Monday, December 28, 2009

Understanding the Christian Hope

Christian Hope = expectation, confidence, assurance. Contrast this to the modern usage of hope - yearning, longing, based on nothing

Without rehashing last week's message, In Christ what can we hope for?
What can we expect from Him?

We'll begin with an "umbrella" statement. You can expect God to be God, ie: faithful to His Word, His will, His character.
All of the following will fall under this statement. If you are outside of this umbrella, you can't trust Him for it.

Therefore, there are two points.
I. You can't (legitimately) hope or expect Him to do what is contrary to His Word, will, and character.

II. You can't know His will and character apart form His Revelation (Word). You can't base it on your emotions or feelings. That is empty hope.

So, based on these 2 premises, ie: 1. He wont' act contrary to Himself
2. His Word, will, character are revealed in Scripture.

What can I expect from God? (in/through Christ)
What can I reasonably (and Biblically) expect from Him???

You can expect God...

#1. to see, hear and care. (He's omniscient, concerned, personal) Luke 12:6-7
This is true for all people.

#2. to act, intervene according to His wisdom. Isa. 55:8-9
not necessarily the way you want it done.

#3. to walk with you through any and all situations. Heb. 13:5 Psalm 23:4
Hope that says you won't go through trauma or terrible situations is not Christian hope.

#4. to work in any and all situations Rom. 8:28
We can't be confident that we'll see enough good come out of a bad situation to satisfy you. But God is working and will bring about good. Whether we see it or not.

#5. to hear and answer all your prayers. BUT, can't be confident He will answer according to your desires, your satisfaction.

#6. ultimately and finally to deliver you from all evil and harm. This doesn't mean that evil cannot touch or take you in the physical sense. It means it cannot keep you. 1 Cor. 15:54-55

#7. to reserve your place in eternity. John 14:1-2

#8. to take you to that place. John 14:3 Can celebrate death and the assurance of where they went.

#9. to return in glory. Rev. 19:11-16

#10. to set all things right Rev. 21:1-5

This is the Christian Hope! In this you can trust, be confident. ie: if you are IN Christ.

1 Cor. 15:58

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christian Hope

I. Understanding the Christian Hope
Christian hope is: confidence, certainty, reliance on and in God based on the Person of Christ.

Definition of Hope:
A. in contemporary use, it's a yearning, longing for, sentiment, etc. not based on anything. ie: "I hope Santa ......, I hope it snows... I hope the electricity doesn't go out, etc.

Contrast this with
B. the Biblical use: expect, confidence, certainty, trust. Heb. 11:1 Faith s being sure of what we hope for.

C. Old Testament hope = confidence in YHWH - Psalm 25:4-5 Psalm 71:5-6

D. Christian hope = confidence in God as more fully revealed in Christ
1 Pet. 1:20-21 - His coming verified, clarified, solidified this hope

The more we know, the stronger our faith should be. Faith is not emotions or feelings, but based on something solid and certain.

Question? how does this differ from other hopes? ie: Islam, Buddhism, secular, agnostic?
#1. this hope is in Christ!! Not in relationship, tradition, holy man, prophet, etc. Not in your own ability, righteousness, works, etc.

#2. This hope is based on His words....
His deeds... miracles, ministry, fulfilled prophecy, resurrection
His character....
His promises...
Christ came to solidify our hope in God and His promises, and left his Holy Spirit as the guarantee of that hope.
All hopes are NOT created equal!!!

Question? What can I be confident of?
Answers: salvation, reconciliation, right standing, eternal life, eternal home, reunion with all who have gone on before, final justice, "all set right" Heb. 6:19 a

Meanwhile, we can be confident that: He's in control - regardless of life's situations
He's with us in all situations
He'll make even bad turn into good! Rom. 8:28

Note: Just because there is a Christian hope, doesn't mean you can avail yourself of it.

II. Utilizing the Christian Hope. ie: employing, putting to use, benefiting from, etc.
BECAUSE, existence and availability does not necessarily equal benefit. You must accept and make it yours personally.
A. Examine the Christian Hope. (look at, study, understand)
Eph. 1:18
Christian hope does not necessarily: 1. provide all you desire
2. grant you all that's available

So, you must
B. Embrace the Hope. (conscious, deliberate choice and action)
by embracing 1. Christ (you can't possess the Hope without Him!!) - John 14:6
2. Christ's teachings, truths, etc.
Don't live outside His will but expect Him to bless anyway. In relationships, business dealings, lifestyle, habits, etc.

C. Re-embrace the Hope (Re-new, re-dedicate, re-commit)
Because, we tend to waver, wander, slip away, etc.

D. Live the Hope (day to day practical application of what we declare!!)
Contrast constant emotional and verbal comments with daily applications, actions, lifestyle - in marriage, in Christianity. Eph. 4:1

E. Share the Hope because it's not just for you and yours. It's about the whole world.
1 Pet. 3:15

Closing scripture:
Jer. 29:11

Monday, December 14, 2009

Completing the Incarnation

INCARNATION - Dios con Carne (God with flesh)
Matt. 1:23 John 1:1, 14 Col. 1:15 (a) Col. 1:19 Col. 2:9

Question: Why would God become a man?
A. The General Answer is: it was the best way and only way to accomplish His purpose(s)
B. The Specific Answer is: God became man to:

#1. Reveal truth. further revelation of God and man, origin and destiny, life and death, heaven and hell, right and wrong

#2. Redeem man ie: buy back - through the sacrifice of the cross
He didn't just pay the penalty, but bought us back.

#3. Reconcile God and man - salvation plus intimacy. An Abba/Father relationship between God and his people

#4. Model humanity (as it should be) - Therefore, "what would Jesus do" should lead to "what should I do?"

#5. Minister God's grace - Acts 10:38 - so when touched by Christ, are touched by God.

#6. Establish His Kingdom
- ON earth ..... until the end...

#7, Offer hope. - certainty, expectation. Based on His words and works.
So, when 'life happens', we can have confidence... in God and in the outcome.

Therefore, Remember Him, celebrate Him, worship Him - especially at Christmas.

BUT, Question??? Is the work of the incarnation done? Is it complete?
Answer: Yes - John 17:4 The work of the incarnation is complete.
However: No - Acts 1:1 - The work begun at the incarnation is not complete.

Question? So how is it to be done?
Answer: by the hands of His people!! God has chosen to do it this way. So what Christ started is to be finished by us.

So, go back through the list..... and see
Your part in the works of incarnation.

#1. Revelation?- on one hand, the Canon of Scripture is closed. However, not all people have heard!! The Great Commission - Matt. 28:19-20 - teach, make disciples - We're to be His hands, feet, and mouth.

#2. Redemption? - The work of redemption is completed. John 19:30 However, are all saved?? Therefore, there should be personal evangelism.

#3. Reconciliation? - The bridge is built, but not all people have: A. crossed the bridge
B. established a relationship with Him

#4. Modeling the faith? - preachers and Christians. We're here to model Christ. He's being revealed through His people's behavior.

#5. Ministering Grace? - 1 Pet. 4:10 - when touched by His people, touched by God.

#6. Building the Kingdom? - this is more than individual salvation. God has called us to Social Transformation. We're to be Salt & Light, and Make A Difference

#7. Dispensing Hope? - this hope is not just idle notion, empty sentiment, feel good faith, etc.
but, a certainty, assurance, confidence BASED ON the truth of His Word(s)
There's lots of false hope around.

Stay balanced here!! On on hand, you ARE NOT God in the flesh.
you ARE NOT Christ incarnate
But, on the other hand, you are (to some degree) His hands, feet, presence..

Christmas day is a great time to give "self" fully to Him, His work.
A better time is today!! (so you can be His hands and feet through the Christmas season).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Activities for Advent

ADVENT (from the Latin adventus) - is a coming/an arrival

The Advent season begins the 4th. Sunday before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve

Advent is a time to: 1. Celebrate His coming (Christmas/His incarnation)
2. Anticipate His return (2nd. coming)

Meanwhile we live in the "tween time". - Between His 1st. coming and 2nd. coming

Question: Is there current application beyond celebration and anticipation?

Answer: Yes! Hab. 3:2 Things we can all do during Advent. Pray as Habbakkuk did for "now".
Point: as You've come in the past... As you will in the future, SO Come Now!
Come among us/make Yourself known/work in, on, and through Your people!!!

Come and do a Mighty work in the "tween time".

One one hand, He's always among us and always working. However, the times of intense, obvious activity were most times in response to the cries of His people. Ex. 3:7-10 Judges 3:7, 9

The point: as we celebrate Christmas and anticipate His return, we should be saying, "Come again...Now!"

We should be praying Hab. 3:2 "do it again"...... "do it now"


Activities for Advent

As Christians we should:

#1. Cry for deliverance.
On one hand, A. we are not oppressed - compared to Israel and Egypt, the exile, Roman rule.
But, B. others are!!! - Christians in China, Somalia, Iraq
And, some things that have been banned here:
C. prayer in school, religious symbols in public property, prohibited scripture reading in jury room, etc.
2 Chron. 7:11-14

#2. Pray for justice - God's heart (things as they ought to be) Rom. 89:14 a
- Messiah's job - Is. 9:6-7, 42:1-4 a
Example: we protect a convicted guilty killer, but NOT the helpless, innocent pre-born child.

#3. Admit our inability. (to accomplish deliverance, to establish justice)
This does not mean we are helpless or inept. It does mean we are unable to change HEARTS of people. Only God can do that!
We can never change things permanently.

#4. See His assistance. Neh. 1:4-6, 22 Neh. 2:4-5 (God moved the heart of a pagan king)

#5. Acknowledge His presence
John 5:17 - we can ask Him to come and work. BUT, He IS working!!
Point: balance requests with recognition and thanksgiving Phil. 4:6-7

#6. Increase our efforts. Phil. 2:12-13
WE are his hands, feet, mouth "Waiting on the Lord" does NOT mean being inactive, rather Active Submission!!
He has chosen to do His work largely through His people.

#7. Prepare our hearts. Individually.
Question: If He said he'd come, ARE YOU Available????
God's will is to get in your heart, get on the throne of your heart, then get out into the community, family, etc.
Change this to: IN - ON - AVAILABLE

God probably won't do it apart from you (us).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Developing Your Christian Hands

Last in the series "Becoming a Whole Christian". Mark 12:28-31

Previously: Developing Your Christian Head and Developing Your Christian Heart.

Definition: Christian hands means: 1. action, work, deeds
2. willful action (not reflex)
3. based on & in response to head and hearts

Generally it is visible, audible, detectable.
On occasion it's otherwise. Examples: silent prayer, holding your tongue.

I. Christianity is a hands religion (action/deed/response to....)
John 14:15 Matt. 28:19-20 John 13:17
Heb. 11:1-2 2 Cor. 5:10 Matt. 25:34-36,41-43
Classic Verse - James 2:17-18,24,26
Summary Verse: Matt. 7:24

II. This does not diminish the importance of the head and heart. Rev. 2:1-5 (a)
Picture the three - head, heart, hands as a pyramid.

Head forms the foundation. Heart is next. Hands is the roof. Works is the pinnacle, not the foundation. IF you start with the roof, you get it all wrong. BUT, if you never get to the roof... the house is useless.
Luke 10:38-42

III. You can't measure faith by works alone. Rev. 3:1-3 (a) - got their reputation from their deeds.

IV. Works is a very important measure of the faith.
Matt. 7:20 Titus 1:16 1 John 3:17-19

Applications for developing your Christian Hands.

#1. Develop a proper foundation. (ie: head and heart)
Quiet time, Bible Study, Knowledge, Truth , Relationship with Christ

#2. Build on that foundation. (do something)

#3. Build compatible with the foundation. Christian works should match Christian truth!!

#4. Don't wait until your head is full.
Example: Apostles... developed theology, doctrine AS THEY WENT

#5. Don't wait until your heart is perfect.
Question? Does acting according to truth but contrary to feelings make you a hypocrite?
Answer: No. Should be doing what's responsible regardless of how you feel.

Here at the end of the series on becoming a whole Christian.
We don't possess a "faith meter". BUT, there are ways to measure our own faith, growth, progress.

Ask yourself: #1. What do I know? (head, not heart)
(How would you do on a test (written) on truths of Scripture?)
#2. What do I feel? (heart) Heart, longing, yearning, desire for...... God, Presence of God, God's Word, God's work, Kingdom, God's people
#3, What am I doing (hands)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is the most widely celebrated holiday in America. A survey showed that 92% of Americans have special gathering at Thanksgiving.

Why??? Giving thanks is natural, inherent, seems right and proper - all peoples, cultures, religions view giving thanks the same way. Even an avowed atheist in a book he'd written stated that he was "eternally grateful" ......

So, Question? are we to just follow our own feelings, intuitions, and instincts on this?

Answer: (as Christians) we have specific guidelines in Scripture.

  • Giving thanks was part of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Lev. 7:11-12 - fellowship/peace offering (thank offering) - brought as a result of thanks giving
  • the offering was voluntary but expected - Jews called it a mitzpah - a religious duty or good deed
  • it was always appropriate but especially appropriate when God had done something special (answered prayer, deliverance, protection, blessings Psalm 50:14 Psalm 107:12 (Jonah 2:7-9) prayed while in the belly of the whale
  • the offering gave God proper recognition as the source of blessing Psalm 50:23
So..... thanksgiving became a central part of O.T. worship - Psalm 100:1 Psalm 105:1 Psalm 107:1 Give thanks and make known publicly what He has done.

And.... thanksgiving became a central part of their public worship.
As an individual in public worship - Psalm 35:18
As a nation 1 Chron. 23:30 Neh. 12:31

(Naturally) in the New Testament, giving thanks is especially important.
Example: Jesus..... feeding the 5000 - Matt. 14:19 - this is included in all accounts!!
feeding the 4000 - Matt. 15:36 Jesus gave thanks before breaking the bread and fish.
So.... "giving thanks" was directly connected to the miracle! John 6:23

And so, naturally, the act of thanks giving became a central part of Christian life and Christian worship.

Some applications:

#1. We ought to give thanks - this is more than "be thankful" - (3/4 of Christians claim to "be thankful".
A survey taken states that "83% of people say special grace at Thanksgiving meal". BUT, what about the rest of the year??? Thanks should be expressed.

#2. We ought to give thanks to GOD. Psalm 118:28

#3. We ought to do it properly. Lev. 22:29
These are not new rules/rituals. A. give thanks
B. when due (often)
C. to whom it's due
D. with proper reverence

#4. We ought to do it always 1 Thess. 5:18
This does NOT mean 24/7 non-stop NOT for all things But, does mean it's God's will for you.

#5. We ought NOT overlook our greatest blessings
Luke 12:15 Greatest blessings are not material, but spiritual and relational because they are eternal.

Any thank offering can be proper and appropriate. BUT, the greatest thank offering is the of gift of yourself!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How To Develop Your Christian Heart

Christians should love, serve, minister with head, heart, hands.
Mark 12:28-31

Last week - developing Christian head
Today - developing Christian heart.

Definition of heart: Comes from the Greek word cardia. Literally it's a physical organ, often considered the primary organ by most cultures because it is the primary physical organ for maintaining life.
Question: Why??? why more so than the stomach? liver? kidney? brain?
Answer: probably because: A. it's in the center of our body
and B. it appears alive!! it beats. we can feel it and hear it.
And, when obvious, visible activity ceases... life ceases!!

So... it's a natural, easy transition for "heart" to describe the primary, center and deepest seat of man's being.
"Heart" = the person, real person, the inner person, the hidden person
Therefore: a good heart means a good person and a bad heart means a bad person.
"Heart" blends our mental and moral activity. It combines, melds the rational and emotional
"heart" is feelings but it's more than feelings! It includes the mind but is deeper and more complex than intellect.

The Bible "heart" means the seat of our moral nature, spiritual life/ seat of grief, joy, our desires, affections, thoughts, perceptions, understanding, imagination, conscience, intentions, motives, purposes, our will......

AND it is also the primary seat of God's activity within us!!
God deals with the heart! 2 Cor. 1:21-22 Eph. 3:17
The heart distinguishes us from animals - we have a heart like God.

It is Complex!! Therefore, we need Scripture to aid in the definition and description....
Gen. 6:5-6
Ex. 25:2
Deut. 4:28-29
Deut. 6:5
Deut. 8:5
1 Sam. 13:14 (Samuel to Saul)
1 Sam. 16:7
1 Kings 3:9 (Solomon's prayer)
Job 19:25-27 (Job in his affliction)
Job 29:13 (concerning his goodness to the needy)
Ps. 14:1
Ps. 15:1-2
Prov. 2:2
Prov. 2:10
Prov. 3:5
Isa. 40:11 "the Sovereign Lord...."
Jer. 3:15-16 (the LORD speaking...)
Matt. 15:17-20 (Jesus.....)
Luke 6:45 (Jesus...)
Luke 7:11-13 Incidence showing Jesus heart....
Acts 2:37 - Peter preaches at Pentecost....
Acts 7:39-40 (Stephen's sermon...) "their hearts turned back to Egypt" - (not in physical actuality, geographically, not with feet and hands)
Heb. 10:22 purity, singleness of heart; an "undivided heart"
1 Pet. 1:22 Agape means active love (hands) but not to exclusion of heart!
Rev. 1:2-3 "take to heart" - consider, take it seriously, ponder and therefore prepare...

Word Pictures: Verbal descriptions that go beyond simple definition...
Ex. 28:29-30 - point being: proper heart to help make proper decision (head) so can pursue proper action (hands) blending mental and moral.

Summary verse:
Prov. 4:23 - watch over your heart, keep it with all diligence... for out of it flows all the issues of life!!! (things that affect eternal being come out of the heart)

(remember - we are all born with a tainted heart. But we are called to develop a Christian heart anyway)

SO, How to Develop Your Christian Heart

#1. Define Christian heart (what's a proper heart look like?)
The answer is found in Scripture NOT in your heart!!!
ask anyone on the street "describe a good heart". Answer will match the person being asked!!
Your opinion or description comes from a tainted heart!!! Jer. 17:9
In C. S. Lewis' book "The Great Divorce" he writes that "each occupant of hell is still justifying himself and defining his righteousness accordingly!"

#2. Discipline your heart. (your heart is largely controlled by YOU!)
Some scripture tells us to discipline our own heart.
Deut. 4:9 - guard
Prov. 7:2-3 - program, train
Prov. 23:19 - direct, correct, clean up
Joshua 24:23 - yield

#3. Open Your Heart (to God and to Christ)
(A conscious, deliberate decision and action....
A. initially Rom. 10:8-10
B. Continually 1 Pet. 3:15
C. Relationally Heb. 10:19-22 a

Developing Your Christian Head (mind)


Last week - loving, serving, ministering with the whole being.

So today - Developing your head (Christian mind) - thinker, feeler, doer

I. Definition .. the head/the mind - the intellect/perception/understanding, discovering truth(s), analyzing facts & information, acquiring knowledge of God and His will!!!

II. Some New Testament Usage. Luke 24:45
1 Cor. 14:15
Tit. 1:15
Heb. 10:16

III. The importance of developing Christian knowledge & understanding
As seen in....
A. Old Testament wisdom literature - Prov. 1:1-7 Prov. 2:1-5
B. Jesus' teaching ministry. Matt. 4:23 Matt. 5:1-2 Mark 2:13 Mark 6:34 Mark 10:1
(addressed as "Teacher") - John 3:1&2
C. The writings of the Apostles - (Paul) Rom. 12:2
(Peter) 2 Pet. 1:3-5
(John) 1 John 5:20
D. The word disciple Matt. 28:19-20
means to learn, acquire knowledge (note: an intentional learner) Therefore: disciple of Moses, John, pharisees/... Jesus!

E. Common Sense - can't do right until you know what's right!!
Possible scenarios: W.W.J.D.??? Answer: #1. Can't know unless you know!
And, #2. The correct answer can't be found in heart unless the info is in the head!
The Biblical model is: first in the head, then to the heart, and then out through hands.
Typical model is: fact/info starting in the heart (feelings), the to the head and out thru hands.

So, Developing Your Christian Head. (Mind - How to???)

#1. Recognize the importance of proper information
You need the proper info which leads to proper decisions, attitudes, actions, etc.

#2. Get the information
through: A. scripture 2 Tim. 3:16
by.... B. God's Spirit "Scripture is 'God breathed' "
C. God's people (ancient, contemporary..... individually, corporately)
Remember: disciple means intentional learner, not incidental learner

#3. Use the information
head is not the end of the equation but the beginning 2 Tim. 3:17
(John 13:34-35 John 15:8)

#4. Don't neglect your heart and hands (in the process)
The head is "primary to" the process, but not necessarily "more important than" the heart and hands (or in preference to)
Example: a house foundation is primary to the roof and walls
BUT, is it more important than them?????

#5. Remember the final purpose (outcome/result) is to know God.
it is more than knowing about Him - It is to know Him. John 17:3
for the sake of..... 'self. Those you love, lead, influence.
Those you minister to and direct toward Christ
Future generations.
God's kingdom

John 20:30-31

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Loving With Head, Heart, Hands - 11-1-09

Matt. 22:34-40 - focus is on Vs. 37.
From Deut. 6:5 Compare Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27
Point being - with all your faculties/abilities

HEAD - Knowledge/fact/truth/understanding
Primarily intellectual contrasted with intuitive, experiential
Example: Know of God and about God through truths of Scripture.

HEART - does not primarily thought but feeling (used with caution!)
- means attitude, affections. passion, intuition, desire, sentiment, emotional experience
Examples: sincerity, purity, compassion, concern, longing, zeal.....
Like love. Heart is easier to understand than describe! "I just feel in my heart."

HANDS - works, deeds, actions. Generally external and visible
The Biblical term is "fruit". which is external evidence of internal nature.

Note: these three are not easily divided and tend to overlap.
"Know God" - with head?? or heart??
Where's the line between?
"Confession" - head?? - (agree) heart??? (remorse) hands??? (action)
"Love Neighbors" - head means value him Heart - care about him. Hands - assist him.
BUT... all three are valid, important and designed to complement one another.


Head - 2 Pet. 3:17-18
Phil. 1:9-10
Eph. 1:17
1 Tim. 2:3-4
2 Pet. 1:3

Heart - Matt. 5:3-8
Matt. 15:8-9
Heb. 10:22 a relationship between God and man
1 Pet. 1:22 relationship man to man

Hands - John 14:15
John 21:15
Matt. 28:18-20
John 13:17
James 2:14-18/26

So...... you can see the importance of each.
BUT, what if there is deficiency? imbalance??

Heart without head - John 4:22-24
Rom. 10:1-2
Head without heart - 1 Cor. 8:8-11
Head without hands - Rom. 2:17-22
Head and hands without heart - 1 Cor. 13:1-3

#1. Which constitutes loving God and Man?
Answer: all three in combination. - "obeying the truth from the heart".

#2. Which is most important? Comparison: air, water, food
On one hand air is the most vital. But ALL are necessary!! (without head, how can you measure heart and hands)

#3. On which should I focus? My tendency? or my deficiency?
Answer: Both!!! Tendency is area of giftedness, strength, passion
Deficiency is area of weakness therefore, must focus and develop

#4. How to adjust?
Head - study, get knowledge, better understanding of the Word and truth.
Hands - practice what you know and learn.
Heart?? (friendship meal) - A. Exposure to the Word
B. Sensitivity to the Spirit
C. Practice Spiritual disciplines - self examination, prayer/confession/worship
D. Develop a relationship with Christ
E. Continue to function with head and hands

Matt. 7:24 - concept/idea means: 1. Exposure (to truth)
2. Understanding Head - sift truth through head
3. Embracing Heart - welcome truth into heart
Responding Hands - practice truth with your hands.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christians and New Testament Grace

Summary Verse: Rom. 6:14

Last week we discussed "Christians and The Law". We are free from the Old Testament civil and ceremonial laws, but NOT from the moral laws. Those have always been applicable. But, just because Christians are not obligated to keep the OT laws (civil & ceremonial), does not mean don't have a master. Christians have a new Master.

This week we're discussing Christians and Grace. Definition of grace - unmerited favor, undeserved blessings.
Examples: you are going 80 in a school zone with kids around - you are given a warning ticket by the police. THAT'S grace. Or, seniors, you don't study all year, just slough off all of your classes and at the end at graduation, you are passed through and given a diploma anyway. THAT'S grace.
Grace is something we don't deserve and didn't earn!

Generally (and properly) it's associated with love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc. Example: the woman caught in adultery - John 8:10-11
the thief on the cross - Luke 23:34 a

So, whereas the O.T. Jew hoped to find favor and right standing with God through obedience to the Law---
so, N.T. Christian expects to find favor and right standing with God through grace. (God's graciousness)

Therefore, on one hand, there is a great need to understand grace!!! Eph. 1:6-8, Eph. 3:18-19
It is vitally important to get a grip on God's grace and His love and care for us. How good I am is important, but doesn't determine standing with God.

On the other hand, it's very easy to misunderstand (misapply) the doctrine of grace.

We need to understand:

#1. All people receive some grace.
A. Common grace - life, air to breathe, sunshine, rain, etc. Matt. 5:45
B. Individual grace - good looks, extra smarts, rich parents, etc.

#2. Not all grace is saving grace.
All blessings are intended to direct to and draw to God.
But, some grace is specific in application.
Compare Vs. 1 of "How Great Thou Art" - speaks of common grace
with Vs. 1 of "Amazing Grace" - speaks of saving grace.

Just because you are blessed doesn't mean you are in right standing with God.

#3. Saving grace comes only through Christ. John 14:6

Common grace and individual grace are granted to you without your foreknowledge, without your approval.
SAVING grace comes only through Jesus Christ and with your approval.

#4. Grace offered does not necessarily equal grace received. Mark 6:5-6 Power and grace is available. Point is: you MUST cross the bridge. The same grace was available to both thieves on the cross. However, only one chose to accept it.
Just because the grace is offered, doesn't mean that you automatically have it.

#5. Grace to forgive all sin does not mean grace to remove all consequences of sin.
Example: a person gets drunk, runs over a child and kills him. He confesses his sin, asks for forgiveness and receives that forgiveness. Is he forgiven?? Does it bring back the child? Is the pain the family is suffering removed? Does it eliminate the "feelings" of guilt?
There are consequences of sinful behavior.

#6. Grace does not eliminate the expectation of (or necessity of) good works. James 2:14-18
In fact, grace should lead to gratitude to God which should lead to "goodness". Luke 12:48 b

Which equals
#7. We who receive grace are expected (obligated) to extend grace.
Examples: A. by Giving B. by Forgiving. Eph. 3:12-13

If God has graciously forgiven and given us grace in spite of who we are and were, we should not hold back that same forgiveness and grace from others who may have wronged us in some way.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Christians and the Old Testament

We believe that the Bible is God's Word. (inspired, accurate, authoritative.) The standard by which we measure the things we do in life.

So, what are we to do with the Old Testament laws?
Examples: Lev. 11:1-3, 9-12 Lev. 19:19, 23-28
The Jews found 613 commands in the Old Testament - 248 do's. 365 don'ts.

Therefore, how are we (as Christians) to understand and apply Old Testament law?

Answer: "we're under grace". Example: Rom. 6:14

So, are we not obligated to the sacrificial laws? dietary laws? agricultural laws? laws concerning the tithe? social justice? marriage and family? sexual boundaries? the 10 commandments?

Where do we draw the line? How do we decide which to follow or if to follow?


I. Define "The Law" - the law(s) of God given to Moses and passed down to us. (the Pentateuch or Mosaic Law)

II. The division of the Law - (Ed's division which seems to help deal with and understand the Old Testament Laws)
A. Civil - laws of the land (state, nation) - rights, violations, trial, punishment, etc.
B. Ceremonial - rules and regulations concerning religious observances - sacrifices, offerings, priesthood, tabernacle, festivals, etc.
C. Moral - describe and define what's right and wrong.

III. The Purpose of the Law.
A. Civil laws - rule society - ownership, violent crime, social responsibility - every nation or society has to have these rules and laws to function.
B. Ceremonial laws - introduce individual to God. teach about God, direct people to God, aid in worship of God
C. Moral laws - instruct in right and wrong. Rom. 3:20

Each aspect of the law has a different purpose.

IV. Our Obligation to the Law.
A. Civil - we are obligated to the civil code under which we live - except where it is totally in opposition to God's will. We are NOT obligated to the Old Testament civil code that was for those people 3500 years ago.
Rom. 13:1 1 Pet. 2:13-14 Matt. 22:21

B. Ceremonial - these have (mostly) been fulfilled and finished by Christ. Ex. the sacrificial offerings. Heb. 10:1, 3, 9, 19-22

C. Moral - these are eternal, immutable, universal. We are still obligated to keep these laws. They are the same under grace as under the law. There are no variations. They apply to us as they did to the Jews.

V. So, how do we determine? Which laws are civil? ceremonial? moral?
to which are are obligated? which are we free from?

Answer: It's not always easy or clear, but.....
A. recognize the divisions and distinctions - (civil, ceremonial, moral)
B. recognize they sometimes overlap Ex. the tithe - civil (taxes), ceremonial (worship), moral (give, share, assist)
C. recognize that all the laws have a moral base. Ex. Deut. 22:8 - you have a moral obligation to protect life when you can.

Notes and Observations

#1. When the New Testament says we're free from the Law, it generally refers to the Ceremonial laws. Gal. 4:9-11

#2. Freedom from The Law is never freedom from the moral truths of the Law.
Gal. 5:13, 19-21

Put another way,
#3. Freedom from the Old Testament Law does not mean freedom from God's Laws. 1 Cor. 9:21

Obedience to the Law will not get you to heaven or commend you to God. BUT, it can affect the relationship. God never commend wrong and it does matter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Offense of the Gospel

Question: Why are people offended by the Gospel? (ie: the bad news side of the gospel)

Some Answers

The Bible teaches that before accepting Christ, you are ---
#1. A Sinner Rom. 3:10-12, 23 - by nature (inherited) and by choice! (many times deliberately)

#2. Separated (from a Holy God) - no sin can enter in to His presence

#3. Lost (which means separated from & therefore perishing) - Matt. 10:5 & 6 Parables of the coin, sheep, son -- Luke 19:10

#4. Blind - to your needs, to spiritual truths - 2 Cor. 4:3 & 4

#5. Satisfied - with your blindness John 3:19

#6. Incapable, helpless - you can't fix it! Rom. 3:20

#7. In need - of saving and a Savior (who was our substitute)

Without which,
#8. Doomed - (appointed to ....) eternal punishment, torment

Meanwhile, to top it off:
#9. Labeled - "sinner" while Christian neighbor is labeled "Saint". Also, dead in sin, insensitive to the Spirit, servant of Satan....

ALL THIS in a culture that:
A. values positive thinking
B. seeks to build self-esteem through verbal applause

So..... (again) Why are people offended by the Gospel?


Concerning the offensive side of the gospel --- Some things to Recognize and Remember.

#1. Recognize the Offense (within the message, legitimate

#2. Remember the Source. (of the offensive message)
ie: Christ who A. Backed the message with miracles - especially the resurrection
and B. taught about Father God of love, mercy, self sacrifice, etc.

#3. Recognize the Purpose (of the offending message)
Rom. 3:20 John 3:17

#4. Remember the Charge (concerning the message. ie: Examine it - the issue is not whether you like it. It's based on: Is it true?
Embrace it.
Proclaim it. You don't have to be a jerk to proclaim the Gospel - all of it - good and bad.

#5. Remember the message is Non-Negotiable. It is not ours to edit or alter. Again, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not.

#6. Remember the Rest of the Message. ie: the "good news" side of the Gospel
Point being: do a balanced presentation - don't neglect either side.

#7. Remember Your Partner in Proclamation. ie: the Holy Spirit. You alone cannot persuade, convict, convert anyone.

Rom. 1:16, 17 ?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Atonement: Salvation, Sanctification and Free Choice

Today's lesson is about the Gospel. Rom. 1:16

-why must man be saved?
-what does it mean to be saved?
-how can man be saved?
-why did Jesus have to die?
-What exactly happens at salvation?
-why do Christians continue to struggle?
-Being disciples, making disciples and ambassadorship.

The answers to these questions are real—that is they are not just “because that’s what God said” type answers.

-we are real, and our life and choices really matter: to both God and man! Our nature had to be changed form selfish to holy and Jesus really did have to suffer the punishment and death for our sins if we were going to be saved!

The atonement or atonement theory attempts to provide answers to the questions listed above. Atonement means reconciliation, Christ's atonement was therefore the means of reconciling humanity with God.

I. Why must man be saved? Matt. 10:28 and James 2:26

Summary: Man has a bad heart and the heart is of ultimate importance!
-Man’s Sin Nature or Bad Heart resulted in spiritual death, which means it is impossible for him to have a relationship with God. It also resulted in all men sinning: Paul says for all have sinned! and in Romans 6:23 Paul says, the wages of sin is death and eternal punishment: mankind is in a bad way!

Biblical Text highlighting the importance of the heart—i.e., the soul’s ultimate motivation:
Matt. 15:8-9
Matt. 15:19-20
Jer. 17:9

II. What does it mean to be saved?
1. Man must be restored to proper place before God and furthermore must be able to maintain that place.
2. Three necessary requirements for salvation:
a. The damaged soul must be repaired.
-the damaged soul is incapable of having a relationship with God.
b. The sin penalty must be paid.
-Note that Jesus’ sinless life not only allowed him to suffer for our sins but also allowed humanity—through Jesus—to merit eternity with God. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death and that the lost will be eternally separated from God: sin requires eternal punishment, or the equivalent, for the sins of each person.
c. Free choice must be maintained.
-salvation must entail restoring man to the original state — after initial creation and that was a state of holiness with an ability to make free choices that have real consequences.

III. How can man be saved?
1. What can be done to fix the damaged soul?
a. First, a creature cannot choose to fix its nature.
-“For the chooser is what is broken”
b. Nature is prior to choice. Therefore choices are result of nature, not a means by which a nature can be fixed.
c. Only the Creator can re-create or fix a nature: the person with a sin nature is powerless to do anything about it; he must rely entirely on the grace of his Creator God to fix the nature. Eph. 2:8, 9
2. How can the sin penalty be paid?
a. It cannot be paid by a sinner keeping the law.
-Important: keeping the law—or proper behavior—cannot be used to satisfy an instance of breaking the law.
i. Example: When a person runs a red light, he or she cannot argue for innocence based on the fact that they had stopped at all the other red lights.
ii. Example: A murderer may not offer to the court an argument for his innocence such as that even though I killed this person; I allowed all the other people to live.
iii. Galatians 2:2
b. Only someone who has no sin can die for sin.
-see above the brief discussion on how a person must always keep all the law and cannot use keeping the law as a means for “making up” for an instance of breaking the law.
3. How can our free choice to sin — which must result in eternal punishment — be maintained, yet God not have to punish us?
-Jesus suffers the equivalent of eternal punishment vicariously for us.

IV. Why did Jesus have to die?
1. First note that scripture indicates there was no other way.
a. Matthew 26:39
b. Luke 22:42
2. The death and suffering of the second person of the Trinity, if not absolutely necessary, would have to be considered a terrible act instead of the greatest display of love.
3. Jesus was the only person who had not sinned.
-The lack of sin made it possible for Jesus to pay for our sins and to merit eternity in heaven.
4. The necessity of the Incarnation:
a. Why the second person of the Trinity took on a human nature:
i. The virgin birth and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit provided for the sinless human nature of Jesus.
ii. To live a perfect life in order to merit our perfect standing before God and to suffer and die for our sins.
iii. So that he could suffer and die for our sinful choices.
-The Second Person, in his divine nature alone, could not suffer or die—for a perfect immutable person cannot die.
iv. Much more could and needs to be said about the incarnation, but that is beyond the scope of this lesson.

V. What exactly happens at salvation?
a. Through grace by faith we understand we are lost and in need of salvation and ask God to save us. - Eph. 2:8, 9
b. Then instantaneously, God through the Holy Spirit repairs our damaged soul making it reoriented to God. We are now a new creature in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit:
i. 2 Cor. 5:17
ii. Galatians 6:15
c. By the atoning sacrifice of Jesus our sins are paid for:
i. Romans 4:7-8
ii. Romans: 8:1
d. Holy Spirit now — in some way — dwells with us. He is our guarantee of continuing salvation, and our helper. (Certainly there is much more to be said concerning the role of the Holy Spirit in both the life of the Christian and non-Christian, however that is beyond the scope of this lesson.)
e. Note that our decisions still result in ultimate consequences: that is, Jesus suffered the consequences—punishment and death—our sinful choices merited.
f. The saved person is now in right standing soulishly and judicially: that is our sin nature has been repaired and our sin debt has been paid.
g. We also now merit eternal life with God, due to Jesus’ living a perfect life. That is Jesus atoning sacrifice didn't just take care of the negative aspects of our sinful nature and sinful choices, but also positively, earned us eternity with God.

VI. Given our new nature and standing before God: why do Christians still struggle with sin issues? Romans 7:19-24 Paul struggles.
1. Although God gives us a new heart, he does not reformat our mind.
-we still have sinful thoughts and habits that must be dealt with.
2. Salvation is instantaneous: sanctification is a process.
3. Salvation is by grace alone: sanctification involves our effort.
4. We must put on the full armor of God.
a. It starts with salvation, but it does not end there.
b. We seem to have many spiritual streakers: they have put on the helmet of salvation, but nothing else. 
5. Romans 12:2
6. Proverbs 4:23
a. Do your best to maintain innocence, stay away from sinfulness.
b. Philippians 4:8

God loves you and has provided a means for your salvation.
If you are saved, he has provided means for your sanctification.
* Note: 3 necessary requirements for mankind to be of ultimate importance—or value:
1. Man must have God as Creator and Ultimate standard.
a. We must have a Creator
b. God is an eternal, immutable perfect being. This makes him the standard or measure for all lesser beings.
c. The creatures that are most like God are the most valuable being—e.g., humans are more valuable than dogs.
2. Man must be immortal.
a. If humanity lasts only for a time, then ultimately we are not valuable. If each person passes out of existence at death; then there is no ultimate meaning.
3. Our decisions must really matter—that is mankind's choices must result in ultimate consequences. Or it could be stated, that our Ultimate Destination must be decided by our free choice.
a. The question of election or predestination might be raised against this point.
b. It seems clear in scripture that our choices are real and have consequences.
c. Also, I believe that God’s acts of election do not have to be made to contradict with the fact that man has complete freedom to make “real” choices.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Orthodox View of the Fall

presented by Pat Brown, Youth Pastor

Introductory Questions:
Why is the world such a confusing place?
Why is there so much trouble in relationships - ie: divorce, enmity, confusion....
Why is there so much evil in the world?
Why must we be saved and why is it that only Jesus can save?
Finally, for Christians in particular, why do we still do bad things, lack contentment and understanding in our lives? Rom. 7:10-24

(The Christian contention is that Christianity holds the answers to these questions and that no other religion does.)


I. The Dual Nature of Humanity.
A. Physical Body
1. The fact that we have a physical body is not disputed.
2. The physical body is a distinct substance, having its own distinct properties.
Note: the physical body will be revived - resurrected - and be eternally connected with the soul.

B. Immaterial soul
1. Biblical texts proving the soul:
Matt. 10:28
Rev. 6:9

2. Biblical Texts proving the spirit:
Luke 8:55
Acts 7:59
James 2:26
3. Definition of the soul:
a. the soul or spirit is the non-physical, rational substance in which the rational faculties - intellect, will, and affections - are grounded
b. the soul/spirit is immortal and survives the death of the physical body.
Biblical support for intermediate state: 11 Cor. 5:8
11 Peter 1:13-14

4. Definition of intellect - or mind- will and affections
a. Intellect: the faculty of the soul that knows, deliberates, or thinks and assents to the truth.
b. Will: the faculty of the soul that provides it the appetite or desires needed to make decisions - the inclination; the orientation of the soul towards a particular end or goal.
Note: the will must be inclined to the Holy or inclined to self: it cannot be neutral.
c. Affections: the emotions

II. The Created State of Adam and Eve

A. All of God's creation was good. Gen. 1:31
1. Adam and Eve were able to sin or not sin.
2. They had perfect knowledge and relationship with God.
3. This is due to the fact that their hearts were directed toward God - the ultimate good.

B. They were created in God's image: Gen. 1:26-27
1. We are intrinsically valuable.
a. We are personal: intellect, will, emotions
b. We are eternal: in that God has chosen to sustain us for eternity.
c. We make moral decisions that have ultimate consequences.
2. Humanity is a species. God created male and female. From them comes ALL humanity.
a. Different from angels - they were probably created individually
b. We inherit our traits from Adam and Eve.

III. Adam and Eve's Souls after the Fall

A. Their wills were now inclined to selfishness
B. Adam and Eve's choice to sin was a selfish choice; an attempt to make themselves like God.
C. Their souls no longer were inclined toward holiness and their relationship with God was severed.

IV. Humanity's Soul after the Fall

A. Adam and Eve's sin resulted in what we call the sin nature. IMPORTANT: The change in Adam and Eve's nature was inheritable. In other words, the change in their nature was such that it would be passed on to all humanity.

B. Summary of effects resulting from the fall:
Adam and Eve fell; sin and, therefore, evil entered the world; all humans were subsequently born with a sin nature.
T his means that after death, depending on their state at the time of their death, they will -- a: go to heaven, or b: the will go to hell.

C. Biblical support for the fall of humanity.
1. Romans 5:12
2. Romans 5:15
3. Romans 5:16
4. Romans 5:18
5. Romans 3:10
6. Jer. 17:9
7. Ezek. 36:25-27

V. Nature Talk

All of humanity is born with a sin nature. Inclined to selfishness. All that we do is for selfish reasons, and therefore all that we do is wrong. We are born with a defective will.

B. We sin because we have a sin nature:
1. The sin does not cause the nature, but the nature causes the sin.
2. NOTE: God is perfect due to His perfect nature. His actions did not cause Him to become perfect. It is His perfect nature that causes His perfect actions.

C. Humanity is born in a state, such that it cannot NOT sin.
The sin nature makes in impossible for humans not to sin.
2. Due to the fact that nature determines the action, and a creature cannot determine its nature, the only way to fix a defective nature is by the power of the Creator God.

NOTE: We all choose to sin, and therefore have intentional sin on our record for which we will be judged -- unless we have accepted Jesus' payment for our sins.

Next Sunday - continuation with: What we can do to fix this.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can Make an Eternal Difference

IF Jesus did and said what's recorded, THEN we can know some things about: person of Christ, our salvation, right and wrong, judgment, eternal state.

IF....... THEN...... YOU CAN MAKE AN ETERNAL DIFFERENCE. John 14:12 This is puzzling, but if it's TRUE, you can make a difference. The same way Jesus made a difference, we can make a great difference. We have the same opportunities.

QUESTION: Is this true or just good preaching material????

ANSWER: Statistics show this to be true.
#1. Past Growth - on a worldwide scale - in AD 100 - there were 360 non-Christians for every 1 Christian.
In AD 1000 - that ratio was 220 to 1
In AD 1500 - that ratio was 69 to 1
In AD 1900 - " " " 27 to 1
In 1992 - that ratio was 2 to 1 (every third person was a Christian)
(33.4% of the world's population named Christianity as their religion or religion of preference)

In the U.S. the ratio is 1 non-Christian to 4 Christians which is 80%

#2. Current Growth - According to an article entitled THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY WORLDWIDE, published August 27th, 2005: Quote by Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University.
in part, Places considered unreachable several decades ago have now become hot spots for Christian growth, and hundreds of new churches are being planted each month in those places. Some examples cited were the country of Nepal, China, and Benin in Africa. As the media have striven in recent years to present Islam in a more sympathetic light, they have tended to suggest that Islam, not Christianity, is the rising faith of Africa and Asia, the authentic or default religion of the world's huddled masses. But Christianity is not only survivng in the global south, it is enjoying a radical revival, a return to scriptural roots. WE are living in revolutionary times," Mr. Jenkins said.

No matter how bad things may seem here at home, God is at work, and in the end, it is God to whom every knee will bow, and every tongue confess.

#3. Expected Growth - in a book titled GOD Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Will Change the World - written by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge - one an atheist and one a Catholic.
What's going on? The authors assert that the surge of religion is driven by competition and choice.: It is not just that religion is thriving in many modernizing countries; it is also that religion is succeeding in harnessing the tools of modernity to propagate its message. The very things that were supposed to destroy religion --d democracy and markets, technology and reason -- are combining to make it stronger.

QUESTION: Why is it so difficult to see the growth? the difference?

Here are some reasons:
#1. Growth is slow, incremental, and hard to see. Example: a tree growing over hundreds of years. Doesn't look that different from year to year, but in fact, is changing.

#2. We see so many failures! - within Christianity. within the church. within self!
We will see failures: "for all have sinned and come short"

#3. We're too easily swayed by these failures. We see the bad stuff and it distorts our whole picture of what's happening.

We are so controlled by current events that -
#4. Our personal contributions are hard to see. Examples: the prophet Jeremiah, and Martin Luther.
The difference IS being made.
#5, The result of our successes is: A. not immediate B. impossible to measure.

#6. Much of the difference will only be revealed in heaven. Matt. 25:34-40 "when???"

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Afterlife: A Biblical View

Continuation of the IF/THEN Series.

The concept of an "afterlife" is inherent and universal. There are various views of what it is like.
But: can we KNOW?? and can we PREPARE?? We can know a lot of things about afterlife; not everything, but a LOT of things.

The Christian view is that we CAN know (some) .... a. through Revelation
b. through Christ's resurrection (over death)
c. through the Apostles' record as they walked with Him both pre-resurrection and after the resurrection.

Therefore: IF Jesus did and said what's recorded, THEN we CAN know some things about afterlife AND we CAN PREPARE!!
Luke 16:19-31 - there are only two places - heaven and hell. There is no other place.

(there are hundreds of New Testament references)
A. the dwelling place of God.
B. Jesus came from there and has returned to there and is waiting there until His 2nd. coming
C. A place of unbelievable glory and splendor Rev. 4:1-2 Thus John's descriptions.
D. A place beyond our comprehension or imagination. This is the reason for the poetic imagery used to describe the indescribable. 1 Cor. 2:9
E. A place of "Rightness" Rev. 21:3-4 It will be what life ought to be.
F. A place prepared for us. Matt. 25:31-34

Question: Will all go there? Answer: Matt. 7:21-23

HELL (there are fewer references but most are directly from Christ) There are only two references in the New Testament to Hell not given by Jesus.
A. A terrible place Mk. 9:43-48 Rev. 14:9-11
B. Prepared for Satan and his minions Matt. 25:41 Was not prepared for us. Heaven was prepared for us. There is no where else to go.
C. the final abode of those who reject God and Christ. Rev. 20:10, 14-15
D. as eternal as heaven. Matt. 25:46 (the same word, "eternal" used as the adjective)

A typical response is: "I'm OK with the doctrine of heaven, but I don't like the doctrine of hell."
Answer: I'm glad to hear that! Wouldn't be a very good person if you were OK with the doctrine of hell.

1. our belief in heaven is based on the SAME source or authority as our belief in hell.

Point being: how can you accept Christ's and the Apostles' teachings on heaven and not on hell?
Do these men have less knowledge than us? do we know more that they do? do they have less love for God and man? did they misrepresent Christ? Rom. 9:2-3 or did they lack our capacity for mercy? The Apostles' love for God and other people far surpasses any of ours!!!

2. truth is not determined by preference. (or we'd eliminate cancer) It's a stupid idea that we get that if we don't like it, it can't be true.

So.... can we know? what afterlife looks like?

Answer: IF Jesus did, said, etc. ... THEN we can know some.

What about....."Can we prepare?" Answer: YES!! Note: Bridge Illustration below
John 14:1-6

This is not ALL the preparation, but it DOES equal the most important and vital step.

Just knowledge of the bridge won't get you there. YOU must cross the bridge by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Animations from

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Final Judgment

Continuation of the IF/THEN series.
Eccles. 3:11 - "set eternity in the heart"

Ed calls this a doctrine, inherently known, scripturally confirmed, traditional accepted. It became a part of orthodoxy.

Others also agree that the fact of final judgment is inherently known, universally accepted.
BUT, what's it LOOK like??? (the concept is "we're here, we're gonna die, then judgment")
Justice will be done.

IF Jesus did and said the things he did and said, and taught and revealed as recorded.....
THEN: 1. we can be certain of judgment
2. we can know some important and specific aspects of judgment
3. we can prepare for judgment

I. The Fact of Judgment - (throughout the scripture, especially in the New Testament)
Rev. 20:11-15 - end times. God is absolute judge, there will be no argument

II. The Need for Judgment (why not forget and forgive??)
1. to see justice done!! Rev. 6:9-11
2. to fully glorify (vindicate) God
4. to fulfill His promises to us
God is more than a merciful God. he is a just God. God will meet the need for justice.

III. The Nature of Judgment (some glimpses)
1. according to truth (God's standard - not ours) Rev. 19:1-2
2. with Christ as the judge John 5:24-29
3. it's personal - (is a national judgment) but I will answer for me.
4. revealing Rom. 2:16 - will reveal the secrets of the heart.
5. thorough Matt. 12:36-37 (we will answer for every careless word spoken)
6. public??? (the New Testament pictures judgment this way) BUT, we're all going to be in the same boat. Won't be listening to another's judgment.

IV. The Scope of Judgment (equals ALL)
1. unbelievers -
2. angels 1 Cor. 6:2-3 (good & bad?? - our part.)
3. believers. 2 Cor. 5:10 Rom. 14:9-10, 12

BUT NOTE: an enormous, essential aspect of judgment has already been executed. At the CROSS!!
2 Cor. 5:21 1 Pet. 2:24 Gal. 3:13 Isa. 53:5 - the scapegoat! Jesus paid the debt in our place and carried the debt away.

Note #1: This does NOT mean no judgment for believers.
It does mean no fear. No condemnation. This is NOT an issue of salvation or eternal destiny.
1 Cor. 3:13-15

Note #2. Judgment need not be all NEGATIVE (judgment can mean praise, commendation, rewards)
#1. patience (God will make everything right in His time) This does NOT mean inaction! - we are commanded to help the weak, seek justice, etc.
#2. preparation a. accepting Christ
b. living right.
#3. evangelism (in the broadest sense of Kingdom building) - to encourage and persuade men to righteous living. 2 Cor. 5:11
#4. thanksgiving - Christ paid for you, for me! mercy & grace!
#5. commitment - to Him, His Word, His teaching, etc.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Transforming Christ

Continuation in the IF/THEN series. Acts 4:1-13 Peter and John were CHANGED.

Question: Does Christ change lives?
Evidence: 1. Biblical accounts - disciples, Peter, Paul, etc.
2. Historical accounts - people of every nation/generation/race/culture
3. Personal testimonies - YOURSELF!!
4. Social impact - Example: the book "Under the Influence".

On one hand, not everyone who encounters Christ is transformed.
However, MANY are!!!!

Definition/Description of "Transformed". It's hard to be specific (there are too many scenarios and situations)

BUT, a general definition of Christian transformation includes:

1. Change
2. Change for the better
3. Change beyond the surface - the way you think (head), the way you feel (heart), the way you act (hands)
4. change that affects others
A. individuals
B. society/culture Jesus called it being salt and light
5. change that is attributed to CHRIST
(an encounter, a relationship, His teachings, etc.)

Objections - too general .... we need some model, measure, standard, goal

So...... transformation is INTO......
1. what I ought to be - not what I think or society thinks
2. what I was created to be - not be like other Christians or someone else or Jesus
3. what was modeled by Christ 2 Cor. 3:18
God's intent is to change us into what He wants us to be modeled after Christ.

Observations on transformation
#1. transformation is a process 2 Cor. 3:18 - present, continuous tense
"being transformed" - it's an ongoing process

#2. it is synonymous with growth 1 Pet. 2:2 2 Pet. 3:18
therefore, it is slow, incremental, easily interrupted

#3. it is clearly God's plan for us. Rom. 12:2

#4. it never reaches it's conclusion in this life. Therefore: example Paul - Phil. 3:12 Phil. 1:6

#5. Christians will experience complete transformation in the next life. 1 John 3:2

Ingredients (elements) in Christian transformation. Combination of:
1. the grace of God - His calling, wooing, persuading, etc.
2. the acceptance of Christ - asking Christ into your heart - accepting Him as your Lord and Savior
3. the work of the Holy Spirit - Gal. 5:22-23 Christ in you the hope of glory
4. the efforts of the believer - transformation is partly our doing. God will not transform me against my will.
Eph. 4:22-25 - our part is put off, put on, Eph. 4:28-29, 32 2Pet. 1:5-7 - make every effort
5. the submission of the believer - let Christ be Lord of life
6. the continuity of the believer 0- keep on keeping on
7. the knowledge of His will - the Word/revelation - can't be transformed if don't know what to be transformed into.

On one hand some transformation is available apart from Christ as Savior and Lord
Therefore true transformation is the result of 1. Christ within (heart)
2. Christ upon (throne)

As always - the decision is yours. Accept??? Enthrone?? Adjust???? Continue???

Monday, August 24, 2009

Situational Ethics

series: IF/THEN

Last week - we CAN know right and wrong.
Atheists say there is nothing outside the universe.
Agnostics say there is something outside the universe but we can't know what it is.
The rest (includes Christians) say that there is a living Creator as described in the Bible and we can know Him.

This week - Situational Ethics.
Situational ethics means determining, adjusting, applying moral truth depending on the situation.

Question: is this even legitimate for Christians? How can this have any place in Christian life/
Ex. 1:15-20 and others.


#1. Right and wrong are determined by God not by a situation. Truth is determined by God. He tells us what to do in particular situations. Our part is to discover and discern the truth.

#2. If there is a moral question, there is a correct moral answer. God knows it! We might not.

#3. Secondary issues are (always) measured by Primary Principles. Principle is Value of Man
1 Cor. 8:8-9, 12-13 Food sacrificed to idols. Ethical questions determined by the situation. The foundation is essential. Meat offered to idols is not the issue, but loving your brother is essential in God's Will.

#4. A moral law can be superseded (only) by a higher moral law. Acts 5:27-29
Example: gravity is overruled by speed and thrust of a rocket.
The issue is NOT defiance but obedience.
Example: receive a call that there's a bomb in the school. You race to school breaking all speed laws and school speed limit laws because the children's lives are more important.

5 Valuable resources for determining moral truth.
1. The Bible 2 Tim. 3:16-17 The Bible is the record of the revelation of God's Will.
2. The Holy Spirit John 16:13 He will NOT dictate, but WILL guide
3. The Church - corporate wisdom
4. Tradition - it is not always right, but it ought to be considered.
G. K. Chesterton: "Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who happen to be walking about."
5. Sanctified common sense (Christian reasoning) - we must think and reason. The answer is there, our job is to discover and discern.

1. Determine to accept and honor truth when it's discovered.
2. Beware your greatest enemy in discerning truth - is YOU! Are you pursuing truth, or what you think is right.
3. As you search for truths, don't miss the TRUTH. John 14:6 Matt. 16:26

If you miss Christ, all else means nothing.