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.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Can Know Right and Wrong

If Jesus said and did the things he said and did as they were recorded,
if He was more than just a good man, wise teacher, etc.
AND, assuming the honesty and accuracy of the New Testament writers, and proper transmission and translation of those writings,
THEN, we can know right and wrong. (we have a measure/standard by which to determine right and wrong)

Big questions in post-modern society include:
what's right? who knows? How do we determine? Who decides? etc.
regarding: marriage, sex, sexuality, abortion, euthanasia, life support, child discipline, lying, cheating, stealing, war, military service, politics, paying taxes, avoiding taxes, manipulating, taking advantage of, compensating employees, work ethic, charitable giving, drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, dirty jokes, foul language, gossip, talebearing, slander, anger, retaliation, vengeance,
entertainment, ie: movies with foul language, sexual scenes, blasphemous themes, excessive violence; selfish behavior, over-eating, laziness, lustful thoughts, etc.

All these are moral questions we face today.

The questions are not new: John 18:28-38 "What is truth?"

QUESTION: Can we know answers regarding these things?
The atheist says there is no truth. There is nothing outside the physical universe.
The agnostic says there is truth but we can't know it.
Christianity (Biblical/New Testament) says there is something else out there and we can know truth because it has been revealed.

ANSWER: if the opening statements are true, then we CAN know MUCH!! Because we have the record.


Through Revelation and Record method
A. the illustration. God outside and independent from the universe.
B. the incarnation - Heb. 1:1-2 John 18:37 John 1:18
C. the documentation (record) Luke 1:1-4

Some other common methods of determining truth (moral behavior)
1. fabrication - making your own truth
2. assumption - "that's just what I believe" - without examining (has no basis)
3. intuition - That's how I feel
4. preference - that's what I like or what I want to be true
5. pragmatism - that's what works for me
6. tradition - that's what our people have always believed
7. consensus - that's what most people believe

NOTE: the inferiority of these methods compared to Revelation and Record.
QUESTION: what about:
1. reason? ans. a. we have limited knowledge.
b. flawed faculties - Jer. 17:9
2. intuition? If that worked, why would you ever lose in a casino??
3. conscience? this is good, but flawed. 1 Cor. 4:4
4. tradition? just because have always believed has no real foundation
5. consensus? - just because that's what most people believe does not make it accurate and true

These can be used and are valuable complements to revelation and record, BUT they are not the primary tools of determining moral truth..

#1. We have sufficient tools to determine moral truth.
Jesus left us with:
A. much information - issues He did deal with. Sometimes we have to search for the answers.
B. broad principles - Matt. 22:36-40 1 Cor. 8:8, 9, 12
C. the disciples a. to witness His words and what he thought
b. to expound on His words
D. the Holy Spirit - as personal helper, guide, teacher
E. the church (corporate body) - group decisions
F. endorsement in the Old Testament
Point being: by these we can question, examine, and KNOW ..... not all, but much!!!

#2. These rules (laws/moral truths) are eternal rules. True before creation, true after creation.
A. they are NOT arbitrary
B. they ARE absolute - for all people in all times
C. they are very, very consequential - Gal. 6:7-8 They are beneficial if we follow them, detrimental if we don't.

#3. These rules express God's will for your life.
You cannot separate these rules. They are NOT optional. They are not meant to "cramp" your life. John 10:10 Deut. 30:15, 19

#4. Violation of these rules is more than a mistake.
a mistake is: 2+2=5, spelling a word wrong, typo
It's a VIOLATION of the law. A conscious choice to disobey.
Here are some New Testament words: righteous/unrighteous lawful/unlawful godly/ungodly clean/unclean blessing/curse good/evil SIN/TRANSGRESSION/VIOLATION
Violation is NOT oops; it's "I choose to do wrong"

Our Primary Moral Problems

1. Ignorance - don't know what's in the Bible
2. Apathy - don't care what's in the Bible
3. Denial - know what's in there but won't admit it's there.
4. refusal - will not do that - rebellion
5. our sin nature - (inherent tendencies) - born with it.

Therefore: God has given us.......
1. A moral standard - a reliable measure based on Revelation and Record
2. A personal Savior - who came to save us from our sins

BUT: you must decide
you must choose
you must act on your choice(s)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You CAN Know Jesus Is Who He Claimed to Be

When asked about God, Brad Pitt replied:

"I'm probably 20% atheist and 80% agnostic. I don't think anyone really knows. You'll either find out or not when you get there, until then there's no point thinking about it."

Contrast this statement with: Luke 1:1-4 (you CAN know with certainty)
1 John 1:1-3 (so you'll REALLY know)
John 20:30 & 31

QUESTION: Can we know???

Assuming: 1. the honesty and accuracy of New Testament writers..... (and we have every reason TO believe them)
2. the proper transmission of the text.... (with thousands of ancient manuscripts we can be certain)
3. a proper translation of the text...... (again, thousands of ancient manuscripts attest to this)
IF 1-3 are correct, THEN we can know A LOT about what REALLY matters.

If Jesus DID and SAID what's recorded, THEN here are some conclusions:

#1. Jesus was a whole lot more than just a good man, wise teacher, enlightened prophet, chosen instructor. Many people have struggled with this. Examples are Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day: John 5:17 & 18 John 10: 30-33 They accused Him of blasphemy.

Contrast these with:
the Disciples (who were first hand witnesses to the reality of Jesus. They saw His miracles, head His teachings, were at the Mt. of Transfiguration, saw Him crucified, saw Him rise the third day, saw Him ascend in to Heaven.
John 1:1 John 20:28 Phil. 2:5 & 6

#2. He came (among other reasons) to REDEEM us. (buy back from our position in life)
Matt. 1:21 Luke 19:10 Matt. 16:21
Therefore: A. the cross was necessary (redemption required removal)
B. there is no (Biblical) Christianity without the cross. (Christianity is more than insight, counsel, challenge) The cross was ABSOLUTELY necessary.

#3. There is no other way. John 14:6 Acts 4:12
On one hand this raises a LOT of questions. However, the questions DO NOT alter the statements.

#4. We can know these things. Granted, there is a need for faith.
But, note: we have the acts, teachings, testimonies of those who were there, results (2000+ years of world changing from knowing Christ), AND, we have the Holy Spirit. John 16:6-8

#5. These things matter. John 3:16-18 You don't want to wait when you DO know.

BUT: #6. You Must Decide (and merely deciding is not enough.

#7. You Must Choose. Salvation is head, heart, and hands. Rev. 3:20
It is not enough to simply believe. You must act on that belief and "cross the bridge".