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Living Stones

Living Stones

Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said in the next verse, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them in verse fifteen, “But who do you say that I am?” At this time Simon boldly answered in verse sixteen, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the next verse we see that Jesus was greatly pleased with Simon’s answer and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus then renamed Simon Peter saying, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”

When Jesus renamed Simon He called him Peter which is Petros in Greek. Petros is a small stone or a rock. A brick can fall under the category of a petros. It is certainly not a foundational stone that someone would build a house on. Rather it would be the small stones, like bricks, that would rest upon the foundational stone.

After Jesus named Simon Petros, He said “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word that Jesus used for rock was a different word than the one He used for Simon Peter. Jesus used the Greek word petra as the rock that the church would be built upon. Petra is a large rock, a foundational stone that is much different than the small stone, petros, Simon was called. Clearly Peter is not the foundational stone that the church is built upon; Jesus is. Jesus is the one who gave His life so He could redeem the church. To say any other is the foundation of the church is not only biblically inaccurate, it is outright blasphemous.

Peter clearly understood what Jesus was talking about. Peter wrote in I Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Who is the living stone? Jesus is. He is the one that was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. We are the ones who come to Him also as living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. This is the perfect portrait of the church.

The church is not a physical building, an address, or location. The church is a spiritual house. Jesus is the living stone that is the foundation. We are living stones being built up on that foundation. Just as bricks are laid atop of the foundation of the building we are laid atop of Jesus who is the foundation of the church. We are also laid atop of all of the other believers who came before us such as Peter. Peter was named Petros because he was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. Upon our confession of Christ we are saved and therefore laid atop of the foundation of Christ as the church.

After Peter gave us this wonderful picture of the structure of God’s spiritual house he then gave us an understanding of its function. He said in I Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Jesus didn’t save us to give us a get out of hell free card. He saved us out of darkness and into light so we would have a relationship with Him and so we would proclaim to the rest of the world, which remains in darkness, of His excellencies and His marvelous light so they too would be drawn to the light and have a relationship with Him and not stand in darkness separated from God doomed to eternal condemnation. Clearly, this is one of the main functions of the church; the whole church.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If the gospel is truly the power of God for salvation, as the Word of God says that it is, and we refuse to share the gospel we are then guilty of condemning this world to hell. How will they repent of their sins if we don’t tell? How will they walk out of darkness and into the marvelous light if we don’t tell? How will they know their sins will eternally condemn them if we don’t tell? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The feet that carry the good news may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. Far, they are bringing the good news of Jesus to a lost world of whom He loves.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Gospel Must be Communicated

The Gospel Must be Communicated

Have you ever heard someone say “I allow my life to be my witness?” Clearly the bible teaches we should do good works. Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Jesus Himself said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Godly living and good works should go hand in hand. However, good works alone is an insufficient witness.

Clearly we want the unreached world to see our good works so our Father who is in heaven will be glorified. However, good works alone can be dangerously misleading. The bible clearly states that we are not saved by our good works and that we are only saved by placing our faith in the works of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”

If we fail to communicate the gospel, which is the works of Christ that lead to salvation, we can lead the lost world into believing that their good life and good works are sufficient to save them. They will think they simply have to be a good person and perform good works to get to heaven. Paul said of those who teach this perverted form of the gospel, which is really no gospel at all, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8, 9). This is usually not the intention of the one who desires his life to be a witness. However, this is the danger of living a good life and doing good works without communicating the gospel.

True biblical evangelism consists of communication. Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” One cannot preach without communication. The word preach means to proclaim. We are commanded to proclaim the gospel to all creation. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus and his teachings to the whole world starting where we are at. (Acts 1:8).

In the Word of God we find two distinct calls to preach. Paul tells Timothy, who is the pastor of Ephesus, in II Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” This type of preaching is pastoral preaching. It is preaching directed to the church with instruction that leads to godly living.

The other type of preaching is what Jesus commanded in Mark 16:15-preach the gospel. It is evangelistic preaching, or proclaiming. It is preaching directed to the lost with instruction of how to be saved. The Greek word used here is euaggelizesthai. It means, to evangelize. To evangelize is to share, preach, proclaim the gospel. Euaggelizesthai is a verb. It is a word that demands action. This word is used fifty two times in the New Testament.

Preaching is God’s choice of the communication of His gospel message. I Corinthians 1:21 says, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Whether we are proclaiming to the masses or sharing with individuals we must communicate, preach, proclaim the clear message of the gospel. Every Christian is called to this task.

In the Word of God we find two ways that the gospel can, and should be, communicated. Clearly the first way is verbal. Acts 14:1 says of Paul and Barnabus, “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” The spoken word is the most prominent form of communicating the gospel in the New Testament. However, it is not the only form of communicating the gospel.

John said in I John 5:8, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Luke also stated his purpose in writing the book of Luke in Luke 1:3, 4 where he wrote, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” A quick read through the book of Romans will show you that it is the greatest gospel tract ever written. Writing isn’t preaching, but it is a wonderful form of communication that God has given to us to share His gospel message.

Whether we choose to preach, proclaim, share the gospel through the spoken word or the written word we must clearly communicate it. We are called and should be compelled to proclaim the gospel with the lost with every available opportunity we have. Apart from the proclamation of the gospel the lost world stands condemned to an eternal hell. When we proclaim the gospel they may chose to reject. Regardless of their decision, we have given them an opportunity to make a decision by communicating the gospel. If we however reject the call to proclaim, we not only stand in rebellion against God, we also have to ask, how then will they ever have the opportunity to make the choice?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

The ultimate act of love is seen in the act of God so love the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to change our wicked ways and then turn to Him. Apart from the power of the blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t turn to God. Apart from the work of God we would never even want too. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

We did not choose to love God, He chose to love us. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” He chose to love us despite the fact that we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross of Calvary, suffering greatly in humiliation and anguish knowing that His sacrifice would purchase redemption of sin and reconcile us into a right relationship with Him. We love the Lord today because He first loved us.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated His love towards us by laying down His life. As a result of the cross God also requires us to lay down our lives. Not as a dead sacrifice, but as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Because of the mercies of God, which is the act of Jesus on the cross, we are urged to give our lives as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all creation. In order to do this we must sacrifice. We will sacrifice our time, our energy, and sometimes our money. We may think that the world is wicked and cruel and therefore is not worthy of my sacrifice. But, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we worthy of Jesus sacrifice?” Absolutely not! Fortunately for us, God didn’t give us what we deserve; instead, He gave us grace and mercy-because of His love. We to are called to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love to a hostile and often rejecting world. We as Jesus did, are to overlook the hostility and rejection of the world in love, hoping to win a few for the Lord.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). God loves the world and everyone in it. Does He love their ways? Of course not. This is why He sent His Son to die on the cross and save them from their sins empowering them to repent and live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” The feet of those who carry the gospel to the unsaved are beautiful to God. They are carrying the good news of Jesus salvation to the world in which God loves so they can hear, and therefore believe. But how will they hear unless we love them enough to go and tell. By telling we carry on the ultimate act of love-God’s sacrificial love.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Boast In the Lord

Boast In the Lord

No man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:29-31

The city of Corinth was about fifty miles from Athens, the center of all Greek learning and the heart of all human wisdom.  The people of this part of the world prided themselves in their intellectual human wisdom and boasted in their great learning. They viewed the word of the cross as foolishness, and those who rejected their man made wisdom as ignorant and unlearned. (I Corinthians 1:18).

Paul said among the church of Corinth, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” (I Corinthians 1:26). However, they possessed something far greater than any works, or wisdom man could provide. They possessed the wisdom of God which was Christ Himself; a wisdom of God that produced in them righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

We should never come before God thinking we are wise and learned. For this is boasting before God. Does this mean we should remain uneducated so we will not be guilty of boasting before the Lord? Of course not. Paul himself was a greatly educated man. II Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In other words, work hard at studying and knowing the word of truth so when you proclaim it you will not be ashamed before the Lord and you will handle it accurately.

What then shall we do? We understand that our wisdom and education is not sufficient in progressing the Kingdom of God and bringing God glory. Therefore, we surrender whatever wisdom we have, great or small, to God in service unto Him, knowing He is the all knowing God who has made foolish the wisdom of the world. We submit ourselves to God and present ourselves to the world as knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Of course, this is foolishness to the world, but it is “God who has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (I Corinthians 1:28, 29). Since it is God at work in us, we understand whether we are greatly educated or completely illiterate we can be powerful servants of the Lord. God’s only requirement is total surrender.

Though we may be fools for Christ to the world, we obtain a wisdom that is far greater than any wisdom the world can offer, we obtain the wisdom of God, Christ Jesus His Son. Therefore, we don’t boast in our works, or our wisdom, we boast in Christ alone. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Greatest of Treasures

The Greatest of Treasures

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” II Corinthians 4:7 NASB

Every man woman and child stands in need of the grace of God. God has given to us His law as a standard by which we are to live. However, the Word of God clearly teaches that all in one form or another have broken the law. Because we are lawbreakers we await judgment, a judgment that will lead to eternal damnation. However, God is not willing for any to parish but for all to enter into repentance. For this reason God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty on the cross of our judgment. Apart from the grace of God we are utterly hopeless.

Jesus said in Mathew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes and Pharisees, although lawbreakers themselves, prided themselves in keeping the law through their ritualistic routines within their daily lives. How then is our righteousness going to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? It can’t. Thus, we need another means to enter the kingdom of heaven. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

So often we overlook and therefore take for granted how great the gift of grace truly is. The greater we understand grace, the more we will come to realize what a treasure Jesus truly is. The grace we have received is through God giving His Son as a gift. Although we are sinfully blemished and undignified God gave us His Son who is sinlessly perfect, unblemished, excellent, and dignified in every way. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). God gave to us, whose righteousness is as filthy rags, His Son, the King of Glory, the Ancient of Day’s, the one in whom the angels in heaven worship, the one in whom all things was created for. God gave to us, mere men, His Son, His only begotten Son, His Son of whom he loves, His Son who is near and dear to His heart.

What a wonderful treasure we have received in these earthen vessels; a treasure that outshines all others; a treasure worthy of giving all to receive, yet a treasure freely given. A treasure we are unworthy of receiving, yet our God, a God of grace, gladly, and lovingly gives. A treasure we should share with those whose treasures have tarnished. Truly Jesus, given by grace and received by faith, is the greatest treasure.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Fully Trusting in His Power

Fully Trusting in His Power

“And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” Ephesians 1:19 NASB

The clear teaching of the Word of God is that we are saved by grace and not of works. We simply make a choice to repent of our sins and believe on Jesus for His redemptive power. At that moment the power of God unto salvation is worked out by God within our lives. We are fully dependent upon the power of God to convert us and then regenerate us. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The fact of God’s power at work in our lives for salvation is undisputed among bible believing Christians. However, we often fail to realize the continual need of the power of God in our lives after salvation. The redeemed child of God cannot obtain the holiness of God within his life apart from the power of God initiated it. Are we saved by grace, apart from the law and works, only to be saved and left to our own devices to live out our salvation in accordance to the law and works? Of course not. Ephesians 4:24 says, “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” To put on the new self is to put on Christ. (Romans 13:14). Apart from the power of God at work in our lives we cannot be saved. Likewise, apart from the power of God in our lives we cannot obtain the righteousness and holiness God requires as Christians. We start of fully dependent upon God’s power and remain fully dependent.

James 2:18 says, “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James is clearly not arguing that one needs works to have faith. Rather, he is arguing one needs faith to have works. Even in our works we are fully dependent upon God’s power. We often quote Ephesians 2:8, 9 declaring that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works. This is a vital truth for true salvation. However, we often forget about the next verse, Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” We are clearly not saved by works but are clearly expected to work. We are not to work in our own power, for that is boastful and arrogant before God. Act’s 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” You will receive power to do the work in which God requires.

Jesus said apart from Me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5). Just as we are full dependent upon God for salvation, we are fully dependent upon God for righteousness, for holiness, and for our good works. Praise God, just as He saves those who believe in His name, He will empower those who continue to do so.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Reflections of Glory

Reflections of Glory

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” II Corinthians 3:18 NASB

Paul reminded the church of Corinth of Moses who caught a glimpse of the glory of God. The reflection of God’s glory caused Moses face to shine. Because of the hardness of the peoples heart Moses had to wear a veil over his face to hide the glory of God illuming from him. Paul also said that this veil remains in the hearts of men to this day and is only removed whenever a person turns to the Lord.

As Christians we are to be living reflectors of the glory of God. We are not to veil or hide the glory of God within us. Nor are we to use the Lord to bring glory to ourselves. We are to let His light shine from within us for the world to see and therefore be drawn to the Him.

In order for us to be a clear and bright reflection of God’s glory we need to be transformed from the fleshly man to the spiritual man. When we walk more in the flesh and less in the Spirit we are dim and dull reflectors of God’s glory. However, when we are full of the Spirit and have denied the flesh God’s glory shines bright. We should desire the glory of God to shine so bright within us it blinds the world from all else.

How then are we to be transformed into His image from glory to glory? The Word of God promises us if we seek God we will find Him. God has given to us several methods of seeking Him and finding Him such as, the bible, prayer, church, and service. All of these are wonderful ways God has given to us to discover His person, fall in love with Him, and then become like Him. These tools are not tools for salvation; they are tools for those who are already saved to seek Jesus all the more. The only means of salvation is to repent of your sins, and trust in the Lord by faith to save you from and forgive you of your sins. Once we are saved we use these tools to grow in our walk with Him, to draw closer to Him and more like Him.

Every believer should spend time daily in God’s Word, and in prayer, and to take every opportunity to be active in the church and in service unto the Lord. However, we need to be careful in not allowing these spiritual acts to become fleshly. When these acts become tedious acts of legalistic works that we do because we feel as though we have to, they are meaningless and far less beneficial. However, when we spend time in the bible, in prayer, and in church for the singular purpose of seeking God our service of Him will then be anointed with the glory of God. Our love and passion for Him will grow immensely and our service of Him will be as natural as breathing. Then the world will not see us and be greatly disappointed; they will see the glory of God and be very satisfied.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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