the school of law

November 4, 2018

Paul tells us sin is no longer our master “because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Ro 6:14). The truth that we’re no longer saved by the law, however, does not mean it is irrelevant to the Christian life. The reality is that the law is still needed, not least because it reveals much about Jesus. Here’s how:

  ➤ The holiness of the law points to Christ’s holiness—The Law created a people who were “holy,” set apart or unique in a way that is similar to the character of God. As the Law commands, “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Lev 11:44). God’s Law is a reflection of God’s holiness that prefigures the holiness of Christ. Peter later quotes this passage in reminding us that we are to be holy in all that we do because Jesus is holy (see 1Pe 1:15–16).

 ➤ The ceremonial law points to the cross of Christ—The part of the Law that we often call “ceremonial” (e.g., regulations for feasts, festivals, sacrifices) expressed rules that applied directly to Israel’s circumstances and allowed them to atone for their sins. The ceremonial laws symbolize and foreshadow by means of temporary outward ceremonies the nature of Christ’s redemptive work. Because Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law, we no longer have to offer sacrifices in the temple.

 ➤ The moral law points to the righteousness of Christ—The moral laws set forth the permanent standard for human righteousness and show what human beings who serve God are expected to do.” Not only does the moral law show us the standard, but it shows us what we must do to please Jesus.

  We are kidding ourselves if we think of ourselves as having an intimate relationship with Christ, if we refuse to see our religious hypocrisy, our refusal to rest, our persistent coveting, our belittling of our parents, and our twisting the truth as an ongoing offense to him. Can you see that the way God intends for us to enjoy communion with him is by keeping his commands?

As the Apostle Paul says, “the law is like a school teacher” it is necessary until we discover ‘grace’ and the salvation Christ affords apart from the law.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Kennie, 8 years old and tipped a 3 wheel atv over on himself in the garage. So he’s in the hospital and Child Services have shown up. This is a family of ranchers with 6 kids. And 30 years in our church. There’s never been any bad reports. Wait till they find out the kid’s a crack shot with both a rifle and shotgun and helps skin his dad’s dear this year.

free at last hallelujah

August 13, 2018

  “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Gal. 3:21).

  Paul devoted two full chapters to establish our freedom from the fallen Adam. Romans Six sets forth our freedom from the dominion of Adamic sin; Romans Seven explains our freedom from Adamic law.

  Whereas our liberty was won on the Cross, it is worked out in our daily life and experience by the Holy Spirit. On the Cross, by the Spirit, in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  “If ministers and teachers of God’s Word would set saints free and establish them in the Gospel, let their preaching and teaching be based upon the sixth and seventh of Romans, the central theme of which is our union with the Lord Jesus in death and burial; and our resurrection and ascension with Him into newness of life; where not the law, but grace, reigneth; where not the letter but the Spirit, moveth the heart and life of the believer. Satan will fight most fiercely against such teaching, but no other will establish the Lord’s people.”

  “If God has declared that we died, we did die. If God has declared us discharged from the law, we are discharged and are hereby God’s free children, ‘new creatures,’ ‘created after God in righteousness and true holiness.’

 Our longing for conformity to the image of God’s Son shall be confirmed and fulfilled by the Holy Spirit who hath been given unto us. No man can believe he has a right to walk freely and fully in the Spirit until he believes himself to be free from the law.

 Law cannot give eternal life, nor have, therefore, any control over it.

  “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were held” (Rom. 7:6, ASV.).

I WANT YOUR MIND

August 11, 2018

IT’S A LONG DEVOTION SO YOU MAY WANT TO PRINT IT OUT.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1–4).

How can we develop a heavenly mindset?

Some have said it is possible to be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” However, when you look at the history of the church, it was those who were the most heavenly minded who did the most good. Listen to what Christ said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12).

The people who forcefully grabbed hold of the kingdom of heaven are the ones advancing it. Though on the earth, they had a heavenly mindset. Having a heavenly mindset is very important for advancing the kingdom, not only in our lives but on this earth as well.

It is for this reason that Satan is always attacking the believer’s mind with doubts, fears, worldly thoughts, etc. Satan wants to keep believers from focusing on what really matters, and that is God and his kingdom.

This is what Paul is primarily referring to when he says to the Colossians, “set your hearts on things above.” He is primarily referring to God and his kingdom. In the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to be consumed with God’s name being hallowed, and his kingdom and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9–10). The believer’s mind should be consumed with heavenly things.

In Scripture, those who practice right thinking receive tremendous blessings. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” It also can be translated, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you” (ESV).

The person whose thoughts are consumed with God and his kingdom will have perfect peace instead of anxiety and worry. When we find ourselves anxious or worried, we can be sure that we have lost a God–centered mindset.

What are some other benefits of God–centered thinking? Listen to Philippians 4:8–9:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul says thinking on right things and practicing them brings the God of peace—the very presence of God in our lives (v. 9). Many are missing the manifest presence of God in their lives because they have ungodly thinking, which eventually leads to ungodly practice.

In fact, Paul says that the way a person thinks is an indicator both of his salvation and his fruitfulness. Listen to what he says:

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:5–6).

The secular person thinks only about the “desires” of his carnal nature. The carnal person may be spiritual, but he only wants things of the spirit that satisfy or glorify him:

“God, give me an ‘A’ on this test.”

“God, get me into grad school.”

“God, give me this promotion.”

“God, take away this sickness.”

A carnal person may believe in God and pray for things, but God is only a means to his “desires.” James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

However, a truly born-again person desires what the Spirit of God desires. He ultimately wants God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This doesn’t mean that we don’t pray for our desires; it means we are not consumed with our desires. The desires of the redeemed should be and must become that of the Spirit of God.

Paul says the one who continually thinks on the desires of their sinful nature will bring the fruits of death and destruction, but the one consumed with the things of the Spirit brings the fruits of life and peace (Rom. 8:6).

The mind is very important. What does your mind say about you? It will tell you who you are—a believer or an unbeliever—a person led by the sinful nature or a person led by the Spirit. It will also tell you what type of fruits you will produce. A person that thinks on the things of God receives life and peace.

Paul in Colossians 3:1 is calling these believers, who are tempted like all of us to think on carnal things, to set their heart and mind on things above. He says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.”

Again, when he says “above,” he really means God and his kingdom (cf. Matt. 6:9–10). How do we develop a heavenly mindset, a mind consumed with the things of God? We will learn principles about developing a heavenly mindset in this text.

Big Question: How do we develop a heavenly mindset consumed with the things of God according to this text?

A Heavenly Mindset Is Developed By A Focus On Our Resurrected Position

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the believer being raised with Christ, and why is it an encouragement to think on things above?

Paul says believers can develop a heavenly mindset by understanding their resurrected position in Christ. When Christ died, we died with him, and when he resurrected and went to heaven, we went with him. Listen to how Paul talks about this in Ephesians: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

When Paul says, “seated us with him in the heavenly realms,” he is primarily referring to “authority” and “rulership.” Listen to how Paul uses a similar phrase in relationship to Christ in Ephesians 1:19–22:

And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.

Paul, in talking about the power that is in believers and was at work in Christ in the resurrection, says this power seated Christ in heavenly realms far above all authority, power, and dominion. God placed all things under his feet.

Therefore, when Paul says the Ephesians have been seated with Christ by this great power, he wants them to see their authority and position in Christ. They are rulers with Christ over all things. Now at this present time, not everything in heaven and on the earth submits to Christ in the way it is supposed to, but one day it will at his coming. First Corinthians 15:24–26 says,

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

At Christ’s second coming he will bring all things into full submission to his will. All will bow and call him Lord (Phil. 2:10–11). All things will be put under his feet.

The incredulous thing about Christ’s rule is that we will rule with him. Romans 8:17 says we are “co–heirs with Christ.” Everything that is his is ours. In John 17:22, Christ said in his high priestly prayer that he has given us his glory.

Paul in Colossians 3:1 is telling us that we must think about our resurrected position with Christ. Again he says: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Paul says our thinking should reflect our resurrection in Christ, the one who is seated at the right hand of God and will rule all things. In fact, Paul uses this same argument at Corinth where the believers were arguing and suing one another. Look at what he says:

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! (1 Cor. 6:2–4).

He rebukes them for arguing and then bringing their church disputes before the world in civil cases. He essentially says, “Don’t you know your resurrected position? Don’t you know you will judge the world and angels?” God has given judgment over to the Son (John 5:22), and because we are seated with him, we will judge the world and angels in his coming kingdom. Paul says, “Because of this reality, shouldn’t you be able to judge these small disputes in the church?”

Now, none of these Christians were probably thinking about their future rule with Christ while they were disputing with one another. They were concerned about what they had lost and how they had been cheated. However, Paul essentially says that they should be thinking about their position in Christ. One day they would judge the world and angels. Paul taught that having a heavenly mind should have affected how they handled their disputes in the church.

If we are going to have a heavenly mind, we must first start with understanding our position in Christ. We have been raised with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God. Everything that is the Son’s is ours. As mentioned before, this seating reflects our unity with Christ and the authority that comes with it. And this reality should affect how we think and live. Consider what Jesus told his disciples:

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt. 28:18–19).

When Christ told them to go and make disciples, he told them to do this based on his authority, which he had essentially given them. The disciples worked on behalf of Christ and the kingdom of heaven. Paul, in fact, calls himself an ambassador of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:20. He says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

An ambassador goes somewhere with the message and the authority of the person he represents. Paul is not only saying that he had the message of God, but also the authority of God in saying it.

Many Christians are scared to evangelize, scared to share their faith, scared to counsel, scared to serve God, etc. If they just understood their position and their authority, it would drastically affect their ministry. When Paul cast out the demon in Acts 16, he didn’t act on his authority, but on the authority of Christ whom he was seated in.

She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!’ At that moment the spirit left her (Acts 16:18).

Did Paul have special authority in himself? No, this authority came from whom he represented, whom he was seated in. He told the demon to leave “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Paul was an ambassador walking in the authority of Christ. If we are going to have the right mindset, we must focus on our resurrected position. We are different from the rest of the world because of our position in the heavenly realms, and we must live like it.

What else is needed to develop a heavenly mindset?

Application Question: What other applications can we take from the importance of knowing our resurrected position in Christ?

A Heavenly Mindset Is Developed By A Life Of Continual Discipline

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above” (Col. 3:1).

The word “set” is an active word. It can also be translated as “seek.” The KJV says, “Seek those things above.” This does not happen by accident; it only happens through rigorous discipline. If you are not actively seeking things above, then you won’t be thinking in a heavenly manner. This is what Paul said in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

When he says, “Do not conform any longer,” it implies that the members of the Roman church were already being conformed. It has the sense of stop conforming, or stop being pressed and molded into the pattern of this world. If you are not seeking things above, you are already being pressed and molded to look and think like the rest of the world.

You will be molded in how you view yourself:

“I must have this body.”

“I must have this type of skin.”

“I must dress like this.”

“I must have this degree, and this type of job.”

The world will control how you think, how you dress, what type of job you seek, and the type of school you go to. Christ said, “You cannot have two masters, you will love one and hate the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24).

Most Christians have the world as their master. It tells them what to do, where to go, and how to do it. Christians must understand that they are no longer part of this world, and they must actively “seek” to think the way God has called them to think. They must seek things above.

How do we practice and develop this discipline of thinking on things above?

Application Question: How can we actively seek those things above as a discipline?

This discipline is developed in several ways.

  1. The Believer Actively Seeks Heavenly Things By Impressing Scripture Upon His Heart.

It is through Scripture that we renew our minds and start to think on things that are noble, good, and righteous—we start to think more like God. How do we impress Scripture upon our hearts? Listen to what Moses said to Israel:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. 6:6–9).

He gives them several ways to put God’s Word on their hearts.

They were to teach the Word of God to their children.

If you are going to think on heavenly things, you must be a teacher. You must teach it to your friends; teach it in small groups; teach it to strangers. When you have to teach something, you can’t help but think upon it all the time.

Some may say, “I am a baby Christian. How can I teach?” Find somebody you know more than and share with that person, even if it’s an unbeliever. That’s what the parents were doing when they taught their children. They taught somebody they knew more than. We should do the same. Every Christian is called to be a teacher, and one can’t set his heart upon things above without doing this.

They were to talk about the Word of God everywhere: at home, when walking, when lying down, when getting up.

This didn’t mean that they were to only have theological conversations. This meant that they needed to view everything from the mindset of God and what God thought about things. Christians should automatically think about what Scripture says when they see movies, watch the news, or are asked a simple question. And yes, you will be considered narrow when you do this, but this is the type of mind that pleases God—a mind that is set on God’s Word.

They were to develop reminders to help them memorize it; they were to tie it on their hands, foreheads, door frames, and gates.

Certainly this may be done very literally as Israel did, with memory flash cards, pictures, and paintings, but, even more so, you should set up places and times in your daily life where you will always encounter the Word of God. This includes things like daily meditation, small groups, or accountability meetings. Every morning you are going to encounter the Word of God here. Every Tuesday you are going to encounter the Word of God there. Every Friday you are going to encounter the Word of God when you meet with brother or sister so-and-so.

By tying it on their hands, head, and doors, they constantly saw the Word of God. This is important because if we don’t do this, we may sometimes go a week and realize, “I haven’t read the Word of God.”

This is a lot of work. But in order to “set,” to have a mind that is immovable from the things of God, it takes discipline. Many Christians know nothing of a mind that has “set the Lord before them at all times and they will not be shaken” (Ps. 16:8). Many Christians are shaken by every little event. A mind that is “set” happens only by rigorous acts of discipline, and we must seek to develop this through study of the Word of God.

How else do we discipline our mind?

  1. The Believer Actively Seeks Heavenly Things By Rejecting Everything That Is Not From God.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2).

Paul said we should not only seek things above but also turn away from earthly things. In order to think heavenly thoughts, we must get rid of or keep away from things that would draw us away from God. We are called to get rid of anxieties. Scripture says, “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). We are called to get rid of lust, anger, envy, jealousy, and anything else that is not of God (cf. Col. 3:5–9).

Practically, this may mean not watching certain TV shows, reading certain magazines or books, listening to certain music, or hanging around certain people, especially when we find they contribute to drawing us away from God and godly thoughts. We must zealously protect our minds. Paul said,

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4–5).

We must take captive every thought and bring it into submission to Christ. Make no mistake here, brethren. Our thoughts are not neutral, innocent, or harmless. Our minds are either lorded by Christ or someone or something else. Is Christ Lord of your thoughts?

  1. The Believer Actively Seeks Heavenly Things By Developing A Consistent Prayer Life.

“Be joyful always; pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:16–17).

It is through the discipline of prayer that we develop a heavenly mindset. We must learn how to pray at all times, bringing every thought before our Father.

  1. The Believer Actively Seeks Heavenly Things By Fostering Healthy Fellowship.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Prov. 13:20).

Again, our thinking is often affected by our friends. The fool in Scripture is a person who says there is no God or does not live for God (cf. Ps. 14:1). Therefore, the wise are people who fear and honor God (Prov. 9:10). We must develop friendships with wise, godly believers who help us seek spiritual things.

Application Question: What type of thoughts do you have to commonly reject to keep a heavenly mindset? How is God calling you to practice these disciplines to develop a heavenly mindset?

A Heavenly Mindset Is Developed By A Focus On Our Crucified Position

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 2:3).

Interpretation Question: In what way have believers died, and how should this affect our thinking?

Paul says we died with Christ and our life is now hidden in Christ. For many, instead of thinking on the things of God, they are consumed with ungodly things like lust, anger, bitterness, jealousy, covetousness, etc. In order to have a heavenly mindset, we must reckon our death with Christ. But, we must ask the questions, “What exactly did we die to?” and “How did we die?”

  1. The Believer Died To Sin.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Rom. 6:5–7).

On the cross, our old nature was crucified with Christ. It was crucified so that we could be freed from sin. We must understand this doctrine to walk in victory over lust, anger, depression, and any other sin that tries to control us. Paul says this should be our response to our death to sin: “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).

He says to “count” or think about yourself differently. You are dead to sin but alive to God. This means that I can break habitual strongholds of sin. It means that I can start over when I fail because Christ paid the penalty for my sins and broke the power of it.

For many, instead of thinking on the things of God they are consumed with ungodly things like lust, anger, bitterness, jealousy, covetousness, etc. In order to have a heavenly mindset, we must reckon our death to sin. We died with Christ.

  1. The Believer Died To Self.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26–27).

Christ says to follow him as a disciple, we must hate our life and take up our cross. This is a daily discipline. We die to ourselves, our desires, and our wants in order to submit to Christ. We get a good picture of this with Christ before going to the cross. He says, “Take this cup from me but nevertheless, your will be done” (Luke 22:42). He submitted his will to that of the Father and so must we.

Listen to Paul’s testimony of this: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

For many people, they can’t have a heavenly mind because they are consumed with self instead of God. In order to develop a heavenly mindset, we must continually crucify ourselves—we must daily reckon ourselves dead to self and alive to God.

  1. The Believer Died To This World.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Paul said his death on the cross with Christ also brought death to this world. He essentially said, “I am dead to the world and the things of the world. They no longer satisfy me. They no longer are my passions in life. My passion is to honor and to know Christ. I am alive to God and dead to the world.”

John said, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

The very reason many cannot think on things above is because of worldliness. They are consumed with the things of this world: gaining them, enjoying them, and keeping them. If we are going to think on heavenly things, we must continually reckon ourselves dead to the things of this world so we can seek the things above.

  1. The Believer Died To The Power Of The Devil.

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 sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects 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 (Eph. 2:1–5).

In a very real sense, we died to Satan as well. Before salvation, Scripture says that we were children of the devil (1 John 3:10) and were following his ways (Eph. 2:2). But now, as believers, we have become children of God and followers of his Word. We are dead to the devil and alive to God.

Satan, who works through sin, the flesh, and the world to tempt us, has no dominion over us anymore because we died to him. We should no longer submit to him or live in fear of him because he was defeated by Christ (cf. Col. 2:15).

However, it must be known that a person is a slave to whomever he submits to. We can still submit to sin, self, the world, and the devil. Paul said,

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16).

Therefore, as an act of the will, we must reject sin, selfishness, the world, and the devil to develop a heavenly mindset. We died with Christ and now are hidden in him.

What does this crucified life look like?

The crucified life says, “Life is not about me. My life is not bound any longer to sin or my desires. Life is not about the things of the world. It is about Christ.” Paul said, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). If we don’t understand the crucified life, then we will be consumed with the things of this world. We will find ourselves feverishly running after every fad that comes out. If we don’t understand the crucified life, we will become enslaved to our wants and desires and other things we were delivered from.

It has been said that, “Dead men don’t get offended.” This means that a person who is living a crucified life is not consumed with fighting for his rights every time somebody hurts him. Like Christ, a person who has reckoned his death has become the meek who will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). He recognizes that this world and his life is not his anymore. He was crucified with Christ.

Application Question: In what ways do you need to apply the crucified life practically?

A Heavenly Mindset Is Developed By A Focus On Our Hidden Life In Christ

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 2:3).

Another aspect of the crucified life is that we are hidden in Christ. There are many ramifications of this we must daily internalize if we are going to develop a heavenly mindset.

Application Question: What does Paul mean by our lives being hidden in Christ? From whom are we hidden?

  1. To Be Hidden In Christ Is A Reflection Of Protection; We Are Protected By Him.

Listen to what John says about the experience of a believer:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:27–29).

Because of our relationship with Christ, Jesus places us in his hand and the Father’s hand for protection. This speaks of our eternal security and Christ’s constant protection of us. We get a picture of the protected life in Psalm 23. Listen to what David says about God as his shepherd:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (Ps. 23:4–5).

David said he had comfort even when confronted by death because the Shepherd protected him with his rod and staff. Even when his enemies surrounded him, he ate in peace. His Shepherd provided food, drink, and oil for healing and refreshment. He never lacked or wanted for anything because his Shepherd met all of his needs (Ps. 23:1).

In order to have peace in a world of constant trials and sometimes persecution, we must understand our hidden life. We must understand the Shepherd who protects us with his staff, feeds us even amidst our enemies, anoints our wounds, and never lets us leave his hand.

This is the hidden life of every true believer regardless of circumstances, and it must be our focus to have peace, especially in the midst of trials. We must know we are hidden in Christ.

What else does the hidden life represent?

  1. To Be Hidden In Christ Is A Reflection Of Identity; It Means The World Will Not Recognize Us.

To be hidden in Christ is essentially a reflection of how we are dead to the world. The world doesn’t recognize who we truly are in Christ, and they will commonly misunderstand us because our life is hidden in him. They may ask, “How come you are not all about partying, drinking, sex, career, wealth, etc.? Why are you so into church? Why are you so different?” Peter said, “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you” (1 Peter 4:4).

The hidden life not only means being protected by Christ, it also means being different and therefore misunderstood by the world. Our life is different and at times these differences may cause persecution. We should not be alarmed at this because our life is in Christ who was similarly mistreated. However, now he is exalted at the right hand of God, and one day our exaltation with him will be manifest to all (cf. Rom. 8:19). A heavenly mindset understands and finds encouragement in the hidden life.

Application Question: In what ways does the hidden life encourage you? How is God calling you to make this more of your focus?

A Heavenly Mindset Is Developed By A Focus On Our Future In Christ

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4).

In order to develop a heavenly mindset, the believer must also understand his future in Christ. Whatever you think about the future will affect how you live today. If you are consumed with being a doctor then you will constantly be thinking about your grades, preparing for exams to get into med school, or considering the best college to go to. Your thoughts about the future affect how you live today.

In the same way, this heavenly mindset is developed through constantly thinking on our future in Christ. Paul says, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” The believer who truly understands this and focuses on Christ’s second coming and our future glory with him will be consumed with it. Listen to Philippians 3:20–21:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

He says that we eagerly await a Savior from there. Eagerly await “is strong language (in the original) to express the earnest expectation of something believed to be imminent. It means literally to thrust forward the head and neck as in anxious expectation of hearing or seeing something.”1 It means to focus on something to the exclusion of everything else. Those who understand the second coming are consumed with it. Developing a focus on the second coming is crucial to a heavenly mindset.

When Paul talks about Christ’s coming, he also mentions our appearance in glory. This glory is probably not just a reflection of heaven but our glory. We will have glorified bodies when Christ comes. Listen to what 1 Corinthians 15:42–44 says about this:

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

How should the reality of Christ’s second coming and our appearance with him in glory affect us? John said,

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2–3).

Everyone who has this hope purifies himself. The second coming of Christ and our future glory should make us purify our thoughts, our conversations, and our daily endeavors. It transforms us.

This is probably the reason many Christians do not have a heavenly mindset and do not have holy lives. They have lost (or never had) hope in the second coming of Christ. Listen to how Christ described this unfortunate reality in a parable about a master and his unfaithful servant:

The Lord answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked’ (Luke 12:42–48).

The problem with this servant was he lost an expectation of the master’s coming. This encouraged him to cast off restraint as he lived in discord, waste, and blatant sin. This parable is about the fruits we will find in our lives if we lose our expectancy of Christ’s coming. Discord, wasteful living, and blatant sin will mark our lives as well.

For this reason Satan is always after our minds. He realizes that if he can turn them away from heavenly things, he can turn us towards earthly things. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7 NASB). The more earthly we think, the more earthly we become. Our enemy is especially after the believer’s mind as it concerns the future. He will have one think about graduate school, marriage, retirement, and anything else rather than Christ’s return and our future glory with him. Satan understands that anybody who has this hope purifies themselves (cf. 1 John 3:2–3). What you think about the future affects how you live today.

Application Question: How do we keep an unwavering focus on Christ’s coming?

  1. The Believer Develops An Unwavering Focus On Christ’s Coming By The Study Of Eschatology, The Study Of The End Times.

Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

Eschatology is very important because God has given it to us to help us prepare for and have an eager expectation of the future. John says that there is a blessing on the one who reads, hears, and takes to heart the words of prophecy in the book of Revelation. Those who study Revelation and the doctrine of the end times have a double blessing. It helps them keep a heavenly a mind, a mind consumed with and prepared for Christ’s coming.

Sadly, the enemy has sown so much disagreement over the end times that many pastors never teach on it. And therefore, the members of the church miss out on the blessing it brings to our lives—they live with no eager expectation. Like the servant who thought his master delayed his coming, we often cast off restraint and become consumed with our earthly life instead of our heavenly one. These doctrines are very important for us to drink deeply from so we can be ready for our Lord’s return. Christ said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).

  1. The Believer Develops An Unwavering Focus On Christ’s Coming By Practicing The Lord’s Supper.

Paul said, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

The Lord’s Supper is not only a look back at the cross, but it is also meant to be a look forward. We are looking forward to the coming of our Savior. We should practice this often to keep our hearts ready for our Lord’s appearance.

Application Question: When you think about the future, what do you constantly think about? Do you struggle with staying focused on Christ’s coming, his kingdom, and our glory with him? How is God calling you to develop an eager expectation on these things so you can be more effective for his kingdom?

Conclusion

Paul wants this church to develop a heavenly mindset. It will deliver them from much of the earthly teaching filled with deceptive philosophy that was threatening the church (cf. Col. 2:8).

Developing a heavenly mindset, one that thinks on God and his kingdom, is very important to us as well. “As a man thinks, so he is” (Prov. 23:7, paraphrase). Right thinking leads to having the manifest presence of God in our lives (Phil. 4:8–9). Godly thinking brings peace and life to us and identifies us as true believers (Rom. 8:5–6). More importantly, if we are going to live a godly life it starts with a godly mind (Col. 3:1–5). This is why Satan is always attacking the believer’s mind and thoughts. He wants them to live like the world instead of living like a citizen of heaven waiting for their coming King.

How do we develop a heavenly mindset so we can live the effective Christian life God has called us to?

A heavenly mindset is developed by a focus on our resurrected position.

A heavenly mindset is developed by a life of continual discipline.

A heavenly mindset is developed by a focus on our crucified position.

A heavenly mindset is developed by a focus on our hidden life in Christ.

A heavenly mindset is developed by a focus on our future in Christ.

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCURCH@GMAIL.COM

You may or may not have noticed there is one topic that I don’t write about in our devotionals.

That topic is the end times or eschatology.

I have studied it a great deal as a hobby. I hardly ever do a sermon on it. The reason is this. All the prophecies concerning the return of the Lord Jesus have been fulfilled. The rapture could happen at any moment.

One reason I don’t write about it is because there are a number of theologies concerning the rapture and the tribulation and all of them have some validity and should be considered as a whole to your personal theology.

So I do believe in a literal rapture, a time of tribulation, a second coming of the Lord, a millennial reign. A literal interpretation of the book of Revelation, Daniel and Ezekiel (as well as the whole the bible).

A real hell and a real heaven. And that some people have chosen of their own free will to go to a literal hell that is hot, and eternal. And a heaven that is for only believers that have chosen to submit and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, admitting their sin and helplessness to improve on that fallen state by any power of their own.

There will be the great white throne of judgement for non believers and the Bemas seat, the judging of Christians, not on their salvation, but on their motivation and works as a Christian.

This list could go on forever but it is a jumping off point. I am a Dispensationalist in theology, strangely enough more like a Bapticostal. (half Baptist half Pentecostal).

Questions, comments, prayer requests, please make them out to the web site at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Next week we will have a bible give away for a 100 dollar bible. With a question about the bible that you can’t find the answer in google.

So stay tuned.  And God bless.

WHAT TIME IS IT?

April 16, 2018

  “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

  Grace forsaken is freedom forfeited.

  In considering the whole testimony of the Bible, it is almost as important for the believer who would do the will of God to recognize that which does not concern him as it is for him to recognize that which does concern him.

You may have to read that sentence a couple of times for it to make sense, I rewrote it ten times and that’s the best, clearest way I could write it. (and I know Ms Kate, that’s not good grammar).

 

Apart from the knowledge of dispensational truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world. Such knowledge alone will save him from assuming the hopeless legality of the dispensation that is past or from undertaking the impossible world transforming program belonging to the dispensation which is to come.

We are not living in the kingdom world yet, that dispensation has not occurred yet.

The Law of Moses is interrelated and wholly dependent on the sacrifices and ritual provided for Israel in the land. The laws of the kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) are only related to the future kingdom conditions which shall be in the earth under the power and presence of the King when Satan is bound, creation delivered, and all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest.

 All harmony of truth is shattered when there is the slightest commingling of the principles of law and grace. Grace alone now reigns through Christ to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  “By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

WE ARE NOT TRYING TO PERSUADE YOU TO ONE FORM OF THEOLOGY OR ANOTHER, WE ARE JUST INFORMING YOU OF TWO PREDOMINATE SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT. YOU AS A CHRISTIAN MUST BE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO ALL.

Part two on theology

Yesterday we talked about Reformed or Covenant Theology. So that would be some Presbyterians, and Baptist, not all but most.

Today we’ll cover Dispensationalist’s. first a cautionary note. And that’s jumping to conclusions. Not all Pentecostals are Dispensationalists. In fact a great many are Reformed in theology except for the speaking in tongues part.

Some great Dispensationalist for you are John MacArthur and The Dallas Theological Seminary. Foundation.

.Plymouth Brethren Movement -J. N.Darby, WilliamKelly . C.I.Scofield . WilliamTrotter . C.H.Mackintosh

Key Influencial Preachers .L. S. Chafer F.W.Grant

.Harry Ironside Erich Sauer .W. A. Criswell John Walvoord

Charles Ryrie

Wiliam Newell

  1. C. Gaebelein- Our Hope Magazine

Institutions

Moody Bible Institute

Dallas Theological Seminary

Grace Seminary, Indiana

Talbot Seminary, California

1930s-1940s

Harry Ironside

William Newell

  1. C. Gaebelein

  2. S. Chafer

Theodore Epp-Back to the Bible (1939)

Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry(1938)

1950s-1960s

Dallas Seminary, Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost

  1. E. Vine, Erich Sauer

Warren Weirsbe

Lehman Strauss

Charles Swindoll

Quite a surprising list and not to mention there are Classical Dispensationalist and Neo Classic and Modern and Ultra Modern Dispensationalists.

And the New Reformed Movement is attacking Dispensationalists like they were a cult. Which they are really attacking the Ultra Modern’s and not the classics.

So enough of that; here is some info to help you converse and understand the other side of the coin compared to the Reformed Movement.

Dispensational theology is probably the most popular theological understanding in America at this time, even though it has a more recent origin than Covenant theology. The development of Dispensational theology dates back to the nineteenth century in Britain. J.N. Darby (1800-1882), an Irish lawyer, sought to explain the uniqueness of the Christians’ spiritual condition “in Christ.” To explain the radical different in Christian “benefits” from that afforded to peoples in all prior times, Mr. Darby employed the division of time into distinct “dispensations.” Harry Ironside, a later proponent of Dispensational theology, noted that “until Mr. J.N. Darby…it (the dispensational idea of a postponed kingdom) is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon through a period of sixteen hundred years.” Darby’s novel idea of distinguishing “dispensations” of time became the basis of a new theological system known as “Dispensationalism.”

   As with Covenant theology, it is equally important to explore the socio-political climate in which Dispensational theology emerged. In nineteenth century Britain there existed an abundance of oppressive and depressing sociological conditions, out of which grew an anti-establishment movement of thought against both governmental and ecclesiastical authority. Historical analyst, George Marsden, has noted that two individuals who were contemporaries of one another both became the catalysts of popular systems of thought. J.N. Darby (1800-1882) and Karl Marx (1818-1883), both reacted to the existing conditions in nineteenth century Britain.  Whereas Darby came to the forefront in saying the church must look forward to ‘The Rapture’ as the world was to evil to successfully reform.

   J.N. Darby became an instrumental leader in the movement which became known as the “Plymouth Brethren. (not the same as the Brethren Church)” This independent religious group was outside of the mainline institutional churches of that.Other British Dispensationalists include C.H. Mackintosh, William Kelly and E.W. Bullinger. Darby made at least eight visits to America to promulgate his new interpretations, and they were espoused by such American leaders as Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) and J.H. Brookes (1830-1897). Other prominent names associated with Dispensational theology in the twentieth century include W.E. Blackstone, L.S. Chafer who founded Dallas Theological Seminary, and C.I. Scofield who popularized Dispensational theology with his explanatory notes in The Scofield Bible. Dispensational theology became entrenched in the “Fundamentalist” movement of the 1920s and 1930s. More recent Dispensational writers included John E. Walvoord, and Charles Ryrie who like Scofield has added explanatory notes in hisRyrie Study Bible.

   Dispensational theology is not as closely connected with Calvinistic theology as is Covenant theology. This explains in part why it so quickly and easily found favor across denominational and theological lines in America, for there were many American Christians who did not appreciate the rigid dogmatism of five-point Calvinism and desired more freedom for diversity, in typical American pluralistic fashion. One could wish that Dispensationalists could have maintained such tolerance for diversity without becoming so dogmatic and exclusivistic about their own theological and eschatological opinions, which led eventually to the “Evangelical” movement breaking free from the “Fundamentalist” movement in the 1940s. Dispensational distancing from strict Calvinism allows Pentecostal and Holiness theologies, which are quite Arminian, to be Dispensational in theology as well. Covenant theologians are quick to fault Dispensational theology for not adhering to pure Calvinism, but sometimes unfairly charge all Dispensationalists with being Arminian in their theology. (which the majority are not Arminian). (Arminian’s believe you can be saved and then lose your salvation).

   Some of the prominent features of Dispensational theology include (1) distinct dispensations of time, (2) the dichotomy of Israel and the Church, (3) the unconditional covenant of God with Abraham, to be fulfilled physically and literally for the Jewish people in the future Davidic/millennial kingdom. Upon these basic presuppositions the system of Dispensational theology is constructed.

the early formulators of Dispensational theology defined a “dispensation” as “a period of time with a test that ends in failure,” and began to divide all history accordingly. A more complete Dispensational definition of a “dispensation” might be “a period of time wherein (1) a distinctive idea of revelation is given by God, (2) a specific test of obedience is given based on that revelation, (3) man fails the test of obedience, (4) God judges man for his disobedience, and then establishes another dispensation.” These dispensations do not build upon one another, but are regarded as totally distinct and separate from one another.

   Dispensationalists are not agreed as to the number of dispensations of time wherein God deals with men in different ways. At least three dispensations are required for the theological system to provide the contrasts necessary; these are the dispensation of law, the dispensation of grace, and the dispensation of the millennial kingdom. The most popular calculation of dispensational time periods is seven. They are usually identified as

(1) The dispensation of innocence (Gen. 1-3), wherein the test was the eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and the failure was the fall of man into sin.

(2) The dispensation of conscience (Gen. 4 8:14), wherein the test was proper sacrifice and the failure was the continual evil of men’s hearts judged by the flood.

(3) The dispensation of human government (Gen. 8:15 11), wherein the test was governance and compliance with government and the failure was evidenced at the tower of Babel.

(4) The dispensation of promise (Gen 12 Exod. 18), wherein the test came when God offered the Law to the Israelites, and the failure is alleged to be their abandonment of a prior grace/faith relationship with God by their rash and foolish acceptance of the Law.

(5) The dispensation of Law (Exod. 19 Acts 1), the test of which came when Jesus came to earth and offered the Jews the Davidic kingdom which they refused, so God postponed the fulfillment of the kingdom promise.

(6) The dispensation of grace (Acts 2 Rev. 19), wherein the test is for Christians to live obediently in grace, but the failure is predicted to be the apostasy of the institutional church.

(7) The dispensation of the kingdom (Rev. 20), a thousand year period which will end in final rebellion leading to the judgment of God upon the earth and the inauguration of a “new heaven and new earth.”

Dispensationalist’s believe in a more literal interpretation and less allegorical than the Reformed tradition.

A second prominent feature of Dispensational theology is the radical dichotomy and disjuncture of Israel and the Church. In an apparent attempt to keep law and grace distinctly separated, Dispensational theology has divided the nation of Israel from any connection with the Church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ. They are alleged to be so mutually exclusive as two separate peoples that “never the twain shall meet.” J.N. Darby indicated that “the Jewish nation is never to enter into the Church.”The physical race of Jewish people is regarded as God’s “earthly people” while Christians are regarded as God’s “heavenly people.” Dispensational theology indicates that separate promises are given to Jews and to Christians.

That is why a Dispensationalist has a problem with Messianic Jews. You are either a Christian or you are not. There are to the Dispensationalists Kingdom promises and then promises to the Church.

A third basic presupposition of Dispensational theology is the unconditional covenant with Abraham, to be fulfilled physically and literally for the Jewish people in the future Davidic/millennial kingdom. Beginning with the promises of God to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15 and 17, the Dispensationalist argues for a literal fulfillment of these promises for the physical race and nation of the Jews. Such fulfillment is alleged to be the epitome of God’s intent and the primary message of the Bible. Charles Ryrie states that “the goal of history is the earthly millennium…(which is) the climax of history and the great goal of God’s program for the ages. John E. Walvoord further explains that “the Abrahamic covenant furnishes the key to the entire Old Testament…(and) sets the mold for the entire body of Scripture truth. Thus, there will be after the Rapture, the time of Tribulation and Jesus returning to set up a literal kingdom on earth for a 1000 year reign.

God therefore postponed the re-implementation of the Kingdom until Jesus comes again to set up the millennial kingdom, which will be the fulfillment of the “new covenant” promised to the Jews. The period of the postponed kingdom, the “dispensation of grace,” is a parenthetical time period wherein God’s primary purpose is interrupted and held in abeyance. The Church is not to be identified with God’s kingdom and was unforeseen by all of the Old Testament prophets whose prophesies never refer to the Church age. The Church, which is primarily for Gentiles, began on Pentecost, and there are many “mysteries” concerning God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ so as to “call out” a “heavenly people” whose destiny is to be seated with Christ on the throne in the New Jerusalem of heaven. Meanwhile the primary futuristic focus is on the return of Jesus Christ to re-establish the realm of the earthly Davidic Kingdom in Palestine during the 1000 year millennial period which fulfills the promised “new covenant,” the “dispensation of the kingdom.” (Some Dispensationalists will allow that the “new covenant” may have a double application: a spiritual application for the church and a physical application for Israel.) The return of Christ is “imminent,” expected at “any moment.” It will be preceded by the “rapture” in order to remove the Church and keep Israel and the Church separated. Dispensational theology is necessarily premillennial, but that does not mean that all premillennialists subscribe to Dispensational theology. There are covenant theologians who believe in a premillennial return of Christ.

There are of course many other ‘schools’ of theology, and most borrow bit and pieces from the other. There are those who say we only have ‘Biblical Theology’ of we only have a ‘Christocentric’ theology. Each borrow strongly from the other.

The more you study you will probably end up like me and say I have an Adaptive Theology. It is the sum of all the parts. There are quotes attributed to Calvin (Reformed) that he never said. As well as quotes to Darby and Dispensationalists that are pure myth. Find out the truth, for one reason, you make sense when you talk and can give a better answer than ‘because’.

Where do i fall, Reformed, Dispensationalist, semi Pentecostal, brethren, Mennonite.

That’s it, no more theology, back to rant and rave, prod and poke.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Gift

July 17, 2017

The Secret of Contentment

“We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” Uncle Screwtape’s diabolical counsel to his nephew Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a reminder that most of us live more in the future than in the present. Somehow we think that the days ahead will make up for what we perceive to be our present lack. We think, “When I get this or when that happens, then I’ll be happy,” but this is an exercise in self-deception that overlooks the fact that even when we get what we want, it never delivers what it promised.

Most of us don’t know precisely what we want, but we are certain we don’t have it. Driven by dissatisfaction, we pursue the treasure at the end of the rainbow and rarely drink deeply at the well of the present moment, which is all we ever have. The truth is that if we are not satisfied with what we have, we will never be satisfied with what we want.

The real issue of contentment is whether it is Christ or ourselves who determine the content (e.g., money, position, family, circumstances) of our lives. When we seek to control the content, we inevitably turn to the criterion of comparison to measure what it should look like. The problem is that comparison is the enemy of contentment—there will always be people who possess a greater quality or quantity of what we think we should have. Because of this, comparison leads to covetousness. Instead of loving our neighbors, we find ourselves loving what they possess.

Covetousness in turn leads to a competitive spirit. We find ourselves competing with others for the limited resources to which we think we are entitled. Competition often becomes a vehicle through which we seek to authenticate our identity or prove our capability. This kind of competition tempts us to compromise our character. When we want something enough, we may be willing to steamroll our convictions in order to attain it. We find ourselves cutting corners, misrepresenting the truth, cheating, or using people as objects to accomplish our self-driven purposes.

It is only when we allow Christ to determine the content of our lives that we can discover the secret of contentment. Instead of comparing ourselves with others, we must realize that the Lord alone knows what is best for us and loves us enough to use our present circumstances to accomplish eternal good. We can be content when we put our hope in His character rather than our own concept of how our lives should appear.

Writing from prison to the believers in Philippi, Paul affirmed that “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12). Contentment is not found in having everything, but in being satisfied with everything we have. As the Apostle told Timothy, “we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:7-8). Paul acknowledged God’s right to determine his circumstances, even if it meant taking him down to nothing. His contentment was grounded not in how much he had but in the One who had him. Job understood this when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The more we release temporal possessions, the more we can grasp eternal treasures. There are times when God may take away our toys to force us to transfer our affections to Christ and His character.

A biblical understanding of contentment leads to a sense of our competency in Christ. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). As Peter put it, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, but the realization of how much we already possess in Christ.

A vision of our competency in Christ enables us to respond to others with compassion rather than competition, because we understand that our fundamental needs are fulfilled in the security and significance we have found in Him. Since we are complete in Christ, we are free to serve others instead of using them in the quest to meet our needs. Thus we are liberated to pursue character rather than comfort and convictions rather than compromise.

Notice the contrast between the four horizontal pairs in this chart: (which I don’t know how I got this to work this time!)

WHO DETERMINES THE CONTENT OF YOUR LIFE?

SELF

CHRIST

Comparison

Covetousness

Competition

Compromise

Contentment

Competency

Compassion

Character

As we learn the secret of contentment, we will be less impressed by numbers, less driven to achieve, less hurried, and more alive to the grace of the present moment.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

where ever we go

June 19, 2017

Every Where We Go

So, my son and daughter in law take me out to eat for Father’s Day. We go to their favorite restaurant, it’s packed, we have to wait, I decide to go to the men’s bathroom. While I’m standing there do my business, a young father comes in with his 3-4-year-old son.

The dad holds open a door to a stall and tells his son to sit there and go pee. The kid points to me and says; “no, dad, I want to go standing up like that guy.” The father says “you’re not tall enough.” A big frown drops on the kids face and he folds his arms and says very firmly “I’m big enough to stand and pee.”

The dad says “fine I’ll hold you up while you pee.” So the dad waits til his son drops he pants, waddles to the urinal; he picks up his son and the kid is not peeing. His father goes “come on Tommy pee.” And the kid while not looking at his father says in a most serious voice; “tell me you’re not going to drop me.” To which the father says to son as gently and as reassuring as possible; “son I will never let you go or drop you.”

And bingo, there’s our devotion, our Heavenly Fathers promises the same to us.

So where ever we go, we are sustained by the Father, wherever we go.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Comfort from God

March 30, 2017

  “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us” (2 Cor. 7:6).

  All of us are going to have sorrow, and none of us should miss its spiritual benefits. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance…while the sorrow of the world worketh death (2 Cor. 7:10).

 God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. God had one Son, without sin, but not without sorrow.

  “Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one. It takes sorrow to widen the soul.”

  “We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper must first be a sufferer. ‘Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God’ (2 Cor. 1:4). We cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which our Lord Jesus drank. The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.”

Well, it is but a little while and He will appear to answer all enquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?

  “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Continue to pray for Lori

Pray for Dave I and prostate cancer 5th time

Pray for Joe R, his shoulder, pray the Ins company approves surgery

For Steve L, calmness and peace

 

how hard are you ?

March 6, 2017

Image result for picture of a hard hat

I could have done this in parts, but what the heck, you can print it out and take your time and read over the course of a week.

Those who are lost are lost because they refused to repent and believe the gospel. And then, as Paul has frequently done in Romans 9-11, he backs up verse 7 with Scripture to show that he isn’t making this up (11:8-10). What Paul says in verse 7 is in line with all of God’s Word. He is saying here:

Either you have been chosen by God to hear, understand, and believe the gospel so that you are saved, or you will be hardened and come under His judgment.

Those are the only two possibilities! While this is not easy truth, it is spiritually nourishing for your soul. So ask God to give you insight into this part of His inspired Word. The bulk of the text deals with those who were hardened and came under God’s judgment, and so the bulk of this message deals with that.

  1. If you seek to obtain right standing with God on the basis of your works, you will be hardened and come under God’s terrible judgment.

Most of our text, 11:8-10, is taken from the Old Testament. Paul lets the Bible say the hard things so that no one can accuse Paul of making it up. That’s a good plan!

When I began preaching almost 40 years ago, I preached through 1 Peter. When I came to 1 Peter 3:1-6, I preached what the text says, that wives are to be subject to their own husbands. I tried to explain what Peter meant and did not mean in those verses. A few days later a single young woman came to see me and said, “You shouldn’t preach on things like that on Sunday morning!”

I asked her, “Did I misrepresent what the text says?” She replied, “No, you taught what the text says.” So I asked, “Did I teach it with a sarcastic or arrogant attitude?” She said, “No, you taught it with the right attitude.” So I asked, “Then what was the problem?”

“The problem,” she said, “was that I brought a friend to church who is a committed feminist, and she will never come back to church again!”

“Ah,” I said, “God has a way of bringing people to church on the very Sunday that they need to hear what His Word declares.” I added, “One of two things will happen. Either your friend will be convicted of her worldly, unbiblical views and come to repentance and faith. Or, she will reject the truth that she heard and be hardened in her unbelief. One day she will face God’s judgment.”

And so if I teach today what theses verses do not teach or if I teach with the wrong attitude, please let me know. I need to repent. But if I teach accurately and lovingly what God’s Word teaches, then you can’t quarrel with me. I’m just the messenger. You’re contending with God! Four truths will help us to understand what Paul is saying here:

  1. ISRAEL SOUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD ON THE BASIS OF THEIR WORKS, NOT ON THE BASIS OF FAITH.

Romans 11:7: “What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained ….” What Israel was seeking, but did not obtain, was right standing with God, or righteousness. Romans 9:30-32says:

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.

He also adds with reference to the Jews (Rorm. 10:2-4):

For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For the most part, the Jews did not lack sincerity. The Pharisees and Sadducees were hypocrites (Matt. 23:13-33), but the majority of the Jews were sincere in their dedication to their religion. Nor did they lack commitment. They followed the prescribed rituals and laws with dedication that would put most of us to shame. Nor did they lack zeal. Look at Paul’s zeal before he was saved. He went to great lengths to try to keep the Jewish religion pure by eliminating those whom he saw as heretics. But if your religious sincerity, commitment, and zeal are misguided, they will only move you toward judgment with greater speed.

The problem, Paul explained, was that their zeal was not according to knowledge, namely, the knowledge that their own good works could never be good enough to atone for their sins or to commend them to the holy God. And they did not know that Christ was the final and sufficient Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for their sins. And they didn’t know that God’s way of salvation is by grace through faith, not by works. And so they did not obtain the right standing with God that they were seeking. That leads to the second truth:

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, THEN YOU DON’T NEED A SAVIOR AND CHRIST DIED IN VAIN.

If people are basically good and with a little effort and self-denial they can get into heaven, then why did Jesus need to die on the cross? While Jesus set a good example for us, that was not the main reason that He came to this earth. Jesus said (Mark 10:45) that He came “to give His life a ransom for many.” As He faced the cross, Jesus said (John 12:27), “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Jesus came to die for our sins to save us from God’s judgment. If we can get into heaven by being good people and doing good deeds, then Jesus died in vain.

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, YOU HAVE NOT JUDGED YOUR PRIDE, WHICH IS THE ROOT SIN.

The good works route is always wrong, because it allows human pride to play a role in salvation. This is the great danger of religion. People mistakenly think that by going to church or taking communion or giving money to the church or serving in the church or helping the poor or whatever, they will gain entrance into heaven. Martin Luther thought that by joining a monastery and treating his body harshly and confessing his sins and going to mass every day, he could gain right standing with God. But nothing brought peace to his soul. Why not? Because by pursuing salvation by works, he was negating God’s grace (Rom. 11:6).

To come to God for grace means that I come as a sinner who does not in any way deserve to be saved. I deserve God’s judgment. To come to God by works means that I come with the claim that I’m basically good enough to get into heaven on my own, or at least with just a little help from God. The works approach is shot through with arrogance before God. It does not understand His absolute holiness and it does not understand our wretched sinfulness. Pride is the root sin of all other sins. It is the sin that led Eve to eat the fruit, so that she could be like God. To come to God for grace, we must judge our pride.

Thus Israel sought righteousness before God on the basis of works, not faith. If we could come to God on the basis of works, then we don’t need a Savior and Christ died in vain. To attempt to come to God on the basis of works is to be filled with the terrible sin of pride. But now we come to the scary part:

  1. IF YOU SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON YOUR WORKS, GOD WILL HARDEN YOU AGAINST THE TRUTH AND BRING YOU TO ULTIMATE JUDGMENT.

Israel, seeking righteousness by works, not only did not obtain it, but Paul adds (11:7), “the rest [the non-elect] were hardened.” Hardened is a passive verb. Who hardened them? Verse 8 plainly tells us, “Just as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.’” That quote combines Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4. It also reflects Isaiah 6:10, where God is speaking to the prophet, “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” That text is so important that Jesus cites it in Matthew 13:14-15 (and the parallels, Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10) and in John 12:40; and Paul also cites it to the resistant Jews in Acts 28:26-27.

It refers to God’s judicial hardening of the Jews, who had heard so much truth and seen so many demonstrations of God’s love and power, but refused to submit to Him. In Deuteronomy 29:2-4, Moses said to all Israel after 40 years in the wilderness,

“You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.”

So even as far back as Moses, Israel had come under this judicial hardening, as seen in their continual grumbling against God and refusal to submit to Him. Later, they followed the idolatry and evil ways of the Canaanites, until finally God sent them into captivity. But even after being restored to the land, they continued to try to approach God by their works, so that they hated the Savior who came and convicted them of their self-righteousness and pride. And so in Paul’s day, the nation that had crucified the Savior came under even increased hardening from God that has lasted now for 2,000 years! The frightening words of the Jewish mob that was screaming for Jesus’ death have come true (Matt. 27:25), “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”

There are two ways in which we need to understand this judgment where God hardens hearts so that they cannot understand the gospel (I’m indebted here to John Piper, “The Elect Obtained It But the Rest Were Hardened,” on desiringGod.org). First, from God’s perspective, He is free to act according to His own counsel for His own glory and is not obligated to any creature. As we saw in Romans 9:18, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” God is not constrained by anything outside of Himself. If He chose to condemn the entire human race without providing a Savior, He would be free and perfectly just to do so. After all, He did this with the angels that fell.

Second, God’s hardening of the Jews was punishment for their sins. God did it as “retribution” to them (11:9) because of their disobedient, hard hearts (10:21) and “unbelief” (11:20). Israel had been given much light (9:4-5), but they stubbornly refused to respond to it. So God said in effect, “If you refuse to see, I’ll confirm that choice: Be blind. If you refuse to hear, be deaf!” How terrifying, to have God pronounce such judgments against you! And it stems, in the case of the Jews and of many other religious people, from seeking to be righteous by their own works.

We can only look briefly at the specifics of this judgment on those who turn from the light that they have been given. What are the characteristics of those who are under this judicial hardening? I’m going to put it in the second person as a warning to us all.

First, you will be spiritually dull and insensitive, unable to perceive and understand spiritual truth. “God gave them a spirit of stupor.” This refers to someone who is half asleep or who has been stunned so that he can’t think properly. I have shared the gospel with many people who just couldn’t get it, even though it is simple enough for a little child to understand. If you asked them later how a person gets into heaven, they would say, “By being a good person.”

Second, your blessings will become a curse. That is the meaning of the quote from Psalm 69:22(Rom. 11:9), “Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block and a retribution to them.” A table should be a place of nourishment and blessing, but David prays that it will become a snare for his enemies. God gives many blessings, even to unbelievers: material possessions, food, the joys of married love, children, etc. But if they do not honor God and give thanks to Him, then their foolish hearts will be darkened and these blessings will be a curse that keeps them from the supreme joy of knowing God (Rom. 1:21-32).

Third, you are headed for ultimate and final judgment. Romans 11:10: “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.” The last word may be translated continually (in light of 11:25-26), but it may also refer to God’s permanent judgment that will come on the reprobate because they turned away from the light that they had been given. “Bend their backs” may look at bondage to the law. The Jews wanted to establish their own righteousness by works of the law, so they are consigned to that futile pursuit that can never obtain the righteousness that comes by grace through faith (see Acts 15:10-11).

Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm and so these judgments are ultimately aimed, not at David’s enemies, but at the enemies of Jesus Christ. Those who seek to be saved by works are really enemies of Christ, because if you can be justified by your works, you make the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of no effect. Any scheme of salvation that does not center on the cross of Christ exalts proud sinners and spits in the face of the Savior who gave Himself to redeem those who were under the curse of the law.

Let’s look briefly at the other side: How can you know whether you’ve been chosen by God?

  1. If you have been chosen by God, you will hear, understand, and believe the gospel so that you are righteous before God through faith in Christ alone.

“What Israel [was] seeking” but did not obtain (11:7) was righteousness before God (9:31). Then Paul adds, “but those who were chosen obtained it.” Two brief observations:

  1. THE SOURCE OF OUR RIGHT STANDING BEFORE GOD DOES NOT COME FROM US, BUT FROM GOD’S SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF US.

“Those who were chosen” is literally, “the election.” Paul could have said, “Those who believe obtained it,” which would be true. Or, he could have said, “The elect obtained it.” But he used a different word, meaning “the election,” a word that “serves to put special emphasis on the action of God as that which is altogether determinative of the existence of the elect” (C. E. B Cranfield, (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [T & T Clark International], 2:548). Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans: To God’s Glory [Zondervan], p. 27) explains that the word Paul used “emphasizes the one who ‘elects’ rather than any choice made by the people and so all the glory is to be given to God alone.”

So the believing remnant of Jews or the believing Gentiles could not boast in their faith, as if they had believed of their own free will or because of their superior intelligence (Paul specifically warns of this in 11:20). Rather, God had every right to condemn us for our sins, but in mercy He chose to save us. It’s all of grace. But, how can we know if we are part of God’s elect?

  1. THE RESULT OF GOD’S CHOOSING US IS THAT WE HAVE HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, AND BELIEVED THE GOSPEL, WHICH PROVIDES RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD AS HIS UNDESERVED GIFT.

A man who left this church years ago because he didn’t believe this teaching once asked me, “How can anyone know if he’s elect?” I replied, “It’s very simple: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised from the dead and that He saved you by His grace alone? Only the elect believe that truth.” And the Bible is clear that your faith did not cause or obtain God’s grace. If anything of merit in you caused God’s favor, then grace is no longer grace (Rom. 11:6). Rather, Paul plainly says that God’s grace caused your blind eyes and deaf ears to be opened so that you understood the gospel. God opened your heart to respond so that you believed it. God gave you right standing with Him through Jesus’ blood as a gift. So He gets all the glory (see 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Conclusion

Please note that Paul does not explain his statement in verse 7 or see any need to defend it (except for the Scripture quotations that follow). He just says in passing, “What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” It reminds me of Acts 13, where Luke reports that some of the Jews responded to Paul’s preaching by blaspheming and attacking him (13:45), but many Gentiles (13:48) “began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord.” Then Luke adds in passing, “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” No explanation. No defense. He just states it and moves on.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com