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.