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

Ok this is 10 pages, I would print it out.

The Jesus Narrative part two

Just before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples, Go and make disciples of all nations. We know that this is a command for all Christians in each successive generation. Yet I think most of us feel guilty because we hardly ever tell anyone about the greatest gift in the world (salvation through Jesus Christ). But usually our problem is to know how do to do it.

One of the ways is through Friendship Evangelism. The premise is that as we try to win people to Jesus Christ, we must attempt first to become their friends, talk to them, listen to them, invite them to our homes, go places with them, show them love, help them in their need. Then when they see that we really are different, they will want what we have and we can share Christ with them.

We are learning that Jesus Christ was God living here in a human body, fully God and fully man. He revealed the invisible God, our heavenly Father to us in His words, attitudes and actions. He told his disciples He wanted them to be His friends and He showed what true friendship looked like.

Since He is now in heaven, He has given us the responsibility to reveal God, our heavenly Father, through our lives so that others may be born into His family, and He modeled for us in His many relationships how to be a true friend to others.

As we work through our lesson today we will discover principles He modeled that still work in being a true friend.

Jesus’ ministry had begun in earnest and it was attracting attention. He had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover and the religious leaders were beginning to ask questions about him. In order to avoid a direct clash with them at this time He started back to Galilee.

John 4:4-6

He did not have to go through Samaria. This was a deliberate choice other Jews never made. They hated the Samaritans, they considered them to be racial and religious half breeds. So they went around two longer routes to avoid them. But Jesus went through Samaria because there was someone He had to see there.

TO MAKE FRIENDS, GIVE PRIORITY TO PEOPLE AND BE AVAILABLE

I think we often give priority to activities, schedules and programs. But people must come first.

They arrived at the little village of Sychar about noontime. The road ran through a valley and the town was up on a hill. The well that Jacob had dug 2000 years before was still supplying water. The disciples went into the town to buy food, but Jesus sat alone by the well. He was tired, hungry, and thirsty, a clear indication of his humanity.

John 4:7-9

Imagine this woman’s surprise when a Jewish man spoke to her and asked her for a drink. Jesus did something we can learn from.

USE A COMMON POINT OF INTEREST OR CONTACT

They were both at the well needing water. She had a jar, He did not. He asked a favor of her, put himself in a position of need. This is not usually our approach, is it? What was even more unusual was that Jews would not use the same utensils as a Samaritan, because they considered them unclean, but this man wanted to use her waterpot. Not only that but a Rabbi never spoke to a woman in public, not even his own wife and he certainly never would have spoken to a Samaritan woman. But man made rules never controlled Jesus. This woman had a heart’s need and He knew he could meet it. There is a lesson for us here.

DO NOT DISCRIMINATE BECAUSE OF RACE, GENDER, RELIGION OR SOCIAL CLASS

Do we let social, racial or religious barriers keep us from befriending people who need to know the Lord Jesus and who could enrich our lives and broaden our understanding of the love of God for all people.

John 4:10

If you knew the gift of God and WHO it is… (NIV)

Now Jesus began to reveal who He was to her.

REVEAL YOURSELF GRADUALLY

We cannot make true friendships when we always wear a mask to protect ourselves and hide our real self. I know we can do this from fear of rejection. But people want to know the real you. We must be authentic and vulnerable. Sure, there is a risk involved. On the other hand, we do not want to dump the whole truck load at our first encounter. It is wise to reveal ourselves gradually depending on the person’s response, just as Jesus did.

He constantly exposed himself to rejection, but He never let rejection change His confidence or His worth.

You see, this woman had to trust Him before she could receive His gift. And people have to trust us before they will trust the Savior we say we believe in. Notice how He stimulated her curiosity. What was the gift? Who was He? What was living water?

John 4:11-14

Living water to her meant a fresh spring in contrast to a pool or cistern. Her answer shows that they were on different wave lengths. She was literal. He used terms that had deep spiritual significance. But he was not discouraged by her cluelessness. Living water was used symbolically in the O.T. to refer to God.

Jer. 2:13 (NIV) My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Many references in the Bible to water do not mean H2O, but refer to the Word of God or salvation. Just as we cannot live physically without H2O, we cannot live spiritually without God, who is the Source of living water. Jesus wanted to satisfy the thirst of her soul. That thirst we were all born with.

GOD BUILT A THIRST WITHIN US TO DRIVE US TO HIMSELF.

But instead we spend our time and energy drinking water from the world’s broken cisterns and wonder why we are still thirsty. Wealth, beauty, art, education, power, pleasure, career, even marriage –all are finally meaningless in the effort to find the essential values of life, to find personal fulfillment, to quench our thirst. Nothing material or earthly can satisfy the thirst of our spirits. Jesus claims to give one drink that will satisfy our heart’s thirst forever. To drink is another way of saying, “to believe.”

Later on Jesus made clear how that thirst for God would be satisfied.

John 7:37-38

THE HOLY SPIRIT’S INDWELLING PRESENCE SATISFIES OUR THIRST FOR GOD

Here Jesus identifies living water with the Holy Spirit who indwells each person the moment that we put our faith in Christ. In the O.T. the Spirit came upon people to enable them to accomplish specific tasks, then He could leave. But now He lives permanently in each one of us who belong to Jesus. That is why we will not be thirsty for God again.

Many of us, even believers spend our lives expecting another human being to satisfy that thirst –a husband, either present or future, a parent, a child, a friend. No human being, no matter how wonderful can fill the place meant only for God. There are needs people can meet, and there are needs only God can meet and we should know the difference. This will save us from unrealistic expectations and constant disappointment.

John 4:15

The woman was interested. She was entirely literal. She had a wrong understanding and wrong motives. Cannot you hear her thinking: Would not it be wonderful to never have to come to the well again, never to run the risk of woman gossiping about her. What a deal. But Jesus did not lose patience with her.

ACCEPT PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE. DO NOT JUDGE BY EXTERNALS

We must show that we are interested in them, accepting them without demanding that they change first. This is hard to do, but if we are going to tell them that God loves them, it might be a good idea to let God demonstrate that love through us from the start.

Now Jesus abruptly seemed to change the subject.

John 4:16-18

Jesus knew all about her before he met her. (Omniscience) He accepted her just as she was. This does not mean he approved of her life style. She was either widowed or divorced 5 times. Only men could initiate divorce. Can you imagine what her self image was. The only man that would stay with her was one who would not marry her. Jesus just stated the facts, but He teaches us something important here.

DO NOT ASK SOMEONE TO TRUST CHRIST UNLESS THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE A SINNER.

The first step towards recognition of a need for salvation is for a person to acknowledge that she is a sinner. Each of us was born a sinner. That is why we sin.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Ps. 51:5, NIV)

The sins we commit are just the evidence that we have a sinful nature. We all need forgiveness and Jesus is the only One who can give it. Many times human pride will keep us from admitting our sin. That is why this is important.

John 4:19-20

Now she sidetracked him into a religious discussion. This will often happen when we try to share our faith.

E.g. If Jesus is the only way, what about the heathen who never heard? Why would a good God let such evil happen?

We can try to answer those questions if they are answerable, but do not let them get us off point.

John 4:21-24

DO NOT COMPROMISE THE TRUTH TO WIN FAVOR.

Jesus was very honest with her. Notice how He used her detour to enlighten her further. He revealed something about God that is nowhere else stated so clearly in the NT.

A time is coming and now has come… (NIV)

His own death and resurrection would bring in a new access to God.

  1. The worship of God would no longer be located in a certain place, like the temple in Jerusalem.

  1. Samaritans worshiped ignorantly. They had a corrupt mixture of Jewish and pagan religions. He did not use soft soap to win her favor.

  1. Salvation is from the Jews. All the O.T. promises about a Savior coming from the Jewish people were true. Jesus in His humanity was descended from Abraham, the father of the Jews.

  1. God is Spirit and seeks people who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Worship would not be in man made temples or churches, but in the inner sanctuaries of people’s hearts. God would not be the exclusive property of one race or one denomination. He fills the universe and is everywhere present. But He is also our heavenly Father.

In this exchange Jesus introduces a dimension to friendship we cannot ignore.

TRUE FRIENDSHIP NURTURES THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

All friendships for believers must have a spiritual aspect, either for evangelism or for encouraging and building others up. Friendships will not be deep and intimate that do not nurture the spirit as well.

John 4:25

Well, she did not know a lot, but this was one thing she did know. Samaritans expected a Prophet like Moses to come. Since they did not accept anything but the first 5 books of the O.T. as their scriptures, they did not know the other prophecies about Messiah. They just looked for this Messiah to be a teacher who would explain everything.

John 4:26

This is total self revelation. This the only time before His trial that Jesus stated this so clearly. He revealed His identity to this immoral Samaritan woman, not to the religious leaders or even to His own disciples. This was remarkable in a day when the rabbis taught that to teach a woman spiritual truth was like teaching a dog; that it was better to burn the Scriptures than to teach a woman. But He also models something very important.

BE WILLING TO RISK REJECTION

He had offered Himself to her as the One who could satisfy her soul’s thirst, the Messiah. What would her response be?

She had two choices: faith or rejection. Those are really the only two options anyone has and as we befriend people and witness for Christ, we must make this clear. There is no safe fence to sit on.

But do you realize that we who have trusted Him already must make the same choice daily?

Do we believe or reject Him when He promises to guide us concerning our future?

Do we believe or reject him when He says that suffering is a major instrument used by God to build into us the character of Jesus Christ?

Do we believe or reject him when He says He unconditionally loves us and will meet our every need?

Do we believe or reject Him when He warns us that the love of money is the root of every kind of evil?

Do we believe or reject Him when He tells us that knowing, memorizing and obeying his word will keep us from sin?

Do we believe or reject Him when He says that no one comes to the Father except through him?

What would this woman’s response be: Faith or rejection?

John 4:27-30

The disciples attitude towards women reflected that of the culture, but Jesus never obeyed the traditions of men that violated God’s value system and they did not dare to question him.

The woman was so excited about her encounter with him that she just left her waterpot and hurried back into the town. Notice what was most impressive to her about their conversation.

“He told me everything I ever did.”

TELL YOUR FRIEND WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU

All any of us have to really share is what Jesus Christ has done for us personally. That is why it is so essential to keep growing in our experience with him and in our knowledge of His Word so that we have something fresh to share with others. We cannot give others water from a dry well.

This could not be the Messiah, could it?

It is interesting to see how her perception of Jesus had progressed as He gradually revealed himself. He went from being a man by the well to a Jew to a prophet to the Messiah.

CULTIVATE THE RELATIONSHIP BY INCREASING SELF-REVELATION

Friendships and love grow as we reveal ourselves, accept and trust each other and challenge each other. Friendships are pretty sterile if all you do is talk about surface stuff. We all need friends who know who we really are and love us anyway.

John 4:39-41

Look at the impact this immoral woman had on her community. The disciples had gone into the town and only brought back bread. She went in and brought back the town. She was someone none of us would want to represent us. But Jesus was not ashamed to be identified with her.

Jesus stayed with these Samaritans for 2 more days at their request. What did he teach them in those 2 days? Their conclusion is revealing.

John 4:42

This man really is the Savior of the world. (NIV)

Jesus had given them a world view. Not just the provincial idea that the Jews had that the Messiah would deliver Israel from Roman rule. The world needs a greater deliverance than that from political or economic oppression. The world needs deliverance from sin. Maybe Jesus even told them He would die for the sins of the world and rise again from the dead and they believed in Him. But how did it all start?

It started with Jesus truly reaching out in friendship to this outcast woman. He initiated the contact. He revealed himself to her because she needed what He had to offer, and He accepted her as she was. He did not compromise the truth to win her favor. She believed him and he quenched her thirst for a secure relationship with a Person, a heavenly Father who would love her unconditionally forever. And her witness to her townspeople resulted in their conversion as well.

Now I would like to go back to the conversation Jesus had with His disciples while she was telling the good news back in town.

John 4:31-34

The disciples were as literal in their understanding as the woman was. Jesus spoke of the complete satisfaction that comes from doing what God wants us to do. Many of you know the unparalleled joy it is to see a person trust the Savior because of your efforts.

Now as they were gathered by the well, Jesus turned their attention to the town on the hill. A stream of people was already coming down. This was the harvest ready to be gathered in.

TRUE FRIENDS SHARE JESUS CHRIST WITH OTHERS

He tells us here, as he told them, that we all are to be working at gathering in a crop for eternal life. That means we are to be involved in evangelism. One will sow the seed, another water it, another cultivate it and another reap it. But we will all rejoice together. All around us are fields of people ripe for harvest. But we must gather them in. We must learn how to make friends, and be a true friend to them just as Jesus was. Remember, He was called the Friend of sinners.

What does Jesus reveal to us about God, our heavenly Father?

Our heavenly Father is a seeking God. He initiates relationships

He knew all about her life. He is omniscient

Our heavenly Father is Spirit, He fills the universe (omnipresent),

He values women as much as He does men. He cares for us individually

He is patient with our ignorance and blindness.

He leads us gently into light.

He makes us confront our sins not to condemn but to deliver us.

Our Father loves us and proved it by sending his Son to be the Savior of the world

Our heavenly Father wants our worship to be in spirit and truth.

He wants to use us to bring others into his family.

He wants to be our Friend as well as our Father.

Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, NIV)

That is exactly what he did when He died on the cross and rose from the dead.

He also said,

You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14, NIV)

If sharing your faith is difficult for you, tell your heavenly Father that you want to be obedient, but you need His help. He will show you how to approach a person and what to say.

Let us be true friends to others and introduce them to the greatest Friend of all, our Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Who is Jesus part two

March 26, 2018

We in God’s family must examine ourselves to answer honestly 2 questions:

Do I believe the Bible is the inerrant, authoritative Word of God and totally true?

Do I believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ, that He was the fully human and fully divine Son of God?

John 1:1 calls the Son of God, the Word for good reason. Words reveal our invisible thoughts. In the same way Jesus made the invisible God visible. How did He do it?

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….No one has ever seen God but God, the One and Only, who is at the Fathers side, has made him known. John 1:14, 18 (NIV)

When did the Word become flesh? When did God become a human being? God the Son left heaven for a few short years to become a man. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and placed in her womb the Holy one who was the Son of God. When Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago, God entered this physical world and lived among us. No one has ever seen God’s essence but God the Son has made him visible and knowable. He said Himself, Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9.

The Son revealed that we have a heavenly Father. And what do we see when we see Jesus? The glory of a God who is full of grace and truth. Our God is not a cosmic ogre waiting to destroy us but a merciful, gracious Father who welcomes us into His family.

This is the distinctive difference between the OT and the NT. The almighty, sovereign God of the OT is the personal heavenly Father of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. In the NT God is called Father over 240 times as compared to a small handful of times in the OT.

“You sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father is the Christian name for God.” (J. I. Packer)

This is hard for some of us. If you had a loving, caring earthly father, it is easy to transfer that image to a heavenly Father, just multiply it by a million. But if you had a distant, absent or abusive father, you will have a problem. You will have to disconnect everything you experienced with your earthly father and learn how wonderful your heavenly Father is and choose to believe it.

That is why Jesus spoke so often of God as our heavenly Father. Then His life showed us what the Father is like. But why was Jesus Christ able to reveal the invisible God? Because of who He is. We cannot disconnect Jesus from God. He was not just a perfect man or an ideal example. He was God in a human body. Immanuel, God with us.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Rhianna, lung infection

Pray for Paul C, kind of wandering away from the flock

Pray for Jimmie H, anger issues, Vietnam Vet, PTSD, on full disability, pray for peace of mind.

 

Who is Jesus

March 25, 2018

What do we really know about Jesus? Who is Jesus anyway?

Why is this such an important question? Because the answer determines life on earth and life in eternity.

God has always been the eternal mystery. God created the human heart with an inner longing to know God, even though it cannot always identify that longing. Pascal called it a God shaped vacuum. But how can a person come to know God? Does the universe give us any evidence that God really exists?

Rom. 1:19-20 tells us that God has revealed His existence, divine power and His divine nature through His created world. And Rom. 2 tells us that He has revealed His moral nature through the conscience that all people have that sense of right and wrong. So just from this evidence every person on earth can believe that there is a great and powerful God who has righteous moral standards.

But we still do not really know Him, do we? What is He like? What does He think? How does He feel about people? Is He distant and unreachable? Is He sitting up there waiting to zap us when we sin? Is it possible to know Him personally? God knew our need and the impossibility of our reaching Him through human reason or human effort, so He revealed Himself in two powerful ways.

Heb. 1:1-3 tells us the lengths God went to so that we might not only know He exists but that we may have a personal relationship with Him.

Hebrews 1:1

God spoke verbally to men in OT times, either directly or through visions and dreams. He gave these prophets His message to give to His people. Over a period of about 1500 years His Words were written down by about 40 human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit, the divine Author. The Bible is God’s written revelation, inerrant in the original manuscripts. It is our only source for the true knowledge of God

The central message of the OT is that God created men and women for a relationship with Himself. But our sin separated us from God. So God promised to come Himself to redeem His fallen creatures and make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him. God promised that a divine Savior would come to earth and reveal God’s glory to us.

The NT tells us that He kept his promise and the Savior came. He not only spoke God’s Word to us but He revealed God’s nature.

Hebrews 1:2

The Son of God is God’s final revelation to us. He is the fullest revelation of God that we will ever have here on earth. Do you not see why Satan has tried through the centuries to distort and deny who Jesus really is?

The sad thing is that one of the greatest distorters of the truth about Jesus is today’s church. The false prophets, the Joel Osteen’s with their god of plenty or Max Lucado, who is so afraid to preach about hell in his own church. Or the countless other preachers whose goal is to line their own pockets, I mean do you really need to have a 14k gold toilet, come on Kate.

Fame and preachers seems to be a recipe for disaster. The better known you are the more letters you get from women who claim God told them they would bear your baby. It’s really disturbing when you get sent a pair of women’s underwear in your mail and a letter telling you that God has revealed to them they will be your next concubine. Next? Whoa, I must have missed the first one.

Then there’s the $19.95 book about a secret that God revealed.

All of this could be ended by one thing, personal attention to the bible, but that’s not sexy enough.

Oh well, for only $9.99 I will tell you who the now living Anti-Christ is, no, it’s not Donald Trump.

 Blessing from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Shawn and Brittany, who got married today. Pray for their families who hopefully won’t lead them down the wrong path.

 

Tested

February 28, 2018

WORD STUDIES, PROBABLY MY FAVORITE KIND OF BIBLE STUDY.

TODAY PHILIPPIANS 1:10

            so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

“Approve” (dokimazōg, Gk.) is a word used for testing metal in order to find it genuine. The day of Christ will be a time of judgment; but as the recipients of the epistle have a personal relationship with the Judge Himself, they need not fear eternal separation from God (damnation; hell). Their works, however, will be judged (see 1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:9–11); so Paul urges that they approve and practice those things which would show them to be sincere and without offense in that day. Verse 11 delineates how they should want to appear before the One who judges each believer according to his or her works: “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (v. 11). Although salvation is by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8, 9), judgment will still be by works, precluding, of course, the loss of salvation (2 Cor. 5:9–11; James 2:14–26). Paul does not want them to lose their rewards (1 Cor. 3:15

SINCERE; ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIBLE STUDY WORDS

BACK IN THE TIMES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, IF YOU WERE GOING TO BUY A STATUE, YOU ALWAYS WENT TO THE SCULPTORS AT NOON. THIS WAY YOU WOULD PICK THE STATUE AND HAVE THEM MOVE IT OUT INTO THE COURTYARD IN THE BRIGHT SUNSHINE; AND THEN WHILE YOU HAGGLED ABOUT THE PRICE AFTER ABOUT 20 MINUTES YOU WOULD BEGIN AT THE HEAD OF THE STATUE AND BEGIN PRESSING AND FEELING FOR SOFT SPOTS, THESE WERE PLACES WHERE EITHER THE MARBLE HAD A DEFECT OR THE SCULPTOR MADE A MISTAKE.

HE WOULD THEN TAKE CHIPS OF MARBLE AND MARBLE DUST AND MIX IT WITH WAX AND FILL THE DEFECTS. YOU HAGGLED OVER THE PRICE BASED ON HOW MANY SOFT SPOTS OR DEFECTS YOU FOUND.

THE WORD SINCERE LITERALLY MEANS “TESTED BY THE SUN” OR IN OUR CASE WE ARE BROUGHT UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF THE LIGHT OF GOD AND ARE “SON” TESTED.

THIS IS WHY PAUL TALKS ABOUT US BEING ‘APPROVED’ AND THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST (ANOTHER GREAT WORD STUDY WE WILL DO LATER) WE WILL BE JUDGED AS BELIEVERS, NOT ABOUT OUR SALVATION BUT ABOUT OUR MOTIVES. IT IS HERE THAT THE ‘WOOD, HAY AND STUBBLE’ OF OUR LIVES WILL BE BURNED AWAY AND ONLY THE SINCERE THINGS THAT WE HAVE DONE WILL STAND THE TEST OF BEING ‘SON’ APPROVED.

THE SCUM OF OUR LIVES WILL BE TOSSED ASIDE AND THE CHRISTIAN SADLY CAN EXPERIENCE LOSS. SOMETHING NOT OFTEN PREACHED ABOUT FROM OUR PULPITS.

SO OUR PRAYER TODAY SHOULD GO ALONG OF THE LINES OF THIS; “FATHER LET YOUR SON TEST ME AND SHOW ME THOSE PLACES THAT APPEAR NOBLE AND GREAT AND IT EVEN LOOKS LIKE I’M BUILDING FOR THE KINGDOM, BUT YOU SEE THE MOTIVES OF MY HEART AND WHY I’M REALLY DOING IT. EXAMINE ME AND LET ME DO YOUR WORK FROM A SINCERE HEART.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Paid in Full

February 26, 2018

My three favorite books of the Bible, Genesis, Isaiah, and Romans. If I could have only one Book it would be Romans. I’ve done more sermons in the Book of Romans and more in chapter 7 and 8; so here is one of my favorite passages.

Romans 8:1-13

In Romans 7, Paul showed us that Christians still wrestle with remaining, indwelling sin are defined in the Glossary.. He says: “But what I hate I do” (7:15). But, at the same time, Christians have experienced a revolution in consciousness—a real disgust over sin and (now) an inability to find any lasting pleasure in it: “But what I hate I do.” These two facts keep us from either the legalism that says: Real Christians don’t struggle with sin anymore, or the permissiveness that says: Real Christians are human; they sin just like anyone else. The Spirit of God has come in and transformed our “inner being” and self (7:22) so we want God and holiness, but our “flesh” or “sinful nature” is still powerful enough to keep us from doing what our new desires want.

But Romans 7 does not say everything about the Christian life. Our new condition—a “double nature”—can actually lead to more distress unless we “live … according to the Spirit” (8:4*.). Paul gives us directions on how to live in the Spirit. Unless we do, we will find ourselves continually doing what we hate.

No Condemnation

Before showing us how to live according to God’s Spirit, though, Paul wants to show us how God’s Son has given us life. Verse 1 begins “therefore”—he could be reaching right back to sections such as 3:21-27 (as John Stott suggests) or to the previous two chapters (Douglas Moo’s position), where Paul has characterized the Christian as one in whom sin is still powerful, but whose inner “true” self is “a slave to God’s law” (7:25), and who can look forward to being rescued “from this body of death … through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

However far back in his letter Paul is looking, the great truth of 8:1 is captured in two words: “no condemnation *.” These two words tell us of our position as Christians. To be “not condemned” is, of course, a legal term; it means to be free from any debt or penalty. No one has any charges against you. A person who is in Christ Jesus is not under any condemnation from God. Paul already said this in Romans 5:16 and 18.

This is tremendous! It means God has nothing against us! He finds no fault in us. He finds nothing to punish us for.

However, the phrase Paul uses is not simply that Christians are “not condemned.” This is a much stronger phrase than that. He says that for Christians there is no condemnation at all. It doesn’t exist for us. It’s not that we have moved out from under it for a while, but that it could return. No; there is no condemnation for us at all—it doesn’t exist anymore.

The reason it is important to mention this is that many think that a Christian is only temporarily out from under condemnation. Many want to limit the meaning of this phrase to our past, or to our past and present. But Paul is saying categorically that condemnation no longer exists at all for a believer. It is not waiting in the wings to come back and cloud our future!

Many believe that Christians who confess sin and then live a good life are forgiven and are, at that moment, not condemned. But they believe that, should they sin, they are back under condemnation until they confess and repent again. In other words, if a Christian man were to sin, he would again come under condemnation and could be lost if he died in that state. If this were true, then Christians would be people who are always moving back and forth, in and out of condemnation.

But this view doesn’t square at all with the comprehensiveness and intensity of Paul’s statement. Paul says quite literally that condemnation itself no longer exists for us—“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). Thus, the moment we come into Christ Jesus, condemnation is gone forever. There is no more condemnation left for us—it is gone. There can never be condemnation for us. There is nothing but acceptance and welcome for us!

The Problem of Forgetfulness

The great twentieth-century Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that: “Most of our troubles are due to our failure to realize the truth of this verse.” What happens if we forget that there is “now no condemnation”?

On the one hand, we feel far more guilt, unworthiness and pain than we should. From this may come drivenness from a need to “prove ourselves”; great sensitivity to criticism, defensiveness; a lack of confidence in relationships; a lack of confidence and joy in prayer and worship; and even addictive behavior, which can be a reaction to a deep sense of guilt and unworthiness.

On the other hand, we will have far less motivation to live a holy life. We have fewer resources for self-control. Christians who don’t understand “no condemnation” only obey out of fear and duty. That is not nearly as powerful a motivation as love and gratitude. If we don’t grasp the full wonder of “now no condemnation,” we will understand each word of the rest of 8:1-13, but completely miss the sense of it! Lloyd-Jones summed this up with a useful illustration:

“The difference between an unbeliever sinning and a Christian sinning is the difference between a man transgressing the laws of … [the] State, and … a husband [who] has done something he should not do in his relationship with his wife. He is not breaking the law, he is wounding the heart of his wife. That is the difference. It is no longer a legal matter, it is a matter of personal relationship and … love. The man does not cease to be the husband [legally, in that instance]. Law does not come into the matter at all … In a sense it is now something much worse than a legal condemnation. I would rather offend against a law of the land objectively outside me, than hurt someone whom I love … [In that case] You have sinned, of course, but you have sinned against love … [so] You may and you should feel ashamed, but you should not feel condemnation, because to do so is to put yourself back ‘under the law.’”

(Romans Chapters 7:1 – 8:4, pages 271-272)

No Slavery

Verse 1, then, reminds us of the central argument of Romans 1 – 7: there is no condemnation for sin for believers. Verse 2 explains a second aspect to God’s victory, on our behalf, over sin—there is now no bondage to sin, either. “Through Christ Jesus” (v 2)—through faith in him—”the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” As we saw in Romans 7 (see Romans 1 – 7 For You, page 168), Paul uses the word “law” to mean:

God’s law or standards.

A general principle.

A force or power.

So in 8:2, “the law” seems fairly clearly to carry the third meaning. The Holy Spirit comes to free us from bondage to the sin within our hearts. So verse 1 tells us we are delivered from the legal condemnation of sin; verse 2 that we are being delivered from the actual power of sin. Put another way, salvation deals with our legal guilt (v 1) and our internal corruption (v 2).

Some people wonder about the relationship of verse 1 to verse 2. Paul basically says: There is no condemnation for Christians because the Holy Spirit frees us from sin. This could be read to mean that our sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the cause or the ground of our justification —that it is as we fight sin and obey God that we are made right with God.

But all of Romans up to this point denies that. Instead, Paul is likely saying: We know we are out of condemnation because God has sent the Holy Spirit into our life to free us from sin.

How God Did It

In verses 3-4, Paul shows us how God has achieved the two aspects of salvation (no guilt, no bondage). First, God sent his Son to become human (“in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3) and become a sin offering. In other words, the death of Christ defeats sin legally, by paying the debt. Second, God did this not simply to defeat sin legally, but to wipe it out actually in our lives: “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who … [live] according to the Spirit.” The work of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to obey the law (albeit never perfectly, and thus never in a way that contributes to, nor undermines, our salvation). The great British pastor John Stott explained it this way:

“We are set free from the law as a way of acceptance, but obliged to keep it as a way of holiness. It is as a ground of justification that the law no longer binds us … But as a standard of conduct the law is still binding, and we seek to fulfill it as we walk according to the Spirit.” (Men Made New, pages 82-83)

But why did God send his Son to bear our condemnation, and send his Spirit to break our bondage? Verse 4 tells us that everything Christ did for us—his incarnation (“sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3), his death and his resurrection—was all in order (for the purpose) that we might live a holy life. This is an amazing point. The thing Jesus lives for, the purpose of his entire life, is to make us holy, fulfilling “the righteous requirements of the law.” This is the greatest possible motive for living a holy life. Whenever we sin, we endeavor to frustrate the aim and purpose of the entire life, death and ministry of Jesus Christ! If this doesn’t work as an incentive for living a holy life, nothing will.

Mind Matters

In the rest of this section (indeed, in the rest of the chapter), Paul is going to focus on the second great benefit of being “in Christ”—overcoming sin in our lives. After all, as he has shown in heartfelt detail in chapter 7, not only is there no hope in ourselves for our salvation, but there is also no hope in ourselves for our obedience. For any real change, we cannot rely on our own efforts, but only, as Paul now explains, on the work of the Spirit.

How do we overcome sin with the Spirit? Or, to put it another way, how do we “live in accordance with the Spirit” (8:5), in the way that our inner self truly desires (7:22)? The people who do this are those who “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (8:5). Paul says that the connection between living and thinking is a tight and close one. Literally he says: “For those being according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but those being according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” In other words, whatever you have set your mind on shapes your lifestyle and character. What does it mean to “mind” something or “set the mind”? Even in English, when the word “mind” is used as a verb, it has a stronger meaning than simply “to think about.” It means to focus intently on something, to be preoccupied with something, to have the attention and the imagination totally captured by something.

The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it—that is what you really live for. That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind. The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.

Questions for Reflection

Do you ever feel under condemnation? What causes you to feel this way; and how will you make sure you remember “there is now no condemnation” next time?

In what way(s) will knowing that Jesus’ ministry was in order to make you holy motivate you to live differently today?

What do you do with your solitude? How will you fix your thoughts on the gospel today?

Part Two

The Things of the Spirit

So a successful fight against sin begins by “mind[ing] … the things of the Spirit” (8:5, AV translation). This is not the same thing as simply thinking about religion all the time, or theology in general. The “things” of the Spirit would be those things to which the Spirit draws attention; to “mind” the Spirit would be to be preoccupied by the things that preoccupy the Spirit.

What are those things? In the rest of chapter 8, we will see that the Spirit comes to show us that we are sons and daughters of the Lord. We will explore this more in the next chapter, but it is worth seeing here what the “things” or truths the Spirit wants us to “mind” are:

Verse 14 will tell us that: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Verses 15-16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.

Verses 26-27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.

In other words, the rest of Romans 8 tells us what the Spirit is preoccupied with: how in Christ we are adopted, loved and welcomed.

A parallel passage is Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated … your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Here, Paul tells us to be preoccupied with “things above”: We are to remember that we have been raised with Christ and are accepted in him before the Father. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, but the principle is the same. We are to be preoccupied with our standing in Christ. We are to drill into our minds and hearts his love and adoption of us. To “mind … the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) means never to forget our privileged standing or the fact that we are loved, and to let this dominate our thinking, our perspectives, and therefore our words and actions.

Everybody Minds Something

Ultimately, Paul says, everyone will “mind” something—we will either be preoccupied by the things of the Spirit, or “the sinful nature” (v 5). “Sinful nature” is how the NIV1984 translates the Greek word sarx—ESV and NIV2011 render it “flesh.” It is the desires and would-be-dictates of our senses, a worldview that is worldly rather than godly and self-centered rather than Christ-focused.

Whatever preoccupies the mind controls the life—and one preoccupation results in death, the other in life and peace (v 6). Clearly, someone who does not possess the Spirit of God, and is therefore not a Christian (v 9b), is facing the eternal death of just condemnation from God. But it is not simply, or even primarily, future life and death that Paul has in view here. Rather, he is referring to the brokenness and sense of dislocation that are experienced in this life by those who “have their minds set on what [the sinful] nature desires” (v 5). God created mankind to flourish in relationship with him, enjoying knowing him as we live in his world. So being controlled by our own desires rather than his can only lead to a life that is far less than life should be. It must lead to conflict (internally and with others) instead of peace, to slavery instead of freedom (see Romans 6), and to death rather than life.

We can take any negative emotion and see how this works out. Let’s say I am becoming extremely worried about something. Concern is unavoidable unless you are a totally uncaring and indifferent person. If you care about causes or people or goals, you will worry or have concerns. But if the worry becomes debilitating , it is because I am forgetting that I am a child of God, and that my heavenly Father would only exercise his control over the universe in a way that would be loving to his own. Over-worry is forgetting the “things of the Spirit.”

Another example is when guilt and a sense of unworthiness drive us. A sign of this is when we take on too many things, when we assume a crushing number of responsibilities, because we are trying to “work off” or “make up for” our sin. In this case, we are also forgetting the “things of the Spirit.” 1 John 3:20 says: “Whenever our hearts condemn us … God is greater than our hearts.” If we remember we are adopted children, we “go over the head” of our hearts when we feel unworthy.

Hostile to God

Romans 8:7 is simple and stark: “The sinful mind is hostile to God.” The mind is not neutral ground, and cannot love one preoccupation without rejecting the other. A mind “that is set on the flesh” (ESV translation) must also be treating God and the desires of his Spirit as an enemy. This is why our minds are, naturally, unable to deal with sin. We may realize that a particular impulse is unhelpful, or that a certain course of action is destructive. We may even decide to cut it out, and may do so successfully. But the root of sin is still implanted in the mind—hostility to God. So sin will still grow unchecked in our lives.

And that hostility makes us incapable of pleasing God. Verse 8 is an equally striking statement: “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Left to ourselves, we are totally unable to live in a way that causes our Creator to approve of us. Why? Because the mind that drives the actions is acting out of hostility to him. The person controlled by their own flesh is able to have a thought that is good, or perform an action that is right. But it cannot please God, since it is thought or done in enmity toward him.

Here is a helpful illustration: a man in a rebel army may look after his comrades, may keep his uniform smart, and so on. Those are “good”—but they are done in hostility to the rightful ruler. You would never expect that ruler to hear of this rebel’s conscientiousness or generosity and be pleased by his conduct in rebellion!

But none of this needs to be, or ought to be, the way “you”—Christians—live (v 9). Every Christian is “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit,” since the Spirit lives in anyone who belongs to Christ. When we received Christ and became righteous in God’s sight, the Holy Spirit came in and made us spiritually alive. The Christian has a body that is decaying (v 10), yet also enjoys a spirit, a mind, that is alive.

And, Paul says, not only must our spirits/minds not follow our flesh now, but one day our flesh will follow our spirit. In Greek thought, the physical was bad, to be rejected and hopefully one day to be left behind; the spiritual was good, to be embraced. Verse 11 overturns all this: ”He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Someday, even our bodies will be totally renewed and made eternally alive by the Spirit. There is no dualism (body bad, spirit good) here—one day, both will be perfected.

For now, though, there is still within us the remaining sinful nature, which is hostile and inimical to our growing spiritual life. And even as we look forward to our bodies being given life (v 11), we must “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (v 13—the end of this verse is best seen as the end of a sentence, unlike in the NIV). As John Stott argues, Paul is still likely referring to an experience of life, and death, now—not in the future. Paul says here: If you let the remaining sinful nature alone—if you allow it to prosper and grow—there will be terrible trouble. Instead, you must by the Spirit attack and put it to death. The more you put to death the sinful nature, the more you will enjoy the spiritual life that the Holy Spirit gives—life and peace (v 6).

Mortification

This process of “putting to death” is what earlier theologians used to call “mortification.” They got it from the old King James Version translation of the verse: “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (v 13).

So what do verses 12-13 tell us about what mortification is, and how we do it? First, it means a ruthless, full-hearted resistance to sinful practice. The very word translated as “put to death” (Greek word thanatoute) is violent and total. It means to reject totally everything we know to be wrong; to declare war on attitudes and behaviors that are wrong—give them no quarter, take no prisoners, pull out all the stops.

This means a Christian doesn’t play games with sin. You don’t aim to wean yourself off it, or say: I can keep it under control. You get as far away from it as possible. You don’t just avoid things you know are sin; you avoid the things that lead to it, and even things that are doubtful. This is war!

Second, it means changing one’s motivation to sin by remembering to apply the gospel . This process of “mortification” goes deeper than merely resisting sinful behavior. It looks at the motives of the heart. Verse 12 says: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature.” This is a critical statement. “Therefore” refers to the statement before, in which Paul tells us we have been redeemed by Christ’s righteousness and will someday be totally delivered from all evil and pain in the bodily resurrection. Then Paul turns and says: “Therefore … we have an obligation…” Some translations express it differently: “We are debtors, not to the flesh” (NRSV). Paul means that if we remember what Christ has done and will do for us, we will feel the obligations of love and gratitude to serve and know him.

Paul is saying that sin can only be cut off at the root if we expose ourselves constantly to the unimaginable love of Christ for us. That exposure stimulates a wave of gratitude and a feeling of indebtedness. Sin can only grow in the soil of self-pity and a feeling of “owed-ness.” I’m not getting a fair shake! I’m not getting my needs met! I’ve had a hard life! God owes me; people owe me; I owe me! That’s the heart attitude of “owed-ness” or entitlement. But, Paul says, you must remind yourself that you are a debtor. If you bathe yourself in the remembrance of the grace of God, that will loosen, weaken and kill sin at the motivational level.

Therefore, “put to death” (v 13) is just a sub-set under “mind the things of the Spirit” (v 5). Mortification withers sin’s power over you by focusing on Christ’s redemption in a way that softens your heart with gratitude and love; which brings you to hate the sin for itself, so it loses its power of attraction over you.

In summary, then, we kill sin in the Spirit when we turn from sinful practices ruthlessly and turn our heart from sinful motivations with a sense of our debt to love and grace, by minding the things of the Spirit.

Preaching Grace to Our Minds

This means that, if we are serious about mortifying the misdeeds of the body (and verses 6 and 13 should offer sufficient motivation to take this seriously!), we need to preach grace-centered mini-sermons to ourselves throughout our day, and especially when tempted.

Remember, your life is an expression of your mind (v 5). And many Christians try to control themselves with law-centered mini-sermons. We say to ourselves things like: If I do that, God will get me or: It’s against my Christian principles or: It will hurt people around me or: I will be embarrassed or: It will hurt my self-esteem or: I’ll hate myself in the morning. Some or all of these may be true—but Paul tells us they are inadequate! They don’t kill sin. That is taking your temptation to the law and using fear to deter yourself.

But we are to use the logic of the gospel on ourselves. Look what God’s done for me! Is this how I respond to him? We’re to take our temptations to the gospel, and find God’s love for us, in sending his Son to the cross and his Spirit into our hearts, showing us the vileness of that sin, motivating us to love our Savior, and removing our desire to live according to the flesh.

Here is how one Puritan pastor, John Owen, preached to his heart with the gospel:

“What have I done? What love, mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on? Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Spirit for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash? … What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? … Do I account communion with him of so little value? … Shall I endeavor to disappoint the [very purpose] of the death of Christ?” (John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Matthew, he’s been really ill and in the last week has been rushed to the emergency room twice, they still don’t know what’s happening.

Pray for Rosie, cancer in her ear, removed a tumor the size of a grape. Long process ahead for her, she’s 36. Pray for healing and calmness.

We are not the world

February 19, 2018

It’s always good to know who your enemies are. And, may I tell you, beyond the shadow of any doubt or peradventure, that you that you have three enemies at least, and they are three big ones: the world, the flesh, and the devil. And, no Christian can afford to be ignorant of these enemies, for, to be ignorant is to be unprepared, and to be unprepared is to fall and to go down in shame and disgrace and ignominious defeat.

Now, of these three enemies, I want to just take one, and talk to you about that one enemy—and, that one enemy is the world. And, I’ve entitled this message “Your Friendly Enemy,” because the world seems so friendly, so charming, so innocuous, sometimes beautiful, sometimes helpful, sometimes harmless. But, I want to warn you that what the Bible calls the world is an enemy and a deadly enemy.

Now, what do we mean when we say the world? We have to be very careful because we’re certainly not talking about the earth—Planet Earth. Sometimes the word cosmos, that’s translated “world,” speaks of Planet Earth. For example, it does, in Acts 17, where the Bible says the Lord made the world and everything that is in it (Acts 17:24). There’s nothing evil about the rocks and the trees, the birds, the ocean, the fields, the mountains. Thank God for these things. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow” (Luke 12:27).

There’s nothing wrong with the material physical universe, and never think that there is. And, when the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about Planet Earth. Do you have that?

When the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about the people of the world. The Bible says, in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). There, he’s talking about the people of the world. Now, if God loves those people, we ought to love them. “Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in His sight.” He’s not talking, therefore, about the physical universe or the physical earth, he’s not talking about the people, some 5 billion of them now that live on Planet Earth.

When the Bible uses the word world, what does the Bible mean? When the Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”—1 John 2:15? Well, it’s the word cosmos. And, what does that mean? It means a system, an order.

there is a system that the Bible calls the world, which is the world of wickedness—and we’re told, not to love it. 1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love [this system], the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

What we are talking about—this ungodly system—first of all, it has a prince. The prince of the world is the devil. Now, the Bible makes that plain. For example, in John 12:31, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31). What Jesus meant by that, is that Satan rules this ungodly system. He is the prince of this world. In John 14:30, again, he says, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). That is, Jesus had no itch the devil could scratch. But, there again, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world.” And, in John 16:11, He spoke, “of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

This world has a prince, and the prince of this world is Satan himself. That’s the reason the Apostle John said, in 1 John 5:19, “And we know that… the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). The whole world, the whole system, lies in wickedness. And, the word wickedness there may be personified. It literally means the whole world lies in “the wicked one.” And, the word lieth there actually means, “to sleep in the bosom, or the lap, of one.” That is, Satan’s got this whole world in his hand.

We sing “God’s got the whole world in His hands,” but, actually, the Bible says that Satan has this world in his hands. This whole world lieth, sleepeth, in the bosom, in the lap, of the wicked one. So the world—put it down, number one—has a prince.

There is an enticing network of ideas and values that the devil has skillfully woven together in order to attract you as a child of God. For example, 1 Corinthians 2:12, speaks of the spirit of this world (1 Corinthians 2:12). 1 Corinthians 3:19, speaks of the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 3:19). 1 Corinthians 7:31, speaks of the passion of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31). And, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s from the schoolhouse to the courthouse, from Madison Avenue to Wall Street, whether it’s Hollywood or your neighborhood—it makes no difference. There is a philosophy that is permeating all that we see out there, and, my dear friend, it is your enemy.

The world wears a cloak or disguise, whenever a freedom is taken away from you that means the world is winning. Think of every dictator, every socialist, that is the world, trying to control all you do. Who rules the world, the devil, who controls the tv you watch, the media you listen to and read, the devil. If you haven’t put on the filter of God’s word and spirit you are being brainwashed into believing one thing. That you need the world, the system, government to take care of you. No self-reliance, no individuality, no ability to protect yourself.

Here sign up for free food, free housing, free education, free health care, surely you’ve heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” there is no such thing as free, all this free stuff is borne on the back of the taxpayer, the distribution of wealth, socialism.

So any political figure in any country that promises to take care of you by robbing you of God given rights and freedoms is of the world and therefore of the devil. So how comfortable do you want to be? That’s what it really comes down to.

Now there is a difference between being provided for by God and a handout.

That moron standing on the street corner with the cardboard sign reading “God bless you.” is part the world, he’s depending on your guilt that your comfortable. He’s telling you he deserves to be taken care of, by you!

Ok, my blood pressure is shooting up, stay tuned.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

school of faith part three

February 14, 2018

PART THREE WITH A RANT IN THE MIDDLE. (never be afraid to speak your mind, no one has to agree with your point of view, but we do need to express our opinions)

The School of Faith part three

God’s photograph album of all his believers has his saints with warts and all. I mean, I’m glad because really if Abram is the father of all them that believe, that can be an encouragement to me. Because when I see how God helped Abram in his faltering faith then I can learn how God can help me in faltering faith.

Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country”—underscore that—”and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will shew thee.” Nothing could be clearer than that. Get out. Leave your kindred and go to the place that I will show thee. Did he do that? Well go down to Genesis 12:4-5: “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him.” Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t he say leave your kinfolks? Yes. Who is Lot? His nephew.

So first of all our faith falters or fails when we don’t follow the direction God gives us. Not being obedient to the Word of God. I’m always amazed at how people will say they believe the bible, literally, but refuse to follow the principles laid out in verses. For example; “not being unequally yoked” II Corinthians 6:14; that applies to marriage, business, all aspects. But it also has other applications, now these are just my personal applications from years of marriage counseling; a rich girl marries a poor guy, personally I’ve never seen it work; if they try to live in the ‘poor guys’ lifestyle, she’s unhappy. Either the daddy wants to ‘promote’ the guy or the keeps giving money to daughter, so she can be “supported in the manner she’s been accustomed to.” It never works out satisfactorily.

Or the mature Christian marries a newly saved person, oh, their marriage might make it but there is always discontent or frustration, or worse a compromise of values. Water seeks its own level(yes, there are always exceptions).

But, they didn’t go straight to Canaan and they didn’t leave everything that they had behind. Rather than going all of the way, he settled in Haran.

Now, does that remind you of anybody you know? I’d call them half way Christians. I mean, they’re saved, but they only go, it seems like they half way. Rather than forsaking this world as our Lord has taught us to do, we have those hang over sins. I mean, we bring the old things with us, just like Abram did. And, out there are the promises of God, but they’re unclaimed promises. And so, we’re sort of out of paganism, but we’re not into Canaan.

It’s kind of like the discussion of tattoo’s, mine are ok, because they’re Christian tattoos not pagan. Or they’re ok, because I’m not a pagan. Yet the bible says don’t do it. Will tattoos send you to hell, NO, will they cause confusion, probably, will they make you more spiritual, definitely not.

We do have this command in 1 Peter 3:3–4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Granted, this passage is directed at Christian women, but there is a principle here that may be apropos: namely, a person’s external appearance should not be the focus of our attention. Much effort goes into “elaborate hairstyles” and “fine clothes” and jewelry, but that’s not where a woman’s true beauty lies. In the same way, tattoos and body piercings are “outward adornment,” and we should be careful to give more effort to the development of the “inner self,” regardless of our gender.

In relation to tattoos and body piercings, a good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use that particular activity for His own good purposes. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The New Testament does not specifically command against tattoos or body piercings, but it also does not give us any reason to believe God would have us get tattoos or body piercings.

An important scriptural principle on issues the Bible does not specifically address is if there is room for doubt whether it pleases God, then it is best not to engage in that activity. Romans 14:23 reminds us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark them up” with tattoos or body piercings.

I don’t condemn them, but I will never endorse or promote them. It’s one more sign of how much more like the world we’ve become, and I believe they are a sign that most preachers are failing to reach out and make meaningful connections and relevancy to all generations. But that’s just my opinion, and comparing them to another abuse like overeating, is a straw man, and like comparing apples to oranges.

We’re sort of separated from sin, but we’re bringing some sins with us. In other words, it’s just a time of compromise. Now, I’m speaking to many today, you’re saved, and if you died right now you’d go to Heaven, but your faith is so weak. Now, I’ll tell you one of the reasons your faith is so weak, because you’re like Abram was with worldly compromise. Now, what’s the result of worldly compromise? I’ll tell you what is, it’s weakened faith.

Not a popular message, I’m sure, but trust me my heart is in the right place.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Inspired to change

One area where I have found the most help is reading biographies of great Christians from the past. Don’t bother with the biographies of some modern Christian athlete or movie star. Read the lives of men like Calvin, Martin Luther, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Francis Schaeffer. Read missionary biographies of men like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and Jim Elliot. I always come away with some helpful insights, some inspiring challenge, or a better understanding of myself through reading such books.

Recognize who you are in Christ Jesus and ask yourself how are you doing in these roles and how is it reflected in your life and especially to others.

Fellow heir with Christ (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7)

 Justified (Romans 5:1)

 Friend of Christ (John 15:15)

 Citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)

 Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)

 Ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

 Coworker of God (1 Corinthians 3:9)

 Saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2)

 One spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17)

 One with the Father and Son (John 17:11,21-22)

 New creature (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 Righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 One with all believers (Galatians 3:28)

 Free (Galatians 5:1)

 Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)

 Chosen, holy, and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4)

 Loved and chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

 Redeemed (Ephesians 1:7)

 Forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)

 Sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)

 Alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)

 God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

 Complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

 Raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1)

 Christ is life (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4)

 Child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 1:5)

Finally the two things you can do to change is read your bible more and pray more.

Not good at reading, stop reading junk books and turn to serious literature. It will take awhile to get with it. keep a dictionary at hand (not the internet or you’ll get distracted to look at something else). And there are some great books to read about how to read and speed reading. I would often take one speed reading course a year while in seminary, it helped that much.

Pray more by praying everywhere, in the car, walking, working. Read the classics on prayer.

Pray out loud.

Praise, praise God out loud every time and everywhere, you’ll be surprised who chimes in or comments. (positively).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ANGELS ON HIGH

December 26, 2017

THE RELUCTANT TOPIC

I hesitate to even bring this topic up because of all the abuse and false information about angels. However, that leads me to realize that is the very reason we will at least broach the subject briefly.

When areas of theology are slighted, this will likely be one of them, at least in standard books of theology. One has only to note the amount of space devoted to angelology in standard theologies to demonstrate this. However, in the last years of the twenty first century there has been an increasing interest in the subject as well as in Satan and demons. Articles, books, and TV programs featuring angels, though more often “warm and fuzzy” than theologically accurate, have helped generate this interest in angelology. Nevertheless, only the Bible gives us totally accurate information about angels.

Even the great theologian Calvin (1500 AD) was cautious in discussing this subject. Also, neo-orthodoxy’s denial of the objective existence of angels has been countered by the widespread publicity given to demons and their activity. Although people may deny theologically the existence of an order of beings called angels (and demons), practically their reported activity seems to make it impossible to deny their existence. Thus on the one hand man’s bias against anything supernatural rules out in his mind the existence of angels; while on the other hand activity that he cannot explain rationally makes their existence seem necessary.

One book I do recommend is Billy Graham’s book “Angels” for both biblical explanations and some ‘vetted’ stories.

If one accepts the biblical revelation, then there can be no question about the existence of angels. There are three significant characteristics about that revelation. First, it is extensive. The Old Testament speaks about angels just over 100 times, while the New Testament mentions them about 165 times. Of course, any truth has to be stated only one time in the Bible for us to acknowledge it as truth, but when a subject is mentioned as often as angels are, then it becomes that much more difficult to deny it.

Second, angels are mentioned throughout the Bible. The truth about them is not confined to one period of history or one part of the Scriptures or a few writers. They do not belong to some primitive era. Their existence is mentioned in thirty-four books of the Bible from the earliest (whether Genesis or Job) to the last.

Third, the teaching of our Lord includes a number of references to angels as real beings. So to deny their existence is to cast doubt on His veracity.

  1. In the Old Testament

The Old Testament always presents angels as real, objective, existing creatures. In no way are they considered illusions or figments of the imagination. In the thirty-four occurrences of the word in the Mosaic writings, angels always appear as real creatures who do specific things in character with their service as messengers (which is, of course, the meaning of both the Hebrew and Greek words for angels). For example, Abraham ate and conversed with angels (Gen. 18). Many of the references in the Pentateuch and in Judges are to the Angel of Yahweh, who seems to be Deity. An angel executed the judgment on Israel after David wrongly took a census of the people (2 Sam. 24:16—hardly an illusion). Isaiah refers to seraphim (6:2) and Ezekiel, to cherubim (10:1-3). Daniel mentions Gabriel (9:20-27) and Michael (10:13; 12:1). Zechariah mentions angels frequently as agents of God (Zechariah 1) and interpreters of visions (chaps. 1-6). In the psalms angels are depicted as God’s servants who worship Him and who deliver God’s people from harm (34:7; 91:11; 103:20).

  1. In the New Testament

In addition to what our Lord taught about angels, the writers of the New Testament also affirmed their real existence. The Gospel writers relate their ministry to Christ’s birth, life, resurrection, and ascension (Matt. 2:19; Mark 1:13; Luke 2:13; John 20:12; Acts 1:10-11).

In the record of the book of Acts angels were involved in helping God’s servants, opening prison doors for the apostles (5:19; 12:5-11), directing Philip and Cornelius in ministry (8:26; 10:1-7), and encouraging Paul during the storm on his voyage to Rome (27:23-25).

Paul (Gal. 3:19; 1 Tim. 5:21), the writer of Hebrews (1:4), Peter (1 Pet. 1:12), and Jude (v. 6) all assumed the existence of angels in their writings. About sixty-five clear references to angels occur in the Revelation, more than in any other single book of the Bible. Clearly the New Testament furnishes clear, undebatable, and abundant evidence of the existence of angels.

  1. In the Teachings of Christ

Angels ministered to Christ in the wilderness after His temptation by Satan (and, of course, no reporter was present at the Temptation, so His truthfulness is behind the account). He taught that the human state in the resurrection would be like the angels; i.e., non-procreative (Matt. 22:30). Angels will separate the righteous from the wicked at the end of the age (13:39) and will accompany the Lord at His second coming (25:31).

Angels are personal spiritual beings who have intelligence, emotions, and will. This is true of both the good and evil angels (demons). Angels possess intelligence (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), show emotion (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17), and exercise will (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) without true physical bodies. Although they do not have physical bodies, they are still personalities.

Because they are created beings, their knowledge is limited. This means they do not know all things as God does (Matthew 24:36). They do seem to have greater knowledge than humans, however, which may be due to three things. First, angels were created as an order of creatures higher than humans. Therefore, they innately possess greater knowledge. Second, angels study the Bible and the world more thoroughly than humans do and gain knowledge from it (James 2:19; Revelation 12:12). Third, angels gain knowledge through long observation of human activities. Unlike humans, angels do not have to study the past; they have experienced it. Therefore, they know how others have acted and reacted in situations and can predict with a greater degree of accuracy how we may act in similar circumstances.

Though they have wills, angels, like all creatures, are subject to the will of God. Good angels are sent by God to help believers (Hebrews 1:14). Here are some activities the Bible ascribes to angels:

They praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3). They worship God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8-13). They rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7). They serve God (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9). They appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1). They are instruments of God’s judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10). They aid in winning people to Christ (Acts 8:26; 10:3). They observe Christian order, work, and suffering (1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12). They encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24). They care for the righteous at the time of death (Luke 16:22).

Angels are an entirely different order of being than humans. Human beings do not become angels after they die. Angels will never become, and never were, human beings. God created the angels, just as He created humanity. The Bible nowhere states that angels are created in the image and likeness of God, as humans are (Genesis 1:26). Angels are spiritual beings that can, to a certain degree, take on physical form. Humans are primarily physical beings, but with a spiritual aspect. The greatest thing we can learn from the holy angels is their instant, unquestioning obedience to God’s commands.

You can’t call your angel, can’t name or summon an angel. Angels are always male in the bible, so all you feminists with your own personal female angel you’re smoking crack.

WARNING; IF YOU READ ANYTHING THAT TELLS YOU HOW TO TALK OR CONTACT AN ANGEL YOU ARE REALLY GETTING IN TOUCH WITH DEMONS. (ALSO VERY REAL).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM