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Posts by Scott Dickson

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Matthew 6:19-24

A major theme in the Sermon on the Mount is how different Jesus’ followers are to be from the rest of the world and what role our distinctiveness plays in God’s mission. In 6:1-18, Jesus illustrated the Christian’s distinctiveness in terms of his devotional life. Now he addresses our perspective and values. As citizens of the kingdom, the things we value (vv. 19-24) ...

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Don't Practice Your Righteousness For the Praise of Others (Matt. 6:1-8)

Jesus spent much of Matthew 5 illustrating the principle he stated back in 5:20: that his followers’ righteousness should be an inner one that delights to obey God’s commandments. This theme of inner righteousness carries over into this next section (Matthew 6:1-18) where Jesus contrasts hypocritical and authentic faith. In 6:1, he states a principle and illustrates it...

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The Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9-15)

In his discussion on prayer so far, Jesus has critiqued two methods. In contrast to the Pharisees, Christian prayer should be sincere rather than hypocritical. In contrast to the pagans with their multitude of gods, Christian prayer should be purposeful and direct, knowing full well that we are addressing our Father. To drive home his point, Jesus now gives his listeners a...

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Love Your Enemies (Matt. 5:38-48)

In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said that his followers’ righteousness should exceed that of the Pharisees who were considered by many to be the pinnacle of godliness. For the rest of the chapter, he illustrates the kind of righteousness he’s calling for by contrasting the true meaning of various Old Testament laws with how they were being misapplied by the Pharisees. In these ...

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Marriage, Divorce, and Commitment (Matt. 5:31-37)

The Pharisees thought they had discovered loopholes in several laws of the Old Testament. They won’t murder, but they’ll hate. They won’t commit adultery, but they’ll lust. In this section, Jesus calls them out on their attempts to justify adultery and lying....

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Anger Is Murder (Matt. 5:21-26)

To many in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees were the pinnacle of righteousness. It was shocking then to hear Jesus tell his followers that they must have a greater righteousness than them. The Pharisees’ problem though was that their righteousness was often only outward, whereas Jesus’ followers were called to inward righteousness as well. The remainder of chapter 5 (vv. 21...

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Lust Is Adultery (Matt. 5:27-30)

Matthew 5:21-48 is made up of six examples of the “greater righteous” that Jesus calls his followers to; a righteousness that is not just external but internal. In this second example, Jesus unpacks the deeper implications of the Old Testament prohibition against adultery....

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Sermon on the Mount Resources

Quicklink - SotM

The Sermon on the Mount contains some of the most well-known, loved, and even challenging sections of the entire Bible. As we continue to walk through these chapters, here are some resources we recommend if you’d like to do further study....

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Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16)

In the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12), Jesus described the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven’s citizens. Shockingly, the kind of people God values in his Kingdom are quite different than the kind of people the world values. Jesus now turns to address the role that his followers are to play in a world that deems their lifestyle undesirable and perhaps even dangerous....

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Believe the Scripture of Christ and Worship the Christ of Scripture (Matthew 5:17-20)

Jesus has taught his disciples and the crowds who it is that belongs in the kingdom of Heaven (vv. 3-12) and what their role in this world looks like (vv. 13-16). But what role does the law play in the lives of those Jesus has been calling “blessed”? Jesus now turns to address how the Old Testament fits in with what he has been saying....

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The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)

In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that he would bless all the nations of the world. As his descendants grew into the nation of Israel, God made it clear that they would bless the nations by modeling God’s character for them, and to do this, they needed to be holy, or “set apart” from them. But instead of being different from the kingdoms around them, Israel cons...

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Final Words For Corinth (1 Cor. 16:1-24)

Having addressed the major issues and questions of the Corinthian church, Paul brings his letter to a close with instructions regarding the collection for the Jerusalem church, his own travel plans, and personal greetings....

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The Hope of the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-58)

In the first eleven verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul emphatically stressed the historical reality behind Jesus’ resurrection as well as the central place it holds in the gospel message itself, a message which is “of first importance”. It is crucial for the Corinthians to understand how important the resurrection is, and Paul will now explain why....

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The Gospel We Received (1 Cor. 15:1-11)

Before closing out his letter, Paul devotes an impressive fifty-eight verses to the topic of the resurrection, and it’s not until verse 12 that we learn why: some in the church were saying that “there is no resurrection of the dead”. Paul spends the first eleven verses highlighting how crucial Jesus’ resurrection is to the gospel itself and how well-attested it is....

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Prophecy and Tongues (1 Cor. 14:1-40)

The importance of some spiritual gifts were being exaggerated in Corinth while others were minimized. Those with more “impressive” gifts saw their gifts as proof of their spiritual superiority and as a means of serving themselves rather than others. So far in this section, Paul has reminded the church that God has given them numerous indispensable gifts (ch. 12), and t...

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The Way of Love (1 Cor. 13:1-13)

Many in the church at Corinth were exaggerating the importance of certain spiritual gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, and the church was fracturing because of this. Those with these gifts deemed themselves more important than those who didn’t, and those who didn’t were tempted to feel useless and unimportant in the church. In chapter 12, Paul reminded the...

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Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-31)

The Corinthians found no shortage of things to be divided over. There was Team Paul vs. Team Apollos (1:12), weak Christians vs. strong Christian (chs. 8-10), and wealthy Corinthians vs. poor Corinthians (11:17-34). In chapters 12-14 we’re introduced to yet another point of division: spiritual gifts. Instead of appreciating the many ways God gifted his people, many in th...

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Honor and Respect In Worship (1 Cor. 11:2-34)

So far, Paul has written to the Corinthians about divisions (1:10-4:21), sexual immorality (chs. 5-7), and Christian freedom (chs. 8-10). In this next section of his letter (chs. 11-14), he turns to address how the Corinthians should conduct themselves in the context of public worship, beginning with their conduct regarding head coverings and the Lord’s Supper....

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Do All For the Glory of God (1 Cor. 10:1-11:1)

Paul has used the controversial issue of eating in pagan temples to teach on Christian freedom and love. In chapter 8, he argued that Christ-like love forbids us to do anything, however lawful, if it will harm other believers. We ought to be more concerned with building each other up than asserting our “rights”. In chapter 9, he pointed to himself as an example of this...

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Do All For the Sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:1-27)

Paul began this section of his letter (8:1-11:1) by addressing foods sacrificed to idols and emphasized the priority of sacrificing one’s rights for the good of the “weaker” brother who could not eat those foods with a clear conscience. Love for others, he said, should take precedent over our “rights”. Paul now turns to show how he has modeled this in his own lif...

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Knowing Is Loving (1 Cor. 8:1-13)

In chapters 5-7, Paul addressed issues relating to sexuality. In addition to being sexually promiscuous, Corinth was also steeped in idol-worship, and Paul now turns in this section to address how to live faithfully in such a culture (8:1-11:1). Specifically, he addresses the matter of eating food that’s been sacrificed to idols. In doing so, he addresses the more founda...

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Applying the Gospel to Marriage and SIngleness (1 Cor. 7:1-40)

First-century Corinth was well-known for its sexual immorality, so it was no surprise that Paul had to address reports of it within the church (1 Cor. 5-6). Others in the church, however, perhaps as an over-reaction to Corinth’s blatant immorality, promoted an ascetic lifestyle which looked down on sex, even within marriage. Paul now turns to address this group in the ch...

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Don't Sue Your Brother (1 Cor. 6:1-11)

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul rebuked the church for its failure to deal seriously with the sin of the of sexually immoral man in their midst. He concluded by saying that churches are responsible to pass judgment among themselves. In 6:1-11, Paul expands on this topic and rebukes them for “outsourcing” judgment to unbelieving courts. ...

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How Can We Know God? (1 Cor. 2:6-16)

Paul has been emphatic that the gospel stands opposed to worldly thinking or “wisdom” (1:18-25). The cross, which demands a humble confession of our own helplessness, is at odds with and offensive to the Greek understanding of wisdom and power. As evidence of this, Paul pointed out that the church was predominantly made up of Corinth’s poor and unlearned (1:26-31), a...

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Flee Sexual Immorality (1 Cor. 6:12-20)

Though Paul has already addressed sexual immorality in chapter 5, his main emphasis there was not so much on the sin itself but how the church should respond to the man sleeping with his stepmother. In this section, Paul addresses sexual immorality more broadly, urging the church to flee from it and to glorify God with their bodies....

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Resources for Those Struggling Sexual Sin

Rope

The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that "there is nothing new under the sun," and that's certainly true of sexual sin. From Genesis to Revelation we see sin's effects in this area and are reminded that all generations experience temptation to sexual immorality. Yet the unlimited and anonymous access to pornography that technology has provided has allowed this ancient sin ...

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Dealing Seriously With Sin (1 Cor. 5:1-13)

First Corinthians is Paul’s response both to reports he had heard about the church and to questions the church itself had sent him. Having addressed the report of divisions (1:10-4:21), he now turns to address reports of immorality within the church (5:1-6:20)....

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Called By God (1 Cor. 1:1-9)

This week's passage: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Discussion guide...

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Christian Maturity (1 Cor. 3:1-15)

INTRODUCTION Division within the church is the first issue Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and it’s an issue that dominates the letter’s first four chapters. Having mentioned the divisions in 1:10-17, Paul went on to argue that worldly wisdom lay at the root of them, and that such wisdom is at odds with godly wisdom (1:18-2:6). He then went on to show that on...

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Know Your Role, Know the Goal (1 Cor. 3:16-4:21)

INTRODUCTION Having established that the divisions within the Corinthian church were the result of worldly wisdom and that such “wisdom” is incompatible with godly wisdom, Paul now brings this first major section of the letter to a close by reminding his readers how they are to view him as an apostle and as their “father”. MAIN POINT Christians s...

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Why is Genesis 38 In Our Bibles?

In Genesis 37 we’re introduced to the tense family dynamic between Jacob’s children that culminates in Joseph’s betrayal and enslavement. The final verse of the chapter tells us that he ended up in Potiphar’s house, and Genesis 39 picks the story up from there. But between these two chapters is one that can feel unnecessary. Despite the presence of...

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One of the Hardest Things God Calls Christians To Do

I don't know any Christian who would disagree with the statement, “We should love all people." Scratch that, I don’t know anybody – religious or not – who would disagree with it. What’s not to like about it? Wouldn’t it solve the world’s problems if everyone just loved each other?...

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Is God's Sovereignty Compatible With Free Will?

While we can never fully understand how sovereignty and responsibility interact with one another, the Bible provides us with some relevant insights about how predestination is compatible with free will....

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Romans: The Purpose of Chapters 9-11

Why did Paul write these chapters? What were they meant to accomplish and how do they fit in with Romans as a whole?...

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What Does "And All Israel Will Be Saved" Mean?

Understanding what Paul means when he says, “…all Israel will be saved,” is something that has divided Christian readers for a long time. Brilliant, godly men and women even within the same denominations and theological camps are often at odds on how to best interpret what this phrase means....

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Why Did God Hate Esau?

You’re not going find this verse on a coffee mug at your local Christian bookstore. If we’re honest, it makes God sound unfair, doesn’t it? Especially when we take in to account that God’s treatment of Jacob and Esau is something he determined before they’d even been born “and had done nothing either good or bad” (Romans 9:11). So did God just decide to hate ...

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