Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The deepest meaning of the cross is that God, out of His incomparable love, chose to identify Himself with our plight and affliction. The suffering of Christ was the suffering of vicarious love, and not simply a penal suffering canceling human debt. Salvation means that Christ's merits are transferred to the deficient sinner and also that God's forgiveness is extended to the undeserving sinner. Christ not only pays the penalty of sin, but He does more than the law requires: He accepts the sinner unto Himself, adopting that person into His family as a brother or sister. He gives sinner's a writ of pardon and embraces them as a shepherd who has found the lost sheep.
Just as sin is deeper than the infringement of law so love goes beyond the requirements of the law. The answer to sin is a forgiveness that was not conditional on Christ's sacrifice but one that was responsible for this sacrifice. God did not forgive because His law was satisfied; yet because He chose to forgive, He saw to it that the demands of His law were fulfilled.
Donald G. Bloesch
(excerpt from "The Portable Seminary" by David Horton)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
THE HOLINESS OF GOD
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Habakkuk 1:13
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2
THE JUSTICE OF GOD
For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face. Psalm 11:7
But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. Isaiah 5:16
God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. Psalm 7:11-12
THE DEPRAVITY AND CONDITION OF MAN
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment... Isaiah 64:6
For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.' Galatians 3:10
THE GREAT DILEMMA
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15
Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly? Genesis 18:25
While maintaining His holiness and justice, the Bible also affirms that God is love, and that in love He has responded to the plight of man.
MOTIVATED BY LOVE
God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:8-10
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26
He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 4:25
REPENTANCE begins with a recognition and confession that what God says about us is true-we have sinned.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:3-4
A genuine recognition of our sinfulness and guilt will also lead to genuine sorrow, shame and even hatred for what we have done.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:24
Apparent sincerity of confession alone is never definite evidence of genuine repentance. It must be accompanied by a turning away from sin.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Isaiah 1:16
...therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
...and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:21
FAITH BASED ON THE PROMISES OF GOD
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved...' Acts 16:31
EXAMPLE OF A BELIEVER
...worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh... Philippians 3:3
THE BASIS OF GENUINE ASSURANCE
True conversion: A true Christian is a new creation and will live a life that reflects God's radical work of re-creation in his/her life.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? Matthew 7:16
Assurance is based upon self-examination in the light of Scripture.
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13
TEST OF BIBLICAL ASSURANCE
1 John 1:5-7 (Walking in the Light), 1 John 1:8-10 (Confession of Sin), 1 John 2:3-4 (Obedience), 1 John 2:9-11 (Love for the brethren), 1 John 2:15-17 (Hatred for the World), 1 John 2:24-25 (Perseverance in Doctrine), 1 John 3:10 (Righteousness), 1 John 4:13 (Spirit's Testimony), Hebrews 12:5-8 (Discipline)
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This common trait of most modern Bibles originated from one man - Louis Klopsch could rightly be called the inventor of the red letter Bible. Klopsch's idea of printing the words of Jesus in red originated in Luke 22:20, which says: This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you. This inspired Klopsch to ask his mentor what he thought of printing the words spoken by Jesus in red, to which he replied, "It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good."
So with that little history lesson :) We must realize that the "red letters" are no more inspired, no more authoritive, no more the Word of God than any other passages in Scripture. It is easy to look at what Jesus said, and hold it in a higher regard than the rest of the Bible. But, ALL scripture is God breathed! When Jesus preached the "Sermon on the Mount" the message is equally infallible & authoritive as when we read the letters from Paul to the churches (as an example). We should read the Word under the submission to what it says regardless of who God is using to speak in His Word.
That being said, there is currently a Bible that has the entire Bible red lettered (the Old Testament has the words spoken by God in red). For anyone who could benefit from this as a study tool - here is the link.
Monday, July 5, 2010
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. John 10:27-30
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
However, I was thinking recently about this analogy, and the thought came to mind that the moon does not always shine fully; we see only a half moon at times, a fingernail sliver at times, and there are those times that the moon is completely eclipsed.
Well if you're at all familiar with why we see the moon differ in these ways; it is because the earth is between the sun, and the shadow of the earth covers the moon, resulting in only a portion of the moon reflecting the sun (with an eclipse, the shadow of the earth will cover the entire moon).
And so it is with us as Christians. The more we allow the world between us and God, the less we reflect the light of the Son and His Gospel.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I was reading recently about the need for a statement of faith (and I am not against such a need) and the idea was presented that although ultimately the Bible should in essence be our statement of faith; many people may say they believe the Bible and yet disagree on various doctrines (that could be very important).
Along with this, I was listening to one of my favorite preachers and as I was listening he said that for the same reason (two can believe the Bible and disagree on what it says), that we should look to the teachings of the great preachers in history (and I am also not against looking to these preachers).
But what I was thinking about is whether it is better to hold the Bible as the only authority, look to it to find a truth on a particular subject, and be wrong in your understanding; or to believe something because a great preacher (modern or historical) said so, and that teaching be right?
The closest thing that came to mind on the subject in the Bible is when Paul went to the Bereans. Paul wrote most of the books in the New Testament - and if we can imagine him coming to our church, every word he said would probably be recorded on our note paper. We would probably reference his sermon often and say "Paul said..." and so on. But, the Bereans did not respond this way - their response is as follows:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
So although the famous Paul was preaching; the authority was (and is) still Scripture.
I think that I would rather someone (who believes the authority of Scripture) disagree with me on a subject (assuming they have looked to the Bible for its stand on that subject) than for them to believe anything because they agree with me. If the subject is an essential doctrine - we should be able to open Scripture (as the authority) to show them their error.
We should look to the teachings of the great preachers in history, but "with all readiness of mind, searching the scriptures whether those things are so". But that's just my thought, I am sure there are those who say differently.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do...
Jesus spoke to these people in the New Testament and declared their father was the devil. And also we readRomans 9:8
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Looking at these, we can see that one cannot say the Father is their father - something must occur for the change in parent.
...but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Just as we can understand the process here when a child is born to people but becomes the child of others through adoption - so it is with God. There must be an adoption to claim that God is our Father. You must repent and place your faith in Christ alone. For those who have, how do you know God is your Father?Hebrews 12:5-8
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
This is a warning to all of us that claim to have God as our Father - are you chastened? It is not my words here, but the Word of God, that if you are not, you are not His.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
With that in mind, let's look to Scripture. We read in the beginning part of John 1:1 that "In the beginning was the Word..."
So the first variable (relating to my title) is who is the Word (what is A)? - The Word is Jesus (B). In Revelation, John saw a vision of Christ returning, and the "title by which He is called is the Word of God" (Rev 19:13,16). And so the Word (A) = Jesus (B)
So we move to the next variable; the ending part of John 1:1 says "...and the Word was God." The Amplified Bible expounds further to read "...and the Word was God Himself". So C= God Himself. Which is to say Jesus (B) = God Himself (C).
Moving further, we read in John 1:14 "and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...". So then next variable, D, is not a noun (person, place, thing) but rather a verb (action) and D = becoming flesh and having dwelt among men.
When reading this passage in John, it is common to understand and see that the Word is Jesus, that Jesus (from eternity, entered time and) put on flesh, and dwelt among men. We can also establish the Deity of Christ from this text.
But why would I write (what may very well be an awkward post) to state the Deity of Christ (when it could be so much simpler)? - It is because I would like to meditate on the Scripture in this way:
God Himself became flesh and dwelt among men. (C=D)
How amazing is this; that the King of the universe & Creator of all (John 1:3) - God Himself, became as one of us, and then died for us. To me, this is incredibly humbling. I am the one who deserves death. My sin leaves me hopeless in front of a God that cannot overlook it; and yet He chose to be the sacrifice that pays the penalty which belongs to me. God offers you the same; if you will repent and place your faith in Jesus, He will grant you the gift of eternal life.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
But, when does our study Bible's extra biblical information become what we study? And are we neglecting actual Bible study and instead just reading; reading the Bible, then reading the notes? Bible study is essential to Christian growth, study Bibles can help - but they do not replace.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
But for us who do know Him, there is the question, how well? When we are introduced to someone we can say we know them, but the deepness of that relationship is dependent on how much time we spend with them, and getting to know them better.
With Jesus, how do we get to know Him better? By studying and reading His Word! So there is a necessity in being in the Word daily. We can say we know Jesus if we are Christians (that is if we have repented and put our faith in Him), but to know Him well - we must look on Him and listen to Him through Scripture.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I absolutely would say that we should not be offensive, but the message cannot change! And the message of the Gospel is offensive. It is offensive because it is personal, it speaks to the individual. And it is offensive because the message is that we are wicked. Can we make this less offensive? Only if the message changes, and if it changes it is not the Gospel.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Monday, June 7, 2010
1 Corinthians 16:15
I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
I thought of this verse because over the last several months I have had the privilege of teaching the Way of the Master basic and intermediate courses at my church and one of the participants, Melanie Betts, shared this testimony yesterday at church with the congregation (I don't know how to upload the audio so here is the link to the Church's sermon archive - click "June 2010", then "a brother behind the scenes", then "Melanie Betts Testimony").
If only we all sought to be addicted to the ministry of the saints. Thank you Melanie.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
We read of those who have died for Jesus, but how many of us live for Him? To do so, to die daily to self and live for and in Christ, is not a calling of great service - it is merely our reasonable service. There is much pretending that as Christians our life is still ours to do as we choose, but the reality is that if we live as we should - we don't live, we die and we allow Christ to live through us.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...
It is understood that Jesus was speaking about those who were crucifying Him 2000 years ago. That Jesus was looking on the created who were killing their Creator, the very Son of God. But what strikes me, and humbles me, is that I (and you) are just as much to blame as they were. Jesus died for our sin, because of our wickedness, it is our lawlessness that nailed Jesus to the cross. And just as much as He was speaking to the people in front of Him, I believe He was also looking across time - looking at us, and in His death (the way in which He made it possible) He said "forgive them, for they know not what they do".
Monday, May 31, 2010
When Jesus gave us an example of how to pray, one of the things He said was:
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
To truly be heavenly minded would be having this request made with your every breath, thought, action, purpose - It is to live in the world but not of the world, consumed with kingdom work (bringing the Gospel to this lost and dying world). Really, the problem within modern Christianity is that we are not heavenly minded enough - and for this we seem to be of no earthly value. If we desire to impact this world for Christ, the only way is to be in His will, with His message. This is the only way we can be any earthly good.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness...
Saturday, May 29, 2010
1 Corinthians 15:14-19
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
In this passage of Scripture we can see that everything we hold true about Jesus and salvation - the Gospel itself - would all be false if the resurrection is false. So first, there is the challenge to anyone who asserts that Christianity is wrong; prove it, if there is any proof Jesus did not rise from the dead, you are right and Christians are wrong. Not only that, but we are of all men most miserable.
However, this same event proves Christianity is true. If Christ is risen; our preaching and faith is not in vain, we are not in our sins, we have hope beyond this life, and it is all men without Him that are most miserable.
Because Jesus Christ died for our sins (paying our fine for breaking God's law) and rose from the dead - we can put all our trust in Him and look forward to the resurrection when He will raise us up into eternal life.
I don't think it is just coincidence that our life as believer's is also called our walk. I can imagine how often God has also done much of the same for us as we have grown. He holds us up, guides us, we fall, He picks us up. And the goal is a little different in that we learn instead to be more dependent on Him, rather than on ourselves - but I would like to look at two important aspects of our walk.
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight
In this verse we see the obvious connection to our eyes, and the truth that we press forward either without seeing what may be ahead, or we do see; but what may try to discourage us does not hinder us. But with the idea of walking, let us think on the fact that our foundation is faith.
And also:Ephesians 6:15
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
As we walk by faith, we walk with the purpose of the Gospel. One foot in front of the other - we learn to walk.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
But in the New Testament, we are given the truth that when we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us. We are given an exponentially greater witness than the children of Israel - we have God living in us. Yet, how often do we complain, mourn, doubt, question? How often does our faith lack? It seems to me the greater mystery is found with us.
Monday, May 24, 2010
"Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy." -- Leviticus 19:2
Anytime man disobeys God’s law (the 10 Commandments - lying, stealing, lusting, hating, etc.), he deviates from God's holiness, he violates God's standard; and this is called "sin" - which creates a problem for us:
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) 7:20 (see also Psalm 53:3-4)
Since God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin in His presence.
"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity". -- Habakkuk 1:13
Because sin is a violation of His standard and character, God must judge man's sin and reject it.
This is why sin causes and results in separation from God.
"But everyone shall die for his own iniquity (sin)."-- Jeremiah 31:30
"Your iniquities have ever made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have caused Him to hide His face from you." -- Isaiah 59:2
As long as sin separates us from God, we are unrighteous and condemned – But; can't man solve the problem by living properly, by prayer, repentance and good deeds? No, man cannot remove the sin barrier by his own effort.
"And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no living man can be regarded righteous before thee." -- Psalm 143:2 (see also Ezekiel 33:13)
Human effort is not adequate because "We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousness (good deeds) are as a filthy garment." Isaiah 64:5 - Human effort is not adequate because man cannot do enough to solve the problem. "No one can in any wise redeem his brother, not can he give to God redemption for himself; for the ransom of their soul is too costly." Psalm 49:8-9
But, then how can this problem of spiritual death, separation from God, condemnation be solved?
ONLY GOD CAN PROVIDE THE SOLUTION.
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave." Psalm 49:16
How? God's Word (faith) and by having the blood of the atonement.
Abraham was an example of how the sin barrier can be removed.
"And he believed in the Lord; and He (God) counted it to him for righteousness." Genesis 15:6
And we must follow the same pattern.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever." Isaiah 26:3-4 (see also Habakkuk 2:4)
Moses said that one more thing is essential - the blood of the atonement.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."-Leviticus 17:11 (see also Leviticus 10:17;4:35)
But why would God want man to go through the awful procedure of killing an animal? When the offerer saw the sacrifice suffering and bleeding for the sins which he had committed, he was impressed with the awfulness of sin and the penalty of death (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) the sinner deserved.
THE SACRIFICE SHOWED HIM GOD'S:
* HOLINESS because of His hatred of all evil,
* JUSTICE because He does not leave sin unpunished,
* MERCY because of His readiness to pardon the truly repentant and believing by providing
a substitute for him.
THE ANIMAL SACRIFICE THUS PROVIDED THE BLOOD OF
ATONEMENT AND WAS AN ACT OF FAITH ACCEPTABLE TO GOD.
Today there is no priesthood and no temple, and no sacrifices. However; God has provided the blood of the atonement.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him." Isaiah 53.6
"For he was cut out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken." Isaiah 53:8
"And he took off the sin of many." Isaiah 53:12
Here it is important to address . In the prologue (Isaiah 52:13-15) the author identifies the “He” of these passages. He is described as God's servant who will be exalted. In other parts of his work, Isaiah equates this with Messiah. (e.g. Isaiah 42:1).
God's provision of the blood of atonement through the Messiah follows the same principles God set up in the sacrifice system.
atonement for a man by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for a family by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for a nation by means of a sacrifice.
atonement for all by means of a sacrifice.
Under the sacrifice system personal faith was necessary along with the blood of atonement. So also faith is necessary with the sacrifice of Messiah. He should be the object of our faith today.
But how can we know The Messiah is Jesus? God made sure we could recognize Him by certain specific identifying marks described by the prophets of Israel.
His ancestry was from the family of David (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
The city of his birth was Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).
He had a supernatural nature (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:1; Isaiah 9:5-6).
The manner of his execution was crucifixion (Psalm -17).
He rose from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10).
The time of his coming was before the destruction of Herod's Temple in 70 CE (Daniel 9:26)
HISTORY TELLS US THAT JESUS OF NAZARETH
FULFILLED THESE AND MANY OTHER PROPHECIES.
During his lifetime many people called Him Messiah ("Christ" is the Greek translation) and believed in him. Many people since that time, both Jews and Gentiles, have had their sins forgiven and have gained a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Messiah Jesus. Through him one becomes righteous (not because of their own righteousness which is nothing, but because of His)
Since the blood of atonement has been provided through Messiah Jesus, there is only one thing left for you to do.
You must by faith receive Messiah Jesus into your life in order to have a personal relationship with God.
Receiving Messiah Jesus involves a moral decision to turn to God's way and from your own, to trust Messiah Jesus to forgive your sins and bring you into a right relationship with God. When you receive Messiah Jesus by faith (trusting what he has done for you), He comes into your life and is made real to you, so that you know Him.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come into him and fellowship with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20
Don't let anything hold you back- invite Messiah Jesus to give you a right relationship with God. YOU can receive Messiah Jesus by faith right now through prayer.
adapted from John Fischer's booklet "L'Chaim"
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
I think that sometimes we forget how powerful our influence is on our kids. My son's will watch me shave in the morning, sometimes they will even pretend that they are shaving with me. I would ask my oldest son when he was a little younger what he wanted to be when he grew up, and his simple little response was "a dad".
To our children (especially us fathers) we are their superheroes; as time passes they will see us differently and more age appropriately, but our influence as their parents will always be immeasurable in the shaping of their lives.
So, to really reflect on the importance of this, I thought I would post this video:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Recently, I took a phrase from the most famous verse in the Bible - John 3:16. Here is the verse:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The three words I searched were "God so loved". To my surprise, there is only one other verse in the entire Bible that contains these words in this order - 1 John 4:11. Here is that verse:
1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
So in thinking about these two verse together; I look at 1 John 4:11 and it starts with if God so loved us... and the first question becomes did God so love us?; according to John 3:16 we can say that absolutely, without a doubt, in all certainty YES God did, and so then our response should be as follows - we ought also to love one another.
But in what way do we love one another in response to our accepting John 3:16? Looking back at John 3:16 we see that the way in which God so loved us was in providing salvation in & through Jesus (Him and His work on the cross) and if we are to also love one another - the way in which we must do this is sharing that same Gospel message.
Yes God so loved you; but He also so loved the world. As much as we can stand in awe that God cared enough about us individually to send His only begotten Son - we are ordered to stop standing and care enough about the world to go and declare that same truth to everyone else.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
There it is. Simple enough? Well it is simple to understand, but it leaves the world in a predicament. You see the Bible also says "...sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). God's law (the 10 Commandments) says do not lie, it says do not steal, it says do not use the Lord's name in vain, it says do not commit adultery (Jesus said lust is adultery - Matt 5:27,28), it says do not murder (and the Bible says hatred is murder - 1 John 3:15) - and these are only 5 of the 10. The Bible also says "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10) And "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Just as Ecclesiastes stated, it is repeated in Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment"
And at the judgment, what we earn because of our sin is death (the second death) "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23a) And "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev 21:8)
This leaves us pretty much hopeless - except that God made a provision for us "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) and in doing so "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23b)
What should you do?
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
One flaw in man's thinking is that we so easily assume that our logic will determine truth. And while there are countless truths that can be explained logically, there is still many truths from and about God that are beyond our comprehension. These truths are no less true; and more so, it does not make them confusing because we cannot fathom them.
The verse I started with is one used many times by Jehovah's Witnesses to argue against the Trinity. They will say that the very idea of three separate persons who are all one God is confusing - and that as such it cannot come from God (who is not the author of confusion). But, it is enough for the Bible to make a claim (which is truth on the fact alone that the Bible states it).
Let me give an example; I (nor do I believe anyone) will ever, while living on earth, understand how dirt can be breathed into - and in that breath - change from dirt into flesh. To be eyes, lungs, the digestive system, a brain - in less than a moment. To ponder how and then understand that how, is beyond intellectual grasp. However, because it is said so in Scripture, I am not the least bit confused about it. It is just merely above my understanding.
And so knowing this; our very foundation of what we stand on as truth should be based from the Word of the Author of truth, God - who is the Truth. Somethings will be mysteries, and maybe in eternity (a mystery in itself) all will be understood; maybe not.
I imagine that a line cannot fathom a sphere. And we being within the line of time, have no idea what complexity (or simplicity) there is in the realm of eternity. God sees all, knows all, is in control of all; yet He works in the present, He even allows the future to be shaped by our decisions and actions. Should this limit our faith, when we don't understand something? I say it should cause us all the more to give all our faith to Him; who is God, Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh...
Saturday, May 15, 2010
But when we look to how Scripture defines religion, it says:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
So I have a few thoughts on the issue.
First is that religion is a very good thing (and who can disagree if you define it as the Bible does). And in the sense of seeking to help and love orphans and widows, more people need to be religious.
I also think that yes people are right in seeing the evils done in the name of "religion" and in the hypocrisy within it - but that is no error of what religion is and should be - the error is us. If people are to see religion as it should be, see it correctly; than it is our responsibility to demonstrate it as such. Evils have been done in the name of religion; but religion has never permitted it - it is what people have decided as their excuse to do these evils.
I also think that if one was to pull out a dictionary the definition would probably be more close to the traditions of a specific faith, rather than definition from James 1:27 - but should we give up God's words because of this? Should we let those who disagree with us decide what terms mean what - and then we distance ourselves from such terms? Should we keep distance from rainbows (a sign from God of His promise to never flood and kill all living again) because homosexuals have decided to use it?
Lastly, I do agree on at least one point - Christianity is more than just religion, and religion without the relationship with Jesus is empty and almost of no value. It isn't about religion, it's about life in Christ, and through Christ, and because of Christ, given by Christ.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Then we can rest in knowing that God is the one who draws, and He is the one who causes the seed to grow, it is His word that does not return void. We can sleep knowing we were obedient and that salvation is of the Lord - it is His work.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Their basic answer is: they are brave!
This flag is symbolic of the men who used to march into battle with an actual flag. So steady and strong that the flag would blow behind them. On the arms of our soldiers, the flag faces as if being carried into battle, blowing behind them.
And so as I was looking and thinking about this, I thought about the first verse to the Casting Crowns song "What if His People Prayed":
What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captive free
And not let satan have one more
What if the Church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates
Shouldn't this be our attitude and action? Well, which direction does your flag face? May we all carry our banner for the Lord high, proud, and brave - into battle!
And I say also unto thee, ...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If you are born once - you will die twice
If you are born twice - you will die once
Although I would like to just leave this post having only said that; I think it is good to give the Scriptural references. So here they are:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
When it comes to the Great Commission, God could have also said "Stay and Radiate". He could have only required that we live a "good" Christian life and as people viewed us they would be convicted of their need for Jesus.
But, God did not command that - He said "Go", we are to be intentional about going to the lost world (not just hoping they come to us). And He said "Preach", speak verbally the Gospel to those we go to (not just hoping they will believe through "lifestyle evangelism")
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Friday, May 7, 2010
In the Bible, Jesus gave a parable on witnessing that we are familiar with as the sower and the seed. And when Jesus defined that seed, He said it is the Word of God. In addition to this, God said His Word does not return void. Is this true? Of course it is. So yes everyone's "worldview" may make a difference in each individual's conversation - but, our message must be grounded in the Bible. Regardless of what our logic tells us.
1 Corinthians 3:7
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
First lets look to what Scripture says:
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Jesus commanded us to follow Him; and in doing so, He said He would make us fishers of men. This is encouraging because in it we see that the responsibility is; our response in following, rested on His ability to make us.
But it is also one truth without conditions or exceptions - Jesus didn't say I may, or I will possibly; He said if we follow Him, He will make us fishers of men. We know Jesus never lied, and His promises are true and sure. So the challenge is in looking at Jesus' words in reverse - if we are not fishers of men, we are not following Him.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I have always thought I would like to own a Christian bookstore (but I don't think God has this plan for me). Sometimes I find myself thinking about what would be some of the choices that I would make if I did. For me, the first thing would be "which books would/should I carry?" - I wouldn't want to sell books that have a message that is in contradiction to sound doctrine (and many "Christian books" are). Then I think, truly the one book that Christians should be reading - is the Bible. And I kinda chuckle at the thought of customers entering a "Christian bookstore" only to find shelves full of nothing but Bibles :)
Well, in the same thought; my mind has taken a small step to another area - how much of my study comes from books about the Bible rather than the source itself? I look at my bookshelf and I have many many good books. Books I am grateful to have read, and have touched me, and helped me with understanding, and have helped me grow in my Christian walk (one of my favorites is Way of The Master by Ray Comfort). Even so, all this should at most be secondary. Yes I have the Bible on my shelf (actually I have several) - but the question we should ask is "How sufficient is it?"
So my thought today is what does your Christian bookshelf look like, and should it look like this:
Now I want to clear up that I am not against Christian books (as I have said I have many - and many have been used in my life). I am just trying to say that we need to not just "consider the source" - we need to rely on the source.
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
And for many Christians, I think what comes to mind is almost the same - we tend to think of a sermon meant toward non-Christians. Regardless of the detail or brevity of the message; we tend to kind of close our ears and say "this isn't meant for me".
Well I ask; if you know the severity of hell - the torment, the anguish, the pain, the "fire and brimstone" - the eternity of it etc. Would you condemn anyone to that? Is there anyone that you would actually wish to go there? I imagine none of us desire anyone to go there - but for those who are headed to hell, if we don't warn them - are we not condemning them to that fate?
Hellfire preaching should not be limited to non-Christians. We need to be reminded of every detail of it's awfulness. And we should have our compassion cultivated so much by it, that it compels us to do all that we can to keep souls from going there.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
and I just wanted to post a quick thought.
I wonder what this world would be like if all Christians were this eager to be used by God at His calling. I once heard a saying that the only ability God cares about is availability. Let's be available, willing, eager.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Today I would like to stop and think about stopping and thinking about what we read in the Bible. Too often it is easy to read the Bible and just process the words as we move along. We go from verse to verse, sometimes chapter to chapter, and we don't really meditate on what Scripture is saying.
So, with the Bible being so rich and full of truth. I would like to suggest that when we read it (whether at church, or a daily reading plan, or whatever) that we imagine there is a "Selah" at the end of every verse.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The message of Christianity (as proclaimed in the Bible) is that the cause which results in the effect of going to hell, is sin. Jesus died because He is The Way to be forgiven, He is the provision which took your sin on Himself. Without Jesus, yes a person will go to hell; but not because of Jesus, but because their sin demands it. Jesus is the cure, not the curse.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Simple Side of Salvation
First I must address that there is a simple side of what it means to be saved (which is what makes one a Christian). It goes like this: If you will repent (turn from your sin to Jesus) and put your faith in Jesus (like you would a parachute) - you will be saved. Simple enough. But; there is also a complicated side of what it means to be a christian
The Complicated Side of Salvation
In his book, “Unmasking The Cults” – which addresses cults of Christianity (as defined by theology), Dr. Alan W. Gomes writes,
"Central doctrines" of the Christian faith are those doctrines that make the Christian faith Christian and not something else.
1. The meaning of the expression "Christian faith" is not like a wax nose, which can be twisted to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.
2. The Christian faith is a definite system of beliefs with definite content (Jude 3)
3. Certain Christian doctrines constitute the core of the faith. Central doctrines include the Trniity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and salvation by grace through faith. These doctrines so comprise the essence of the Christian faith that to remove any of them is to make the belief system non-Christian.
4. Scripture teaches that the beliefs mentioned above are of central importance (e.g., Matt 28:19; John 8:24; 1 Cor 15; Eph 2:8-10).
5. Because these central doctrines define the character of Christianity, one cannot be saved and deny these.
6. Central doctrines should not be confused with peripheral issues, about which Christians may legitimately disagree. * Peripheral (i.e. non-essential) doctrines include such issues as the timing of the tribulation, the method of baptism, or the structure of church government. For example, one can be wrong about the identity of "the spirits in prison" 1 Peter 3:19) or about the timing of the rapture and still go to heaven, but one cannot deny salvation by grace or the deity of Christ (John 8:24) and be saved.
7. All Christian denominations — whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant — agree on the essential core. The relatively minor disagreements between genuinely Christian denominations, then, cannot be used to argue that there is no objectively recognized core of fundamental doctrine which constitutes the Christian faith.
So there are essential doctrines that define what the Christian belief is - and if any are denied, then the individual or group cannot claim to be Christian (this is why Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc aren't Christian).
And to expound a more complete list of these essentials let me share The 12 Undeniable Doctrines (in no particular order): The Deity of Christ, The Verbal Inspiration of Scripture, The Virgin Birth, The Sinless Life of Christ, The Vicarious Death of Christ, The Bodily Resurrection of Christ, The Blood Atonement, The Omnipotence of God, The Depravity of Man, The Doctrine of Redemption, The Doctrine of Damnation, Salvation in Jesus Alone.
I apologize that I cannot detail all of what these doctrines mean and their Scriptural reference here (I don't want this blog post to be too long - but feel free to email me if you would like an explainiation).
The Evidences of Salvation
And then there are two evidences of salvation.
1) The inward evidence - the direct witness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).
2) The outward evidence - a life of righteousness and true holiness; being set apart (Ephesians 4:24, Titus 2:12). This is why the title "Christian" came about (it means Christ followers)
As such, if either evidence is missing there is great cause for concern.
So to sum it up
Many claim to be Christian, but not all are. There will be many who claim to be Christian and Jesus will say to them "I never knew you, depart from Me" (Matthew 7:23). My hope is that my posts that address these folks would compel them to examine themselves - and that in doing so they will repent and put their faith in Jesus. and truly be a Christian (as the Bible defines it).
Letter From an Atheist (this is an excerpt from a letter written to Ray Comfort from an atheist)
"You are really convinced that you've got all the answers. You've really got yourself tricked into believing that you're 100% right. Well, let me tell you just one thing. Do you consider yourself to be compassionate of other humans? If you're right, as you say you are, and believe that, then how can you sleep at night? When you speak with me you are speaking with someone who you believe is walking directly into eternal damnation into an endless onslaught of horrendous pain which your 'loving' god created, yet you stand by and do nothing.
If you believe one bit that thousands every day were falling into an eternal and unreacheable fate, you should be running the streets mad with rage at their blindness. That's equivalent to standing on a street corner and watching every person that passes you walk blindly directly into the path of a bus and die, yet you stand idly by and do nothing. You're just twiddling your thumbs, happy in the knowledge that one day that 'walk' signal will shine your way across the road.
Think about it. Imagine the horrors Hell must have in store if the bible is true. You're just going to allow that to happen and not care about saving anyone but yourself? If you're right then you're an uncaring, unemotional and purely selfish (expletive) that has no right to talk about subjects such as love and caring."
And also this video from Penn (of Penn and Teller)
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"...morality isn't something where one side can prove to the other who's right or wrong. It's not testable. It's philosophy; it's logic. And depending on what assumptions you start out with, you can come to radically different conclusions, with NO WAY to reconcile them... Me, I believe that my gut is the best judge of whether something is right or wrong – I trust my upbringing to be my moral guide."
Then a little later Andrew said "For right now I’m going to avoid any arguments about morality and the Ten Commandments" I replied "you said you do not want to discuss morality and the 10 Commandments - for now. When you do, I would love if you commented on my blog to start the discussion" and I was happy with his response "Sure I'll come on over to your blog for a little 10 commandment talk"
So this post is for Andrew and Tristan (but anyone can feel free to join in commenting; but to let you know, I moderate comments to prevent foul language)
When we compare ourselves to man's standard we look pretty clean, but when we compare ourselves to the pure snow-white righteousness of God's standard—His Law, we can see ourselves in truth, that we are unclean in His sight. That Law is the holy standard by which humanity will be judged on Judgment Day.
This is the purpose of the Ten Commandments. This is why we cannot trust in our gut, or let our upbringing be our moral guide; when we do, it is easy to say compared to others we are pretty good - but how are we compared to God's standard?
- You shall have no other gods before Me. (Have you always loved God above all else?)
- You shall not make yourself an idol. (Have you made a god in your mind that you're more comfortable with, a god to suit yourself?)
- You shall not take God's name in vain. (Have you ever used God's holy Name as a cuss word?)
- Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not murder. (God considers hatred to be as murder - 1 John 3:15).
- You shall not commit adultery. ("Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart" Matthew 5:27-28; this also includes sex before marriage).
- You shall not steal. (Have you ever stolen anything? the value of the item is irrelevant).
- You shall not lie. (Have you lied even once? Including answering these questions).
- You shall not covet. (Have you ever jealously desired what belongs to others?)
The Law of God is merely like a mirror—all a mirror does is show you the truth. If you see egg on your face, you don't try and wash yourself with the mirror, it's purpose should be to send you to water for cleansing. Neither should you try and wash yourself with the mirror of God's Law...that's not its purpose. The sight in the mirror is not a pretty one, but if you don't face it and acknowledge that you are unclean, then all that "dirt" will be presented on Judgment Day as evidence of your guilt, and then it will be too late to be cleansed.
This may sound strange, but the solution is not to try and clean up your lifestyle—you realize that you have sinned, so from now on you will keep the Ten Commandments, do good deeds, say the right things and think only pure thoughts. But should a judge let a murderer go because he says he will now live a good life? No, he's in debt to justice and therefore must be punished.
If you read in the newspaper that a man received a $5 fine for a crime, you could conclude that his crime was insignificant. But if a man received multiple life sentences, you could conclude that his crime was heinous. In the same way, we can catch a glimpse of how terrible sin must be in the sight of God by looking to the punishment given for it—eternal punishment.
Perhaps you think that God is good and will therefore overlook your sins. But if you were guilty of terrible crimes in a civil court and said to the judge, "Judge, I am guilty but I believe that you are a good man and will therefore overlook my crimes," the judge would probably respond by saying, "You are right about one thing; I am a good man, and it's because of my goodness that I am going to see that justice is done, that you are punished for your crimes." The very thing that many are hoping will save them on Judgment Day, God's "goodness," will be the very thing that will condemn them. If God is good, He should punish murderers. liars, thieves, etc., and Hell will be their dreadful fate.Can you see your predicament? You are guilty of sinning against God Himself, and, because you have a conscience, you have sinned "with knowledge" (conscience means: con-with, science-knowledge) Isn't it true that every time you lied, stole, lusted, etc., you did it with knowledge that it was wrong? (Maybe this is the "gut" Tristan was referring to)
God Himself is not willing that you perish. To make clear what an incredible thing He has done for you in the Gospel, let's look again to civil law: You are standing in front of a judge, guilty of very serious crimes. All the evidence has been presented and there is no doubt about your guilt. The fine for your crime is $250,000 or imprisonment, but you haven't two pennies to rub together. The judge is about to pass sentence...he lifts his gavel, when someone you don't even know steps in and pays the fine for you. The moment you accept that payment, you are free to go. Justice has been served, the law has been satisfied, and what's more, the stranger who paid your fine showed how much he cares for you. His payment was evidence of his love.
That's what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ. you are guilty, He paid the fine 2,000 years ago. It is that simple. The Bible puts it this way: "he was bruised for our iniquities . . . Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us...God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
It was no small thing for Jesus to die for us. The only thing that would satisfy the demands of Eternal Law was the suffering death of the sinless Son of God. What love God must have for you! He suffered unspeakable agony, so that you wouldn't have to be punished for your sins. His sacrificial death and resurrection mean that you need no longer be in debt to the Law, and God can now grant you everlasting life if you obey Him -- death no longer has a legal hold upon those who belong to Jesus Christ.What should you then do? Simply repent (turn from your sin to Jesus) and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord -the same way you would put your faith in a parachute; you don't just "believe" it will benefit you, you actually trust yourself to it by putting it on.
Don't put it off until tomorrow.