All posts by Matthew J. Cochran

Matt Cochran's passion is seeing people's lives transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. Having served in the Marine Corps in locations all over the world, Matt easily connects with people. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Studies and a Master's Degree in Discipleship Ministries. Above all else, Matt loves being a dad to Colin, Hank and Amelie.

Sufficient

God’s Word

 2 Timothy 3:15-17  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 competent, equipped for every good work.

If God’s Word is inspired, contains no error, is incapable of error, and has authority over all matters pertaining to God, is it then not also sufficient for all things?  What more do we need to add to the very breath of God, His self-revelation to man?  But we do it anyway.  Though God has already spoken to us in His Word, we try to desperately to find other sources of authority to put our faith in.  We seek answers from anywhere and everywhere, sometimes passing right over the one place where we can find them.

The Bible is one story, not a series of disconnected events that w’re supposed to make sense of.  There is a purpose behind exactly which writings made it into the final book.  There is no more to be added to it.  No more needs to be added to it.  It’s a finished work.

The book is closed.  God has spoken.  Everything we need to know about Him has been revealed.  Everything we need for salvation is written on paper that it might be written in our hearts.  The Lord said what needed to be said and now it’s up to us to listen.

Jesus, the Creator

Who is Jesus?

John 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus, the Savior of the world, the One who was sent to redeem mankind, is the Creator of mankind.  How so?  If there is only one God and He exists as three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and He has existed from eternity…then how is Jesus not the Creator?

The apostle John comes right out of the gates with his theology.   No lineages, no birth story in a manger in Bethlehem – right to the point – Jesus is God.  “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus, the logos), and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (emphasis and parenthetical point mine) Wait, it gets even more clear:  “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Don’t believe John?  How about Paul?  “For by Him (Jesus), all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Colossians 1:15).

How does it change your view of God to think about how the God who created us is the very same God who came to save us?  Our Creator is our Redeemer.  The One who holds all things together is the One who gave His life that we might be with Him.  How’s that for love?  Does it change how you see Jesus?  He’s not just some baby we celebrate on Christmas or just some guy with a beard who taught good moral lessons.  It all began with Him.  And it all ends with Him.

Authoritative

God’s Word

 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Though God may use any way He pleases to speak to His creation, He chose one main method.  In the Bible we find God’s self-revelation to man, His letter addressed to us that we might know Him.  If we want to know what God thinks about something, here it is before us in His Word.  If we want to know more of who He is, what His character is like, we have answers.

We can have a tendency, though, to ignore this very important method of communication.  We go around searching for God’s will or “feeling” what He’s telling us without any regard for what He’s already said on the matter.  When we think or feel something about God or His will, we should consult His Word to see if we’re in line with it.  If we feel something contradictory to what God revealed of His character, we’re wrong.  Because the Bible is inspired by God Himself it has the authority on all matters.  We can’t say that we think our feelings or thoughts are correct if they’re not in line with Scripture because this is God’s primary means of communicating to us.

The neglect searching the Word in favor of trusting in ourselves is bad enough, but to read it and then disregard it because we think we know better is even worse.  The Bible stands the test of time as the authority above all others in regards to God and His ways.  It should not only guide our moral standards, but lead us loving others and worshiping our Lord.

Jesus, the Son

Who is Jesus?

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

God exists eternally in the form of three equal, but distinct persons: The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.  Often when we talk about “God” we’re referring to God the Father.  But how can God, who is spirit, and exists outside of time, be a father?  And how can three be one?  The answer to these types of questions are not easy to explain, but the Bible does help us understand.

All three persons of the Trinity have existed since before time (John 1).  No one gave birth to the Son, He’s always existed.  Not until He came to dwell on the earth as a man was He birthed of a woman, and even then by choice.  Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are all equal, of the same substance (John 10:30).  His place as Son is not lesser than the Father, so verses like John 14:28 speak to purpose and not to rank.  Jesus’ purpose is to glorify the Father, just as the Spirit is to bring glory to Jesus.

Further, His place as Son gives us a picture of just how God wants us to be.  God sent His only Son with the purpose that we also might become His sons, and if sons then heirs to everything Christ is entitled to.  This word sons isn’t gender related and doesn’t exclude women, it does the opposite.  There’s power in using the word sons because traditionally sons have received a greater inheritance.  By including females as His “sons”, God has granted all the same rights to His riches.  By accepting Christ, we became sons of God.  And Jesus is the “firstborn” among us.

Jesus following God’s will

God’s will

Luke 22:41  And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

All throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus we see Him obeying the Father’s will.  Not once did Jesus ever go against the master plan set out by the One who sent Him.  Though it would cost Him His life, He followed through to the end, carrying out every single step that had been ordained.  He took His obedience to the cross, dying for the sins of man.  And He’s our example.

We can never be perfect, never get it all right.  We’ll never be sinless like Christ, following the Lord’s will in every single thing He calls us to do.  But that’s the point.  We can’t do it, so Jesus did.  We were never going to be able to live perfectly within God’s will, but Christ has enabled us to seek after God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Everything Jesus did, all that’s recorded in Scripture and all that’s not, was for the greater plans of God.  He knew that even though it was painful to bear, the will of the Father was for the good of all mankind.  He gave up His will for the Father’s.  And aren’t you glad He did?

Giving everything

Passage: Mark 14:3-9

Key verse: Mark 14:3  And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

In the days leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, He taught some of the greatest lessons of His earthly ministry.  At Bethany, days before His crucifixion, Jesus was annointed for burial by a woman willing to give all she had.  Here we can all learn about sacrifice.

While some plotted to kill Jesus, His disciples remained in denial about His certain death, despite many warnings.  The woman at Bethany, however, stood apart from everyone else.  Her concern was not with who would be the greatest, or how much money she could get for selling her oil.  Her mind was set on full devotion to Jesus.  Sitting at the feet of the Lord, she annointed Him with the costly oil.  It’s a picture of how much more He meant to her than her earthly possessions did.

Are you willing to give it all in full devotion to Jesus Christ?  Can you say that you’ve given your whole life to Him?  Is following Him more important than anything else?  Jesus gave Himself, suffering on a cross, willing to be considered cursed, for the sake of our reconciliation with God.  Heaven was bankrupted of its most precious treasure all for us.  Now what are we willing to give up?

Following God’s will

God’s will

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

The “how” of knowing God’s will is most easily summed up by discussing prayer and reading God’s Word.  The “why”, however, is really the more difficult to fathom.  It isn’t enough to say “because God says so”.  Ultimately, that is enough because He is God and we ought to follow His commands, but the answer doesn’t satisfy us deeply.  We want to know why God has something specific in mind for us to do.

God’s purpose in all things is to bring glory to Himself.  That, to some, sounds very selfish and gives reason NOT to follow God’s will if He’s just going to be doing whatever He wants for His own attention.  They’d say, “If I acted that way, people would think I was completely arrogant and selfish and they’d want nothing to do with me”.  Yes, that’s true…but you’re not God.  You’re flawed and make all sorts of mistakes.  And when you want personal glory, it’s for the wrong reasons and without just cause.  God though, God is perfect and holy.  He deserves the glory and when He gets it, it’s for the right reasons.  It actually benefits us for Him to receive glory, it’s not just selfishness.

In fact, it’s better for us to suffer if it’s God’s will, than to do whatever we want if it’s not.  He has the best intentions in mind for us and knows exactly what we need.  He’s sovereign, but He’s good.  He’s not out to get us like some crazed egomaniac that will stop at nothing to see Himself worshipped.  He cares for us and loves us and that’s all considered as He wills certain things to take place.

Why should we do God’s will?  Because He knows better than us.

That’s what friends are for

Hebrews 3:12-13  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Sin doesn’t have to own you and if you’re in Christ victory over sin is already yours.  The Holy Spirit guides you as you face temptation and provides a way out.  But what about that friend of yours who has all the same tools you do but continues to live in bondage to sin?

The writer of Hebrews (apparently a pastor) calls on Christians to lift each other up, to encourage one another.  Essentially, he’s saying to use teamwork to stay away from sin.  Use the buddy system to achieve victory over the evil desires you encounter.

Friends are for a greater purpose than hanging out and having fun.  A real friend can stand by your side and encourage you when you’re having difficulty with sin and temptation.  The Holy Spirit gives you a way out and the friend helps you choose to follow it.  You should do the same for them.

God’s will is good

God’s will

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

What God has called us to do (His revealed will) and His plan for the world (His secret will) are both good.  This may seem like it is unnecessarily stated, but to many this is a worry.  Sometimes we shy away from seeking the will of God because we think He’ll call us to do something that’s harmful or won’t be for our own benefit.  In doing so we miss out on His blessing because His plans for us are for good, not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11).  We’re scared to do what God wants because we don’t view Him as good.

But God is good.  His intentions are good and His plan is good.  All things that take place to fulfill His will are good, whether it seems so at the time or not.  It may be painful for a moment in time to go through what God is willing, but ultimately it is for good.  With that in mind, it’s much easier to desire God’s will and to want to carry it out.  We can remain steady in the knowledge that He’s not out to get us and has a plan that brings about good and it will motivate us to take steps of faith.

If God calls you to something, don’t be afraid.  Follow His calling because He knows what the final result will be.  He sees what we don’t see and knows what we don’t know.  He’s powerful enough to make things happen and good enough that we can trust Him.

There’s a way out

1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So you know by now that sin is bad and that you should choose to stay away from it.  But it isn’t always just that simple, is it?  Sometimes the temptation to sin is great and just knowing that it’s wrong isn’t enough.  It can be overwhelming.

But there’s good news!  God is looking out for you.  If you belong to Him, He’s on your side and He provides a way fro you to stay true to Him.  The Holy Spirit working in you will not only nudge you to let you know when something is sin, He’ll point you to a way of escape from the temptation.

No matter how massive the temptation you’re facing, God has seen it before, Jesus has faced it before (Hebrews 4:15), and the Spirit has dealt with it before.  You’re not alone and you don’t have to face any sin or any temptation without help.  The truth is, you have the greatest help ever available because God Himself is cheering for you to win.  Find assurance in that.