Scripture:
Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. “

What is true biblical faith?

Our scriptural reference, for this blog, is from the Apostle Paul’s recounting of his conversion experience, which he gave in his defense to King Herod Agrippa II, prior to his voyage to Rome. When the Lord struck Paul from his horse, and gave Paul his appointed mission, it was a ministry to the Gentiles, so that the Gentiles might have faith in Jesus.


In this blog, I would like to have us think about what faith in Jesus means. We know for sure the Bible teaches plainly and repeatedly that salvation comes solely through faith, apart from human works. But what is this faith?


Let’s go back to Paul, and some of his teaching on true faith to help us understand how to answer the question. A couple of my favorite verses are found in Romans where Paul writes, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” (Rm 10:10,11) True faith never disappoints because it comes from a repentant and sanctified heart, maybe we will cover repentance and sanctification in another blog, for now I will focus more on the components of faith as evidence of salvation.


True faith is not simply being able to intellectually know and recite certain facts, ideas or theology about the Christian religion. Any student of religion can do this, and many church goers as well, but knowing the facts with no trust and commitment, no change of heart and character is hardly faith. James reminds us that demons can do the same, and yet it is not faith (James 2:19).


The Protestant Reformers understood there to be an act of trust, by which our hearts embrace, trust in, and personally rests upon Christ for our salvation. A big part of this understanding was that we submit to Christ as Savior and Lord, that we totally devote ourselves to Him as King and rest in His saving work for us. So, the first component of true faith involves faithfulness, and loyalty to Christ.


Paul emphasizes, along with James, the second component of true faith, the necessity of good works as I noted above, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,” resulting in salvation, so our verbal Confession of Faith, before the corporate body of believers, a confession which confirms belief in the Word of God is the first act of the saved and justified person. However, it must be, as James reminds us, coupled with actions that confirm the salvation we confess.


There is no conflict between Paul and James on this point. James wrote that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). “Faith without deeds is useless,” says James (2:20), and as evidence he points to Abraham, the father of the faithful, whose faith was shown in his works—works of submission to God’s will (James 2:21–24).


It is the same with Paul. The man who truly believes, says Paul, will show it by outward action, beginning with the confession that “Jesus is Lord.” True biblical faith, then, is never mere assent to ideas and facts, but also submission and loyalty to our sovereign Lord.


In faith,


Rev. John M. Scholte

©2022 John Scholte Ministries

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Today’s post finds me, along with the rest of our country, commemorating this three-day Labor Day weekend. Many will be celebrating by hitting the beaches, looking for the Labor Day Sales, or having a backyard barbeque. All done in the name of the hard work accomplished to make that time off a success.

Welcome to the modern version of an old, and mostly forgotten, teaching known as the Protestant Work Ethic. A concept that almost single handedly built this country into one of the greatest and most productive nations on earth.

Most young students of mine are not conscious of this revolutionary idea, brought to us by the Reformation, from which they have received so much. Unfortunately, University Professors don’t teach the idea in any detail or at all. Some Christians have a distorted idea of this concept brought about by the “prosperity gospel,” and many other people have been just too busy to contemplate what makes us so productive.

In a 2007 survey, by Syracuse University, Americans work 25 percent more per year then Norwegians or the Dutch. Moreover, surveys also reveal that the vast majority of Americans seem to enjoy working.

Well, where did America’s drive all come from? In 1904 a German Sociologist, Max Weber, wrote the book Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In the book, Weber attempted to demonstrate that the mindset promoted by the Protestant religion, coming to America from northern Europe, was responsible for the successful capitalism found in the United States. In 1930, his book was translated to English and his focus on Protestant theologians, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, spread like wildfire through the American Culture.

He capitalized on the teachings of these great reformers that spoke against the prevailing Catholic teaching of the times, which taught that real spirituality could only be found in other worldly ascetic practices. The Reformers, on the other hand, focused on everyday life and work.

Weber wrote that the Reformers taught that you can serve God simply by fulfilling the obligations of your calling, and by calling they meant that which represented a person’s work and everyday tasks.

In Weber’s understanding the Reformers believed that to achieve success in your calling was the highest thing you could do to glorify God in your lifetime.

As good as Weber was in pinpointing the influence of the Reformers on the growing America, he may have missed a crucial part of Reformed Theology and the work ethic that resulted. One that we may know from the three foundational pillars of Reformed thought which include guilt, grace, and gratitude. The work ethic came from the third pillar known as gratitude.

But first before we look at gratitude, let’s review the first two pillars.

The first pillar is guilt. Which means to realize that our sin, has broken a relationship with God, and has separated us from him. We must also realize our inability to repair or do anything that would bring us back into a relationship with God. The Reformers were very strong on this point. There is absolutely nothing that we can do on our own to bring us back into what we most need which is a relationship with our creator. Once we reach this understanding we can move to the next pillar.

The second pillar is grace.  Since we are unable to do anything that would result in our reconciliation with God, we needed a righteous savior, one who was without sin, and able to pay the price of repairing this brokenness with God. And it was God himself who freely sent his son to reconcile us back to him. His son Jesus, the Christ, or anointed one, who was made like unto us but was God and was all righteousness. His work was to paid the penalty of our sin, that we were unable to pay. The Reformers made it clear that we had no part in this process and that this gift of God was given to us without cost unrelated to any action on our part.

The natural question that came from their teaching was: what can we do? The Reformers answer came in the third Pillar of gratitude. They taught that this undeserved grace should be met with gratitude. In otherwards, living a life of thanksgiving, which you do through all of life’s endeavors but particularly in your vocational calling.

The Reformers got this idea, of course, through scripture like Colossians 3:23-24, which reminds us that doing the best that we can, where we can, is a way of saying thank you to God for such underserved favor. Here we are specifically told that we “are serving the Lord Christ” and not just our employers. The Lord is the one who will reward us in the end, not the employer. I am not saying that our employer won’t reward us for our hard work and diligence but that financial reward cannot be brought with us to heaven. What God rewards us for is for all eternity and can be enjoyed in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the meantime, we do our ultimate best at our jobs to show our gratitude to God and that a good hard work ethic done “for the Lord and not for men,” brings God honor and glory.

I remember growing up and spending time in Grand Rapids Michigan among the Dutch Calvinist to which my family belonged. Grand Rapids was known for its excellent manufacturing of furniture. Each piece was crafted by those who believed in the protestant work ethic. Their goal was to produce furniture that would last more than 100 years. I still have a chair that I have inherited from my family that is now reaching 70 years old! Each time that I see it, or sit in it, I am reminded that this was made by a skilled craftman, as an act of thanksgiving to God who loved us so much that he sent his only son.

This weekend, as we celebrate the work force, keep in mind that you have, through your faith tradition, inherited a wonderful work ethic, that not only built a great country, but also demonstrated a wonderful truth about our relationship with God.

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

In one blog I wrote on the Sacrament of Baptism, and I received a response asking the question, “What does the term ‘baptism of the Spirit’ mean and when does this baptism occur?” This is a wonderful theological question to reflect on, and I thought I would share this reflection with all, through this blog post.

The term “baptism of the Spirit” is not common to Reformed Theology, but is used extensively by the Charismatic Movement. It is a reference to Acts 11, where Peter is explaining to the Church in Jerusalem that the gospel message has now been opened to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles are responding to it. There are other passages of scripture that are used to relate to this term in a more general sense, not the least of which is, Acts 2 at Pentecost.

In most cases, the Charismatic Movement centers on an individual being filled with the Holy Spirit, and manifesting some sign of this fulfillment. In this case the manifestation, for the most part, centers on the Spiritual Gift of Speaking in Tongues. Although, I can appreciate the Charismatic position, and I believe in all the Spiritual Gifts, I also believe their position is much too restrictive of the Holy Spirit’s work.   Our Reformed doctrine of the Trinity makes this clear, the Spirit was present at the time of creation (Genesis 1:2), and throughout the Old Testament, actively engaged in bringing about God the Father’s salvation plan which included both individual and corporate experiences for God’s covenant people. This did not change on the day of Pentecost. The rushing violent wind and tongues of fire were both a corporate and individual event which birth a church of a new covenant, one whose gestation, had been from the foundation of the world.

In the corporate sense, we could point to the day of Pentecost as the “baptism of the Spirit” for the Church. Meaning an outpouring of power for a Calling that was to the Jew first, but now the Gentile comes in this same way (Rom. 1:16,17). And I would agree, to reach both Jew and Gentile, the Church would need an outpouring of the Spirit. However, this must be kept in balance with Isaiah who remind us that God had Called Israel to be a light to the Gentiles, long before Pentecost (Is. 49:6). And that the Holy Spirit was present and active within the Trinity bringing about the “fullness of time” and the fruition of God’s plan, including those whom God elected to save, long before Pentecost.

In the individual sense, the Holy Spirit is active with each of the elect through the theological process of regeneration, conversion, justification, and sanctification revealing to them an irresistible grace. A grace that gives eternal life and a new nature, that unites the believer with Christ and places the believer into the body of Christ, the Church.

So, “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is when the Holy Spirit gifts you for your Calling, and brings to your life a yielding and submissive heart to God’s Word.  It occurs in the process of Sanctification, which is the Holy Spirit, continuously working over your entire lifetime, to produces the fruit of the Spirit and bring to completion God’s salvation plan.

In the Spirit,

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” – Acts 2:38,39

My daughter Jennie Mae, and her Husband Joey, attend a small group in their church in Huntsville, Alabama. The church’s small group ministry is divided up into “tribes.” Each tribe is designed to care for tribe members, to bear each others burdens, study the bible together, celebrate victories in life and basically grow in Christ. Together each tribe makes up the band, or body of Christ as the church. I like that idea! One of the ways that we join this “tribe” is through baptism. So, I would like to take a brief look, in this blog, at the meaning of baptism.

In Reformed Theology the means of Grace are found in the Preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. Our Sacraments include The Lord’s Super, and Baptism, and both are referred to as “signs and seals” of the Covenant relationship we have with God. Paul makes it clear that Baptism is a sign of the New Covenant instituted by Christ in the same way that circumcision was in the Abrahamic Covenant. (Romans 4:11; Col 2:8-15)

We practice baptism by water because we have been instructed in the Scriptures to do so (Acts 2:38; 8:36-39 and many other references). Now signs, it is well known, point beyond themselves to signify something else, but they are not in themselves that which they signify. For example, I read this illustration, which I think assist in our understanding of this Sacrament as a sign, “a sign on a highway reading ‘Washington, 23 miles’ points to a city 23 miles away, but the sign is not the city of Washington. Likewise, baptism signifies something beyond itself but in itself is not the thing that is signified.”

One of the sign posts in Baptism is water. Water signifies the new life the Spirit brings, and its washing effect points to the cleansing from sin that results from faith in Christ. Baptism also signifies regeneration and the remission of sins (John 3:5; Acts 2:38). Apart from the direct work of the Holy Spirit, we are dead in sin and cannot trust in Jesus.

As I mentioned above, Communion and Baptism are not only signs but also seals. Our Sacraments seal upon our hearts the Covenant of Grace we have with God. This happens in Baptism, through experiencing baptism, and later viewing others being baptized. Participating in, or witnessing baptism, is a tangible, multi-sensory experience that strengthens our faith in a way that makes God’s grace a reality, rather than just a cognitive knowledge.

I believe in both sprinkling or immersion. I understand water immersion can help us identify with Christ, as noted by Paul in Romans 6:4, who teaches we have been buried with Christ through baptism, the act of immersion, and raised from death, the act of coming up from the water.

Celebrating this sign and seal with you my follow brothers and sisters in Christ,

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

Scripture:

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 

17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – II Timothy 3:16,17

In this blog post, I want to examine one of the most famous verses coming from II Timothy. It speaks to a very important theological concept know as the inerrancy of Scripture.

The Reformed Confession of the Heidelberg Catechism in Question 21 speaks to my position on the inerrancy of Scripture. A position found in the answer to a question about true faith. No better place to start, then true faith, when thinking about the inerrancy of Scripture.

21 Q. What is true faith?

A. True faith is

not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true

all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;1

it is also a wholehearted trust,2

which the Holy Spirit creates in me3 by the gospel,4

that God has freely granted,

not only to others but to me also,5

forgiveness of sins,

eternal righteousness,

and salvation.6

These are gifts of sheer grace,

granted solely by Christ’s merit.7

1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19

2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16

3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14

4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21

5 Gal. 2:20

6 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10

7 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10

In our post-modern world where relativity reins, over against any absolute truth, and the critic stands in judgement over scripture, rather than scripture standing in judgement over us, there is no greater time for a faith “by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture.” Because, if I cannot hold true the scriptures, there would be nothing for me to preach or teach.

I affirm the inerrancy of scripture and I mean that in the sense of the infallibility of each writer as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The writers could not err when they wrote scripture so it contains no affirmations of anything that is contrary to fact. At least in the original language. I do realize that translations may err, but the original manuscripts penned by the prophets and apostles do not. This is why I choose to preach and teach from the New American Standard Bible, which I believe, is a translation closest to the original languages.

Inherit within the question of Inerrancy is also the idea of Inspiration.  As I mentioned earlier, II Timothy 3:16,17, is probably the most important single biblical text on the inspiration of Scripture. In this passage, we read that the words of Scripture have been breathed out by the Lord but not to the exclusion of human instrumentality. In other words, God made use of men in revealing His Word, empowering them to receive His truth, and protecting them as they wrote, so that they would give us exactly what He wants us to have. However, I do not believe that they were robots, or in some coma, while the Holy Spirit moved the quill in their hands.

Except for a few sections of the bible, I do not believe that the Lord give us His Word by dictation. Instead, I see the process as an organic one, wherein God does not override the personality, talents, style, vocabulary, or grammar of the author to give us His message. He worked in and through these things to give us a book, that is varied in its content and style, but unified in its teaching.

Today, there is an assault on Scripture, and yet, at the same time there is a yearning, in our popular culture, for an ultimate truth.  I believe our best response to meet this hunger, within our popular culture, is to preach and teach a true faith. Meaning we need to teach the Bible with certainty.  We need to live a life, both in word and deed, which holds as true all that God has revealed in Scripture. When people see our wholehearted trust in scripture, as the ultimate truth, which the Holy Spirit creating in us by the gospel, they will come to know the forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation, and experience a gift of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s alone.

On this solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

Scripture:

Romans 8:29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”

What is Sanctification?

Staying with some of the theological questions, I have been covering over the last few blogs, I thought I would take a crack at the question, “What is Sanctification?”

I believe Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire, and increases our ability to repent from and resist sin by God’s grace, (1 Thess. 4:7; Eph. 2:10; 1 Tim. 4:4; 1 Peter. 3:15; 2 Tim. 2:25). This process continues through all of the Christian’s life and is the result of salvation, not a cause of it, nor a contributing factor to it.

My view of sanctification comes under the theological teaching known as the “Already/Not Yet.” And I agree with the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), that sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”

I see it as a continuing change worked by God in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlikeness. I do not believe that it means that sin is instantly eradicated, but it is also more than a counteraction, in which sin is merely restrained or repressed without being progressively destroyed. Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.

I believe the basic meaning is to “sanctify” or to set apart one’s life to God, for His service. And within that service, God works in each person to conform them “to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). I think II Corinthians 5:17, one of my favorite verses, is a good description of Sanctification, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Sanctification is growth. A growth into a new creature in Christ by the Holy Spirit who works in us, both to pass the old things away, our sinful nature, and bring in the new things, our heavenly nature. A work that produces in us the moral character known as the “fruit of the Spirit,” and shapes are will, desires, and actions to God’s purposes.

Sanctification is an ongoing process, dependent on God’s continuing action in the believer. However, it is not perfectionism. Although we have been Justified before God, and can claim our salvation in Christ, we still deal with the results of sin, and our Christian walk will consist of a continuous struggle against sin, and a steady reliance on God’s Grace, until the day of our resurrection in Christ.  

In other words, believers find within themselves contrary urgings. The Spirit brings forth their regenerated desires and purposes, but their fallen instincts (the “old nature”) obstruct their path and drags them back. The conflict of these two is sharp. The “already” new heavenly nature, against the “Not Yet” fallen one. Even Paul said he is unable to do what is right, and unable to restrain himself from doing what is wrong (Rom. 7:14–25), and this is why I concentrate my preaching and teaching on God’s Grace.

This conflict and frustration will be with Christians as long as they are alive. However, God does provide various means by which the Holy Spirit works out this sanctifying process with in us. They include the Means of Grace; which is the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the Sacraments. The power of prayer, including our own personal prayers and the prayers of others for us. Our own bible reading and study both personal and corporate. Our supportive Christian family, the Church, and individual believers that come into our lives as well as, the use of our Spiritual Gifts for the upbuilding of the Body and even our various life experiences.

I hope this short, and introductory blog, is helpful to your understanding of the process, which we all go through, as we “become conformed to the image of His Son.”

In Gratitude,

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

Scripture:

Acts 26: 19, 20

19 “So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 

20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. 

I am examining a passage of scripture that is from the Apostles Paul’s speech to King Herod Agrippa II. In this passage, Paul is explaining the point of his ministry, which is to bring people to repentance and turn them to God, and includes having them “perform deeds appropriate to repentance.”

We tend to think that repentance is a solitary act, but Paul seems to be teaching something different. Let’s take a deeper look at true biblical repentance.

True biblical repentance is more than a change in behavior or feelings; it is fundamentally a change in heart. The reformer John Calvin called it “an inward matter, which has its seat in the heart and soul.” John Calvin understood that repentance is first something that happens on the inside of the person. He is indicating that repentance is essentially a heart matter. But it is a heart matter that leads to an outward change in behavior. I believe this was exactly what John the Baptist meant when he challenged the religious leaders in Matthew 3:8 saying, “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” The inward change of repentance should lead to an outward change in the way we are living our lives. The outward change is important, but only as the necessary consequence of genuine repentance on the inside.

I emphasis the heart because I believe the flip side of repentance is faith, which is also repeatedly connected in scripture to the heart. Paul says that everyone must “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9). And we see that Peter warned Simon the Magician that his “heart is not right before God” after he had tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit with money, thereby demonstrating that he had never truly believed in the first place (Acts 8:13, 19–22).

Because faith and repentance go together, and because faith is a matter of the heart, we know that the same thing applies to repentance as well. I like how Thomas Watson, the Puritan Preacher, expressed it. He said, concerning the heart, because it is “the first thing that lives,” it must also be “the first thing that turns.”

True repentance is also related to Sanctification, because while changing our moral character the Holy Spirit hunts down where we keep our treasures. In places like work, family, money, accomplishment, sex, food, and drink, the Spirit searches to see if we have made them the ultimate things in our lives. Prodding us to evaluate if we have given our hearts to them, and are serving them with our thoughts, our time, our priorities, and our resources. Have we allowed them to become substitutes for God? More often than not, we find that it is true, we have laid up our treasure on earth, and not in heaven. No doubt because of the sin that remains in us, and clings to us, as our old nature passes away and new things come.

The Christian life is fundamentally about recognizing that fact that we have placed our treasures in earthen vessels, and must turn completely around by identifying and naming how we have done this, while calling upon God to restore them to their rightful position. This is what genuine repentance is all about: turning our hearts back to God.

It reminds me of a song I used to sing in Sunday school as a young child. I will never forget the lyrics which go like this: “Happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within his favor, having a change in my behavior, Happiness is the Lord. Real joy is mine, no matter if the tear drops start, I found the secret, it’s Jesus in my heart.”

It was within that song, that I, as a young boy, first understood that genuine repentance is inseparably linked to a changed lifestyle.

In gratitude,

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

At the height of the riots and protests, I happened to see a news interview of a young lady who was advocating that we defund the police. The reporter asked, “If we defund the police, who would help the community when there was a problem?” Her response, “We would help ourselves. The community would resolve it on its own.” She was a bit short on the details of how this would happen, and in my mind, much longer on naivety about the human condition.

I like what Lionel Shriver, the American author, said about people who are left to their own devices, “yet in my experience, when left to their own devices people will get up to one of two things: nothing much, and no good.”

The Scriptures makes it clear that Lionel Shriver, is closer to biblical teaching, then that young protestor.  The Scriptures clearly teach that the natural inclination of humankind, is to act in the “flesh.” Humankind will naturally gravitate towards everyone doing, as they said in the days when there was no king in Israel, “what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

The Apostle Paul makes it clear, in Galatians 5:16-21 , that if not “led by the Spirit,” the deeds of the flesh will become evident.  It is human nature to manifest the deeds he lists: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”

and those he adds in his other writings. This means that it is impossible for communities to police themselves, or to resolve things on their own. They will naturally, over time, sink into anarchy. This is why Christians are called to “walk by the Spirit” and set themselves against the flesh.

It is a battle, flesh against Spirit, waged in our communities, country and around the world. The Bible assured us that we will win. The Kingdom of God is at hand, and will through the efforts of His Church, fully come. 

And as we wait for our inheritance to be fully realized, we are mindful of our Lord’s admonition, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Rev. John M. Scholte

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

So I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.”

2 Peter 1:15 (NLT)

What are you working hard for? The American dream? The nice home, car, vacation and comfortable retirement.  Getting the kids through college. Collecting some toys…boats, bikes, four wheelers. Maybe a second home, or cottage, you can escape too for the summer. Or, you might be building a business, which will be your legacy for your children, grandchildren, or community. Nothing wrong with any of these things. All of them can be a real blessing from God.

However, my sister, who has a women’s prison ministry, recently sent me an update on her work in a women’s prison in Wisconsin. It made me stop and think about something deeper. I decided to share her thoughts with you, by way of this blog. After all, I think a major part of a good blog, is the pondering one does, as one reads it. She reflected on our scripture for this blog and said the following:  

“Isn’t it interesting that Peter worked hard to make sure that the recipients of his letter would not forget his teaching.

But God was also working to do what Peter could never do, that is make sure that Peter’s teaching would go out to generations, and spread to countries and peoples, beyond his own imagination and God made sure that his teaching would never be forgotten. Peter worked hard, God multiplied his efforts and uses his words to encourage even us today.

I guess this is an encouragement to us as we work hard to make sure that we pick up what God has laid in front of each of us to do.”

As I said, nothing wrong with working hard to reach the American Dream. But, as I ponder Peter’s words, and the thoughts my sister shared, I am encouraged to remember that there really is something deeper. God is doing a work beyond what I could ever imagine, which in the end, will bring every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess, that he is Lord!

Through this blog, I invite you to ponder, as I do, this work of God, which will be remembered long after we are gone. And in our pondering together, let’s think about everything that God has laid in front us. Then let’s work hard to do what we can do, knowing that God is working to do what we could never do.

In Gratitude,

Pastor John

©2021 John Scholte Ministries

John 9:37-39 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Our scripture for today’s blog is the final outcome of an interaction between Jesus, a blind man, and the Pharisees. The gist of which is that Jesus had healed the blind man, and the Pharisees did not want to acknowledge what Jesus had done. These religious leaders gave the blindman a tough time, hoping that he would, under their threatening pressure, rescind his witness of what Jesus had done. However, to the Pharisees’ surprise and frustration, the blind man was tougher than they thought. He stuck with his story, and for his efforts, was able to “see” Jesus for who he truly was, the Christ.

In this story, there are two different types of “tough.” First, the Pharisees, who exemplify the idea of “tough” as a noun. A rough and violent person, especially a gangster or criminal. I know this is cliché, but I imagine in my mind the “Hell’s Angels” type riding a motorcycle, wearing leather and tattoos, with a lot of bugs in his teeth. The second type of “tough” is the Blindman, who exemplified the idea of “tough” as an adjective or verb.  Strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.

When tough people come into our lives, or in the case of COVID-19, tough situations, we are called to respond like the blindman. We need to be biblically tough.  Which is to have a resilience that knows that tough times like the Pharisees, or COVID-19, will never last, but tough people, those who have faith in Christ, do. When I think about RB Community Church, I think about resilience. I see the kind of tough love that exemplifies the resilient toughness that Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 13, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

As we continue COVID-19 restrictions, and we wait for everyone to get their shots, its easy to feel the pressure of being home all the time. I love my family, but working from home can be tough. Many interruptions, boys starting to get on each other’s nerves, even the rainy weather can get to me. But, I keep in mind the guy who went through some real adversity, the blindman, and it helps me keep everything in perspective.

Some of you may remember Tommy Lasorda, best known for his two decades of managing the Los Angeles Dodgers. He appeared in a commercial during his days in baseball, regarding his weight loss with a certain diet. In the commercial he had a saying I always appreciated, and one I can imagine the blindman saying to us as well, “If I can do it, you can do it!”

Rev. John M. Scholte

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