Radically Christian https://radicallychristian.com Learning to Love Like Jesus Tue, 19 Oct 2021 12:11:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.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 Is Political Privilege Harmful to Christianity? (Part One) https://radicallychristian.com/is-political-privilege-harmful-to-christianity-part-one Tue, 19 Oct 2021 11:53:22 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10312 oday's Bible study. According to an article by Nilya Saiya, the answer is "political privilege." Saiya argues that it is not governmental persecution, but rather governmental support that is one of the biggest threats to the growth of Christianity in a country. Saiya reports, "As governmental support for Christianity increases, the number of Christians declines significantly."

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Political Privilege and Christianity

“Why is Christianity growing in some countries but declining in others?” That’s the question Wes and Travis discuss in today’s Bible study. According to an article by Nilya Saiya, the answer is “political privilege.” Saiya argues that it is not governmental persecution, but rather governmental support that is one of the biggest threats to the growth of Christianity in a country. Saiya reports, “As governmental support for Christianity increases, the number of Christians declines significantly.”

In other words, when the government favors Christianity, giving special privileges and protections to Christians, one might think it would cause Christianity to grow. However, the opposite seems to be the case. Christianity almost always declines in such environments.

Saiya outlines three paradoxes: pluralism, privilege, and persecution. In this episode, part one, we discuss pluralism and privilege. In part two, we will discuss persecution. What does the Bible say about these so-called paradoxes? Does the Bible support the idea that political privilege is not something Christians should pursue? Does Christianity really grow best in environments where is it not favored?

We hope you enjoy this Bible study and discussion.


Links and Resources:

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The Danger of Becoming a Scoffer https://radicallychristian.com/the-danger-of-becoming-a-scoffer Wed, 13 Oct 2021 11:16:08 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10295 Though the Bible has much to say about scoffers, Christians rarely talk about the dangers of being one. We rarely ask ourselves, "Am I becoming a scoffer?" In fact, many of us probably don't know what a scoffer is. Here are some things the Bible says about scoffers.

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Though the Bible has much to say about scoffers, Christians rarely talk about the dangers of being one. We rarely ask ourselves, “Am I becoming a scoffer?” In fact, many of us probably don’t know what a scoffer is. Here are some things the Bible says about scoffers.

What is a scoffer in the Bible

What is a Scoffer?

The word, “scoff” means to make fun of or mock. Scoffing is treating someone, or their ideas, as stupid or silly. So, a scoffer is a person who habitually laughs at, mocks, and makes fun of others. When a scoffer encounters an idea he doesn’t understand or agree with, his typical reaction is to laugh scornfully.

Being a scoffer reflects an arrogant spirit. “‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride” (Proverbs 21:24). Constantly seeing others as stupid and their ideas as ridiculous is a sure sign of a proud and arrogant heart.

Scoffers tend to have a lot in common with cynics. Meaning, they scoff not just at ideas, but also at the perceived motives of their opponents. A scoffer might even scoff at his opponents on issues where they would seem to agree. The scoffer will laugh and say, “You don’t really believe that. You’re just trying to fool and manipulate people.” The scoffer prides himself on his distrust and skepticism. 

There may be an appropriate occasion to scoff, but it’s never appropriate to be a scoffer. If scoffing has become a pattern in your life, you may need to ask yourself if this is you.

Confessions of a Recovering Scoffer

I must confess, I have been a scoffer. I have mocked and made fun of people because I disagreed with (or didn’t fully understand) their ideas. Sadly, much of my early preaching, teaching, and writing reflected the heart of a scoffer.

In my early 20s, I had the audacity to think I knew more about Scripture than most religious leaders and Bible scholars in the world. When people said things that contradicted my beliefs, I presumed they were either ignorant or lacked a sincere love for God. If they didn’t see things the way I saw them, they were either blind to the truth or willfully disobedient. 

But when I finally started to listen (really listen), I discovered there were so many things I didn’t fully understand. I realized that most of the people with whom I differed were not ignorant or insincere. They were often well-informed and loved the Lord as deeply as I did. 

In some cases, I realized they were right and I was wrong on some things. In light of a better understanding of Scripture, I had to rethink and change my position. In other cases, I ultimately did not change my mind, but I certainly changed my attitude. I had a deeper respect for people and their positions, even when I disagreed with them.

I still struggle with scoffing. I have to remind myself, I can’t be a scoffer and love my brothers, sisters, neighbors, and enemies. In order to love them well, I have to be respectful, courteous, kind, and give them the benefit of the doubt (1 Corinthians 13:1-7; Titus 3:2; 1 Peter 3:15).

Scoffers Never Learn

The problem with warning people about being scoffers is that scoffers don’t listen. They scoff at warnings, correction, and rebuke. This may be why the Bible says more about scoffers than it says to them:

“Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

Proverbs 9:7-8

“A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”

Proverbs 15:12

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 1:1-2

The danger of becoming a scoffer is not only that you are treating people in an unloving way, but that you are being an unteachable person. So, if you find yourself drifting in this direction, turn back now.

Don’t Be a Scoffer

I’m not suggesting we should never disagree with people. I’m not even suggesting we should never scoff. But we cannot be disciples of Jesus and make a habit out of mocking those who think, vote, or believe differently than we do. 

So, here are some phrases to help you interact with people who think, vote, and believe differently than you. When you are tempted to be a scoffer, think about which of these phrases might apply to your conversation:

  • “I really don’t know enough about that topic to take a position.”
  • “I may very well be wrong here, so I want to really understand before I speak.”
  • “Would this be a fair and accurate way to summarize this idea?”
  • “I can certainly see how you arrived at that conclusion.”
  • “Here’s where I think we agree…and where I think we disagree…”
  • “Would you be open to exploring a different perspective?”
  • “Even though we disagree, I value our friendship and I hope this doesn’t come between us.”

As followers of Jesus, we should reject the way of the scoffer because we are called to love everyone, including our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). We should also reject the way of the scoffer because we are supposed to be teachable people who are, “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

So, before you mock someone with your words or with a clever meme, stop and ask yourself, “Am I becoming a scoffer?”

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

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Biblical Justice: How the Bible Defines Justice https://radicallychristian.com/biblical-justice-how-the-bible-defines-justice Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:29:01 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10287 The word “justice” gets bandied about a lot. We talk about justice, injustice, social justice, doing justice, and whether or not justice has been served. It seems many of us are using different definitions of justice. What seems “just” to one person seems “unjust” to another. As Christians, how should we think about justice? What is the biblical definition of justice?

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The word “justice” gets bandied about a lot. We talk about justice, injustice, social justice, doing justice, and whether or not justice has been served. It seems many of us are using different definitions of justice. What seems “just” to one person seems “unjust” to another. As Christians, how should we think about justice? What is the biblical definition of justice?

Biblical Justice Image

Justice and Righteousness

Both in Hebrew and Greek, the words we translate as justice and righteousness have so much connection and overlap, they are synonymous or nearly synonymous. When studying the Bible, we must recognize the connection between words like:

  • righteous
  • righteousness 
  • justice
  • justified
  • justification

When Scripture says God is righteous, it is saying God is just. In Romans, for instance, Paul has much to say about the “righteousness of God” (Romans 3:21-22). It could be said that Paul is describing God’s administration of justice.

As it relates to humans, righteousness is not just about our relationship with God, but also our relationship with our neighbors. For example, Jesus said when you “give to the needy,” you are “practicing your righteousness” (Matthew 6:1-2). We could read that as, doing justice.

Of course, all of us are guilty of injustice (Romans 3:10-23). We have all fallen short of what God’s justice demands. But what does God’s justice demand? I would like to suggest four aspects that are included in biblical justice:

1. Biblical Justice Means Personal Accountability

For many modern people, justice has only one aspect, personal accountability. This aspect is certainly part of the biblical definition of justice. 

When a person does something wrong, a person in authority (judge, king, God, etc.) assigns a commensurate penalty for that crime. In other words, justice is served when the guilty individual repairs the damage they caused or suffers the same sort of damage themselves.

The guilty individual may have been negatively influenced by others, but the blame cannot be shifted; he must be held personally accountable for his own wrongdoing. In the context of teaching Israel about justice, it was written in the Law of Moses:

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Deuteronomy 24:16

Biblical justice requires that individuals be held accountable for their own wrongdoing. And when we are the wrongdoer, justice demands acknowledging our culpability, accepting the consequences, and attempting to correct the damage. 

2. Biblical Justice Means Fairness

Another key feature of biblical justice is fairness. Doing justice means not giving an unfair advantage to some people over others. 

Because ancient Israel was an agrarian society, the Bible often uses terms relating to measurements, balances, and weights to express the fairness aspect of justice. People traded with goods like grain and oil. There was a natural temptation for merchants to give a slightly better exchange rate to certain people over others. After all, who would notice?

God noticed. He noticed every time people used an unequal weight or measurement (Proverbs 11:1; 16:10-11; 20:23). He noticed every time someone withheld fair wages from a laborer (Leviticus 19:13). God commanded his people:

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin.”

Leviticus 19:34-36

This sort of injustice still happens. For instance, “There is a wealth of research and evidence that suggests that people with more ‘ethnic-sounding’ names experience bias during the hiring process and are less likely to be called back for roles they are qualified for compared to their counterparts” (source: forbes.com). Consider how this single example of unfairness/injustice could contribute to disparities in salary, housing, education, and more.

Justice is not only a matter of the courtroom but also the marketplace. It is not just police officers, judges, and lawyers who should be concerned about justice, but every person who interacts with others. Justice demands we ask the question, “Is this fair?”

3. Biblical Justice Means Collective Responsibility

An aspect of biblical justice that many modern people struggle to understand is collective responsibility. We tend to create a false dichotomy between collective responsibility and personal accountability. Many think it must be one or the other, but it is actually both.

Human beings are more than individuals. We’re part of communities, social groups, and nations. We influence one another. Our choices both benefit and harm others. So, injustice is often a tangled social web we weave and it touches nearly everyone in society.

This is why God has always held whole families, cities, nations, and empires responsible for their collective injustice. When God instructed his people about justice, he told them to take responsibility for one another’s well-being:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

Isaiah 1:16-17

Justice demands that we take responsibility for our community. It means we speak up against unfairness and mistreatment. It also means we attempt to repair what others (including previous generations) have broken.

4. Biblical Justice Means Merciful Generosity

The biblical concept of justice doesn’t pit mercy against justice but ties it all together. Biblical justice is loving, merciful, gracious, generous, and restorative.

As mentioned earlier, Jesus considered charity an act of doing justice or practicing righteousness (Matthew 6:1-2). When we provide food, clothing, and shelter to those in need, we are doing justice or act righteously. The justice laws in Israel included commandments like these:

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Deuteronomy 24:19

In the book of Ruth, when Boaz provided food for Ruth and Naomi, he was caring for the sojourner, fatherless, and widow. And when Boaz found out Ruth and Naomi were his relatives, he did justice by redeeming them. Boaz did not do these things because he had a “crush” on Ruth. He did them because this is what justice looks like.

Conclusion: The Gospel and Justice

The bad news is, we’ve all participated in injustice. We’ve been selfish, shirked our personal and collective responsibilities, treated people unfairly, and withheld good from people when it was within our power to do it. God’s justice demands humanity be held accountable for these injustices, but it also demands mercy be extended.

That is why, in love, Jesus has become the human representative we so desperately need. Though he was personally innocent, he took responsibility for all of humanity’s sins. He offered himself as the atoning sacrifice, so that humanity could be held accountable and also have mercy extended to them (see Romans 3:21-26).

In order to receive this mercy, we must stop being self-righteous. We must stop proudly declaring ourselves to be just. None of us are just. We must humbly repent of our personal and collective injustice, mourn and weep, hunger and thirst for God’s justice, and adopt a posture of meekness (Matthew 5:1-12).

Until Jesus comes to establish ultimate justice, defeating all those who oppose God’s justice, we must continue to, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8). Followers of Jesus are to show mercy to those in need, treat people fairly, repent of wrongdoing, and work in the power of the Spirit to repair what has been broken by sin and injustice.

However, take note that when we adopt the biblical perspective on justice, we can NEVER self-righteously stand in condemnation of others (not even our enemies). Instead, we bow in humble repentance, asking, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Only those who adopt a humble posture of repentance and faith will be “justified” in the sight of God (Luke 18:9-14).

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

P.S. If you’re interested in hearing more about how biblical justice compares with secular ideas about justice, I would recommend listening to the two-part conversation I recorded with my friend Steven Cuffle.

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How to Give Better Communion Talks https://radicallychristian.com/how-to-give-better-communion-talks Mon, 20 Sep 2021 10:00:00 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10281 Many congregations preface Communion with short Communion talks. This Communion talk typically consists of a Scripture reading and a few thoughts to help the church prepare emotionally and mentally for sharing the bread and the cup. Today's Bible study will hopefully be an encouragement to those who lead in this capacity.

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How to Give Better Communion Talks

Many congregations preface Communion with short Communion talks. This Communion talk typically consists of a Scripture reading and a few thoughts to help the church prepare emotionally and mentally for sharing the bread and the cup. Today’s Bible study will hopefully be an encouragement to those who lead in this capacity.

Special guests, Caleb Cochran and Steven Cuffle join Wes McAdams to discuss how to give better communion talks. Are there some passages of Scripture that naturally lend themselves to this role? What sorts of emotions should be evoked? Are there certain things we should NOT say? This conversation offers some helpful advice.

First, Wes, Caleb, and Steven discuss things to avoid when giving a Communion talk:

  1. Distracting stories, facts, etc.
  2. Speaking for a long time
  3. False analogies

Finally, on a more positive note, they also discuss things to do when giving a Communion talk:

  1. Talk about Jesus and focus on him
  2. Talk about the supper and focus on it
  3. Talk about the church and the purpose of the supper
  4. Read and discuss applicable passages from the Bible

Communion does not have to feel like a funeral service. There is certainly a time to focus on the cross, but there is also a time to focus on the joy of what Jesus has accomplished through the cross. We hope this Bible study encourages those who lead during Communion, but also every Christian who participates in this ancient feast.


Links and Resources:

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The Best Marriage Advice in the Bible https://radicallychristian.com/the-best-marriage-advice-in-the-bible Mon, 13 Sep 2021 11:16:47 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10277 What is the best marriage advice in the Bible? It may not be what you think. Hollee and Wes McAdams discuss why much of the marriage advice given today in books, seminars, and by well-meaning individuals often does not get to the heart of the issue.

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The Best Marriage Advice in the Bible

What is the best marriage advice in the Bible? It may not be what you think. Hollee and Wes McAdams discuss why much of the marriage advice given today in books, seminars, and by well-meaning individuals often does not get to the heart of the issue.

Many people are looking for simple tips, tricks, and techniques to improve their marriage. However, the marriage advice in the Bible (the marriage advice we really need) is not so simple. It’s not simple at all, it’s spiritual.

It’s also not uncommon to look for marriage advice that will guarantee a healthier and happier marriage. Sadly, such advice does not exist. What we should all be looking for is advice on how to be a better spouse. Being a better spouse does not guarantee a better marriage, but it is the right thing to do.

So, the real question is, what does the Bible teach us about being a better spouse? That is what Wes and Hollee discuss in this episode.

We hope you enjoy this conversation and Bible study.


Links and Resources:

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Forgiven People Forgive People https://radicallychristian.com/forgiven-people-forgive-people Mon, 06 Sep 2021 10:47:18 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10272 Forgiven people forgive people. In today's Bible Study, Wes McAdams discusses forgiveness with Billy McGuiggan. For followers of Jesus, it is important that we both experience and extend forgiveness. Unfortunately, many of us tend to struggle with both of these aspects of forgiveness.

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Forgiven People Forgive People, Billy McGuiggan

Forgiven people forgive people. In today’s Bible Study, Wes McAdams discusses forgiveness with Billy McGuiggan. For followers of Jesus, it is important that we both experience and extend forgiveness. Unfortunately, many of us tend to struggle with both of these aspects of forgiveness.

First, we must accept the fact that we are truly and totally forgiven in Christ. Sadly, many of us struggle to believe we are actually forgiven. Billy and Wes discuss why Christians doubt our salvation and the consequences of that doubt.

Second, Jesus makes it clear that forgiven people must also forgive others. If we withhold forgiveness from people, forgiveness will also be withheld from us. One of the key passages discussed in this Bible study is Matthew 18:21-35.

Billy McGuiggan is the preaching minister at the Three Chopt Church of Christ in Richmond, VA.


Links and Resources:

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What is an Evangelist? https://radicallychristian.com/what-is-an-evangelist Mon, 30 Aug 2021 11:16:25 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10268 Today's Bible Study considers the question, what is an evangelist? This question comes from Jeff, who asks, "Over the past year or two, I’ve thought a lot about the role of the evangelist and what exactly Paul means to “do the work of the evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5). It’s interesting that the word form εὐαγγελιστής is only used 3x in the NT, yet we build a lot of our congregational ministry in the churches of Christ around that role/office. 

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What is an Evangelist?

Today’s Bible Study question, “What is an evangelist?” comes from Jeff, who asks:

“Over the past year or two, I’ve thought a lot about the role of the evangelist and what exactly Paul means to ‘do the work of the evangelist’ (2 Tim 4:5). It’s interesting that the word form εὐαγγελιστής is only used 3x in the NT, yet we build a lot of our congregational ministry in the churches of Christ around that role/office. I’m curious to know if you have an episode on the role of the evangelist specifically, or if you’d be interested in publishing one? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I think that if one reclaims a biblical view of ‘gospel,’ as you unpacked in your podcast, then the concept/definition of the role of ‘evangelist’ would necessarily be impacted as well. What is the role of the evangelist? How does preaching the gospel impact that role? If the gospel is more holistic than evangelizing the lost, how does that impact the role of the evangelist? What is the dynamic/authority between the evangelist and the shepherd? Does one have authority over the other? Do they share authority? Does an evangelist travel or is he located? Etc. Appreciate you and your podcast. Thanks.”

– Jeff

Though it is hard to tell in English, in Greek, the words “gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον) and “evangelist” (εὐαγγελιστής) are related words. So, we must first define, “gospel.” Wes defines the gospel as, “The Good News that Jesus, the long-awaited Priestly King of Israel, has made atonement for sins and has been victorious over death; he will eventually destroy sin and death and will bring all things under God’s rule.” If this is the Good News, what should the role of an evangelist look like?

We hope you enjoy this discussion.


Bible Passages Discussed:

  • 1 Corinthians 15
  • Acts 21:8
  • 2 Timothy 4:1-5
  • Galatians 2:11-14
  • Ephesians 4:11-16

Links and Resources:

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Holding Ourselves to a Higher Standard https://radicallychristian.com/holding-ourselves-to-a-higher-standard Mon, 23 Aug 2021 10:48:43 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10264 Every follower of Jesus should hold himself or herself to a higher standard than they hold anyone else. Today's Bible study was prompted by one of Travis' favorite quotes from "The Chosen" television series. In Season Two, Episode 1, Jesus says, “I ask a lot of those who follow me, but I ask little of those who do not.”

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Holding Ourselves to a Higher Standard

Every follower of Jesus should hold himself or herself to a higher standard than they hold anyone else. Today’s Bible study was prompted by one of Travis Pauley’s favorite quotes from “The Chosen” television series. In Season Two, Episode 1, Jesus says, “I ask a lot of those who follow me, but I ask little of those who do not.”

Wes McAdams and Travis Pauley discuss why, as followers of Jesus, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold anyone else. First, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold unbelievers. Second, we must even hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold other Christians.

It’s one thing to give up hypocrisy and “double standards” (holding others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves). But followers of Jesus must go further. We must ask more of ourselves than we ask of anyone else.

We will talk about several passages in the New Testament that teach this idea.


Bible Passages Discussed:

  • Matthew 23:1-4
  • 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
  • Romans 14:1-12
  • Matthew 7:1-5

Links and Resources:

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What Does the Bible Say About Karma? https://radicallychristian.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-karma Mon, 16 Aug 2021 11:08:33 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10261 What is karma? What does the Bible say about karma? Should Christians believe in karma? These are some of the questions Wes McAdams and Travis Pauley discuss in today’s Bible study. This episode was prompted by a listener named Jonathan. Buddhism and Hinduism teach karma in connection with reincarnation. These religions believe your current life […]

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What does the Bible say about karma? - Graphic

What is karma? What does the Bible say about karma? Should Christians believe in karma? These are some of the questions Wes McAdams and Travis Pauley discuss in today’s Bible study. This episode was prompted by a listener named Jonathan.

Buddhism and Hinduism teach karma in connection with reincarnation. These religions believe your current life circumstances were determined by your actions in a previous life. If you had acted better in that previous life, perhaps you would find yourself in a better situation today.

But most people do not have reincarnation in mind when they talk about karma. Most people simply mean something like, things generally go well for good people and poorly for bad people. In this sense, what does the Bible say about karma? Should we believe the trials we are enduring now are punishment for bad things we did years ago? Should we believe fortunate things that happen are a reward for doing good things years ago?

We hope this is an encouraging Bible study.


Bible Passages Discussed:

  • Galatians 6:7-10
  • John 9:1-7
  • Matthew 5:45
  • The Book of Job

Links and Resources:

Video: Watch This Episode on YouTube

Podcast: Is Stoicism Compatible with Christianity?

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Baptized for the Wrong Reason https://radicallychristian.com/baptized-for-the-wrong-reason Mon, 09 Aug 2021 11:31:40 +0000 https://radicallychristian.com/?p=10257 What if someone is baptized for the wrong reason? What does the Bible say about the validity of a baptism that was for the wrong reason? Christians have debated these types of questions for centuries. People worry whether they knew enough, believed the right things, or did everything in the right way for their baptism […]

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Baptized for the wrong reason graphic

What if someone is baptized for the wrong reason? What does the Bible say about the validity of a baptism that was for the wrong reason? Christians have debated these types of questions for centuries. People worry whether they knew enough, believed the right things, or did everything in the right way for their baptism to be valid.

One of the often debated issues revolves around the phrase, “for the forgiveness of sins” in Acts 2:38. If someone was baptized because they wanted to obey God, but did not understand that baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins,” is their baptism invalid? Do they need to be baptized again? Wes and Travis discuss what it really means to be baptized for the wrong reason in today’s Bible study.


Bible Passages Discussed:

  • Acts 2:38
  • Colossians 2:10-12
  • Galatians 3:27-29
  • Acts 19:1-7

Links and Resources:

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