Radically Christian https://radicallychristian.com Learning to Love Like Jesus Mon, 17 Jan 2022 03:34:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i0.wp.com/radicallychristian.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/cropped-Radically-Christian-Icon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Radically Christian https://radicallychristian.com 32 32 35066807 Eschatology: What Is It and Why Is It Important? https://radicallychristian.com/eschatology-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important Mon, 17 Jan 2022 03:34:47 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10370 One of the most important words in theological conversations is "eschatology." But what does "eschatology" mean and why is it so important? Wes McAdams and Marcus Stenson define and discuss eschatology. Marcus is the High School Minister at the church of Christ on McDermott Road and a passionate evangelist.

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what is eschatology

One of the most important words in theological conversations is “eschatology.” But what does “eschatology” mean and why is it so important? Wes McAdams and Marcus Stenson define and discuss eschatology. Marcus is the High School Minister at the church of Christ on McDermott Road and a passionate evangelist.

One important aspect of eschatology is our vocabulary. If we want to have a biblical eschatology, we should adapt our vocabulary to reflect our biblical hope. Rather than saying, “go to heaven” (which isn’t found in Scripture), here are some of the eschatological phrases from Scripture:

Eschatological Time

  • the age to come (Hebrews 6:5; Ephesians 1:21; Luke 18:30; Mark 10:30; Matt 12:32)
  • the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8)

Eschatological Event

  • the resurrection (Matt 22:30)
  • the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:14)
  • the coming of the Lord (1 Thess 4:15; 5:23; James 5:7)
  • the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12)
  • the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (Romans 2:5)

Eschatological Place

  • the world to come (Hebrews 2:5)
  • the new world (the palingenesia) / (Matthew 19:28)
  • the city that is to come (Heb 13:14; see also 11:10; 12:22)
  • new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13)

We hope you enjoy this conversation and that it enriches your hope.


Links and Resources:

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What About Violence in the Old Testament? https://radicallychristian.com/what-about-violence-in-the-old-testament Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:46:19 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10355 Jesus and his apostles teach us to love our enemies, joyfully endure persecution, and do everything within our power to live at peace with everyone. There is very little, if anything, in the New Testament that would justify Christians using violence for any reason. However, the pages of the Old Testament are full of war, violence, and bloodshed. Not only do God’s people kill, but they are sometimes obeying God's commands when they do so. At one point, I tried to strike a balance between the Old Testament's teachings about violence and the New Testament's, but I no longer think that's the right way to read the Bible.

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Jesus and his apostles teach us to love our enemies, joyfully endure persecution, and do everything within our power to live at peace with everyone. There is very little, if anything, in the New Testament that would justify Christians using violence for any reason. However, the pages of the Old Testament are full of war, violence, and bloodshed. Not only do God’s people kill, but they are sometimes obeying God’s commands when they do so. At one point, I tried to strike a balance between the Old Testament’s teachings about violence and the New Testament’s, but I no longer think that’s the right way to read the Bible.

Violence in the Old Testament

Applying the Old Testament

Christians sometimes have an inconsistent relationship with the Old Testament. We seem to quote from it when it suits us and dismiss it when it doesn’t. Most of us do not believe we must circumcise our male babies, keep the Sabbath, or travel to Jerusalem annually to celebrate feasts and festivals. We eat pork, wear clothing made of mixed fabrics, and disregard countless other explicit teachings of the Law. And if we read an example of someone in the Old Testament doing something we don’t believe a Christian should do, we simply say, “Well, that was the Old Testament.”

There is, of course, an inherent challenge when it comes to reading and applying the Hebrew Scriptures today. On the one hand, Paul was talking about the books we call the Old Testament when he said:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

And when he said:

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

On the other hand, the Old Testament is made up of instructions to, and examples of, those who lived under the Law of Moses. And Jesus has fulfilled the Law. The Jerusalem council concluded Gentiles did not need to be circumcised or be bound to most of the teachings of the Law (Acts 15:22-35). The Hebrew writer argued that Jesus is the new and better sacrifice, as well as the new and better High Priest. And Paul argued that we are no longer under the Law (Galatians 5:18).

There is no doubt, Christians should continue to read and embrace the entire Old Testament. Every single word of it. But the way we follow and live it out today is not by pretending everything applies to us the same way it did to its original audience. Here is the way Paul taught Christians to fulfill the Law:

  1. Put your faith in Christ (Galatians 3:23-29)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14)
  3. Walk by the Spirit and not the flesh (Galatians 5:18-23)

Only when we are doing these three things can we claim we are truly following the Old Testament teachings as they apply to Christians today.

Messianic Prophecies

Though many of us are not overly familiar with the Old Testament prophets, we tend to have an affinity for the “Messianic prophecies.” We love the passages written hundreds of years before Jesus that give credibility to his Messianic claims. However, we often fail to recognize that one of the key themes of the Messianic prophecies was peace (e.g. Isaiah 11).

The prophets said the Messiah would bring peace to the world by teaching people—both Jews and Gentiles—to obey God’s will. It’s hard not to think that both Isaiah and Micah are speaking of the Messiah’s reign when they prophesy, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). 

So, even though God sometimes sanctioned violence and warfare prior to the Messiah’s coming, the prophets seemed to say that would change when the Messiah began his reign. God’s people of every nation would no longer go to war. They would learn to be people of peace. 

So, the question is, do we believe Jesus is the Messiah and we are presently living in the age of the Messiah’s reign? If we do, then perhaps the best way to follow the Old Testament’s teaching on violence is to “beat [our] swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4).

Jesus and the Apostles

One doesn’t need to look far within the teachings of Jesus and the apostles to figure out how Jesus expects his followers to treat their enemies:

  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)
  • “Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27)
  • “Bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12:14)
  • “If your enemy is hungry, feed him” (Romans 12:20)
  • “Show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2)
  • “Honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17)
  • “Do not repay evil for evil” (1 Peter 3:9) 

All of these teachings imply, of course, that the Messiah’s people would not experience peace the way they may have expected. Just because Jesus’ followers learned to be peacemakers, does not mean their enemies would follow suit (Matthew 10:34). Jesus told his followers to expect hatred, rejection, persecution, and execution. But Jesus instructed his followers, “Don’t fight back against someone who wants to do harm to you” (Matthew 5:39, ERV). 

These are not easy teachings. It would be one thing to embrace Jesus’ way of life if we had no enemies. But to embrace his teaching when there are evil people who want to harm us takes real faith. Of course, faith is what discipleship is all about. 

Believing God will raise us from the dead frees us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love our enemies. But if we continue to try to preserve our mortal lives through violence, are we really trusting Jesus? Listen to Jesus’ stark warning, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).

Conclusion

Yes, in the Old Testament, the people of God often engaged in violence. At times, God even commanded them to do so. But something very important has happened since then: God’s Son has been enthroned as King. Jesus becoming King changes everything. Here are some of the things I believe:

  • the prophets’ vision is fulfilled by Jesus
  • we are living under the Messiah’s reign
  • Jesus has given us eternal life and will raise us from the dead
  • loving our enemies precludes killing them
  • vegnance belongs to God and not us

Because of these truths, I believe we must always follow the teachings and the example of Jesus. I will conclude with the way Peter commended the example of Jesus, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams


P.S. I anticipate some will have questions about these two New Testament passages:

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Intellectual Virtues for Bible Study https://radicallychristian.com/intellectual-virtues-for-bible-study Mon, 10 Jan 2022 02:07:07 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10359 In today’s Bible study, Wes McAdams visits with Clifton F. Webb about intellectual virtues and critical thinking skills. What does it mean to be a critical thinker and why is it important for students of Scripture? One example from Scripture is the Bereans of Acts 17:11, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; […]

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intellectual virtues for bible study

In today’s Bible study, Wes McAdams visits with Clifton F. Webb about intellectual virtues and critical thinking skills. What does it mean to be a critical thinker and why is it important for students of Scripture? One example from Scripture is the Bereans of Acts 17:11, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Wes and Clifton discuss this list of intellectual virtues found in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools by Richard Paul and Linda Elder:

  1. Intellectual Humility vs Intellectual Arrogance
  2. Intellectual Courage vs Intellectual Cowardice
  3. Intellectual Empathy vs Intellectual Narrow-mindedness
  4. Intellectual Autonomy vs Intellectual Conformity
  5. Intellectual Integrity vs Intellectual Hypocrisy
  6. Intellectual Perseverance vs Intellectual Laziness
  7. Confidence in Reason vs Distrust of Reason and Evidence
  8. Fairmindedness vs Intellectual Unfairness

Clifton F. Webb is the Evangelist at the Wayne Road Church of Christ in Romulus, MI.


Links and Resources: 

Video: Watch this Episode on YouTube

Podcast: Music in the Old Testament – CrossTalk S4E12

Book: “The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools” by Richard Paul and Linda Elder 

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What Does it Mean that the Bible is Inspired? https://radicallychristian.com/what-does-it-mean-that-the-bible-is-inspired Mon, 03 Jan 2022 11:44:55 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10350 What are we actually claiming when we say the Bible is inspired? In today's Bible study, Wes McAdams visits with Steven Cuffle and Dr. Jared Saltz about some of the major theories and views about biblical inspiration. How should we define inspiration? What are some of the major differences between different theories of inspiration? What are the pros and cons of each theory? Can we have fellowship with one another if we have slightly different ideas about the inspiration of Scripture?

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What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired?

What are we actually claiming when we say the Bible is inspired? In today’s Bible study, Wes McAdams visits with Steven Cuffle and Dr. Jared Saltz about some of the major theories and views about biblical inspiration:

  • How should we define inspiration?
  • What are some of the major differences between different theories of inspiration?
  • What are the pros and cons of each theory?
  • Can we have fellowship with one another if we have slightly different ideas about the inspiration of Scripture?

Followers of Jesus should have a profound appreciation for the nature of Scripture. We should recognize both the human and divine aspects of the Bible. And we should allow it to do what it was designed to do, draw us closer to the Lord and to one another. We hope this conversation helps encourage you on that journey.

Steven Cuffle is an evangelist with the Brentwood church of Christ. Dr. Jared Saltz is a professor at Florida College.


Links and Resources:

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Appearing Before the Judgment Seat of Christ https://radicallychristian.com/appearing-before-the-judgment-seat-of-christ Mon, 29 Nov 2021 03:01:31 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10344 What does it mean that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ? In today's Bible study, Wes and Travis discuss a question from a listener: "Growing up in the church I heard it said quite often we’d sit at the judgment seat. We will give an account for all our sins….almost like a line-by-line reading of everything we’ve done wrong. I’ve also heard many sermons saying that God has wiped away all our sins and remembers them no more (perhaps magnified with studies on grace that I was never exposed to as a child). So are sins forgotten or will we have to give an account!?!?"

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Appearing Before the Judgment Seat of Christ

What does it mean that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ? In today’s Bible study, Wes and Travis discuss a question from a listener:

“Growing up in the church I heard it said quite often we’d sit at the judgment seat. We will give an account for all our sins….almost like a line-by-line reading of everything we’ve done wrong. I’ve also heard many sermons saying that God has wiped away all our sins and remembers them no more (perhaps magnified with studies on grace that I was never exposed to as a child). So are sins forgotten or will we have to give an account!?!?”

– Nathan

Here are a few of the passages discussed in today’s Bible study:

  • Matthew 12:33-37
  • Romans 14:1-13
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
  • Romans 2:14-16
  • 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
  • 1 John 4:13–21

When read in context, what do these passages teach us about the Day of Judgment and appearing before the judgment seat of Christ? On what basis will we be judged? Can we have confidence for the day of judgment?


Links and Resources:

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Faith is Counted as Righteousness https://radicallychristian.com/faith-is-counted-as-righteousness Mon, 22 Nov 2021 12:20:26 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10338 What does it mean when the Bible says faith is counted as righteousness? In Romans 4, Paul discusses how Abraham’s “faith was counted to him as righteousness.” Abraham believed “God was able to do what he had promised” and because of that faith, God considered Abraham to righteous. More importantly, Paul goes on to say […]

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faith is counted as righteousness

What does it mean when the Bible says faith is counted as righteousness? In Romans 4, Paul discusses how Abraham’s “faith was counted to him as righteousness.” Abraham believed “God was able to do what he had promised” and because of that faith, God considered Abraham to righteous. More importantly, Paul goes on to say that our faith is also as righteousness.

Wes and Travis discuss the idea of faith being counted as righteousness. What does this mean and what practical applications does this have for our life? What would it really look like to embrace this truth?

In the second half of our Bible study, Wes and Travis discuss James 2:18-26. James says Abraham was “justified by works” (vs. 21). And James goes on to say, “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (vs. 24). How can James say that people are justified by works when Paul emphatically denies that people are justified by works?

The study of justification by faith, or God counting faith as righteousness, is such an important area of study. It has huge implications for our life. We hope you enjoy this Bible study.


Links and Resources:

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How Do I Become a Better Christian? https://radicallychristian.com/how-do-i-become-a-better-christian Mon, 15 Nov 2021 11:54:31 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10333 Today's Bible study discussion was prompted by a listener named Isabella, who wrote in to ask about becoming a better Christian. Isabella feels she is too focused on worldly things and doesn't do enough for the Lord. She wants to overcome some of her struggles with sin. She fears she has been lazy and disobedient.

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How do I become a better Christian?

Today’s Bible study discussion was prompted by a listener named Isabella, who wrote in to ask about becoming a better Christian. Isabella feels she is too focused on worldly things and doesn’t do enough for the Lord. She wants to overcome some of her struggles with sin. She fears she has been lazy and disobedient.

Isabella is asking a question we are all asking. We all want to become better Christians, better disciples of Jesus, don’t we? We all want to sin less and serve more. But we don’t really know how or we struggle to find the motivation we need to take our spiritual journey to the next level.

Wes and Travis discuss how the book of Ephesians can help us become better Christians. We hope this Bible study discussion is a blessing to you.


Links and Resources:

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Should Christians Care What Unbelievers Think of Them? https://radicallychristian.com/should-christians-care-what-unbelievers-think-of-them Thu, 11 Nov 2021 14:37:20 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10329 As Christians, we interact with many people who do not share our views or live by the same standards. Some of our family members, friends, and neighbors may find the Bible’s teachings to be strange or even offensive. Jesus warned his followers they would be hated and despised. But does this mean we should take the position that we don’t care what unbelievers think of us? Should Christians strive to be liked or simply accept that we will be misunderstood and hated?

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As Christians, we interact with many people who do not share our views or live by the same standards. Some of our family members, friends, and neighbors may find the Bible’s teachings to be strange or even offensive. Jesus warned his followers they would be hated and despised. But does this mean we should take the position that we don’t care what unbelievers think of us? Should Christians strive to be liked or simply accept that we will be misunderstood and hated?

Should Christians Care What Unbelievers Think of Them?

Christians Should Obey God Rather than Men

Throughout his ministry, Jesus made it clear that he was not a people-pleaser. His chief desire was to do his Father’s will. Even when people were offended by his teachings, Jesus continued to teach (Matthew 15:10-20). Even when they opposed him and threatened him, Jesus was, “Obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

This idea of obeying God rather than men can be found throughout Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of his apostles. Peter told the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Paul said he spoke, “Not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). In Galatians, Paul asked, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?” Answering his own question, he stated, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (1:10).

Followers of Jesus must teach and practice what is true and right, even when others disagree. In fact, we must even do so when others are offended or demand we stop. The feelings, opinions, and even laws of the world should never compel us to sin or violate God’s will. 

Christians Should Have a Good Reputation

It’s true that we should obey God rather than men, but it’s NOT true that we should ignore others’ opinions of us. The New Testament actually has a lot to say about striving to maintain a good reputation amongst unbelievers. 

One of the qualities a man must possess in order to serve as an elder in a church is, “He must be well thought of by outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:7). Notice, Paul states this as a positive qualifier, not just a negative disqualifier. He does not say, “He must not be poorly thought of by outsiders.” Paul goes beyond that and says an elder should be the type of person who is “well thought of” by those outside the Christian community.

If this is true of church leaders, shouldn’t this be true of every Christian? Here are a few of the attributes every follower of Jesus should strive to be known for:

  • good works (Matthew 5:13-16; Titus 2:7; 1 Peter 2:11)
  • reasonableness/gentleness (Philippians 4:5)
  • oneness with all believers (John 17:20-23)
  • honorable behavior (1 Peter 2:12)

The word translated “honorable” is the Greek word, “kalos.” It refers to behavior that is good, noble, admirable, and praiseworthy. Paul wrote, “We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (2 Corinthians 8:21). He also told the Christians in Rome, “Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17). In other words, followers of Jesus must strive to do what is good in God’s sight, but also in the sight of unbelievers as well. 

So Far As It Depends on Christians

There is a natural tension between these two biblical truths: 

  1. Christians will be misunderstood, slandered, and criticized for following Jesus 
  2. Christians should have a reputation of being honorable, being united, doing good works, and being easy to get along with

It is tempting to try to resolve this tension in one direction or the other. We could change our doctrines and practices so as to be less offensive and more accommodating to unbelievers. Or, on the other hand, we could ignore the thoughts and feelings of our neighbors and not care when we offend and anger them. But NEITHER of those options is faithful to our calling.

Consider these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). First, there are times when it is perfectly “possible” to live at peace with people; conflict is not always inevitable. Second, you must do everything within your power to live at peace with all people. The phrase, “so long as it depends on you” doesn’t mean if someone else picks the fight, you can finish it. It means, do everything you have the power to do to get along with all of your unbelieving neighbors. 

The apostle Peter asked, “Who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13). In other words, if you are full of the Spirit’s fruit, you will typically get along just fine with your neighbors. However, there may be rare occasions when you “suffer for righteousness’ sake” (vs. 14) or “suffer for doing good” (vs. 17). On those occasions, Peter says, make your defense with “gentleness and respect” (vs. 15). 

Conclusion

Should we care what unbelievers think about us? Yes, definitely. We should want them to see we are gentle and honorable people, full of good works, and united with other believers. But we shouldn’t care so much about what others think that we are willing to disobey Jesus in order to win their approval. If we walk by the Spirit, we already have Jesus’ approval. At the end of the day, that is what truly matters.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

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In Whose Name Should We Be Baptized? https://radicallychristian.com/in-whose-name-should-we-be-baptized Mon, 08 Nov 2021 01:47:17 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10324 In whose name should we be baptized? Should we baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or should we baptize people simply in the name of Jesus?

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In Whose Name Should We Be Baptized

In whose name should we be baptized? Should we baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or should we baptize people simply in the name of Jesus?

Why do different passages of the Bible say different things? In Matthew 28:19 Jesus instructs the apostles to baptize disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” However, in Acts 2:38, Peter says to “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” To what should we ascribe these differences?

Furthermore, what does it mean to be baptized “in” or “into” someone’s name? What is the significance of God’s name and what does God’s name have to do with our baptism? Is this about a baptism formula when administering baptism? Does it really matter what we say when we baptize someone?

Finally, how does this discussion relate to Colossians 3:17, in which Paul says to, “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”? Does this mean we should speak the name of Jesus every time we do anything?

Wes and Travis discuss all of this and more. Special thanks to Mark, who submitted this question for discussion. We hope you find this Bible study encouraging.


Links and Resources:

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What the Bible Says About the Flesh and the Spirit https://radicallychristian.com/what-the-bible-says-about-the-flesh-and-the-spirit Mon, 01 Nov 2021 10:44:54 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10321 In today's Bible study, Wes and Travis discuss the flesh and the Spirit. The apostle Paul taught that there is sin dwelling in the "flesh" of every person. Because of the sin in our flesh, even when we want to do what is right, we lack "the ability to carry it out" (Romans 7:18). Every human being is trapped in a cycle of sin and death.

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The flesh and the Spirit

In today’s Bible study, Wes and Travis discuss the flesh and the Spirit. The apostle Paul taught that there is sin dwelling in the “flesh” of every person. Because of the sin in our flesh, even when we want to do what is right, we lack “the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). Every human being is trapped in a cycle of sin and death.

However, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside his disciples. And the Holy Spirit has already begun to transform God’s people. His fruit is manifest in our lives, when we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-22).

Wes and Travis discuss all of this and more in today’s Bible study. We hope this study is an encouragement to you to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.


Links and Resources:

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