The Law of Non-Retaliation

How to respond to those who hate you (Matthew 5:38-48) One of the oldest laws in the world was based on the principle of equal retaliation. It was called lex talionis and dates back as far as Hammurabi (eighteenth-century B.C.). It is found three times in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). The original intention was to restrict unlimited revenge. It was understood as (only) an eye for eye and (only) a tooth for a tooth. Further, it was never intended as an excuse for individual retaliation; it belonged in the law court and was allowed by a judge. Jesus now changes limited retaliation to non-retaliation. Members of Christ’s kingdom do not resist an evil person (someone who may wrong them). Like … Continue reading

Making Realistic Commitments

The Key Passage (Matthew 5:33-37) – You shall not make false vows, but fulfill your vows to the Lord. LET YOUR STATEMENT BE (present imperative) yes or no, anything beyond that is evil. Jesus Condemns Oaths (Matthew 5:33–37) Some have understood Jesus’ prohibition of oaths to be universal, but Jesus Himself submitted to oath (Matthew 26:63), and Paul invoked God as his witness in Romans 1:9. God Himself takes an oath so that we might be encouraged (Hebrews 6:17). Jesus is addressing a narrow and misleading legalism that required a specific oath to make spoken words binding. The implication of such an approach to honesty is that we do not need to be truthful except under oath. Jesus demands an integrity of speech as though everything … Continue reading

How to Maintain Sexual Purity

We have now come to the fourth command in this Adult Stage or Equip Level of disciplemaking, on how to avoid sexual indiscretion and maintain sexual purity. Our passage comes from Matthew 5:27-32. We will find these commands: TEAR it out, THROW it (Matthew 5:29), CUT it off, THROW it (Matthew 5:30), CUT it off, THROW it (Matthew 18:8), PLUCK it out, THROW it (Matthew 18:9), CUT it off (Mark 9:43, 45), CAST it out (Mark 9:47). It is illustrated in the book of Acts (Acts 15:20, 29, 21:25) and amplified in the epistles (LUST = Romans 1:24, 6:12, 7:7-8, 13:14, Galatians 4:16, 24, Ephesians 2:3, 4:22, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, 2 Timothy 2:22). Group Questions: 1. Have you ever struggled with impure thoughts? … Continue reading

Supernatural Church

Here are my notes for the final session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. One of the most striking similarities that most churchgoers share with the non-Christian world is their ability to complain about the way the church operates. 1. If you could create the perfect church, what would it look like? Could that perfect church be accomplished through human talent and strength? Or would it require the power of the Holy Spirit? We could duplicate most of our successful churches by assembling the right group of talented, winsome people. … Continue reading

Facing Our Spiritual Immaturity

The writer to the Hebrews instructs the church to, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrew 13:17). This is an awesome charge, NOT to the leaders, but to the people. While the leaders have charge over the souls of God’s people (which is intimidatingly awesome to say the least) the writer tells the people that it is their responsibility to not cause grief to their spiritual leaders. Spiritual leaders teach, guide, instruct, challenge, protect, admonish, comfort, and yes, rebuke and discipline when it is needed. It is not an authority thing, or a … Continue reading

Forget God’s Will for Your Life

Here are my notes for the sixth session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. What might you accomplish with your life? How often is this just asking about your five-year or ten-year plan? Sadly, we often focus only on the future rather than on the here and now. 1. Why might it be safer to follow “God’s will for your life” than following God in what he may lead you to do today? 2. If you were absolutely, 100% submitted to the will of God at this moment, what do you think he … Continue reading

How to Reconcile Relationships

Wow, we have now come to the third command in this Adult Stage or Equip Level of disciplemaking, on how to reconcile relationships in Matthew 5:21-26. The commands (each present imperative) are found in Matthew 5:23, 25 – LEAVE, GO first BE RECONCILED, MAKE friends quickly. We find this also outside of the gospels (Acts 9:36, 26:18, 1 Corinthians 7:11, 2 Timothy 3:3). Questions to Consider: 1. Do you tend to internalize or ventilate anger? 2. What do you do when you become aware that someone is angry at you? 3. When is it better to just let a matter lie? (Proverbs 10:12, 17:9, 19:11, Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 4:8) 4. What Type of anger are we justified in having? What type is Jesus condemning? … Continue reading

A Real Relationship with God

Here are my notes for the fifth session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. What comes to mind when you think about relationships? What if your experience is not so warm and cozy? 1. Honestly describe your relationship with God. How does it feel? How do you maintain it? Read Galatians 4:1-7 2. Paul contrasts slaves and sons… What are the differences? What are the privileges? How does each feel? What confidence does each possess? Incredible truth: believers are adopted by God, we are his children whether we feel like … Continue reading