Love: The First Mark of the Ideal Church (Rev. 2:1–7)

As Christians, we know who we are: sinners who need to repent. But who should we be? According to John Stott, Jesus’ letters to the seven churches describe “seven marks of the ideal church”: love, suffering, truth, holiness, sincerity, mission, and wholeheartedness.[i] Let us take a closer look at each, beginning with love. Love is perhaps the most indiscriminately used word in the English language. The statements “I love God,” “I love my children,” and “I love crispy tacos at Taco Bell” use the same words to describe radically different affections. After all, if you love God and Taco Bell … Continue reading Love: The First Mark of the Ideal Church (Rev. 2:1–7)

Permissible, But Not Beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1)

The Daily Word will begin after the following book review blurb… __________ Alister McGrath, The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2010). $22.00, 210 pages. Recently, so-called “new atheists” have been making loud noises about how stupid and wicked religion is. Richard Dawkins thinks belief in God is a “delusion” to be replaced by scientific thinking. Daniel Dennett views religion as a “spell” that needs to be broken. Sam Harris longs for “the end of faith,” whose absolutism he thinks leads only to violence. And Christopher Hitchens argues that “religion poisons … Continue reading Permissible, But Not Beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1)

Eight Terrifying Words (1 Corinthians 10:1–5)

In 1 Corinthians 10:1–5, Paul writes: For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. I grew up in a Christian home. I … Continue reading Eight Terrifying Words (1 Corinthians 10:1–5)

Rights or Responsibilities? (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)

In 1 Corinthians 8:1–10:11, Paul examines the practice of Christians eating food sacrificed to idols. In the ancient world, people sacrificed animals to the gods. They gave some of the meat to the priests, and they consumed some of the meat in a religious feast at the temple. The priests sold leftover meat in the public market, which was then consumed in private homes. Chapter 8 lays the theological and ethical foundation for Paul’s argument, while chapter 10 builds a house of practical application. At first, chapter 9 appears to be a digression from the main argument, but it is … Continue reading Rights or Responsibilities? (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)

Good Theology Rightly Applied (1 Corinthians 8:9–13)

In 1 Corinthians 8:1–13, Paul answers the question of whether Christians can eat food sacrificed to idols. For modern American Christians, this question is not relevant, since our culture does not sacrifice to idols. The way Paul answers this question is relevant today, however, for it addresses how we educate people out of their ignorance. Paul identifies two crucial issues: what we know and how we use that knowledge. For Paul, knowledge liberates. Idols are objectively unreal, so eating food sacrificed to idols is objectively insignificant. Knowledgeable Corinthian Christians therefore eat such food freely. On the other hand, ignorance oppresses. … Continue reading Good Theology Rightly Applied (1 Corinthians 8:9–13)

Knowledge for Love’s Sake (1 Corinthians 8:1–3)

Knowledge is power. The crucial question is, Power for what? First Corinthians 8:1–3 offers an answer: Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. In these verses, Paul contrasts knowledge as power for self with knowledge as power for others. The former is the viewpoint of the Corinthians. The latter is Paul’s own. Which is ours? At various stages in my life, … Continue reading Knowledge for Love’s Sake (1 Corinthians 8:1–3)

What’s Food Got to Do with Anything? (1 Corinthians 8:1a)

Sometimes, I read the Bible, scratch my head, and wonder what it’s talking about. I scratched my head when I read 1 Corinthians 8:1a: “Now about food sacrificed to idols…” These words introduce a three-chapter argument Paul makes against the Corinthians in 8:1–11:1. I haven’t seen any idols lately, let alone sacrificed food to them. So, I feel tempted to skip this portion of Scripture and move on to another that relates to my world. Perhaps you feel tempted to do the same. Resist that temptation! The particular example Paul uses may not be relevant to people like us—because we … Continue reading What’s Food Got to Do with Anything? (1 Corinthians 8:1a)