Category Archives: Grace



The Health guru says, “You are what you eat.” But that is not correct.   “You are what you think!” The attitudes of your inner man is what you really are: “As a man thinks in His heart, so is he!” (Pr.23;7)

Christians are to live with each other in such a way that the reality of our salvation is fleshed out in the forum of human relationships within the body of Christ before a watching world. (Phil. 1:27).

There is an indication in our text that disunity within the congregation at Philippi threatened the effectiveness of their gospel outreach in Philippi.

  • “that I may hear that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the gospel (1:27)
  • “Fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (2:2)
  • “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (2:14)
  • Euodia and Syntche are implored to be of one mind in the Lord (4:1-3)

What follows is a pointed reminder that living worthy of Jesus is to live in unity with one another.  In our text Paul makes it clear to pull that off you have to THINK LIKE JESUS! This passage is about an example of “worthy living” that is down at our level. An example that we can grasp, one we must follow!

We are naturally bent toward self-centeredness and pride. We are so prone to demand rights – to struggle and fight to gain some advantage we believe is rightfully ours. This has caused untold harm to the church and hindered the proclamation of the gospel through the centuries.

The great tragedy of Paul’s day and the great tragedy of our day is that when God’s church is dominated by strife, pride and self-seeking the gospel suffers! We are diverted from issues of critical importance.

Paul points us to Christ as our example of true humility, servanthood and obedience.


Jesus refused to demand what was rightly His.

Jesus Christ is God (Heb 1:3). He shares the nature, the attributes, the person and the glory of God Himself. He is one with the Father, co-existant, co-equal in every way! This is the mystery of the Trinity – three persons, one God!

Jesus did not hold onto what was rightfully His.  When He came to earth He did not cease being God, rather He laid aside the “form” that is, the outward manifestation of the inner reality.  Jesus  took off the robe of glory and donned a robe of flesh!  What Humility!

He left the place & position that was rightfully His

Jesus Christ did not hold onto His glory as God as something He used for His own advantage. The pre-incarnate Christ was God in all majesty and glory yet he refused to demand what was rightfully His.

Instead Christ set that glory aside in heaven, and came down to take upon Himself flesh and blood. Rather than viewing His position with the Father as something to protect and a right to demand, He saw it as the qualification for Him to be the Savior of His people.

He left the throne of heaven for this wicket planet – imagine what the all-seeing eye of God and the all-knowing mind of God has seen on planet heart in the past 48hrs! (Rom. 1:20-32). The Cesspool of Humanity.


  1. How often do we hold tightly to our rights, we make demands based upon the perception that we have our own worth, achievements, position, place.
  2. We must live in humble obedient submission to the Father’s will, accepting from the times of disgrace, abuse and trials. It is through this that God prepares us and qualifies us as servants of Christ.


The form He took – a Bondservant (7b)

“Taking the form of” term used of button on outside clothing. He takes of His robe of glory and puts on the clothing of a slave!  This form was both in appearance and also in being. He was not identified by his halo and glowing face – he was identified by his servant spirit. (Lk 17:7-10)

His commitment to that form was clearly demonstrated when in the upper room He washed the disciples feet. The disciples right up to the cross argued about positioning in the kingdom. Jesus Christ washed their feet (Jn. 13:14-16).

  • You will serve the least
  • You will serve everyone

The humanness He embraced (7c)

Christ, the King of Glory came to our dirty little planet and made himself human. Born into a world dominated by the filth of unregenerate men, filthy passions, debased motives, filthy agendas. Like dogs gleefully rolling on a rotting carcass man revels in their sin.

It was into this world that Jesus Christ came, bringing Himself willingly and completely into our world – a world that despises the authority of God, rejects the laws of God, throws off all Divine restraint to madly pursue sin and drink it to the fullest.

Into this world Jesus came – what amazing humility!


His humility was lived out in obedience to the father (8a)

The agony of obedience – Jesus knew what the cross meant! He was sorrowful unto death! (Mk 14:32-35)

“Jesus was about to be plunged into the raw sewerage of humanity to be defiled and separated from God the Father for the first time in all eternity!” – Chopo Mwanza

The horror of bearing the wrath of God – He would have to face the wrath of Almighty God upon Himself. The agony of bearing God’s displeasure.

His humility embraced obedience all the way to the cross (8b)

In the world of men it meant shame! Jesus Christ died one of the most scandalous deaths known to man. Humanity has not created a more degrading or loathsome experience than a cross. In Roman Society the mention of the cross was considered an obscenity.

If the last thought was not enough to cause us to fall to our knees and worship think of this: His humility was not something being forced upon Him by external forces, but it was His own doing!

As a real man He humbled Himself, he withheld His innate power and submitted in obedience to the will of the Father. This obedience was “even unto death.”

Christ’s self-humiliation brought ultimate obedience (2 Cor. 5:21, I Jn. 2:2)


Let’s review what we have seen about Christ in this passage:

  • He humbled himself by setting aside His glory with the Father
  • He humbled himself by serving His Father
  • He humbled himself by obeying the Father

What now?  (9-11)

Therefore, God has highly exalted Him:

  • Exalted at the right hand of the Father
  • Exalted to a place of honor
  • Exalted through the worship of all created things
  • Exalted through the submission of all creation to Him as LORD – everyone will bow and everyone will confess!

What is the result? The glory of God the Father! (11c)

God is calling you to love justice, love kindness and to walk humbly before your God. (Micah 6:8). You might be thinking – that will require grace!  “But He gives more grace, Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)

When you think like Jesus Christ you will:

  1. Choose Humility: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (3-5)
  2. Obey fully: This is a call to fulfill the command to live a life worthy of the gospel – the path for obedience is clearly spelled out in Christ.
  3. Serve faithfully: The message of Philippians is for all of us who are prone to ambition and vainglory: “in humility count others better than yourself, let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also the interests of others.”

Will you bow before Jesus now and acknowledge Him as your LORD?

You can listen to this sermon, or download it as an mp3  here:

One Fellowship – The Fellowship of the Gospel

One Fellowship.001
Our text is taken today from Philippians 1:3-8.

We all live for something, each of us have a purpose in our life. Whether or not you could articulate what you are living for right now or not, doesn’t change the fact that it exists. When people share a common goal, there is a very high level of sacrifice, and a minimizing of self-centeredness… and in that moment, there is a camaraderie and joy that is inescapable!

My boys have a favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings.  This movie is based on the book by JRR Tolkien. In The Fellowship of the Ring, nine of the most unlikely characters come together bound by a single great mission to defeat the forces of darkness and save middle earth. Four hobbits led by Frodo Baggins, two warriors from Gondor, Gandalf the wizard, Legolas came from the race of elves and a dwarf named Gimili. In the end they gave themselves for one another and became honored friends.

Such earthly fellowship can happen when the conditions are right, but our text speaks of a depth of fellowship that exceeds any earthly fellowship.

We have been called dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ, abandoned to His glorious purposes among men! The proclamation of the gospel! We are engaged in what Bunyan called a “holy war” we march to the tune of a different drummer, we answer to the call of a different master. We are a band of brothers, consecrated to the grandest and noblest of causes – the carrying out of God’s eternal purposes in our world. We are ministers of the new covenant, proclaimers of freedom to those in bondage, soldiers of the cross! We will be opposed, we will suffer hardship, we will be required to give our all and for some of us very lives!

But brothers and sisters, it is worth it! In the midst of spiritual conflict there is a glorious fellowship to be enjoyed! In suffering and deprivation and hard work and opposition, there is a deep, blessed fellowship that cannot be understood by the world.

The world seeks to manufacture this wonder, but it cannot be reproduced in the disco house or the football stadium. The world longs to experience just a taste of this wonderful gift of fellowship, but they seek it in all the wrong places. We find that this fellowship can only be found as passionate disciples of Christ abandon themselves in partnerships of sacrifice and service to the gospel.




It is in the context of this “partnership of the gospel” that we experience joy, love and overwhelming thankfulness!  Notice how Paul describes this fellowship! Notice how this gospel ministry will affect our lives and our relationships with those we minister?

Verses 1-2: The Context

  • Preachers – Paul & Timothy- Paul is in prison in Rome awaiting trial.
  • Position – bondservants
  • People – saints / Bishops & Deacons
  • Place – Philippi. City in Europe, Roman colony. City of about 10,000. Paul had established the first church on the continent of Europe in @50AD. Now 10 years late he is writing this letter
  • Pronouncement – Grace & Peace, from God.


His Thankfulness For Them (3)

His thankfulness is stirred by his memory of them. In this personal letter Paul begins by telling them that every time he thinks of them from his prison cell he is filled with joyful thanksgiving to God that naturally translates into prayer for them. (3-4)

  • Paul remembers the first time he arrived in this city (Acts 16:7-10).
  • He recalls meeting outside the city walls by the river with a handful of gentile women who met there to worship God. He rejoiced in the conversion of Lydia and her household. (16:11-15)
  • He remembered the grief he felt when the demon-possessed girl prophesied that they were representatives of the true God and he cast the demon out of the girl. He recalled the uproar that occurred there in the Agora when her masters dragged them to the authorities and they were arrested and beaten and thrown in prison. (16:16-24)
  • Oh that glorious night – hearts aflame with love for God they loudly sang praises to God in the hearing of all the prisoners and God moved in to release them from their chains. The conversion of the jailer and his family! (16:25-34).
  • He thinks of these people who are now part of the persecuted church in Philippi and his heart is filled with joy and thankfulness to God!

His thankfulness is coupled with JOY (4)

Their joy (15x in the letter) was in the midst of affliction – (2 Cor. 8:1-2), and Paul’s joy was while in prison!. Joy is not based upon happenings (happiness) it is grounded internally.

The first lesson in this for us is this:  Joy is an attitude of the heart, not an emotion or a feeling. And the second lesson is: This joy is found outside yourself! Note that Paul points to the Lord as the source, Rejoice in the LORD (3:1, 4:4)

His thankfulness is expressed in PRAYER (4)

Paul rarely thanks God for stuff/things, he thanks God for people! Paul was a people person. He was not glorying in an achievement, a building or a program but in a people who were called by God’s name!

How much of your praying is giving thanks and how much is complaining

The Joy & Thankfulness that Paul is talking about is a direct result of receiving “grace and peace” from God (2).  If you have not partaken of His grace then you do not have peace with God.  If you do not have peace with God you cannot know this thankfulness and joy!


Thankful for their Fellowship in the Gospel (5,7)

They were partners with Paul in the gospel! Fellowship (koinon) – lasting, committed fellowship. “From the first day until now.

“For your fellowship in the gospel.” This is a committed, lasting fellowship! It is the idea of people of very different cultures, Ideas, families, places in the world etc., having an indestructible bond, a oneness and unity that cannot be shaken. In all of our diversity we have one common goal, one common agenda, one common purpose, one common motivator… the Gospel of Grace (7b, (2 Cor 8:2-5)

  • They were committed to the evangelization of the Gentile world, to sharing the gospel with everyone who would listen.
  • They were committed to suffering and poverty for the sake of the gospel!
  • They were committed to giving selflessly to the cause of Jesus Christ!

The Philippians identified with him in his imprisonment for the gospel. This at a time of persecution when others fled from Him (7a).They also identified with him in his defense of the gospel (apologia). Apologetics refers to speech in defense of the gospel. (7b). And they identified with him in a positive confirmation of the truth of the gospel. (7c)

Their fellowship was:

  • A fellowship of Grace (7)

1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

  • A fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2:1)
  • A fellowship of suffering (3:10)
  • A fellowship of Sacrifice (4:14-15)

This kind of fellowship is experienced as we serve God together. Last month many of us here at Kitwe Church came together to sing Christmas carols at the Mukuba Mall and to give out gospel tracts and New Testaments.  Remember the joy we had serving God together?  Remember the testimonies that many of you gave about what a blessing this was? We experience fellowship as we give ourselves to the gospel here and around the world!

The world seeks to find a means of experiencing this kind of fellowship – but they fail. This fellowship is for a cause that is greater than any selfish ambition, it is the emptying of self, the giving over of my dreams and aspirations for a common cause – the sake of the gospel. It is an absolute abandonment of brothers who partner together for the sake of His name to carry the glorious gospel to the shores of Morroco, the deserts of Somalia, the swamp villages of Sudan, the remote peoples of western Kenya, the villages of Northern province, the working class people of Kitwe, Zambia.

Confident in God’s Faithfulness (6)

Paul has a rock solid confidence in God. He who began it will complete it! What began with the acceptance of the gospel message preached by Paul in Philippi, continued until the present will be completed in the future. (“from the first day until now…”).

God will complete in every Christian what He has begun! (Acts 16:24) Nothing will prevent Him from completing His Work. He began a work of Grace at salvation, He will complete His work of Grace until the Day He comes again.

Don’t grow discouraged at your failures, Don’t forget that God will bring to reality the work of perfecting us, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.

I don’t have to control, I don’t have to worry and fret, I can confidently, joyfully, thankfully commit my ministry and those with whom I serve to Him who will finish what He has started! Ministry is not about YOU, it is not about ME! We are God’s chosen vessels to carry the gospel, to faithfully proclaim it, to plead with men to surrender their wills to the Savior. But it is all of GRACE! He calls them, He opens hearts, He saves men and women, boys and girls, and the One who calls and saves them will keep and complete them! OH JOY! What a cause for thanksgiving!

So what should you do now?
Will you commit to the “fellowship of the gospel” by joining in sacrificial service for God through the ministry of this church? Does not the grace of God lead you to such fellowship?

As you commit to God’s purposes you will know the thankful joy and love this fellowship brings.

Are you experiencing real joy – based upon your relationship to Jesus Christ and your fellowship in Him? Will you partake of the gospel today? You can be saved from your sin! You can have new life in Jesus Christ!

Understanding The Solution To Pressure & Strain

Solution Pressures.001

 2 Co 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

  • A mind renewed by the Spirit of God with the truth of God is the only antidote for guilt, anxiety, anger, and despair. It is the only cure for a noisy soul.
  • Pressure = those things that weigh on us
  • Strain = the effect of the weight

Understanding Pressure and Strain

Pressure is first evaluated by the mind. The weight is determined by the mind.

When you get your school bill, it is first evaluated by the mind. If you have the money in your account, you withdraw and pay the bill and there is no pressure. If you don’t have money, your mind tells you that you have a real problem and you feel the strain.

Notice that the pressure is the same in both situations.

  • If the mind cannot deal with the pressure, it causes physical problems.
  • Our minds must evaluate the situation with the truth or we will have problems. If our problems are bigger than our God, we will struggle.

Persistent anxiety has negative effects (strain) on the body.

When we are mentally pressured, our body begins to feel it. The weight of the first beam when it cannot hold, is transferred to the second beam. Headaches, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, heart beats changing, stomach issues (can be caused by other issues too) all are made worse by our thoughts. It can lead to depression, boredom, listlessness, lack of interest, irritability, touchiness, fears, panic attacks.

A disciplined mind and body have greater ability to withstand pressure with fewer debilitating effects on either the mind or the body.

  • If there is some discipline, we can stand more pressure. If there is no mental discipline, some people just give up and quit.
  • A disciplined body can take more pressure as well.
    • We must have enough sleep.
    • We must have the right nutrition.
    • We must get enough exercise.

God, however, never intended for man to be able to handle the pressures of life on his own

  • This is true even if his mind and body are disciplined to the highest level. (Matt. 4:4; John 15:4-5; II Cor. 3:5, 4:7, etc.) Discipline of mind and body alone are very helpful, but never enough. God intended life to be lived in dependence on Him.
  • Most people only strengthen their lives in areas that they like. They leave things out. (fig. 3). No one gets just one pressure at a time. We have multiple boxes at the same time. The things we like, we manage ok. It is the other things.

Handling Pressure Biblically

Eliminate the pressures God does not intend for you to bear.

  • Eliminate sin and its results (Heb. 12:1; I Jn. 1:9; Eph. 4:22) – sin is supposed to pressure us.
  • Eliminate responsibilities you have assumed outside the will of God. Motivation for good activities can come from sinful lusts  (I Jn. 2:16).
  • God does not give grace for what God does not ask you to do. Saying “no” might be the most spiritual answer when someone asks you to minister in yet one more way.

Reinforce your mind so that it will withstand the weight of the pressures you bear in the will of God.

  • A disciplined body is helpful: adequate rest, nutritious diet, regular exercise
  • A renewed mind is essential.

The Result—A Different Way of Looking at Life and Its Pressures

      • A renewed mind possesses a Bible-taught and Spirit-illuminated belief that God is more than enough for me. See Figure 3.
      • A renewed mind possess a Bible-taught and Spirit illuminated belief that God is more than enough for me.
      • Pressure is all about evaluating the pressure against my belief in God’s goodness.
      • This takes much time. You have to know what God says. Saturation in the Word begins with an intentional plan.
      • It ends with what you believe about God.

Conclusion: You must spend much time beholding God if you are to have a renewed mind—and, thus, a quiet soul.

Download the pdf version The Solution here.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Berg for allowing us to use his material. Berg, Jim. (2005). Quieting a Noisy Soul. Greenville, SC: BJU Press

The Root Of Our Problems

Breaking Through Noise.001

Today we want to discover how to unmask the source of your noise.  Our text is found in II Peter 1:2–3.

2 Pe 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Let’s break down the parts of this verse to be sure we understand what Peter is saying:

  • Grace and Peace are multiplied to us. Why do we struggle so much to find it?
  • Knowledge of God – this is the only way to get the peace God gives. This is a 
relational knowledge of God, not a factual knowledge.
  • All things – God left nothing out
  • Life and godliness – the chance to have eternal life and the ability to live godly all 
come from the same Source with the same power.  If we trust God totally for salvation, why can’t we trust Him totally for the power to live a godly life?

Someone going through this material recently told me that it is not logical to drop our focus on Scripture to fix our problems and pick up a focus on Scripture to know God. Yet this is exactly what II Peter 1:2-3 is telling us. Godliness comes from knowing Him!

The Nature of Truth

There are things that all people understand to be true through creation and through their own conscience (Romans 1:18–21, 25, 28, 32).

KJV Ro 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Note that the invisible things are clearly seen: His eternal power and Godhead

Ro 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

The natural bent of the unsaved heart is idolatry (anything that comes before God often revealed by where we spend out time). This tendency is not completely removed for the believer, we still have a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9).

Definition: Truth = reality.

The Danger of Unbelief

A belief is what you accept to be true.

This can be things that are real or things that are fantasy. What we believe or don’t believe does not change the truth. Reality does not change. This is the way it is. There is never a situation where the facts on this side are not true.

Our situations do not change who God is. He is always good and always in control.

Unbelief is rejecting what God says is true.

You must labor to find out what is true according to God, resolutely 
reject any deviation from it, and cling to the things that are true about God no matter what is happening to you.

So how much do you want the peace? Are you ready to rearrange significant portions of your life to be able to have the time to “labor” to find the truth?

The Glory of God

Unbelief robs God of His glory (Romans 1:21).

His unique excellence is tarnished in our view. He becomes in our mind no better than the creatures He made—weak, untrustworthy, unloving, unkind, and unwise.

The temptation of the sinful heart is to “[exchange] the truth of God [for] a lie” (Romans 1:25).

Stabilizing Truths for Noisy Souls: The Knowledge of God

We encourage you to print a copy of “The Stabilizing Truths for Noisy Souls.” You can download it at this link. http://

Labor, labor, labor to know these truths—look up the above verses and find other verses that teach these truths.

  • Memorize these truths and verses that support them (Psalm 119:9–11).
  • Meditate upon these truths (I Timothy 4:15– 16).
  • Fellowship with others about these truths (I John 1:3).
  • Test every stray thought of your heart by these truths (II Corinthians 10:3–5).
  • Don’t despise preaching about these truths (II Timothy 4:2–4). THIS IS THE “LABOR.”

To reject truth is to believe a lie. THIS IS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE!

So here we conclude for today: Unbelief is the primary cause of the noise in your soul. You do not yet see that God Himself is more than enough for you.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Berg for allowing us to use his material.
Berg, Jim. (2005). Quieting a Noisy Soul. Greenville, SC: BJU Press

Mud & Miracles

mud and miracles_wide_t

I hate Zesco – power cuts. It is evening, the sun has set and you have plans for the evening. Suddenly you hear that dreaded sound: “thunk!” Everything goes dark.  What is your immediate response?  You run for the light – a candle, a torch, or switch on an inverter.  Around our house when Zesco cuts our smaller children are in some other room of the house yelling that they can’t see anything – they have been trapped by the darkness.

There is comfort from just the smallest light! Light is something that we often take for granted – until we lose it.

The setting for our text is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins the 15th day of the 7th month and lasts for seven days (Lev 23:34). During the feast four large torches where lit in the temple area.  The holy men and elders of Israel danced the night away in the light of the flames. The end of the Feast is drawing near.  It is Sabbath.  Just before those caring for the temple extinguish the torches, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (8:12).

What a dramatic visualization of the difference between light and darkness! Jesus walks through those who were picking up stones in order to stone him for his claim to be God (8:58).  He walks out of the Temple – the light is gone!

In chapter 9 the them of light continues… Jesus passes by and departs Temple Mount. The light goes out into the world those who are in darkness can see.  As Jesus goes out he meets a man who is blind – one who has never seen light.

Jesus stops when he sees the blind man.  He approaches him and ultimately brings him into the light physically by restoring his sight and more importantly into the light spiritually!

How often we hold to our traditions and upbringing instead of embracing the truth that is staring us in the face.  Everyone of us is either like the blind man who receives light or we are like the Pharisees who claimed to have light and continued to live in darkness.


The disciples assumed that this man’s blindness was a direct punishment for sin (1-2).

Every one of us live by presuppositions and assumptions. These assumptions are based upon our background, life experiences and what we have learned (been taught). The cultural understanding of the disciples was that someone sinned for this man to be born blind. His blindness was just punishment for that sin. It had to be that either the man had sinned while still in the womb, or his parents had sinned thus bringing about his condition.

Because of blindness this man was a beggar, a social outcast.

It was thought that he deserved to suffer for this past sin.

This is the basic idea of some Eastern religions today. There is a lack compassion for the underprivileged (low-caste) because the person suffering is only getting what they deserve in payment from a past life and previous wrong decisions.  If someone dies and has been bad they are reincarnated as a lower caste or if they are really bad they come back as part of the animal kingdom.

Even among Christian people this same idea can be found.  I remember after my motorcycle accident in 1983 being in the hospital with a hundred stitches in my face.  A well-meaning Christian leader in my church came to the hospital to visit.  He asked if there was some sin in my life that was the root cause of my accident.

He was a family embarrassment and burden

If it was because of sin that he was born blind then every time this family was seen in public with him, the question was always being asked, “Who sinned, was it him or his parents?”

The Lord destroys this assumption (3-12)

Jesus corrected their wrong thinking (3).

Some view God as an all-powerful vindictive God who cannot give us too much good, so he zaps us rather frequently to be sure that we keep our place. It is true that all pain, suffering and death is a result of the fall and in that sense it is a result of sin, but affliction is not punishment for a particular sin.

Why is there pain and suffering?

Principle of sowing/reaping: You may be reaping the fruit of what you have sown, but this is not God’s punishment.  For instance a former alcoholic may be suffering with a destroyed liver, this is not a punishment for his sin, it is reaping the effects of sinful choices. Suffering may also be because of the wrong decisions of others.  If a mother is a drug addict, her baby is born with drug dependency and withdrawals.

Punishment is future – God will either mete your eternal punishment upon His Son for your sake or if you refuse that offer, he will lay just punishment upon you.

God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that as a adult he could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and so that others might see and turn to Christ.  If we exist for the pleasure of God for the glory of God then it follows that whatever situation we find ourselves in ultimately is so that God will be exalted among men & angels & devils.

Jesus clarifies his purpose for coming into the world (4-5).

Jesus came to into the world to bring light.  It is for this reason that He must do the works of God while He has the opportunity.

Jesus compassionately gives the blind man his sight (6-12)

This was compassion because he was helpless to help himself. He had never seen the red and gold and orange hues of an African sunset. He had never seen what his mother looked like, he had felt her kisses and her tears, he had felt the lines of her face, but he had never seen her! He had never been able to move about freely – always had to be led by others or poke his way carefully with a cane.

Jesus used a most interesting means to bring light to this blind man: Spit, mud, and a command to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”  Jesus chose to heal this man at a distance to not draw more attention to Himself.  He would also use this event to confront the Jews with a situation they could not deny.

This was compassion because as he washed the mud out of his eyes the light poured in! He saw green trees and brown skin and blue water – and he was filled with joy! Light and joy flooded over him at the same time! He rushed home to tell everyone and show them what had happened. Imagine the excitement he felt!

When you have experienced pain or suffering there is often greater joy!

Helen Keller was orn June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months old she became ill and lost her sight and hearing.  Ann Sullivan a 20 year old teacher was assigned to help Helen.  She taught Keller to read and write and became a mentor and friend. Keller went on to write 12 books and became an advocate for the handicapped.  Helen Keller wrote this of her situation,

“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who set my spirit free.”

That is what Jesus did for this blind man!


Blinded by their traditions (13-24)

The Pharisees were blinded by their own self-righteous system!  Making clay on the Sabbath day was sin because it was considered work.  Washing your eyes to remove the mud was also considered work.  This man could not be from God if he both worked and told someone else to work, thus breaking the Sabbath rules set by the Rabbi. (13-17)

They would not believe this man was born blind, so they called his parents. Knowing that they refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah and would take action against anyone making the claim the parents kept their distance from their son (22). The Pharisees demonstrated the classic case of: “my mind’s made up don’t confuse me with the facts.”(18-23)

Again they interrogate the man! “Give glory to God” = admit that you are lying that Jesus healed you (24).  Instead of taking the easy way out, the former blind man brilliantly articulated the obvious, “I was blind, now I see!”

Blinded to the obvious (25-34)

The Pharisees rejected the man’s testimony (25-29). His changed life and seeing eyes were irrefutable argumentation that Jesus is God. Blind eyes seeing was a loud and clear testimony to the Pharisees that Christ is the “I AM” that he claimed to be (8:58).

They rejected his logic – they didn’t require more evidence – neither do you! They only needed to accept what was very clear. (30-34)

They rejected him – the outcast seeing blind man was cast out of the temple that he had never been allowed to enter because of his infirmity. (34)


Some will receive the light – spiritual light (35-38)

He responded in faith! He accepted Jesus as His Messiah! (35-37)

True faith results in worship (38) The blind man had light come to his eyes and now broke on his heart. Belief and worship go together. Worship is acts of reverence, praise, adoration and reverence for God. Literally it means: to serve.

Jesus accepted his worship! This would be a direct violation of the 10 commandments. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Lk.4:8

If Jesus is not God He is either a lunatic for actually believing He was God or the biggest hypocritical liar and fraud ever hoisted upon humanity, or He is actually who He claimed to be the Son of God!

Others will reject the light – spiritual blindness (39-41)

  • They will be judged because they refused the light.
  • They refuse to admit their need.
  • They are in denial, I don’t have a problem, I’m a good person. It will all work out…The issue is seeing your need.
  • They reject spiritual sight (41a).  Some people claim to already “see truth” and reject the light that God is providing. These Jews were religious, they had the OT law and prophets and though there they were seeing things clearly while rejecting the true light sent from God.
  • They are sealing their doom (41b). To remain in your sin is a terrible decision!

There are lessons in this story for each of us:

We all need the miracle that the blind man in chapter 9 received!

  • We, like this man, were all born spiritual blind.
  • Jesus takes the initiative to come to us and to heal us of that blindness.
  • His work is one of Creation, not reformation. Blind eyes don’t need designer sunglasses, they need to be recreated so that they can see!
  • He calls us to be obedient to His commands.

Have you seen the light?

Recognize your need and you will come to the light and be changed by it! Your life changes, your path is clear, your future is bright, your end is certain.  Believe and receive Him!


Download pdf version of Mud & Miracles

The Attack Continues…

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The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

Why does John keep talking about the opposition to Christ?

By the time you get to Chapter 8 this continued attacks on Jesus seems monotonous until you realize what the Pharisees are doing.

When a guilty party (Pharisees) wants to remove the influence of a witness (Christ) against them, there are three options they can resort to discredit him:

  1. They can kill the witness. (Attempted in chapter 7)
  2. They can discredit the witness. (Attempted in chapter 8:1-11)
  3. They can have the witness thrown out on a technicality. This is their plan in today’s text.

So what were the Pharisees referring to when they claimed Christ’s witness of Himself was invalid?

They were referring to Deuteronomy 19:15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

This law was specifically designed for cases where one person had something against another.  Over the years however, this law had been interpreted by the Jews to mean that no testimony anywhere could be trusted unless two or three people agreed to it.

Many times people discount Christ’s statement that He is God because it does not line up with their way of thinking.

The methods  the world uses to evaluates truth, truth can never be known.  They have no basis for making a decision. Many end up becoming agnostic. An Agnostic concludes that if there is a God He is unknown and unknowable.

Christ’s answer for the source of His authority is vitally important for all of us. Christ answers in three ways:

Christ’s testimony is authoritative. (14)

John 8:14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

Only God can testify of Himself, no man is an authority on God. We can know nothing about God that we are not told in the Word (Heb. 1:1).
Christ has revealed enough for us to believe Him in faith. What we need to know in heaven will be revealed there. But we will never know all as God does.

Christ’s testimony is impartial. (15-16)

John 8:15–16 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

The Pharisees based their decisions on the flesh, the things that make a man – reason, intellect, logic.

  • These are often flawed.
  • These are often sinful.

Christ’s judgments are based on something much higher
His judgements are always right. They are always sinless.

Christ’s testimony was verified (17-18)

God the Father gives the following witnesses:

  • John the Baptist (5:33-34)
  • Christ’s signs (5:36)
  • OT Scriptures (5:39-47)

Christ changes the wording of the law from “witnesses” (Deut. 19:15) to “man” (17) emphasizing again God’s eternal viewpoint vs. man’s earthly view.

No one has the knowledge to challenge the testimony of Christ. He speaks what He knows!  We must either trust and follow Him or distrust and try and figure it out with our own limited knowledge.

So what does all this mean to us?

We cannot trust our own judgement of spiritual things. We don’t know enough. We can’t attempt to compare our finite minds to His infinite mind.

Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Consider what these verses are saying to us:

  • Lean – rest, depend
  • own understanding – what we would trust if not Christ
  • all your ways – everything now has a new purpose
  • acknowledge Him – He is in control
  • direct your paths – note it begins with trust, then direction (it cannot work the other way around).

Trust Christ’s word completely – for who He says He is. There will be things we don’t understand. There will be things we may not agree with. There may be things we wish we could change, but if Christ is God, He is the One who knows what is best.

2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

If His word is true, we must acknowledge our own sinfulness, accept the salvation He offers, and follow Him as Lord.

R.A. Torrey once challenged an agnostic (a person who does not know if God exists) to make an honest search to see if Jesus was the Son of God.  If confirmed Torrey challenged the man to accept Him. Torrey told him he would need to pray and ask God to help him find the truth (in case God did exist). In addition, because Jn. 20:31 said there was proof that Christ was God, this man needed to read the proof from John as part of his search. The man agreed, but was confident that he would now be convinced. When Torrey came back from traveling a few weeks later, the man had been convinced and wondered how he had ever believed anything different. (Boice)

Where are you? Are you caught in the middle of a decision about Christ?

Are you wondering if God exists? Do you really want to know?

Honestly pray and ask to be shown. Read and understand John’s account. This can be your story if you will honestly examine the evidence.

The Compassionate Forgiver


In our text John 8:1-12 we read of a woman caught in an adulterous relationship who is dragged to Christ.  Through this story we see Christ revealed as the Compassionate Forgiver!

We all need to  receive that forgiveness that only He can offer.

In these verses we will discover five attitudes that unlock for us God’s response to man’s sin, and man’s response to Christ!

The attitude of Christ toward the people teaches us that Christ will gladly teach those who desire to learn. (1)

Christ got up early in the morning to go to the temple to teach people who wanted to learn.   All those who want to learn the truth will be instructed by Christ.  If you come to Him with an open heart, Christ will instruct you too!

The attitude of the people to Christ teaches us that Believers show a genuine hunger for more truth despite the world’s opinions. (2)

The people who wanted to learn came to HIm. If we would learn, we must do the same. Blessings await those who desire God.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

We can illustrate the truth this way: You may say that you trust a chair will hold you up, but that faith is not real until you act upon it by actually sitting in the chair. Trust is to put your entire weight upon it!

Matthew 11:28–30  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

To come and sit at the feet of Christ and willingly obey means you have made a choice to trust Him.

Here is an illustration that helps us understand what we are talking about:  In India, when a wild elephant needs to be trained, it is yoked to a bigger trained elephant. The wild elephant learns what is expected because of the yoke. When we enter the yoke with Christ, He will teach us. Our part is to enter the yoke and follow His lead.  He will take the load we are pulling.

The Attitude of the Jews toward Christ teaches us that unbelievers attack the truth when they choose not to trust it. (3-6)

The Pharisees set out to entrap this woman, so that they could trap Jesus.  Their question was a set-up! While Jesus is spending the night on the Mount of Olives praying, the Pharisees are “peeping through keyholes” trying to find someone they could use to trap Jesus!  These religious leaders are not the kind of people you want to rely upon for compassionate forgiveness!

The OT Law demanded stoning as the punishment for an engaged person who is unfaithful with another person before marriage.  The punishment is same for both the man and the woman, but where here the Pharisees do not bring the offending man, only the woman. This punishment wis wha Joseph wanted to avoid when he determined to put Mary away privately (when she was carrying Christ (Matt. 1:19).

It is clear that these religious leaders did not desire justice, they only wanted to see Christ discredited. If Christ refused to affirm the law of Moses, He would be discredited. If He upheld the Law, he would be in direct violation of the law of ruling Roman government (Jn. 18:31).

Under Rabbinic law it was nearly impossible to secure a death penalty in a case of adultery. There had to be witnesses — two or three of them — and these witnesses had to observe, not merely a compromising situation but the very act of adultery. Moreover, in their testimony they had all must agree about every particular.

The reaction these Pharisees had toward Christ is also seen today in the way people reject Christ by reacting against His image in believers.

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

The attitude of Christ toward the Pharisees teaches us that Christ focuses on the heart. (6-9)

According to the OT Law, the witnesses must cast the first stone (Deut. 17:2-7). This response of Christ forced these men to consider their own hearts!  Sinful actions are wrong, but all sins of action come from a heart dominated by sin. That is Christ’s focus here! The accusers were no more righteous than the woman they were accussing.  This did not make her sin less sinful, but it did convict them that they too were guilty!

Matthew 15:18–20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.

The Attitude of Christ toward the Woman teaches us that Christ offers compassionate forgiveness to those who acknowledge their failure. (10-11)

A man was walking on the road in the dark and a passing car splashed water all over him. When he reached the streetlight he was able to see what a mess he was and knew he could not continue on. He chose instead to go home and change clothes. Next week we will see Christ as the Light of the World. He is the “streetlight”! His light reveals the conditionhearts. Our problem is that we don’t have any other “clothes,” no good nature of our own at “home.”

The woman knew she did not have a solution! The Pharisees on the other hand thought they did. She stayed to get help. They left relying on their own righteousness. She received help, they remained lost in sin.  Which one are you?

“Jesus’ attitude provided both the motivation and the assurance she needed.”

The Attitude of the Woman to Christ teaches us that respectful obedience must characterize our response to Christ’s compassionate forgiveness. (11)

She called Christ “Lord,” the relationship of slave to Master. What He told her to do, she did. “The Son of God refused to press the issue. Her sin was not just set aside; soon Jesus would pay the penalty for both the woman and her accusers.”

“Forgiveness rests upon the Lord’s grace. Salvation does not come from suffering; it comes from grace — from the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf.”

This same Jesus offers forgiveness today to whose sins equal that of the woman or that of the Pharisees. And not only forgiveness for initial salvation but also for daily sins of anger, disobedience, envy, greed, and the judgmental character shown by the Pharisees which gave birth to this episode.

Click the link for a pdf download of Compassionate Forgiver


Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (p. 608). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 91). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 160). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.