The reason for this blog is that someone contacting me about one hour ago in deep distress over a loved one who has been taught from a Bible reference that ‘it dishonors God to visit a doctor when they are sick.’ This idea comes from the misuse of 1 Peter 2:24.
Without going into other issues surrounding this verse and the concern, I want to point out keys to understanding what Peter and the Holy Spirit through him is saying. First, let’s read the context.
(21) “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (22) He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (23) When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (25) For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21–25).
<>···Verse 25 reminds us of what our spiritual condition was (straying), and what Jesus has accomplished through His death (returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls).
Reading and studying any verse must be done in context and with the Helper, the Holy Spirit. I trust this will help as you read any section of God’s Word.
Tim and I were receiving the shipment today of God’s Plan for His Disciples and thinking about where we will find hungry hearts who want to study Scripture and really learn from it. As we prayed, people came to mind who would immediately want these books. As we have found all over the world, it is the poor and persecuted.
After talking to thousands of people, feeding them and healing their sick, raising their dead, it was only the twelve disciples who said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). People were amazed at the miracles Jesus performed, and even His teaching made them wonder at the wisdom that came from His mouth (Luke 4:36). Many were happy to have physical blessing, but did not want the spiritual food.
Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal” (John 6:27).
Why are so many satisfied to attend church services, put some money in the offering plate and tell the pastor he preached a good sermon, but they rarely spend time drinking from the Word of God. Jesus made a very harsh statement that caused most disciples to stop following Him; “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). “After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him” (6:66).
The point of this blog is not to get a new book into your hands, but to get your heart hungering for “the food that endures to eternal life.” Please do not substitute anything for this food!
I am so thankful that God looked down the halls of time to our day! He knew what we would face with “social distancing” and restrictions on travel. God has given mankind the wisdom and ability to advance to where we are with communication. This is a great blessing in our day to be able to use His wisdom to spread the Word of God across the globe without even travelimg.
Two days ago, I told you that we had taken our new book, God’s Plan for His Disciples – Third Edition, and put it into an interactive format so anyone in the world who knows English or Mandarin, and has a computer, can download this book and enter their answers right in the book-- (go to our “TRAINING RESOURCES” page). If you have never worked through this book, or studied earlier editions, we highly recommend going through this new edition. It has new Scripture references and lesson details that will inspire you and others.
Here are some other ideas:
<>···Use GPHD to disciple new believers or those wanting to know what it means to be a disciple.
Though this interactive format is in English and Mandarin, we will be adding other languages as soon as possible. Your feedback is important to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to hear from you if you downloaded the book or if you are answering questions.
In this day of restricted travel and gathering in groups, I have been thinking about what we can do in spite of these conditions to advance the gospel. In the last few days, I received emails from missionaries who are now home in the United States because they cannot be in certain foreign countries. These limitations made me analyze my attitude and those of others I know.
We must not forget that the apostles had perhaps worse restrictions just from cultural conditions. What made the difference in their effectiveness? Think of Paul’s general attitude in these verses:
<>··“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak (1 Corinthians 9:22).
What would change in our witness to others if we adopted any or all of these attitudes? Notice how Paul clearly states the purpose for these; “by all means I might save some… I may share with them in its blessings.” This is the way we should be thinking and doing!
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUCEMENT! Our latest revision of God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD 2020) is coming out in several forms with many upgrades over previous editions. Here is what to expect:
<>1.2.3.The authority and sufficiency of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
We are excited to offer this resource to you. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Young Samuel did not have a role model in leadership. Eli was old and had lost all sense of discernment. His sons “were worthless men” because of their immoral conduct at the tent of meeting (1 Samuel 2:12, 22). It was only the influence of a mother who feared the Lord that Samuel had spiritual instincts that caused him to listen for the Lord to speak to him.
We should be very thankful for godly role models in leaders. Timothy had a godly model in Paul and he followed that model (2 Timothy 3:10-11). As we review both letters Paul wrote to this young man, there is hardly any subject that is not addressed which Timothy would face in the future after Paul is martyred in Rome.
One of Paul’s outstanding statements to Timothy comes right after stating that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1:7). After affirming this truth, Paul continues by saying, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).
This world is full of ‘intimidations.’ They are usually aimed at making us fearful or even ashamed to tell others about our salvation in Jesus Christ. DON’T BE ASHAMED! “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). DON’T BE ASHAMED either of the person who taught you the gospel. As Paul suffered for the gospel, so would Timothy. As you and I treasure the gospel that as been given to us, we will be willing to suffer “by the power of God” so millions more will hear and be saved.
It is true that difficult times will either bring out the best or the worst in us. That depends on what we have learned to value before the difficult times come.
Israel had many seasons when they were spiritually bankrupt. Disobedience and idolatry plagued the nation as soon as they got into the wilderness. God gave them His best in leadership and communicated His will verbally and in writing. They had no viable excuse for their declining state and resistance to the promptings God gave them. After years of providing judges to be God’s voice to them, they still “did what was right in [their] own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Sometime after this, a poor, mistreated wife, made a rash vow to the Lord that if He would “give to Your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11). The wonderful result of this vow was that God answered her deep longing and commitment with the boy Samuel. Later, “the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (3:1).
The paradox of this statement is that Samuel was listening for the Lord to speak when no one else was, and he heard. Who is listening today? The conditions around us do not need to dictate the state of your heart and mine. As I talk to some today, I am appalled that so few are eager to spend time in God’s Word and ask Him to speak to them. Is His Word rare to you?
As news comes in from many sources around the world, it is evident that Christians are taking the “stay-at-home” restrictions to do even greater evangelism. Even with the pressure of certain governments to limit the activity of individuals and forbid gathering, followers of Jesus are using electronics as a highway for the gospel. People are downloading the Bible app on their phones in hundreds of languages. There is a hunger for the “living water” like never before (John 7:37-39).
Many look at the current situation as very limiting; most churches are not able to physically meet, but those who sense the need of fellowship and continual teaching in the Word find ways to meet on-line. While these are not ideal, we must foster growth in the body of Christ and evangelism in whatever way we can in times like these.
There was another dark time in history. Israel had shut their ears to the prophets; worship had become an empty form that God called “profane” (Malachi 1:12). Marriage was violated and demeaned with unfaithfulness (2:13-16). Workers were being oppressed (3:5) and God was being robbed (3:6-9). “Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape” (3:15). Does any of this sound familiar? But then…
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name” (3:16). In those difficult times, no one forced them to speak with each other. It was their “fear” of the Lord, or deep respect for Him, that drove them to encourage one another in the path of devotion, true worship and genuine service. Let’s follow their example.
There is little doubt that Peter wrote his letters at a time when believers were suffering. We do not know details of their circumstances, but Peter wanted to stabilize these saints by reminding them that God “called [them] to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises…[and] become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
It is characteristic of Peter to build on what believers are because of Jesus Christ and what they have in Him. These truths are confirmed by the Scriptures “spoken from God” (1:21). This was important since false prophets and teachers were seeking to trouble them with their teaching. Peter then goes into detail about the coming of the Lord; “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (3:7). Then he asks this question:
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God!” (2 Peter 3:11–12).
In a real sense, the day we live in is very similar to those days when Peter was writing. “What sort of people ought you to be?” I challenge you not to let the details of the current virus consume your attention, but give yourself to being a faithful disciple of Jesus and doing His work. He will take care of you as well as all the wrongs of this world and the false teachers (Hebrews 10:27).
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
It seems that every time we face a world crisis, whether a major conflict between nations, the race in military and nuclear weapons, or a worldwide pandemic like COVID-19, those who like to predict “the end of the world” or “the Lord’s return” are out in full force with their theories.
Frankly, these are distractions! Jesus said many things about the sign of His return (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). Some of them were “near” prophecies; that is, they were going to take place by 70 AD and others were much farther in the future. In all three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus makes it clear “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (24:36). Since this is His word to us, what should we be doing?
Ralph Winter, General Director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship, says that “a close look at the end of this verse (Matthew 24:14) says a lot about what we should watch for and work toward in this age. Jesus says that before the end comes, there will be “a witness to all the nations (ethne – people group).” The goal of this ministry is to sharpen your vision on being an effective “witness.”
If you have questions regarding how you can be more of an effective “witness,” please send us an email with you questions at email@example.com. We want you doing HIS WORK!
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