Friday, October 31, 2008

"For God so loved the world..."

I defy you to watch this video and not cry. Praise God for His love and mercy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

II Peter 1:5-7 The Goal of the Christian Life-Completeness in Christ Part I

I have played saxophone since I was in 5th grade. When I studied music in college, I found some things easier to do than others. I could play long, lyric, expressive passages pretty easily. Technical, fast material was more difficult for me. Successful musicians, on the other hand, are complete musicians. For instance, my saxophone teacher, Jack Sharp, could literally play or do anything musical. He was one amazing dude. His competence in one area complemented his skills in other areas and all his musical abilities worked together to make him a finely tuned playing “mo-sheen”. In much the same way, Peter exhorts believers to develop their spiritual skills so that they may be complete.

Notice the bedrock upon which these godly traits rest—Peter writes to that by applying all diligence “in your faith, supply moral excellence”. Peter calls out to those who “have received a faith of the same kind” (v 1) as he had. This has to be the starting point for any person to be able to live these godly characteristics. A person has to be convinced of the truth of the gospel and the word of God and that conviction must produce real change in the person’s life and character. Peter is not just talking about a head knowledge which might allow a person to make a 100% on a Jesus Pop Quiz. He is talking about a faith that was so strong that a person would be willing to face death for the truth they believed in. Furthermore, the faith he referred to was individual. He says “your faith”. The Church is a corporate organism—the Body of Christ. However, we are not saved corporately but individually. Each person that comes to faith in Christ and bows to Him as their Savior and Lord does so on their own knee. They submit to Him and place their faith in Him. No one else’s faith can save them but their own.

Peter calls for the believer to incorporate 7 characteristics with their faith. First of all, he calls for them to, along with their faith, “supply moral excellence”. The word translated “supply” is the Greek word “epichoregeo” (2023). This word was used at one point to describe someone with the responsibilities of providing for the needs of a large chorus like the chorus that was used for Greek plays. It carries the sense of providing lavishly well beyond the point of need. A Christian is to, alongside of their faith, exercise these other characteristics not one after the other but one along with the others. These are not beads on a string or checking off items on a shopping list whereby one item is placed in a spiritual shopping cart after another but instead the believer is to be like a well trained musician who while playing a technically challenging piece also plays the piece as beautifully as possible. Believers, therefore, supply these characteristics in concert with their faith as a symphony of praise to God the Father.

Peter says that believers should supply along with their faith “moral excellence” which translates the Greek word “arĂȘte” (703). As I understand it from what I’ve been able to read, this word has the idea of completely fulfilling a purpose. For instance, it might be used of a good tool that was able to be used for a job or a plot of land that plentifully produced crops. It is used in verse 3 of this chapter to describe God who is of course complete, perfect, and whole. We should seek to display moral excellence by living the Christian life as we have been called to and empowered to by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, as Peter writes, we should seek to develop along with our moral excellence “knowledge”. Now, as we began to study this epistle we observed that there were those from outside the church that were claiming that you could start with Christ but to really be spiritual you had to uncover “secret knowledge” that, just coincidentally, they could help you discover—probably for a price. As Peter has said, and will say again, the Bible is the complete handbook of spiritual knowledge and “everything pertaining to life and godliness”. However, a person can have head knowledge of Jesus and be lost as a goose. They can know a lot or think that they know a lot and not know Him. And make no mistake, brothers and sisters, our knowing should result in our doing. If we are truly saved by our faith and we are doing our best to live out our faith then as we learn more about God and His word it will change the way that we live. If it doesn’t, we have a problem and we need to examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith.

While these 7 characteristics that Peter refers to are not added like links on a chain we can clearly see in this verse that they work together synergistically as we grow and mature in Christ. Praise God that He’s still working on me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Matthew 5:14-16 The Power of Light

In these verses (13-16) of chapter 5, Matthew records Christ’s description of believers as being distinctive. As we saw when we studied verse 13, salt is distinctive and can become contaminated thereby making it unable to function. As we will see in this verse, light is also distinctive. If you were in a pitch black room and someone turned on a pen light, you would immediately notice it. Light instantly penetrates darkness. You and I live in a very dark world. If the light of the gospel of Christ is going to shine in this world, it must shine through us because, as Jesus continues to tell His disciples about their identity, “You are the light of the world”.

As Charles Spurgeon once noted:

“This title had been given by the Jews to certain of their eminent Rabbis. With great pomposity they spoke of Rabbi Judah, or Rabbi Jochanan, as the lamps of the universe, the lights of the world. It must have sounded strangely in the ears of the Scribes and Pharisees to hear that same title, in all soberness, applied to a few bronzed-faced and horny-handed peasants and fishermen, who had become disciples of Jesus. Jesus, in effect, said, — not the Rabbis, not the Scribes, not the assembled Sanhedrim, but ye, my humble followers, ye are the light of the world.

He gave them this title, not after he had educated them for three years, but at almost the outset of his ministry; and from this I gather that the title was given them, not so much on account of what they knew, as on account of what they were. Not their knowledge, but their character made them the light of the world. They were not yet fully trained in his spiritual school, and yet he saith to them, ‘Ye are the light of the world;’ the fact being, that wherever there is faith in Christ there is light, for our Lord has said ‘I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not walk in darkness.’ ‘The entrance of thy word giveth light.’”

When He made this unusual pronouncement announcing their true identity, He also explained to them their visibility as His disciples. Matthew records that Jesus said “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”. By virtue of its elevation, a city that was sitting on top of some high place would be visible to anyone. Nothing special had to be done to attract attention to the city. People would notice it simply because of its existence due to its location. As Christians, we will stick out like sore thumbs and be unquestionably visible if we are living according to God’s word. In fact, as we will see, we should use this visibility to bring glory and honor to our God. If we are the lights of the world (and we are) and we live in a world of darkness (no doubt about that) we not only should be visible but we MUST in fact be visible. There are those in the darkness that need to see the light and we, brothers and sisters, are that light.

Further, Christ does not simply call to their attention their visibility as lights but also their functionality as the lights of the world. Jesus says that lights are meant to be used. People don’t light a light to cover it up but they use it to give “light to all who are in the house”. We’re not called to sequester ourselves away from the world. The fact that God saved us and that Jesus refers to His disciples as lights of the world means that we have a duty to function as lights. We use lights to see, to read, to move around in our home so that we don’t trip over something or stub our toe in the darkness as we get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. If we don’t use a light and do stub our toe or bust our shin, it hurt’s—badly. As Max Lucado once observed we see people in pain in this world because they’re trying to walk in the darkness. Now, we don’t come to these hurting, angry people with Dr. Phil or Orprah style pseudo-psychology or self help garbage. Rather, we shine the true light of the gospel and call these people to repent of their sins and believe in the Son of God. That, my friends, is how we function as God’s light in the world.

Finally, let us further observe that Jesus didn’t simply identify believers as being the light of the world but rather He calls them to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Dear brothers and sisters, this is an imperative—a command. He is not suggesting that we let our light shine before men; He is giving us marching orders. We are not supposed to hide our light, We are not supposed to withhold our light. In fact, we are supposed to go forth into the world living authentic Christian lives so that the world can see God living in us and through us. When we do that, people will see. Now, not everyone will cheer and pat us on the back. We know from verses 10-12 that when we go to living in this world in opposition to the world system that the world is going to mistreat us. However, there will be those who respond to the call of the gospel. They will repent and believe and they will give glory to God. We bring the saving light of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit uses that light to convict men and women of sin. We can’t save anybody but as we’ve seen in this verse we can be used by God if we will be faithful and obedient to live out the truth of our new life in Christ and shine as lights in a dark world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

J.L Packer on Homosexuality

I don't know what more I could add to what is said in this article but I think it is paramount that Christians stand firm and proclaim the truth of the Bible in spite of attacks from INSIDE of the church. I can think of at least two or three seminaries that need to take some wise counsel from this giant of the faith. Read this link. You'll be encouraged.

FIDE-O: Tolerance of Homosexuality among Christians is Heretical

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Dark is the stain that we cannot hide...."

What can avail to wash it away?
Look, there is flowing a CRIMSON TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Good stuff in the book of Job

Fred over at Hip and Thigh has been writing for some time now a devotional on the book of Job. Let me tell you what, it's some good stuff folks. I would encourage you to catch the latest post here You can read the whole series here. I think you would find it WELL worth your time. Be encouraged, brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Todd(ler) Bentley aka Todd Bentley's Mini-me

When I was pastoring a church part time, my daughter would ocassionally make it up on stage. We didn't freak out about it because she really wasn't hurting anybody. Everybody knew she was just playing and at that point she didn't really "talk" it was more just baby talk. However, the church in the video below seem to honestly think this child is bringing a "word from the Lord". I'll bet you a wooden nickel this kid shows up on TBN with the lady with that big pink hair. I'm sure the Charismaniacs will call him a child prodigy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

II Peter 1:5a You’ve got the tools, now do the job!

The first part of October at work was a lot of “Hurry up and wait” for me. I had a bunch of stuff that I needed to do but could not finish because I was waiting on the organization our team is auditing to get me some information. Finally, about 2 weeks after one guy said he would get a spreadsheet of information that I needed to me, I got some of the information in and was able to do more work. Just imagine, if you will, how my supervisor would have responded if I had just sat there and not worked. I suppose he might have said something like “What are you waiting on? You have everything you need to do your job so let’s get to it”. In much the same way, Peter has spent 4 verses telling us what God has provided for our spiritual development. In this verse, Peter begins to tell us what we should do as a result of that provision.

He writes in verse 5 “Now, for this very reason also”. We have been elected to salvation (“received a faith”), come to a true “knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”, been given supernatural power to live the Christian life (“His divine power has granted to us everything that pertains to life and godliness”), and the transforming power of God’s holy written word (v 4). Peter is therefore saying to us that in view of all this that God has given you your response should be to use what God has given. We now have to tools, let’s put them to work.

Notice that just because God has made provision for our spiritual development that we are not passive partners. Peter tells us we should begin by “applying all diligence”. The word translated applying is the Greek word “pareisphero” (3923) which means “to bear in along side, to introduce simultaneously”. God has provided the spiritual tools but it is our responsibility to use them. As the prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon was quoted as having said “God sends every bird his food, but He doesn’t throw it into the nest”. When God gave the children of Israel manna for food they still had to go out and gather it. God has lavishly provided for us all that we need but if we are going to grow spiritually we will have to go about “applying” the effort needed to grow. If we have truly been redeemed and professed saving faith in Christ we should live differently. Evidence of our conversion is seen in our application of the truths in scripture that we are able to understand as the result of the illumination of the Holy Spirit. As noted in the commentary by Jameson, Faucett, and Brown, this word tells us that we should be “introducing side by side with God’s gift on your part diligence”.

The word “spoude” (4710) is translated “diligence”. This word is similar to the one used in 2 Timothy 2:15 where Paul tells Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, correctly handling the word of truth”. Growing as a Christian toward Christlikeness is hard work. It will take intense regular effort. We can’t just sit around like bumps on a proverbial log and expect to become more like our Lord. We must add or our part. The word carries with it the picture of extraordinary commitment to a person or a cause. We should give our best effort to exercise ourselves toward godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). We can do this by studying our Bible, serving with our spiritual gifts, or encouraging and being encouraged and exhorted by other Christians. As a bible teacher once noted “Peter is calling for an attitude of eagerness and zeal, an abandonment of sluggishness and self-indulgence. Note Peter's addition of the little modifier all (pas = the whole amount or quantity, no holding back) to underline the comprehensiveness of the effort called for. Peter says this is so important that one's effort must be neither half-hearted nor selective. “Christ gave His all to save us. God has given us all we need to become what He has called us to be. Logically, we should give our all by “applying all diligence” in our struggle against the sins and enticements of this world as we seek to draw closer to God and become more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible: Misunderstanding Sodom

This is part three of a series refuting the best defenses of the “Gay is Ok” crowd in the church (notice the “c” is lower case). You can read part one here and part two here. These people have no Biblical case whatsoever. Nevertheless, they do some impressive hermeneutical gymnastics to try to distort, ignore, or misinterpret the clear teaching of God’s word so they can make a case that homosexuality is not immoral. We will deal with another of their favorite passages where they attempt to show that we who hold to a Biblical understanding of sex being between one man and one woman only within the bonds of matrimony are just short sighted, ignorant bigots. Let’s take a look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and see what the Bible has to say.

In Genesis 19, we read that God has sent two angels to Sodom to destroy both Sodom and Gomorrah if they cannot find 5 (?) righteous people within the city. Lot, upon seeing these men in the city, invites them to his house. At first, they refuse saying they will spend the night in the open city. Lot insists that they come to his home and spend the night. Later that night, a mob of men from the city crowd around Lot’s door. In verse 5, they say they want Lot to bring these men out so that they can “know” them.

Now, here’s where the homosexual revisionists try to make like Mary Lou Retton. They say the Hebrew word used here for “know” (yada) can mean to have sexual relations with someone but it can also mean simply to know someone in the sense of a relationship. In other words, these men merely wanted to get to know these strangers. Also, this may have indicated that these men from Sodom were simply suspicious and did not want strangers in their town. Traveling was difficult back then and these men were not guilty of the sin of homosexuality but rather were inhospitable to strangers. That is the sin God punished them for in Sodom. We Christians who claim homosexuality is immoral at all times, you see, have totally missed the point due to our prejudice. For shame.

However, we who are students of the Bible should continue reading. In verse 8, Lot offers to placate the crowd by offering his two virgin daughters so that the crowd of men “could do to them whatever [they] like[d]”. There is nothing in the text to suggest that his daughters did not live in the town. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that Lot knew they intended to have sex with the two men (angels). Therefore, we know that they were not interested in running a couple of strangers out of town but were looking to satisfy their lust through homosexual sin.

It’s really sad that some people just don’t want to take God’s word as meaning what it means or saying what it says. We have seen clearly in these three examples that the arguments of the “Gay is OK” crowd just don’t stand up to the weight of clear scriptural evidence against them. We, as Christians, should continue to proclaim the truth of God’s word about sin and the remedy for sin—a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Elementary Field Trip to Gay Wedding

No, I'm not making this up. If you have a strong stomach, you can read about it here. I am at a loss for words, and that's saying something.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Matthew 5:13 Don’t Live a Useless Life

I am an auditor. One of the entities our office audits makes mortgage loans. It’s not a very polite thing to say, I guess, but the people there are difficult to work with. They are uncooperative, argumentative, and have the idea that we shouldn’t have authority to audit them. On the upside, there is one guy there that does a great Foghorn Leghorn impersonation (Ah say, ah say son…). The running joke for those of us who have been on that audit is “Next year, I’m going to get a mortgage from this agency”. If I did that, you see, I would no longer be able to audit that agency. I would no longer be independent and independence in appearance and in fact is required of an auditor. In a sense, you could say that loan would contaminate my independence. In much the same way, a Christian can become contaminated by the world and therefore be useless or ineffective as a minister. Jesus warns, in this verse, against such contamination.

First of all, Jesus declares the identity of believers in this verse. He says “You are the salt of the earth”. Notice, this isn’t directed at all people. In verse 1, we see that His disciples came to Him to be taught. Also, notice that He speaks this in present tense and it is not a command. Jesus is stating a fact not of something that will be true or was true but rather of something that currently is true. Finally, He identifies what His disciples were—salt. Now, I’ve heard all sorts of sermons and you have too as to what this identification of believers as salt means. We know that salt enhances flavor. I have heard a preacher teach that we believers are here to make the world more flavorful—to bring spice or variety. We also know that salt was used as a preservative. They didn’t have refrigerators to keep things from spoiling and there was no Dead Sea Tupperware to help these ancient people stretch their food dollar. Therefore, they used salt to help keep things from spoiling and we, as followers of Christ, are here to help keep the world from stinking. Somehow, these explanations never really seemed right. I think there is a much simpler explanation right here in the text. Let’s examine further while also thinking about salt.

Salt is distinctive. If I have a big ol’ bowl of chili (which I eat over rice--Yeah my wife thinks I’m weird for that, too) and I ate a bite before I added some salt it might taste a little bland. But after I add the salt I can immediately taste a difference. . That is because salt is distinctive. As John MacArthur observes in his study bible, salts in the area of Israel could become contaminated and flat. When that happened, they no longer had a distinctive, salty flavor. Jesus says in this verse that they have “become tasteless” (Greek moraine-3471). This Greek word can mean “to become insipid” or more colloquially “to play the fool”. When the salt became contaminated with minerals like gypsum, for instance, it could no longer function as it was intended.

Brothers and sisters, that is a danger for us as well. We, too, can become contaminated. With what, you might ask. We can become contaminated with this world and its attitudes, behaviors, and sinful lusts. There is a reason why, throughout scripture, we are told to live differently than the rest of the world.. Ephesians 4:1 says “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Psalms chapter 1 reminds us in verse 1 “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” When we live like the rest of the world and allow sin to contaminate us, we lose our distinctiveness. When people here us joke about the same things they joke about we lose our ability to witness to them. Their first thought would be “Well, I don’t know why Joe’s talking to me about this being wrong. He was laughing at my dirty joke the other day.” When they see us live in a manner that is no different than how they live they will not take our gospel message seriously.

I remember a few years ago, my wife and I were eating in a Wendy’s for lunch after church one day. There was a lady in line ahead of us who had obviously just gotten out of church. She was blessing the kid behind the counter up one end and down the other about not having worn some gloves when he dipped her chili. Now, imagine how he would react to another Christian sharing the gospel with him. “If that lady was a Christian, then I sure don’t want any part of that”. I mean, let’s face it. She was wearing the “uniform”. When she acted like the rest of the world acted, it not only contaminated her but in some respects the witness of all Christians. When our witness is compromised and we no longer have our salt-like distinctiveness, we are useless. We cannot “be made salty again” When we compromise our witness, we become useless for ministry and are “no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

Let’s remember this fact as we live. We’re going to fail and sin as we go through this world. However, with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can grow and become more Christlike and resist the contamination of this world. As Paul writes in Romans 12:1, let us all resist the worlds attempts to conform us to its way of doing things and allow Jesus to live through us in our words and our actions.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blog link-Sermon on Ephesians 6:1-9


If you'd like to hear an encouraging sermon from Ephesians, check the following link out. Good stuff.

Gazing at Glory: Ephesians 6:1-9 Sermon: Living for Christ at Home and at Work

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christians, the IRS, and the Law.

I guess there are some people who have it in their head that they are above the law.

I can't see any Biblical imperative for blatantly disobeying this law, but I can sure think of a good reason to keep it.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.
Romans 13:1-3 (NASB)

I mean, I'm an auditor. When the IRS comes after you, they aren't there to play tiddlywinks or patty-cake. There is nothing in the Bible that says a pastor should or must endorse a candidate for political office. The law does not prevent a pastor from preaching the truths of the Bible and if you preach those truths the congregation will know what the Bible says about the issues in an election. You won't have to say "Vote for so-and-so because he is anti-abortion" if you teach from the Bible that it clearly says abortion is wrong.

Monday, October 6, 2008

II Peter 1:4c The Amazing Gift of God’s Word part III

As we continue to study this wonderful epistle, I think it’s a good idea to notice patterns in the text and think about how Peter organized what he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. As Peter continues to extol the virtues of God’s holy word in this, our 3rd look at this verse, we notice that he has said that God uses this word to help us grow and develop spiritually and that His word has all that we need to know how to live a life pleasing to God. As we read the next several verses, we observe that this spiritual growth is not a passive activity but rather we should actively seek to become more godly. He finishes this exhortation in verse 11 when he writes “for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” That, brothers and sisters, is our goal. We’re not going to be here on this wretched, sin-filled earth forever. We’re going to arrive in heaven where our God is and be able to rejoice and sing praises forever. However, not everyone who names the name of Christ is going to go to heaven. In fact, as sad as it is, there are going to be people who were big-time church goers who are going to go to hell. Either because they were just faking and they knew it, or they will go because (this is the saddest case) tricked themselves into thinking they were really saved. These people are not going to arrive in heaven. As we look at this verse for the 3rd time, we need to keep in mind that those who “escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” were not all saved.

Peter, the last time we looked at this verse, gave us a look at our future in Christ. He said that we would become “partakers of the divine nature”. In other words, we as Christians will become more and more godly until we finally come into the glorious presence of Christ. That is our future. Here, he gives a look at our past. We who are Christians have come out of a situation much like a car being stuck in a ditch. We were stuck in a ditch of sin, as it were, and we were driving a little old 4 cylinder Honda Civic with bald tires. There was no way we could push, pull, or drive our way out. We were under the wrath of God for our sinful rebellion against Him. However, as Peter writes here, we “escaped” (apopheugo-668) thanks to the grace and love of our heavenly Father. The word means “to escape by flight”. At some point, in order for a person to be saved, they must repent of their sins. They have to come to an understanding of the danger their soul is in and turn to the Savior. Now, this is not necessarily repentance. At this point, the person doesn’t even have to have expressed saving faith. Peter is saying here that we as Christians escaped living a life of sin. However, fleeing a life of sin does not in and of itself prove that a person is a Christian.

All who are going to come to Christ and become partakers of the divine nature must flee “the corruption that is in the world”. Sin contaminates everything that it touches. Because we are still sinners even after we get saved sin is still enticing to us. While our New man wants to do the things that God wants us to do, our Old man is right there saying in a voice that sounds surprisingly like Lee Corso to me “Not so fast, my friend”. We must flee the decay of sin if we are ever going to mature into what God has called us to be. However, simply fleeing from the corruption that is in the world does not prove that someone is actually saved. Ray Boltz, in his interview where he announced his choice to live a life of perversion, said that he turned to the church and to Christianity to try to cure himself of his lust. I believe he probably, for a time, was able to escape that corruption in the world. In a sense, church probably became a sanctuary for him where he felt safe from the temptation of his sin. However, as we have seen in his announcement, simply fleeing the sin did not cure him of it. Why? Because our sin nature is an ever present foe in our bodies that causes us to lust after things that are against the will of God.

Peter writes that the corruption of sin is in the world “by lust”. Our desires and passions are naturally against God and His will. We have to deal with our sinful desires with the Holy Spirit’s help on a daily basis. There is no vacation from this war. We will never cease completely to lust after sinful things in our life. However, we who have escaped the corruption and repented of our sins can know, as Peter writes, that we will be able to grow spiritually and become more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2 Timothy 2:15-A Workman Approved Not Ashamed part 5

This is the 5th and final part of a sermon that I preached in our church for AWANA awards night in June of 2008. You can click here and pull up all other parts of this sermon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2 Timothy 2:15-A Workman Approved Not Ashamed part 4

This is part 4 of a sermon that I preached in our church for AWANA awards night in June of 2008. You can click here and pull up all other parts of this sermon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2 Timothy 2:15-A Workman Approved Not Ashamed part 3

This is part three of a sermon I preached in June of 2008 for AWANA awards night at our church. You can see all parts of the sermon here.