Pen Points 1
Forgiveness can only be free, but never will it be cheap. Forgiveness is free because it is by grace, never deserved. It is not cheap because a price is always paid by the one who forgives.
Thank God for His forgiveness. It is free, by His grace, undeserved by all. It is anything but cheap, for the cost was the blood of Jesus Christ.
"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions." (Mark 11:25)
When we refuse to forgive others because we don't think they deserve it, we are undermining the very foundations on which we ourselves are forgiven. If we will forgive, it will be done freely. We will be willing to bear the cost. Given that God forgives us, how can we do anything less?
Who will be an Epaphras today?
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond- servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:3-8, NASB)
1. Faith is something you can hear about in others, showing that faith is not just a subjective feeling.
2. Love is something that complements faith. This love is “in the Spirit,” and others can know about the love we show.
3. Hope comes with the exercise of faith and love.
4. Hope is “laid up” or reserved in heaven. Hope is not found in the world. Compare 1 Peter 1:3-5.
5. Faith, hope, and love are taught. They “heard in the word of truth” about these matters, then they put them into practice.
6. The “word of truth” is “the gospel.” Truth and gospel are forever conjoined. If truth is not observed, the gospel is not properly taught or heard.
7. The gospel bears fruit and increases when it is taught. It does the job God intends.
8. Hearing the gospel also means hearing about the grace of God.
9. The grace of God must be understood “in truth,” based on the teaching of the gospel. Since gospel and truth are intertwined, grace and truth are also joined in Christ (cf. John 1:14-17).
10. The gospel, in which is the truth of God’s grace, is taught by faithful servants (in this case, Epaphras).
11. God intends for teachers and preachers to spread the gospel of His grace in truth, which bears fruit, increases, and leads to the practice of faith and love, which results in the hope laid up in heaven.
12. Because of Epaphras’ service, the Colossians learned the truth. For this, all can be thankful.
Who will be an Epaphras today?
Emotions and God
The fact that we can experience the range of emotions from great joy to overwhelming heart-break is another reason to believe in God. How can brute materialism account for emotions and feelings so powerful that they completely immerse us in the moment? Are these feelings meaningful? If so, what gives them meaning? Why do we have them? Materialism cannot explain the force of emotion. Alone, it can say nothing about meaning and purpose attached to our emotions. It cannot explain how such emotion is even possible or plausible from its inception. Materialism brings no explanatory value to the table, and the philosophy itself cannot even be discussed or thought about without intelligent minds that are able to understand and communicate. Emotion is a function that takes us beyond brute materialistic processes into the spiritual realm, without which we cannot be who or what we are. Without God, we are, most literally, nothing.
It seems that some people want their religion served up the way Ahasueras served up his party: “The drinking was according to royal decree: ‘There are no restrictions.’ The king had ordered every wine steward in his household to serve whatever each person wanted.” (Esth 1:8, CSB)
“There are no restrictions.” Just do what you want … as it pleases you. Surely God will accept it. I might wish it were so, but it’s a fool’s wish to think so.
What would Jesus do? “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).