Monday, September 23, 2013

Four Areas of Christian Expertise (Patrick Brown, Youth Pastor)

Four areas in which Christians should be experts or at least in training to BE experts.
#1.  God and His Kingdom
#2.  How to enter the Kingdom
#3.  How to Live in the Kingdom
#4.  Things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (things that keep people out or cause them to leave)

A.  Problems with Christianity in general:
     #1.  True Christianity may not be growing
     #2.  The nation we claim is Christian doesn't seem so Christian.
     #3.  Many people are choosing other religions or no religion at all.
     #4.  The people professing Christianity often can only be identified by the words "I'm a Christian" -
not by their understanding of REAL TRUTH, or TRUE TRUTH, or due to their intentional efforts to advance the KINGDOM of GOD.
Therefore, many who profess to be Christian probably are NOT in the Kingdom at all.

B.  Christians in general lack training.
     #1.  Christians should be highly trained, but we probably are not. 
            Examples:  a.)  Nurses' training - 1 hour of lecture requires 6 hours of study. 
                  b)  Jesus was highly trained - waited until 30ish to start His ministry
                  c)  the disciples were highly trained - Jesus taught them for 3 years

C.  Hopefully all will agree with the 4 LISTED things, although certainly could be more, you could add others, the ones listed are fairly general. 
Some require much study, training and practice.
ALL require discipline and hard work.
3 of the 4 are derived almost exclusively from Scripture (the last requires expertise on the Bible AND information found outside the Bible)
Therefore, must be experts concerning the Scriptures and other things.

Assess yourself:  Are you an expert in these areas?  Are you training to be an expert in the areas you are lacking?

A Brief Look at each of the four:

II.  The Four areas of expertise (they are all interconnected)  
       A.  God and His Kingdom:  what it is and why it's important
             1.  Primary message of Scripture - Gen. 1:1 and it was message of Jesus:
                  a.  Mark 1:14-14 - proclaims Kingdom is near
                  b.  Matt. 4:23 - proclaims the good news of the Kingdom (and heals the sick)
                  c.  Luke 4:42-43 - this is why I came
            2.  There is a God
            3.  What He is like and what He expects of His creation
            4.  He is the Creator and rightful ruler of His creation
            5.  He does have a Kingdom and wants all humanity in that Kingdom - (that the Kingdom has come IS the Gospel)

      B.  How to Enter the Kingdom
            1.  Communicating the Gospel of Christ, ie.  the truth that Jesus IS the Christ - the KING of
                 GOD'S  KINGDOM
                a.  Only one way to ENTER into the Kingdom
                b.  It is a kingdom:  there is a King and 'dom' or domain
                c.  You enter by recognizing the King as King and doing what is required by the King to be                         a member of  His domain or dominion
          2.  Knowledge is key: 
               a.  Knowledge = justified, true, belief
               b.  to be justified in knowing something, certain criteria must be met.
         3.  Communicating that Jesus is the Christ in an objective SENSE vs. a SUBJECTIVE sense: 
Two types of truth claims:
              a.  Subjective truth:  I think Chocolate almond is the best ice cream
                   i.  what is this claim about?  ME, the subject
                   ii.  This truth finds its justification in "me" or in a person
                   iii.  This type of truth is not dependent on evidence out there in the external world.
                  iv.  "Matter of Taste"
             b.  Objective truth:  "Insulin can lower blood sugar", "Jesus is the true King of the world"
                  i.  True, irregardless of how we feel about it
                  ii.  This truth claim finds its justification in the external
                 iii.  This type of truth depends on the FACTS of the real world
                 iv.  This is a "Matter of Truth" , not taste
            c.  How Jesus and the disciples communicated the Gospel:
                 i.  Luke 7:22 - Jesus points to His miracles
                 ii.  Acts 2:2-24 - Peter
                iii.  1 Cor. 15:3-6 - Paul
                iv.  Acts 17 and 18 - Paul and Apollos
           d.  This = major area of concern for Christianity today:  have reduced the Gospel to a subjective truth claim - or at best an objective claim with only subjective proof!
 This primarily subjective gospel may be a false gospel??????
           e.  How to fix this?
                - provide objective proof for an objective claim - just like apostles did!

  C.  How to live in the Kingdom
      1.  Jesus had specific teachings and He taught the people who wrote the New Testament
      2.  We should live a life based upon the teachings of The Christ and His apostles
      3.  Being disciples and ambassadors -
                 Knowing Christ's teachings and communicating those teachings to the world
      4.  Major focus of the New Testament Epistles is how to live in the Kingdom
      5.  Need to be expert int eh Bible - ie:  we need to have a good understanding of the Bible, which requires a proper interpretation - to do and teach this.

D.  Things that set themselves against the knowledge of God:  ie.  things that are against the building of the Kingdom, Philosophies, ideas and that cause people to not enter the Kingdom or that cause someone to leave the Kingdom.  This should also include misconceptions Christians have concerning the faith.
       1.  2 Cor. 10:3-5
       2.  Spiritual warfare
       3.  False gospels/religions
       4.  Religious pluralism
       5.  Moral relativism

III.  Closing
      A.  are you intentional about being excellent at your faith?
      B.  Are you already an expert?
     C.  Are you training to be an expert?
     D.  It takes much effort to learn to do something well - Jesus said "count the cost"
     E.  The world desperately needs people who are trained and ready to communicate the Truth of Christ



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Christian Reward(s)

Definition:  Reward - something given in return for good deeds/service/work (compensation/ positive retribution!)

On one hand - very close to the idea of payment/wages
BUT --- carries with it the idea that:
        A)  the deed was not mandated or absolutely required!
        B)  the payment was not mandated or absolutely required!

In the Biblical concept - Rewardhalfway between - gift and payment.

ie:  God does not Absolutely demand these services/lifestyle/works
However, He grants substantial blessings on His people when they serve well and live well.

We will look at:  Rewarded FOR what?
                         Rewarded WITH what?
                         Rewarded WHEN?

Rewards FOR what? 
 For:  "acts of righteousness" - Matt. 6:1
          Examples:  generosity - Matt. 6:2-4
                           prayer -       Matt. 6:5-6
                           fasting -       Matt. 6:16-18

For:  faithfulness, hard work, obedience, righteous living
Examples:  hospitality - Matt. 10:40-42
                 faithful witness - Matt. 5:11-12
                 steadfastness - Heb. 10:35 - Christian life is not always roses and fun
                 service (to Christ/to others) - Matt. 25:31-40

The concept of rewards is throughout Scripture.  Gen. 15:1    Rev. 22:12 - Christian rewards *not to be confused with salvation)

Rewarded WITH what?  * hard to say specifically!!!
Crown of life - (James)   Righteousness (Paul)  Glory (Peter)
Revelation:  (7 Chapters)
       a)  the right to eat of the Tree of Life
       b)  some of the hidden manna
       c)  authority over the nations
       d)  the right to sit with Me on my throne

So, on one hand, it's hard to say, however, clearly includes His PRAISE and possibly included PROMOTION. - Matt. 25:19-21

Rewarded WHEN?  
Mostly then and there.  - rewards in heaven - justice (everything will be made right)
BUT, sometimes here and now - 2 Cor. 9:10-11.   (no promise that if "give $10.00 will get $100.00 back)

NOTE:  This is NOT to be confused with Gifts of Grace!!!! (salvation, justice, forgiveness, cleansing, redemption, reconciliation, eternal life...) - all these are GIFTS from God.  Rom. 4:1-5

Two classic passages about Christian rewards:
#1.  2 Cor. 5:10 - Bema (of Christ) - ALL will appear to receive what is due for things done in the body whether good or bad - Rom. 14:10, 12  (Bema of God)

#2.  1 Cor. 3:12-15 - (cross ref.  2 John 8) - will show works for the type they are

Still - we are "obligated by Grace"
Should be - motivated by Love - for Him, His people, one another
BUT - the doctrine (and system) of Rewards = God's design/doing
Therefore:  no shame to be spurned on or strengthened by the Hope of Reward(s)

Should be spurned on when sacrificing for righteousness, because He says will be compensated, will not lose reward!
Col. 3:23-24 - It is the Lord God we serve.

All these are promises to Christians!!  They are not to those people who do good works, live good life, etc., but have never accepted the free gift of salvation.

You cannot do the rewards without accepting the free gifts!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Christian Responsibility

We've looked at Christian Hope, Christian, Calling, and Christian Experience.
As well as the blessings, privileges, favors that come with them. - Example:  Eph. 1:7-8 - 'lavished'

BUT NOTE:  with great privilege comes great Responsibility!! 
1 Pet. 1:1-2, 2:9, 10-12, Eph. 2:8-10, John 15:16
Privilege is a gift of God.  We're created to do good works.  Chosen, called, graced for obedience.

Point:  if you're a Christian, God has chosen you, called you, granted you special blessings, privileges.  BUT, with special privilege comes special responsibility!

Privileged with stuff?  (material, monetary) - then responsible to share.  1 John 3:17
Privileged with the Gospel?  - then responsible to share - Matt. 28:19-20 - Great Commission
Privileged with giftedness?  then responsible to share - 1 Cor. 12:7

Words of Jesus:  Matt. 10:7-8,  Luke 12:48 - from everyone who has much, much will be required

REPEAT!!!  with the great privilege of being called, chosen, blessed, graced, comes great responsibility!! 

Because we are called, we are obligated to:
1)  live a godly life (previous texts)
2)  forgive others - Col. 3:12-13
3)  care for our family - 1 Tim. 5:8
4)  pull our weight - 2 Thess. 3:10
5)  be a good steward - Matt. 25 - parable of the talents
Many more examples could be named

Your Christian Obligation must be:
#1.  Self-imposed - God defines it, doesn't demand it.  - still have own choice
We are called, invited, expected to be responsible, BUT it is not required, decreed 
We are "Obligated by grace". - 1 Cor. 15:9-10 - to all people, Rom. 1:14 - because of grace given

#2.  (occasionally) Re-imposed.
It's easy to drop, drift, ignore, deny - especially when worn out. 

#3.  Carefully selected
On one hand, not responsible for all things, all people
However, are responsible for some things, some people

#4.  Properly directed - by Christ, not people
ie:  your obligation first and foremost is NOT to people but to Christ!!!
John 21 - "love me??  feed mine"

This responsibility, obligation to Jesus as Lord...... can be shirked, BUT it cannot be denied.

So......... John 21:20-22 - to respond to Him as Lord.  This is our Christian Responsibility - "Obligation by Grace"

Monday, September 2, 2013

Christianity - the Big Picture

The Whole Story - compare to a jigsaw puzzle - puzzle pieces vs the box cover which shows the big picture.

 Begin with:
The beginning WE know (God has ALWAYS been) - Gen. 1:1, 1:31 - creation is "very good"
End with:  Rev. 21:1, 4-5 - re-creation necessary????

Question:  Why?  What happened?  What need is there of a New heaven and earth?
Answer:  THE FALL (Gen. 3)

1)  Separation from God - communion was shattered
2)  tension with one another - hiding, guilt
3)  conflict within themselves - ashamed, etc.
4)  disruption of nature - Gen. 3:17-19

We inherited this!!

Between the fall and the new heaven and earth:
                      the history of fallen man in a fallen world              
creation                                                                                         re-creation
    the story (the Bible Story) of God dealing with fallen man in a fallen world

Today we look at a few significant events in that story - a few Key elements - some of the puzzle pieces that stand out!!

After the fall and before the new heaven and earth.

#1.  The Choosing of a people - Deut. 7:6-8
through whom He would:
A)  Reveal Himself - His nature, character, will through miracles, events, law, prophets, etc.
B.  Send a Savior - to fix what's broken
hence.... the Old Testament focus on the Jewish people!!

(sprinkled throughout the Old Testament =
#2.  The Promise of this Savior
Redeemer, deliverer, a leader, champion ...
Anointed by God for the task => "Messiah, Christ"
Gen. 3:15  Deut. 18:15  Isa. 9:6-7 - one of many prophecies concerning the coming Savior

#3.  The Sending (arrival) of the Savior
New Testament -- Christmas Story -- life and ministry of Christ

#4.  The Work of the Savior
A)  the 2nd. Adam - Paul calls Him this
B)  the Redeemer - paid the price/purchased back ..... fixed with His death
C)  the Restorer - of ALL that was lost!!!

On one hand, the work of Christ was NOT the immediate correction of all that's wrong,
But .. does => the beginning of the correction, the necessary payment for correction, the Assurance of correction.  (ie:  the Christian 'hope') - Rom. 8:19-21

#5.  The choosing of a new people - the church
Matt. 16:18 - called out group
Eph. 3:10  - to reveal God - to proclaim Christ - as the ambassadors, proclaimers, etc.

#6.  The church age
On one hand, we WAIT for the fulfillment, conclusion
On the other hand, we don't wait IDLE - Matt. 28:19-20 = the Great Commission

#7.  The Return of the Savior - end of the church age --
to establish His Lordship, leadership, Kingdom - Rev. 19:11-16

So....... Now new heaven and earth??  Not quite.... 1 more event/puzzle piece
#8.  Judgment - the road forks before the new heaven and earth.

One fork leads to the new heaven and new earth - the Presence of God
The other fork leads to Hell/Gehenna/Lake of Fire - the Absence of God - "2nd death"


-- you have a place in this timeline - piece of the puzzle

-- on one hand - you are heir of the past (no choice)
However, you choose your present and future - which story?  which road?

-- you're not choosing a destination.  BUT, choosing a Person - accept, receive, follow, serve OR
reject, ignore, deny

-- This is NOT the End of the Story - it equals the end of the 1st. Book in the Story/Series.....
Rev. 22:5 - 'unto the ages of the ages .....for eons and eons.....