Monday, December 31, 2007

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards


Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. July 30.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. (Resolutions 1 through 21 written in one setting in New Haven in 1722)

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God' s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Proverbs 20:6,‹A faithful man who can find?Š may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,- what sin I have committed,-and wherein I have denied myself;-also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord' s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do any thing of which I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God' s; agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.

44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. January 12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving and sincere temper; and to do at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as providence orders it. I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty, and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty, and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, to do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man:‹knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.Š June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. January 14 and July 13, 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those ‹groanings which cannot be utteredŠ (Romans 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those‹breakings of soul for the longing it hath,Š of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness, of which I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton' s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what am I the better for them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. August 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. August 17, 1723.

2008 Resolutions

As 2008 ushers in, let me encourage you to commit yourself to the following:

Spend 30 minutes per day reading the Bible.
Spend 15-30 minutes per day in prayer.
Seek to memorize one verse of Scripture per week.
Seek to reach two families this year with the gospel.
Seek to be prepared for worship each time you attend services.
Seek to be accountable to one person for prayer and spending time in God’s Word.
Seek to be an encourager instead of a complainer.
Seek to be a peacemaker.
Seek to rejoice in the Lord in everything.

Matthew Henry said, “If Christ is the light, then it is our duty to follow Him, to submit ourselves to His guidance, and in everything take directions from Him. It is not enough to gaze upon this light. We must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it; for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only.”

Happy 2008!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Born in a Cave?

William Barclay shares some interesting information regarding the place where Jesus was born. He says, "It was in Bethlehem, David’s city, that the Jews expected great David’s greater Son to be born; it was there that they expected God’s Anointed One to come into the world. And it was so.

The picture of the stable and the manger as the birthplace of Jesus is a picture indelibly etched in our minds; but it may well be that that picture is not altogether correct. Justin Martyr, one of the greatest of the early fathers, who lived about A.D. 150, and who came from the district near Bethlehem, tells us that Jesus was born in a cave near the village of Bethlehem (Justin Martyr:
Dialogue with Trypho, 78, 304); and it may well be that Justin’s information is correct. The houses in Bethlehem are guilt on the slope of the limestone ridge; and it is very common for them to have a cave-like stable hollowed out in the limestone rock below the house itself; and very likely it was in such a cave-stable that Jesus was born.

To this day such a cave is shown in Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus and above it the Church of the Nativity has been built. For very long that cave has been shown as the birthplace of Jesus. It was so in the days of the Roman
Emperor, Hadrian, for Hadrian, in a deliberate attempt to desecrate the place, erected a shrine to the heathen god Adonis above it. When the Roman Empire became Christian, early in the fourth century, the first Christian Emperor, Constantine, built a great church there, and that church, much altered and often restored, still stands.

H. V. Morton tells how he visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He came to a great wall, and in the wall there was a door so low that he had to stoop to enter it; and through the door, and on the other side of the wall, there was the church. Beneath the high altar of the church is the cave, and when the pilgrim descends into it he finds a little cavern about fourteen yards long and four yards wide, lit by silver lamps. In the floor there is a star, and round it a Latin inscription: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”

When the Lord of Glory came to this earth, he was born in a cave where men sheltered the beasts. The cave in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem may be that same cave, or it may not be. That we will never know for certain. But there is something beautiful in the symbolism that the church where the cave is has a door so low that all must stoop to enter. It is supremely fitting that every man should approach the infant Jesus upon his knees.

The Gospel of Matthew : Volume, ed. William Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 2000, c1975). 24.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Faithfulness of God

We live in a day of unfaithfulness. Man cannot be trusted--he doesn't keep his promises. That's true of both individuals and nations. Only God is always faithful and keeps every promise in full. That fact is vital because everything we believe stands on the faithfulness of God. Our eternal destiny is at stake. In contrast to the unfaithfulness around us, it is refreshing to lift our eyes to our beloved God, who is always faithful. Scripture is filled with verses that declare God's faithfulness.

Deut.7:9 - "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Isa.11:5 - Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

Psalm 36:5 - Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Lamentations 3:23 - Great is Your faithfulness.

Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

As you go through your day today, remember that you serve a God who is faithful. Praise Him for His faithfulness!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will you come to Jesus?

It's not uncommon to hear that question during a worship service but many times the identity of Jesus is left out. How can someone come to Jesus if they do not understand exactly who He is? How will they see their need for giving their life to Jesus if they do not understand what He did and why?

It is clear in Scripture that everyone is a sinner. You ask what is a sinner. The answer is simple---one who has transgressed God's law. In Genesis chapter 2, God told Adam and Eve they could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they could not eat. In fact, if they did, they would die. Genesis 3 records a conversation Eve had with the Serpent. Following the persuasion of the Serpent to doubt God, Eve took of the forbidden fruit and gave some to her husband. Both ate. Both sinned. God gave a command not to eat but they ate. Following their act of disobedience, their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. That day they experienced evil. Up to this point it was only something to be avoided but now it was real to them. They now had guilt and shame and even hid from God, which was something they never had done before.

When we talk about sin we must go back to Genesis and see its origin. When we do this, then we can adequately present what the Bible says regarding it and why God hates it. It is also important to go to the Scriptures to learn the identity of Jesus. He was the God-man who became flesh (John 1:14). He was born of a virgin woman named Mary. He came to this world for one purpose---to save His people from their sins. Understanding who Jesus is is essential to calling a person to follow Him by forsaking their sin.

As you present the Gospel today, spend more time talking about the Savior and the sin that He died for. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Who is the Holy Spirit (Pt.2)

In our last blog, I asked “Who is the Holy Spirit according to false teachers”?” Today, I want to ask, “Who is the Holy Spirit according to biblical revelation?” The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is, first of all, a Spirit. He is referred to as being a Spirit in both the Hebrew and Greek. The Hebrew word for Spirit is rauch. It occurs 100 times in the OT. The Greek word is pneuma which occurs 261 times in the NT. In both languages, He is referred to as a Spirit. The Scriptures also teach that He is called “Spirit.” He is called “the Spirit” (Rom.8:1); He is called “Spirit of life” (Rom.8:2); He is called “Spirit of God” (Rom.8:9); He is called “Spirit of Christ” (Rom.8:9); He is called the “Holy Spirit” (1 Cor.12:3); He is called the “eternal Spirit” (Heb.9:14); He is called “the Spirit of glory” (1 Pet.4:14); He is called “the Spirit of holiness” (Rom.1:4; Mat.1:20; 1 Jn.2:20). Because He is a Spirit He is invisible. Jesus said in Luke 24:39 that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” Paul said in Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Charles Swindoll says, “He exists in an invisible realm. He is a power and force you will never see, though you are convinced of the force Himself. You will only see His working, the results of His enabling, His feeling, His guiding” (Growing Deep in the Christian Life, 181).

As we have seen the Scriptures reveal that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit. Next we see that He is a Person. Paul Enns says, “The problem in the minds of many people is that personality can exist only in human beings, as though personality can related only to finite beings but not to the infinite.” Since man is made in the image of God it is reasonable to expect similar characteristics between God and man. Hence, ‘It is possible to form some conception of divine personality by a study of the human, because man is made in the likeness of God.’ Personality may simply be defined as possessing intellect, emotions, and will” (The Moody Handbook of Theology, 245). James Montgomery Boice said, “If we think of the Holy Spirit as a mysterious power, our thoughts will be, ‘How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?’ If we think of the Holy Spirit as a person, we will ask, ‘How can the Holy Spirit have more of me?’” (Foundations of the Christian Faith, 374-5). A.W. Tozer said, “The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything. He is a person, just the same as you are a person, and has all the qualities of a person” (Keys to the Deeper Life, 77-8).

When we examine the features of personality, we see that He possesses all the characteristics. First, He possess intellect. Acts 10:19 indicates that He “speaks.” It says, “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you.’” John 16:13 tells us that He “hears” and “speaks.” Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 says that He also “understands.” Paul says, “But just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” When it says in verse 10 that He “searches all things,” the “word ‘search’ means to examine or investigate a matter. The Holy Spirit examines the depths of God and reveals them to believers” (Enns, 246). Jesus said in John 14:26 that He “teaches.” “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

Next we see that He possesses will. In Acts 16:6-10 Luke says, “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Regarding spiritual gifts, 1 Cor.12:11 says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

The Scriptures teach that He also possesses emotion. Ephesians 4:30 says that He can be “grieved.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says He can be “quenched.” Even personal pronouns are used when referring to Him (masculine gender, John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:13-15.

Intellect, will, and emotions—these are the characteristics of personality. The Holy Spirit possesses all three. He is a Spirit and a Person. In our next blog, we will see that “He is God.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who is the Holy Spirit (Pt.1)

R. A. Torrey gives us some thoughts to ponder as we begin this study. He says, “It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a divine person, worthy to receive our adoration, our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself, or whether it is simply an influence emanating from God or a power or an illumination that God imparts to us” (The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, 9). In the preface of “The Mystery of the Holy Spirit,” R.C. Sproul writes: “‘The Holy Spirit leaves no footprints in the sand.’ These words are from Abraham Kuyper's classic work on the Holy Spirit. Jesus did leave footprints in the sand. He was God incarnate, God with a human nature. When His disciples walked with Him, they could hear His voice, touch His hands, and watch the sand spilling over His feet as He trod the shores of the Sea of Galilee. But the Holy Spirit is like the wind. Jesus said, ‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where is comes from and where is goes’ (John 3:8). We cannot capture the wind in a bottle. It is elusive and mysterious but nonetheless real. We see the effects of the wind-trees bending and swaying in the breeze, flags rustling. We see the devastation of the fierce hurricane. We see the ocean become violent in a gale. We are refreshed by gentle zephyrs on a summer day. We know the wind is there. So it is with the Holy Spirit. He is intangible and invisible. But His work is more powerful than the most ferocious wind. The Spirit brings order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness. He can transform a sin-blistered man into a paragon of virtue. The Spirit Changes people. The Author of life is also the Transformer of life. Because the Spirit is mysterious, we are vulnerable to superstitions and distortions of His Person and work. Here we must listen carefully to scripture as it reveals to us the character of God the Holy Spirit” (Preface).

There are many teachings concerning the Holy Spirit. Not all of them, of course, are from the Bible. So it is important that we begin our study by asking the question, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” I want to break that question into two parts. The first is “Who is the Holy Spirit according to false teachers?” and the second, “Who is the Holy Spirit according to biblical revelation?” Let’s look at the first, “Who is the Holy Spirit according to false teachers?” I.Charles Ryrie says, “Doctrinal formulation of the Christian faith did not occur all at once at some point in the history of the church. Nor did a definition of all Christian doctrines take place at any equal rate. Sometimes one doctrine came in for attention; at other times the spotlight would focus on a different doctrine. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit did not receive much attention in the early centuries as far as formal definition was concerned. What we have come to know as the orthodox expression of the doctrine of the Spirit was witnessed to by the early church in the baptismal formula, in the Apostles’ Creed, and in the castigating of error when it did appear” (The Holy Spirit, 111).

Montanism (150 A.D.)

“Montanism, (also called the Phrygian heresy) appeared in Phrigia about 150 through the ministry of Montanus and two women, Prisca and Maximilla. They announced themselves as prophets and announced the period as the age of the Paraclete in which new revelations from God were to be given” (Charles Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, 111-12).

Montanism “flourished mostly in and around the region of Phrygia, where early on its followers were called Cataphrygians; although it spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire, and at a time before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal” (Wikipedia - They “antagonized the church” by claiming “a superior authority arising from divine inspiration” (The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition - “Some people have drawn parallels between Montanism and Pentecostalism (which some call Neo-Montanism). The most widely known Montanist was undoubtedly Tertullian, who was the foremost Latin church writer before he converted to Montanism” (Wikipedia).

“Montanism was officially rejected because of its insistence on additional revelation, and in so doing the church affirmed the belief that the Spirit does not give new revelations apart from the Scriptures” (Ryrie, 111-12).

Sabellianism (215 A.D.)

This is “also known as modalism, modalistic monarchianism, or modal monarchism” (Wikipedia -

“Sabellianism was a Christian heresy named after Sabellius, a priest excommunicated by Pope Callistus I in 220" (Kelly, John N. D., Early Christian Doctrine, 1958 -

“Historic Sabellianism taught that God the Father was the only person of the Godhead, a belief known as Monarchianism” (Wikipedia). “Sabellius taught that god is a unity but that He revealed Himself in three different modes or forms. These three forms were three roles or parts played by the one God” (Ryrie, 112). “Sebellianism was the first major error concerning the Trinity which gained a large following in the church” (Ryrie, 112)” “has been rejected by the majority of Christianity” (Wikipedia).

Are there any examples of this is the church today? Yes, T.D. Jakes. “When being interviewed on the radio Jakes in responding to the questioner on the orthodox view of the trinity said “The Trinity, the term Trinity, is not a biblical term, to begin with. It's a theological description for something that is so beyond human comprehension that I'm not sure that we can totally hold God to a numerical system. The Lord said, “Behold, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one, and beside Him there is no other.” When God got ready to make a man that looked like Him, He didn't make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul and spirit. We have one God, but He is Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration” (“Living by the Word” on KKLA, hosted by John Coleman, Aug. 23, 1998 -

If you were to visit the beliefs section of his website, you would read “God--There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (

“Dr. Norman Geisler President of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a well known scholar and speaker on cults said in an interview with “The Charlotte World,” “I know T.D. Jakes is very popular, and I know people don't like his ministry being called a cult, but it is. It would have been condemned by any orthodox church down through the centuries.”…He “ said that Jakes promotes modalism, which denies the doctrine of the Trinity” (

Arianism (325 A.D.)

“Arianism first originated with Arius, a presbyter of Alexandra. It consisted of anti-Trinitarian views.

He distinguished the One Eternal God from the Son by saying that the Son was generated from the Father and therefore had a beginning. He also believed that the Holy Spirit was the first thing the Son created” (Ryrie, 112-13). “For his doctrinal teaching he was exiled to Illyria in 325 after the first ecumenical council at Nicaea condemned his teaching as heresy. It was the greatest of heresies within the early church that developed a significant following. Some say, it almost took over the church” (

Jehovah’s Witnesses (“a force”)

They teach that “the holy spirit is the invisible force of Almighty God, which moves his servants to do his will.”

“There is no Trinity, (Let God be True, p. 100-101; Make Sure of All Things, p. 386); The Holy Spirit is God's impersonal active force, The Watchtower, June 1, 1952, p. 24); Their church is the self-proclaimed prophet of God, (The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197); They claim to be the only channel of God's truth, (The Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981, p. 19)” (

Christian Science

They teach, “In the words of St. John: ‘He shall give you another comforter’...this comforter I understand to be Divine Science’” (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, 331:31). They also refer to the Holy Spirit as “the developer of eternal life, truth, and love” (S&H 331:26).

Mary Baker Eddy said, “His students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Science” (S&H, p. 46:30-32).


The Holy Spirit “is not part of this belief. However, some use the term to refer to the spirit of a holy person who once lived” (Christianity, Cults & Religions).


“The Holy Ghost is a male personage” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p 118; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, page 179). He is “a god separate from the Father and the Son” (Christianity, Cults & Religions). “The influence of electricity...the executive power of both the father and son, carrying out the plan.”

Unification Church

They believe the Holy Spirit “is a female spirit who works with Jesus in the spirit world to lead people to Sun Myung Moon” (Christianity, Cults & Religions). They say that the Holy Spirit “also cleanses the sins of the people in order to restore them, thus indemnifying (repaying) the sin committed by Eve.”

“There must be a True Mother with the True Father, in order to give rebirth to fallen children as children of goodness. She is the holy spirit.”

New Age

This is teachings “based on Eastern mystics, Hinduism, and paganism. Popularized in part by actress Shirley Maclane, 1980s-90s. New age teaches that the Holy Spirit is “sometimes a psychic force. Man is divine and can experience psychic phenomena such as contacting unearthly beings” (Christianity, Cults & Religions).


They do not believe in the Holy Spirit nor does Hare Krishna, Transcendental Meditation or Buddhism (Christianity, Cults & Religions).

Baha’i World Faith

They teach that the Holy Spirit is “divine energy from God that empowers every manifestation” (Christianity, Cults & Religions).


“The Qur’an refers to Jesus as spirit of God. Muslim scholars see the angel Gabriel as the Holy Spirit” (Christianity, Cults & Religions).

Evangelical Church
Some see the Holy Spirit as being “a power or an influence.” Others view Him as being “passive, not active or involved.”

As you can see there are many opinions regarding the identity of the Holy Spirit. In our next blog, we will see how the Bible answers “Who is the Holy Spirit?”

Friday, August 31, 2007

Here's Another One

Colorado Student Files Lawsuit Over Commencement Speech That Mentioned Jesus

Friday , August 31, 2007



A student who said she was told she wouldn't get her diploma unless she apologized for a commencement speech in which she mentioned Jesus has filed a lawsuit alleging her free speech rights were violated.

The school district contends its actions were "constitutionally appropriate."

Erica Corder was one of 15 valedictorians at Lewis-Palmer High School in 2006. All were invited to speak for 30 seconds at the graduation ceremony. When it was Corder's turn, she encouraged the audience to get to know Jesus Christ.

Corder had not included those remarks during rehearsals.

Corder's lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, said Principal Mark Brewer told her to prepare a public apology or she would not receive her diploma. She was still allowed to graduate.

The lawsuit said Brewer would not give Corder her diploma until she included a sentence saying, "I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did." Corder received her diploma after complying.

The school district released a statement Wednesday saying officials reviewed Corder's case when it happened in 2006 and also met several times with Corder and her parents.

"While we are disappointed that this matter has resulted in litigation, we are confident that all actions taken by school officials were constitutionally appropriate," the statement said. "As a result, we intend to vigorously defend the claims. Beyond that, it is the district's policy not to comment on pending litigation."

Brewer, who now works for Douglas County schools, declined to comment Wednesday.

Corder is represented by attorneys affiliated with Liberty Counsel, an Orlando, Fla.-based group that says it is dedicated to advancing religious freedom.

Say Goodbye to Your Freedom

I just finished reading a story on World Net Daily where a kindergarten student was not allowed to have his mother read a story from the Bible to his class. In this article, the teacher was promoting "All About Me" and wanted the students to share what their favorite book was. This student's favorite book was the Bible. The teacher invited the students parents to read to their children in class but when this students mother wanted to read from the Bible they were censored (Read the story below).

It's stories like these that show where our religious freedom is heading. This type of behavior is only against those who are "Christian." You won't find this occurring with Muslims, Hindu's, Buddhists, etc. only Christians. Jesus told His disciples that a day was coming where they would be persecuted because of Him. That day is closer than you think.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kindergarten cops rule: Witches in, Bibles out
'Sounds the death knell for religious freedom'

Posted: August 31, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

The Marple Newtown board, (left to right) David McGinley, Carol DeLuca, Won Shin (seated), Jeff Shapiro, Nancy Galbraith, Ed Partridge, Richard Sokorai, Bob Moldoff and Dick Carpenter

A court decision that opens the doors of Culbertson Elementary School in Pennsylvania to books about witches – but rejects the Bible as being too "proselytizing" – is being challenged.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund has submitted amicus briefs in a lawsuit filed when a kindergarten student, under an assignment in which parents were invited to read their child's favorite book, was denied permission to have his mother read a Bible story.

A decision in U.S. District Court that sided with the school's decision to ban the Bible reading, while allowing teachers to suggest reading books about "witches and Halloween," effectively "sounds the death knell for religious freedom in public schools," the ADF argues.

(Story continues below)

"By transmuting private religious speech into government speech, granting school officials carte blanche authority to determine what religious speech is 'too religious,' and holding that a school's desire to avoid a perceived Establishment Clause violation justifies viewpoint discrimination, the lower court's opinion permits a blatant violation of the Constitution," the group said.

"The school's decision to ban religious speech is nothing more than blatant viewpoint discrimination," said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "This was not about proselytizing anyone," continued ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "It was about letting students tell the class about what things are important to them, and the Bible is important to this student."

The classroom assignment was called "All About Me," and was intended to provide an opportunity for children to "identify individual interests and learn about others," the ADF said. The activity at the school – which lists an unspecified "religious holiday" in September but a "winter recess" in December – allowed students to talk about their interests through the use of their favorite stuffed animals, posters, snacks and games and books.

When his turn came, Culbertson Elementary student Wesley Busch asked his mother to read from his favorite book, the Bible. But the ADF said school officials told Donna Kay Busch that the school viewed the Bible as "proselytizing" and as "promoting a specific religious point of view," banning it from the class.

Officials with the Marple Newtown School District had defended their actions as reasonable, and the trial court judge agreed.

However, the ADF's brief argued "the lower court's radical departure from settled First Amendment law poses a serious threat to religious expression."

The brief noted that the school allowed discussion of religion in the "All About Me" assignment. "Because Wesley liked to go to church, he created a poster that included a picture of a church with the words, 'I like to go to church' below it. This poster was displayed on the wall."

But the Bible reading Wesley requested was rejected because the Bible promotes "a specific religious point of view" and the teacher instead suggested Wesley's mother "read a book 'about witches and Halloween' instead."

The ADF said the district court erred in assuming that such private speech would be attributed to the school.

"Indeed, the Bible reading at issue in this case is Wesley's speech: his mother came to the class at his request, to read his book selection, so that he could share himself with his classmates," the ADF said.

The filing also noted the dangers the district court ruling left in its wake.

"The lower court presumes that certain religious speech – i.e., religious speech that crosses some indeterminate threshold where it becomes 'too religious' – automatically violates the Establishment Clause and thus may constitutionally be censored. This holding is plain legal error under controlling precedent. Moreover, it impermissibly interjects government officials into the affairs and doctrines of religion."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Outline of Ezekiel

“From the first to the last chapter of Ezekiel one supreme thought runs throughout, that of the sovereignty and glory of the Lord God. He is sovereign in Israel and in the affairs of the nations of the world, though the loud and boisterous claims of men seem to have drowned out this truth. In His sovereign will God has purposed that we should glorify Him in life and witness to the ends of the earth.”—Charles Lee Feinberg

Ezekiel ministered to his fellow-exiles immediately before and during the first twenty-some years of the captivity. They falsely expected to return to Jerusalem, so he taught them that they must
first return to the Lord.

Ezekiel’s prophecy is divided into three parts.
First, he rehearses the sins of Judah and warns of God’s impending judgment in the captivity of the people and the destruction of the capital. This is all vividly announced in unusual visions and symbolic acts. A bright, shining cloud, a figure of God’s presence, is seen lingering over the temple, then reluctantly departing. This meant that God could no longer dwell among His people because of their sin, and His sword of judgment must soon descend on the polluted temple. The glory of the Lord is one of the key thoughts running throughout the Book of Ezekiel.

In the
second section, Judah’s neighbors are condemned because of their idolatry and their cruel treatment of God’s people. These are the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, Tyrians, Sidonians, and Egyptians.

Finally, in the
last section, Ezekiel tells of the restoration and reunion of the entire nation—both Israel and Judah. When the people repent of their sins, God will put His Holy Spirit within them. The Messiah will come to His people and destroy their last enemies. The temple will be rebuilt, and the glory of the Lord will return to it. These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, but look forward to Christ’s one- thousand-year reign on earth, the Millennium.

Like many other prophetic books, Ezekiel is not entirely chronological, though more so than Isaiah and Jeremiah. We should take notice of the dates or time periods that are given at the beginning of many chapters. Albert Barnes puts the prophecies in chronological order as follows:
The prophecies are divided into groups by dates prefixed to various chapters, and we may assume that those prophecies which are without date were delivered at the same time as the last given date, or at any rate, they followed closely upon it.

1. The fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity.
Chs. 1–7. Ezekiel’s call, and prediction of the coming siege of Jerusalem.

2. The sixth year.
Chs. 8–19. An inspection of the whole condition of the people, with predictions of coming punishment,

3. The seventh year.
Chs. 20–23. Fresh reproofs and fresh predictions of the coming ruin.

4. The ninth year.
Ch. 24. The year in which the siege began. The declarations that the city should be overthrown.

5. The same year.
Ch. 25. Prophecies against Moab, Ammon and the Philistines.

6. The eleventh year.
In this year Jerusalem was taken after a siege of eighteen months and the temple destroyed.
Chs. 26–28. Prophecies against Tyre.

7. The tenth year.
Ch. 29:1–16. Prophecy against Egypt.

8. The twenty-seventh year.
Chs. 29:17–30:19. Prophecy against Egypt.

9. The eleventh year.
Chs. 30:20–31:18. Prophecy against Egypt.

10. The twelfth year.
Ch. 32. Prophecy against Egypt.

11. The same year.
Chs. 33–34. Reproof of unfaithful rulers.

12. The same year, or some year between the twelfth and twenty-fifth.
Ch. 35. Judgment of Mount Seir.

13. The same year.
Chs. 36–39. Visions of Comfort. Overthrow of Gog.

14. The twenty-fifth year.
Chs. 40–48. The vision of the temple.

William MacDonald and Arthur Farstad, Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995). Eze 2:8.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How to Study the Bible

Bible study is very important for all believers. It is the very means by which you are equipped for God"s work. It is not just for those called to vocational ministry but for all believers. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

How does one go about "rightly dividing the word of truth?" Let"s find out as we learn where Bible study begins and how to study the Bible.

Where Bible Study Begins

It begins with a preparation and a proper perspective. When we come to God"s Word we must see it as it is — God"s holy, infallible, inerrant, inspired Word. It"s God"s Word!

How to Study the Bible

Once you have adequately prepared yourself for study by prayer and confession of sin, you must begin now with the basics.

You Must Read the Bible ("What does the Bible say?")

Jerry Vines said, "An unread Bible is like food uneaten, a love letter never read, a buried sword, a road map unstudied, gold never mined" (A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation, p.69).

Richard Moulton said, "We have done almost everything that is possible with these Hebrew and Greek writings. We have overlaid them, clause by clause, with exhaustive commentaries; we have translated them, revised the translations, and quarreled over the revisions...There is yet one thing left to do with the Bible: simply read it" (Cited by Vines, p.69).

Now that you have established a priority of reading the Bible, you must now:

Interpret the Bible ("What does the Bible Mean?")

The ultimate task in interpretation is to "discover why the author wrote what he wrote."

In doing that you must discover "the original meaning intended by the author" (Han Finzel, Unlocking the Scriptures, p.65).

To help with finding the original meaning intended by the author, you must:

Understand the problems. There are gaps that must be bridged like language, history, culture, and geography.

To help you bridge these gaps you need to be familiar with a few important principles:

1. Remember that context rules
2. Always seek the full counsel of the Word of God
3. Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture
4. Do not base your doctrine on an obscure passage of Scripture
5. Interpret Scripture literally
6. Check your conclusions by using reliable commentaries

Now that you are familiar with the principles you need to follow a particular procedure:

1. Ask specific questions (who, what, where, when, why) Who? (the characters), The writer, The recipients, The characters involved in the action, The characters not directly involved in the action, Special people addressed in the passage. What? (the key truths or events), Key ideas, Theological terms, Key events, Important words, Figures of speech, Atmosphere. Where? (the geography and location), Places mentioned, Buildings, Cities, Nations, Landmarks. When? (the time factors), Date of authorship, Duration of the action, When in the church age, When in the life of Israel, Past, present, or future? Why? (the purpose of the passage or book)

"The answers to who, what, where, when, and why can be found by looking in these four places, in the order stated: content of the passage/book; context of the passage; comparison; with other Scriptures; consultation with resource books" (Finzel, p.69).

The final step in interpretation is the formulation of a conclusion, based on your research.

2. Summarizing the steps by stating an initial proposal based on the content.

"You cannot adequately do this until you have went through the observation principles." This can be the theme of the passage or it could be a principle that the passage is teaching. Next you need to search the context. What can the surrounding context of the passage add to your understanding of it? The teaching of a single passage must be viewed within the setting of the entire book from which it is lifted. The third step is to seek comparison (cross-reference). The Bible itself sheds light on its own meaning. Cross- reference and using other Bible translations can be helpful. The fourth step is to survey the secondary resources (commentaries, atlases, dictionaries). This is only after you have done the other work yourself. When you use these secondary resources use them discerningly. And the final step is to state your conclusions. When you do this try to state it in one sentence or less with cross-references in accordance to the context. Don"t forget to include any application principles that may come directly from your study.

Now that you have read the Bible and applied the principles of interpretation, you must:

Apply the Bible (This answers the question, "How does it apply to my life?")

Application always follows interpretation. J. Robertson McQuilkin said, "The goal of all Bible study is to apply the truth of Scripture to life. If that application is not made, all the work put into making sure of the author"s intended meaning will have gone for naught. In fact, to know and not do, doubles the offense of disobedience" (Understanding and Applying the Bible, p.255).

Ps.119:34 - "Give me understanding and I shall keep your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart." [James 1:22 (doers not hearers)]

Application must be kept simple, practical, and personal. Ask the right questions: "How does this relate to my life?" Some other questions you can ask are: Is there a principle to apply, Is there a command to obey, Is there an attitude to adjust or Is there a sin to repent of?

Next you want to principlize what you learn. Take the Scripture you are studying and write a brief sentence of what it is teaching. What is James 1:2-12 teaching? "Trials are a part of my Christian experience. I am to count it all joy because of what they are teaching me in my life."

Second, model before others what you learn. Paul was a model to the church. He said in Phil.4:9 - "The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you." Just as Paul, we are to equally model righteousness before others. 1 Tim.4:12 says, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." 1 Pet.5:3 says, "Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."

Last, teach what you learn to others (Mat.28:19-20). Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim.2:1-2 - You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.


Read the Bible
Interpret the Bible
Apply the Bible

Remember the goal of all Bible study is to know God and make Him known!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Receiving the Implanted Word

How are you at receiving the Word? James says in order to "receive...the implanted word," you must first "lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness." Once you do that then you must "receive with meekness the implanted word" (Jas.1:21). Recently I have been thinking that if you cannot get anything out of the Word when it is presented, the problem might be that you're not saved or it could mean pride is prohibiting your reception of the Word. You see, many times we blame the teachers of the Word when we're not getting what we should. But regardless of the teacher, you should feast on the Word every time it is presented regardless of the depth in which it is presented. The cry of every heart should be "O God, deliver me from myself!" Because to "receive...the implanted Word, it must be done in "meekness."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Purpose Driven Life is Not What You Think

Today we are looking at 1 Thessalonians 1, verses 8-10 in what I believe to be the purpose of every believer in Jesus Christ. Many times Christians fumble around misunderstanding their purpose but as we will see in this text — we have one purpose. Some Christians believe that our purpose is to "moralize the unconverted."

John MacArthur, in his book, Nothing But the Truth, says, "At the beginning of 1999, a major battle in the culture war took place. The Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, conducted by the highest level of leadership in our nation, were in reality a referendum on the culture war. But what began as outrage against immorality, deception, and abuse of power ended rather abruptly without any punishment or even censure. May I suggest that the culture war, at least as we know it, is now over. The impeachment process gave us a clear indication of where our culture stands—and we have discovered that it refuses to follow a biblical morality. The culture war is over—and we’ve lost. That was the inevitable end because this world is the domain of darkness, whether it’s portrayed as moral or immoral. Our responsibility has never been to moralize the unconverted; it’s to convert the immoral. Our responsibility is redemptive, not political. We do not have a moral agenda; we have a redemptive agenda...The single divine calling of the church is to bring sinful people to salvation through Christ. If we do not lead the lost to salvation, nothing else we do for them, no matter how beneficial at the time, is of any eternal consequence" (p.10).

There are 2 simple truths that I want you to see in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 regarding your purpose.

Evangelism Starts With You (v.8a)

"For from you"

"You" is Referring to the "church" Paul is addressing "the church of the Thessalonians" (v.1a)

The church is God’s elect (v.4) They are "followers of...the Lord" (v.6) Evangelism is the churches responsibility and purpose. Jesus indicated that to the disciples in Mat.28:19-20. He also told them when the Holy Spirit "has come upon shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Erwin Lutzer said,"Christianity spread rapidly during the first century because all Christians saw themselves as responsible for disseminating the gospel" (Draper’s Quotations).

Evangelism is a Direct Response to Our Personal Reception of God’s Word (vv.6-7)

When the people at Thessalonica "received the word" they "became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe" (v.7) Notice first they "received the word" and then they became "examples." The Greek word for example (tupos) "was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. Paul commended the Thessalonians for being model believers leaving their mark on others" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible). Their "example" to others was the supernatural response they had to God’s Word

When you become a follower of the Lord you will tell others about your faith — it will be a direct response. When Jesus healed people they immediately told others what happened. Mat.4:23-25 - And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then 4 His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from 5 Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

After Paul was saved it says in Acts 9:20, "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."

John Wesley said, "I look upon all the world as my parish" (Draper’s).

Evangelism is a Lifestyle Not a Church Program (vv.8a-10)

Every Believer in the Thessalonian Church Preached the Gospel. It was not left up to Paul and his associates. Paul said their "faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything" (v.8)

"If you live by the same values and priorities [Jesus] had, you will find evangelism happening naturally. It becomes a life-style and not a project" (REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERT, Draper’s).

The Gospel was Personally Tied to their Faith. Paul says "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth...Your faith toward God has gone out." The "word of the Lord" and "Your faith toward God" is being used synonymously. The "word of the Lord" is their "faith toward God" — it is objective truth!

The Gospel They Had Received "Sounded Forth." It reverberated forth. "Sounded forth" Gr.execheomai, "to ring out" (UBS Grk Dic), "to proclaim" (Lou- Nida). It was heard everywhere — in "Macedonia and every place." "Wherever the Thessalonians went, the gospel given by the word of the Lord was heard. It resulted in a local outreach to Thessalonica, a national outreach to Macedonia and Achaia, and an international outreach to regions beyond" (MacArthur).

"Jesus . . . wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them" (REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERT, Draper’s).

Lifestyle Evangelism is Both Heard and Seen (vv.9-10). Lifestyle evangelism is not just living out the Gospel in my life. It is living and proclaiming the Gospel in my life. Those who heard the "word of the Lord" from the Thessalonian’s declared what kind of people the Thessalonian’s were (v.9). They declared they had "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (vv.9-10). This was the testimony of the Thessalonians believers. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 that we are to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

God was glorified by the Thessalonians for the proclamation of their faith. He was glorified by those who heard the Gospel from the Thessalonians. He can be glorified by His church today!

We are to evangelize the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is to be every part of our living because it is connected to our faith! When people ask us to stop proclaiming the Gospel they are also asking us to stop believing because the two are closely related. Do you understand your purpose as the body of Christ?

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to Receive God's Word

How are you at receiving the Word? James says in order to "receive...the implanted word," you must first "lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness." Once you do that then you must "receive with meekness the implanted word" (Jas.1:21). Recently I have been thinking that if you cannot get anything out of the Word when it is presented, the problem might be that you're not saved or it could mean pride is prohibiting your reception of the Word. You see, many times we blame the teachers of the Word when we're not getting what we should. But regardless of the teacher, you should feast on the Word every time it is presented regardless of the depth in which it is presented. The cry of every heart should be "O God, deliver me from myself!" Because to "receive...the implanted Word, it must be done in "meekness."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Tempter

Satan is a master at tempting us to sin. In fact his temptations are old, finding their way with the first woman - Eve (Gen.3). So it is wise for you and I to heed the words of the apostles regarding this enemy of the soul. Peter said, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet.5:8). James adds "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas.4:7). Don't be fooled by his temptations. Jesus said that he is "a liar and the father of it" (Jn.8:44). As Thomas Manton wrote, "If you yield to Satan in the least, he will carry you further and further, till he has left you under a stupefied or terrified conscience: stupefied, till thou hast lost all thy tenderness. A stone at the top of a hill, when it begins to roll down, ceases not till it comes to the bottom. Thou thinkest it is but yielding a little, and so by degrees are carried on, till thou hast sinned away all thy profession, and all principles of conscience, by the secret witchery of his temptations." Yielding to Satan won't cost you your salvation but you will sure feel you have lost it. Another lie that he is good at. Heed God's Word by being "sober" and "vigiliant." That is the key to resisting him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Spiritual Warfare

Do you realize that we, as Christians, are in a battle? It's a battle with the unseen demonic world. Paul said in Ephesians 6:11: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (NIV). Notice that he says our struggle is not physical but spiritual. It's "not against flesh and blood." Therefore, because of its nature, you must be Spirit-filled (Eph.5:18) and "strong in the Lord (Eph.6:10). The warfare that we're engaged in is not with the people in your home or at work - it's with the god of this world. And as you walk under the control of the indwelling Spirit you will sense that conflict on an even greater scale.

So as you live today in the fellowship of the Spirit, realize that this warfare is a "war of universal proportions pitting God and His truth against Satan and his lies. It’s a battle of wills between God and Satan. It’s a cosmic conflict that involves God and the highest creature He ever made and it filters down to every human being. Satan and his army of demons are fighting Christ, His holy angels, the nation of Israel, and believers. The battle lines are clearly drawn" (How to Meet the Enemy, John MacArthur).

Friday, July 06, 2007

Blessed Be God

Peter tells his readers to “Bless” God. That phrase is very similar to what we saw in our study of Psalm 103:1-4, where David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” Peter begins this passage the same way and instead of offering the praises to God by himself, he calls on all of God’s children to join him. Notice what he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). These words are very important to those whom Peter refers to as “pilgrims of the Dispersion” (v.1) because they are words of hope in the midst of suffering.“ Suffering” is the theme of this epistle as seen by the “seven different words used for it” (Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Handbook, p.796).Three of the seven words: “suffer, “ ”suffering,” and “suffered” appear a total of 14 times in this letter. Chapter 5, verse 13 tells us that this letter was written from Rome when it says, “She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.” “Babylon” is used here in a figurative sense as it is used in the book of Revelation to refer to Rome where “Peter ministered...until his martyrdom” (Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Peter and Jude, p.8).

“Some of the most severe...persecutions came at the hands of Nero. This Roman emperor became obsessed with eliminating Christians and their faith” (Ibid., LABC). Four years before his death, “a large part of Rome was destroyed by fire, probably started at Nero’s order. The emperor publicly accused the Christians in the city, giving him an excuse for [the] terrible atrocities” that followed (Ibid., LABC). The Roman historian Tacitus said, ‘Besides being put to death, [Christians] were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed’ (Annales 15.44 quoted in the Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Peter and Jude, introduction). So when Peter writes this letter to those who are scattered in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1), he is writing “to those living in Rome and throughout the Roman province of encourage [them] to remain strong” in the midst of persecution. He does that by focusing their attention on their future “inheritance” that is “reserved in heaven for [them]” (1:4).

Peter identifies himself in verse 1 as the author. Verses 1 and 2 follow the customary salutation of that day which included: the writer, readers, and the greeting. The writer is “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” The readers are “the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” also referred to as the “elect” in verse 2. Verse 2 ends with the greeting: “Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Now in verse 3 Peter begins his letter by talking about the salvation of the believer. As we have seen in the past, we see again here that God is the one who initiates salvation by choosing or electing those whom He would save before the foundation of the world. He says in verse 2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Some believe that “foreknowledge” is God looking down through the corridor of time and seeing who would believe and therefore choosing them. But that is not the meaning of “foreknowledge.” The Greek word for “foreknowledge” (prognosis) refers “to God’s eternal, predetermined, loving, and saving intention. It “means that God planned before, not that He observed before (cf. Ex. 33:17; Jer. 1:5; Amos 3:2; Matt. 7:23).” “God pre-thought and pre-determined or predestined each Christian's salvation” (The MacArthur Study Bible, 1 Peter 1:2). In 1:20, Peter used the related verb “foreordained” or “foreknown,’ a form of proginosko, in reference to God’s knowledge from eternity past that He would send His Son to redeem sinners. Usage of this verb cannot mean that He looked into future history and saw that Jesus would choose to die, so He made Him the Savior. In the same way that God the Father foreknew His plan for Christ’s crucifixion from before the foundation of the world, (Acts 2:23; cf. 1 Peter 2:6), He foreknew the elect. In neither case was it a matter of mere prior information about what would happen. Therefore foreknowledge involves God’s predetermining to have a relationship with some individuals, based on His eternal plan. It is the divine purpose that brings salvation for sinners to fulfillment, as accomplished by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, not merely an advance knowledge that observes how people will respond to God’s offer of redemption” (John MacArthur, 1 Peter, pp.19-20). God brought the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time. Christians are foreknown for salvation in the same way Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be a sacrifice for sins (cf. Acts 2:23).

Verse 3 essentially says that “God and Father...according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Spoken in similar manner as Ephesians 2:4-5, Peter states that our salvation is entirely the work of God. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” This truth causes Peter launch into praise to God for our salvation and, again, is a offer of hope to his readers who are presently suffering or will suffer at the hands of the Roman emperor Nero.

What better words could be offered? When you’re suffering do what Peter did—bless God!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Affirmation

I want to affirm to you today and for the rest of my life here on this earth that the Bible is the Word of God! And we 're fallible men and woman who must submit to its authority. We don’t turn to scientist to explain the virgin birth, the deity of Christ or the resurrection of Jesus but we do when it comes to matters such as the creation?

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Commitment to the Church

In my last blog, I shared with you what I am committed to. Today, I want to address this further by talking about my commitment to the church.

I am committed to the church from which Jesus is the head. Colossians 1:18 says that “He is the head of the body, the church, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” As the head of His church He mediates His rule through godly men called elders. I have said on past occasions that the term elder and pastor are used interchangeably when referring to this office in the church. Acts 20:17 says, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. Acts 20:28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” In these two passages they are referred to as elders, overseers, and pastors. Elder emphasizes his maturity, overseeing and shepherding refers to his function. Because the Bible mentions elders in the church, I am committed to having them. That means I have to wait for God to raise men up, examine them, and then ordain them to ministry (1 Tim.3:1; Tit.1:5).

The Bible teaches that the elders of the church have the oversight of the church. That means they are “rule” the church (1 Tim.5:17) but not as “lords over those entrusted to [them], but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet.5:3). Their major emphasis is on teaching sound doctrine. 1 Tim.3:2 says they are to be “apt to teach. ” Titus 1:9 says they to hold fast “the faithful word as [they] has been taught, that [they] may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” They are called “pastor-teachers” in Ephesians 4:11 – as such they are to equip “the saints for the work of the ministry” (v.12).

The second group in the church are deacons. These serve the church by implementing what the elders teach. 1 Timothy 3:8-13 mentions the office of deacon and deaconness. When Paul addressed his letter to the Philippians he said in 1:1: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” When he wrote his letter to the Romans, he said in 16:1-2: “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”

Where does the congregation fit in all of this. They model submission. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, he told them in 5:12 to “recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” In Hebrews 13:7 and 17 he said essentially the same thing and called for the people to submit to their leadership. Peter in his first epistle said the same thing in 5:5, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility.”

God has given a high calling to the church. We are to structure and behave ourselves according to His Word. I am committed to these truths and I pray you are too. In our next blog we will talk about accountability.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What I Am Committed To

It has been about a week since I have shared anything in my blog. To be honest, I haven’t had any time to devote to writing in the past week. But today, I want to share a few things with you that are on my heart. I want to talk about I am committed to.

As a pastor of a local church, there are many things that grab my attention. Many times I have to guard myself from things and always reiterate in my heart what my priorities are.

I am committed to the true Gospel. I am not about bringing everyone together. I received an invitation in the mail recently from the YMCA which said, “With a desire for the Christian community to gather in an ecumenical group representing the rich diversity of our community, The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast request the pleasure of your company at the Inaugural ‘Celebration of Prayer’ Breakfast...In this spirit, and as a natural outgrowth of such gatherings, many residents throughout the First Coast are finding through the Spirit of Christ a fellowship that is helping to build true community.”

Guests to this “ecumenical” gathering make up Baptists, Episcopalians, and Charismatics.

I am not interested in an “Ecumenical” gathering where we all come together with different beliefs. I am interested in Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6) and the call of a narrow gospel. Paul warned the Galatians about another gospel when he said in Galatians 1:6-9: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” To the Philippians he said in Philippians 1:15-18 that he could rejoice in a gospel preached out of impure motives as long as the true gospel is preached. He said: “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

There is no rejoicing when the true gospel is perverted and another gospel is preached. I agree with Geneva not willing to lower their flags to half mast in honor of the Pope’s funeral. Someone on SermonAudio wrote, “Thank God there is still a protest.” I was reading the Pope’s last will and testament on the Internet and was reminded of where every Catholic’s trust lies. He writes: “Keep watch, because you do not know which day when the Lord will come" — These words remind me of the final call, which will come the moment that the Lord will choose. I desire to follow Him and desire that all that is part of my earthly life shall prepare me for this moment. I do not know when it will come, but, like all else, this moment too I place into the hands of the Mother of My Master” (Pope John Paul II).

In the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “...all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation...” (p.224, #846). “The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: ‘For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained’” (p.215, #816). In #969 of the Catechism, it says of Mary: “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation...’ (p.252). In #494 it says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race” (p.125). In #292 of the Catechism it says “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation” (p.292). In #1113 it says “There are seven sacraments of the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony” (p.289).

I am not about bringing everyone together. I am about everyone repenting and submitting to Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It is clear in the teachings of Scripture on the subject of salvation that the Gospel is about self-denial not self-fulfillment.

The Bible states that every person is a sinner. Galatians 3:22 says, “The Scripture has confined all under sin.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” Galatians 3:10 says, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” In an examination of the 10 commandments, we see clearly why we are “cursed.” We do not “do them!” And because of this, we are “cursed.”

Because we are sinners we deserve judgment. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Ezekiel18:4 says, “The soul who sins shall die.” There are many who have problems with these first two points of the Gospel message but the third they cannot swallow—we cannot save ourselves from our sin. The reason is because we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.2:1) and because our good works are nothing but filthy rags before a holy God (Isa.64:6). But praise God we don’t have to perform some kind of works for salvation. He sent Jesus to die in our place (Jn.3:16; Rom.10:9-10).

What are you committed to? Is it the true gospel? Do you see evangelism as your highest priority?

In my next blog, I want to share with you my commitment to the church.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Proper Contemplation

“On January 7, 1855, the minister of New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, England, opened his morning sermon as follows:

‘It has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God...But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe...The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.”

These words, spoken over a century ago by C. H. Spurgeon (at that time, incredibly, only twenty years old) were true then, and they are true now.

Many people have various views of God. Erwin Lutzer, in his book, “Ten Lies About God,” writes: “‘I believe in God’ is perhaps one of the most meaningless statements we can make today. The word God has become a canvas on which each is free to paint his own portrait of the divine; like the boy scribbling at his desk, we can draw God according to whatever specifications we please. For some He is ‘psychic energy”; for others He is ‘whatever is stronger than I am’ or ‘an inner power to lead us to deeper consciousness.’ To say, ‘I believe in God’ might simply mean that we are seeing ourselves in a full-length mirror” (pp.2-3). Donald McCullough adds: “When the true story gets told, whether in the partial light of historical perspective or in the perfect light of eternity, it may well be revealed that the worst sin of the church at the end of the twentieth century has been the trivialization of God...We prefer the illusion of a safer deity, and so we have pared God down to more manageable proportions” (Quoted in Ten Lies About God by Erwin Lutzer).

How do you see God? Do you see Him as “a safer deity” or a “God of more manageable proportions?” How you view Him will determine your worship. Worship that is free of the truth about God is not worship as the Bible prescribes, it’s idolatry. As you contemplate God today in your thought, make sure that what you’re meditating on comes from a clear literal interpretation of Scripture.