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A Clear Biblical Mandate

A Clear Biblical Mandate

Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer, the CEO of Lifeway, 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.”

Lifeway isn’t just a great book store, they are also an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention and collect data from all of the churches within the SBC. Therefore, the denomination he speaks of here is the Southern Baptist Convention. More recently he stated that 93-94% of what many SBC churches call church growth is from transfers and not conversions. That isn’t true church growth. That is simply taking fish out of one pond and putting them in another. He also states that only about 90% of SBC churches are intentionally evangelistic. How sad. The other sad reality is, the SBC’s statistics are better than most other denominations.

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while it slips further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable 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. It is the churches, and only the churches, responsibility to evangelize this lost world.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, and many more like it, show is that the church is not doing its job in evangelizing the lost. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel. 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 intention for His church to share the gospel is abundantly clear. Since the gospel, and only the gospel, is the power unto salvation, only the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform society. Don’t you think it’s time we start sharing it?

We can sit around and mope over our sad state, or we can get up and do something about it. I prefer the latter. For this reason, I am starting this series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism which I will post every Monday that will focus on practical ways we can personally share the gospel along with ways we can challenge our churches to get beyond the walls and into the community to be intentional in missions, ministry, and evangelism, for the sake of reaching this lost world with the gospel.

Stay tuned and go share the gospel. Feel free to share.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Concluding the Victory

Concluding the Victory

I always find it odd that Christians do not want to read or study the book of Revelation because it frightens them. Do they not know that Revelation declares the final victory for Christ and His children? At the same time it declares the final doom for Satan and those who follow him. Revelation 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Who is the “they” that overcame? The Christians. Who is the him they overcame? The dragon, Satan himself. What is the word of their testimony? The redemptive power of the blood of Christ. We must also understand that Jesus isn’t going to, someday, overcome Satan and the world, Jesus said in John 16:33 that He has already overcome the world and his children aren’t one day, in the sweet by and by, going to overcome, but they too, through Jesus, already overcame. I John 2:13 says, “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.”

As we look at the final part of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power on the world Jesus concluded with the Spirit convicting the world of Judgment. Jesus said in John 16:11, “Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” The ruler of this world is Satan, and as we see in this statement, he has been, past tense, judged. It’s a done deal. Satan’s judgment is sealed and he has been utterly defeated. I John 3:8 says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil,” and Colossians 2:15 says, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

Remember, this conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment is for the word, not the Christian. Though the Christian can be, and will be, convicted of sin and righteousness, the Christian cannot be judged. Why? Just as Satan’s judgment is sealed so is the Christians. The judgment for Satan is eternal damnation. Since Jesus took upon the penalty of death on the cross and bestowed upon us His righteousness, to those who receive Him, the judgment for the Christian is eternal paradise with God. The judgment for the world, those lost in their sins, will be sealed upon their death. If they die separated from God in their sin they will enter into eternal damnation along with Satan, however, if they repent, they are pardoned from their sins, by the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus and will be eternally saved. Jesus said in John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

The Holy Spirit will not only convict the sinner of his sins and his need for righteousness, but will also convict the sinner of the fact that he stands at enmity against a holy and righteous God because of his sins and is worthy of condemnation and eternal damnation. All who will be eternally damned to hell will first stand in front of the judgment seat of God. At that time, they will know God’s righteousness, and they will understand they are a sinner, and not a single person in hell will be there without knowing God was just for His judgment. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and of God’s righteousness I knew without a doubt that a was worthy of hell. Recognizing the grace and mercy of God I willingly, humbly, and excitedly accepted that grace, repented of my sin, and surrendered myself to the Lordship of Jesus. Apart from the Holy Spirits convicting power in my life, I would have never known, remained unrepentant, and continued to stand in condemnation. Praise God for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God for the victory we have in Christ. It’ baffles me that people would stay unrepentant when it’s clear that they are not only on a losing team, but have already lost, yet they have the opportunity, through Jesus, to repent and switch sides.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Convincing of Righteousness

Convincing of Righteousness

As we continue to look at how the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, we will now look at how the Holy Spirit will convict the world, the sinner, of God’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit cannot convict the sinner of his own righteousness, for he has none. Romans 3:10 states, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Not only is there none who is righteous, there is none who seek for righteousness. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” Apart from the Holy Spirit convicting the sinner of God’s righteousness he would be left abandoned to his own unrighteousness never to seek or long for God’s.

We should give God the highest praise that He has sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Apart from that conviction we would be hopeless. Jesus would be useless to us because apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot see, or know Jesus. Jesus said in John 16:10 that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness, “Because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me.” As stated earlier, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin by convicting us of Jesus Lordship. In the same way, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin by convincing us of Jesus righteousness, and allowing us to know we are utterly lost in hopeless unrighteousness on our own.

Jesus asked in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” The bible is clear that Jesus is God, and that He is righteous. He is perfectly righteous as is the Father and the Holy Spirit. God alone is righteous. Jesus proved His righteousness by going to be with the Father. Had Jesus not fulfilled all righteousness the Father would not have accepted Him. Yet, the Father did accept Him; therefore we clearly know that all righteousness has been fulfilled through Christ.

Jesus had nothing to prove by fulfilling all righteousness. He was perfectly righteous prior to taking upon the flesh and He remained so after He became flesh. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness, not for His own sake, but for ours; for we have none. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Since the wages of sin is death Jesus took upon the penalty for our sake. Since Jesus was sinless, death had no hold or claim on Him, therefore, Jesus arose from the grave defeating death. When one repents from their sin and turns to Jesus not only is their sins wiped away but God replaces the sin of the flesh with Jesus righteousness. Just as the Father would not have accepted Jesus apart from Jesus fulfilling all righteousness neither will He accept us apart from Jesus righteousness placed upon us through the acceptance of Jesus sacrifice to sin.

For this reason the Holy Spirit convinces the sinner, through His convicting power, first, that he has no righteousness of His own, second, that Jesus is perfectly righteousness, and third, that Jesus paid the price for our sins, will blot out our sins, and give to us His righteousness if we simply repent of our sins and turn to Jesus. Wow, that was a long sentence; but it is an amazing work that God offers to those who will receive. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the submission to the conviction, the sinner will remain in his sins, unrepentant, thinking that he is sufficient on his own when he clearly isn’t. Only God’s righteousness is sufficient, and only Jesus paid the price for sin where we can be redeemed and receive His righteousness. Truly, that is amazing grace!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Confirming the Son

Confirming the Son

After Jesus stated in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, He told us exactly why the Holy Spirit would do so. Jesus began this instruction in the next verse stating, “Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.” The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin because they do not believe in Jesus and He will start by confirming to the sinner that Jesus is Lord.

The first act of the Holy Spirits conviction is confirming the fact that Jesus is Lord. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” Does this mean that a lost person cannot speak the words, “Jesus is Lord?” Of course not. A lost person can certainly speak the words that Jesus is Lord just as a saved person can speak the words Jesus is accursed. However, those words will not represent the true conviction of the individual’s heart, nor will it represent the direction of the individual’s life.

Paul made this a little clearer in Romans 10:9-10 when he wrote starting in verse 9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit confirming to the sinner that Jesus truly is Lord they would never truly confess such a statement, and if they do, it will be a lie. However, once the Holy Spirit has brought about confirmation to the sinner that Jesus is Lord through His convicting power the sinner will then repent and confess Jesus as Lord. Paul then writes in verse 10, “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” The only reason the sinner has confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord is because the Holy Spirit has brought about confirmation of this fact within his heart through His convicting power.

Once Jesus has been confirmed as Lord the sinner will naturally repent from His sins and willingly, and joyfully, submit to Jesus’ lordship. One who has never repented of their sins may have been convicted of the fact that Jesus is Lord, but they chose to reject the conviction and never allowed it to truly bring confirmation within their lives. Since Jesus isn’t confirmed as Lord, they have no heart or desire to repent of their sins and live for Him.

Only after one repents of their sins and turns to Jesus can he come into agreement with Paul when he gave his testimony stating, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (II Timothy 1:12). Oh, how sweet to have the confirming conviction that Jesus is Lord and know that you know. Do you know?

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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A New Nature

A New Nature

As clearly as the bible teaches that the unregenerate person has a nature of wrath and is led by, lied to, and blinded by Satan, the bible teaches that once one repents and receives Christ he is a new creature in Christ; he has died to the old nature and come alive to Christ and is given a new nature. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Once the sinner has repented and given his life over to Christ he is transformed from a nature of wrath to a nature of God. His nature is transformed because his position has been changed from being a man of the world to a man of God. Formerly, according to Ephesians 2:2, he walked, “according to the course of this world.” But now that his position has been changed, he is seated with Jesus in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6).

Due to his change of position a transformation has taken place in his spirit where he has received the Spirit of God and his spirit has been lifted up into heaven residing with Christ. For this reason he is in Christ and Christ is in him. I John 4:13 says, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Since his position has changed he is never alone. The Holy Spirit is now at work in his life teaching him, leading him, and transforming him from glory to glory.

Ephesians 2:2 also tells us that he formerly walked in accordance to the, “prince of the power of the air.” Now he is in the hands of God as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” He is no longer being influenced by Satan. He is now being led by God. Just as his position has changed, his allegiance has changed. Jesus is now his Lord. His allegiance is now to walk in the good works of God for the glory of God.  (Ephesians 2:10).

Just as he once was by nature a child of wrath, he is now a child of God. Since his nature has changed he is no longer a sinner. Romans 6:6-7 says,  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” This does not at all mean that the Christian cannot sin. As we see clearly in Romans 7 there is a constant battle between the flesh and the Spirit. What this means is that he is now freed from the hold and bondage sin had on his life. Sin no longer has power over him. God has power over him. He is now free. Therefore, he is to consider himself dead to sin and alive to Christ. (Romans 6:11).

Since he no longer has a nature of sin he has been declared as righteous. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This righteousness is not of his own accord but from his new position, his new allegiance, and his new nature that comes through his faith connection with Christ. Jesus made this possible on the cross through the shedding of His blood. He allows God to apply this righteousness to his life by his faith in Christ.

A child with a nature of wrath will live in that nature of wrath living in the lusts of his flesh and mind, therefore, living in sin. His nature has changed. Therefore, for him to live in sin is unnatural. The one who is a child of wrath will walk in accordance to the prince of the power of the air. His allegiance has changed. He now walks in accordance to God as Lord of his life. Anything else would be unnatural. His focus is no longer on the course of this world, for, he is now setting his mind on the things above. For him to be concerned with the affairs of the world would be unnatural.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Satan is a Liar

Satan is a Liar

As an active witness for the Lord we must remember two great truths, first God’s word is always true, second Satan is always a liar. From the beginning of time Satan the liar has tried to disprove God’s word. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden giving them the freedom to eat of every tree in the garden with one exception. God said to Adam in Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Eve knew the command and the warning of God; however, Satan came with his lies to convince her that God was holding out on her. Satan the liar tri

ed to convince Eve that God was the liar. He said to her in Genesis 3:4, “You surly will not die.” He directly contradicted God. We know the rest of the story; therefore, we know who tells the truth and who the liar is. Jesus Himself said of Satan in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Satan’s tactics have not changed. He will first try to convince people through his lies that God’s word is not true. If he cannot succeed in this tactic he will then try to twist and warp God’s word removing the truths of God with lies that Paul calls, “doctrines of demons.” (I Timothy 4:1). God’s word time and again warns us of those who proclaim these lies of Satan. The bible calls them false prophets.

When dealing with these false prophets we must remember our truths, God’s word is always true and Satan is always a liar. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Satan is the author of the lie; the false prophets are simply believers of and proclaimers of the lie. Does this make them innocent? Of course not. This simply reminds us of the essence of our battle. It is a spiritual battle with spiritual implications rather than a physical battle. Our struggle is against Satan and his demons, not his false prophets. God’s heart is to win over those who have believed the lie. Not to destroy them. If they choose not to repent from the lie, the lie will destroy them.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” In other words, just because they look and act Christian doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. We need to listen to what they are proclaiming and ask ourselves, “Does it line up with the consistency of scripture?” In John’s warning of false prophets he tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1). How do we try or test these false prophets to see if they are wolves in sheep’s clothing? With the Word of God! Does their message line up with God’s word or does it directly contradict it?

Again, remember our truths, God’s word is always true, and Satan is always a liar. In the fact that God’s word is always true, God’s word never contradicts itself. One extreme of the lies of Satan is that one must do good works and deeds in order to be saved. Satan will lie to them telling them that they have to earn their salvation by the works that they do. This clearly is a contradiction of Satan. Scripture after scripture tells us that we are saved by faith and not of works.(John 3:16, Romans 3:22, 3:24, 3:26, 3:28-30, 4:3, 4:5, 4:11, 4:16, 5:1, 5:9, 9:30, 9:33, 10:4, 10:9-10, 11:6, Galatians 2:16, 2:21, 3:5-6, 3:8, 3:14, 3:22, 3:24, Ephesians 1:13, 2:8, Philippians 3:9, I Timothy 1:16). Titus 3:5 tells us that we are not even saved by acts of righteousness. The clear consistent teaching of God’s word is that we are saved by faith. Faith plus anything equals nothing.

The other extreme in Satan’s deception is that God is okay with sin when the consistency of God’s word says He clearly is not. Satan will lie and tell people that they can live in sin and be in right relationship with God. However, I John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Satan will even go so far as to try and redefine what sin is and is not. However, God’s word is clear as to what sin is and is not.

Paul said in II Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” I have no doubt that this time has come and that this is the day that we are living in. As faithful stewards of God’s word we must stand firm on the truths of God’s word. We are the light bearers of the truth. If we stop bearing that truth and cower down to the masses the world will live hopelessly in the dark. If we have believed something that we find directly contradicts God’s word we must repent and line ourselves up with God’s truths.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Supremely Selfish

Supremely Selfish

Paul said of the unregenerate man in Ephesians 2:3 that they live in the lust of their flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind. In this description we find one who is supremely selfish. They are living a life of self gratification with little or no thought of God’s will for their life. They are only concerned with what pleases and benefits them.

In II Timothy 3:1-4 Paul gives a graphic description of the heart of man in the last days, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” He began this description of the heart of man as being lovers of self and ended the description as these men being lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Clearly this is the culture of which we currently live.

We live in a violent culture, a culture of partisanship, a culture of splits, separations, and stalemates, a culture of tolerance so long as you agree with me, and a culture of throwing a fit until I get my way. James 4:1-2 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”

This is the heart of the man of flesh; the unregenerate man. Unfortunately, the church so often appeases this fleshly selfishness rather than opposes it and calling it into repentance. They appease it with their seeker sensitive services in hopes that the sinner will never be uncomfortable. Did God Himself not create our bodies to have pain and fever alerting us that something is wrong? Pain and fever isn’t comfortable. That was intentional by God’s design. A sinner should always feel welcome in church but never comfortable.

When one reads the sermon Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 2 one can hardly say his intention was to make them comfortable. His intention was clear. It was to make them aware of their selfish motives that led to their sin resulting in them being in hostility towards their creator. His intention was for their hearts to be pierced with the truth of God’s word leading them to ask, “Brethren, what shall we do?” This question then led to the conclusion, “repent.”

The gospel of the selfish man tells us to come to Jesus to get healthy, wealthy and prosperous. The gospel of Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). Are there benefits in following Jesus? Absolutely! However, we must “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). If our heart is what we can get out of God rather than God Himself we stand in need of repentance of our selfishness and rebellion towards God.             Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4). In Matthew 12:40 Jesus told them what the sign of Jonah was, “For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In other words Jesus was telling us that the only sign we need is the gospel which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Our only need is Jesus; anything else is selfish.

Jesus said repeatedly throughout the gospels to deny ourselves and to put ourselves in last place. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” Then He said, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11).

Selfishness is sin. It is a mindset of the fleshly man. It is the sin that divides, splits, stagnates, and segregates communities and churches alike; it is the sin that destroys marriages, the sin that neglects the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of a child, and the sin that causes the world to be at war within itself. It must not be appeased. It must be called into repentance whether in our hearts or the hearts of our hearers.

It is Jesus of whom the bible calls us to have the mind of. It is Jesus who showed the ultimate act of selflessness “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8). The man of the flesh can never be a man of God until he becomes likeminded with Paul where he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” This is the message of which we live. This is the message of which we preach.

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

 

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Understanding the Lost

Understanding the Lost

Naturally, everyone is an individual, therefore everyone is unique. They have different cultures, religious influences, and social influences. Members of the same family can often be vastly different from the other. However, we must keep in mind that we are not focusing on the flesh. The battle we are waging war against is a spiritual battle. Since this is a spiritual battle we can better understand the one who is not led by the Sprit of God, the lost person, but led by the god of this world who is Satan.

Ephesians 2:1-3 gives us the perfect portrait of the one who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

Paul says that they are dead in their trespasses and sins. They are dead because of their sins. They are spiritually dead because their sins spiritually separated them from a holy God. They are walking according to the course of this world rather than by the Spirit of God. They are free moral agents able to willingly choose between right and wrong. God has given to the Jews the law but all men have been given the law of conscious. Romans 2:15 says, “They show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” Although they have the ability to choose what is right they are by nature children of wrath and will inevitably rebel against God since they do not have the Spirit of God to guide them. They are spiritually dead.

Since they are in rebellion against God they not only walk in accordance to the world but also in accordance to the prince of the power of the air. This prince of the power of the air is none other than Satan himself. Satan cannot force anyone to follow him. However, when one makes the choice to rebel against God he has then made the choice to follow Satan. They may disagree with this truth but the bible is clear, they are now on his side and he is now working in their lives manipulating them for his purposes. Paul said they are “of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

To counter act their rebellion we must firmly proclaim God’s righteous standards that stand in direct contradiction to their fleshly ways. All men will admit that they are sinners. However, all men do not understand that they are in rebellion against a holy God and therefore stand guilty and condemned before Him. James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” As we proclaim the righteous standards of God we must also proclaim the fact that rebellion against God makes one His enemy. There is no neutral ground. You are either for Him or against Him. Those who choose to live for Him will receive His grace while those who choose to rebel against Him will receive His wrath. God’s will is for all to choose His grace. However, He is a just God and must punish unrepentant and un-atoned for sin.

As those who are in Christ we need to stay mindful that Paul said, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh.” We must remember that we to were once in this unregenerate state of rebellion against God. We need to continually remind ourselves that it is only by the grace of God that we were saved and brought out of death and into life. With this in mind we realize that we are no better than they. We are only better off than them because we have accepted the grace of God. “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). Our boasting should only be found in the grace of God provided through the cross of Christ. As a result we should be busy boasting among those who are perishing so they too will be drawn to the grace of God; drawn out of death and into life.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Futility of Mind

Futility of Mind

Ephesians 4:17 says, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.” Normally when the bible references Gentiles it speaks of those who are not Jews. Since the Church of Ephesus was a mostly Gentile church and not an exclusively Jewish church this is obviously not the case. Here, Paul is giving instructions not to walk as a Gentile indicating that their walk is one like a non believer. In this text Paul is giving a clear distinction between the believers walk and the non believers walk.

In this verse Paul says that the Gentiles walk in the futility of their mind. The word futile literally means pointless. The wording here, futility of mind, is the best translation but I do love how the New Living Translation states it as it says, “For they are hopelessly confused.” Since the futility is of their mind their thoughts are therefore pointless and have no purpose or value. They are abandoned to a pointless word and humanistic view.

The next verse tells us why their mind is futile as it states, “being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18). This verse literally states that in their mind the lights are off. Now we need to remember, this is speaking of the spiritual mind. There are obviously many extraordinarily intelligent people who are not believers in Jesus Christ. However, all non believer are spiritually in the dark; spiritually, they are dim-witted. Why? Because they are “excluded from the life of God.” They are not excluded from the life of God because God doesn’t want them. God wanted them enough to send His Son to the cross to die for them. They are excluded because of the “hardness of their heart.” The hardness of their heart causes them to remain in ignorance to God and His kingdom; therefore, they are excluded; excluded by their own choice.

Because of this ignorance, darkness, and futility of mind due to their exclusion from God verse 19 says, “and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” They have become callous, or hardened so they have no shame, lost all sense of shame, cast off all feeling, or given themselves over as other translations state it. What have they become hardened to or given themselves over to? Sin. They stand in direct contrast to God, and they could care less. They are perfectly happy in their sin. Why? Because their heart is hardened towards God and they are ignorant of Him and His ways because they have no part in Him; they are excluded.

To put it simply, Paul is saying, don’t be like that. Again, we see the call to repent. We once were all like that, but if you know Him, God called you out of the futility of mind and included you in Him. Paul then writes in verses 20-21, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him.” We didn’t learn Christ in this way, in other words, come to Him or come to know Him. When we discovered His grace we repented from the darkness and turned to the light.

Paul also said that they have not been “taught in Him in this way.” As a non believer we are taught the gospel and we choose to believe it or reject it. As a believer we are still taught. Now, we are taught how to walk in God. However, we can’t walk in God if we are excluded from Him. We must first turn to Him. Then, and only then, are we teachable. Then, and only then, are we able to walk in Him. As believers, we are taught by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are taught by studying the Word of God on our own and by allowing others who are called by God to teach us the Word of God.

Paul continued the theme of repentance in verses 22-24 as he stated, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Again, true biblical repentance isn’t just stopping the sin in your life. Apart from Jesus you can’t. True biblical repentance is turning away from sin and turning to Jesus. Anything else is futility of mind-pointless.

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

 

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There is a Way that Seems Right, But You are Wrong!

There is a Way that Seems Right, But You are Wrong!

Some say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I think it’s much more difficult to teach a stubborn man new thoughts. The mind of man is stubborn indeed. If a man, or woman for that matter, thinks they are right about any given subject you cannot reason with them. With the stubbornness of man you can clearly show them which way the water is flowing in the stream, but, they will argue with you the opposite. You can even give evidence by throwing a twig into the stream and telling them to watch which way it flows, but, they are still unconvinced. The stubbornness of man is indeed great. The more educated with the ways of the world a man is the more difficult it is to convince them of the ways of God. Their mind is made up and they simply will not be confused with facts. This is why praying for the lost is so important.

I am also thoroughly convinced that the stubbornness of man is the most destructive force on earth. We often try to blame the devil for our wows but the truth is, most of our wows are on account of our own stubbornness. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to God as he refused to submit to the authority and power of God by not releasing the Hebrews. This stubbornness led to his own demise. It is truly mind boggling to think of how many individuals, families, churches, communities, cultures, and countries have suffered from the same form of stubbornness?

Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The way of man might seem right, reasonable, and rational but it will ultimately ruin them. For this reason, Romans 12:2 tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The ways of the world, the thought of man, will destroy us, but, the ways of God will always bless us. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

This is the very reason that God tells us to repent. He doesn’t tell us to repent because He doesn’t want us to have fun or is trying to hold out on us. He tells us to repent because He loves us and He knows what is best for us. Just as the fire may look beautiful and intriguing to the child, the loving parent tells the child not to play by the fire because they know the fire will burn them and potentially kill them. For this reason we should always turn to and trust in God’s ways while turning away from our own. Our own ways have been tainted by worldly philosophy that is deadly and destructive.

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Therefore, let us not be fools and let us repent of our own ways. Let’s be wise and seek God’s.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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