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Living Stones

Living Stones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Gospel Must be Communicated

The Gospel Must be Communicated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Turning Condemnation into Compassion

Turning Condemnation into Compassion

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39 NASB

In the 23rd chapter of Mathew Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and wickedness. He boldly proclaimed truth to them by exposing their wicked ways. While exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus pronounced eight wows warning them of their impending doom for their wicked ways.

Jesus told them of their wicked intentions to kill the prophets that He would send. Jesus was also fully aware of the fact that they wanted to kill Him, and eventually would. Jesus knew that Israel would soon turn on Him and be hostile to Him and His followers.  However, Jesus compassion for them is clearly seen in His statement, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” He loved them even though they were unwilling to love Him back.

I have no doubt that Jesus was not proclaiming the wows to the Pharisees with a smile on His face and joy in His heart. I would imagine He spoke these words with a grief stricken soul and tears on His cheek. He knew if they did not hear and therefore respond to the truth they would stand eternally condemned.

Jesus was not preaching to bring condemnation on them, He was preaching to bring them into repentance. For this reason, He was preaching with compassion. Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17). Clearly the unrepentant will be judged. However, Jesus compels the lost with compassion to repent and be saved from eternal judgment. The heart full of condemnation has no desire to see the sinner repent, thinking they deserve what they have coming to them for their wickedness. However, the bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, apart from grace, we all stand condemned. How then am I any better than they? I have repented and therefore received grace. They stand in need of repentance, and therefore need to receive grace.

Clearly the world is becoming more and more wicked. Clearly, the world will remain in their wickedness until the Children of God share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, the good news; and they must share it with a heart of compassion rather than one of condemnation. I have no doubt that the church will never reap a mighty harvest until it repents of its hardened heart. Just as Jesus did, when we evangelize we need to speak the truth. We need to call sin what it is and warn of the impending judgment for those who refuse to repent. However, Just as Jesus did we need to do it with a heart filled with compassion desiring the sinner to come to repentance before it is eternally too late.

The church today needs to be broken with compassion; a compassion that will bring the saint to his knees pouring his heart out to God in prayer on behalf of the sinner; a compassion that will move the congregation out of their comfortable pews and out into the community to proclaim truth and love to the sinner; and a compassion that overcomes selfishness, overlooking suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the sinner. In truth, we need a compassion that looks, acts, lives, and exists, just like Jesus. Until that time, the church will remain in its pews, the sinner will remain in their sin, revival will tarry, and judgment will come.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Into His Marvelous Light

Into His Marvelous Light

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.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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You Shall be My Witnesses

You Shall be My Witnesses

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.
If we are not being the witnesses of the gospel of Jesus that He told us we shall be a witness of we are then living in a direct rebellion of a commandment of Jesus. That is sin! Not only is it sin, seeing as how those around us will spend eternity in hell if we are not Jesus witnesses, it is one of the worst forms of sin and rebellion imaginable.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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