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The Life of Faith is Wonderful...Hmmn

Posted by: David Carroll

Listen to the mp3 audio: Hebrews 11:20-40, February 27, 2005

You are reading through this list of heroes of the faith in Chapter 11 of Hebrews and you are amazed at the exploits of these people. By faith, they escaped the edge of the sword, raised the dead to life, fought back armies against impossible odds. Boy, let me in on that! But right in the middle of verse 35 the excitment turns on a period--by faith others were tortured, were slain with the sword, stoned, sawn in two. So what's the deal? Evidently faith is not the factor that determines whether you will suffer or not. Listen to find out what Who the determining factor is!

Jesus and Slavery

Posted by: David Carroll

My nephew Hal has a web site and a blog where there is a page of links and my site is included. I was perusing it the other day and noticed he had put a comment next to my name saying "My uncle David is, in fact, pro-slavery." A statement like that, although potentially libelous, is at least provocative and perhaps even serves me and my site well by sending people here who would not have come otherwise. So I thought I would return the favor and perhaps send some folks to Hal's site.

Anyway, I write this to defend myself. I recall a conversation we were having last summer in a family gathering about some interesting political and religious topics. Hal made a comment that Jesus was wrong to have never spoken against slavery. I forget what I said but I am sure it was something to the effect that slavery wasn't so bad back during that day. We'll the conversation went downhill after that and the rest of the family interceded to ban any further discussion on such subjects.

Allow me to explain my complete thoughts on the subject.

Jesus did not come to set men free from slavery to men; rather he came to set men free from slavery to sin. Had he taken up the worthy cause of social reform, he would not have been able to preach his message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Eternal salvation is infinitely more beneficial to the human soul than freedom from slavery. In fact, by focusing his message on what truly counts and on the only thing that can reform men's hearts, he was effectively establishing a church that would one day lead the way in abolishing slavery. Thank God for Christians like William Wilberforce who saw his God-given goal in life as that of the abolition of slave trade in England.

In the Roman world of that day, the master/slave relationship was more likely to be similar to employer/employee relationship. While certainly not affirming slavery as something good, it is noteworthy to realize that many slaves were treated as well as other members of the family. Besides, such a campaign to abolish slavery in that day would have been futile given the social and governmental climate of the time.

In the church, which by the way Jesus established and also heads, members included both slaves and slave owners and they were treated equally. This is not just historical fact but according to God's plan:

Galatians 3:26-28 (NKJV)

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Notice that it is not just slaves and masters who are equal but male and female too. That was quite a forward thinking idea for that time! I think that I probably mentioned to Hal that the Bible says that slaves should be obedient to their masters. But also consider that the Bible admonishes masters to be good to slaves as well:

Ephesians 6:5-9 (NKJV)

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Finally, I hope I said something about the fact that we are all ultimately slaves to something, either to sin or to righteousness.

Romans 6:16 (NKJV)

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Stranger in a Strange Land

Posted by: David Carroll

Listen to the audio: Hebrews 11:7-19, February 20, 2005

Did you know Noah was a preacher? Yep, says so in the Bible. Problem is, by our standards today, he wasn't too successful. Don't be too hard on him though, he is all of our great, great, great, great ... granddaddy. Anyway, his family did get saved. Noah must have been considered quite the nutcase, building an ark there hundreds of miles from any navigable water.

Faith will change your value system. If you are worried whether everything will work out when you take that next big step of faith and obey God, don't worry, it won't work out. You are not going to be satisfied with this world. It's not your home. You were made for another city, one whose builder and maker is God. Once you get your internal value system right by faith and trust in God's promises, your outward actions may seem a bit crazy to the outside world. Noah and Abraham did some pretty astounding things but they are models for the life of faith. Abraham believed God when he did not know where he was supposed to go or how God was going to keep His promise or when he would receive his promise or even why God would ask him to do such a thing as sacrifice his son.

We need some good heros and there are not so many good ones around today. Listen to find out whether Noah and Abraham might be some good hero candidates for you.

Reasonable Faith

Posted by: David Carroll

Listen to the Podcast: Hebrews 11:4-6, February 13, 2005

Ours is not a blind faith. Rather the Bible makes sound and logical arguments for the faith. The Bible is a book of truth, the truest book there ever was but it is not just a book of historical facts, stories, commands and truth assertions. It is a book of reason. I heard John Piper make this point and the excitement of such an idea makes me hunger to understand every sentence, even every word in the Bible. There is great reason behind why verse 6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith. The most marvelous truth is why God, by the logic of His complete and utter self-sufficiency, must be a rewarder--overflowing with Grace.

Listen to hear also about Abel and Enoch and about his kid Methuselah too.

Substance and Evidence

Posted by: David Carroll

Listen to the mp3 file: Hebrews 11:1-3, February 6, 2005

Hebrews chapter 11 is the faith chapter. We are going to work our way through this one carefully over several weeks. Faith is fundamental to the Christian life and you need to know what it is, how it works, and how you live by it. The first three verses of this chapter are monumental in importance, we find out what faith is, but with some very curious words. Faith is substance and evidence. How something as nebulus as faith have substance? And what about evidence, I thought faith was a result of evidence not the evidence itself. What we will find out is that faith is more real than everything else you can touch and feel around you. I hope I've got your attention on this one. This is going to be very interesting. Listen to it.

(Sorry about taking so long to post these.)