches even though they lacked worldly riches. Indeed, we should focus on reducing our attachment to worldly wealth and increasing our attachment to spiritual wealth. This is a challenging task for believers in First World nations – yet we know that God can help us overcome the snare of worldly wealth.

Sowing Generously February 3, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Here are my thoughts on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Corinthians that anyone who gives freely will gain more than they give, while anyone who gives reluctantly will be impoverished. Yet he does not want them to give out of either sorrow or compulsion of circumstances – he wants them to give joyfully, as God will bless them in that event. God has the power to increase their earthly possessions so that in everything they will be sustained, having enough to continue giving. He then quotes from Psalm 112:9 to reinforce the point that anyone who is generous to the poor will always be able to give generously.

Paul notes that as God supplies seed to the farmer to yield bread for consumption, He will abundantly supply the Corinthians with wealth so that they can give generously; He will increase their ability to give generously. In fact, God will make them abundantly rich so that they can continue giving generously; moreover, thanksgiving to God will flow from Paul’s ministry to their poor brothers in Jerusalem.

The ministry that the Corinthians offer via their collection does not merely compensate the needs of their poor brothers in Jerusalem – it produces abundant good and thanksgiving to God. By rendering a service to their poor brothers in Jerusalem, men will glorify God for their display of

  • obedience to their confession as Christians
  • consciousness of their communion with their poor brothers in Jerusalem – and with all Christians in general.

The generosity that God will allow them to display will also cause their poor brothers in Jerusalem to pray for them. Paul concludes by bursting out in praise to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that God enables those who give generously to continue their giving ways. Hodge offers some pointed thoughts on this in his commentary on verse 8:

Here it clearly refers to earthly good; it means the kind of good or favor that enables those who receive it to give abundantly. The idea, therefore, obviously is, ‘God is able to increase your wealth.’

Hodge goes on to note in his commentary on verse 9 that this is meant to be a general principle – and not meant to be applied in all situations. This got me thinking about the generosity that Paul exhorted the Corinthians to display; it is apparent that he knew that they possessed the gift of generosity. Now do all Christians possess the gift of generosity? If not, does this passage apply to all believers? I get the sense that I do not possess this gift, yet I wonder if that is due to 1) my genuine lack of this gift or 2) my sinful nature hindering me from giving as much as God wants me to give.

Verse 15 serves as a rather surprising – yet appropriate – conclusion to this passage on generosity. Hodge offers some enlightening thoughts:

It is his habit also to introduce ejaculations of adoration or thanksgiving into the midst or at the close of his teachings or exhortations (Romans 1:25; 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Timothy 1:17). The passage, therefore, ought to stand, as we do not doubt the vast majority of the readers of the Bible understand it, as an outburst of gratitude to God for the gift of his Son.

It is clear that Paul was so full of the Holy Spirit that one can find these occasional outbursts of praise to God in his letters. This verse reminds me of his doxology in Romans 11:33-36, which does flow naturally from his comforting point that all Israel will be saved. Indeed, I am glad to say that I know several believers who are so full of the Holy Spirit that they, like Paul, will praise God on the most (apparently) random occasions. I wonder if praising God on (apparently) random occasions corresponds to a gift that all believers possess – possibly to varying degrees.