Thursday, April 29, 2010

An Abortion Nightmare

There are no words for how angry I get when I read something like this. The fact that there are folks who call themselves "Christians" that support legalized murder of infants in the womb makes me want

challenge them to few rounds of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots.

(HT-Denny Burk)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews-Part 8

A friend of mine, Doug Searle over at Taking Up Space, is teaching through the book of Hebrews and posting the audio from his classes online. I really encourage you to take a listen to this particular installment where we are asked to "Consider Jesus". Part 1 is here and part 2 is here. Click here for the study notes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

All I Have is Christ

Recently in our church, we began singing a new song in worship that our worship leader introduced to us call "All I Have is Christ". I believe you will be encouraged as you meditate on these lyrics--they're really beautiful. I have embedded the song below so if you subscribe by email, you may need to click over to the blog to hear it.

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.

I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.

And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.

Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Matthew 8-Preliminary Thoughts About Healing

About a year ago, my retina in my right eye detached. Now this would not be a good thing to have happen anyway, but the same thing had already happened in my left eye and it didn't heal right. Since I work as an auditor, going blind was a scary possibility. I praise God that He gave me the faith to trust Him no matter what in that situation and most of all that He allowed my right eye to heal back to practically normal.

However, I remember when I was talking to my youngest brother during the time before the surgery one particular conversation that really got under my skin. He and I had talked about healing and spiritual gifts. He is of the charismatic persuasion and has lectured me that full and complete physical healing is part of every Christians salvation experience if you have faith enough. So, when we were talking about this surgery, he began to tell me basically that if I had enough faith I would be healed and that my healing was dependant on my faith.

I took the opportunity to remind him of the blind man in the Gospel of John that was blind not due to sin but in order for God to be able to display His power. Further, I reminded him that God told Moses He makes the blind and the dumb. God can and does supernaturally heal, but it is not a guarantee that all Christians will be physically well all the time. This is made evident, I reminded him, by one simple observation.

No Christian that has professed that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement has ever avoided death. At some point, Oral Roberts and those of his ilk have died.

As we examine this chapter, we will see the true purpose of these acts of healing and miracles. I believe we will praise God for them and what they teach us.

Monday, April 19, 2010

II Peter 2:19-22 I See Your True Colors Part II

P.T. Barnum was quoted as saying “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” I would say most of us have found this to be a true axiom in life. Someone might be able to put on a good show for a while, even in church, but they can’t keep up a charade forever. If you’re around a false believer, it will show eventually. As we have seen in the last examination of these verses, the false teachers that Peter writes about have made professions of being real Christians but their lives do no line up with that profession. In the end, sin is so pervasive in their life that they are defeated and doomed.

First of all, although they had come to know the truth about Christ and the gospel, notice the depth to which their sin has drug them down. Peter uses two words here to describe their predicament. He says their sin has “entangled” them. This word is the same word used to describe the soldiers weaving a crown of thorns for the Lord when they mocked him. The idea is they have become so intertwined with the sinfulness of the “defilements of the world” as to be hemmed in—stuck. They are captured in sin’s grip. Peter says also that they are “overcome” which means they are defeated by these sinful passions. Unlike Paul, who beat his body and made it his slave, these false teachers have lost the battle to the passions of their own black, sin infested, heart. Because of this, as Peter writes, their “last state is worse than the first”.

Someone might ask “How is it worse?” Peter goes on to tell us in verse 21. They had heard the gospel. They knew who Jesus Christ was, what He did, and the implications of all that knowledge. They had seen and heard for themselves the “holy commandment”. They were no longer ignorant of how to be saved, how to be made right with a holy, righteous God. However, Peter says they “turn[ed] away” from the truth. This is written in Greek so that it means they made a definite choice in the past—this is a completed act, a done deal. They had the revelation of God and were taught the truth and have flatly rejected it. They cannot plead ignorance now. That is why Peter says it “would have been better for them not to have known” because, while hell is hell no matter how one gets their, rejection of the truth displays the depravity and hardness of a person’s heart like nothing else. For someone to be so prideful as to reject the revelation of Christ in the gospel is sinful to the extreme.

However, Peter tells us that we should not be surprised at the abandonment of the truth by these evil men. They’re just doing what comes naturally. Quoting two proverbs, one from scripture, the other probably just a common expression of the day, he tells us that by doing this, rejecting the truth after having the evidence presented to them, that they are showing themselves to be what he said they were in verse 12—“unreasoning animals”. They are the dogs who lap back up what they have just regurgitated. They are the swine who cannot abide being clean. They are totally depraved people who, through their rejection of the truth, demonstrate their love of sin. They are condemned.

As Christians, we must be careful to not allow such false teachers to gain a foothold in the church. I think this is even harder now with technology making it so easy to spread a message, no matter how false it might be. It is paramount for the local church to test all things to make sure that what is taught is true and demand that teachers hold fast to correct doctrine. The soul saving, life giving gospel is to precious to allow it to be contaminated with false doctrine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Elevator Pitch?? The Gospel in 30 Seconds

In our culture, we're not used to waiting for anything. We want answers--we Google 'em. We don't watch TV the same way thanks to Tivo--we fast forward through commericals. We've got microwave popcorn and high speed DSL. We want it all and we want it FAST!!! Have you ever found yourself with an opportunity to present the gospel but you only had a fairly short amount of time? How's this sound for a quick and accurate gospel presentation?

Demian Farnworth writes:

What is an elevator pitch? It’s a ridiculously short summary of what you believe. And your elevator pitch should be grounded in these two principles: the authority of scripture and the exclusive claim of salvation through Jesus.

He gives an example.

You know, I believe in the inerrant, infallible and inspired Word of God–the Bible. And I believe that the Bible reveals God’s plan to reconcile a rebellious people to himself through his son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, was crucified on the cross, died, was buried, and three days later raised from the dead. And I believe if we confess Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and repent of our sins, we’ll receive forgiveness, avoid the punishment of our sins in hell and enjoy eternal life with God. That is the only truth that matters.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You're A Christian--Now What?? Part II

This past Saturday, I had the blessed privilage to be on the phone when my sister prayed to repent of her sins and trust Christ as her Savior. I have been praying for this for more than a decade. I am so thankful to God for His blessing in this regard. I began to reflect, since she is my baby sister in the Lord and by birth, that I should make some effort to help her along in the early stages of her walk with our Lord. Since I was going to be writing this anyway, I thought I'd interupt my expositions of Matthew and II Peter to present these same truths to you. I hope you are encouraged in your faith and that you will share these with other believers as well.

Things I wish someone had told me when I got saved

2) Learn to study the Bible.

How many days last week did you skip a meal? Probably none. We have to eat to live. Taking in food is how we get the energy we need to move and the stuff we need to repair our bodies.

Now, you've been saved less than 2 weeks. Think how desperately a baby, especially a newborn, needs food. I mean, you and I eat three meals a day. A baby eats, what, 7 if you count nighttime feedings. Therefore, since you're a newborn spiritually, you need to feed your spirit. The only way to do that is to study the Bible.

Remember, though, that studying the Bible is hard work and it's something you have to learn to do just like you had to learn to add or read. I've been saved for nearly 26 years and for the past 11 or so have really focused on studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible and I feel like I'm just barely getting started to learn it. Ask questions when you don't understand something. If you're not sure what a passage means or how it applies, get a notebook and start to keep notes of questions that you have. You'll find sometimes even in the reading of the Bible that it will answer your questions.

The key thing to remember: the Bible is spirtual food. Your soul needs it like your body needs food.

II Peter 2:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

I Peter 2:1-2 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

Psalm 1:1-2 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! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You're A Christian--Now what?? Part I

This past Saturday, I had the blessed privilage to be on the phone when my sister prayed to repent of her sins and trust Christ as her Savior. I have been praying for this for more than a decade. I am so thankful to God for His blessing in this regard.

I began to reflect, since she is my baby sister in the Lord and by birth, that I should make some effort to help her along in the early stages of her walk with our Lord. Since I was going to be writing this anyway, I thought I'd interupt my expositions of Matthew and II Peter to present these same truths to you. I hope you are encouraged in your faith and that you will share these with other believers as well.

Things I wish someone had told me when I got saved.

1) You can't loose your salvation.

Dawn, when I first got saved one of the things that I had the hardest time with, because no one bothered to explain it to me, was coming to realize that once I was saved that my salvation was a done deal. I would sin. Afterwards, because the Holy Spirit lived inside of me, I would feel conviction that I had done wrong. I believed that because I had sinned that I had lost my salvation and had to get "re-saved".

Now, it's perfectly normal for a Christian to feel guilty when we sin. But what we should do in response to that is repent of that sin and ask God to forgive us. However, we have not lost our salvation when we sin. Our salvation did not depend on us being good enough for God to save us. Therefore, it can't depend on us being good enough to "stay saved". We are saved and counted right in God's eyes solely on the basis of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. His blood redeems us. In other words, He paid our debt with His blood.

So, realize that you are still, all through this life going to struggle with sin, but that sin cannot "un-save" you.

I John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 7:18-25 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Ephesians 1: 13 In Him, you also, after listening to athe message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were bsealed in Him with cthe Holy Spirit of promise, (In other words, God placed the Holy Spirit in you as a downpayment on your future in heaven with Him).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Matthew 7:24-29 A Tale of Two Hearers Part II

When we were examining this passage in the pervious post, we noted that there were two people who had the same privilege of hearing Christ teach. One of these people acted on what they heard—the other one ignored what he heard. Other than being pronounced by the Lord of Heaven and Earth as being “wise” or “foolish”, what effect did their response have on their lives? What did Jesus say here will be the result of their action or inaction in response to His words?

First of all, these men, who in this parable are builders, both built a house but they used very different foundations. I think we can probably take the building of a house to building or living our lives. At least, that seems to be the point Jesus is making. The wise man, who heard His words and acted on them, has found a firm foundation to build on because Jesus’ words are truthful and sure. Jesus says this man, the one who obeys what he has heard from the Lord, builds his house on a rock. His foundation is sturdy, level, and cannot be easily moved. Someone who places their trust in Christ and obeys His word will, therefore, have a sure footing.

Not so for the man who rejected the words of the Lord. The foundation he builds upon is sand. Have you ever tried to run in sand? It is hard to get a solid foothold. It’s easy to slip or sink because the sand cannot support your weight and shifts with the slightest movement. This instability is a reflection of the type of foundation one has in their life if they try to live by any standard other than that of Christ. They never have a sure footing as they walk through this world. Further, they have no way to stand up to the storms and trials of life.

Rest assured, my friends, those storms are coming. There is no way I could have gone through the things that I have gone through unless God had been with me. From joblessness to problems with my health and financial worries, I have learned that I can trust in God no matter how bad things get. I have found him to be a strong foundation for my house in the times of the storm. No matter what I go through, I can trust that God will provide for me and that my house will not fall, as Jesus says, because my house is built on His word.

In contrast, those who don’t trust in Christ and have rejected His word will see just how solid that sand is when the storms come. When the winds blow and the rains come, there will be nothing there to support the walls of the house. The sandy foundation will wash away and the house, as Jesus says in verse 27, will fall. Even if a non-believer is able to endure the tragedies of this life they will perish forever without Christ. That, my friends, is a fall you can’t recover from.

As we come to a close on this passage and on the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, I would ask that you observe with me the response of the crowd. Notice that they were astonished. Matthew records they were “amazed at His teaching”—but not just at the substance of it, which was awesome in its own right. They recognized His “authority”. The Scribes and Pharisees taught from authority. They had been to school, studied hard, and had been given authority. Jesus taught with authority. His authority was His because it was part of His nature as the divine Son of God. The question I would ask you to ponder today is this—have you submitted to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ? These people recognized it. Do you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

II Peter 2:19-22 I See Your True Colors Part 1

There is an old saying—“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. Now, I’m not sure who came up with that or how they came up with that (i.e. Did someone actually try it? What did the pig have to say about it? I can just see it now, “Yeah ol’ Bessie ain’t got but one ear because Ma got a wild hair up and…”) but as silly as it sounds it’s really pretty profound. The fact is, things are what they are. Someone can put on their Sunday best and company manners for a time but if you’re around them long enough you’ll get to see them as they really are. If someone genuinely has a godly character, it will show. If someone is not truly godly in their heart eventually that will show as well. Perhaps that is why in Hebrews 13:7 we’re told to consider how our leaders live. If they are truly serving God, we will see it in their lives. In like manner, the false teachers that Peter has taught about in this chapter can’t help but show their true colors. They are depraved to the core of the being and it shows.

In fact, Peter makes just that point at the end of verse 19 where he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes “by what a man is over come, by this he is enslaved”. In other words, because these false teachers have been overcome by sinful desires and passions they are not actually in control of themselves. Rather, the engine is driving the car so to speak. These false teachers plunge headlong into sinful pleasures that eat them up from the inside out. They have literally sold themselves out as property to these base passions and can only lead others to do the same.

However, their depravity has been progressive. I mean, just like every superhero has an origin so every supervillan does as well. These guys didn’t start out as false teachers. And, as Peter notes in verse 1 of this chapter, they didn’t come from outside the church. How did they get to this point? What led them here?

Peter says of these false teachers they, at some point, “got religion” as some people say. Verse 20 records that they “escaped the defilements of the world”. They cleaned up their act perhaps or they just came to church and became good old John Pew church members. At some point in the past, they disconnected themselves from the world’s sinful system. Now, you and I have all seen this person in churches. They make a profession of faith, join the choir, stop cussing, and put money in the offering plate. Now, those things are good things to do and someone may do them as a result of a genuine conversion. However, the presence of those activities does not prove that a person has truly trust Christ as their Savior. They may have simply “escaped the defilements of the world” without truly repenting of their sins and trusting Christ as Savior. It could be an act they’re putting on. It could be an attempt to clean up their life for one reason or another. However, true spiritual transformation is not a change in activities or demeanor, but is a change from spiritual death to spiritual life. These people, as we shall see, have not experienced such a transformation.

Peter goes on to tell us how they made their escape from the rotting filth of this sinful world. They escaped “by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. They heard the gospel. Someone told them about Jesus and they responded to the message. However, just knowing about Jesus and responding to a message does not give evidence of saving faith. There are a lot of people who know a lot of things about Jesus and the Bible who are going to go straight to hell when they die. Brian McLauren is a false teacher who knows more about Hebrew, Greek, archeology, theology, and other related disciplines than I ever will. However, that doesn’t mean that he is saved. Knowledge doesn’t save. Faith saves. Simply knowing enough to want to escape the world’s corruption and hang around good church folks doesn’t prove that the Holy Spirit resides in your heart.

So, these false teachers have fooled themselves into thinking they’re saved. We’ve seen where they came from. In the next post on this epistle, we’ll see where they’re going. And I’ll go ahead and warn you—it ain’t a pretty picture.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Prayers During Church Services

We have become so performance oriented that it is hard to see how compromised we are. In many of our churches, prayers in morning services now function, in large measure, as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people of the congregation bow their heads and close their eyes, and when they look up a minute later, why, the singers are in place or the drama group is ready to perform. It is all so smooth. It is also profane. Nominally we are in prayer together, addressing the King of heaven, the sovereign Lord. In reality, some of us are doing that while others are rushing on tiptoes around the "stage" and others, with their eyes closed, are busy wondering what new and happy configuration will confront them when it is time to take a peek.

The Cross and Christian Ministry (1993)
D.A. Carson

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Blogiversary To Me!!!

I cannot believe it has been three years!! Honestly, I started this blog three years ago for myself as much as anything. I had pastored a church (bi-vocationally) for 6 years prior to finishing an accounting degree and taking a job in Tennessee. I wasn't (and still am not) preaching anywhere and while I don't believe you study God's word for the purpose of making a sermon the simple fact is that I can't do anything without a deadline. So I decided to make one--creating a weekly blog of scripture exposition. I have added other theological topics that have interested me from time to time and I link to sermons and other blogs that I feel will be beneficial. Doing so also aids me because, let's face it, I work full time and there is no way I could produce 4 or 5 days of original material myself.I'd like to thank those who have commented, read, and subscribed over the years. My prayer is that God would conform us even more to the image of His Son, our Savior, as we study His word together.

Soli Deo Gloria!!

joe blackmon