The Gathered Church, an Essential Inconvenience

Visuals

On January 20, 2020, the United State saw its first laboratory confirmed case of Covid-19. Little did we know then, how much that first case would ultimately develop into today’s multi-dimensional, national crisis. We could examine the way the virus has affected our health care, economics, politics, commerce, and interpersonal relationships, but this article will focus on how it has revealed the disposition of the church in an increasingly hostile, secular culture.

The Inconvenience of Unprecedented Complexities

After months of stay at home orders, churches are now meeting in person yet, we are learning that this restored sense of “normalcy” has led to a new host of complex challenges. How often should we meet? What aspects of our normal worship service are the “essentials?” How strictly should we enforce matters of face coverings and social distance? How do we protect those who are most vulnerable? How do we minister to those who are terrified to leave their homes and are living in fearful, isolation? How do we relate to those who are passionately motivated to bring everyone to their own viewpoints on the roles of government and discussions on infringements on personal liberties? How do we encourage those that have gotten comfortable in their living rooms finding it far easier to do “church online” without the inconveniences of gathering with frustrating burdens? The list of tensions and difficult judgment calls is endless and the potential for contentious disagreements abound at every decision we must make.

The Pressing Issue

Is the gathered church, an essential inconvenience? Whether we realize it or not, this question is really not a new question. Every generation has and will face it until Christ brings it into glory. We all believe the church is important, but do we believe and express through our choices that assembling as a local church is an essential sacred duty, not simply a matter of preference and convenience?

The Inconvenience of Church History

As we read the New Testament, we find countless examples of Christians suffering on various levels as they assembled for corporate worship and persevered faithfully in the midst of vicious pagan cultures. The Christians James addressed were part of the diaspora who needed to “count it all joy” when they fell into various trials. The Christians that Peter addressed were “strangers and pilgrims” who were to be “happy” when they were “reproached for the name of Christ.” The Christians in Smyrna were persecuted at the hands of the “synagogue of Satan.”  The Christians in Pergamos were dwelling in a city referred to as “Satan’s Seat,” and the Christians in Philadelphia were commanded to “hold fast that no man take their crown…” Christians in America have enjoyed unprecedented liberties and even preferential treatment throughout our nearly 250 year history. There are few times in American history where we have encountered such a level of scrutiny or discomfort as we seek to assemble for corporate worship. Perhaps it is this ease that has caused us to take for granted the sacredness of corporate worship.

The Essence of Christian Community

Hebrews 10:24-25 states God’s simple yet pointed command regarding local church community and the reasons for this command. It says: “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching…” It is impossible to obey this command watching a service online. We must “assemble” together. We must “consider one another,” “provoke one another,” and “exhort one another.” None of these aspects of the command to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” can be done at a distance. While each element of our corporate worship should be focused and purposeful, the actual “service” is not the only essential element of local church worship. The interaction we experience with one another after we have sung together, prayed together, and listened to the preaching of the word together is a critical component to our worship. We need the fellowship of other Christians and this fellowship should be shaped by our time together in focused attention on the Lord.

Timeless Principles Driving Biblical Thinking

The Jewish Christians who originally received this sermon were facing intense hardships for their professed faith in Christ. These pressures became so great, that they considered withdrawing from the local church and to reassimilate into Judaism out of pragmatic, convenience. Assembling was inconvenient because it was costly, and withdrawing for the sake of convenience was a powerful temptation. When the urge to abandon the church was greatest, so was their need to be with God’s people. This situation is obviously not fully parallel to our current state; however the principles that were to drive these first century Christians to faithfulness within the local church still apply.

The Devastating Consequences of Isolation

They needed to be stirred up, in order to minister. They needed to love and be loved. They needed to grow together. God created the church because He designed us to grow in community, rather than isolation. Simply put, it is impossible to grow into Christlikeness in isolation. The catalysts needed to produce godly change and growth into Christlikeness are not possible without interpersonal interaction. We cannot exercise spiritual gifts in isolation, nor can we demonstrate their development in isolation. What is love, forbearance, mercy, forgiveness, or giving without a context where real people need to be loved, forgiven, and cared for through physical means? What good is the gift to teach or administrate when there is no one to teach or organize? God created the local church for our good. If we neglect it, we do it in disobedience to Him and to the detriment of our soul’s health and the health of others in our local church. Simply put, the gathered church is an essential inconvenience.

Update for Anchor Baptist Church

Dear Church Family,
 
We wanted to give you an update about our first steps to reopen the church to onsite services. After listening to Governor Hogan’s press conference on Wednesday, we anticipate Maryland entering Phase 1 this coming week. If the state opens as anticipated, we will be having our first drive in service at 4 pm on Sunday May 17th.
 
We will continue live streaming all services and studies throughout Phase 1 in the same formats and times with one exception, the drive in service. The drive in service will be live streamed but at 4 pm rather than 6 pm as our evening service. The service will be “open air” so we may need to make adjustments dependent upon the weather. We will be expected to stay in our vehicles, and for the sake of our testimony in the neighborhood, it is important we follow that expectation. The building will not be available for use, so please prepare accordingly. You will be able to listen to the audio on your car radios on site and we plan to stream the words to our songs online as usual and on a projector screen on site. When you arrive, there will be ushers who will direct you where to park, at the back of the building near the Fellowship Hall. We were hoping to start this Sunday since it is Mother’s Day, but with the state not yet in Phase 1, we chose to wait till the 17th. We do want our ladies to know that we have a special gift for them, and will make those available for pick up at the drive in service on the 17th.
 
These are difficult days for everyone, especially for churches who must work through several tensions when considering how to “open back up.” We are concerned about honoring the Lord by not forsaking the regular physical assembling of the local church, our religious liberties that are being pressed against, our testimony in our neighborhood before non-Christians, the physical safety of our church members, and the spectrum of opinions held by everyone within our congregation. It is our firm conviction that we must strike a balance that considers all factors. Since we don’t see the church as a political tool to make statements to our local and state officials, we have taken a conservative approach to the way we are “opening back up.” We love our neighbors, and hope that some of them through observing the measured, respectful way we “open back up” will be comfortable to join us as restrictions in the state ease. We believe that these days of corporate and personal sacrifice are essential moments in our growth into Christlikeness. God in His infinite wisdom has appointed us to walk through this season and He wants us to grow in practical holiness through these moments. We have unprecedented opportunity to actively put our Christian faith to the test by loving fellowshipping with our brother and sisters in Christ who differ in conscience in many areas that have been drawn to the surface through the decisions and recommendations made by our local, state, and federal governments. This “trying of our faith” is a divinely appointed opportunity for our faith to manifest itself in practical ways, demonstrating its authenticity. Let’s grow together, and make decisions that we will not regret as we look back in years to come. May God’s daily supply of grace sustain us through these days!
 
In Christ’s Love,
 
Pastor Joel

The Weight of the Cross: John 19

The Weight of the Cross

Text: John 18:1-8 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way…”

Purpose: The purpose of the following section was to help us understand the remarkable unfolding of events that led to the unjust crucifixion of Christ, so that we would grasp the tremendous price that was paid for our redemption.

Proposition: God wants us to glory in His tremendous love for sinners!

Interrogative: How can we do that?

Section 1: We need to understand the series of events that pointed Christ to the cross:

  • Phase 1: Christ was arrested in the garden; John 18:1-11
  • Phase 2: Stood trial before the religious leaders late into the night: 18:12-27
  • Phase 3: Stood before the Roman Governor Pontious Pilate: 18:28-19:16
  • Phase 4: Was crucified later that day: 19:17-30

 Important details:

  • Christ stood before Six Separate Officials throughout the night and into the next day
  • This is remarkable when you consider that the entire Jewish nation was in the midst of the most celebrating the completion of Passover.
    • Before Annas: John 18:12-14, 19-23
    • Before Caiaphas: Matthew 26:57-68
    • Before the Sanhedrin: Matthew 27:1-2
    • Before Pilate John 18:28-38
    • Before Herod: Luke 23:6-12
    • Before Pilate Again: John 18:39-19:16
  • The astonishing injustice and hypocrisy of these proceedings:
    • The Jews out of intense hatred for Jesus took him to Pilates’ hall, but refused to enter so they would not become ceremonially unclean during the Passover celebration: John 18:28 “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover…”
    • When they brought Him, they demanded He be put to death, but they demanded without a charge: 18:29 “Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee…”
    • The Jews demanded that Pilate take up the case so He could be put to death by crucifixion: 18:31 “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death…”
    • Pilate privately asked Jesus if he is really was a king, though by Christ’s response, it seems that Pilate knew a lot about Jesus and had privately had discussions about Him: 18:37 “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice…”
    • Pilate publicly admitted that there was no just cause for Christ to be crucified: 18:38 “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all…”
    • The Jews demanded he free a criminal and crucify Jesus who Pilate admitted publicly was innocent: 18:39 “Ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber…”
    • Pilate hoped to appease the people so he had Christ brutally beaten hoping the people would back away from their demand to crucify Him: 19:1-3 “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands…”
    • The scourging did nothing to appease the crowd: 19:6 “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him…”
    • Pilate was in a terrible predicament wanting to free an innocent man, but also wanted the appease the people: 19:12-16 “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar…Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away…

 Section 2: The importance of the cross:

Fact 1: We all have some major problems between us and God, and whether we realize it or not, there is nothing we can do in ourselves to resolve those issues:

  • We are completely incapable of controlling all our circumstances, and without eternal significance to what we do, our suffering and the challenges we face are pointless. Ecclesiastes 1:14-18 “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit…For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
  • Our sin is an offense to God and sets us apart as enemies to Him. Ephesians 2:3 “We all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath,
  • Because we have broken His laws, we are under His just wrath and deserve to be punished eternally for our sins. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death…”
  • We have no mechanism to approach Him, because anything we do for Him or give to Him is affected by our sinfulness. Isaiah 64:6 “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…”
  • These realities are terrifying because they leave us with no hope. Romans 7:23-24 “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Fact 2: There is good news: Romans 8:3 “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh…”

Fact 3: This good news is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 53:5-11 “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…it pleased the LORD to bruise him…He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…he shall bear their iniquities…”

Fact 4: The cross directly provides the solution to each of our greatest problems: Romans 8:6-10 “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him…when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”

  • Christ died for is when we were powerless to save ourselves
  • Christ’s death was in fullness of time
  • Christ’s death revealed the depths of God’s love for you and me
  • Christ death provides the means to declare us not guilty
  • Christ’s death removes God’s just wrath against us
  • Christ’s death brings us into relationship with God.

 To add a few others benefits secured by the cross in the preceding verses: 8:1-3

  • 1: We can have peace with God:
  • 2: We can have access to God:
  • 2: We can have a sure position in Christ:
  • 2: We can live life without fear of death and eternity:
  • 3: We can cope with the sufferings of this world, because we recognize there is more to life than this temporary state:

 Fact 5: All men can be saved from their sins because of the cross:

  • The basis for all these blessings is the cross: Galatians 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain…”
  • These blessings come to us through faith in the finished work of Christ: Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast…”

Conclusion: God wants us to understand the remarkable unfolding of events that led to the unjust crucifixion of Christ, so that we would grasp the tremendous price that was paid for our redemption, and glory in His tremendous love for sinners!

 

 

Lesson 2: The Scriptures are God’s Word

Section 2: The Nature of Scripture

Lesson 2: The Scriptures are God’s Word

Scripture Reading for Lesson 2:

2 Timothy 3:15-16 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

2 Peter 1:12-21 “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost…”

2 Samuel 23:1 “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue…”

Question 1: What is Scripture? “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus…”

Summary of what we have learned last week:

  • All people everywhere have a basic knowledge of God because He has put this knowledge in their hearts, and their minds have the ability to process the things that they see in the creation.
  • This basic knowledge of God is not enough to bring a person to repentance and faith in the gospel, but is enough information to leave all people fully accountable to God.
  • Man’s basic rejection of this knowledge is not a rational rejection as much as it is a moral rejection.
  • The universal presence of idolatry in the world is confirmation of both our inherent knowledge of God and our moral bias against His true nature.
  • The limitations of natural revelation necessitate an objective standard given by God to govern our interpretation of general revelation.
  • This objective standard is scripture, and we must understand the nature of scripture.

Three terms used in the New Testament:

  • λόγος: Spoken word from God: Mark 2:2 “And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them…”
  • ῥῆμα: Spoken word from God:   Matthew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God…”
  • γραφὴ 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God means written communication in a general sense, but in a specific sense, in the New Testament, it is refereeing to a body of writings recorded by Old Testaments prophets and preserved for God’s people.

 Three observations:

  • If God was the source, whether it was written or spoken, it bore His full authority.
  • God’s word was always communicated to your average person through a prophet.
  • Though spoken and written communication from God both bore His full authority, written communication had a superior quality in that is could be preserved for future reference.

 Question 2: Who is the ultimate source of the scripture? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

Don’t be confused by our contemporary understanding of the word in inspiration:

  • A modern definition Google: “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative…”
  • Webster 1828: “The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men…by extraordinary or supernatural influence; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin…”

Look at the statement in the original language:

  • Πᾶσα : Every
  • γραφὴ : Written Word
  • θεόπνευστος : God breathed

Simple definition: Every word is breathed out by God

  • He did not say every doctrine is breathed our by God. (While this is true, it is not specific enough to mean what the verse is saying)
  • There is a difference between the words and doctrine,

Question 3: How did He give us the scriptures?

OT Explanation: 2 Samuel 23:1 “David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue…”

  • God spoke by his tongue: We have God speaking though a human instrument who met the criteria we find in scripture for prophets.
  • The source of the words is God.
  • The instrument that He used was a prophet.
    • The confirmation test: Deuteronomy 18:20-22 “The prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die…When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him…”
    • The Content test: Deuteronomy 13:1-5 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,  And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;  Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet…that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God…”
  • The message reflected both the source God, and the personality of the instrument, David, leaving the exact words framed in the exact way that God wanted them shaped to communicate what He wanted us to know.

NT Explanation: 2 Peter 1:12-21

  • Peter was fully aware of what he was doing when he spoke and wrote as a prophet, and he wanted to leave a permanent record of God’s word for these people: 1:12-15: “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things…to stir you up by putting you in remembrance…I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
  • Peter includes himself in a group that God used to give us the scriptures: 1:16: “For we…”
  • Peter wrote from the perspective of an eyewitness, which was part of the criteria that made him qualified to be an apostle: 1:16:  “Have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty…”
  • The instrument that He used was an apostle:
  • Knew Christ personally.
  • Was personally called by Christ to an official capacity.
  • He was representing Christ and was also bearing Christ’s authority.
  • There was a validation of this ministry.
  • They were recognized as officials in this capacity in the early church.

Acts 1:15-25 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said…Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry…21Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship…”

1 Corinthians 15:1-9 “Christ was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time…”

2 Corinthians 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds…”

  • The scriptures are more trustworthy than the eyewitness accounts of several individuals: 1:18-19: “And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed…”
  • It is more sure, because it is not ultimately based on their recal, observation skills, or interpretation of what they saw: 1:20: “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation…”
  • It is more sure, because its presence was not ultimartely motivated by the internal desires of the instruments God used: 1:21: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
  • The message reflected both the source God, and the personality of the instrument, Peter, leaving the exact words framed in the exact way that God wanted them shaped to communicate what He wanted us to know.

Question 4: What is the ultimate product?

  • God’s word…
  • Through human instruments…
  • Perfect and fully trustworthy…
  • Recorded to be preserved for an enduring witness… Matthew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God…”
    • γράφω: God’s written word in the perfect tense
    • ῥῆμα: God’s spoken word in the present tense

Summary of what we have learned:

  • The scriptures are God’s word, not just the thoughts or the doctrines, but the very words in the original languages.
  • God used prophets and apostles to give us His word and they were fully aware that they were writing God’s word when they wrote scripture.
  • God’s word is more trustworthy than the recall and comparison of eyewitnesses, because it finds its ultimate source in God.
  • Though God’s spoken and written word, both bore His full authority, His written word had a superior quality in that is could be preserved for future generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 1: Arguments for the Existence of God: Romans 1

Lesson 1: Arguments for the existence of God

 Scripture Reading for Lesson 1:

Psalm 19:1-3 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard…”

Romans 1:19-25 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen…” 

Five Basic Rational Arguments for the existence of God:

  • Cosmological Argument: The fact that there is a creation means that their must be a Creator.
  • Teleological Argument: The fact that the creation reflects order means that their must be a rational designer.
  • Ontological Argument: The fact that there is a need for an absolute being means that one must exist.
  • Moral Argument: The fact that mankind universally has a sense of right and wrong must mean that there is a moral law giver.
  • Religious Argument: The fact that mankind universally senses an internal need for an absolute being compels is to believe that one exists.

Three Key Scriptures Connected to these Rational Arguments:

Psalm 19:1-3 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard…”

  • Because there is a creation, you cannot escape the majesty of God: “The heavens declare the glory of God…”
  • Because there is a creation, you cannot escape the skills, wisdom, and order of God: “The firmament showeth his handywork…”
  • This witness is universal: “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard…”

Romans 1:19-25 “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen…”

  • All people have a basic internal awareness of God: “That which may be know of God is manifest in them…”
  • This basic awareness is implanted by God in the conscience of every person: “God hath showed it unto them…”
  • This basic awareness of God in the conscience is heightened by observing and reflecting on the implications of what we see around us: “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead…”
  • This basic awareness of God is enough to make us accountable to God: “So that they are without excuse…”
  • Our problem is not a lack of opportunity, but rather what we do with that opportunity: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful;
  • Our hearts are biased against the truths to which we are exposed: “but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened:”
  • We are prone to glory in our own folly: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools:”
  • We are prone to misinterpret and misapply the information we have: “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man:”
  • As fallen creatures, we live as slaves to our fleshly passions, which further strengthens our bias against truth and enslaves us to dishonorable misuses of our bodies: “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:”

Act 17:22-31 “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead…”

  • Paul started His gospel preaching with the presupposition that God exists and that this knowledge is inherently present in the people he is addressing: “I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious…”
  • Paul bluntly stated that though they recognized the one true God, their acknowledgment of Him was in ignorance, and therefore not enough to be the basis for faith that accompanies salvation: “I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you… And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained…”
  • Paul gave basic information about God that contradicted their ignorant approach to Him: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…”
    • God: There is one God
    • Made world and everything in it: “He is the ultimate source of everything
    • Lord: He is the Supreme ruler
    • Dwelleth not in temples made with hands: He is the invisible God and cannot be contained
    • Neither worshipped with men’s hands: He does not accept manmade devices as acceptable means of mediation
    • As though he is in need of anything: He does not anything, because He is independent of all His creation
    • Determined times and bounds: He is intimately involved in the affairs of people and His purposes cannot be manipulated or thwarted through human devices
    • Paul stated that God will righteously judge all men and calls them to repentance on the basis of a conviction established by the resurrection: “but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead…”

Three Primary Sources of God’s self revelation:

  • Creation: Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard…”
  • History: are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Acts 17:26 “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…”
  • Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:15-17 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works…”

 Summary of what we have learned:

  • All people everywhere have a basic knowledge of God because He has put this knowledge in their hearts, and their minds have the ability to process the things that they see in the creation.
  • This basic knowledge of God is not enough to bring a person to repentance and faith in the gospel, but is enough information to leave all people fully accountable to God.
  • Man’s basic rejection of this knowledge is not a rational rejection as much as it is a moral rejection.
  • The universal presence of idolatry in the world is confirmation of both our inherent knowledge of God and our moral bias against His true nature.
  • The limitations of natural revelation necessitate an objective standard given by God to govern our interpretation of general revelation.
  • This objective standard is scripture, and we must understand the nature of scripture.

Trusting God’s Sovereignty Psalm 91

“Trusting God’s Sovereignty”

Part 1

 Text: Psalm 91:1-16 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation…”

Purpose: The purpose of Psalm 91 is to remind God’s people that since He is the only source of true safety, they must cultivate a daily pattern of trust in His care and encourage others from this source of strength in the face of terrifying uncertainties.

Proposition: God wants us to daily trust in His providential care.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Part 1: An introduction to the Psalm:

We don’t know who actually penned Psalm 91. Some have surmised it was penned by David, others that it was penned by Moses. Moses knew what it was like to be assaulted in the wilderness by the Egyptians and the Amalekites. David knew what it was like to be assaulted by the Philistines. Both men witnesses terrible pandemic diseases that rushed quickly through Israel’s populations. In Numbers 16, approximately 15,000 people died and in 1 Chronicles 21, 70,000 men perished. Interestingly, in both cases, the plagues were sent by God to humble the people and were stopped as a direct response to the intercession of godly people in the nation. In Number 16, the scriptures say: “And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed…”

  • As we move into the details of Psalm 91, please keep these two stories in the back of your mind as references that are related to this Psalm.

Part 2: Let’s break down the Psalm into its basic thought progression: Five Divisions

 Division 1: The psalmist declared a wonderful promise about God: 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…

  • Part 1: A Condition: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High…”
  • This statement is probably a reference a place of intimate communion with God or to the habitual practice of finding refuge in Him.
    • Three essential facts about a person’s heart for this to be true:
      • They must personally know the Lord
      • They must have a continual sense of vulnerability and dependence upon Him.
      • They must see that communion with God and trust in His providential care is their greatest need and continual hope.
    • Part 2: A Promise: “Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…
    • This statement is probably a reference to God’s loving care of those with whom He has entered into covenant: Ruth 2:11-12 “Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust…” Psalm 17:5-8 “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings…”

Division 2: The psalmist resolved to continue to live in the light of that promise he has just proclaimed: 91:2 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust…”

  • Part 1: The psalmist wanted to publicly express His confidence in the Lord: I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and fortress…
  • Part 2: The psalmist was committing to continuing to live according to His former confidence: “In him will I trust…”

Division 3: The Psalmist purposed to be a comforter and an encourager to those who were troubled: 91:3-8 “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked…”

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded (discouraged), support the weak, be patient toward all men…”
  • Observation 1: The Psalmist turned his attention to encouraging a friend: “Surely he will deliver thee…”
  • Observation 2: The Psalmist spoke about two different categories of calamity: “He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence…”
    • Category 1: A calamity motivated by premeditated evil: “Snare of the fowler…”
    • Category 2: A calamity that cannot be controlled by human will: “Noisome Pestilence…”
  • Observation 3: The Psalmist reminded his friend that in spite of his lack of internal peace, God would take care of Him: “He shall cover thee with his feather… Psalm 36:7 “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings…”
  • Observation 4: When godly people struggle with anxiety about their current situation, being reminded of God’s word is their greatest comfort: “His truth shall be thy shield and buckler…”
    • A shield and buckler are defensive tools to protect soldiers in battle Ephesians 6: 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked…”

A Biblical example of reminding ourselves and other of truth:

Matthew 6:25-34 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof…”

Six Simple Facts to Remember When We Worry

  • God commands us not to be consumed with worry.
  • If God takes care of His most insignificant creatures, why wouldn’t He take care of you?
  • You are powerless to change anything by worrying, so don’t waste your time.
  • The way you face difficult times should be different than the way people who don’t know God face difficulties, so let your faith shape your reactions.
  • If you will put eternal matters first, God will take care of the temporal matters.
  • Don’t try to bear the burden of tomorrow’s unknowns. God’s daily grace will sustain you.

Conclusion: God wants you to daily trust in His providential care.

  • Let’s develop the daily practice of finding our refuge in Him.
  • Let’s continue day by day in those good patterns of thinking.
  • Let’s be sources of encouragement for those who are discouraged or afraid.
  • Let’s be well equipped with the scriptures to remind those whom we love of God’s good hand of care over His people.

Part 2 

  • Observation 5: Those who have their thinking rooted in truth will have an unshakeable source of confidence, in the most debilitating trials they could ever face: “Thou shalt not be afraid…”
    • Type 1: The fear of surrounding uncertainty that you cannot see: “Terror by night…”
    • Type 2: The fear of surrounding dangers that you can see: “Arrow that flieth by day…
    • Type 3: The fear of uncontrollable diseases: “Pestilence that walketh in darkness…”
    • Type 4: The fear of watching everything around you fall apart: “Destruction that wasteth at noonday…”
  • Observation 6: God manages all circumstances, even the most terrifying: “A thousand shall fall at thy side…but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shall thou behold and see the reward of the wicked…”
    • God is actively involved in the limiting and allowing of difficult circumstances, and has purposes for what happens. Numbers 16:46-50 “And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed…” Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose…”

Division 4: Because the Psalmist had confidence in God’s character and ways, he again re-assured his friend that God was going to take care of him: 91:9-13 “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet…”

  • He restated the condition: “Because thou hast…
  • He restated the promise: There shall no evil befall thee…
  • He explained the means that God used behind the scenes to defend His people: For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways…

 Division 5: The Psalmist ended the Psalm in the strongest way possible, by recording not simply his own encouragements to His friend, but God’s assurance of His providential care: 91:14-16Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation…”

  • God assured the Psalmist that He intimately knew his friend:
    • His friend loved God: “Because he hath set his love upon me…”
    • His friend knew God intimately: “He hath known my name…”
    • His friend believed He needed God and had established a reputation of fleeing to God in desperate times: “He shall call upon me…”
  • God assured the Psalmist that He would actively, consistently, and personally act on behalf of his friend:
    • Way 1: Whether from, in, or through trials: God delivers His children: “Therefore will I deliver him…”
    • Way 2: God is attentive to the cries of His children and answers their prayers: “I will answer him…”
    • Way 3: No matter what is going on, God walks with His children: “I will be with him in trouble…”
    • Way 4: God will put tremendous weight on the prayers of His children: “I will deliver him and honor him…”
    • Way 5: God will lengthen the days of those who walk with Him and trust in His care: “With long life will I satisfy him…”
    • Way 6: God will use the trials of life to teach us that He is the God who delivers His people: “And show him my salvation…”

Conclusion: Let’s practically apply this Psalm: God wants you to daily trust in His providential care.

  • We can trust God no matter what we face.
  • We can have strength and stability no matter the uncertainties we face.
  • Let’s remember that even godly people can experience deep fears and need to constantly be reminded of who God is and how He works.
  • Let’s remember that in uncertain times, we can be instruments of calm and encouragement to struggling Christians.
  • Let’s remember that it is only through testing, that we can understand in an experiential way that God is sovereign and lovingly cares for His people.

 

Sermon 3: Using the Law Responsibly 1 Timothy 1:7-11 Part 1

Sermon Audio Link: Using the Law Responsibly

Text: 1 Timothy 1:7-10 “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…”

Purpose: Paul wanted to correct irresponsible uses of the law, without giving the impression that the law served no current function or was evil, therefore he reminded Timothy of two good functions of the law, restraining evil and revealing righteousness.

Part 1: The Law and Its Proper Use

Four important observations about the concept of law and righteousness

  • Observation 1: A righteous person does not need the law to become righteous, he already is righteous. Matthew 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
  • Observation 2: A person does by nature what is in his heart, whether there is a law or not. Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves…
  • Observation 3: An unrighteous person does not know that he is unrighteous unless a righteous standard reveals his unrighteousness.  Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet…
  • Observation 4: Once an unrighteous person becomes aware of their unrighteous nature, a change of nature, not the presence of the law is the only way to make them righteous. Romans 7:8-14 “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin…”

Three wrong uses of the law: The law cannot make you something that you are not already.

  • Seeking to be justified by the Law: A means to become righteous before God Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:28 “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
  • A source of pride: because of my relationship to the law Romans 2:17-21 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
  • Seeking to be sanctified by the law: A means by which we become more holy Galatians 3:1-3 “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

Part 2: The Specifics of this Passage

Four good uses of the Law

  • Reveals God’s righteous character in real life circumstances:
    • Old Covenant/Testament Law: A national ancient near eastern context
      • The Mosaic Law was given in the context of God’s covenant with Israel.
      • This law articulated the conditions associated blessing and cursing from God and toward the nation.
      • Much of the Mosaic Law is written as case law, using situation that were common in their culture, but not necessarily in our own.
      • The timeless principles that were applied in each of these cases is often restated and then applied appropriately in the context of the NT.
    • New Covenant/Testament Law: An individual and local church context
      • Relationship within the church
      • Relationship to God in worship
      • Relationship within the home
      • Relationship to human government
  • Restrains evil by giving a standard by which to judge individuals: 1:9-10 “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…”
    • People without regard to proper order in society: “Lawless and disobedient” 1 Peter 2:13-14 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme. Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
    • People without regard for God’s right to rule their lives: “Ungodly and for sinners” Romans 3:19 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God…”
    • People without regard for the sacred: “Unholy and profane” 1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy…”
    • People without regard for the dignity of human life: “Murderers” Romans 13:9-10 “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law…”
    • People without regard for the sacredness of the marriage covenant: “Whoremongers” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness…”
    • People without regard for God’s design for human sexuality: “They that defile themselves with mankind” Romans 1:24-28 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient…”
    • People without regard for people’s right to be freedom: “Menstealers”
    • People without regard for truth: “Liars”
    • People without regard to the fidelity of the justice system: “for perjured persons”
    • People without regard for Christian doctrine: “Anything that is contrary to sound doctrine” 1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine… 20 times in the Pastoral Epistles
  • Reveals man’s moral bankruptcy to drive Him to the finished work of Christ: Philippians 3:4-9 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…”
  • Provides a gauge that reveals real Spirit produced growth into Christlikeness: Romans 8:3-5 “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit…” Galatians 2:19-21 “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain…”

Conclusion: Let’s be careful how we handle issues related to the law. Let’s realize God’s purposes for the use of the law and use it accordingly.

 

Sermon 10: Now the People of God Part 2

Sermon Audio Link: “Now the People of God” Part 2

Text: 1 Peter 2:5-10 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Purpose: The purpose of this section was to remind these Christian’s that though their new position in Christ was full of rich blessings, this relationship to Christ would put them in a volatile conflict with the world around them and leave them with significant responsibilities.

Proposition: God wants us to be prepared to live faithfully because of the position we have in Christ.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Review from Last Time

Truth 1: The church forms two distinct and glorious functions: we are God’s priesthood and temple.

Truth 2: God accepts our worship entirely because of our union with Christ:

Truth 3: Our relationship to Christ puts it in constant conflict with the world: 2:6-8 “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed…”

His threefold description of Christ: 2:6 “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious…”

  • Focal point: “Chief corner stone…” Building construction. The first stone is the most important. Everything else in the building is related to that initial stone, and the
  • Well-favored: “Elect…” Something that is choice, well favored,
    • The most common way we tend to find this word used in the NT is a description of God’s People/His Elect
    • Another example: Genesis 41 6 times in Joseph’s dream the term is used to describe the cattle and produce in his dream.
  • Priceless: “Precious…” Something that is immensely valuable that cannot be purchased
    • Example: You can put a price tag on a piece of property a house or a new car, but you cannot put a price tag on the gift of a child.

The Contrast Between the way you view Christ and the way the world views Christ: 2:7 “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient…”

The believer:

  • Precious: Something that is immensely valuable that cannot be purchased
  • Shall not be confounded: You will not be ashamed
  • A stone of stumbling: Something that causes some to fall

The Unbeliever:

  • Rock of offense: σκάνδαλον  Something that causes anger because it is offensive
  • Disobedient: They reject Him because he is offensive to them

Application:

  • Christ is the center of all that we hold dear as Christians
  • All Christian doctrine flows directly from our understanding of Him.
    • How God reveals Himself: He is the in flesh revelation of God the Father
    • How God saves people: He is the one who purchased our redemption and in whose righteousness we stand
    • God’s nature: He is the second person of the Trinity who created all things, and who holds all things together by the word of His pwer
    • How God orders His People: He is the head of the church and the Savior of the body who is purifying unto himself a people/a bride
    • How God will ultimately deal with His creation: He is the rightful owner of the Creation who is coming at His second coming to judge the world in righteousness, establish His rightful rule over the nations, and to restore the creation to its original beauty and glory.
  • His is precious to us:
    • We feel a sense of indebtedness to Him, because of what He has accomplished on our behalf.
    • We have an overwhelming sense of the need to submit ourselves entirely to His authority because He has the right to demand our absolute obedience.
    • We have an overwhelming sense of His value, and we want to worship Him exclusively.
  • He is offensive to the world around us:
    • They don’t like the concept of the cross
    • They don’t like the need for the cross
    • They don’t like His commandments
    • They vehemently reject His person, work, and the people associated with Him.

Truth 4: The church’s relationship to Christ should humble and mobilize it: 2:9-10 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy…”

 Peter emphasizes the mercies of God towards us:

  • “But…” There is an incredible contrast between the Christian and the unbeliever
  • We are well favored: “Chosen generation…” Something that is choice, well favored
  • We are set aside to rule and represent Him: “Royal priesthood…” Ruling priests
  • We are set apart to Him: “Holy nation…” Set apart people to God
  • We are His own special/personal possession: “Peculiar people…” A people that is personally possessed by God
  • We are rescued from darkness and spiritual blindness into a knowledge of God and clarity about the world we live in: “Called out of darkness into his marvelous light…”
  • We are His people: “In times past were not a people but are now the people of God…”
  • We have been the objects of His compassion: “Had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy…”

 The driving thrust of this passage: “That we should show forth the praises of him…”

  • God is good, and has dealt mercifully and lavishly with us.
  • Because He has dealt lavishly with us, and we have responded in repentance and faith toward the gospel, we treasure Him.
  • Those who are disobedient to the gospel’s call to repentance and faith, are troubled by it and therefore antagonistic to God’s people.
  • Because He has dealt lavishly with us, we ought to proclaim His excellencies in the gospel to the nations.

Conclusion: Through this passage of scripture, we have been reminded that though our position in Christ is full of rich blessings, this relationship to Christ will put us in an inescapably volatile conflict with the world around us. Let us purpose today by God’s daily grace to proclaim His excellencies in the gospel to the world around us.

 

 

 

 

Lesson 2: The Necessity of Sound Doctrine

“The Necessity of Sound Doctrine”

Sermon Audio Part 1

Sermon Audio Part 2

Text: 1 Timothy 1:3-8 “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully…”

Summary: Paul wanted Timothy to correct faulty approaches to Bible interpretation that had led to weak mystical thinking rather than focused vibrant Christian living.

Fact 1: Paul commands Timothy to hold fast to the standard of the church: 1:3 “I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…”

  • Paul commanded Timothy to call the church to hold fast only to and entirely to the doctrines of Christ through the apostles: 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle…” Ephesians 2:19-20 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone… 2 Peter 3:2 “Be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior…” Matthew 28:18-20 “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
  • Clarify what he is not saying: These are not standards, the way we tend to hear the term used today.
    • Practical applications that we have established as a result of attempting to implement Biblical principles.
    • A personal conviction that flows from our conscience on areas of soul liberty.
    • A personal practice we have established to protect us from violating a principle or Biblical command.
    • A personal preference we have adopted or a tradition we have established in the church over time.
  • The principle being emphasized in this passage: We must be rigidly bound to that body of truth that was delivered through the apostles under the authority of Christ. Jude 1:3 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints…”
  • Several warnings:
    • We can violate this principle in three ways:
      • By being purposefully or carelessly selective in what we choose to address or emphasize in our teaching ministries.
      • By adding to the standard by injecting our own opinions rather than staying true to the intent of the text.
      • By clouding the intent of the standard through sloppy interpretation or communication.
  • Three ways we have and do see this in church history:
    • The abuses of the Middle Ages were being combated by the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
    • The modern day abuses within the modern charismatic movement should be combated by the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture.
    • The modern day abuses we find in many conservative churches should be combated with the practice of sound Bible exposition rather that hobby horse “standards” driven preaching.
  • Fundamental core doctrine/Gospel essentials:
    • The nature of the gospel
    • The nature of salvation
    • The Trinitarian nature of God
    • The full humanity and deity of Christ
    • The depravity of man
    • The inspiration and

Fact 2: This standard of the church, flows from a literal rather than allegorical/theoretical approach to Bible interpretation: 1:4 “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do…”

  • Fables: The word used literally means myths (a myth was either a story that was entirely not true or an embellishment of a story about a real person.)
  • Endless genealogies which minister questions: Taking Old Testament narratives and allegorizing them.
  • He is contrasting mythological embellishments and infatuation with allegorized interpretations with the plain meaning of the historically reliable accounts in scripture.

1 Timothy 4:7 “Refuse profane and old wives’ fables…”

2 Timothy 4:4 “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables…”

Titus 1:14 “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth…”

Be cautious how you approach Bible study:

  • Don’t approach the Bible as a skeptic who picks and chooses based upon what he believes to be rational.
  • Don’t be like the moralist who picks and chooses based upon what is he thinks is morally acceptable.
  • Don’t be like the mystic who focuses primarily on the internal impressions that accompany Bible study.
  • Don’t be like the syncretist who takes the Bible and blends it with his philosophical approach to life issues.
  • Have a responsible Biblical approach to Bible study:
    • Approach the scriptures with a confidence in its nature.
    • Approach the scriptures humbled by your own bias.
    • Approach the scriptures diligently as a persistent student.
    • Approach the scriptures with a vulnerability to its contents.

Fact 3: This standard of the church promotes healthy Christian living 1:5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned…”

  • The ultimate goal is growth into spiritual maturity/godly edification: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works…”
  • Four aspects to his description of spiritual maturity:
  • Christian love: “Now the end of the commandment is charity…”
    • God-centered
    • Others-focused
    • Affectionate
    • Active
  • Purity in the heart: “Charity out of a pure heart…”
    • Focused/undivided/untainted
  • A healthy conscience: “and of a good conscience…”
    • Is shaped by a Biblical world view.
    • Is based upon a practiced sense of discernment.
    • Has not become desensitized by ignoring its unsettledness.
  • Sincere faith: “and of faith unfeigned…”
    • It will not be put on, but will be the real thing

Application: False doctrine, imbalanced teaching, or a faulty approach to Bible study and teaching will hinder our ability to grow properly.

  • We will lack Christian love.
  • We will have divided hearts.
  • Our consciences will be unhealthy.
  • We will have hypocrisy.

Fact 4: This standard and interpretative approach to scripture, view the law correctly “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully…”

Three thoughts that will prepare us for the next section of discussion:

  • The law is good
  • Just because it is good, does not mean that we will use it correctly
  • A proper approach to how we interpret and teach the scriptures is a safeguard to improper uses of the law.

Conclusion:

  • Summary: Paul wanted Timothy to correct faulty approaches to Bible interpretation that have led to weak mystical thinking rather than focused vibrant Christian living.
  • Primary Application: We must be careful in how we approach studying and teaching the scriptures, because it is the primary tool that God uses to bring us in spiritual maturity.

 

Sermon Audio: Sermon 8: Simply Healthy Christianity

Text: 1 Peter 2:1-3 “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious…”

Purpose: The purpose of these verses is to emphasize that Christians must have a longing for God’s word so that they will have a healthy growing Christian walk.

Proposition: God wants me to have a longing for His word.

Interrogative: How can I have a longing for God’s word?

Truth 1: Command: I must realize that I am commanded to have this appetite: 3:2 “Desire the sincere milk of the word…”

  • The sense of the statements: You absolutely must desire the word of God.
  • The context of the statement: The word used for desire (ἐπιποθέω) is used 9 times in the NT and in all 9 examples; the word is used in the context of a longing for or yearning to be close to someone that we love.
  • The nature of object of the statement:
    • The word is sincere/without any mixture of error
    • The word is logically order: The word used for “word” is not the typical word used (λογός) but is a word used only one other time in the NT. (λογικός) Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Application: I am being disobedient to God’s clear command if I refuse to cultivate this healthy appetite for God’s word.

Truth 2: Rivals: I must remove hindrances to this appetite: 3:1 “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking…”

  • The Prominence of this command in the NT:
    • Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light…
    • Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…
    • James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls…
  • Our hunger for God’s word is directly related to our willingness to put away the specific sins that are mentioned in this list:
    • Observation 1: We cannot afford to go half way on this command “All”
    • Observation 2: The dehumanizing lusts that we harbor in our hearts will so dominate our thinking that they replace a healthy hunger for God’s word and shade the way we interpret it:
      • Malice: Ill will toward others
      • Guile: Deception
      • Hypocrisy: Two-facedness
      • Envies: Becoming discontented because another has experienced God’s good hand
      • Evil Speaking: Slandering others

Application: I am acting in self-deception if I think I am able to entertain sinful passions while continuing to cultivate a hunger for God’s word.

Truth 3: Picture: I must understand this practical illustration: 3:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby…”

  • The illustration: “As newborn babes…”
    • Newborns have a relentless hunger for their mother’s milk.
    • Newborns need this constant feeding to support rapid growth and good health.
    • Newborn establish a powerful bond with their mother while feeding.
    • Newborn babies develop a sense of security as they feed.
  • The stated purpose of the command: “That ye may grow thereby…”
    • We cannot grow apart from the means that God has provided
      • Cleansing: Psalm 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word…”
      • Renewal of the mind: Romans 12:2 “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
      • Faith: Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…”
      • Victory in Spiritual Battle: Ephesians 6:17 “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
      • Salvation at the Judgment Seat: 1 Timothy 4:16 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee…”

Application: I need to realize that this illustration is as much about relationship and health as it is about growth.

Truth 4: Experience: I must to get back to basic Christianity: 2:3 “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious…”

  • “If:” This word means that there is a condition for all this working together
    • Growth into Christ-likeness is contingent on new life in Christ!
    • Hunger after God’s Word is contingent on new life in Christ!
    • The power to put off these lusts that hinder our love for God’s Word is contingent on new life in Christ!
  • “Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious:” He could have stated their position in Christ as a matter of fact, but instead he states it as a matter of experience
    • God wants us to have a real, healthy communion with Him, not just a cold academic understanding of Him.

Another example of this Philippians 2:1 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy…”

  • Consolation in Christ: Comforter/ παράκλησις
  • Comfort of love: Internal sense that you belong to God
  • Fellowship of the Spirit: Communion/ κοινωνία
  • Bowels and mercies: Deep seated affection for God and other believers

Conclusion: God wants me to have a longing for His word. If I will see this as a serious matter of obedience, so that I am motivated to remove all rivals as I consider the illustration of a hungering newborn, then I will be able to get back to the basics of a healthy growing Christian experience.

%d bloggers like this: