05/03/2016 Proverbs 3:11-12

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:

12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. ~Proverbs 3:11-12

Ever wonder why other people seem to be able to get away with just about anything, while you, on the other hand, can’t seem to get away with the smallest transgression? Believe it or not, if this is a description of you, the Bible says you are blessed. One of the principle means by which God demonstrates His love towards you is that He corrects you and the more vigilant in His correction the more He is delighting in you.

There is a clear warning here, because we are all human and our default setting is a disdain for correction. The author is admonishing us to accept God’s correction in our lives, recognizing it as His expression of love. We desperately need correction if we are going to be what God has called us to be. Correction can come in many shapes in forms. With the promise of Romans 8:28 we become aware that God is actively working ALL things for our benefit, for the purpose of conforming us to the image of Christ. This phrase “conform us to the image of Christ” should ring bell with us, because it points us back to creation when God said He was going to create mankind in His own image. God, in a sense, is herding us back to meaningful existence, to live within the grand, fulfilling, and joyful purpose we were created to enjoy.

Those two words “ALL things” means that God has a large highway with many lanes by which He may bring correction into our lives. There are times He may use civil authority, or the loving correction of a dear friend, or a passage within the Bible, or a sermon, or even the harsh accusation of an enemy. Truly “ALL” things means all things. Part of Christian maturity is coming to a place where we are receptive to correction by whatever means God chooses to speak to us. We should be a reflective people, ever striving to be responsive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, looking learn, desiring to change, and yearning to reflect the image of our Creator, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As was mentioned in the beginning, God’s correction is not act of anger, but an act of divine love for His children. This point is worth repeating, because in the middle of it we may not feel like we are being loved on. We may feel we are in God’s proverbial dog house, but in reality we are securely held fast within His loving arms. There is no shame here, only God’s love for us and an assurance that He is watchfully at work in our daily affairs. It is God’s declaration of ownership and affection. He is saying to all, “This one is Mine, I must not let him stray.” Many of us due to imperfect parents may have a warped view of correction, but God is perfect and as a result His correction comes with the distinct purpose of building and blessing you. There is no vengeance or spite mingled with administrations and He takes no pleasure in your discomfort. He is simply doing what He must, so that He might bring you into His best, and ultimate purpose for your life. He desires to bring you to the exact center of His will, which is the perfect center of His blessing.

Take heart Christian God truly loves you!

God Bless You,
Pastor Mike

Overview of Baptism

Baptism

KEY QUESTION

Why should the believer be baptized?

KEY IDEA

I believe that baptism is a command of God given as the first outward act of faith for the believer.

KEY VERSE

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38

 

Last week we answered the question: “How do I come into a relationship with God?” God has answered the issue of the sin problem. In Christ Jesus we find perfect justice served. Sin is judged and the judgement is paid by His death in our place. This week we will look at the first command and the beautiful picture we take part in, in this precious rite. 

In this study we will be reading a collection of Scripture passages about baptism, answering the questions:

  • Why are we baptized?
  • What does it mean?

 

 Introduction: Works are the natural result of salvation.

Without any doubt we are saved by the finished work of Christ, not by work lest any man should boast. It is by faith and faith alone that we receive Jesus, but there is a belief in God that does not save, because the demons also believe and they are certainly not saved. How do we know that we are truly saved?

Again we are saved by the finished work of Christ on the cross. His blood is enough to cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness. To add any additional work or formula to this is to say that the cross was not enough and the blood of Jesus was not enough. But since we place all our trust in the cross we can find great confidence in the salvation that Jesus has provided. Still such a work should and must produce a tangible and ever increasing result.

There is an old crude parable of sorts that has developed over the years that goes like this:

Say I was an hour late to this meeting when I walked in. Everyone looks at me and asks where I have been and I reply, “I was on my way to the meeting when I got caught on the rail road tracks and was struck by a train going 100 mph, and that is why I am late to the meeting.” Everyone would look at me and come to one of two conclusions: 1.) I am the world dumbest liar. 2.) I am a mad man. And if I were to persist with this story insisting upon its truthfulness, asking you why you will not believe me your answer would be, “It is impossible to have an encounter with a train moving 100 mph and not be changed.”

And so it is with God. If we have an encounter with the living God we will be changed. One of the first results of salvation is a desire to obey His commandments.

Read John 14:15-21

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Read James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Read Matthew 7:15-19

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

In the light of what God has done is it unreasonable for God to require something of us as evidence to the world around that something has changed?

 

The First Question: Why are we baptized?

Many times I hear people poke fun a baptism comparing it to swimming or taking a bath or some other nonsense. And I will be the first to admit that within our culture, the idea of just about any religious rite is something that stands out as being odd. Especially since baptism requires a fair amount of inconvenience, with the change of clothes and the effort of producing enough water to actually dunk a person fully, the sight attracts some raised eyebrows. The question is what are we going to pattern our life on and more pointed who are we going to pattern our life after? Baptism is so central to the Christian message we see Jesus setting the example in the Gospels as He permitted John the Baptist to baptize Him.

Furthermore we have already established that those that love God will keep His commandments. This does not mean that we get a perfect score in our attempt, but it does mean that we purpose, plan, and strive with all effort to keep them.

So if someone has not been baptized, are they not saved? This is a good question because the answer will impact many of the things we do in ministry. How so you ask? Take this statement of belief and the result for an example.
STATEMENT: We believe once a person dies their eternal destination is set.
RESULT: I have never prayed for someone’s salvation or the wellbeing of their soul after they have died.

So if a person cannot be saved without baptism we would not attempt to lead them to the Lord if they are in a physical condition where they cannot be baptized or we would baptize them even if it required us to remove them from life support.

I have encountered some individuals over the years that believe very strongly that a person is not saved without baptism and at times to a young believer their arguments have seemed solid at first glance.  But what has always held me steady was a story I was told in Sunday School which was given to illustrate the importance of baptism and our responsibility of a public witness. It was a long time ago so I will just give you a simple summary of the story.

There was a young lady 12 years of age who converted to Christianity who desired to be baptized. The minister offered to baptize her in secret because of the persecution in that country towards Christianity. This young lady’s response was that Jesus was not crucified in secret how could she be baptized in secret. As the church and the minister went down to the shore the young lady’s father came and shot her. She died upon the shore. Inspired by her sacrifice the church was embolden to share the Gospel with a greater zeal and the minister never did another secret baptism again. Later even her father was saved and publically baptized with the rest of the family.

Now I have no reason to doubt the validity of this account but, I cannot cite the source.  I was not there, so I cannot say with certainty that this story is true, but within the scope of the Church and time something like this has occurred on several occasions. It would be a rather hard headed individual who would question whether that young lady was truly saved. And there is the account on the cross of the thief who Jesus declares as being saved, and we can be certain that he was not able to be baptized before he died.

The key in all of this is obedience. Sure it may seem silly. Yes, it is an inconvenience. But it is something God has commanded us to do and when we become aware of this command we must submit ourselves to His authority. Can a person be saved without being baptized? Yes, if they are walking in obedience to all of the knowledge they have attained thus far. But that obedience, if given time, and opportunity will result in the person being baptized. Obedience is what it means to call Jesus “Lord.” So we baptize in the name of Jesus as we see demonstrated in the book of Acts. We baptize by full emersion, because that is the way it was done in the Bible, and we do it upon the confession of faith, since we do not see a waiting period within the scriptures.

READ Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

READ Ephesians 2:1-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

READ Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

READ Acts 2:36-41

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Jesus saves by His own work without any help from us, but this salvation work produces good works and obedience to God’s commands.

 

The Second Question: What does it mean?

So maybe you have responded to the command of Christ, and have been baptized and now you are wondering if there is some deeper meaning to this whole baptism thing. This is a great a question, because there is a great deal more to it. Have ever seen a skit preformed? The actors may or may not be elaborately dressed and the scenes are usually lacking in detail or non-existent all together. Well baptism is a sort of skit of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we go down in the water we are acting out the death and burial of Jesus. When we come up out of the water we are acting out the resurrection.

Furthermore water is one of the primary agents used in cleansing. I have heard people joke about “getting baptized every time they take a bath”. Though such flippant remarks are borderline blasphemous, there is actually more than of a nugget of truth in the comparison. The cross of Christ is a double cure. In the cross Jesus purchased for us forgiveness and cleansing from sin. In the water we are given the picture of the cleansing that comes with salvation.

Baptism is also a statement of identification. When we become a Christian we are identifying with Jesus Christ by adopting a new name, “Christian” which means “Christ-like” or “in the likeness of Christ”. Baptism is a further point of identification as we act out the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior.

Baptism goes even deeper. It is a statement of faith. In acting out the salvation work of Jesus we are illustrating that we are putting our trust in Jesus for redemption. As we surrender ourselves to the water, we proclaim our surrender to Jesus, trusting in Him to lift us back up out of the water.

Finally baptism is a future picture of the resurrection. There is a real sense that our salvation is not yet complete. It has been completely paid for, but we have yet to receive the fullness of the reward. We are still bound to this dying body, but God has promised one day corruptible will put on incorruptible. There is a coming resurrection for all who endure. This is why it is important for us to continue on so we may obtain the prize of the high calling, failing to do so would be to believe in vain.

READ Romans 6:1-8

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

 

READ Colossians 2:9-15

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

READ 1 Peter 3:17-22

17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

In light of these scriptures we ought to feel privileged that God has given us such a powerful picture of redemption.

WHAT WE BELIEVE

Baptism is a beautiful gift designed to draw us into closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. We practice baptism out of obedience to the Word of God. We follow the model of baptism laid out for us in the book of Acts. We baptize in the name of Jesus, by immersion, upon the believer’s profession of faith.

Creed by Steve Turner

It is a sad picture Mr. Turner paints, but he is hitting on some pretty deep points. We are told that everything is getting better, but the evidence is in short supply for such a claim.

Creed
by Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes
UFO’s and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

He then adds this postcript called ‘Chance’.

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

Steve Turner, (English journalist), “Creed,” his satirical poem on the modern mind.

Matthew 22:15-22 Give to God

Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

As Jesus instructed the Pharisees to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar we forget He also instructed them to give to God what is God’s. You and I were created in the image of God; therefore give unto God what is God’s…you.

Genesis 1:31 Body Modification

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31 New King James Version (NKJV)

Whenever we attempt to determine what we believe and the standards by which we live our lives must do so in the light of past generations and church history as a whole. In recent years there seems to have been an abandonment of things which have been help as classical christian standards and beliefs. One such standard that has gone out of vogue is the prohibition of body modification. The early church held that such things held a connection with pagan religion and that it was a defilement of the image of God, in whose image we have been created. Since the church fathers felt very strongly that such practices had no place in Christian living we should give the issue careful consideration before we throw off the old paths. Remember the Bible describes the Christian life as straight and narrow, and the way of destruction as broad way.

Now it is true that body modification has a long history within pagan worship. Tattoos has been discovered on mummies in Egypt and the frozen remains of the “Ice man” discovered in Europe. The connection with Egyptian culture brings understanding to why God forbid the the nation of Israel from the practice as it would have certainly lead them back into idolatry, but what does it mean to us within our culture and the day and age in which we live. Certainly we are thousands of years removed from such practices and getting a piercing or tattoo almost definitely not lead us into idolatry. Or will it? This will depend upon the reasons. Are you attempting to draw attention to your body? In our culture we have a god of vanity, youth, and sensuality. It is easy to fall into the idolatry of this present age and to adopt its mindset and world view. We as Believers must ever be on our guard to prevent our world view from being warped by the culture all around us, for the scriptures sternly warn us to “Love not the world nor the things of this world (1 John 2:15).”

Finally there is the question the question we must examine the what are the natural conclusions we should draw from our key verse here. We are not a product of chance, and we are not a mistake as far as God is concerned. It is true we have been created in the image of God, but God is spirit, so applications to of body do not fit well, but God has made us and God has declared the what He had made as good. In fact when it came to the creation of humanity, He declared His workmanship to be “very good”. Mankind is a unique creation when compared to the rest of the creation. From what we can see God spoke all things into being with the exception of humanity. With Adam, God formed him from the dust, and with woman, God formed her from the rib of man. Now when attempt to modify our bodies, what are we saying about God workmanship? Who are we to attempt to improve upon God’s creation?

Now this ought not to be a divisive topic. I have know some really incredible Christians with piercings and tattoos which they have gotten after they were saved. I would argue against anyone who would question their commitment to Christ. But since the scriptures have given us a clear mandate to “do all things for the glory of God”, we should careful examine decisions and the manner in which live and the message we are sending the world around us. We should desire that everything about us is consistent with the faith we hold so dear.

Proverbs 16:9 Christ Makes The Way

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. -Proverbs 16:9

What a beautiful assurance we have in this simple verse. Often we cannot see our way to end and fret as to which way to turn. Our life is not left to happenstance and when all our plans have disintegrated Christ is still in control. He is our “Heavenly Father”. His ways are above our ways. God sees the end from the beginning. He is good and He loves His children. If you have truly given Jesus your destination is set and God will make a way, Jesus is the Way. Trust Him with the steps and simply determine to do right regardless of the pressure of your circumstance.

Put these into practice:

  • Pray
  • Trust
  • Rest

Luke 12:2-3 Deal Today

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Luke 12:2-3

There is a strange game people play when come to the church community. The idea of accountability, discipleship, and community is attractive to many, but when these ideas go beyond words and threaten to become realities the same people will back off, run and hide, and do everything to put their best face forward while hiding the dirty bits. This counterproductive and sometimes even deadly to spiritual growth.

We live in a time of grace and mercy, and God uses His people to distribute this grace. When we cut our self off from the body of Christ we cut our self off from the conduit of God’s blessings and the possibility of healing is stunted. “Iron sharpens iron” is a necessary part of our spiritual growth.

There is coming a day when these secret things will not be secret any longer and God will hold us accountable for the missed opportunities to seek wholeness from the community of faith. Deal today.

The Take Away:

  • Seek out those you within the church you can trust and who will challenge you in holiness.
  • Be open and honest with your brothers and sisters. There is no point in playing pretend. This is harmful to the community of faith as a whole, because it inhibits others from feeling they are safe to vulnerable. Our churches must be a place where it is okay to not be okay.
  • Be a person of trust. Remember the gold rule and be the person of support and trust that you need others to be for you.
  • Remember regardless of your instinct to hide you need to reach out. Do not isolate yourself.
  • In all things seek BIBLICAL council and give BIBLICAL council. The Bible is our handbook.

Thoughts On The Modern Gospel

For the amount of materials and tools we have to assist the student of the Bible, I am astounded by the lack of genuine transformation within the life of converts. Many theories have been put forth to explain the seemly diminished impact of the gospel today. Some blamed the day and age in which we live with the insane pace of life and myriad of distractions which are available to the average person. Though there may be some merit in the consideration of the current social climate we find ourselves in today we must never be tempted to elevate the devices of the enemy above the power of the living Word of God impressed upon the hearts and minds of men by the Holy Spirit of God.

We need to come to grips with the fact that men and women today are basically the same as men and women of 2,000 years past. Shakespeare put it quite eloquently “If you prick me, do I not bleed.” The premise of the gospel is still the same today as it was 2,000 years ago. The need within the hearts of the human soul is still there. The pending judgement is just as real and the brokenness within us and helplessness to fix our self persists today, just as it did at the time the Apostles set pen to paper to relate to humanity the gospel (the good news).

Yet we cannot deny reality. At the beginning of the church a select few armed with nothing more than the gospel and the Spirit of God were able to turn an empire and reach the known world with only a fraction of the tools we have today. We have millions of voices and thousands of outlets yet we see a church that is not gaining ground, but giving.

The Holy Spirit has not changed. The Bible clearly states throughout the volume that God does not change. We also see His authority to be absolute without question. So if the Holy Spirit has not changed we must ask ourself what has changed? The only other instrument of transformation the early church had was the Gospel.

If we are honest I believe we will find two things:

1.) We have substituted or subsidized the gospel with other methods, teaching, and programs. In short we have either abandoned, edited, or added to the gospel. By doing so we declare the Gospel is insufficient, obsolete, and irrelevant in the day we live. Where nothing can be further from the truth.
2.) We have failed to understand the gospel for ourselves; therefore, we find ourselves incapable of communicating it to others. The root cause of this disconnect of understanding seemly stems primarily from a self centered view of the world or the more trendy term which is to say humanistic view. Humanism is at its heart selfish with a blanket of charity for others to hide the fact it is really about self improvement and betterment. Gospel begins with God, is about God, and ends with God. Gospel means “good news”. In regards to the Christian Gospel man is the bad news, in short man is the problem, Jesus is the good news.

Judging Right and Wrong

Is it okay judge, what is right and wrong? Some would say “No” without any thought. Yet we do judge what is right and wrong. Ask yourself:

Is it right to murder?

Is it right to steal?

Is it right to lie?

Is it right to cheat on your spouse?

Clearly, we all judge what is right and wrong.

There is supposed to be 2 fundamental differences in how a Christian judges right from wrong.

1.) The Christian looks outside of themselves for the definition of what is right and wrong. The Bible is that outside source. It has been the standard and remains the standard. It does not change, and is absolute. Anything you are going to base your life on, ought to be as solid.

2.) The Christian believes any wrong can be forgiven and any person can be set free from the cycle of wrong doing. That every soul, even the darkest soul, is worth redemption.

I take no joy in saying things that people get upset over. It is easier to keep your mouth shut and just say nice things about every thing and only encourage people to do what they feel that they ought to do. But it is not loving or kind to sugar coat real life issues. It is true I am at times loud. It is true that I will be at times sharp. It is my hope, in being bold and direct all who listen are confronted with the truth of the scriptures. It is not my desire, nor is it God’s desire that awareness of sin would bring death, but rather it would bring life.

These two passages really stirred my heart the other week when I read them. It may not be all that manly, but yeah, I cried about them.

1 Cor 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…

The Bible does clearly teach we are in need of a Savior. The reason we need a Savior is because we are in big, big trouble. We have rebelled against the creator of the universe. So knowing that rebellion and knowing the judgment that comes due to this rebellion, it is the Christian’s responsibility to do whatever can be done to persuade others.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.

Finally we do not gauge a person’s potential according to who they are, what they have done, or where they have been. The Christian sees only the potential of Salvation through Christ Jesus in every person that we meet.

Parting words, God does love you, and He desires to bring you into health and wholeness. But God is a true and good doctor of the soul. He is going to point out the illness.

A Week to Consider

We are having a guest speaker this coming Sunday because I will be on call for work. Being on call is really irritating while trying to pastor at the same time, but it does give me a gentle reminder to bring in outside speakers and gives opportunity to develop the talents from within the congregation. All in all it has worked out for the body. Also being that I am able to make an income outside of the church has freed the church to do a lot things that a small congregation would not normally be able to do and in addition my outside employment has allowed us to be able to purchase a home closer to the congregation and has allowed me to provide for my family and myself a level of comfort that the average pastor of a small church can not.

 

So even though I find myself frustrated at times when the requirements of employment interfere with the duties of the God’s calling on my life I must remind myself that God is in control and if I seek His direction in each situation I will find that God truly is working all things together for good.

 

The last on call cycle we had a guest speaker, Jeff Riebe, and the message was powerful. It has impacted me very much so and much of my thinking since. Jeff spoke on God’s love for us. Now as I consider this and having a week down from speaking I am considering what does God have to tell us in the coming Easter season about His love?

 

Next Sunday Dennis Nelson will preach. The following Sunday will be Palm Sunday and the week following will be Easter. There is something about Palm Sunday that I find profoundly disturbing and it has nothing to do with the event itself or the story of everyone worshipping Jesup as He rides into Jerusalem. In fact God ought to be worshipped and this event was good and right. What bothers me is that in less than a week the same city was out Jesus’s blood. How faithless could people really be? How can they worship God one day and be out to kill Him the next?

 

I think the mystery lays in the motives of the heart. People were excited by what Jesus would do for them (they thought He was going to free them from Roman rule) and when they saw that what they wanted was not what Jesus was about they wanted Him dead.

 

I wonder if we are kind of like that today. I don’t know how many times I have heard people tell me that the reason they refuse to believe in God is because they prayed and things didn’t go well with them. Or how many Christians have invented the Jesus to fit more of what they want to believe instead of submitting to what the Bible says?

 

I think the question comes down to: “Do we love Jesus or do we just like what we think He will do for us?” or “Will I praise Him because I love Him even if doesn’t answer another one of my prayers for the rest of my days?”

 

I think I know what Easter has to say about God’s love for us, but I am perplexed by what it has to tell us about our love towards God.