Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Elements of a Persevering Faith

The early church = great success and rapid growth which led to intense persecution which led to APOSTASY (falling away).  The persecution led by the Jews first, then spread to the Gentiles

APOSTASY = to abandon, denounce, turn away from one's faith - words used almost exclusively with religion and primarily with the Christian faith.

One one hand, persecution did NOT lead to mass Apostasy - Acts 8:1-4
Example:  quote from Tertullian - "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church".
Far more people stuck to the faith rather than leave it.

On the other hand, some did renounce, turn away, and others were tempted to.  Hence the Book of Hebrews deals almost exclusively with staying with the faith.  The writer understood the Jewish faith, was in all likelihood a Jew.

The problem today is NOT formal apostasy - very few people denounce the Christian faith
The problem IS PRACTICAL APOSTASY! - revert to nominal faith.  No real practice of the faith.  Good example:  King David

THE CAUSE???   Was NOT Persecution.
It was disappointment, discouragement, distraction - Matt. 13:22  A big part of the Christian life is humdrum - in the trenches

         drift away
          wander away
          be drawn away
          turn away
          walk away
          fall away
Common denominator in all these = AWAY!!
The call of Hebrews is 1)  to Persevere  2)  IN THE FAITH  
32% of the world's population identifies with the Christian faith.  roughly 2.2 billion people.  However, how many of those practice the faith?

THE WARNING - Heb. 2"1 - real danger = drifting away

THE INSTRUCTIONS - found throughout the book of Hebrews - Heb. 13:22 at the conclusion of the list.

"Elements of a Persevering Faith"

#1.  CHOICE  (decision) - we choose 
16 times we find "let us" - be careful, hold, approach, go on, consider, encourage, draw

"us" because = group
"let" because = choice!!
Sin my draw you away, BUT not with a hook and line!  nobody drags you into sin.

#2.  ATTENTION - Heb. 2:1  in Deuteronomy - "be careful"  In gospels - "watch out"
Our problem?  The GOOD TIMES!!   Example:  Quote from Samuel Wilkes, 18th century Christian - "A Christian never falls asleep in the fire, or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine."  You don't fall asleep in the fire, you don't fall asleep when the water is coming up over your head, but it is real easy to fall asleep in the sunshine.

#3.  DETERMINATION - which is more than a decision - is a DISCIPLINE.  Example:  contrast deciding to lose weight with determining to lose weight!!

#4.  WORK - "see to it"  "make every effort"  - Heb. 4:11
Paul - Col. 1:29  Peter - 2 Pet. 1:3-5 - make every effort 

#5.  KNOWLEDGE (know how) - the Book of Hebrews is more than inspiration. It = INSTRUCTION!!
it's full of information and how to.

#6.  RECALL - Heb. 10:32-36 - thinking back   Compare to Rev. 2:5  - church at Ephesus

#7.  ASSISTANCE - human assistance - "let us" - "One Another" - doesn't happen along
                               & divine assistance - "Heb. 4:16  (need!!) 

On one hand we all need to recognize the danger!! - 1 Cor. 10:12
However, need not be pessimistic - Heb. 6:9

Closing:  Heb. 13:20-21

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"It's Friday but Sunday's Coming!"

Heard this phrase?  From a sermon preached by Tony Capollo's pastor.    "it's Friday and my Jesus is on the cross".  Catch phrase - "but they don't know ...."  The disciples were in shock, devastated, crushed, etc. that Friday.  Their Savior who they knew to be Who He said He was, was dead by a terrible means.

The application was not just for the disciples then - it is also for disciples NOW!!

IF you are a disciple of Christ:
#1)  You live in a fallen world.  (disciples are no exception)  It is fallen now just as it was back then.

On one hand, we = post Resurrection (with all the benefits of that! - ie:  200 years of church tradition, Apostles' teachings, the written revelation (New Testament)
However, it's still a world of pain & suffering, doubt, confusion, disappointments, frailty, disease, death

We live in a 1) fallen world (Fallen Friday)
                   2) confusing world - why Lord?  when Lord?  If you are an atheist, you don't expect any different, but as a believer, we know and believe that things will be made right.  However, we live in a state of Friday (fallen world) of fallen people.
Compare disciples then and now:
40 days later - Acts 1:6 - "how long?"
30 years later - 2 Pet. 3:3-4 - "how long?"
60 years later - Rev. 6:9-11 - "how long?" - "not yet"

NOTE:   IF Jesus was Lord when he turned water into wine, walked on water, calmed the sea, cast out demons, raised Lazarus from the dead, rose Himself,
THEN Jesus =  1) Lord on the Cross  and IS 2) Lord in His absence.

"IF Jesus is Lord on Sunday, THEN He is also Lord on Friday" - or he's not Lord at all.

So, I)  we live in Friday, but
     II) We ANTICIPATE SUNDAY - not His Resurrection, but his Return.  Matt. 25:31-32, Mark 13:24-17

AND this is greater than Restoration of Hope.  It = Restoration of Creation!! - Rom. 8:19-21, Rev. 21:4
Everything will be redeemed.

A little more on the analogy:
I)  We live in Friday
II.)  we anticipate Sunday
III)?  What about in between?

On one hand, are instructed to anticipate Sunday (WAIT)
However, are NOT given license to SIT and WAIT!!! - no room for being passive
(New Testament is full of instructions, admonitions, imperatives, commands, etc.

in short?  1)  be a disciple and 2) make disciples - Matt. 4:19

#1.  Be a disciple - come follow me - (we say) a) receive Him as Savior  b)  Follow Him as Lord
(Follow His word(s) VS follow Him!! - Matt. 7:21

#2.  Make disciples - "make you fishers of men" - Matt. 4:19 - early words
Matt. 28:18-20 - last words!!
Combine - BE a disciple and Make disciples => Phil. 2:14-16


I)  We live in Friday (Fallen Friday)
II.)  We anticipate Sunday (Restoration Sunday)

III.)  WE WORK on SATURDAY - we do, we develop ourselves, and others - not sit and wait.
Example:  Lord's Prayer ' ?our Father who are in heaven..... thy Kingdom come..... ON EARTH"!
Never is going to be utopia on this earth in this life.

So.... Where are you in this formula?

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:54-58

Monday, April 10, 2017


Psalm 9:10, 40:4, 62:8

Trust (v.) = to have confidence in, therefore - to entrust, commit to, rely on - not only verbal proclamation, but actually entrusting, committing, relying.

Who do Americans trust?

One on hand, Americans say "people can be trusted!"    In the 50's added:  "in God We Trust" to money, "under God" to Pledge.
According to Lifeway/Ligonier Survey of 2016, when ppl. presented with the statement, "Everyone sins a little but most people are good by nature", 65% agreed, 28% disagreed, 6% were not sure.

On the other hand, a 2016 Gallup Poll Survey - about specific people groups, asked the question "how much confidence do you have in _________________?" - great deal, quite a lot, some, very little (combine great deal and quite a lot)
Poll results:
the military - 73%
small business - 68%
the Police - 56%
the church (or organized religion) - 41% (down from 65% in '73)
the medical system - 39%
the Presidency - 36%
The US Supreme Court - 36%
The Public schools - 36%
Banks - 27%
Organized Labor (unions) - 23%
the Criminal Justice System - 23%
Television news - 21%
Newspapers - 20%
Big Business - 18%
Congress - 6%

When listed as "the Federal government" as a whole - = 19%

older Americans have more confidence in the military than younger - 65+ = 89%  18-29 yr. =67%
Religiously affiliated and confidence in religious leaders:  affiliated = 64% un-affiliated = 24%

Conclusion:  We'd like to trust people, BUT we know they are not always "trustworthy"

So...who should I trust?  (fully, completely, without reservation)
Prov. 3:5-6

Why should I trust Him?
#1.  His (self) Portrait  (revelation, scripture)
which says He is:  (A)  morally upright - always
                              (B) Practically Capable (omnipotent) - able to do anything
                              (C)  Self-Sufficient (has nothing to gain!!)  He is absolute already, we can do nothing to add to this perfect Being

#2.  The Holy Spirit's Conviction - ("He has show you, O man....")

#3.  Your Option(s)  Either you trust Him or you trust other stuff.

What Scripture says Not to trust in......

#1.  Strength - armies, weapons, walled cities, strongholds, princes, kings, national allies - Isa. 31:1

#2.  religion - idols, false gods, false prophets, deceptive words, "The" Temple!!! - Religious heritage, religious practice - Jer. 7:4

#3.  People - friends, neighbors, brothers & sisters, etc.  - Isa. 2:22, Jer. 17:5

#4.  Yourself - your wealth, riches, intellect, good deeds, righteousness... - Isa. 14:15-17, Rev. 3:17

What can I trust Him for?  

1.  to Know and Care - 1 Pet. 5:7

2.  to be Present - even when dont' fell His presence.  If you are His, He will be present with you.  Nobody (person) can fulfill this.

3.  to give Aid  (guide, direct, strengthen, etc)

4.  ultimately to Save - ie.  to Protect, to Rescue, to Deliver According to His will, plan, purpose.  His definition, wisdom, timing.  2 Tim. 1:11-12 - ultimately will be protected, rescued, delivered,

5.  to Set all things right - because He is righteous.
    righteous judgment, restitution, restoration - Rev. 21:3-5

Summary:  You can trust Him to be true to His Portrait, so Psalm 9:10

Tonight = Lord's Supper Service.  We can declare our trust in Him by partaking of this Lord's Supper.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Righteous

This Series = Sin and Righteousness - Review:

SIN - a violation of divine law(s) - "wrongness"
Opposite:  Righteousness - the state of being right or the act of doing right

"Righteousness" used in the Scripture of:
#1.  God - because He is Right!!!  - always, in everything He does, allows, etc.
#2.  Messiah - THE RIGHTEOUS ONE - 1 John 2:1
#3. Man - if he is (in the) right.  Gen. 6:9 - Noah  Heb. 10:38 - individual, ie. the believer
#4.  The Righteous - broad, collective term (ones, people, group)
Prov. 10:25, 29, 14:32
Psalm 32:11  33:1

Question:  Who is this "righteous one"?  righteous group?

We noted righteousness in 2 forms (or 2 kinds) in Scripture:
A)  Positional Righteousness - illus.  the Bridge
B)  Practical Righteousness - illus.  the Path
After Adam and Eve sinned, man was no longer in a right relationship with God

So..... "the righteous" (one) = one who is...
1)  in right relationship (standing) with God
2)  attempting to live right, do right.  Note:  in this life, none of us are perfectly righteous.

Psalm 112:1 - fears the Lord (positional) - proper reverence, respect, and delights in His Word (practical)
Contrast with Jer. 44:10 - Not humbled (positional) nor followed (practical)

Point:  "the righteous" = those who stand right AND seek to do right.  Non-Christians see us as better than them.  Truth is, we should be, but not better before salvation.

1)  Right standing is defined by God (not by man) - Matt. 7:21-23

2)  Right behavior is defined by God (not by man). - Man = self-determined righteousness.  Prov. 14:12 - my way

QUESTION:  How can we know what = right standing?  behavior?
ANSWER = Revealed Will - He has showed us if we want to know.  Micah 6:6-8, 1 Cor. 4:4

Note:  conscience alone is NOT adequate because the conscience is not necessarily accurate.  It won't "square up" - Prob. 14:12 - need something much more accurate, ie:  God's Word.  Cannot correct without the right standard

#1.  We are called to BOTH right standing and right behavior.

#2.  We are called to measure by His Word(s)

#3.  It is a call with a promise (many promises) - Matt. 6:33,  Matt. 5:6 - you follow Me, I will take care of you.

#4.  Pursuing righteousness is not always easy.
Often goes "against the grain" (natural inclination, desires)
Sometimes goes against Society!! - Matt. 5:10-12, 2 Tim. 3:12

#5.  Righteousness is always right!!
Therefore, righteousness is always best!! - maybe not immediately
      (A)  for the individual - Gal. 6:7-9 - at proper time, don't wear out doing good.
      (B)  for the group - Prov. 14:34

CLOSING:  Deut. 30:19 - now choose life.