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Resurrecting a Dead Church

Resurrecting a Dead Church

Hallelujah! Though there are still several steps to go through before it is in print, I have finished writing my latest book. It is called, Resurrecting a Dead Church. Its purpose is to spark a revival in our dead and dying churches and to help strengthen our living churches. I also believe it will be profitable in sparking reveal in one’s personal life. To help whet your appetite, I thought I would share a part of its introduction, which will further explain its purpose. I also ask that you would pray for God to use it for its stated purpose-revival.

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“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:1-6 NASB

            Being the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament, Revelation has often struck fear in the hearts of many with its visions of judgments, dragons, and beasts. Though it speaks of these things with the intent of bringing repentance to the unbeliever, its other purpose was to encourage the first-century church. Though the majority of The Book of Revelation is about an awful and truly fearful future tribulation that will impact the whole world, one of its main purposes is to be a source of strength and encouragement to the church in times of trouble.

The first-century church experienced some of the fiercest persecution the Christian church has ever seen. The Apostle John, who introduced himself in Revelation 1:9 as, “Your brother and fellow partaker in tribulation,” was on a small island called Patmos as a form of persecution in exile because of “the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.” Though he was a fellow partaker of this tribulation, he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day worshiping the very one of whom he was suffering for, His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While in the Spirit on the Lords day, John heard behind him a loud voice as demanding as the sound of a trumpet. When he turned to see whose voice it was, he saw Jesus, but in a way, he’d never seen Him before. He saw the revealed Christ. John gives the title to Revelation in Revelation 1:1. It is, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” A revelation is an unveiling. Imagine being at an art exhibit. The newest exhibit is before the audience ready to be revealed, but it has a veil over it hiding what’s beneath. Everyone knows that it is there, but they have yet to see its beauty. It is still vailed. Once everyone’s attention has been directed to the exhibit, the vail will be removed, and all will gasp at its beauty.

The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in all of His glory and splendor unveiled for all to see. When Jesus returns, He will not return as the suffering servant. Rather, He will return as the conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What greater source of encouragement is there to a persecuted church than knowing when their Lord returns every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord? Even John, the beloved disciple, fell at Jesus’ feet as a dead man when he saw Jesus in His unveiled state.

Just before John turned to see Jesus, he heard Him say, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11). These were seven churches that existed in John’s day that Jesus had an individual and specific message. There were obviously more than seven churches that existed at this time which was toward the end of the first century. More than likely, most, if not all, of these churches ended up with their own copy of Revelation. Though it wasn’t directly addressed to them, no doubt each church took heed to the message. At the same time, as with all of scripture, the messages Jesus gave to the seven churches are lessons we can, and should, learn from today knowing that we still face these issues.

Jesus wanted these churches to know who He was. He addressed each church individually and disclosed to each church a part of His revelation of Himself that they specifically needed to know. Not only did Jesus want the churches to know who He was, He also wanted them to know that He knew who they were as well. He told the church of Sardis, “I know your deeds.” (Revelation 3:1). When John saw Jesus, he saw Him in the middle of the seven golden lampstands. In Revelation 1:20, Jesus told John that the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches. Jesus is amid His church, and He knows what’s going on. This truth should both encourage us amid trials and convict us amid disobedience.

Jesus had something against all but two of His churches. He had nothing negative to say to the churches of Smyrna or Philadelphia. To all but two of the churches Jesus also had words of praise. However, to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea Jesus had nothing good to say. To the church of Sardis Jesus said, “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1). Is there anything positive that Jesus can say to a dead church? Of course not. Their message from Jesus was one of the need to repent.

They had a reputation, a name, of being alive, but they were dead. They were dead but didn’t know they were dead. Only Jesus knew they were dead. Everyone else thought the church of Sardis was alive and active. Unless a church is heretical or blasphemous, it isn’t our place to try and figure out who the dead church is. That is not the purpose of this book. The purpose of this book is to make the church look within itself and seek the council of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to figure out where they are personally. It is a frightening thing to think that our church, though we think it is alive, can truly be dead and other churches, though we think are alive and vibrant, are truly dead.

Well, that’s not very encouraging now, is it? Not if we stop here. Fortunately, Jesus gave the church of Sardis advice to take ahold of if they wanted to live again. He gave them hope. Can a church be resurrected? Can a man be resurrected? Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” So, let’s stop asking foolish questions and get on with the task at hand, which is seeing our churches resurrected through walking by faith and living in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Though we wouldn’t normally attribute resurrection to a church if a church is dead and comes to life again what greater word is there? Most of the time we would call this revival or renewal. I will mostly use the word revival in this book. Regardless of what you call it, the point is clear, to those who place their faith in Jesus, there is resurrection and life-restoring power readily available. No doubt, this is clearly the will of Jesus for His church. That’s why He advised the church of Sardis to repent. His heart was to see them come to life again and thrive. So, take courage. If your church is dead or dying, know that through faith and obedience in Jesus, it can not only live again, it can thrive.

As previously stated, statistics today are grim and outright depressing. Baptisms, attendance, service, commitment, and giving are all at all-time lows. Many of our church have already closed their doors never to open again while many are on the verge. Countless churches are simply in a state of existence with no vision or focus. Many of them have been stuck in this rut for decades. Many of them are in a rut and don’t know it. This isn’t what God had planned for His church. Something needs to change; and soon. So, what do we do? Where do we turn? Who will show us how to climb out of this rut? Jesus!

Jesus gave the church of Sardis five commands that if acted upon would turn their church around. It would bring revival and resurrection power breathing new life into their dead church. In this book, I am going to take a close look at these five commands so we can learn from them and apply them to our churches today. No doubt, these are timeless principle that is still able to breathe new life into our dead churches in our day. Even if your church isn’t dead, these are principles every church should live by to ensure its continued vitality.

If a church can be thought of as alive by all yet considered dead by Jesus, how can we genuinely know a dead church from one that is alive? We will no doubt find the answer by taking an in-depth look at the letter Jesus gave to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. There, we will see why Jesus considered Sardis a dead church, though they had a reputation of being alive. By doing this, we will see through the eyes of Jesus, rather than the eyes of the world, what a dead church looks like and more importantly, through the instruction of Jesus, how to be a vibrant living church that honors Jesus and lives in obedience to Him.

A healthy vibrant church should be of the utmost importance to every Christian. If our churches are healthy, we will have a heart to raise the spiritual atmosphere of our church and our world, and we will send out workers into the field with the power of the gospel reaping a great harvest of the lost. Once the lost are saved, they will bring those new believers into a healthy church to be properly discipled where in turn they will be sent out as workers for the kingdom as well. Every Christian personally benefits from a healthy church, as do our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. At the same time, everyone suffers from unhealthy churches. Satan’s kingdom thrives when our churches are dead and ineffective. Our passion should be to see our churches healthy, vibrant, and full of life. Then, and only then, will we honor Jesus, and for the glory of God, have a true, lasting, and eternal impact upon our world.

A good doctor will look at the symptoms of their patient to know what type of sickness they have so they can properly treat them. In the same way, we need to look at the symptoms of an unhealthy church to know what it needs. The purpose of this isn’t to be grim or negative. The ultimate purpose is to bring a restoration of life and good health. Fortunately for us, we can learn from the prescription of life and good health that Jesus gave to the church of Sardis so our churches can live again and be healthy.

Jesus told John in Revelation 1:17-18, “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Immediately after telling John this He told John, “Therefore write.” Jesus wanted His churches to know that He, and He alone, has authority over life and death. There is nothing a doctor can do for those who have died but praise God; Jesus is more than able.

Rusty Kuhn

www.rustykuhn.com 

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2019 in Bible Study, Book, Uncategorized

 

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One of the Main Functions of the Church

One of the Main Functions of the Church

One of the Main Functions of the Church

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.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

It’s time that I get back to writing. It’s been three years since I was diagnosed with cancer and I have written very little since. Starting next week I will start posting every Monday morning a series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism. They will focus on my years of experience as a pastor, a church planter, and an evangelist. I will write about things that I’ve seen work well, and not so well. I will give practical advice and results, good and bad, of my past labors along with what I’ve seen others do. This will be geared toward pastors, churches and lay leaders who have a heart for missions, ministry, and evangelism. My prayer is that it will motivate our churches to get out beyond their walls and into the field for the purpose of reaping a great harvest. I don’t claim to be the best writer, or even good writer, nor do I claim to have the best advice, I simply want to share my passion and pray that it will be contagious. So, stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Follow Me

             Repentance means to turn away from something. It is making a u-turn, going the opposite direction from where you were going. Repenting from sin is turning away from the sin. Biblical repentance not only requires us to turn from sin, it calls us to turn to Jesus. Repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus says, “Follow Me.”

Biblical faith in Jesus isn’t just believing facts about Jesus it is also following Him. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Although Satan probably won’t admit it, he believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He was there. He saw it. Too many people today have a Christmas and Easter type of faith. They believe the facts of Christ but have never committed their lives to following Him. I am a huge Mustang fan. For this reason I know all kinds of facts about men who influenced Mustangs like, Lee Iacocca, Carroll Shelby, and Steve Saleen. Yet, I have never met any of them. I have never had a personal relationship with them. I do however know Jesus, because I have committed myself to following Him.

Romans 10:9 tells us, “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.” Clearly we need to believe the facts about Jesus. God did raise Him from the dead and that should be our foundation of faith. However, that alone isn’t good enough. Along with our foundation of faith we are to confess Jesus as Lord. This is our statement of faith. If Jesus is Lord over our lives we follow Him every day in every way.

In the tenth chapter of Mark we find one who obviously had great respect for Jesus. He came to Jesus knelt before Him and called Him “good teacher.”  He inquired of Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him that he needed to keep the law. The young man quickly responded to Jesus that he has kept the law since his youth. Jesus then told him to go sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and follow me. Jesus was showing him that he hasn’t really kept the law. Although he had respect for Jesus, he was unwilling to obey Jesus and unwilling to follow Him. Many people in our world today have great respect for Jesus, yet they too are unwilling to obey Him and follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” Notice that He said “you must.” The requirement for following Jesus is denying yourself and taking up your cross. We need to remember that the cross was an instrument of death. It was the form of execution for the day. In other words Jesus is saying if we are going to follow Him we must die to self and follow Him. We need to have more than just respect for Jesus. We must have total surrender; a surrender that leads to denying ourselves and obedient service of Him. Jesus said we must.

While sharing the gospel with the lost we must make it abundantly clear that if they chose to accept Christ as their savior and Lord they are entering into a lifetime commitment. We need to make it clear that this walk should impact and influence every area of their lives. We have way too many Sunday-go-to-meetin Christians in our society who don’t mind going to church on Sunday morning but won’t allow Jesus to impact their daily lives.

We need to clearly communicate the fact that entering into a relationship with Jesus is a onetime decision. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” At the same time we need to clearly communicate the fact that following Jesus is a commitment that is renewed daily. Paul also said in I Corinthians 15:31, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

take up cross

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Repentance Required

              After the resurrection of Jesus He spent forty day’s with His disciples opening their eyes to the scriptures teaching them the reason He came so they could proclaim the gospel to all creation. Jesus told them that one of the requirements of accepting the gospel message was repentance from sin. Jesus said in Luke 24:47-47, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What did Jesus mean when He said “repentance for forgiveness of sin?” When we believe on Jesus we believe on all of who He is, all of what He has done, and all of what He has taught. Jesus preached repentance of sin and holy living. True faith in Christ requires repentance from sin, for we believe what he taught.

After Peter preached the first gospel message just after he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit the crowd was pierced to the heart and asked Peter what shall we do. They wanted to know how they were to respond to the gospel. Peter said they needed to repent. (Acts 2:38).

Sin hinders our relationship with God. It was our sins that Jesus went to the cross to pay for. When we chose not to repent we are telling God that we are not truly interested in a relationship with Him and that we would rather live our lives our own way through our own strength and wisdom. Make no mistake people who refuse to repent refuse relationship and fellowship with God. John said in I John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In other words, if we say we are walking with God yet we are living in open rebellious unrepented sin we are liars. However, I John 1:6 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We walk in the light when we have repented of our sin and received the cleansing power of the blood of Christ that paid for our sin.

Paul went so far as to tell us not to associate with any “so-called” believer who is unrepented and living in sin. He said not to even eat with such a one. (I Corinthians 5:11). Associating with an unrepented individual only gives them a false since of salvation. If there is no repentance, there is no salvation.

In the next chapter he gives a non-comprehensive list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. In I Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Does this mean that anyone who has ever been drunk or stolen anything will not be saved? Of course not. Paul is declaring their identity. This is who they are and how they live. This is the identifying mark of their lives. They are identified as a drunkard or a thief or whatever the life of sin is that they have not repented of. Paul went on to say in the next verse, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Such were some of you, but not anymore, for they had repented and were washed with the blood of Christ. The Christians identity is found in Christ-not sin.

Does this mean that those who slip into sin from time to time are not saved? Galatians 2:11 tells us that Paul opposed Peter to his face because he stood condemned. Peter was being a hypocrite acting one way in front of the gentiles and another way in front of the Jews. Was he condemned to hell for his hypocrisy? Of course not. Peter was very much a saved man that loved Jesus with his whole heart. He was eventually martyred for his faith. He however, slipped into sin and needed someone like Paul to help set him straight. Those who are indentified with sin due to their lack of repentance are not saved. Christians can and will slip into sin from time to time. They however, will be convicted of their sin and repent. An unsaved person however, will live in sin with absolutely no conviction or remorse and be perfectly happy it.

When we share our faith with sinners we must preach repentance. A gospel proclaimed without repentance is no gospel at all. We are setting the hearer up for failure if we do not proclaim the need to repent. Not preaching repentance is as foolish as a patient going to see a doctor for a chronic cough and the doctor not wanting to pry into the patient’s personal life by telling him he needs to stop smoking and simply gives him cough syrup instead. Smoking is clearly the root of his problem, just as sin is the root of our separation from God.

When preaching repentance we must do so with the love and compaction of Christ. While preaching repentance we must have a heart of love desiring the sinner to turn from his sin and trust in Jesus. God will not bless the efforts of the self righteous who simply want to condemn the sinner for his sin. We must get the log out of our eye before we can get the spec out of others. Remember, such were some of us. We once were sinners in need of salvation. Who are we to condemn others for their sins? We repented and received grace. This too should be our heart. It most certainly is Gods.  For this reason out of an act of love and compassion knowing the destructive power of sin, we preach repentance.

true_repentance

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Not Everyone Who Say’s to Me Lord, Lord.

Let’s be clear, not everyone who calls himself a Christian is truly a Christian. One of the most freighting statements that Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 7:21-23 where He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform manymiracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

First Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord. Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.” These are people who are calling Jesus Lord. Then Jesus said that they are doing works in His name. Why would these people not be saved? Jesus gave us a better understanding of why these people are not truly disciples of Jesus when He quoted the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 15:8, “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.”

Much like the Pharisees who honored God with their lips they don’t truly know God or follow Him with their heart. They are too consumed in the accomplishment of self to serve God. They are more interested in the rules and rituals of religion than they are with seeking a relationship with the Lord. They are more concerned with the pat on the back than they are with the praise of the Lord. They are more in love with the idea of heaven than they are with the King of Glory and are more interested in building their kingdom than His. Their actions point to self rather than the Savior therefore, they honor Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. Jesus said that they “practice lawlessness.” Where is your heart today?

Jesus said that He will say to these people on the day of judgment, “I never knew you.” Not that He once knew them and they slipped away but, He never knew them, therefore, they never truly knew Him. Since their heart was set on serving self rather than the savior they never knew Jesus nor served Him. They never had a genuine relationship with Jesus.

Another frightening statement that Jesus made in this scripture was, “many will say to me Lord, Lord,” Many! Just before Jesus made this statement He said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mathew 7:13-14.) According to Jesus only a few will be saved while many reject Him and are lost.

It is abundantly clear that the people out in the world who live lives in absolute rebellion against God are not saved. However, Jesus is now telling us that there are many who are serving in ministries that are not saved; teachers, deacons, pastors, and the faithful who sit in the pew week after week; yes, even tithers. They look Christian, they act Christian, they talk Christian, they do Christian acts, but Jesus said their walk is not genuine. There is no doubt that they think their walk is genuine. However, they fall under the category of people who believed in vain. (I Corinthians 15:1.)

Let me give a strong warning here. It is not our job to sit on the judgment seat and try to figure out who these folks are. Remember, they look and act Christian and because they are trying to be saved by their works and religion rather than a genuine relationship with Jesus they may act more Christian than some of the genuine Christians sitting in the pews. If God opened our eyes to the spiritual realm and allowed us to see who was saved and who wasn’t we would more than likely be astounded.

Our job is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember the seed sewer? We are to be like him sewing seed everywhere we go. This is one of the reasons the gospel should regularly be preached in the church. Along with our seed sewing we pray for the power of God to draw people unto salvation. God knows their heart. We don’t. I pray for every service that God would not allow one lost soul to leave without knowing Him. If we do our part, God will be faithful to do His part.

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Born Again

In the third chapter of the book of John we see a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night seeking answers as to who He was. Nicodemus recognized Jesus was from God but wanted to know more. Jesus then startled Nicodemus with a statement he had difficulty understanding. Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus not understanding Jesus statement asked in the next verse, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus then answered in verses five and six, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

At first Jesus said unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then Jesus said, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. I believe Jesus was basically making the same statement, but rewording it a little for Nicodemus to better understand.

If we are alive today we were delivered from the water from the flesh as flesh. In other words we were conceived and formed into flesh in our mother’s womb and thus we were born. If we are born again we have been born of the Spirit of God. If we are not born of the Spirit of God we cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.

The question that is now before us is, “How do I become born again?” The simple answer is, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior by believing in who He is and the works He has done on the cross to purchase redemption. By grace we are saved by faith and not by works. (Ephesians 2:9-10).

Paul said in Romans 5:20, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” In other words, regardless of how much sin we have had in our lives, God has more grace. Therefore, all our sins, regardless of how much, will be washed away if we place our faith in Jesus.

Paul then asks in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Since God has more grace than we have sin should we just keep on sinning so God’s grace can increase? If we ever see yelling in writing we see it in Romans 6:2 when Paul said, “May it never be!” He then goes on to explain through the remainder of this chapter that those who are in Christ are dead to sin. They have died and have been buried with Christ.

For one to be born again he must first die; not physically but spiritually. One must die to his flesh, his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his ways, his ideas, his thoughts, and basically everything that has made him, him. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus said that the requirement of following Him was denying yourself and taking up your cross. Remember that the cross is an instrument of death.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul’s hopes, dreams, goals, ways, ideas, thoughts, and everything that made Paul, Paul was no longer about him, for he denied himself, it was about Jesus. He was born again. He died to Paul and came alive to Jesus. How did he do this? He explained how in the second part of Galatians 2:20 where he wrote, “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.”

Far too many people have a fire insurance type of faith. They don’t want to go to hell but they don’t want to live for Jesus either. They are unwilling to turn from their sinful, fleshly, self-centered, and self-serving ways to truly live for Jesus. Remember, Jesus said, unless you are born again you cannot see, nor enter, the kingdom of Heaven.

To be born again we must die to the flesh and come alive to Jesus. Paul saw the love that Jesus had for him and the actions of the cross that demonstrated His love. With this in mind Paul said in Colossians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Paul realized that he, Paul, was not worthy to live for, but Christ was more than worthy.

Have you been born again? Jesus died for you to give you life. He gave up all so you could have all; all that matters anyway. Have you died to you and come alive to Jesus, or do you simply have a fire insurance policy? Romans 8:12-13 says, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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