Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hatred of Christ

He who hates Me hates My Father also.
...but now they have both seen and hated
Me and My Father as well.  But they have
done this to fulfill the word that was written
in their Law, "They hated Me without a cause."
John 15:23-25

Nowhere is the awful depravity of fallen man
more evidenced than in his hatred of that which
is pure, lovely, good, and holy.
A. W. Pink

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Focus for Daily Living

Is Christ the focus of your faith, not just
 for salvation, but for daily living as well.?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Being Justified

We can never be more justified
than what we have been declared
to be by God.  There is nothing we
can do to make ourselves more justified
in His sight, nothing we can do to add
to our justification. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Being Fulfilled

Our spiritual lives will not be fulfilling
unless we are consistently overcoming sin.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Gospel and Sanctification

A clear understanding and appropriation of
the gospel, which give freedom from sin's
guilt and sins grip, is, in the hands of  the
Holy Spirit, a chief means of sanctification.

Jerry Bridges
The Discipline of Grace
Page 110

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making a Disciple

Training up a disciple is imparting--molding--developing.
It has to do with character, knowledge, attitude, desires,
.....a way of thinking and viewing life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Speaking the Gospel

For our people to be able to speak
the gospel, they must know the gospel;
and to really know the gospel, they must
consistently hear the gospel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Emphasis in Church Planting

Jesus did not command His church to go plant churches--
even biblically sound ones; He commanded us to make
disciples and teach them to observe all that He has
commanded.  Certainly, planting churches is a natural
part of the process, but the emphasis is on  making
disciples and teaching them.

David Sills
Reaching and Teaching
Page 149

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Contextualization or Marketing?

Some people mistaknely believe that contextualization means changing aspects of Christianity to make it look like the culture, but contextualization is simply the process of making the gospel understood.  To ensure that our hearers understand the gospel, we must use their language rather than our own, if ours is nonsense to them.  However, this does not mean that mimicking the profane vocabulary or lifestyles of the unchurched is an appropriate use of contextualization.  The only reason to communicate in this way would be if the local culture communicated so much in this manner that no message would make sense otherwise.  Television programs without such inapproprate language would require subtitles for them so people could understand the message.  Of course, there is no culture where this is the case.  In fact, much of what many call contextualization is simply an effort to be trendy and edgy.  It may be effective, it may even attract a hearing among a certain demographic, and it may not be offensive to all hearers, but that is not contextualizing the gospel; that it marketing.

David Sills
Reaching and Teaching
Page 195

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Thought on Prayer

What is prevalent in our thinking,
will be prevalent in our praying.

Matthew 6:25-34

Saturday, August 13, 2011

No Joy in that Day

In the book of Revelation, the word joy never occurs.  However, the word wrath is used eleven times.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Heart of Lostness

What we must constantly remember is that this human inability to understand spiritual things is a culpable inability.  It is not that God makes us constitutionally unable to understand Him, and then toys with us for His own amusement. Rather, He has made us for Himself, but we have run from Him.  The heart of our lostness is our profound self-focus.  We do not want to know Him, if knowing Him is on His terms.  We are happy to have a God we can more or less manipulate; we do not want a God to whom we admit that we are rebels in heart and mind, that we do not deserve His favor, and that our only hope is in His pardoning and transforming grace.  We certainly cannot fathom a powerful Creator who takes the place of an odious criminal in order to save us from the judgment we deserve.

Don Carson
The Cross and Christian Ministry
Page 58

Monday, August 08, 2011

Presenting the Gospel

In presenting the gospel, if we leave out all that
 God has done in effecting and securing our
  salvation, then salvation becomes a work of
  man--something man does on his own.
(Thus a man-centered gospel)

Saving faith is not having confidence and
dependence on something we have done as
if something we do is the genesis of salvation;
but saving faith is an active acquiescing to, and an
 active acceptance of, what God has done in Christ.

So when presenting the gospel we must present
what God has done, what God has accomplished,
as the object of faith.  The object of saving faith is
not what we can do, but is what God has wrought
(brought to completion) in Christ.
(Thus a God-centered gospel)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Understanding the Cross

"We cannot get a glimmering of an understanding
of what the New Testament understands by
Christ's atoning work unless we see that God
is hostile to every evil thing and every evil person."

Leon Morris
The Atonement
Its Meaning and Significance
Page 138

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Peace and Unity

This is another repost.

As believers we are to "Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts," (Colossians 3:15). So often we see this verse either ignored or misapplied, and it is because of a misunderstanding or a false assumption of what this peace is. So let's see if we can garner a better, a correct understanding of what the peace of Christ is and how it is manifested in our lives.

First off, this verse is in the middle of a section where Paul is talking about our common ground in Christ because He is all and is in all (3:11), and how this is manifested in our life in the church in how we treat and respond to one another in the body. So its primary application is for believers in the context of church life. So this peace of Christ is to rule, act as arbiter or umpire, in our dealings and interactions with other believers, especially those in our local body.

Secondly, what is this peace that Christ has, that is to be the umpire of our hearts, and how did we come to possess it? In John 14:27 Christ says, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you." So we see that it is Christ, Himself, that has given us His peace, and we have this peace because He has come and taken up residence in our heart; and we have become partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). The peace of Christ is the peace between Him and the Father. There was no enmity between the Father and the Son because Jesus always did the things that were pleasing to the Father (John 4:34, 5:30, 8:28-29, 8:42, 12:49, 14:10, 17:4, Matthew 3:17). Because of His perfect obedience to the Father there was unity and harmony between them with peace being the by-product of that unity and harmony. Christ had the same unity and harmony with the Father in His life here upon the earth that He had with the Father in eternity past. This is why Jesus could say, "I and the Father are One." (John 10:30, 17:11, 22-23). The body of Christ is to have and manifest the same unity and harmony within itself that exists between Christ and the Father (John 17:20-23).

Before salvation we were at enmity with God, we were His very enemies (Romans 5:10), but God reconciled us to Himself through His Son (Romans 5:10, II Corinthians 5:18-19). The Father and the Son were at perfect peace, so that, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:29). So when we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts it means that we are not to do anything that would disrupt our peace with our heavenly Father. Our peace with Him should guide our decision making and govern our responses. Within the context of this section of Colossians we see this worked out in our compassion, gentleness, kindness, humility, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love within the body of Christ. We have peace with God and one another as we practice these Christian graces mentioned here; and it should then be a part of our life so that, "As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18).

However, this peace, the peace of Christ, is not a peace at the expense of righteousness, or peace at the expense of the truth. It does not compromise righteousness or truth, but instead it is a peace at the expense of the self, at the expense of personal "rights", at the expense of personal desires, at the expense of personal comfort. It is a peace at the expense of personal ambitions, personal glory, at the expense of personal achievements, or personal recognition. It is peace because we have given up ourselves, and is part of taking up our cross daily and following after (living in like manner) Him, who gave Himself up.

So, first, be sure that you are at peace with God through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for establishing peace with you, His enemy, and reconciling you to Himself through the blood of the cross. Now live a life of peace with God through how you live your life with others in the body, and in the world; but not at the expense of righteousness or the truth.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Love and Unity

This is a repost.

Biblical love is far deeper than a love dependent merely on feelings and emotions. Rather, it is a love that flows from the very soul and character of the individual. It comes from the person's decision to love, not from his feelings. In fact, many times the decision to love will run contrary to the feelings one possesses. Biblical love is the love of God that has been poured out into the heart, and then given from that heart to others.

This kind of love is the basis of unity as true unity does not come from a denial of differences, but from a forebearing with one another in spite of the differences. It is the love that gives, that covers, that bears, that endures, that believes. This is the love that overwhelmingly conquers. This love then enables us to be united one with another; not due to a common cause, but because of a common love.

Ephesians 4:1-3
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk
in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness, showing forebearance to one another
in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Spiritual Fruit--Part II

Continuing in our examination of what is spiritual fruit.
  • It is the fruit of the Light
Ephesians 5:8-9 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).

Goodness, righteousness, and truth all go together, they walk hand in hand.  So when our light is shining before men, our walk (manner of life/way of life) will be characterized by all three.  The goodness here is not a passive or meek goodness, but an active goodness, a desire for goodness that compels one to action.  It is also the zeal behind righteous indignation.  This is the zeal behind Christ driving out the moneychangers, in order to protect the righteousness of His Father's house.  It is goodness in action, and it is a prevailing goodness.  It is an infectious goodness that influences others around it. This kind of lifestyle is one that brings glory to God, for it is obvious that God is the power, and it will point men to Him.
  • It is righteousness
Philippians 1:11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  (See also James 3:18, Hebrews 12:11)

In I John 2:1 our Lord is called Jesus Christ, the Righteous.  So the fruit we bear will be righteous as He is righteous.  In fact, it is His righteousness that we are producing, not our own.  It is the righteousness whose foundation is faith in Christ.  Faith in all that He is and all He has done to secure our salvation.  In fact, we are most righteous when we are living as Christ would live (Again, referring back to the obedience of faith).
  • It is Godly wisdom
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 

Godly wisdom is the mind of Christ (which all true Christian's have) applied to the situations and circumstances of life in the world, and life in the church.  It comes from a knowledge of the Scriptures, it comes from prayer, it is the result of knowing Christ, and comes out of a desire to be like Him in all of life.
  • It is caring for the brethren
Romans 15:26, 28 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem....Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.

We also see this in the letter to the Philippians as Paul commends them for their support for him over the years (approximately 11 years); in II Corinthians as well, as Paul talks about fully supplying the needs of the saints.

The Scriptures tell us to do good and be ready to share, and we are to be particularly sensitive to the needs of those within the family of God, our brethren in Christ.  This sensitivity to, and desire to provide for the needs of the saints is a particular fruit of the Spirit, and gives testimony to the world of God's love and care for His own. 
  • It is the outworking of the three Divine distinctives
I Corinthians 13:13 But faith, hope, and love, abide these three....

We should see these three distinctives manifested in not only the lives of the individuals, but also in the life of each church.  If you look at the letters to the churches in Revelation, they are commended for their manifestation of these distinctives or rebuked for their lack of them.  Also, the church at Thessalonica was commended for their work of faith, their labor of love, and the steadfastness of their hope; and for the church at Colossae; the object of their faith was Jesus Christ, their love was directed towards all the saints, and their hope was laid up in heaven. 

Again, as the people go, so goes the church. So each church will manifest fruit in relation to the fruit produced by its people; and to the extent that faith, hope, and love are manifested in the lives of its members, they will be manifested in the life in that church.  This is what makes the churches at Thessalonica and Colossae stand out.  So the question for all of us is how much of faith, hope, and love do we bring to our church?
  • It is the result of our conduct
Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct (the outcome of their way of life), imitate their faith.

Remember, Jesus said we shall know them by their fruit, or, in other words, you personally will be known by your fruit.  You know, you really do live what you believe.  Therefore your life will bear out what is actually on the inside.  God has constructed life in such a way that our fruit is made known/evident through what life brings about.  We see this fruit, not only in the behavior itself, but also in its consequences.  This is true for all of us whether a believer or a non-believer, but is particularly crucial for leaders in the church.  We should be able to see spiritual fruit in the lives those who are spiritual leaders.  Again, it is not about talking a good game, but it is about the totality of our life. 
  • It is the life of Christ lived out in us
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
Galatians 4:19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--
Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

Since Christ is the vine from which the branches draw their life and sustenance, it is His life that will be reproduced in and through the branch.  It is Christ who is our life, and therefore His life is being lived out through us.  The essence of Christianity is not becoming a better person, but becoming more and more like Christ.  He lived the life that we were supposed to live, but could not; and now lives that life out through each and every one who is truly a Christian. 

So when we bear fruit, that fruit is a manifestation of Christ, His character and His attributes.  This gives a richer meaning to the term Christlike.  As we mature, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, we will become more like Him; and in becoming more like Him we will not only produce more fruit, but the fruit we produce will be richer and sweeter and more luxurious.  It will be pleasing to the eye, flavorful to the taste, and give off an aromatic smell.  It will be a delight and appealing to the spiritual senses of those who are true Christians, but will be the odor of death, and therefore offensive, to those who are not.

Our bearing fruit, and much of it, will prove out our discipleship; and in the proving to be true disciples, God will be glorified.  So, let us focus on becoming more like Christ, for in doing so we will bear much rich fruit, our Father and God will be glorified, and we will have truly done something on this earth that is not only worthwhile, but will count for eternity.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Doing Church

When how we do church is culturally determined
rather than biblically prescribed, we will tend to
depend on the rightness of our methodology
instead of the righteousness of our lives.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011