hochmann.org

The personal blog for Thomas Hochmann

What more do we need than Christ?

September 22, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

The book of Colossians, especially verses 15 through 23, blows up any and every false doctrine and worldly philosophy that denies who Jesus is and why we need him. What an amazing passage of Scripture! Read through it and see how really, all you need is Jesus!

Christ created everything and he did it for his own pleasure (v.16). He rules over it all (v.17), he leads the church through it all (v.18), and he dwelt on earth with the fullness of God dwelling in him (v.19). He purchased peace and reconciled all of creation to himself (v.20). He is 100% superior over all of creation (v.15), 100% superior over the church and the resurrected dead (v.18), and 100% sufficient to redeem us out of alienation, hostility, and evil (vv.20-22).

What more could we possibly need than Christ?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. [18] He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. [19] For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [20] and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. [21] Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. [22] But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him... (Colossians 1:15-22 CSB)

Compare the lofty descriptions of Christ in Colossians to just about every other so-called god, deity, savior, or messiah that other religions try to offer.

For example, Jehovah's Witnesses think of Jesus as some sort of high-ranking angel rather than God, which completely contradicts the scripture above. How can he be an angel if he is before all things? Colossians describes him as firstborn over all creation (that is, superior to everything that was ever created, including angels) and the book of Hebrews (1:5-14) explicitly tells us that Christ is not an angel, that he is far superior to them, and that all of God's angels worship him. The JW concept of Jesus is completely unbiblical and so weak that he could never save you or me.

Similarly, how could I ever go back to being a Buddhist when none of the dozens of flavors of Buddhism can offer God's Son who came to save us? In Theravada Buddhism, the Buddha himself was merely a wise man who reasoned and meditated his way into a sort of nihilistic peace of mind. In more mystical branches of Buddhism, the Buddha may be some sort of god or high being, but nobody says he created the world or reconciled it to himself. He's still basically just a fancy version of an angel that comes to teach how to "extinguish" your mind. And Pure Land Buddhism, which I once dearly loved, suffers from similar failings. Pure Land tells you to pray or chant to Amida Buddha (one of countless buddhas or enlightened ones) so that, at death, he will snatch you away to his Pure Land paradise where you can have special circumstances to work your way free of evil passions and eventually find peace. But Amida was once just a man, too, and he falls far short of the creator, purifier, sustainer, and reconciler of the universe.

Catholics like to pray to Mary and the saints — but why bother? Did Mary speak the universe into existence? Did any of the saints die on the cross to atone for our evil and bring peace to creation? Because of Jesus, we can boldly approach the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16), so why would we settle for a cut-rate middleman like Saint Christopher or Saint Ignatius?

Dear Christian, Jesus is more than enough! We don't need anything or anyone else, and there's nothing we can add by our own puny human efforts. May you read the soaring description of Jesus in Colossians and find yourself refreshed in faith and renewed in your walk with Christ.

Tags: praise, devotional

Repentance

September 14, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

Yesterday I felt convicted to my core about my own sins, and I was inspired to put together a little montage of scripture on the topic of repentance, in the spirit of Daily Light on the Daily Path. If you have sin you need to confess and turn from, I hope these passages of scripture stir you to get right with God and draw near to him once more.

Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first... and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. Turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

(Romans 2:5; Proverbs 28:13; Revelation 2:5; Acts 8:22; Psalm 51:17; Acts 3:19-20; James 4:8)

Tags: repentance

Desire and Power

September 09, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

It's not natural for us to want to do what pleases God. Thankfully, he gives us that desire. It's also not natural for us to have the ability to do what pleases God. Thankfully again, he gives us that power.

🙌 Praise God that we have any desire and power to do what pleases him, because Lord knows we couldn't generate any of that inside ourselves, by ourselves!

🙏 Pray to God that he will give us more desire, and more power, to do what pleases him!

May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. (Hebrews 13:21 NLT)

Tags: desiring-god, obedience, strength

Oh, How I Love Your Law!

September 06, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

I was going to write a smattering of sentences about how much I cherish my various Bibles and how I spend all my waking hours at night and by day either reading the Bible, or thinking about what I read in it earlier... But, the psalmist said it far more eloquently than I ever could:

Oh how I love your law! 
   It is my meditation all the day... 

I love your commandments above gold, 
   above fine gold... 

My soul keeps your testimonies; 
   I love them exceedingly... 

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
   I hope in your words. 
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, 
   that I may meditate on your promise. 

(Psalm 119:97,127,167,147-148 ESV)

Tags: bible-study, praise

Seven Arrows Bible Study

September 06, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

The "Seven Arrows" method of Bible study...

↩️ What does this passage say?

⬅️ What did this mean to its original audience?

⬆️ What does this passage tell us about God?

⬇️ What does it tell us about man?

➡️ What does this passage demand of me?

↔️ How does this change how I relate to people?

⤴️ What does this passage prompt me to pray to God?

Tags: bible-study

Blessings from God

August 31, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

Christian, if you are grumbling or downcast, read the first two chapters of Ephesians very carefully and try not to smile.

I just sat down to read through those chapters and make a quick list of all the blessings God has given us as believers. Of course, God has given us infinitely more blessing than what's in the list below, but this is just me writing things down from reading through the densely-packed praise of God found in Ephesians 1-2.

Read this list and try to keep your jaw from dropping over how good, gracious, merciful, and loving our God is toward you and me as individuals, and us collectively as his church.

God has...

  • Given us every spiritual blessing (1:3).
  • United us with Christ (v.3).
  • Given us his love even before the world was made, and chosen us before we could ever have a chance to try to earn it (v.4).
  • Adopted us into his family through Jesus (v.5).
  • Poured out glorious grace on us (v.6).
  • Purchased our freedom with the precious blood of his Son (v.7).
  • Forgiven our sins (v.7).
  • Showered kindness, wisdom, and understanding on us (v.8).
  • Revealed to us his plan regarding Christ (v.9). (Stop and think about this! God, the creator of the universe, has stooped to tell us worthless bits of clay what his plan is. Astounding!)
  • Given us an inheritance from God because we are united with Christ (v.11).
  • Identified us as his own possession by giving the Holy Spirit as a seal of ownership (v.13).
  • Purchased us to be his own people (v.14).
  • Given us life, which he did by raising Christ from the dead (2:5).
  • Seated us with Christ in heaven (v.6).
  • Saved us by his grace when we believed (v.8).
  • Created us anew as his masterpiece in Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us in the beginning (v.10).
  • Brought us near to himself through the blood of Jesus (v.13).
  • Brought peace to us by Christ (v.14) — both peace with God (v.16) and peace between Jews and Gentiles (vv.15-16).
  • Made Jews and non-Jews into a new people (v. 15).
  • Given us direct access to himself through the Holy Spirit (v.18).
  • Transformed Gentiles from strangers and foreigners into members of God's family and citizens of the kingdom (v.19).
  • Joined all believers together in Jesus as a holy temple for God to dwell in (vv.21-22).

And we can't take credit for one shred of this amazing fountain of grace poured out on us! (2:8)

Tags: bible-study