Speaking in tongues means that the Holy Spirit would give a believer the supernatural ability to speak a real human language that the person had never studied as a “sign” to the unbelievers and Jews of judgement against them. The positive side of this sign is that God was now using Gentiles and Jews as the church (and in every human language) to carry forth His mission in the world. Because it is a spiritual gift with a specific purpose it wasn’t given to every believer and the gift seems to have ceased because its function has already been accomplished. If a believer believes that this spiritual gift still exists, then it should only be used as according to the prescribed rules Paul gives us (1 Corinthians 14:26-33) with the emphasis being on interpretation—meaning it translated into an intelligible speech to the hearers so that it can edify the church, otherwise, no believer is permitted to use this gift. Non-languages or “gibberish” are not to be used because it goes against the very character of God who is not the author of confusion, but of peace.
- By “tongues” we mean an “authentic foreign languages” which are existing human languages. (For example: Chinese, English)
- By the “gift of tongues” we mean a believer miraculously speak in an authentic foreign language that was previously unknown to the speaker. (For Example: A Chinese believer can miraculously speak English.)
- By “counterfeit or false tongues” we mean a person speaks in non-languages, gibberish or speech that isn’t made up of words or the structure of known languages. This type of “tongue” can’t be translated because is contains no cognitive information.
Tongues Are Promised (Mark 16:9-20)
- 16:16-20 In the context of the great commission, it is recorded (although many doubt this passage was in the original, but was later added, either way, it has been accepted and is in the Bible) that Jesus told His disciples that certain “signs” will follow them that believe. In Jesus’ name they would perform the following signs: casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, protection from serpents and drinking any deadly thing (poison), and healing the sick. The purpose of these signs were to confirm the word or gospel that they were to preach to every creature (and new believers as they joined in preaching the word). There are three clarifications we need to make about this verse (two in relation to understanding tongues): (1) Baptism is not part of salvation. The way verse 16 reads can be taken that baptism is necessary to be saved, but it’s not, it is part of the great commission which is the reason for its inclusion. So the statement is true, a person who believes and is baptized will be saved, but as the verse continues is clarify “he that believeth not shall be damned”—meaning “believing” is the way we accept the gospel and are saved. Thus, baptism is just something that believers do as our proclamation of believing in Jesus and not something that must be done to be saved. Other verses also help us see this verse in this light: Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9; 1 John 1:7; Colossians 1:20. (2) The signs were especially promised to the apostles of Jesus (Matthew 10:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12) and not to “every person who believes at all times,” but “some believers—those who believe and are given these gifts” would be able to perform these signs like the apostles. Every believer has been given different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). (3) These signs are not meant to be a test for true salvation—meaning we aren’t saved because we can or can’t perform these miracles. Only believers can truly perform these signs but not all believers will perform these signs. (4) Signs have a purpose. The purpose here is to confirm the word that was preached everywhere. After it was done, the sign ceases. Also, the signs are not to be used for other purposes or reasons apart from what the Bible describes. For example, the goal of healing someone is to cause others to believe the gospel, not the actual healing itself (otherwise no one would ever have to die, we would just continually heal people). (5) One fo the signs is “new tongues” or to miraculously speak a language that is “new to you” (you never studied it before) which we see happen in Acts 2:4.
- Conclusion: Once the Holy Spirit came and the apostles started to fulfill the great commission, there would be signs to follow and confirm the word they preached. Speaking in tongues would be one of those signs.
The First Use Of Tongues In The Bible—Jews (Acts 2:1-11)
- Acts 2:3-11 The twelve Apostles and about 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) on the day of Pentecost (Exodus 23:14-19) were all with one accord in one place. Then, suddenly they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Each person received divided (coven) “tongues” and they began to speak with “other tongues”—other known human languages than their mother tongue—as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. At this time, there were devout Jewish men out of every nation under heaven dwelling at Jerusalem. (This included the following: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and visitors from Rome—both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretes and Arabians. This list includes as least 15 different places.) So when the believers started speaking in tongues, people started to hear this sound of probably 120 people speaking different languages and wondered what was going on. The multitude came together and were confounded because that every man heard them speak in “his own language”—this proves they were speaking real human languages. They go on to say that they even heard every man in their “own tongue, wherein we were born”—meaning they were even speaking in the very dialect of their home towns. The disciples who were speaking were “Galilaeans” and they supposedly weren’t known for being part of the intellectual class of society—which gives reason for everyone being amazed and marveling that they were speaking other languages that they obviously didn’t study.
- The “listeners” which came from “every nation under heaven” had one similar response: they all understood. But they also had two different responses: (1) amazement—they were astounded but also “in doubt”—meaning they were perplexed not knowing exactly what they were experiencing meant. (2) mockery—others mockingly said they had too much wine to drink and were drunk. Why would they say this? The following are possible explanations: they could understand the one person who was speaking their language, but they couldn’t understand what everyone else was saying (so many people speaking different languages) and so it seemed that they were drunk because they didn’t know the other languages; because they didn’t understand, maybe they thought they were just speaking gibberish like a drunk person might do, but in reality it was another language they didn’t understand; or they understood the message they were proclaiming “the wonderful works of God” and because they didn’t like or agree with the content they claimed they were drunk—like a drunk person who just babbles about a certain topic—as a form of contempt for the message they proclaimed.
- Conclusion: Since this is the first and most descriptive use of the gift of tongues, we should use it as foundation in our understanding of what it actually is: (1) Speaking in tongues is a work of the Holy Spirit. (2) Tongues is speaking real human languages and dialects, not gibberish. (3) The message of speaking in tongues was the wonderful works of God. (4) It fulfilled its purpose as a sign to the unbelieving Jews and confirming the word (1 Corinthians 14:21-22; Mark 16:16-20).
Holidays are any days we set aside for a special purpose and celebrate instead of working (or doing the normal daily routine). From a biblical perspective, there is no moral mandate to celebrate any specific holiday. Instead, believers are given the freedom to choose how they will engage the holidays as long as it is pleasing and glorifying to the Lord.
There Are No Biblical Holidays For Believers
- The Bible does not command believers to celebrate or avoid any holidays (including the Old Testament celebrations). It does not commend or condemn any special or holy days that we have to observe as part of our faith. Believers have the liberty to apply biblical principles and being fully persuaded by their conscience as they choose wether or not to celebrate the holidays of the surrounding culture or traditions they have grown up with. This means that it is possible for different believers to come to different views about the same holiday and both are permissible.
Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17
- Traditionally, Sunday has been seen as the “Christian Sabbath,” or the day that believers are to not work in order to gather together as a church to remember and worship the resurrected Lord Jesus. It is true that Jesus resurrected on Sunday and that we are commanded to meet together as local churches, but we are never prescribed to do it on Sunday. The bible does describe that the early church meeting on Sundays (as well as other days) and this has become norm for most churches but it is not the law. As believers, we can’t be legalistic about Sunday, but we should be committed to our local churches and the necessity to attend its services. (Note: Because of the New Testament example and church unity, I do think Sunday is the possibly the best and greatest choice.)
Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Hebrews 10:25
Christian Cultural Holiday Wars
- Traditions: Many popular holidays that are celebrated by Christians, especially those in the Western part of the world and that have spread to the church globally, have become sacred traditions among believers (such as Christmas and Easter). Secular culture and retailers have also secularized and commercialized these holidays which has caused a culture war between believers and unbelievers. When unbelievers don’t recognize the holiday with the same credence as believers do (and vice versa) a cultural war is started. As believers, we should remember the following:
- Our traditions, no matter what biblical significance we bestow upon them, are not mandated by scripture and are just traditions. Defending them and their significance is not the same as defending the Bible and its truths.
- We can’t and shouldn’t compel unbelievers to participate in what we deem a Christian holiday. There is no reason we should expect other believers, let alone unbelievers, to cater to the specific way the we choose to obverse a day.
- Misleading: Often believers look for historical significance to dictate their desire to claim a holiday or to justify their behavior in celebration a certain tradition or holiday. But it is often misleading to the newer generation of believers, because even though historically many holidays have Christian roots they also have pagan roots. Because we live in a fallen world, our cultures often get mixed together. As believers, we need to make sure that we are redeeming the culture around us.
- Secularization and Commercialization: We can expect the culture that we live in around us to secularize and commercial any holiday where they can cease from work to find pleasure, entertainment or make a profit. Maybe this is why the Bible doesn’t give us any holidays. The one observance that we are given is the Lord’s Supper (although it is not necessarily a holiday). This was given to the church. Only believers can participate. (Who would even think of inviting an unbeliever to participate?). There is no specific day that it must be observed but the observance is irregular. It is beautifully designed to be guarded from secular and commercial influences so that its observance stays pure and true.
Being A Witness In The Culture
- Salt and Light: As believers, we are salt and light among the unbelievers around us. Jesus doesn’t want us to war against them for not following our traditions or go into hiding because their traditions are evil, but He wants us to be engage the culture so that we can keep truth from decaying and people from spoiling their lives. We are to enhance their lives through the works, gospel and word of God. We should be aware that those around us are watching us and they know what our works are like (wether good or bad). Therefore, we should intentionally live out our good works, not so we can receive praise like the Pharisees, but so that they will glorify our Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16; John 1:14; Matthew 20:28; Acts 17:22-34; Luke 5:29
- All believers are faced with deciding what they are going to do with the culture around them. There are parts of the culture that we see as morally bad and other parts that we see as morally good. Many things fall into the category of just being amoral—not right or wrong. Therefore, believers who desire to engage the world as salt and light need to remember the following biblical principles:
- Don’t love the world—any human way or system that is against God. If something is obviously morally bad or sin is involved in the celebration of a holiday, then believers should not participate. We are called out from the unbelievers around us at this point and should shine our light through our difference.
1 John 2:15-16
- Do glorify God. As believers we can take the morally bad and transform it—not through participation in the sinful ways, but through exchanging the sinful with the God glorifying. Just as the thief who is redeemed stops stealing and starts giving—he doesn’t avoid money or material possessions altogether. We should look at every situation saying, “How can I transform this to please and glory God in this?” It doesn’t matter if the thing is originally good, bad or amoral, we have a new motivation that says to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.
Romans 14:4-8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17
- Pilgrims: As believers, we need to remember that this world is not our home. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Our lives should be more characteristic of the gospel. Therefore, we are to set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth
Philippians 1:27, 3:20; Matthew 6:20; John 17:24; Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4; Colossians 3:2
- What holidays does the Bible commend or condemn?
- What are two things we should remember to avoid culture wars over holidays?
- What does it mean to be salt and light?
- What two principles do we need to apply when engaging culture?
- What does it mean to be a pilgrim?
The Bible is full of examples of women in proper complementary roles in the Old and New Testaments. Some of these examples are models that help us understand the authority structure inside the New Testament church (although some are not). Women are permitted to teach in the proper complementary roles and should be actively serving the Lord.
Old Testament Examples
- In the Old Testament there are some examples of women who have the title and ministry of “prophetess”. From these examples we can conclude that: (1) God does use women to accomplish His will and can do great and mighty things through them. (2) God rarely uses women in this role or to address His people through this means. (3) We aren’t given a lot of information about the extent or the characteristics that come with the roles of a prophetess. (4) From the examples that we do have it doesn’t seem like an ongoing ministry but only for a certain time and for certain occasions. (5) None of the Old Testament examples are models for the authority structure in the New Testament church.
- Miriam was a prophetess. She is the first women mentioned in the Bible with this title. In this first mention we also find her spiritually leading other women. She was the sister of Aaron and Moses. She spoke against Moses and was cursed with leprosy for seven days. But she is also listed as being one of the three (also with Moses and Aaron) sent by God to the Israelites who were in bondage in land of Egypt.
Exodus 15:20-21; Numbers 12:1-15; 26:59; Micah 6:4
- Deborah was a prophetess, a judge of Israel, a mother in Israel. When the children of Israel were being mightily oppressed, she speaks with Barak about the Lord’s command for victory, but he failed to courageously lead—saying he would only go forward into battle if Deborah would go with him. She agreed to go with him, but as a result he wouldn’t get the glory of winning the battle but a women would. That is what happened and there is a song that reflects this in the following chapter.
Judges 4:4-24; 5:1-31
- Huldah was a prophetess. She delivered a message to Josiah through his messengers declaring “thus saith the Lord God of Israel”.
2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chronicles 34:22-28
- Noadiah was called a prophetess but is listed with Nehemiah’s enemies. Thus, this is hardly a positive or useful example.
- Isaiah called his wife “the prophetess” which she was possibly given this title because she bore a son that was of prophetic nature. We aren’t told more about her.
New Testament Examples
- In the New Testament, before the start of the church and after Jesus was born, we are introduced to one prophetess named Anna. She was a prophetess who lived at the temple as a widow and served God with fastings and prayers night and day. When Jesus was born she spoke about the child Jesus to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Her title was prophetess and her actions were described as fasting, praying and speaking to others about Jesus.
- After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; the coming of the Holy Spirit at pentecost; and the establishment of the church we have many examples that help us understand what the proper complimentary roles for women looks like in the outworking of the New Testament church.
- Philip the evangelist had four daughters who did prophesy—prophetesses. We are not given anymore details about this (ongoing or only one time), but we can simply suggest is was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18).
- Priscilla was a helper in Jesus Christ to Paul and whom he appreciated along with her husband. She and her husband, Aquila, together explained the way of God more perfectly to others in a private setting. (Note: this was together and not individually; privately and not to a congregation.)
Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19
- Phebe was a women who was a servant (deaconess) of the church at Cenchrea. The word used here can mean servant/deacon/deaconess. For a women this wasn’t the official “office of a deacon” but was an additional type of female servant (deaconess) who had the following requirements: being grave—worthy of respect; not slanderers—not malicious talkers; sober—temperate; faithful in all things—trustworthy in everything (1 Timothy 3:11). It was normal for women to teach other women to love their husbands and take care of their children (Titus 2:3-5), as well as, being full of good works, caring for the sick and reaching out to the poor and destitute (Acts 9:36; 1 Timothy 5:10).
- Junia—(assuming a women) was a Jew and fellow-prisoner with Paul. She was appreciated by Paul along with her husband, Andronicus. Junia and her husband were well known to the apostles, but they themselves were not apostles like Paul was. It is possible they were “missionaries” and thus Junia would have had the normal role for women in the church—probably similar to that of Phebe.
- Euodias and Syntyche were women who laboured with Paul in the gospel. But here they are mentioned because they have some disagreement and Paul wants them to be of the same mind in the Lord. We aren’t given any more details about these two women nor are they mentioned again in scripture.
- Finally, when Paul addresses a problem in the church at Corinth with regard to gender he says that “women” will pray or prophesy (or proclaim—but this does not contradict his clear injunction [1 Corinthians 14:34] for women to not hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church). Then he continues to show that women who minster in the church in a normal manner should do so in accordance with the gender roles that God has ordained—no matter the culture—and not in rebellion against God’s authority structure or against “symbols of authority” according to the culture they are ministering in (the gospel doesn’t void gender distinctions). He even states that if anyone wants to be contentious (not accept this truth—or disagrees with him) about this that they should know that the churches of God have “no such custom” of voiding gender distinctions but always act in a way that properly displays God’s authority structure and our distinctive gender identities—both female and male.
1 Corinthians 11:5-16
- What are some of the Old Testament examples?
- What can we conclude about the Old Testament “prophetess”?
- What examples do we have before the New Testament church?
- What examples do we have after the New Testament church?
- How does Paul help the church at Corinth understand this problem?
We don’t have female pastors because we believe the Bible teaches women are not permitted to hold main (lead) positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church. This limits them from holding the offices of pastor and deacon. They are permitted to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. God does expects them to live feminine lives according to His Word, obey His will, and glorify Him with their lives.
Equality And Difference By God’s Design
- Equality: Women are created equal with men in the sight of God. This means that the female gender is neither more or less important or valuable. They can equally serve, love, and worship God. As a female believer, you should accept your gender as God’s will.
Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2; Galatians 3:27-28
- Difference: Women are equal with Christian men but they have different roles—including being limited in the kind of positions they can hold—by God’s design. God set a pattern for the roles of man and woman at creation. He created man first to be the leader, and the women second to be the helper. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of Man. Man is the head of Woman. This is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture.
1 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Offices, Authority, Qualifications, Examples
- Offices: A healthy church has proper leadership that meets the Bible’s requirements. Jesus is the Founder, Builder, and Head of the church. A church has two main offices: pastor and deacon (although they can have the gift of deaconess or service as we see in the Bible). The leadership should meet the Bible’s requirements and lead by example. Women are not to be in positions of lead teaching or offices of authority in the local church.
1 Timothy 2:11-14
- Authority: Christian women are not permitted to speak out and publicly judge what is being said by the men (as in a leading and non-submissive manner) in the assembly of the church. Instead, they are to discuss any issues they have with the teaching in the church with their husbands at home (as in a submissive and non-leading manner). An unmarried woman can find a couple in the church to discuss it with. The idea is to not be combative and have a proper and complementary structure to deal with teaching in the local church.
1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-37
- Qualifications: The qualifications assume that the person desirous of the office of pastor or deacon is going to be male and therefore must be male. (For example: “the husband of one wife”; “ruleth well his own house”.) These qualifications also show that the authority structure of the home is reflected in the authority structure of the church. Thus, a healthy church structure is one that is in harmony with that of the home.
1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9
- Examples: In the Bible, there are no examples of women teaching the people of God in an assembly like a pastor. There are no examples of women pastors. For the people of God, there is only a pattern of male lead teaching and leadership. (Also, a study of church history will show that women have not been permitted to hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church has been the rule and not the exception.)
Realigning Your Ministry With The Word Of God
- Christian women should realign their focus on what the Bible says concerning them: She loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. She loves, serves, submits, and takes care of her husband. She loves, teaches, cares for, and bears children. She manages, guides, and keeps her home. She is full of good works, good speech, prayer, hospitality, and compassion. She is modest in appearance, demeanor, and behavior. She is a teacher and mentor to the younger generation of Christian women/wives/mothers.
1 Timothy 2:9-15; Proverbs 31:10-31
- Christian women should realign their focus to edify the church through their spiritual gifts and service. You should live holy lives that glorify God. You should be teaching the younger believers on how to be Christian wives, mothers and servants of God so that people will not mock the Word of God. Women are permitted to teach in the proper complementary roles and should be actively discipling others.
1 Timothy 2:11-14; 5:2-16; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; 14:33-36; Titus 2:3-5
Answering Tough Questions
- What about the women in authority in the Bible? There are examples of women in authority in the Old Testament (government, judge, prophetess), but they are not examples for the authority structure inside the New Testament church.
- What if there is no other option but having a women pastor? Unfavorable situations do not change God’s authority structure inside the New Testament church. If such a situation existed where only a women was able to lead the church, then she could help, serve, and teach the church in a way that wasn’t in rebellion against God’s authority structure or against the culture she was ministering in with the goal of assisting in raising up the proper leadership according to the Bible’s qualifications. But she is not permitted to fulfill the office of the pastor—even if there is no male leadership available.
- Wasn’t the Bible’s limitation on women teaching in the church just cultural? No because it is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture. Although, certain expressions and “symbols of authority” (like head coverings) are cultural and they can change according to culture, the authority structure does not.
- What if women serving as pastors and deacons was a normal part of the church I attended or part of the church culture that I am most familiar with? There are many things that we get comfortable with and are willing to accept because of our upbringing or culture, but that doesn’t always mean they are right. The Bible is our ultimate authority and we need to bring every doctrine or teaching into submission with the Bible. Thus, we need to realign our view with the bible’s and act accordingly.
- What if the church I currently attend has a women serving as a pastor? According to the Bible, she is not a biblical pastor because she doesn’t meet the biblical requirements. The church is unhealthy because it doesn’t have proper leadership. You should try to find a healthy church that has proper leadership, teaches the Bible correctly and obeys it.
- What is “equality and difference” by God’s Design?
- What are the two offices within the church authority structure?
- What are the gender qualifications of the two church offices?
- Are there any examples of women pastors in the Bible?
- Christian women should realign their focus to do what?
Yes, believers are permitted by the teachings of the New Testament to consume blood. Consuming blood was restricted under the Noahic Covenant and in the Law of Moses, but Jesus death and resurrection caused all the dietary laws of the Old Testament to be done away with and the New Testament does not give any new ones. Therefore, if your conscience allows it, you are permitted to consume the blood of animals.
God’s Original Intent For Restricting Blood Consumption
- Noahic Covenant: Before God destroyed the earth through the flood, He gave mankind plants to eat as food, but after the flood God restarted sinful mankind with Noah and his family whom He saved on the ark. God blessed them saying that plants and animals could both be used as food, but God restricted them from eating the flesh with its life—or the blood. It would seem then that God wanted mankind to have a certain reverence or respect for life. God chose blood as the symbol for life, thus, He probably restricted its consumption as common food so it wouldn’t loose its sacred meaning.
- The Law of Moses: God chose the children of Israel as His chosen people and as such they entered into covenant with Him and were to follow His law and ordinances. They were to be set apart as a holy people different from those around them who served false gods. Part of the law permitted them to kill and eat the flesh of animals but they were first to pour the blood upon the earth as water to avoid eating it. The reason was the same as that of the Noahic Covenant, but it also included that the blood, because it was a symbol for life, would be given to them to make an atonement for their souls upon the altar. Therefore, blood was only to be used for atoning for sin because only it could.
Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Leviticus 17:11, 14, 19:26; 2 Chronicles 29:24; Hebrews 9:22
- Another possible reason (although the Bible doesn’t mention it) that God restricted eating blood or meat with blood (meaning that it is not fully cooked) might have been for health reasons. Undercooked meat or blood could contain some kind of diseases or make you sick. Therefore, the restriction might have been to make sure they didn’t eat anything raw or undercooked which would have decreased the risk of foodborne illness.
The New Testament Voids The Restriction Of Blood Consumption
- Jesus death on the cross changed everything, including the restriction on consuming blood. Jesus death on the cross ended the necessity of sacrifices for sin and it was Jesus life or His blood that made it possible for our sins to be fully atoned for, once and forever. The blood which represented life and atonement for sin all pointed to Jesus, but now that Jesus has come, the symbols are no longer need. The Lord has given us a new symbol, the Lord’s Supper—which is eating the bread and drinking of the cup to remember Jesus and what He did for us, and to show forth His death until He comes again.
Colossians 2:14-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34; Hebrews 10:10-14
- Now, all believers are in Christ and there is no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles; another reason all the food laws are no longer necessary. All food restrictions, including but not limited to consuming blood, have been done away with in the New Testament. In the early church in the book Acts the Gentile believers were urged to not eat blood (and other restrictions) so they wouldn’t offend the Jewish believers who had no custom of consuming blood, thus it was contrary to their conscience, and because they associated it with idol worship. Of course believers are not to participate in any kind of pagan, idol or false god worship, but even eating meat that was offered to idols isn’t wrong unless it violates your conscience—meaning you see it as wrong or as participating in their sin. Therefore, as believers, it is only wrong to eat something when it violates our conscience, because “we believe that it is wrong, but we do it anyway.”
Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10:9-15; 15:20; Romans 14:14
We Live By Faith And For God’s Glory
- As believers, we live by faith and grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We allow the Bible to change our conscience and culture. Therefore, by faith, we are permitted to eat anything. Not every believer understands this truth or some have a weaker conscience concerning eating blood or certain foods, therefore they may, by faith, restrict their diet. Either way, we should not judge or despise each other. To eat blood or to abstain from eating blood are both permitted in the New Testament and neither are wrong.
Romans 14:1-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
- As believers, we sometimes have to limit our freedom so that we don’t offend other believers in an unloving way. The freedom to enjoy our appetites are secondary when it comes to righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We first seek for peace and then we can enjoy our rights. It we go forward knowingly and purposefully offending our brothers in Christ because we eat certain foods they think is wrong, then they are going to view our gospel as evil and possibly hurt their faith. If we know eating a certain type of food will offend a person to such a degree, then we shouldn’t eat it in their presence. It is no longer wrong to eat blood, but we don’t want to be offensive.
- As believers, we are to eat with thanksgiving, knowing that it all comes from the Lord and we do it all to the glory of God.
1 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 10:31
- As believers, we should be separated from the world and be known as Jesus’ disciples by our love, not because we consume or abstain from blood.
Answers To Tough Questions
- Why do some Christians say they can’t eat blood today if the Bible says it is okay? Believers have misunderstood the Bible’s teaching through reading Old Testament verses and some verses in Acts out of their context or hearing someone incorrectly teach on it, thus their conscience is pricked and it keeps them from consuming blood. Today, you are allowed to consume blood, but you are not required to.
- Was the restriction in the Bible against eating blood meant to last forever? No, this restriction ended after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Why did God restrict blood consumption?
- How does the New Testament void the restriction of blood consumption?
- What should define believers?
- Can believers eat blood?
- When should believers not eat blood?
We are not Charismatic or Pentecostal because we believe the Bible is our highest authority and supersedes all human experience concerning our faith and practice. Many teachings within these groups deviated from biblical truth. Therefore, we choose to separate from this movement because it is unhealthy at best and heretical at worst.
The Bible—A More Sure Word Of Prophecy
- “Charismatic” is a term to describe a modern movement (around 1900s) within Christianity that puts a wrong emphasis on baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues as a type of spiritual evidence (often for salvation), prophecy, healing, interaction with or casting out demons and a breakdown of leadership within the church. Their theology is based on human experience over Biblical truth. This would include other movements such as Pentecostals, The Third Wave Movement, Word of Faith Movement or any other group who holds to these teachings.
- Experience or Truth: The Bible is the basis of all Christian belief—it is the truth that reveals God’s will to us so that we know who God is, how to know Him and how to live for Him. It is sufficient for us to know God’s will and it is the only way for us to be certain about God’s will. There are no dreams, visions or anything else that has higher authority than the Bible itself. Therefore, we reject all systems of belief that attempts to have any other authority than the Bible. Our theology is built on Biblical truth which supersedes all human experience, internal awareness, intuition or other spiritual experiences.
John 17:17; Acts 17:11; 2 Peter 1:15-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
- Warned: Jesus warned us of these type of false believers—those who claim they did great works in Jesus’ name but aren’t living according to the truth of His word. They make false claims or promote “lying wonders”. They don’t have genuine works because they don’t have genuine faith. They trust in the “works in Jesus’ name” as their evidence for their relationship with God, but they sadly do everything except the will of God—which is to believe in Jesus alone for salvation.
Matthew 7:22-23; John 6:28-29; 1 John 4:3; 2 Thessalonians. 2:9
The Truth—Understanding What We Believe
- Heretical Teachings: There are many types of charismatics and all have different but similar teachings. The most dangerous are heretical teachings which include but not limited to the following: (1) Modalist belief—rejection of the trinity. (2) Speaking in tongues is required as evidence of salvation—adds works to faith. We reject all heretical teaching as not being Christian at all.
Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 28:19
- The Holy Spirit: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us in Christ and happens only once at the time of salvation. The filling of the Holy Spirit happens more than once and gives us power to serve God, serve others and be a witness of Jesus. We are filled with and walk in the Spirit when we allow the Word of God (that the Holy Spirit inspired) to change who we are. Also, we are given different spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit that we are to use to edify each other and the church. They should be used within the realm of the church with self-control, orderliness, edification and love.
Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14:1
- Spiritual Gifts: There are two main types of gifts: temporary (apostles, the working of miracles, healing, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues) and permanent (prophets/prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, teachers/teaching, exhortation, evangelists, pastors, government/ruling, helps/ministry, giving, mercy, faith, and discerning of spirits). The temporary gifts were given to authenticate that the Apostles were truly appointed by God and their teachings were truly from God. These signs continued as the Apostles laid the foundation of the church and ceased after the Bible was completed. The permanent gifts are still available to be used for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 28-30; Romans 12:6-8; Hebrews 2:3-4
- Speaking in Tongues: Tongues was a temporary spiritual gift that allowed a person to speak the Word of God in a language they didn’t know so others could hear it in their own language. Not every believer had this gift. Speaking in tongues was useless if there was no interpretation or understanding. Also, it was to be done in a certain order—according to Scripture. Today, we believe this gift has already ceased.
Acts 2:4; 10:44-48; 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:1-10; 28-31; 14:1-39
- Female Pastors: Christian women are not permitted to hold main positions of teaching and authority over men in the assembly of the church. This limits them from holding the offices of pastor and deacon (although they can have the gift of deaconess or service as we see in the Bible). They are permitted to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. God set a pattern for the roles of men and women at creation. He created man first to be the leader, and the women second to be the helper. God is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of Man. Man is the head of Woman. This is based on God’s original intent at creation and will not change over time or because of culture.
1 Timothy 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
The Teachers—Characteristics Of False Teachers
- False teachers are often focused on self-elevation and greed. Their messages revolve around money or the “prosperity gospel”—meaning that health and wealth is godliness and we can force or use God to accomplish these goals.
2 Peter 2:2-3; Titus 1:10-11; 1 Timothy 6:5; 3 John 9-11
- False teachers are good communicators who produce evil fruit—unrighteous living and wrong doctrine. They deceive the hearts of the simple. They speak with “vain words,” meaning they may approve of a sinful lifestyle or make empty promises.
Matthew 7:16-20; Romans 16:18; Ephesians 5:6-7; 2 Peter 2:18-22
- False teachers have corrupt intentions and are deceptive. The aim or plan of false teachers is to attack the church and draw away true disciples. They are not simply people with a difference of opinion, but they twist scripture and speak “perverse things” or “destructive heresies”. The Bible refers to them as “ravenous wolves” or “savage wolves” who are enemies of the flock of God.
Matthew 7:15; 24:11; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1; Galatians 2:4
- What is a more sure word of prophecy than experience?
- What kind of person did Jesus warn us about?
- What is the truth about the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, tongues and pastors?
- What are some of the characteristics of false teachers?
- Why are we not Charismatic?
An attitude of love is a way of life that finds salvation in the love of God as it was manifested through the cross of Jesus and humbly accepts it by faith; this life-changing love causes the believers to choose love as the most important characteristic of all their actions and is to be paired with all their actions. As a result there is no more room for the sinful attitudes and actions that comes from a heart of hate. The Holy Spirit works in them to fulfill the royal law of loving others as yourself.
God Is Love And God Manifests His Love Towards Us
- Love has a range of meanings but can be put into four main categories (based on the Greek language): sexual or erotic affection/love—the feeling of being physically attracted to someone; family affection/love—the feeling a parent has for their child; friendly affection/love—the feeling a person has towards their close friends; sacrificial affection/love—the feeling and action of making a willful decision to care about and do good for another, even if they are undeserving and despite the personal cost to do so. It is this kind of “sacrificial love” that God has shown towards us and the type of love we are aspiring to use to love others. This type of love is rooted in God Himself because the scriptures say that, “God is love”. Therefore, an “attitude of love” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses being born of and knowing God (our relationship with Him) and enables us to properly respond as receivers of His sacrificial love—to love one another.
1 John 4:7-8, 11; Luke 6:35
- God’s sacrificial love was manifested towards us when He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world to save us. While we were still sinners Jesus died for us—to be the propitiation for our sins—so that we might live through Him. We were completely unworthy of God’s love and goodness towards us, but because He is love He chose to share it with us according to His own purposes. He even paid all the expense—it cost Him the life of His son to love us and restore our relationship with Him.
1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8
- God’s love changes everything for the believer as it matures in us (perfected). As believers, we become children of God. He is love. Thus, love is to be characteristic of who we are. We are to sacrificially love others just like God did when He manifested His love to the world through Jesus’ death on the cross. We can’t see God or love, for these are invisible, but we can see them through the sacrificially loving actions of believers who are living out God’s love here on earth—it is a testimony or witness to the reality of God’s love. As we know and believe the love that God has for us and subsequently live out this love through the Holy Spirits work in our life, it provides assurance that we truly abide in God. It also gives us confidence (boldness) in the day of judgement—we know that our sins are forgiven by God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, thus we no longer live in fear—anticipating an unsure or unpleasant outcome or punishment. But we live our lives knowing that we are loved by God and thus in return love God and love others.
1 John 4:12-21; Matthew 22:36-40
To Love Above All Else Is The Goal Of Every Action
- Love is the ultimate characteristic above all else and everything without love is useless. Thus love needs to be paired with every action that we do. We want to effectively communicate, have great faith, be full of giving and merciful acts and personal sacrifice, but if we do any of these without “genuine love” then it profits us nothing!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
- Paul describes genuine love fo us and what it is really like. It is a love that never fails. The following is broken into four categories to help us apply these to our actions:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- The “temperament” of genuine love: (1) “suffers long”—patient and even-tempered during difficult times towards others; (2) “kind”—tries to be gentle, considerate and sympathetic towards others; (6) “does not behave itself unseemly” (rude)—not being offensive or impolite towards others; (8) “not easily provoked”—doesn’t get easily upset or irritable at others and doesn’t take everything personally; (9) “thinks no evil”—doesn’t keep count of other’s failures or sins nor becomes resentful towards them.
- The “selflessness” of genuine love: (3) “envies not”—doesn’t become upset over someone else’s’ advantages; (4) “vaunts not itself” (boastful)—you aren’t focused on expressing your self-importance but on expressing others’ self-importance; (5) “not puffed up” (prideful)—doesn’t exaggerate a sense of self at the detriment of others; (7) “seeks not its own”—doesn’t take advantage of others to fulfill your own desires.
- The “rigidness” of genuine love: (10) “rejoices not in iniquity”—doesn’t feel happy when others do wrong and doesn’t accept or allow sin; (11) “rejoices in the truth”—does feel happy when others do right and stands firm on biblical truth.
- The “acceptance” of genuine love: (12) “bears all things”—willing to suffer everything (small grievances and sins against you) that interpersonal relationship bring for the other persons good; (13) “believes all things”—willing to believe good about others and not wrongfully judge their unverified motives; (14) “hopes all things”—willing to expect good in your relationships with others; (15) “endures all things”—willing to courageously withstand all trials and do our best to manifest the love of God—others might treat us bad but we are going to stand firm and keep loving them.
To Overcome The Inward Attitudes Of Hatred
- The opposite of love is hate. Hatred is the inward attitude of the heart that feels and thinks intense dislike or aversion towards others (for various reasons). This sinful attitude is often the root of the many outward actions, such as: verbally assaulting others (ex. cursing, insults); physically assaulting others (ex. killing, violence). Thus, hate and love cannot live together at the same time within believers, you must choose to hate or love others. As believers, we choose to love others through the power of the Holy Spirit—it is part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is producing in all genuine believers.
Matthew 5:21-26; Galatians 5:19-25
- The Bible shows us that a habitually lifestyle of hate is a sign that a person is a false believer or false teacher. Is you life defined by love or hate?
1 John 2:9, 11; 4:20
- True love means we are not to be partial (respect to persons; show favoritism). If we do we become “judges of evil thoughts”. This includes discrimination (ex. giving preference to the rich verses the poor), racism and bigotry. Instead we are to replace any of these attitudes of hatred with the royal law found in Scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
- What are the different kinds of love?
- Who is love? How did He manifest His live?
- The goal of every action fo the believer is to express what?
- What is genuine love like?
- Love helps us overcome what kind of wrong attitudes?
An attitude of humility is a way of life that finds grace and blessing in humbling one’s self under the mighty hand of God. It starts at the cross of Jesus—which reminds of our sinfulness and God’s love for sinners like us. As a result we are to be clothed with humility, practically this means to live the life of a servant and to overcome our pride, arrogance, superior attitudes and huge egos.
Humility Starts At the Cross Of Jesus
- Humility is the disposition or character of evaluating oneself appropriately or modestly. True biblical humility is rooted in the truth of assessing our sinfulness compared to God’s holiness—which leads to a low view of self and a high view of God. Therefore, an “attitude of humility” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our lowliness before Him and dependance on Him—thus enabling us to approach Him in a manner that is able to become receivers of His amazing grace.James 4:6, 10
- Jesus exemplified what true biblical humility is like. Jesus was God, has always been God and will always be God (being in the form—full essence—of God). In every aspect Jesus is equal with God. But He didn’t fully grasp or make use of this rightful claim, instead He made Himself of no reputation—meaning He set aside many of the privileges that He has because of who He is. He set this aside and took upon Him the form—full essence—of a servant and was made in human likeness. Thus, Jesus who is fully God became fully man so that He could be a servant and accomplish the will of the Father. The Father’s will was the cross—for the salvation of sinners for the glory of His name. The world only found Jesus in “fashion as a man” but He was so much more. He was the eternal God in human flesh. Jesus was on a mission and this meant He had to “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The perfect One, the sinless One, the Almighty God died a criminal’s death. The exalted One humbled Himself for our benefit and afterwards He would be returned to His rightfully position of exaltation. If we understand this truth, it is humbling in the following two ways:
Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 5:7-10; Matthew 26:39
- (1) Jesus’ humility reminds us of who we were—sinners. The cross had to happen because of our sin. The cross reminds us that as sinners we deserves to die a criminal’s death and be eternally separated from God.
Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Galatians 3:22
- (2) Jesus’ humility reminds us of God’s love for sinners like us. His humility was for our benefit—so that we could be saved. Without Jesus humbling Himself to come to earth and died on the cross for our sins, we would have no chance to be redeemed to God but be eternally condemned. His love for sinners like us is humbling—and through thus humbling we can accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation.
Romans 5:8; 15:7-9; John 3:16; Psalm 149:4; Isaiah 66:2
To Be Clothed With Humility, To Be Clothed With Servanthood
- Peter tells us to be “clothed with humility”—just like a person might tie on an apron or garment, we are to become humble. Paul tells us to put on “humbleness of mind”. It is through an attitude of humility that we can accomplish other commands that God has given us, such as submitting unto church leadership. Peter goes on to tell us that God accepts and gives grace to such a humble person, but He resisteth the proud. God wants to work His goodwill in your life, but you need to humble yourself under His “mighty hand” and know that no matter your situation, God in His timing will properly exalt you. Until then we humbly cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.
1 Peter 5:5-7; Colossians 3:12-13; Proverbs 3:34; (Job’s Example: Job 1:20-22; 42:12)
- Jesus’ humility becomes the foundation for our humility. As believers and disciples of Jesus we are to follow in His humble footsteps. Jesus defined what truth greatness is when He addressed the disciples question about their position of greatness—and He pointed to the cross. Jesus came to minister and to give His life a ransom for the multitude. Thus, humility becomes the way we understand greatness. Practically, this means that “whosoever will be great” is measured by being a servant and “whosoever will be the chiefest” is measured by being a slave (servant) of all—like Jesus was.
Mark 10:35-45 (27)
- Jesus commands His followers to humbly serve one another. He gave us an example by washing the disciples feet. Jesus was their Master and Lord but He humbly served them. He was showing us how we are to serve. We are not greater than Jesus, thus we are to do as He did. If we know and do these things we will be blessed and find happiness.
John 13:1-17; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-35
To Overcome Pride, Arrogance, Superior Attitudes And Huge Egos
- We are to think like Jesus. Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. We are to have the same attitude, mindset or way of thinking that Jesus did—which was humility. Paul wanted all the believers to be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”—to think and act in the same way, especially that which leads to unity. The enemy of this unity was doing things through strife (selfish ambition) or vainglory (conceit). Selfishness and pride only looks after one’s self. Instead we should “in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem other better than themselves.” In the same way Jesus humbled Himself, we should humble ourselves for the benefit of others and see them more significant than ourselves. He goes on to say that we should “look not every man on his own things (interests), but every man also on the things (interests) of others.”
- We are to hate what God hates—to fear Him. God hates pride, arrogance and evil. The Bible warns us that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 6:16-17; 8:13; 16:5, 18
- We are to give God all the glory. We are not to boast in ourselves and our accomplishments but we are to boast in the Lord for everything that we have accomplished or have become. This is ultimately recognizing that He is worthy, superior, wiser than we are. We are to always be abounding in the work of the Lord and at the same time know that we can only do so by the grace of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31; 3:7, 21; 4:6-7, 18; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; 15:10-11, 58;
- What is humility? What is biblical humility?
- Where does humility start?
- Jesus’ humility reminds us of what two things?
- Being clothed in humility means to live what kind of life?
- Humility helps us overcome what?
An attitude of significance is a way of life that finds purpose and meaning in God and His will for our lives. It’s when we realize our importance isn’t rooted in what we have accomplished but in the importance that God gives us because He loves us and in what Jesus has already accomplished for us. As a result we allow God’s purpose to rule in our lives and become set free from attitudes insecurity, inadequacy and inferiority.
Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 1:18; Proverbs 16:4
Our Identity, Meaning, Purpose And Destiny Are All Found In God
- Significance is the state or quality of being important and worthy to merit attention. It means that you are noteworthy. As believers, this significance is directly connected to knowing and making Jesus known. Feeling significance is hard because we mistakenly try to become significant through the wrong “stimulus” such as our achievements or we had a hard life and were told that we are not significant and believe the lie that we aren’t important. The truth is you are already significant. To realize this significance you need to know your purpose in life—the reason you exist. Therefore, an “attitude of significance” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our purpose and importance in Him and enables us to live for the purpose that we were created for.
- You are already significance because God is your Creator. You were not an unfortunate accident, an unexpected happening, or unintentional life. You bear the image of God because you were made in His image. God knew you before you were born. God brought you into existence. God is the source of your life. He knew your body type, your skin color, your gender and yet you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are awesome. God wanted you to be born. He knows the what, when, where, how, and why of your life. He even knows all your days—how long you are going to live. And He brought you into existence for a reason or a purpose: to know and glorify Him.
Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11
- You were made for a purpose and this purpose means you are significant. God made you to love you. God loves you. He loves you so much that He did everything to restore you to Himself—so you could know Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love. He even chose to love us before the foundation of the world. It has been His plan the whole time. You were created to be loved by God. He wanted us to be part of His family. All of this was done in accordance with His good pleasure and will for the glory of God.
John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6
To Allow God’s Purpose To Rule Your Life
- God wants you to know Jesus. The work of God is to believe in Jesus who was sent by God to save us. The one way we can know the only true God is through Jesus. By knowing Him we receive eternal life. This means we are eternally significant. We enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and this relationship is eternal. We are to grow in knowing Jesus with every passing day. We joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.
John 6:29; John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18
- God wants us to make Jesus known. We are given great significance, but not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Jesus—the one who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to be salt and light to the world—meaning letting the world see our good works and glorify God as a result of it. We are to preach Jesus’ love to every person. We are to boldly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:27-29; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10
To Overcome Attitudes Of Insecurity, Inadequacy And Inferiority
- As believers who have received the light that Jesus has given us, we need to understand what the will of the Lord is so that we can make the most of our time here on earth. God’s will concerning our significance includes establishing a biblical, healthy and secure self-worth, image or concept—how we think about ourselves. This includes three main areas that need to be brought into submission with the bible.
- (1) Acceptance—accept yourself but reject conceit and boasting. We need to humbly accept certain aspects about ourselves that are predetermined before we were born that we cannot change—whether good or bad. David did this by consenting that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvellous God. We should agree with David. We also need to consent that we sinned against God and only through His marvelous grace are we saved. This acceptance leads to boasting not in ourselves but in the triune God—Father, Son, Spirit.
Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 9:23; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 12:16
- (2) Love—love yourself but reject selfishness. We need to humbly love our souls which were created eternally to be loved and to love. (For how can you hate what God loves?). Naturally, a person loves himself and chooses to nourish and cherish their own bodies. As believers, we are to love ourselves in the sense that we see ourselves the same way that God does and to know that we are significant. But this love is never to become self-centered. We should never seek self-love directly, but instead know the best way to gain love for our souls is to love God and love others. The Bible warns of those that are “lovers of their own selves”—which is self love characterized by affections concerned chiefly with self or self-worship. This is wrong and should be rejected. The result of truly loving ourselves is always outward focused and not inward. To love yourself is to be secure in Jesus’ love.
Ephesians 5:28-33; Matthew 22:39; 1 John 5:1; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4-6; James 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:2
- (3) Esteem—esteem yourself but reject pride. We need to have confidence in the fact that we are valuable to God and He wants to use our lives for His honor and glory. Paul had this confidence and knew that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus” to be conformed into His image. He knew that he wasn’t already perfect like Christ. But He pressed on toward this mark or goal by “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”—meaning he didn’t let past failures, sins, insecurities or successes and achievements become roadblocks from him pursing Jesus and becoming like Him. We labour and aim to be accepted of Jesus. What in your past is holding you back?
Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
- Why are we already significant?
- What is God’s purpose for our life and what should we let it do?
- God wants you to know who?
- God wants us to make who known?
- What are the three main areas of biblical, healthy and secure self-worth?
An attitude of contentment is a way of life that focuses on being satisfied and happy in God and with what He has provided for us. Great gain doesn’t come from material possessions or from great positions of fame or authority but from godliness and contentment. Thus we are to learn to be content in whatever situation and with whatever we have through Jesus who strengthens us. Thus we are set free from covetousness, discontentment and materialism.
Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain
- Contentment is the state of being satisfied and happy with your situation in life. As believers, this contentment is directly connected to being satisfied and happy in God’s provision. Contentment for many is hard because we mistakenly believe contentment is a future product of a certain goal (when I make more money, when I get married, when we have children) instead of an acceptance of our current circumstance with an unwavering faith in God. Therefore, an “attitude of contentment” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses satisfaction and happiness in Him and extends to His provision for our lives no matter if it is much or little.
- Contentment with godliness is great gain. The desire for “great gain” is not wrong, but there is a biblical formula about how we are to obtain it. First, we need: “godliness”—this means that we have the right beliefs about God (from the Bible) and serve Him in response to these beliefs. It means that we have an active spiritual life that is growing more in love with Jesus every day and that we are being transformed through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in our lives. We are devoted to God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Hopefully, this describes all Christians. But there is a second part to the formula, we need: “contentment”—this means you are satisfied with what you have and that it is sufficient. But what if we don’t have a lot? What is the minimum we should be content with? Paul answers this question saying that if we have “food and raiment” (clothes that cover our body and maybe extends to a place to stay that covers us for protection) we should be content. This gives us great perspective and shows us that material possessions are not the key to happiness.
1 Timothy 6:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34
- Contentment also means we are living for something and Someone greater. (1) Paul’s states that: “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This gives us an eternal perspective and makes living for earthly gain (money, possessions, achievements, spouse, family, power, position) foolish because we can’t take them with us. As believers, our “something” is laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven because we know those are true eternal rewards. (2) Matthew states that: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money).” This means that we can ultimately only truly live for one thing or one person. There is only one thing or person that motivates you to do what you do and that you give your time, talents and treasure to. It has your heart. As believers, our “Someone” is God. Our sufficiency is of God. He is able to make all grace abound toward us so that in all things at all times, having all sufficiency (having all that we need), we may abound to every good work. God and His sufficiency is the foundation for being content.
1 Timothy 6:7; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8
- Contentment is not loving money, and gaining more of it does not bring contentment. Those who “desire to be rich” fall into temptation, a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires (lusts), which plunge and drown people in destruction (ruin) and perdition (destruction). This is the opposite of being content—this is discontentment with their current situation and going after money as the thing that will fix all their problems. Instead, it traps people and keep them from being content and often pushes them away from godliness. Many people want to serve God but they have fallen into the “trap of desiring to be rich” and live their lives “trapped”. As believers, we need to understand that the love of money (or any material possession) is the root of all kinds of evil. Because of this even believers who have coveted after money have wandered away (erred) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, griefs, and pangs.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
To Be Content In Whatever Situation And With Whatever We Have
- Contentment is learning to be content with whatever your circumstances are. It means that we know both how to be in need (abased, hungry, to be worse off), and how to have plenty (abound, well fed, to be better off). Paul learned the secret of being content is to be content in any and every situation. This means that there is nothing wrong with prosperity or poverty, but we shouldn’t seek or desire either one (or any stage in-between) to find contentment. Both have their own challenges and difficulties. The secret is to be content with your current situation and not the next stage of life. But we don’t have to do this on our own, for we do all things through Jesus who strengthens and enables us.
Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Luke 3:12-14
- Contentment is learning to be content with what you have. We can do this because we have a wonderful promise from God who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is always with us no matter our financial situation. He cares for us. We choose to live right and according to His purposes and not according to the world or culture around us. Based on this promise we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We trust God in all situations (financial, persecution, daily living, etc.) (Note: In verse 4 it says, “Marriage is honourable in all”—thus we should also be content with our marriage and spouse, keeping the bed undefiled, not seeking another.)
Hebrews 13:5-6 (4); (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 118:6)
To Overcome Covetousness, Discontentment And Materialism
- We become discontent when we don’t keep our lives from covetousness. Covetousness is the love of money; it is the unrestrained desire for acquiring wealth; it is the attitude that wants more and more. It is the great longing or craving for something that will cause you or others harm (often irresponsible or thoughtless). It is to wish for something or someone that is not rightful for you to wish for (especially that which is another person’s). It is wanting something or someone that is incorrect to want; or wanting it for an impure reason; or wanting it at an inappropriate time; or wanting an immoral amount of it; or it is yielding to any of these—wether in thought by dwelling on it or by acting upon them. We are to keep our lives free from covetousness.
Hebrews 13:5; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21
- We covet when we don’t control our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. We allow ourselves to compare our situation to that of another or to what they have, and if it is perceived to be better than what we have it leads to envy or jealousy. This then leads to resentment or hatred towards others or even God because others are better off than you or their situation has turned out better than yours. This ultimately is selfishness—lacking concern for others and their success and chiefly concerned about yourself and your success.
2 Corinthians 10:12; (Israel is an example of a covetous people in Numbers 11:4-35)
- We are to mortify (put to death) whatever belongs to our earthly nature and this includes “covetousness” because it is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of an object (material or immaterial) in the place of the one and true God. This is what happens when we live a covetous life—we are worshipping the idol of materialism—meaning that material possessions, physical comforts, or trying to live our “best life now” is the most important. It is an idol of the heart that expresses itself through the way we live. Serving God has been replaced with the business of trying to acquire more. The cycle never ends because once you get “enough” it isn’t enough and you continue to strive to gain more. As believers, we can overcome this by telling ourselves and believing that, “In Christ, I have enough” and if riches increase we will not set our heart upon them, but continue to declare, “In Christ, I have enough!”
Colossians 3:5-7; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:3; Psalm 62:10
- Godliness with what is great gain?
- Contentment is learning to be what?
- Contentment also means we are living what? Who?
- We become discontent when don’t keep our lives from what?
- We can overcome covetousness by telling ourselves and believing what?