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The Wages of Sin is Death

Romans 6:23 tells us that, “the wages of sin is death.” For this reason Jesus died to pay the price for sin. Not that He sinned, but that He took upon Himself the sin of all humanity and died for all who would accept Him as their atoning sacrifice and therefore be cleansed of their sin. I Corinthians 5:21 says, “He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In Genesis we see God fellowshipping with His new creation Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God told them of every tree in the garden they can eat free, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said if they eat of that tree they shall surly die. (Genesis 2:16).

Although Adam and Eve tried to pass the blame of their sin to another, they were still held accountable for their actions resulting in the fall of all humanity. They could not blame the serpent for their sin. They made a conscious choice, do we obey God or disobey God. Although they knew the command of God and the consequences of their disobedience they personally chose to disobey God thus they sinned.

Did Adam and Eve die that day as God said they would? Yes. They died spiritually. They lost fellowship with God and were removed from the Garden of Eden and cast into a mean cruel world now corrupted by sin to labor by the sweat of their brow until the day they physically died. Sin has grave consequences. Had Adam and Eve not chosen to sin they would still be alive today. They would not have earned the wages of sin.

The bible speaks of three types of death, spiritual death, physical death, and the second death which is eternal death. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and again in Colossians 2:13, “you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Paul wasn’t talking to people who were physically dead but spiritually dead.

Sin separates us from God. God’s heart is to have a relationship with us. However, sin prevents us from having that relationship with Him. Separation from God is spiritual death. For this reason Jesus died for us so our sins can be forgiven and we would no longer be spiritual dead but alive in Christ and through Christ. Romans 6:23 not only tells us that the wages of sin is death but also says that the free gift of God is eternal life. Accepting the sacrificial atonement of Christ cleanses us from our sins and reconciles us into a right relationship with God.

The bible is clear-all have sinned. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;” Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;” I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us;” I John 1:10, If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar and His word is not in us.”

Since all have sinned, all stand in need of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. Because of the sacrifice Jesus paid the bible says in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As we see clearly that all have sinned we see just as clearly that the offer of salvation is for all. Romans 10:13 says, “For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

Unless we are caught up in the rapture we will all die physically. However, we are not physical beings, we are spiritual. For those who have accepted Jesus atoning sacrifice and received salvation from their sins the bible says, “I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” There they will remain with the Lord spiritually until the resurrection of the dead where they will be given resurrected and glorified bodies, the same type of body that Jesus already has.

Those who refuse to accept Christ’s atoning work of salvation from their sins will then stand before God after their physical death and be judged for their sins. At the time of their judgment they will be cast into the eternal lake of fire where there is no longer any hope of redemption. The bible calls this the second death. (Revelation 20:11-15).

For this reason the church and every individual Christian should take with absolute urgency the mandate to preach the gospel to all creation. How else will they know? If they choose to reject, they have made their choice. However, they have made the choice with the knowledge of the command of God to accept His Son, and the consequences of choosing not to.

 

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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What is the Gospel?

             The word gospel is used ninety nine times in the NASB. The Greek word that is translated into gospel comes in two forms. It is either used as the noun eungelion that literally means good news or as the verb euangelizeo referring to the announcer of good news.

The gospel or the good news is specifically about Jesus. The Angel of the Lord came to Joseph and encouraged him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The Angel of the Lord said to Joseph in regards to this child Mary miraculously conceived, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). If the message is not centered in and on Jesus and His work of redemption on the cross it is not a true Gospel.

The term gospel is used with many references and descriptions in the New Testament. It is called the gospel of grace in Acts 20:24, the gospel of the kingdom in Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:15, the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6:15, and an eternal gospel in Revelation 14:6. However, the gospel is clearly rooted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark introduced his gospel as, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Paul in his introduction of the book of Romans, which is a declaration of the gospel, calls the gospel, “the gospel of His Son.” (Romans 1:9).

Jesus being born of a virgin as the Son of God was uniquely qualified to be the savior of the world. He was also uniquely qualified to be the atoning sacrifice for sin because of His sinless nature and the fact that He fulfilled all righteousness. For this reason Jesus is the only means to salvation. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Paul told the church of Corinth that he declared unto them the gospel. He then went on to tell them exactly what the gospel was. He said in I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The work of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul said that this message was of first importance, meaning that it should be the priority in our lives. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no good news. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus all humanity would stand hopelessly lost condemned in their sins awaiting eternal damnation.

The fact of the gospel is not the good news in and of itself. Just knowing the fact of the person of Jesus and the fact of the works of Jesus do not save us. The gospel becomes the good news for our lives when we allow it to have an impact on our lives through faith in who Jesus is and what He has done. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should change every area of our lives as we make it of first importance to us.

The gospel fist impacts our lives for today. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” When we receive Jesus as our savior He comes to live within us empowering us to live for Him allowing us to reap the benefits of a relationship with God as a child or God, a joint heir in Christ Jesus, a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Jesus gives us life today, and not ordinary life that simply exists, He gives us abundant life. Certainly no one should want to die without knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They will be eternally condemned to hell if they do. However, if one were to live to be one hundred and twenty years old he shouldn’t want to live even a moment separated from the abundant life that Jesus freely offers.

The fact still remains that we will not live in these fleshly vessels forever. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” If we die physically without knowing Jesus as our savior we will then be judged for our sins. The punishment for our sins is eternity separated from God in hell. However, those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will not be judge for their sins. The impact of the cross has blotted out our sins and removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We will live for eternity in the paradise of heaven with the Lord. This truly is good news. A good news worthy of accepting, and a good news worthy of sharing.

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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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 April 14, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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From Generation to Generation

             In the Great Commission Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. A disciple is someone who commits the entirety of their life to the ways of the teacher. Their goal is to reflect the teacher in every way. A disciple without question lives in obedience to the teacher. To make a disciple of the Lord we must begin by evangelizing them. If they so choose to commit their life to Jesus they become His disciple.

Jesus is the teacher. If we are His disciples we must live in obedience to Him. One of the very clear teachings of Jesus was that we are to preach the gospel to the whole world. (Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). If we choose not to live in obedience to the teacher we are unfaithful and disobedient disciples. Living in disobedience to Jesus is sin. Therefore, choosing not to share the gospel is a sinfully rebellious act of disobedience.

The 1st century church clearly took this teaching to share the gospel as a non optional act of obedience to their master. The Christians of the 1st century were harshly persecuted. Many of them suffered in horrendous ways. Many of them, just as Steven, lost their lives because of their faith in the Lord. Despite the horrendous treatment of Christians in the 1st century, Christianity grew rapidly. It grew rapidly in spite of the persecution because the Christians of the day were faithful to evangelize the world in which they lived. Even the fear of death did not prevent the spreading of the gospel from those who set in their hearts and minds to be faithful to the Lord.

Jesus also taught us in the great commission that once we make disciples we are to teach them all that Jesus commanded. We need to be faithful in teaching new believers the truths of the word of God and walk with them to show them the way of the Master. We need to make it clear to new believers that they are responsible to share the same gospel that just saved them. We need to teach them that this is required of the Lord.

Too often we don’t think new converts are ready to serve because they are too young in their faith. Let us not forget that Paul stayed as little as two weeks in certain cities leaving the new converts to oversee the newly started churches. I am thoroughly convinced that we need to let new converts start sharing their faith immediately, while the zeal of their fresh fire of conversion is stirring their hearts. I am also convinced that once they see what God can and will do in their lives through their obedience that the fire will stay fresh and continue to grow, driving them deeper in their service and devotion to the Lord.

Remember as well, new converts that are previously unchurched usually have a whole host of unchured and unevangelized people within their inner circle. They have a mission field of friends and associates that traditionally is much more vast than that of the churched folk. Certainly, we are not to leave them alone to this task. We are to walk with them through it. This is true discipleship.

For the most part we teach today that if you are a good Christian you go to church and you tithe. If you are a real good Christian you will go to Sunday School and Sunday evening service. If you are a phenomenal Christian you will go to prayer meeting and give to missions from time to time. This type of thinking is killing the church in our modern world. Should we be doing these things? Yes, all of these things are important and yes we should participate in them. At the same time we need to teach what Jesus commanded as non optional and that anything else is sin.

We need to rise up each generation of new believer to preach the gospel to all creation starting where they are at from the moment of their conversion. When witnessing becomes the norm of the church we will win this world to the Lordship of Jesus. Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son in the faith and taught him to be a man of God with a sincere faith. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy knowing he was about to die for his faith to encouraging Timothy to carry on in his service to the Lord. He invited Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (II Timothy 1:8). If we do not teach the younger generation and the new converts to carry the gospel light into this dark world, then who will carry it when we pass on? But, if we teach witnessing and discipleship as Jesus taught us it will be passed down from generation to generation just as it is biblically mandated.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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As we go

The word preach means to proclaim. The literal meaning is to harold, or to proclaim publicly. There are two types of preaching commanded in the bible, pastoral preaching, and gospel preaching. Although pastoral preaching can, and should, be done almost anywhere it is directed to the church for the edification of the church. Although gospel preaching is directed toward the lost, it too should hold a prominent place in the preaching ministry at the church.

Preaching the gospel within the church serves two great purposes. First at almost every church throughout the world there are almost certainly going to be lost people who attend the worship service. There is a high possibility that there may be lost church members that are active and involved. I know pastors, deacons, and Sunday School teachers who were saved as pastors, deacons, and Sunday School teachers.

Paul said in I Corinthians 15:1, 2, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” Paul writing to the church of Corinth said that there are some in the church that genuinely received the gospel and are saved and that there is at least a possibility that there are some who believed in vain and are not saved. Although it is not our job to judge, we must be aware that there is a great possibility that there are some in the church who believed in vain and are therefore lost. Therefore, the gospel should regularly be preached within the church.

When one asks the question, where should preaching take place, the majority of people, church and unchurched alike, will say within the church. And, clearly it should. However, the church is not the only place that gospel preaching should take place. We find in the  gospels Jesus preaching to the masses such as the sermon on the mount, we also find Jesus proclaiming the truth of God’s Word in homes such as Simon the Pharisee, and we even see Jesus sharing the gospel individually to Nicodemus.

Likewise, in Acts we find Peter preaching the gospel to the masses in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, Paul preaching the gospel to the masses in Synagogues and on Mars Hill, and Philip preaching the gospel to the cities in Samaria. We also see in Acts Peter proclaiming the gospel in Cornelius’s house where his whole household was saved and Philip individually shared the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch who accepted the message and was baptized.

When Jesus gave to us the great commission He said “go therefore.” The wording in the original language is, “as you go.” As you are on your journey of life, wherever you are and wherever you go, as you go, make disciples and teach them all that Jesus commanded them. The 1st century church took this command seriously. They started in Jerusalem and within 75 years of the birth of the cross they had taken the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest parts of the earth.

Jesus gave to us a great illustration of “go therefore” in the parable of the seed and the sower. (Matthew 13:1-23). We see one who is sowing seed everywhere as he goes. Some fell on the road, some fell on the stony ground, some fell in the thorns, and some fell in the good soil. As a farmer he would have been a very bad steward of the seed. However, Jesus said that the seed was the Word of God. Therefore, this seed sower was a faithful servant and a great steward of the Word of God. We are bad stewards of the Word of God when we choose not to sow them as we go.

God has clearly called every believer to the task of proclaiming or heralding the gospel as we go. The question we must ask ourselves is, am I going to be a faithful steward of the gospel seed so that some may fall in the good soil, take root, grow, and bear fruit of their own?

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Devotional

 

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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 gospelcontrary 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 beaccursed!” (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 April 7, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Beautiful Feet

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:15 NASB

           Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while they slip further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable toady in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?

We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, that Thom Rainer quoted, and many more like it, is that the church is not doing its job. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel message of Jesus. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “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.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intentions for His church to share the gospel are abundantly clear.

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 redemption 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 March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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In Pursuit of God’s Righteousness

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 NASB

In the previous chapter Jesus 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). Now we find here Jesus saying, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men.” However the emphasis is, “to be noticed by them.” If our heart is the applause and the approval of men then we have received our reward in full. What reward is that? The applause and the approval of men.

Clearly God wants us to live out a righteous life as a walking witness to His wondrous love and grace. However, we must ask ourselves, “Are we living a life that points other to Jesus or are we living a life that points others to ourselves?” If we are seeking glory for ourselves we dishonor God and have no reward. We must remember Lucifer was cast out of heaven for trying to steal God’s glory, and that God has clearly said, “I will not share My glory with another.” However, if we chose to live a life of righteousness in light of God’s mercy and grace for the purpose of pointing others to Him, our eternal reward will be great. Paul said in II Timothy 4:8, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

We must also remember that when we live a life in pursuit of God the world will often reject us and possibly persecute us. We do not intentionally try to stand in contrast to the world for the sake of provoking it, for that is another form of self-righteousness. In reality no one is attracted to self righteousness and everyone will reject it. It is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the Christian world today. We are to live a life in accordance to God’s standards. God’s ways are not our ways and therefore will contradict the ways of the world. I am a sinner saved by grace therefore the righteousness that I pursues is not my own, I have none; it is God’s, and God’s alone. God has called me to holiness because He is holy and I simply invite the world to join me in my pursuit of Him.  Will you join me?

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Prayer and Fasting

“And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 HCSB

Today in the Catholic tradition marks the first day of lent. Lent is recognized by Catholics all over the world by going to their churches and having an ash cross marked on their foreheads. This day is called Ash Wednesday. Lent is a forty day period of fasting that starts forty six days before Easter, symbolizing the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying. I am not a Catholic, nor do I participate in their traditions such as lent or Ash Wednesday. However, fasting is clearly expected of all Christians.

The bible does not give us a mandate to fast and pray for any certain length of time. The bible does however give us several examples of people praying and fasting. Ester fasted for three days, Israel fasted for seven days, Daniel fasted for three weeks, and Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted for forty days. Nor does the bible give us a prescribed method of fasting. We find in the bible absolute fasts, (no food or water), partial fasts, vegetable fasts, and even fasts from sexual relations. There are a multitude of examples in both the Old and New Testaments.

Fasting is clearly not a spiritual diet. It is for the sole purpose of seeking God for a singularly specific reason. It is a time of demonstration to God of how serious we are for the need in which we are praying and seeking God for. It is a time when we are willing to deny ourselves and seek God.

In this text of scripture we find a father who has a son that is demon possessed. The demon that has possessed him is trying to destroy him. While Jesus was up on the mountain the father brought his boy to the disciples for them to cast the demon out. Jesus had already given the disciples authority to cast demons out and they rejoiced that the demons were subject to them in Jesus name. (Luke 10:1-20). However, they could not cast this demon out. Jesus came down off of the mountain in the midst of their failure to cast the demon out of the boy. Jesus with no trouble at all cast the demon out. Later that night the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast this demon out. Jesus then said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Clearly in the New Testament church fasting and praying was a regular part of life. Not so much today is it? If have preached on fasting plenty of times only to be told by people who have been in church their whole lives that this was the first time they have heard a sermon on fasting. What a shame. Could it be that our prayers are not being answered because we sling shot quickie prayers to the throne of God thinking that is sufficient? Are we not willing to deny ourselves for the purpose of modern day fathers and mothers who stand at the feet of the church looking and longing for a move of God on behalf of their children of whom Satan and his demons are trying to destroy. Will we not fast for their sake or even the sake of our own children, churches, community, and nation? Or are we too consumed with us?

Jesus gave us very specific instructions for fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. Jesus said in this text, “When you fast”, as if it is an expectation from Him. Will you join me in praying and fasting for our children, churches, communities, and nation? They stand in great need. The good news is, we have a great God!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Reflcetions 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.

Let-There-Be-Light-1

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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