Friday, March 30, 2007

The Basics of Christianity (Pt.3)

John Bunyan said, “It is profitable for Christians to be often calling to mind the very beginnings of grace with their souls” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 13). He’s right! That is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper and it is the purpose of this study. I want to call you back to the basics.

In our last time together we looked at prayer and Bible study. Today, we’re going to set-up the second which is spiritual gifts. Before we consider spiritual gifts, there are a few things we must consider first.

We have said on past occasions that you must be filled with the Spirit. These are not my words but Paul’s words as they are found in Ephesians 5:18. When you consider those words and the effects that are associated with them you can’t help but to see the same parallel found in Colossians chapter 3:16. These two passages issue in the same results but with each command phrased differently. One says to be filled with the Spirit while the other says to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. The conclusion is simply this: Being filled with the Spirit is being controlled by the Word of God. Now how does that work with Spiritual Gifts? When you are controlled by the Word or filled with the Spirit you will then manifest the Spirit through supernatural gifts. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7 - “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” When these Spirit-given gifts are in operation they manifest the Holy Spirit who then causes the Body to be built up. When the Body is built up then Christ is glorified. Before we go further let me help you to understand two important truths about the church and the gifts that are manifested. First, let’s begin by defining what the church is.

The Church is a called out assembly. The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia. It comes from ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling,” and kaleo, “to call.” “The word” itself “does not indicate the nature of the called out group; it can be used in a technical sense of the NT church, or it can be used in a nontechnical sense of any kind of group” (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, p.347). Acts 7:38 translates it “congregation” and Acts 19:32, 39 translates it “assembly.” “In secular Greek literature it was used of town meetings, local gatherings of citizens called together by their rulers to hear official announcements or witness government ceremonies” (John MacArthur, Matthew 16-23, p.133). In the LXX “it was used of the Israelites assembled for religious purposes. For them it meant the assembled people of God” (D. Edmond Hiebert, The Thessalonian Epistles, p.38). “It its every other occurrence, it is translated ‘church,’ the church being looked upon as a called out body of people, called out of the world of unsaved humanity to become the people of God” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek NT, p.35). We are the called of Jesus Christ—called to be saints. Romans 1:7 says, “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” We are also called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We are called into the fellowship of His Son. I Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In addition to what we have been called to, we have also been called out of several things: the world (Gal.1:3-4), Satan (Eph.2:1-3), and sin (Rom.6:17-18).

The Church is also the Body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul gives the analogy of the body. He says that it is one (v.12); it has many members (vv.12, 14-16); it has a head (v.28); and it has a function (v.28). In Ephesians Paul applies this concept to Christ and His church. He says in Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” Here Paul also says that the body is one. In 1 Corinthians 12:27 he says that it has many members: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” In Colossians 1:18 he says it has a head. “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

In our next study we will look at the function of the church as it is seen in Romans 12:4-8.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Basics of Christianity (Pt.2)

In our study yesterday, I gave you the first basic of Christianity and that is prayer. Today I want to talk about Bible study. Prayer and Bible study go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. As we talk about this today, I want to address only the first feature of Bible study and that is reading. When we read the Bible we are answering the question, “What does the Bible say?” Charles Spurgeon has some good words to say about this. He said, “How often do we open the sacred book and read a chapter through, perhaps at family-prayer, or perhaps in our own private devotions, and having read from the first verse to the last, we shut up the book, thinking we have done something very right and very proper, and in a vague way somehow profitable to us. Very right and very proper indeed, and yet, right and proper as the thing is, we may really have gained nothing thereby. We may, in fact, have only drilled ourselves in the merely external part of religion, and may not have enjoyed anything spiritual, or anything that can be beneficial to our souls, if we have forgotten the divine Spirit through whom the Word has come to us” (Spurgeon, C. H. (1998). Vol. 58: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 58 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons. Albany, OR: Ages Software). To keep from that happening, I want to suggest five ways you should read the Bible. The first is prayerfully. The psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” He knew if he was to understand God’s Word it would only come from God opening His eyes. So as you read your Bible pray—pray for God to open your eyes to His Word.

The second, which should be a prayer in of itself is to read undistractedly. After Jesus fed the five thousand, Matthew 14:22-23 says, “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on a mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening had come, He was alone there.” Nothing can replace your time alone with God. If you’re already praying for God to open your eyes to His Word then you need to be in a place where you’re alone with Him. When my kids were younger, I didn’t have many places I could go to have this time, so I had to learn to deal with the noises and distractions. It didn’t take me long to realize that time alone is essential in spending time alone with God. Suzanne Wesley used to throw her apron over her head while at the kitchen table and had her devotions. I know this can be hard if you have little ones always crawling at your heels for attention, so the best time may be when their asleep. I soon found that was it for me.

The third way to read is for it to be done daily. I love what John MacArthur says regarding this. He says, “Sophisticated and ingenious Bible study methods books are fine, but they should never come ahead of fundamental steps. And there is no more fundamental step than systematically reading God’s Word, line upon line, precept upon precept, absorbing its total truth and cohesiveness” (How to Get the Most From God’s Word, p.156). Of course, there are a number of reading plans. I would encourage you to read through the Bible at least once a year. Right now our church is engaged in this kind of reading plan and it has been so beneficial especially if you’re like those who stumble through the Bible unsure of where to read.

The fourth step in reading the Bible is somewhat similar to the last and that is to read it repetitiously.  John MacArthur is again helpful on this point. He suggests taking a book in the New Testament and reading it over-and-over for thirty days. You can select one of your choice or read the one we’re studying. Break larger books into smaller sections and read each section for 30 days (eg. Revelation has 22 chapters - divide it up into 8, 7, 7). If apply this process to every New Testament book, you will have read it repetitiously in about two-and-a-half years.

All of the things we have mentioned so far are important to remember as you read but I think the most important is the last one. You should read carefully. “Don’t hurry as you read the passage. Take as much time as is necessary.” Hans Finzel says, “The process of observation can be divided into three steps of study, following in logical sequence. First, we look at the whole; divide that up into parts; and finally scrutinize the details” (Unlocking the Scriptures, p.35). If you’re hurrying through this process you will miss many important truths.

So what is the best way to read the Bible? Read it prayerfully, undistractedly, daily, repetitiously, and carefully. Try it today! As we continue to look at the basics of Christianity, you will see how important these first two steps are and why you should return to them often.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Basics of Christianity (Pt.1)

Today I want to focus your attention on what many have called the basics of Christianity. I realize that for many what I will talk about is basic but for others it’s not. As we look to another year, there will always be things that we will need to recall. The content of this message is one of them. There are four basic duties we must constantly keep at hand. If you never neglect them they will preserve you. I will spend the next four blogs talking about them.

The first is prayer. We have said so much in the past about prayer. That’s why I mention it now. Prayer should never be kept in the past but in the present. Notice a few truths on this point. We are commanded to pray in everything. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication.” This verse speaks for itself. It gives us the antedote to worry which is prayer. We are to pray “in everything.” What kind of prayers? “Supplications.” We are to constantly let our needs be made know to God. When we do it will strengthen us in the everyday battles. Notice the second thing Paul says in this verse. He says we are commanded to pray with thanksgiving. He says, “in everything by prayer with thanksgiving.” It’s amazing how thanksgiving or gratitude can change your perspective. We should be known as a people who are thankful. In all of Paul’s letters, he begins with this kind of attitude. We are commanded to pray in everything with thanksgiving but notice what else he says. We are commanded to pray with requests to God. He says, “Let your requests be made known to God.” It’s amazing how we allow everyone to know about our problems rather than taking them to God. He is near to those who are of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The last point Paul makes in this verse has to do with how often we are to pray. He says we are commanded to pray always. When you’re praying “in everything” that encompasses what he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” We are to pray all the time and as 1 Timothy 2:8 says we are to pray “everywhere.” As you apply these principles, don’t forget about your heart. Psalm 119:58 says, “I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to Me according to Your Word.” The heart is always the issue and when we pray we are to do it with our “whole heart.” Genesis 18:27 adds the attitude of humility. It says, “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord.”

Does this describe your prayer life? Do you pray and when you pray do you pray “in everything with thanksgiving, letting your requests be made known unto God?” Do you pray with your “whole heart” in “humility?” If not, then I want to encourage you to go back to the basics!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Who is the Angel of the Lord?

According to the Bible, there are “countless beings” that “that fill the void around us. These amazing beings, who live in the heavenly realm, are known as angels. And since the creation of man, they have mingled in human affairs. Hebrews 13:2 even says ‘Some have entertained angels unawares’” (John MacArthur, God, Satan, and Angels, Study Guide, p.127). The universe is occupied by angels. While they cannot normally be perceived by human vision, they do mingle in the earth. They exist in a dimension we can’t comprehend. But just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In 2 Kings 6:15-17, there is an incident involving Elisha and his servant. They were both about to be captured by the Syrian army. It says: “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” When the natural vision of Elisha’s servant was enhanced, he saw the previously invisible army.

Now it’s important at this point to ask the question, “Why do we believe in angels?” In his book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Billy Graham reflects a good perspective that best answers this question. He says, “I am convinced that these heavenly beings exist and that they provide unseen aid on our behalf. I do not believe in angels because someone has told me about a dramatic visitation from an angel, impressive as such rare testimonies may be. I do not believe in angles because UFO’s are astonishingly angel-like in some of their reported appearances. I do not believe in angels because ESP experts are making the realm of the spirit world seem more and more plausible. I do not believe in angels because of the sudden worldwide emphasis on the reality of Satan and demons. I do not believe in angels because I have ever seen one — because I haven’t. I believe in angels because the Bible says there are angels; and I believe the Bible to be the true Word of God” (pp.14-15). If you believe the Bible is the Word of God, you then must believe in angels because they are in the Bible.

Now there is an angel that is different from all the angels mentioned in the Bible. He is called “The Angel of the LORD” or “The Angel of Jehovah.” His appearances are limited to the Old Testament where He first appeared to Abraham, and his last appearance occurs in Zechariah.

In Genesis 16:7-13 we see his appearance to Hagar. It says, “Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, 'Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?' She said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.' 9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.' 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.' 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her: 'Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.' 13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are- the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'

In Exodus 3:1-6 we see another appearance of this Angel. It says, “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." 4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." 6 Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”

A third appearance is found Judges 6:11-24 where he appears to Gideon: “Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” 13 Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” 15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” 17 Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.” And He said, “I will wait until you come back.” 19 So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. 20 The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21 Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. 22 Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the LORD. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.” 23 Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”

The last appearance is in Judges 13:21-22 - 21. It says, “When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!”

When you evaluate these four passages you see “in four separate incidents the Angel of the LORD is equated with God” (Ibid., MacArthur, p.146).

In Genesis 16:10, 13 to Hagar He says “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly” (v.10) Hagar “called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are- the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (v.13). In Exodus 3:4, 6 we see that again. Verse 1 says, “the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” Verse 4 says it was “God” who “called to him from the midst of the bush.” In verse 6 He identifies Himself by saying "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” His appearance in Judges 6:1-2, 14, 16 takes on the same identity. In verses 1-2 it says “the Angel of the LORD” was talking to Gideon. In verse 14 it says, “The LORD turned to him and said.” In verse 16 it says, “And the LORD said to him.” The same is true in Judges 13:22. Verse 21 refers to “the Angel of the LORD.” Verse 22 says, “Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!”

Who is the Angel of the LORD if He is God, yet distinct from God? I believe He is the Second Person of the Trinity — the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The appearance of the Second Person of the Trinity in human form is known as a theophany, or more specifically, a Christophany (a preincarnation appearance of Christ). The only member of the Trinity who ever manifests Himself is the Second Person. The Bible says that “God is spirit” (Jn.4:24). The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is of spiritual essence as well. He is never manifested visually. In the OT the Second Person of the Trinity appears as the Angel of the LORD. But in the NT He appears as the man Christ Jesus, God in human flesh. The Angel of the LORD doesn’t appear in the Bible after Zechariah because He became the incarnate Son in the NT (cf. Phil.2:6-8).

Angels have a specific ministry but the Angel of the LORD even more. No angel could do what this angel did unless He was God. The New Testament gives us this answer. Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1) and He took on human flesh (John 1:14) for the purpose of saving His people from their sins (Mat.1:21). Do you know Him today?

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Joy is a Command in Scripture

Paul said in Philippians 3:1 - “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe” (NKJV).

Joy was such a priority for Paul that he told them again two times in 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” In both of those verses he uses the Greek word chairo, which translates a present, active, imperative. The present tense is the continuous tense. This is to be going on all the time. The active voice means the subject is causing the action. You are to rejoice. It’s not based on circumstances. It’s based on a command. This verb is in the imperative mood, which is a command. Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord! You say, “How is that possible?” “How can I rejoice during a severe trial or any trial in my life?” First, Paul doesn’t say, “rejoice in the Lord if...” He lays no condition on the command. He says “rejoice in the Lord period.” Second, you have to understand the purpose of trials. Yes trials are painful and “grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb.12:11).  Stop looking at how difficult your trial is and focus on what it will produce and remember what Paul said in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

When Paul told the Philippians to “rejoice,” he said after being beaten and thrown in jail. Further, he didn’t call for them to do something he didn’t do. Luke tells us in Acts 16:23-25, “And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” They could have joy because their trial drew them to God and they knew God was in control of their lives. After David confessed his sin in Psalm 32, he said in verses 10-11 that “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.” In chapter 33, he continues: “Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the LORD with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy” (vv.1-3). Paul said of the Thessalonians that they “became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess.1:6). In his second letter to the Thessalonians, he said “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of everyone of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (1:3-4). Their faith was growing and their love was abounding because of the “persecutions and tribulations” they endured.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Greatest Problem Facing the Church

I want to share with you a message I preached in September 2006. You can view or listen to this message by clicking here.

For the past two Wednesday evenings we have looked at the subject of unity in the church. Such unity, as I said, can never come at the expense of the truth. Gordan Clark wrote, “Since God is truth, a contempt for the truth is equally a contempt for God.” He’s right! An attack on the truth is an attack on God! Clark’s statement does not suggest that unity or love is unimportant. We must be loving and we must seek unity. We must reflect the long-suffering of God and the meekness of our Savior. But all of that must be built on a foundation of non-negotiable truth.

I have been following a story this week regarding the reaction by the Muslim community to a statement that the Pope made regard jihad (holy war). And as I have been reading various news articles, it struck me that opposing views are not tolerated by Muslims. They can disagree with your conviction but you cannot disagree with their’s. This response reminded me of our culture. You can say just about anything as long as it is not spiritual, moral or ethical. Yet what we hear much of in the media is either against Republicans, President Bush, or Christians but not against Muslims. When I think about this problem, immediately I think about the church. Because the greatest problem facing the church today is its lack of discernment. It lacks the ability to discern between what is right and what is wrong.

John MacArthur, illustrates this in his book, Reckless Faith, when he says that one of the reasons for a “low level of discernment in the church today is the reluctance to take a definitive stand on any issue. Those with any convictions at all are supposed to hold those beliefs with as much slack as possible. Dogmatism is not permitted. To pronounce anything true and call its antithesis error is to challenge society’s only remaining dogma. Refuse to equivocate on any point of principle or doctrine, and you will be labeled too narrow. Zeal for the truth has become politically incorrect.

In the secular world it is often thought uncouth to voice any opinion at all on spiritual, moral, or ethical matters. A plethora of Phil Donahue-style talk shows exist to remind us of this fact, and they do so by parading in front of us the most bizarre and extreme advocates of every radical "alternative lifestyle" imaginable. We are not supposed to condemn these people; the whole point is to broaden our minds and raise our level of tolerance. Anyone who responds negatively is viewed with the same contempt that used to be reserved for bigots and religious hypocrites.

The other day one of these programs broadcast a show featuring bearded lesbians. A petite woman was seated on the stage sporting a thick black beard and full moustache. All her other physical attributes, her voice, and her clothing were fully feminine. She declared that she was proud of the beard and really didn’t care what anyone else thought of it. Besides, her lesbian lover found facial hair attractive. She said she was actually taking hormones to make her beard grow even thicker.

A teenage girl in the audience timidly stated that she thought it was unfortunate that the bearded woman was purposely alienating herself from mainstream society. She suggested that the woman might really be happier if she stopped the hormone treatments and underwent electrolysis instead.

At that the studio audience turned disagreeable. Several people booed the teenage girl. Another woman from the audience, her voice choked with emotion, scolded the teenager: "How dare you criticize this beautiful creature! Who are you to tell her how she should look? Society shouldn’t impose arbitrary standards on people. Everyone should be free to be whatever they want to be."

The audience responded with sustained applause. The bearded woman grinned triumphantly. And the teenage girl sat down in shame.

The culture around us has declared war on all standards, and the church is unwittingly following suit. It has become quite popular among Christians to assert that almost nothing is really black and white. Virtually all issues of right and wrong, true and false, good and bad are painted in shades of gray. Many Christians assume this is the proper way of understanding truth” (46-47).

The church cannot afford to lose its discernment but it has. And this has become the greatest problem facing the church. “It is obvious that not every issue is cast in black and white. There are many questions to which Scripture does not explicitly speak. For example, should Christians watch television? Nothing in Scripture forbids it. But clearly television poses certain dangers for the Christian. And there are principles in Scripture that can help us discern what kinds of things we should watch and how we should interact with what we see. But there is no express rule given to govern how much or how little television we should watch. It is a gray area. But many of the issues being compromised among Christians today are not questionable. They are not gray areas. There is no room for compromise here. Scripture speaks very clearly against homosexuality, for example. The Christian position on adultery is not at all vague. The question of whether a believer ought to marry an unbeliever is spelled out with perfect clarity. Scripture quite plainly forbids any Christian to take another Christian to court. Selfishness and pride are explicitly identified as sins. [Yet those areas are] treated as gray areas on Christian radio, on Christian television, and in Christian literature. People want all such matters to be negotiable. And too many Christian leaders willingly oblige. The line of distinction between truth and error, wisdom and foolishness, and church and world are being obliterated. The truth is that far more things are black-and-white issues than most people realize. Most of the truths of God’s Word are explicitly contrasted with opposing ideas.

Jay Adams calls this the principle of antithesis, and he points out that it is fundamental to genuine discernment.

He writes, “In the Bible, where antithesis is so important, discernment-the ability to distinguish God’s thoughts and God’s ways from all others-is essential. Indeed, God says that "the wise in heart will be called discerning" (Proverbs 16:21). From the Garden of Eden with its two trees (one allowed, one forbidden) to the eternal destiny of the human being in heaven or in hell, the Bible sets forth two, and only two, ways: God’s way, and all others. Accordingly, people are said to be saved or lost. They belong to God’s people or the world. There was Gerizim, the mount of blessing, and Ebal, the mount of cursing. There is the narrow way and the wide way, leading either to eternal life or to destruction. There are those who are against and those who are with us, those within and those without. There is life and death, truth and falsehood, good and bad, light and darkness, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, love and hatred, spiritual wisdom and the wisdom of the world. Christ is said to be the way, the truth, and the life, and no one may come to the Father but by Him. His is the only name under the sky by which one may be saved.”

All truth sets itself against error. Where Scripture speaks, it speaks with authority. It speaks definitively. It speaks decisively. It calls for absolute conviction. It demands that we submit to God and resist the devil (Jas.4:7). It urges us to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). It commands us to turn away from evil and do good (1 Peter 3:11). It calls us to reject the broad way that seems right to the human mind (Prov. 14:12; 16:25) and follow the narrow way prescribed by God (Matt. 7:13-14). It tells us that our ways are not God’s ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts (Isa. 55:8). It orders us to protect the truth and reject lies (Rom. 1:25). It declares that no lie is of the truth (1 John 2:21). It guarantees that the righteous shall be blessed and the wicked perish (Ps. 1:1, 6). And it reminds us that "friendship with the world is hostility toward God" (James 4:4). Discernment demands that where Scripture speaks with clarity, a hard line must be drawn.

Christ is against human philosophy, against empty deception, against human tradition, and against the elementary principles of this world (Col. 2:8). Those things cannot be integrated with true Christian belief; they must be repudiated and steadfastly resisted. Scripture demands that we make a definitive choice: "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21). "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15)” (John MacArthur, Reckless Faith, 49-51).

As we look at this problem facing the church, I want to invite you to turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22. It is here in this passage where Paul calls the Thessalonians to test all things. Notice what he says, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”

Test All Things (v.21a)

J.C. Ryal says, “Every individual Christian has a right to judge for himself by the Word of God, whether that which is put before him as religious truth, is God’s truth, or is not. He does not say, ‘Whatsoever apostles – whatsoever evangelists, pastors and teachers – whatsoever you bishops – whatsoever you ministers tell you is truth: that you are to believe.’ No: he says, ‘Prove all things.’ He does not say, ‘Whatsoever the universal church pronounces true, that you are to hold.’ No: he says, ‘Prove all things.’

The principle laid down is this, ‘Prove all things by the Word of God. All ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices – prove all by the Word of God. Measure all by the measure of the Bible. Compare all with the standard of the Bible. Weigh all in the balances of the Bible. Examine all by the light of the Bible. Test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive, hold, believe and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away’” (Sermon - “Prove All Things” taken from


“Test” or “examine” Gr.dokimazo, “a common New Testament word that often refers to testing something for authenticity. It entails distinguishing between true and false, right and wrong, or good and bad. Sometimes the word denotes the process of distinguishing what is pleasing to the Lord” (John MacArthur, 1 & 2 Thesslonians, p.199).

What is taught – content (Acts 17:11 - Bereans)
Who is teaching – character (1 Tim.3; Tit.1)
This command is universal for every believer

It first starts with you - 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.” It then branches out toward others. 1 John 4:1 tells us to “test the spirits.” 1 Corinthians 14:29 says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” It is clear that this was the duty of early believers by what Jesus says to the church at Ephesus. In Revelation 2:2 Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” Even the Proverbs give this instruction in Proverbs 14:15 when it says, “The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.”

Matthew Henry said, “It is folly to be credulous [easily convinced], to heed every flying report, to give ear to every man’s story, though ever so improbable, to take things upon trust from common fame, to depend upon every man’s profession of friendship and give credit to every one that will promise payment; those are simple who thus believe every word, forgetting that all men, in some sense, are liars in comparison with God, all whose words we are to believe with an implicit faith, for he cannot lie. 2. It is wisdom to be cautious: The prudent man will try before he trusts, will weigh both the credibility of the witness and the probability of the testimony, and then give judgment as the thing appears or suspend his judgment till it appears” (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In your thorough testing of all things you are to:

Include Everything

This permits no exceptions. It includes every issue and idea that might confront believers. J. Vernon McGee says, “Don’t be taken in. To put it crudely, don’t be a sucker. Don’t be misled into supporting a project just because somebody sends you a picture of pathetic looking orphans. Don’t contribute to things you know nothing about. Don’t fall for some promotion job. Investigate. Investigate anything to which you give your support. Christians ought not to be gullible. We are to prove all things. This also means that we are not to be taken in by flattery. There are many deceivers in the world” (Thru the Bible). A.T. Robertson said, “Even the gift of prophecy has to be tested to avoid error” (Robertson’s Word Pictures). Be careful even accepting “free Bible studies” that are distributed over the Internet. Be cautious about the world. Satan wants to invade your family. He will not be partial to any particular means. He will do that through what is taught in schools and day cares or through restrictions on your freedoms.

You’re hearing today that Islam is a peaceful loving religion, don’t believe it, it’s a lie — investigate their writings and understand their jihad. Mark Gabriel who was a former Muslim, able to quote the entire Quran by the time he was twelve years old was raised in Egypt – in the midst of a breeding ground of Islamic terrorists. He spent his formative years deep inside the confines of Muslim influence and was disowned by his family after he converted to Christianity. They have tried to kill him several times causing him to escape from his homeland to the United States.

He writes in his book, Islam and Terrorists, “Jihad is carried out in order to achieve the ultimate goal of Islam — to establish Islamic authority over the whole world” (37). He further states that “Muslims will lie and say things they do not believe at any moment as long as doing so would help Islam. Their loyalty is to Islam, not to the nation where they are living” (47).

It was clear from the movie The Path to 9/11 that Islam hates all non-Muslims and wants them all dead or to convert to the Muslim religion.

Friday night on Inside Edition there was an American woman named Angie who converted from Christianity to Islam and stated that Islam is a religion of peace that has been “high jacked” by extremists. What she doesn’t understand is these “extremists” are doing what their religion demands—what the Quran says!

Jihad is “a command to all Muslims enforced by the Quran. The focus of jihad is to overcome people who do not accept Islam” (Gabriel, 33). The Quran says in Surah 4:89, “Those who reject Islam must be killed. If they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them.” Surah 47:4 says, “So, when you meet those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Sound like a peaceful religion? Does this compare to the teachings of the Bible?

Even though Catholics do not practice this today, they were no different in their history. In their history, they killed everyone that opposed their beliefs. During Queen Mary’s reign of four years from 1553-1557, “two hundred and eighty-four people—men and women, old and young—were put to death” (Henry Charles Moore, Through Flood and Flame, 214). Prior to this time, The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs says, “Up to about the 12th century, most of the persecutions against true believers in Christ came from the pagan world, but now the church in Rome discarded the truths of the Scriptures and the commandments of love and took up the sword against all who opposed the false doctrines and traditions that had increasingly become part of it since the time of Constantine...For several centuries the papal church raged throughout the world like a hungry beast, slaughtering thousands of true believers in Christ and torturing and mutilating thousands more” (55-6).

On October 31, 1517 a young monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the castle chapel Wittenberg, Germany against the Catholic practices of selling indulgences. This sparked the Protestant Reformation. Luther is declared a heretic and is excommunicated in 1521. What lengths would you go to in defending the truth of the Bible?

We have to test all things thoroughly. We have to test everything in its entirety. We have to:

Hold Fast What is Good (v.21b)

Once Believers Examine Everything They Must Then Hold Fast to That Which is Good.

“Hold fast” means, “to embrace wholeheartedly,” “to take possession of.” “Good” (Kalos) denotes what is inherently genuine, true, noble, and right, not just what might be beautiful in appearance.

When Believers Find What is Good, They Must Embrace It and Make It Their Own.

Paul told the believers at Rome to “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). He said, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

“Good” as defined here is the opposite of evil. In Romans 16:19 Paul concluded his letter by telling them “to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Paul’s desire was “that they should be quite unknowing and unpracticed in the ways of sin” (Haldane, R. (1996). An exposition of Romans (electronic ed.) (Ro 16:20). Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation)

John MacArthur says, “To be innocent in what is evil is not to be ignorant of it or to disregard it. We cannot abhor evil unless we have some idea of what it is. But, to use a popular analogy, the only reliable way to recognize a counterfeit bill is to be completely familiar with the genuine bill. The only reliable way to recognize evil is to be thoroughly familiar with the good, and the only reliable way to learn what is good is to learn God’s Word” (MacArthur, J. (1996, c1991, c1994). Romans. Chicago: Moody Press).

In Philippians 4:8 Paul said to think or mediate on that which is good. He says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

The Bible is very narrow on what it teaches. We’re to embrace it fully and reject everything that opposes it. That is what the Muslims are doing. They are embracing fully what they believe and opposes anything that comes against it. Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and every other cult and ism is doing the same. They embrace what they believe and oppose anything that comes against it. But what they are embracing is the lies of the devil. As we examine and test everything, we test it against what the Bible says not what we think to be true. There is only one truth and one way. All others are false. God’s Word is the truth (Jn.17:17). God is true and can never lie. Titus 1:2 says God “cannot lie.” Jesus is the only way to heaven (Jn.14:6)

Remember what J.C. Ryal said, “‘Prove all things by the Word of God. All ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices – prove all by the Word of God. Measure all by the measure of the Bible. Compare all with the standard of the Bible. Weigh all in the balances of the Bible. Examine all by the light of the Bible. Test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive, hold, believe and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away.”

So what God calls evil we must abstain from. What God calls good we must embrace. What God calls truth we must stand on with conviction. We must oppose all false teaching. We must be able to discern between what is true and what is false.

In other words, we are to test all things, hold fast what is good and abstain from every form of evil.

Abstain From Every Form of Evil (v.22)

This Means Believers Are to Hold Themselves Away From Evil.

“Abstain” Gr.apecho, is a strong word that means “to hold oneself away from.” “The emphasis is on the believer’s complete avoidance of any evil teaching or behavior” (MacArthur). This is the same word used in 1 Thess.4:3, “abstain from sexual immorality,” and 1 Pet.2:11, “abstain from the passions of the flesh.” “It calls for a radical separation from ‘every form of evil.’ This word includes evil behavior, of course. But in this context, the primary reference seems to be evil teaching — false doctrine.

Having examined everything in light of God’s Word, when you identify something that does not measure up—something that is evil, untrue, erroneous, or contrary to sound doctrine—shun it” (John MacArthur, Fools Gold, 31).

Nowhere does Scripture permit believers to expose themselves to the influences of what is false or evil.

Instead they are to “abstain” from such things, even flee them. 1 Timothy 6:11 says, “But you, O man of God, flee these things [“useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth” (v.5), “the love of money” (v.10)] and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”

Evil Refers to Something That is Actively Harmful or Malignant.

Such evil, which includes lies and distortions of truth as well as moral perversions, appears in many forms. Matthew 5:11 refers to “reviling, persecution, saying all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” Matthew 15:19 refers to “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Colossians 3:5 says refers to “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness.”

Paul warned the Thessalonians to shun “every form of evil.” This was a general call for believers to “discern truth from error, good from evil, righteousness from sin, and a command to shun any of the negative teachings, influences, or behaviors that would displease God” (John MacArthur, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, p.200).


If we’re going to be a discerning church, we have to return to the commitment that compromise is unacceptable. We have to affirm that testing all things is biblical. Discerning between truth and error is loving. Where’s your discernment? Are you testing all things, holding fast to that which is good, and abstaining from every form of evil? If so, then you are being discerning. If not, you are compromising biblical truth! How can we correct the greatest problem facing the church? By affirming these things. We’re here to help you understand biblical truth. If you’re struggling with compromise, I would like to pray with you. If you’re here without Christ in need of forgiveness of your sin, I would like to pray with you and show what God says in His Word regarding the forgiveness of sin. Let’s pray.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Role of Women in the Church

1 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

When Paul gave these instructions to Timothy, he gave three principles regarding women’s ministry in the church. First he says, they are learn in submission (v.11b; 1 Cor.11:3). He says, “Let a woman learn...with all submission.” In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul says, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” That verse teaches that women are to be in submission to men in the sense that they are not to usurp the role of leadership in the church, which belongs to qualified men. The word “submission” (hupotage) means, “the act of submission or obedience” (Friberg). D. Edmond Hiebert, says, “As a learner she is to be ‘in quietness,’ not talking or seeking to instruct others. She is to be in ‘complete subjection’ by voluntarily ranging herself under the divinely instituted headship of the man” (1 Timothy, p.60).

Second, he says they are not to teach men (v.12a). He says, “And I do not permit a woman to teach.” The word “Permit” (epitrepo) means to “let, allow” (UBS), “let someone do something” (Friberg). It means to “allow someone to do what he wants” (MacArthur). Paul is implying that some women at Ephesus had the desire to lead the church. There have always been women who seek leadership roles. God said the woman as a result of her sin in Genesis 3:16 says, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” The Hebrew word translated “desire” in this verse is used only one other time in the Pentateuch, where it speaks of the desire of sin to control Cain (Gen.4:7). We can conclude from that usage that Genesis 3:16 is saying women desire to take the control from men. The word “teach” is διδασκειν, with the use of the infinitive means, “to be a teacher.” Kenneth Wuest, says, “The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11, God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the Church as those having authority in the Church in matters of doctrine and interpretation. This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes of women, girls, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being a pastor, or a doctrine teacher in a school. It would not be seemly, either, for a woman to teach a mixed class of adults” (Word Studies in the Greek NT).

The third and final principle that Paul gives regarding women in the church is pertaining to authority; They are not to usurp authority over men (v.12b). The words “Have authority” or “usurp authority” (authentein) occurs only here in the NT. Vincent says this is not a correct translation of the Greek word. It is rather, “to exercise dominion over.” George Knight in his book “New Testament Studies” concluded that the common meaning of authentein in extrabiblical literature is “to have authority over.” He discovered no negative connotation such as “abusing authority.” Some people have reinterpreted authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 to mean “abusive authority.” They believe it is acceptable for women to teach and exercise authority over men as long as their authority does not become abusive. However, authentein does not mean “abusive authority.” There’s no justification for that addition to the text. If Paul were speaking of abusive authority, he would not have limited his warning to women. Teaching and usurping authority contrast with silence and submission. Women in the church are not to be in any position where men are subordinate to them. John Gill says, “The apostle goes on to give some other instructions to women, how they should behave themselves in public worship, in the church of God; he would have them be learners and not teachers, sit and hear, and learn more of Christ, and of the truth of the Gospel, and to maintain good works; and he would have them learn in silence, and not offer to rise and speak, under a pretense of having a word from the Lord, or of being under an impulse of the Spirit of the Lord, as some frantic women have done; and if they should meet with anything, under the ministry of the word, they did not understand, or they had an objection to, they were not to speak in public, but ask their own husbands at home; see 1Co_14:34. And thus, they were to behave” (John Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible).

Submission, teaching, and authority—three areas that will continue to divide women and men in the church. May we submit to what His Word means so that it is not blasphemed but honored.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

A Demonstration of the Love of God

When we consider the love of God we see it manifested in many ways but one that is not too often considered is in the doctrine of election. Throughout the ages this teaching has been debated and considered a doctrine of hate rather than a doctrine of love but the Scriptures say otherwise. Consider Ephesians 2:4-5 which 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)." According to Paul's words to the Ephesians, God's choice of salvation is based on His love not on some injustice of God. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." Everyone born into this world are heading for an eternal punishment in hell unless a loving God chooses to rescue them from this fate. To begin we can conclude from Ephesians 2:4-5 that God made us alive together with Christ because of His great love with which He loved us. That is a doctrine of love. When he destroyed the world with a universal flood and saved eight persons that was a doctrine of electing love.

How do we define election? One writer says, "Election is...that decree of God which He eternally makes, by which, with sovereign freedom, He chooses to Himself a people, upon whom He determines to set His love, whom He rescues from sin and death through Jesus Christ, unto Himself in everlasting glory" (Herman Hanko, The Five Points of Calvinism). John Piper adds, " unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith" (Sermon manuscript What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, John MacArthur, in his book, The God Who Loves, also writes, "We are redeemed not because of anything good in us, but because God chose us unto salvation. He chose certain individuals and passed over others, and He made that choice in eternity past, before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). Moreover, He chose without regard to anything He foresaw in the elect; simply ‘according to the good pleasure of His will [and] to the praise of the glory of His grace’ (vv.4-6, KJV). Election arises from the love of God. Those whom He chose, He ‘loved...with an everlasting love [and drew them to Himself] with lovingkindness’ (Jer.31:3) [p.12].

The doctrine of election is God choosing some individuals for salvation "before the foundation of the world. Ephesians1:4-5 says, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." The word "chose" Gr.eklego (verb - middle voice) means, "to pick out, select. To choose for one’s own self" (W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). The word "Choose" is from eklegomai which is made up of legoµ "to choose" and ek "out from." Thus, the compound word means "to pick, single out, to choose out." The genius of the word has in it the idea of not merely choosing, but that of choosing out from a number. The adjective eklektos comes from eklegomai and is translated by the words "chosen" and "elect." The elect are "the chosen-out ones." Divine election refers therefore to the act of God in which He chooses out certain from among mankind for salvation" (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek NT). Paul uses another word. He said God "predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (v.5). The word "predestined" (Gr.proorizo) means, "to determine before hand, forordain" (Ibid., Vine). God determined beforehand whom He would adopt "as sons by Jesus Christ." He did this "according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace" (vv.5-6). There is another aspect of election that we need to consider and that is where God the Father give individuals to Jesus Christ for salvation. Jesus said in John 6:37: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." In John 10:1-4, 14, 16, and 27 we see God giving those whom He chose to Jesus who is the great Shepherd. He calls His sheep by name and they hear His voice because they follow Him. In Romans 9 Paul goes into great detail on the subject of election to explain that Israel, "to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises" (v.4) "are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.' That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed" (vv.7-8). All of this, he says is "that the purpose of God according to election might stand" (v.11).

A final aspect of election I want to consider is how the elect come to Christ. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who send Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:44). The word "Draw" (Gr.helkuo) (first aor.act.subj) means "to drag" (Strongs). It is used of the dragging of a net (Jn.21:6), of Paul and Silas being dragged into the marketplace (Acts 16:19) and of Jesus "being lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (Jn.12:32). It "carries the idea of an irresistible force and was used in ancient Greek literature of a desperately hungry man being drawn to food and of demonic forces being drawn to animals when they were not able to possess men" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Ephesians). John Calvin said, "To come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing, the Evangelist, in order to carry out the metaphor in the apposite clause, says that those persons are drawn whose understandings God enlightens, and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. The statement amounts to this, that we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the Gospel; because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ, but God must first approach him by his Spirit; and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he has elected" (Calvin’s Commentaries: John). John Piper adds, "Jesus' answer to the spiritual blindness of the human mind and the spiritual hardness of the human heart is that the Father draws them. He takes away the blindness of the mind and replaces the heart of stone. He grants us to see the truth of Christ's self-evidencing glory and he gives us a taste for the all-satisfying beauty of the Lord" (Sermon manuscript The Duty: Faith, Election is the work of God on behalf of sinners whereby He draws those whom He has chosen before the foundation of the world for salvation. I conclude with Paul's words in Romans 8:28-30. He says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified." The doctrine of election is one of love from a loving God who has mercy on those He has chosen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What is Election?

Here's a great quote from John Piper on the doctrine of election:

" unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith" (Sermon manuscript What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chosen By God

Ephesians 1:4 says, "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him" (emphasis mine).

The word “chose” is the Greek word eklego. It means “to pick out, select” (Vine) or “choose out for one’s own self” (Wuest). This word “indicates God’s totally independent choice” (MacArthur).

This verb is “found twenty-two times in the New Testament. It is used eight times of Christ’s choosing or electing his disciples (Luke 6:13; John 6:70; 13:18; 15:16 (twice),19; Acts 1:2; 2:4). On one occasion Jesus is himself the person chosen (Luke 9:35). Six times it is used in a context that does not pertain to salvation (Luke 10:42; 14:7; Acts 6:5; 15:7,22,25). The remaining seven occurrences refer to men and women as the objects of election to eternal life (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 1 Cor. 1:27 (twice),28; Eph. 1:4; James 2:5). The noun “elect” (eklektos) is also used twenty-two times in the New Testament. On three occasions Jesus is the “elect” one (Luke 23:35; 1 Peter 2:4,6), and in one text the word refers to angels (1 Tim. 5:21). There is also one passage in which the word has no bearing on salvation (Rom. 16:13). In the seventeen remaining cases the word is used of men and women as God’s “elect,” those chosen to eternal life (Matt. 22:14; 24:22,24,31; Mark 13:20,22,27; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9; 2 John 1,13; Rev. 17:14)” (Dr. Sam Storms, The Biblical Terminology of Election, Enjoying God Ministries,

Charles Spurgeon said, “You cannot look to Christ before He has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, He gave you that will” (Effectual Calling, March 30, 1856).

There are differing views on the doctrine of election. Some say the Bible doesn’t teach it. For those of you who think this, consider the following: Paul refers to the Colossians in Col.3:12 as “those who have been chosen of God.” When he sent his first letter to the Thessalonians, he was thankful to God for them after he saw their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, he knew their “election by God” ( 1 Thess.1:4, NKJV). In his second letter to the Thessalonians he said that “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess.2:13). When he was speaking with Timothy concerning persecution and suffering he said 2 Timothy 2:10, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” When he wrote to Titus, he said in Titus1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.” It is clear from these passage, the Bible teaches the doctrine of election. But because of human depravity men fight against it. A.W. Pink said, “No doctrine is so detested by proud human nature as this one, which make nothing of the creature and everything of the Creator; yea, at no other point is the enmity of the carnal mind so blatantly and hotly evident” (The Doctrine of Election). He further says, ““God is not working at random: the gospel has been sent forth on no uncertain mission: the final outcome in the conflict between good and evil has not been left indeterminate; how many are to be saved or lost depends not on the will of the creature. Everything was infallibly determined and immutably fixed by God from the beginning, and all that happens in time is but the accomplishment of what was ordained in eternity.” So “Let it be plainly announced that salvation originated not in the will of man, but in the will of God (see John 1:13; Rom. 9:16), that were it not so none would or could be saved—for as the result of the fall man has lost all desire and will unto that which is good (John 5:40; Rom. 3:11)—and that even the elect themselves have to be made willing (Ps. 110:3), and loud will be the cries of indignation raised against such teaching” (The Doctrine of Election).

If you have never investigated this truth, let me encourage you to study it, you will be humbled by it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And He Gave Some as Pastors and Teachers

When Paul lists the gifted men given to the church in Ephesians 4:11 he says that Jesus “gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” The last group “pastors and teachers” is one office not two. The word “pastors” is the word poimen, which means “shepherd.” This word “emphasizes the care, protection, and leadership of the man of God for his flock” (MacArthur). The word “and” or kai which appears between pastor and teacher can also be translated, “that is” or “in particular.” It “indicates that the shepherds and teachers are viewed as one common group, i.e., ‘teaching shepherds’” (Fritz Rienecker, The Linguistic Key to the Greek NT, p.531). Kenneth Wuest says, “The words "pastors" and "teachers" are in a construction called Granvill Sharp's rule which indicates that they refer to one individual. The one who shepherds God's flock is also a teacher of the Word, having both the gifts of shepherding and teaching the flock. God's ideal pastor is one who engages in a didactic ministry, feeding the saints on expository preaching, giving them the rich food of the Word” (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament). John MacArthur adds: “The teaching shepherd’s main task is to protect the flock. That’s what shepherding is – protecting from both dangerous places and enemies. The pastor-teacher does this by building safeguards, teaching the truth, and helping those who may be stumbling into sin. He not only preserves them, but strengthens and encourages them. Jesus, of course, is the great shepherd. He loves His flock. He builds His church. He does so by giving the Body gifted men – evangelists and pastor-teachers” (John MacArthur and Fred Barshaw, Leading the Flock, p.11).

Some of their duties are: Teach the Word of God (1 Tim.3:2), Give oversight to the church (Acts 20:28), and model godliness (1 Peter 5).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Be Careful How You Respond

The Word of God is infinitely superior to all the words of man. It is truth. Man’s words are lies as Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true but every man a liar.” The Word of God is to be valued above all things. This is illustrated by Jesus when He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 which says, “ shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Job expressed it as his highest priority when he said in Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Respect for the supremacy of Scripture is what Paul had in mind when he cautioned the Thessalonians not to despise prophecies.

The word “despise” Gr.exoutheno carries the strong meaning, “to consider as absolutely nothing,” “to treat with contempt,” “to look down on” (MacArthur), “to reject” (UBS), or “to make light of” (Friberg). Paul states this verb as a present active imperative which means he is commanding them to stop an action that is currently taking place. You could phrase this way: “Stop counting as nothing” (Robertson) prophecies.

The word he uses for prophecies or as the NASB says “prophetic utterances” is the Greek word propheteia. It can refer either to “spoken words or written words” (MacArthur). This “suggests the public proclamation or preaching of the Word of God” (Believer’s Study Bible). It means “forth-telling rather than fore-telling” (Robertson). The verb form of propheteia is the word propheteuo. It means, “to speak or proclaim publicly” and is “Spirit-endowed skill of publicly proclaiming God’s Word” (MacArthur). Sometimes New Testament prophets “delivered brand-new revelation directly from God (Lk.2:29-32 cf. v.38; Acts 15:23-29)” or they merely “reiterated a divine proclamation that was already recorded” (Lk.3:5-6; Acts 2:17-21). So Paul is saying, “Stop counting as nothing” the “preaching of God’s Word.” “Stop making light of it” because it is supreme over man and it is to be honored above man.

I believe we hear a statement like this and believe it and shout “Amen” but when it comes right down to it we don’t honor it in that way by the way we handle it. Some days we can go without it. Other days we think we don’t need to hear a portion of it taught because we think we already know it.And in context to this passage we are quenching the Spirit’s Word. J. Vernon McGee shares a testimony regarding this: He says, “Do not look down upon Bible study as something that is beneath you. Do not be indifferent to the Word of God. We have a lot of folk who are in Christian service, but they are ignorant of the Bible and they look down on Bible study. Occasionally I hear such a person saying, "You just spend all your time in Bible study and you don't do anything. What you need to do is get out and get busy." Well, what is needed is to get busy studying the Word of God, and after you do that you will see how to get busy and really be effective.

We had a Bible study downtown in Los Angeles, averaging fifteen hundred people every Thursday night over a period of twenty-one years-what a thrill that was! What a privilege that was! But sometimes folks would make a remark like, "You need to get out and do something, not just go to sit and listen to the Bible." The interesting thing is that those people who came to sit and listen to the Bible did go out and do something. There are several hundred of those people who are out on the mission field; there are several hundred who are witnessing for God; and there are several hundred in the ministry. I notice that the boys who do not study the Word of God run down like an eight-day clock. Their ministries don't last too long” (Thru the Bible).

Paul’s command not to despise prophecies takes us in 1 Corinthians 14 where prophecies is held to be more superior than the gift of tongues. Paul says in verse 3 that “he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men,” whereas all tongues could do was edify oneself but “he who prophesies edifies the church” (v.4). Tongues without interpretation had no value – no one was edified but with the gift of prophecy all were edified. Paul stated in verse 12 and at the end of verse 26 that the purpose of the gifts were to edify the church. Consequently verses 23-25 illustrate why the church is to exercise the gift of prophecy and not despise it.

Now as we think this further there are two basic reasons why we are not to despise prophecies. The first is because of Scriptures essential character. Scripture is infallible (Ps.19:7), inerrant (Prov.30:5), complete (Prov.30:6), authoritative (Isa.1:2), sufficient (2 Tim.3:15-16), and effective (Isa.55:10-11). The second is because of Scripture’s generous benefits. Scripture is the source of truth (Tit.1:3) and is the truth (Jn.17:17), and as such it is the source of true happiness (Lk.11:27-28), victory over sin (Ps.119:9, 11), spiritual growth (2 Pet.2:1-2), guidance (Ps.19:8), and hope (Ps.119:116).

How are you responding to the Word taught or preached? Do you say, I’ve heard that before, I don’t need to hear it again? Be careful how you respond. Your response will either quench the Spirit or be one of submission to the Spirit.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sanctification is God's Will

Paul plainly states that sanctification is God’s will. He says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3a, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” The word that Paul uses here for the word “will,” (thelema) refers to “that which is willed.” When it is used with “of God” that tells us exactly whose “will” Paul is referring to. He further states this phrase without the article in the original and “implies that their sanctification is not the whole purpose of God for them; there are other aspects of His plan here not specified” (Hiebert). In other words, the word “For” that begins verse 3 is showing what is involved in living God-pleasing lives in harmony with the commandment they had already received. The next word “this” is a demonstrative pronoun which stands as the subject of the sentence and points to what follows at greater length. So all that is comprehended in the demonstrative pronoun “this” is designated as “the will of God.” This then could actually take us to the end of the letter. Because all that he says at this point is “the will of God” for them. Before we define what Paul’s means by sanctification let me says that sanctification is not the only element of God’s will as we will see, Scripture states other elements as well. Let me mention a few:

Giving thanks is God’s will. Paul also states this aspect of the will of God to the Thessalonians in 5:18. Believing the gospel is God’s will. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says that those who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who have “done the will of My Father in heaven.” Being controlled by the Spirit is God’s will. In Ephesians 5:17-18 Paul says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Obeying your employer is God’s will. In Ephesians 6:5-6 he tells, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Obeying the ordinances of man is God’s will. In 1 Peter 2:13-15 Peter says, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” “All of God’s Word contains God’s will – both affirmations and prohibitions” (MacArthur).

The will of God is an important matter for every child of God and should be sought after daily not just when making what we would consider to be “big decisions.” One commentator asks, “I sometimes wonder why people would seek the will of God at a pivotal moment in life if they have been ignoring God's will in their daily lives. Should God speak, would such a person listen? I rather doubt it. One who is not faithful in the small moments is unlikely to be faithful in the great” (D. Michael Martin, The New American Commentary, Vol.33, 1 & 2 Thessalonians).

Paul said to the Romans after giving them eleven chapters of doctrine – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:1-2).

Going back to 1 Thessalonians 4:3 what does Paul mean when he says “For this is the will of God, your sanctification?” Sanctification refers to being set apart. The word “sanctification” (hagiasmos) “has the basic idea of being set apart for or dedicated to God upon the basis of the atoning work of Christ. It does not denote the state of holiness but rather the process of being made holy, becoming more and more in character and conduct that which God desires us to be” (D. Edmond Hiebert, The Thessalonians Epistles, p.165). We could say then that “sanctification” “refers to a state of being set apart from sin to holiness” (MacArthur).

The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all people and holiness (hagiasmos), without which no one will see the Lord.” Paul said in Romans 6:22, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness (hagiasmos), and the end, everlasting life.” Those two verses speak of the progression of sanctification or holiness in our lives. Paul says sanctification began the very moment we were saved. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Does this describe your life? In order to have the second you must experience the first. In other words, in order to live a life that is set apart to God you must first be set apart to God through salvation. Check you heart today. Survey your life. Do you see the presence of sanctification?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Putting Aside Sin

Thomas Watson says in order to profit from the Word you must “remove the love of every sin...The Scripture prescribes excellent receipts; but sin lived-in poisons all. The body cannot thrive in a fever; not can the soul, under the feverish heat of lust” (Sermon: How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit, 1674, reprinted 1844).

Peter has a word on this too. He says in 1 Peter 2:1, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” What does he mean when he says “putting aside?” (v.1). The phrase, “putting aside” (Gr.apothemenoi) means “to put off, to put away.” The word “had reference to the discarding of an old dirty garment” (MacArthur) and “suggests a once and for all action of separating oneself from sin” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol.2). Kenneth Wuest writes, “In view of the fact that the divine life has been imparted to the believer, it is imperative that he ‘put away once for all’ any sins that may be in his life. The preposition prefixed to the verb implies separation. The believer is commanded to separate himself from sin. This act of separating himself from sin must be once and for all action, as the tense of the participle suggests. There must be a complete right-about-face” (Ibid., p.50).

Ephesians 4:22-23 says, “That you put off, concerning your formal conduct, the old man which grow corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you must also put of all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Peter is echoing the words of Paul here. We are to “put off” or lay aside” the old man. Notice the 5 vices he lists in verse 1. He says, “laying aside, all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” What about you? Are you “putting” these things aside “once and for all”?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do You Still Love Me

I came across this one day and thought you might want to read it:

“One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah, the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. He asked me, ‘Do you love me?’ I answered, ‘Of course, God! You are my Lord and Savior!’ Then He asked, ‘If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?’ I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I wouldn’t be able to do, the things that I took for granted. Then I thought of the many people who were handicapped and yet still lived for the Lord. And I answered, ‘Yes, lord, I would still love You.’ Then the Lord said, ‘If you were blind, would you still love my creation?’ How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So I answered, ‘It’s hard to think of it, but I would still love You.’ The Lord then asked me, ‘If you were deaf, would you still listen to my Word?’ How could I listen to anything being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God’s Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, ‘It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your Word.’ The Lord then asked, ‘If you were mute, would you still praise My name?’ How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me: God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. So I answered, ‘Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your name.’

And the Lord asked, ‘Do you really love Me?’ With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, ‘Yes, Lord! I love You, because You are the One and True God!’ I thought I had answered well, but God asked, ‘Then why do you sin?’ I answered, ‘Because I am only human. I am not perfect.’ ‘Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest? Why only in times of trouble do you pray the most earnest?’ No answers. Only tears. The Lord continued: ‘Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?’ The tears continued to roll down my cheeks. ‘Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the Good News? Why, in times of persecution, do you cry to others when I offered My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My name? I tried to answer, but there was no answer to give. ‘You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you, but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have sent you servants, but you sat idly by as they were pushed away. I have heard your prayers, and I have answered them all.’ ‘Do you truly love Me?’ I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When I had cried my heart out and the tears had flowed, I said, ‘Please forgive me, Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child.’ The Lord answered, ‘That is My grace, My child.’ I asked, ‘Then why do You continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?’ The Lord answered, ‘Because you are My creation. You are My child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion on you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you till the end of days, and I will love you forever.’ Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, ‘How much do You love me?’ The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Savior. And for the first time, I truly prayed.’”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jesus Has Always Been

John 1:1 says, " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

John uses the imperfect verb eimi translated “was” to describe continuous action in the past. So the verse could read: “In the beginning always existed the Word.” By saying “In the beginning” “The Logos [Word] did not then begin to be, but at that point at which all else began to be, He already was” (The Expositor’s Bible Comm.).

J.C. Ryal said, “He had no beginning. He was before all things. There never was the time when He was not” (Expository Thoughts on John 1, 4).

Jesus said He was with God before the creation of the world when He prayed in John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You, before the world was.” In Hebrews 7:3, the writer of Hebrews describes Melchizedek as “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”

He was with God (vv.1b-2). John says, “and the Word was with God...He was in the beginning with God” (vv.1b-2). Here John gives us a glimpse of the glory of Jesus. He says that Jesus was literally face-to-face with God. He “was” (eimi, imperfect verb) “with God.” “With God” in Greek in pros ton theon. This phrase means far more than merely that the Word existed with God; it “[gives] the picture of two personal beings facing one another and engaging in intelligent discourse” (W. Robert Cook, The Theology of John, 49). “From all eternity Jesus, as the second person of the trinity, was ‘with the Father [pros ton patera]’ (1 John 1:2) in deep, intimate fellowship” (John MacArthur, John 1-11, 17). The Scriptures affirm Jesus had this kind of relationship with the Father. He said in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Listen again to John 17:5 which says, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

My friend, Jesus is God. There is no other way to put it. Examine the Scriptures for yourself and see if this is not true.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saints and Faithful

ATo the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph.1:1).

Paul identifies them as Asaints.@ This is the Greek word hagiois which means, Aholy@ or Aseparated.@ AThe primary intent of the word is >set aside for the sole use of God, that which belongs to God=@ (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible: Ephesians, 19).

All believers are Asaints.@ Paul says in Romans 1:1, ATo all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.@ He said to the church at Corinth in his first letter: ATo the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours@ (1 Cor.1:2). He said in his second letter to the Corinthians: ATo the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia@ (2 Cor.1:1). When he wrote his letter to the Philippians, he said in Philippians 1:1, APaul and Timothy, bond‑servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.@ To the Colossians he wrote, ATo the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father@ (Col.1:2).

Paul also identifies them as Afaithful in Christ Jesus.” The word Afaithful@ (pistois) signifies Abelieving, trusting, relying@ (Vines). AFrom God=s side believers are those whom He has made holy, which is the meaning of saints. From man=s side believers are those who are faithful, those who have trusted in Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior@ (John MacArthur, Ephesians, 2). Oliver Greene says, A>Faithful= is the description of the believers when he lives the kind of life that every saint of God should live@ (Ephesians, 16). So, this is another word for a believer who is described Aas a >saint@ and one who is Afaithful in Christ Jesus.@ What are you?

Monday, March 12, 2007

2007 Ligonier National Conference

Starting Wednesday March 14th Ligonier will host their national conference with R.C. Sproul. Each year, Dr. Sproul invites guest teachers. This year he will be joined by John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, and John Piper. The conference is already sold out but they do offer seating in an overflow room. In addition to attending they are now offering FREE WEB STREAMING. To register for the free streaming visit and sign up.

Are You Willing to Serve?

"Anywhere there are people there are needs and anywhere there are needs there is a place for service. For that reason, you must be willing to serve to meet needs."

Sometimes we serve to make us feel good about ourselves or we serve because someone pressured us into that position but according to Scripture, service is a matter of obedience and status before God.

In Romans 1:1 Paul said he was "a bondservant of Jesus Christ." James agreed when he said he was "a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Jas.1:1). Peter's conclusion for his life was that he saw himself as a "bondservant and Apostle of Jesus Christ" (2 Pet.1:1). Even Jude, who was the brother of James and half brother of Jesus said he was a "bondservant of Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:1).

How do you see yourself? Are you a servant who is willing to serve "anywhere...there are needs?"

Consider these words by Gordan McDonald who wrote: "You can tell whether you are becoming a servant by how you act when people treat you like one" (A Mastering Ministry Conference, Jan. 1993, Christianity Today, Vol.37, No.5).

Meditate on those words today and practice what you really are...a servant.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Today's the Last Day

It all ends today. I am referring to the 2007 Shepherds' Conference. It actually ended Friday but for those who stayed over to Sunday, it ends with the worship and communion service at Grace Community Church. In yesterday's post, I mentioned why you should get a copy of the audio from this conference. Can I encourage this again? There are approximately 40 messages covering topics pertaining to church life. Having watched most of the live stream during the conference, I can say that John MacArthur's message concerning sovereign election and a literal Israel is a must listen. Also, CJ Manhey's message on pride or Mark Dever's on persecution. If you are interested in learning more about the speakers, visit (Mark Dever), (John MacArthur), reformation21.0rg (Ligon Duncan). A personal word to those who put this conference on every year: "Thank you, thank you, thank you, especially for the live streaming since I was not able to attend this year."

Friday, March 09, 2007

2007 Shepherds' Conference

For over 25 years now, Grace Community Church in Sunvalley, California has provided a Shepherds' Conference for pastors. Last year I had the privilege of attending. This year six of our men went to sit under great expositor's of God's Word like John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, CJ Mahaney, Steve Lawson and Al Mohler as well as those on staff at Grace church. For the rest of us who were not able to attend, they have offered live streaming for a small registration fee. I would encourage you to visit to learn how you can order the CDs or Mp3s. Also, coming in the next couple of months, visit the site and you will be able to view/download the notes from the seminars.

I pray that God will continue to use Grace church to make this kind of impact on the church. To read the blogs from the conference, visit

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Admonish One Another

What does it mean to "admonish one another?"

The word "admonish" is defined in our English dictionary as "to reprove gently but earnestly;" "to counsel (another) against something to be avoided; caution;" "To remind of something forgotten or disregarded, as an obligation or a responsibility" (The American Heritage Dictionary).

The Greek word for "admonish" is noutheteo, which is where we get the English word nouthetic. It means, "to impart understanding, to set right, to lay on the heart" (Kittel).

"The stress is on influencing not merely the intellect but the will and disposition” (Kittel). “It means to warn people of the consequences of their behavior” (MacArthur). It refers not merely to academic data imparted impersonally but to instruction for the purpose of correcting and changing people. It is teaching with an element of warning, designed to direct the sheep to holy living” (John MacArthur, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, p.170). 1 Corinthians 4:14 gives us an illustration of this when Paul says to the Corinthians: “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.”

So if we could compare admonishing to teaching we would say that “teaching is the impartation of positive truth. Admonishing is the negative side of teaching” (John MacArthur).