unnamed2unnamed

With the recent passing of the Religious Liberties Bill here in Mississippi and all that has been written and talked about by the liberal main stream media since I figured I would chime in with my two cents.

First it needs to be stated I am very conservative, I belong to the Constitutional Party, (yes you can look it up) I am also a Reformed Baptist who believes in the infallibility of scripture. The end of the Bible in the book of Revelation Chapter (KJV) 22  18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. That means what God wrote I accept as truth and cannot and will not change.   

          That being said the liberal media paints a picture of hate and discrimination about believers like me surrounding issues like this. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, that is true born again believers are commanded, not asked, to love our neighbors; Matthew 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” and this of course includes those of the LGBT community.  No one let me repeat no one claiming to be a Christian can truly be a Christian and HATE someone from the LGBT community.

The word of God not the word of man says that the LGBT lifestyle is wrong. That those apart of the community are caught up in the bondage of sin and in need of being set free. As a Christian I (we) have two duties. First is to share the Good News Psalms 96:3 NKJV “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” that Christ is the way to true freedom.  Note as the Apostle Paul stated we are to always do this with gentleness 2 Timothy 2:25 ESV Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that God may be at work and not us.

Secondly we are called to never compromise the Word of God. Psalm 119: 1-4 (AMP) How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord. 2 Blessed and favored by God are those who keep His testimonies, and who [consistently] seek Him and long for Him with all their heart. 3 They do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. 4 You have ordained your precepts, that we should follow them with [careful] diligence. Yet this is exactly what we are being called to do. The liberal minority has deemed this truth, Freedom of Speech (which this falls under) is this; you are free to agree with their liberal viewpoint or our speech is free to be censored and or outlawed or we are free to be imprisoned. It begs the question; who is being discriminated against here?

My Pastor last night made an interesting observation. If this was about anything more than wanting full acceptance for the LGBT community, they would look at this as a great opportunity. Start a business that caters to just that clientele, if as they claim their number are so strong they should do great and leave those with strongly held religious convictions alone.

         By His Grace Alone

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                     PAST                                  FUTURE

Looking Back to Get Ahead

14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

              - - - Nehemiah 5:14-19 (ESV) all scripture ESV unless otherwise noted

 

            We conclude chapter five this week by focusing on the actions of Nehemiah after he has successfully navigated the many roadblocks that had been set before him and the peoples of Jerusalem in the preceding chapter and a half. 

 

            First there is one obvious thing I would like to point out in our text before I move on to the main points for tonight. It is the uniqueness of Nehemiah being governor of Jerusalem. He is a Jew, and has been appointed so by Artaxerxes the king, a pagan king. Nehemiah has been rewarded for his honesty and his loyalty, but to whom?  But remember as we have seen time and again throughout this series he is loyal to God before all others. It is God who has rewarded him though this pagan king.  It is imperative we understand this; that God alone is in control. Why else would you bow down and worship Him?

 

            The main point I wish to emphasize tonight is the same thing Nehemiah did some 2600 years ago. That in order to move forward, in order to rebuild our lives we can NEVER forget the mistakes of the past. We must look to the past in order to move ahead with our lives.

 

            Now I know if this were a TV or radio sermon some of you would be reaching to change the channel right now, because my statement above seems to fly in the face of the modern evangelical hyped teachings of today but please bear with me. Let’s look at what God’s Word says:

 

 Isaiah 43:18-19 ““Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”

 

Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

 

            On the face of it, it would seem we should never look back “Remember not the former things”  or “forgetting what lies behind”  Or the so often miss applied Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” But is that really what God is saying? Does God really tell us not to remember our past?

 

            Again let us dig further into scripture looking at The Whole Counsel of God!

 

Turn back to Nehemiah 1:8-11 “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

 

            We are encouraged to remember God’s promises to us, especially in times of trouble and conflict. Can you think of any other familiar passages of scripture folks go to in times of trouble? 

Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 come to mind or a favorite of mine Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

 

Nehemiah 9: 18-24 “Even when they had made for themselves a golden[c] calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. 22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.”

 

            We are to remind ourselves daily of the many blessing God has given unless we become dissatisfied with God.  Here in Nehemiah chapter 9 the story of the Exodus in all its Glory and sorrow is recounted as a reminder that God is a God of promises and one who keeps His promises.  He promised the Jewish people a promised land and even though they were rebellious and continually turned away from Him, He kept that promise. What would you have done?  We also see one of his greatest promises in the sky Genesis 9:15-16 “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

           

            How about 2 Peter 1:15-21 “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

 

            We need to be able to recall biblical truths. How else are we to share the Good News of Christ with others? This the great commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 is the duty of all believers.

 

            Are you confused yet? This is where the naysayer (fancy word for doubters) that is those who claim the bible is a lie, made up and written by men contradicts itself. They point out that in some places it says do not look back on your past and in other places it says to recall the past. So see it’s all a bunch of junk.  Well if you are one of those who mind has been blinded by the god of this world (Satan) 2 Corinthians 4:4 that would make sense. To the rest of us in our right mind we can reason this out.

 

            Let us start with a text every believer knows   2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  Does this mean you will not battle with sin? Not in the least listen:

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] 19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.  That is none other than the Apostle Paul from Romans Chapter 8. Did you hear his words? Can you feel the struggle he is experiencing? This is Paul the writer of 2/3 of the New Testament, not just some average Joe.  How are you to combat dealing with sinfulness of the flesh if you cannot look to your past experiences Like Paul?

           

            Another of the Proverbs that comes to mind is Proverbs 4:25-27 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 26 Ponder[c] the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. I like this one because I am guilty of not doing this. I am speaking of eyes look directly forward I won’t embarrass everyone by asking for a show of hands but I bet I am not the only one to have walked into an unmovable object because I was not watching where I was going.  

 

            God’s admonition in this verse and other verses like it is to not forbid looking back on the past while trying to move forward.  He is saying do not dwell on the past while trying to move forward. Do not get stuck in the mud, bogged down in your past, mired in the muck of your past mistakes.  You cannot move forward if you are having your own little pity party and decide all is lost because of your past mistakes.  At the same time it would be foolish to try and move forward and not remember your past behaviors and mistakes.

 

            Let us look at our main text again.  Nehemiah is a wise governor he has learned from the past mistakes of others.  In verse 15 we read “The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.”  Note why Nehemiah did not do so, was it because he was scared of God?  No the Greek word translated fear in English means reverence. It was because of his admiration, his awe his devotion to God. In the remaining four verses of our main text we see Nehemiah again demonstrating changes to the previous administrations burdensome rule.

 

            Let us put this in perspective, many here have struggled with alcohol or drugs over the years. So you get released and the first place you find to rent is a small studio. It is a good deal, the rent is affordable and the landlord is nice and understanding about folks who have been in your shoes. He is even willing to ask around about jobs for you. Sounds like the perfect place except it is right above a bar. Now if you believe and follow the advice of those who advocate NEVER looking back on our past then living there will be no problem. However if you believe and follow the Word of God that arrangement has DANGER! ! ! written all over it. 

 

            Oswald Chambers wrote on the matter: "A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of this own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition. Temptation yielded to... is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before." In other words, Satan isn’t no dummy he knows how and what with to temp you.  Yet here we go putting ourselves right in the midst of the very temptations that contributed to our problems. Of course we will pray beforehand Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” I am sorry but that is S.O.S. disease at its best. Asking God for favors and then doing something that thumbs your nose at the favor.

 

            In closing I want to reexamine Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Why was Jesus so adamant in this statement? It sounds like on casual reading that if anyone looks back after becoming a Christian they are doomed, not worthy of entry to heaven. We’ll again need to look at the Whole Counsel of God by backing up to the previous verses for a clue. In verses 57 -60 we have conversations between those who wish to follow Jesus and Christ who tells them the cost.  You remember elsewhere when he says it can be a heavy price, even one’s own family. Then in verse 61 we see “Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Do you see it, Jesus is not saying do not remember the past he is saying once on the chosen path do not deviate from it. There is a huge difference between those two meanings. Our Lord is telling the person, if you have truly decided to follow me, then do so, make me the priority and not those who are left behind. Nowhere does He, Jesus, say do not think of them, just do not look back and long after that life you are leaving behind. If you do you cannot stay on the path of righteousness. Using metaphors or images of the plow He easily makes His point understood by all. Put in modern terms if you have ever tried to drive a mower or tractor forward while looking backward you will understand the results are UGLY.  Unfit for any lawn or farmers field.

 

            Like Nehemiah prayed in verse 19 “Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.” We need to stand ready to call upon God to remember us as we look back to get ahead.

 

            Let’s pray, most gracious and heavenly father I ask that you continue to work in the minds and hearts of the hearers and readers of this message. That it will build them up that they may glorify you in all that they do. I pray father that if anyone knows not Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour that you would choose them now send your Holy Spirit upon them convict them of their sins, have them repent and claim the free gift of Christ. We pray this in His most Holy and precious name. Amen.

 

In HIS Service

Mike

 

 

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Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 

- - - Acts 20:26-27 (ESV) All text ESV unless noted

 

            There is a plague that has invaded our country and it started in the “Christian” churches. It is a plague that has resulted in ignorance, distortion and deficiency. What is this plague I am speaking of? It is none other than the proper preaching of God’s word.

               

            This plague started with men and unfortunately in more recent time’s women preaching only portions of God’s word. These men (we will not mention the women again as the bible calls only men to preach) as well intended as they may have been; failed in their duty to do as Paul declared in our text today, ‘to declare to you the whole counsel of God.’

               

            So what is the whole counsel of God? It is the “good, the bad and the ugly” to quote a spaghetti western movie title. It is man’s sin and total in ability to do good apart from God. It is God’s hatred of sin and the sinner while at the same time being fully capable of expressing love to us while we were yet in our sinful state. It is the whole Word of God not just the parts we like or understand and certainly not our pet theological topics. It is one reason I am so guarded against those who insistent on topical preaching each week. That type of preaching usually leads to a lack of declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

 

D. A. Carson[i] :  

 Explains what Paul meant this way: “When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years. In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.

 

What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively.

 

It embraced God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshiped), an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (a worldview that shapes all human understanding and a Savior without whom there is no hope), the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).”

 

            Before we go further it is critical, that if we are calling ourselves Christians we agree that there is only one AUTHORITY and one STANDARD for which we must adhere. That is the Word of God. Are you a child of God calling yourself a Christian today?

 

            How do we know we are a child of God?  We obey His laws first and foremost. 1 John 5:2–3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 

            But Jesus in His earthly ministry also made is perfectly clear we are to pay tribute to those God has appointed over us.  Matthew 22:20-22 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

 

            Of course some modernist have tried to twist scripture and say the above was for taxes only but Paul in his Epistle to Titus clears that up. Titus 3:1 (KJV) Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work

 

            We are however, as Christians, are to question tasking’s by those appointed over us to insure that they are in compliance with the Word of God. Acts 5:29 (KJV) Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men. The Word of God always trumps the law of man. If this is your AUTHOIRY and STANDRAD you can proudly wear the name badge Christian.

 

            So now let us look at a few examples that maybe we do not have the whole counsel of God on.  Let us start with the one that has been most recently been in the headlines as the U.S. Supreme Court made it’s in my opinion unconstitutional decision.

 

            Homosexuality and Same Sex Unions have become the rage. The liberal media has waged an all-out persecution crusade against anyone who exercises their constitutional right to freedom of religion by refusing to support these schemas.  We have been fed a steady stream of lies and innuendo in order to get the minority agenda passed. Sadly even the pulpits of evangelical churches have been wrongfully preaching half-truths and or just as bad messages of hate.

 

            Let us look at the Whole Counsel of God:

 

            a. It is a sin Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. There are no mincing words here. Others words for abomination include: outrage, disgrace, horror, hatred, atrocity. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines it as: “Extreme hatred; detestation”

 

            b. Those engaged in it cannot go to heaven 1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality. God’s word is clear. Those who actively engage in this sin are condemning themselves to hell.

           

            c. The cause of Homosexuality, transgenderism etc. is the evil in our hearts our own sinfulness: Romans 1:24-27 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. The homosexual agenda would have you believe people are genetically wired to be that way. That is a bold face LIE. God’s word again is clear it is our selfish sin.  

 

            d. What should be the Christian's Response to the Homosexual?

 In his article Christianity and Homosexuality Matt slick explains[ii]

“Just because someone is a homosexual does not mean that we cannot love him (or her) or pray for him (or her).  Homosexuality is a sin, and like any other sin it needs to be dealt with in the only way possible.  It needs to be laid at the cross and repented of.

 

Christians should pray for the salvation of the homosexual the same way they would any other person in sin.  They should treat homosexuals with the same dignity as they would anyone else because, like it or not, they are made in the image of God.  However, this does not mean that Christians should approve of their sin.  Not at all; Christians should never compromise their witness for a politically correct opinion that is shaped by guilt and fear.

 

In fact, the following verses should be kept in mind when dealing with homosexuals. "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.   6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person," (Col. 4:5-6). "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith," (1 Tim. 1:5).

 

You do not win people to the Lord by condemning them and calling them names.  This is why God says to speak with wisdom, grace, and love.  Let the love of Christ flow through you so that the homosexuals can see true love and turn to Christ instead of away from Him.”

 

            So how do you love your homosexual neighbor without committing the other BIG controversy of our times Judging others. Have you noticed the one verse that both Christians and non-Christians (especially those in jail and prison) can quote is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.

 

            The problem arises when we try and apply modern understandings to ancient Greek text. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 (all verses KJV) gives me one of the best understandings of the word:

 

a. JUDGE, n. [L. judex, supposed to be compounded of jus, law or right, and dico, to pronounce.] This refers to the man, the one sitting on the bench or in the case of the scripture; God.

 

b. JUDGE, v.i. [L. judico.]  This verb for the most part, is what bible is referring to and primarily to sub definitions #1 and #4.

 

1. To compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood.

            Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment John 7:24

 

2. To form an opinion; to bring to issue the reasoning or deliberations of the mind.

            If I did not know the originals, I should not be able to judge, by the copies, which was Virgil and which Ovid.

 

3. To hear and determine, as in causes on trial; to pass sentence. He was present on the bench, but could not judge in the case.

            The Lord judge between thee and me. Gen.16:5

 

4. To discern; to distinguish; to consider accurately for the purpose of forming an opinion or conclusion.

                        "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment." Psa. 37:30

            Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

            Read 1 Corinthians 6-1-5 we are called to judge others for someday we will judge the angels.  Unless you are willing to Judge others how else can you/we fulfill the mandate in Romans 16:17-18 Amplified Bible (AMP)17 I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them.18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people]. You must be able to identify, then avoid and or weed out those who are set on causing trouble in the fellowship of God. It is your duty. You cannot do that if you are unwilling to judge others.

 

JUDGE, v.t. To hear and determine a case; to examine and decide. To preside over a legal case, this rules us out. Yet that is what many have a tendency to want to do.

 

JUDG'ER, n. One who judges or passes sentence. Again only God and those whom he appoints to the bench have this authority. The rest of us only have authority to Judge as it pertains to discernment. Yet this is the one that everyone jumps on fast. We will condemn someone sure enough quick and easy without the least bit of biblical backing; just give us half a chance. This is what Christ spoke of in Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

 

            I recommend always judging using the following guidelines:

 

1) Judge using scripture alone. This is RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT!!!

2) If scripture is silent so should we be. Let the Elders of the church deal with the                                                                                                                              B I G issues.

3) Pray for discernment from God

4) Never be disrespectful or degrading

5) Always be truthful and merciful

6) Always judge yourself FIRST

 

            Back to our main text I hope you can see the importance of seeking out the “whole counsel of God.” By picking and choosing what we want to hear, preach, study or teach we are in danger of the very sinful acts that we may be trying to avoid.

 

John Piper [iii]    

has an excellent article on the subject: in it he says: I see three unmistakable implications from this verse:

 

“1. Knowing the Whole Counsel of God Knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven. Look carefully at this and you'll see why I say it like that. You cannot say from verse 27 that a person has to know the whole counsel of God in order to be saved. A person doesn't have to know it! What you can say is that if an elder doesn't teach the whole counsel of God, he may be an accomplice in someone's destruction. And if a person MAY fall short of heaven because of an elder's neglect in teaching the whole counsel of God, then knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven….

 

Why did God elect his bride the church before the foundation of the world? Why did he create the universe and mankind in his image? Why did he permit the fall into sin? Why did he choose the nation of Israel? Why did he give them the law? Why did he have animal sacrifices and a tabernacle? Why did Jesus come into the world? Why did he preach the kingdom of God? Why did he die and rise again. Why did the Holy Spirit come? How is God fulfilling his purpose and counsel today by calling and regenerating and justifying and sanctifying a church from every people and tribe and tongue and nation? How will he bring this age to a close? How should we then live? What is the unified, whole counsel of God that holds all this together and gives it meaning?

 

That is what we ought to be teaching our children—faithfully, systematically, and with so much life and power that the beauty of it shines for them.

 

The first thing to say from verse 27, then, is that knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven. Otherwise Paul would not have said that he is innocent of their blood because he taught them this whole counsel.

 

2. Wanting to Learn the Whole Counsel of God The second thing to say from verse 27 is that people should want to learn the whole counsel of God. Biblical Christians hunger to know the whole counsel of God.

 

This text clearly teaches that elders are deficient and may be guilty of someone's destruction to the degree that they do not declare the whole counsel of God. It must follow that the people of the church are also guilty to the degree that they are not interested in the whole counsel of God. If not teaching it is a sin, then not wanting to be taught it is a sin.

 

So the text clearly implies that Christians should long for the whole counsel of God the way a baby longs for milk. Once you understand this verse, disinterest in the whole counsel of God implies disinterest in the means of salvation. Because the text says that Paul will be innocent if someone fails to be saved, because he gave the fullest means of salvation—the whole counsel of God.

 

3. Courageously Teaching the Whole Counsel of God Finally, the last thing to say about verse 27 is that elders should be courageous in teaching the whole counsel of God.

 

This idea of courage is implied in the phrase, "I did not shrink from declaring to you . . . " This means that there are parts of the whole, unified counsel of God that might make an elder want to shrink back from teaching them. They might be hard to understand. Or they might be uncomplimentary to human pride. Or they might demand radical obedience. And so the elders might be tempted to declare only part of God's counsel—the part that is easy and that they know people especially like. But that would be a shrinking back from declaring the whole counsel of God. It would be cowardice not courage.

 

And that brings us back to the point made at the beginning—obedient life—courageous life in this case—is just as important as accurate doctrine. For Paul the two were inseparable: I did not shrink back—that is, I am a certain kind of person. I declared the WHOLE counsel of God—that is, I taught a certain kind of doctrine. That's what we must aim at together: a courageously obedient kind of person, and a unified, whole counsel of God.”

 

            Piper is so right. It is what the pulpits across America today need, men of courage and conviction to ‘to declare to you the whole counsel of God.’ He is also quite correct in his assessment of what is needed in the pews across America. It is men and women not just “Wanting to Learn the Whole Counsel of God” I dare say DEMANDING to learn the whole counsel of God.

 

            My friends we hear so much about being “fed by the spirit” when folks go looking for a church. As if it is some emotional sensation they must experience each time they are at church building. That is hog wash. There may be a spirit moving upon these churches but it might be the Holy Spirit.

 

            The duty of the Church first and fore most is plainly stated in the Bible. It is to PREACH the Gospel. Romans 10:14 (AMP) But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]? And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?

 

            As we have just learned those standing in the pulpit must be preaching the whole counsel of God if the plague that has resulted in ignorance, distortion and deficiency is to be reversed. Is your church “declaring to you the whole counsel of God?” If it is not you need to find another church.

 

In HIS Service

 

Mike  

_______________________

[i] —D. A. Carson, “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit,” in Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes, ed. Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson [Crossway, 2007], pp. 177-178; bullets and italics added

[ii] Christianity and Homosexuality by Matt Slick http://www.carm.org/

[iii] John Piper The Guilt of Giving Part of God's Counsel, April 16, 1989 ©2015 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

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Four out of ten “Christians” (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.  © The Barna Group, Ltd, 2009.

             As the above reference shows we in America have lost our understanding of biblical truths. These truths fall under the doctrine of Sanctification, the biblical term for being set apart by God to God for the purpose of growing on Grace. This is also known as maturing in the faith.

            Today I would like to look at what someone else termed the Seven Pillars of Biblical Truth1. I came across these seven truths and their corresponding verses sometime back on the internet and copied them down as a reminder to me. Unfortunately I forgot to copy the source.

            The first is Pillar is in my opinion the most significant as it states:

[1] I copied this title for an unknown source. I found this on the web some time ago and failed to cite the source not thinking I would use it as a sermon. I have made and attempt to keep the original 7 pillars and their corresponding verses intact and easily identifiable. If anyone recognizes the text and can cite where it comes from please inform me.

 1) Our God is True

So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us - - - - Hebrews 6:18

            Our God has to be true not just some of time but all the time. This is so essential for His word also says:

Isaiah 45:6-7 That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

This denial of this basic biblical truth is a leading cause in the failing of evangelical churches in America today. Listen to what Rev. Jim Flowers is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Mobile, AL has to say about God:

God does not have a plan. I have always bristled at the phrase "God has a plan." It is often said with all good intentions to calm one's fears, but for me, it has always been unnerving, an insidious, false sense of security. The thought of God as a dogmatic** cosmic puppeteer, a God of prescriptive design, evokes serious questions as to the problem of evil and violence in the world, the disparity between wealth and power and the lack thereof, the dispossession and suffering of innocent millions. If God has a plan … it ain't working.

God doesn't have a plan. Instead, God is like a jazz musician, as it were, improvising creation into being, making it up as God goes, open to imaginative possibility, playing artfully the music of creation anew.

                        Whom do you wish to follow? A God who is in complete control? A God who numbers the very hairs on your head? Or a God who is at a loss for what is happening today in the world and can only react to the problems and do the best he can.

            Let me tell you folks the choice for me is simple I have no desire or intention of bowing down to someone who has no more power or control over things than me. Our God must be in control which means He must be True.

** Dogmatic is a term defined in secular world as bigoted, suborn, unyielding, intolerant or narrow minded. Yet I would assert the most dogmatic man to ever live was Christ Jesus

2)  Our Conversion must be True

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me      - - - John 14:6

            As I Said above very dogmatic don’t you think? No one, no way except through me?

There is an old saying up in Maine “Ya can’t get there from he-ar” Neither can all these so called modern age evangelicals with their watered down version of the Gospel.

            They are what the bible warns us against:

2 Peter 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

            Take note where the deceivers of the good news will come from. That’s right from within the church. A little knowledge in the hands of the wrong people is a dangerous thing. It will lead to a false Gospel messages being spread.

            My own conversion story covers an 18 year period. In 1980 I went forward to an alter call because a Baptist pastor told me if I came forward and said a special prayer I could avoid hell. Well hell did not sound like any place I wanted to be; so forward I went. Was I converted, saved, No! I had no sense of duty to God. No commitment to change.

That well-intentioned preacher only told part of the story. He played the get out of hell card but failed to mention the Lord of your Life clause. That came 18 years later when I had slumped to the lows of life and God in His mercy and Grace pulled me from the miry muck.

            In Tim Challises’ blog (18 Apr 2015) he quotes John MacArthur who looks at Mark 4 and says:  This is a critical lesson, by the way, to all evangelical manipulators and clever marketers who think they can make people believe. No human being no matter how persuasive, no matter how clever, makes a contribution to regeneration, conversion or justification. All we can do is give the truth. We can’t change hearts and we can’t produce life from dead people. That’s something the Lord alone does. “No man comes to me except the Father draws him.” And once He begins to draw him, then it’s the blade, then it’s the ear, then it’s the full grain. It needs to be drummed into the heads and hearts of all Christians who have been seduced by the contemporary lies, that if we just get better at marketing the gospel, we can be more convincing and we can convince people to be saved. Just tell the truth {and people will be converted}.

            The test for true conversion is simple, Conviction of Sin, if a person sins are they convicted of that sin? Or do they just ignore it and laugh it off like they always have and the rest of the world continues to do? To me that is the easiest way to tell a true conversion.

3) Our Beliefs are based on Truth

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (Jesus speaking)   - - - John 17:8 

Christ Himself testifies that Gad the Father gave Him (God the Son) {Same God Same Person ALL Part of the Trinity} the very words to speak to His followers.

The same is factual for all of scripture it is of and by God. Yes it was penned by men but under direct inspiration of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. Read with me:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Peter 1:20  Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

4)  Our Worship is based in Truth

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth -- John 4:24

Listen it may seem obvious to those with even an inkling of common sense but you just cannot get on the same level plane with God, at least physically speaking. Yet that is exactly what many have tried to do with the worshiping of graven images and beasts of burden and such.  Many forget the preceding verse John 4:23 reads:

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

            The hour is now and God is looking for a few Good Folks. But just like the US Marine Corps, our God is a bit picky and is not about to take just anybody. No the bible clearly says HE is seeking those, who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

            No God calls us to worship Him in true spirit, and spiritual truth. They cannot be separated. The rich ruler in Luke 18 or Ananias, with Sapphira in Acts 5 are both certain examples of NOT following this principle.

5)  Our Walk must be in Truth

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;              - - - - PS 15:1-2

            Ok, I get it this one is a tough one because we all know we are but sinners saved by Grace. Yet even though we are destined to sin again we are not compelled to live a life of deceit. Walking blamelessly does not necessarily mean without sin. I am certain I have a few of you confused so let me try and clear things up.

            First look at 1st Peter:

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation    - - - - 1 Peter 2:12

            Now there is no way to do that apart from the power of God working in you.

2 Peter 2:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence                       

He has given you all things that pertain to Holiness, which does not mean we will always use them at the proper moment. Hopefully even after we have sinned the holiness kicks in and we repent, ask forgiveness of those we have offended, make restitution as needed, etc. None of which we would have done apart from Christ. That is what I meant by our walk may have moments of sin but still be in truth.

6)  Our Conversations must be true

            Considering the fall of mankind was predicated upon a lie Gen 3: 4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely dieI for one would think it wise for mankind to abstain from the practice. The bible clearly tells us we should always practice truthfulness in all our speech.

Proverbs 18:20-21 From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another                                                                                 - - - -Eph 4:25

1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

            During my research I came across this illustration and I could not resist using it, I hope you get it:

In the early 1900s George Riddell acquired the sensational London newspaper The News of the World. Meeting British journalist Frederick Greenwood one day, Riddell mentioned that he owned a newspaper, told Greenwood its name, and offered to send him a copy. The next time they met, Riddell asked Greenwood what he thought of The News.

"I looked at it and then I put it in the wastepaper basket," said Greenwood, "and then I thought, 'If I leave it there the cook may read it,' so I burned it." Today in the Word, November 3, 1993.

            Not only does God require of us that our tongue speak no evil but our pen must not write any either.  Ask yourself does what I am about to write Glorify God? If not, it DOES NOT belong on paper.

            But the Bible not only warns against false speaking it warns against those who would suppress truthful speech. This should be very familiar to anyone who has seen the shift in the geo social political climate in America the last 10-20 years.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness   - - - - - Romans 1:18

7)  Our Proclamations must be true

Henry Augustus Rowland, professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded, "What are your qualifications as an expert witness in this case?"

The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, "I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion." Later a friend well acquainted with Rowland's disposition expressed surprise at the professor's uncharacteristic answer. Rowland answered, "Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath." Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.

What too many may seem like arrogant boasting was in fact biblical. Professor Rowland was at the time considered by most the ultimate expert in the field of physics. His answer while brash was truthful. We too must be ready at all times to give an answer in nearly the same manner.

            Let me explain. A somewhat more acceptable answer from the Professor might have been ‘I am considered by my peers and colleagues the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion’. This way the truth is presented without you sounding boastful.

            But the real message in this pillar is not to be humble. It is that all of us, each and every Born Again, Converted, Sanctified believer has a duty to share the Gospel and to do so in a truthful way.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  - - - - 2 Tim 2:15

Less you think you are exempt from this because you are not a preacher, think again. The great commission puts you in the club folks.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

            To whom was Jesus speaking? Many think to the Apostles alone, but this is incorrect. He was in fact speaking to His disciples and if you are a follower of Christ you too are a disciple and this commission is for you.

            Now the Bible is full of cautions and warnings and this is no different. For those of you would be teachers, preachers and the like listen up:

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.  - - - Romans 2:6-8

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.    - - - - Hebrews 13:17

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.    - - -  James 3:1

            It is my prayer that you will be able to use these seven pillars as a guide to help you in your Spiritual growth with Christ. The key to that growth is and always will be biblical truths.

            My closing illustration comes from Our Daily Bread:

The story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. "Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your Life?" inquired an old deacon. "Yes, sir," she replied. "Well, are you still a sinner?" "To tell you the truth, I feel I'm a greater sinner than ever." "Then what real change have you experienced?" "I don't quite know how to explain it," she said, "except I used to be a sinner running after sin, but now that I am saved. I'm a sinner running from sin!" she was received into the fellowship of the church, and she proved by her consistent life that she was truly converted.

            I would encourage you today to make that commitment to God. If the Holy Spirit has pricked your heart with the guilt of your sins, confess them now making Christ Lord of your Life.

In HIS Service

Mike

.

First preached at Bayside Baptist Church, Lakeshore MS, 19 April 2015

    Two articles by two very accomplished writers that I think will open your eyes to some hard facts about the state of churches in America today.

When the Good News Isn't Proclaimed Evangelization on the Wane?

By: John Stonestreet| March 10, 2015 8:00 AM[1]

And

Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today

By: Thom Rainer | February 24, 2015[2]

First John StoneStreet

Here’s an uncomfortable question for all of us: When was the last time we shared the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with anyone? The last time we told someone that Jesus died so that God could forgive their sins, and that we must receive that gift in trusting faith?

According to the Barna Group, although 100 percent of “evangelicals” believe they have a personal responsibility to evangelize, a full 31 percent admit to not having done so in the past 12 months.

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, notes that his church—the Southern Baptist Convention—is reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as it did 50 years ago. Rainer calls the trend “disturbing.” And indeed it is. “By almost any metric,” he says, “the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past.”daily_commentary_03_10_15

Southern Baptists say that reported baptisms have fallen in seven of the last nine years. “I am grieved we are clearly losing our evangelistic effectiveness,” Rainer told Baptist Press. “May God renew all of us, including me, with a greater heart for the lost.”

To find out why this is happening, Rainer conducted an unscientific Twitter poll, with the question, “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?” I’ll give you the top five, and you can come to BreakPoint.org for a link to the rest. It’s painful to read. #1, “Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.” #2, “Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.” #3, “Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.” #4, “We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.” And #5, the churches too often are using ineffective evangelistic strategies. Ouch!

It’s not just Southern Baptists, of course. Barna found that the practice of evangelism is falling among self-identified “born-again” “Baby Boomers” and “Baby Busters.” However, evangelism is actually growing among a group you might not expect—“born again” Millennials. Some 65 percent of Millennials shared the Gospel in 2013, compared to 56 percent in 2010. That’s a good trend!

So what do we do? Well, Ed Stetzer of Lifeway says in Christianity Today that while the message of evangelism should never change, our methods—in response to a changing culture—must change. Stetzer points out that in past decades, radio ministries, bus ministries, and evangelistic crusades reached many—and of course still do. But one thing that’s always been constant, and is more important today than ever, is relational approaches.

As Stetzer says, “I lead a small group in my neighborhood every Sunday night . . . I might not be able to take them to a Billy Graham crusade, but I can invite them to my home because they already know me and trust me.”

Also, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reports very encouraging results using online evangelism. According to CT, “Of the 1.6 million people who told the BGEA they prayed ‘to accept Jesus Christ as [their] Savior’ in 2014, less than 15,000 did so in person, while more than 1.5 million did so with the click of a mouse.”

Of course, evangelism is not the ultimate goal—discipleship is, seeing hearts and minds changed by the increasing realization of the Lordship and sufficiency of Christ which leads to a life of obedience—that’s the summary of the Great Commission. But there’s a first step, isn’t there? So let’s all recommit ourselves to sharing the Gospel with friends and neighbors—in whatever way the Lord leads and however He has equipped us.

Further Reading and Information

When the Good News Isn’t Proclaimed: Evangelization on the Wane?

As John pointed out, our first step is sharing Christ's love and forgiveness, and encouraging others to be His followers. After all, Jesus' command to us is pretty clear, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) And Paul urged us to proclaim the good news of Christ, professing "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believe" (Romans 1:16).

Now Thom Rainer

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?” The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing.

We certainly see the pattern in the early church where “every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In too many of our churches today, the congregations are reaching no one for Christ in the course of an entire year.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

So What Is the Solution?

I received hundreds of responses to this poll. There is obviously widespread concern about the lack of evangelism in our churches and among Christians.

First, let me hear what you think of these responses. Second and more importantly, offer some solutions to the challenges. Make certain those solutions include what you can do as much as what they should do. I look forward to hearing from you.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on 24 Feb 2015 Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

  It is my hope that the readers will print this, email this share this, and forward this do whatever they can to get the word out that the state of the evangelical main stream church in America today is in decline. While praise God pockets of devoted believers proudly waive the banner of Romans 1:16. Sadly far too, too many will need to look it up.

 In HIS Service

 Mike

Very Interesting article from our friends at Prison Fellowship.

It is a struggle for so many who have never been incarcerated. For ex-mates the challenges can seem insurmountable. But with God and His people it too can be overcome

Why Ex-Prisoners Can't Find Work.

SANCTIFICATION

 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, [and] prepared unto every good work.

                        2 Timothy 2:21

           

            Tonight we explore the 7th component of Salvation called Sanctification. It is the next rung in the nine step process. There are three major views on Sanctification (and many competing within), they are:

 

Wesleyan Christian Perfection or Entire Sanctification: in this view, the state of holiness begins at regeneration and is completed by an instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit (the Baptism of the Holy Spirit) subsequent to regeneration, in which the old Adamic sin nature is actually abolished ‘Christian perfection… is nothing more or nothing less than a heart emptied of all sin and filled with a pure love to God and man.

 

Reformed: Ongoing or Progressive Sanctification: In this view, the state of holiness begins with regeneration and conversion, and is to grow throughout the believer’s life through the ministry of the Word and Spirit and through personal faith and obedience. In this understanding, the old sin nature is progressively subdued but never entirely abolished in this life. Westminster Larger Catechism, q 77

 

Pentecostal: Sanctification via The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: “This wonderful experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth… the baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical signs of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.” Articles Seven and Eight, “Statement of Fundamental Truths,” 35th General Council of the Assemblies of God, August 16-21, 1973

 

            Here are two definitions that may help us better understand Sanctification:

 

“The generic meaning of sanctification is "the state of proper functioning." To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is "sanctified" when used to write. Eyeglasses are "sanctified" when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God's design and purpose.” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary)

 

            Note the part where it says things are sanctified when they are used for God’s intended purpose. Think about that God intended man to live a life that honored and glorified Him. A sanctified man or women will do just that.

 

“Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11)” (Puritan Catechism #34)

 

            Less one should think this is a one and done operation we need to remember that just as we get older we mature (grow mentally) so too does the believer grow. We are not infused with all things that pertain unto life and godliness. No these things says Peter are made available to us and over time (God willing) we learn their uses.

 

            I want to spend the majority of our time looking at three areas. They are the 1) Differences between Justification and Sanctification, 2) the processes of Sanctification and finally 3) the results of Sanctification.

 

1) Differences between Justification and Sanctification

            I know it took me a while to distinguish Sanctification from Justification. The following chart may help.

Justification

Sanctification

Attributes Christ’s righteousness

Here it is Christ’s righteousness that is covering the sinner in order to make him acceptable

Instills grace to exercise own righteousness

Here it God’s grace manifested in us so we can demonstrate our own righteousness in Christ

Sin is pardoned

Here God pardons our sin because he sees only Christ’s righteousness

Sin is subdued

Here the power of the Holy Spirit works in us to subdue (conquer) our sins

Total, equal in all, complete                            

Justification is equally handed out to all God’s children. Nothing done by man can change this.                                                   

Partial, different in all, growing

God here hands out only the amount of Grace that each man can handle. Never to little or too much.

We can see from this illustration that the righteousness by which we are justified is imputed or attributed to us via Christ’s work at Calvary. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is instilled or infused into us via the Holy Spriit. Another way of saying could be the first is given the second learned. One requires nothing on our part the other much work is needed to succeed.

 

Perhaps an illustration will aid in grasping the distinction: Here is a wooden post. It is painted on the outside to cover up all the stains and spots, thus to beautify and perfect its appearance; but the paint does not change the inside of its structure. How different with a vine. The sap flows from the vine into the branches, and imparts new life within. It does not simply cover up the outside, but changes the inside. The paint changes only the exterior, while the sap changes the interior.

 

            The paint was “imputed” to the post and covered up its blemishes. Likewise the righteousness of Christ is imputed to cover our blemishes (sins). But the like the sap, Sanctification does not cover the blemishes but imparts or works from the inside of man to change his entire presence.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Theology for the People or Biblical Doctrine Plainly Stated by William S. Plumer: Justification is sin pardoned. Sanctification is sin subdued.            

 

2) The processes of Sanctification

 

                        God tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16 to be Holy in all our parts of life, why because He is Holy. As we learned last week as Adopted Children of God, we are to obey our Father.

 

            So one morning we wake up having been regenerated and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (First Step in Sanctification) and wham all our sins are subdued. Easy cheesy it is a done deal. No worries mate as they say down under.  

 

            Oh that it could be so easy. How do we get to the point where we are a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use as our base text says.

 

            The Second step in the process of Sanctification is growing in knowledge.

 

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

 

            How do we grow? By renewing our mind and how do we accomplish that? See the next verse.

 

John 17:17 - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

           

            We grow via God’s Word. There is NO OTHER WAY.

           

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

 

            Anything we hope to master in life comes only from knowledge. We must apply ourselves daily to God’s word that we might grow in knowledge therein.

 

            The third step is growing in understanding.

           

Prov 18:2   A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

 

            It is one thing to read God’s Word it is quite another to understand it.  Foolish men have knowledge yet little understanding of how to use it.

 

Proverbs 2:2-5  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

 

            Notice the words in bold print. They are all actions words. Growing in understanding of God’s Word requires effort on our part. This is not one of those let go and let God moments.

 

1 John 4:6 (AMP) We are [children] of God. Whoever is learning to know God [progressively to perceive, recognize, and understand God by observation and experience, and to get an ever-clearer knowledge of Him] listens to us; and he who is not of God does not listen or pay attention to us. By this we know (recognize) the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error

 

            Although understanding can be a synonym for knowledge biblically speaking they are quite different. Many have knowledge of God without any comprehension or understanding of who God really is.

 

            It is the sluggard (lazy man) who depends only on his own interpretation of Scripture. One who does not take the time to research and  study the original languages with all their distinctions CAN NOT have a right understanding of God’s Holy Word.

 

            God uses many ways to bring us to this understanding. Sometimes it is the indwelling Holy Spirit speaking to us that illuminates a passage of scripture. Sometimes it is through Chastisement Heb 12:10 (AMP)   For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness. Prayer, meditation, fellowship and encouragement from likeminded believers are all part of this process of growing in understanding. 

 

            The final step is growing in conviction.

 

Matthew 6:24 - No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon

 

            As we grown in knowledge and understanding so to should we be growing in faith.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

 

            I love the use of unmovable here. Synonyms for it include: unwavering, unswerving, resolute, determined, firm, unshakable, adamant, unfailing, dogged, tenacious, inflexible, unyielding, unbending, uncompromising, dogmatic, iron-willed; rock-steady, diehard.

 

            Let me back up a moment and put the verse in context. Paul has just finished his discourse on Victory in Jesus. He says listen up because we have a guarantee victory go about your labors for God with confidence and a determined spirit. Because we know the outcome is preordained there is no reason to waiver.     

 

Titus 1:9 - Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers

 

            As our faith gets stronger our conviction or steadfast belief in sound doctrine should be growing so that we might exhort and to convince the gainsayers

 

John Bunyan spent twelve years in jail, but it wasn’t the stone and the steel that held him there. He could have gone free if he simply agreed to stop preaching. Instead, he wrote,

 

"If nothing will do, unless I make of my conscience a continual butchery and slaughter-shop, unless putting out my own eyes I commit me to the blind to lead me, I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eye-brows rather than thus to violate my faith and principles."1

 

            As we noted in the beginning of this section no short cut to the process. Both the Apostles Peter (2 Pt 1:5-11) and John (1 Jn2:3-6) noted that it requires steadfast effort and obedience to His commandments to succeed. That conviction of belief is the rock solid foundation of our faith.  It allows us to weather the storms of life coming out stronger than we entered.

 

3) The results of Sanctification.

 

Our Benefit:

 

            1 Peter 1:2-4 tells us: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

 

            Our growth results in increased Grace, peace, power, and great promises.

 

            Romans 6:13-23:   22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

 

            Obtaining the fruits of holiness and assurance of everlasting life are a definite benefit.

 

For God’s Glory:

 

            John 15:8: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

 

            James says faith without works is dead. It is real simple God saved you and sanctifies you so you can serve Him. What are you waiting for?

 

            Eph 5:25-27: 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish

 

            The church is described as the “bride of Christ”. By the giving up or sacrifice of Himself, Christ sets the Church apart for God. The sacrifice of Christ sets apart the Church and the world, just as the blood of the Passover Lamb set apart the Children of Israel and the Egyptians.

 

 

            In closing the Greek word translated "sanctification" (hagiasmos) means "holiness." To sanctify, therefore, means "to make holy."Sanctification is the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God's will for the believer. It is a process that includes knowledge, understanding and conviction requiring effort and obedience on our part. The results will always glorify God and edify your fellow saints.

In HIS Service

 

Preached Aug 27, 2014 @ Lakeshore Baptist Church

image.pngThe thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly

John 10:10

 

 

    Because of the weakness in doctrinal teaching from pulpits today many buy into the false teachings of these name and claim it prosperity teachers. They want you to believe that simply becoming a Christian (how is another matter) entitles you to a better life. That is a life filled with joy and riches.

    According to Kenneth Copland; Bible believers should receive a hundredfold return on their giving. Really? Here are some of the texts they use to justify that position.

Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

Mark 4:20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Mark 10:29-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

    Another says; God wants to do something new and supernatural in your life. Did you know He wants to do something supernatural in your finances? L. Comes; of Joel Osteen Ministries quotes:

Isaiah 43:19 says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing! …Do you not perceive it and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (AMP)

He then says; can you perceive it? Are you making room for it in your mind, or have you already made up your mind not to expect anything new due to your present circumstances? God is interested in all your needs, desires, and even, your prosperity. In fact, Psalm 35:27 says that God delights in the prosperity of His people.

    Really? I am not sure how Is 43:19 relates but ss that what Ps 35:27 really says?

ESV PS 35:27 Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

    The KJV says “which has pleasure in your prosperity”. Listen it is a matter of rightly discerning the Word of God. The Greek word used for prosperity is Shalowm, yes the word most folks would associate with peace. Its most common meanings are completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace. Yes it does mean health and prosperity but ONLY in the context of our welfare.

    Ok before I chase a rabbit let us go back to our base text:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly John 10:10

    There can be no doubt that Christ came to give life. Equally we can see that the life He offers is an abundant one. So I ask you, are the claims of these modern pulpiteers valid? I dare say not. One must read in context what Jesus is speaking of in order to understand the abundant life we are promised.

    Our Lord has just finished telling all that he has come into this world for JUDGEMENT John 9:39, then starts His discourse in being the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd that has come not to steal kill or destroy His flock but give them life (eternal) not only an ordinary life but an abundant one.

Strong’s lists the Greek word here for abundant as Perissos - per-e-sows'

• Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need

• Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

• Exceeding abundantly, supremely

• Something further, more, much more than all, more plainly

• Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon

• Pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent

    Again there can be no doubt that God’s intent is for us to have an abundant life. So let’s look closely at what I believe the bible tells us about it. I want to break it into three sections for ease of study. They are God’s Plan, God’s Purpose and Man’s Performance.

God’s Plan

    God’s plan is simple and unchanging from before the foundation of the earth. His plan was always for our wellbeing, always focused on Christ, fulfilled in Christ and by His Grace and mercy alone.

    Does God’s plan include great health, wealth and prosperity (material) in this life? For some yes, to claim it is for everyone is to make a mockery of scripture. I know many a Pastor, far greater men than me who struggle to make ends meet, who have infirmities and consider themselves greatly blessed by God.

    Consider this if God’s plan was for everyone to be “prosperous” with things of this world why bother with the first commandment? Since for certain our focus would shift away from God unto those material things.

Isaiah 35:2 Was predicted for the New Covenant

It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

Psalm 72:7 Fulfilled in Christ

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Romans 5:17-18,20 Given through Chris

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Ephesians 1:3-6 By Grace alone

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

God’s Purpose

    I am not God. Ok, I know Duh! So I cannot be (nor anyone for that matter) expected to know God’s purpose in every circumstance. What I do know is He is sovereign and in control of everything. That He always without fail looks out for the best interest of his children. That the things we go through in life are used to [provide us with greater rewards; the ability for greater service; more joy, thanks and rejoicing; and to recharge the batteries when needed.

Matt 13:11-12 Greater Reward 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

1 Cor 15:10 Greater Service But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

2 Cor 8:2 More Joy How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Cor 4:15, 9:12 More Thanks

• For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

• For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

Phil 1:26 Added Rejoicing That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Titus 3:5-6 Renewal and Reenergize Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

    God abundantly provides for us. He has furnished all we need in this life. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ understood this when he wrote 2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Man’s Performance

    If you are still with me we have learned that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. Now what do we do with that? Sit back and reap the benefits? Complain when we see those (believers and non-alike) around us with more stuff? Maybe we should be like the psalmist and declare: The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. (PS 138:7) And maybe as we rejoice in His Grace and mercy we can finally recognize what James meant when he wrote For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (2:26).

   The true measure of a man is not is the worldly stuff he possesses. No the true worth of a man is found in his obedience and relationship to God.

Lev 26:3-13 Given to the obedient 3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. 11 And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

Deut 11:26-28 We have a choice Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

Eccl 5:10-12 Worldy Abundance cannot fulfill us 10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Mal 3:10-12 and Matt 6:32-33 Is conditional

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

• 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Luke 12:15 Not the measure of a man 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said unto his disciples, therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Luke 12:23-21 Can be forfeited 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth

    One of the other prime scriptures used to declare God wants us to be healthy wealthy and wise as it were is:

Psalm 37:4 1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.  3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass

    Can you identify their glaring error? Delight thyself in abundance? Commit thy ways to Abundance? Of course not how absurd; we are to delight in and commit to Christ. Who in case anyone forgot is the Word of God In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1 and we have just seen what the Word of God really says about this abundant life.

C.H. Spurgeon; in his work Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on Ps 37:4 says: There is an ascent in this third precept. He, who was first bidden not to fret, was then commanded actively to trust and now is told with holy desire to delight in God. Delight thyself also in the Lord. Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such vain idols; look thou to thy better delight, and fill thyself to the full with thy more sublime portion. In a certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion -- take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will pity them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is ours, but there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated and ecstatic kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah, should be delightful to us, and in meditating thereon our soul should be as glad as is the epicure who feeds delicately with a profound relish for his dainties. And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. A pleasant duty is here rewarded with another pleasure. Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche. Their will is subdued to God's will, and now they may have what they will. Our innermost desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is made.

    Let us look back to our main text for a moment before I close. Dr. Gill in his commentary makes an interesting point: the sense is, that Christ came that his people might have eternal life, with more abundant evidence of it than was under the former dispensation, and have stronger faith in it, and a more lively hope of it: or, as the words may be rendered, "and that they might have an abundance": besides life, might have an abundance of grace from Christ, all spiritual blessings in him now, and all fullness of joy, glory, and happiness hereafter.

CONCLUSION

    The story has been the same throughout the ages God does want His chosen to have an abundant life. 1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

That joyful abundant life we all crave is available to those who:

• Are obedient to His commands

• Put away sin

• Ask God for it

• Are unselfish in asking

• Are committed to asking

• Expect it in Faith

• Accept whatever is given if it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for us.  Matt 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

In HIS Service

    The bible shows us three different forms of Law. They are moral, ceremonial and civil. Today we will look at the Ten Commandments or the Moral Law. I want you to picture with me a room or a box. We are going to add things to this room or box in some specific places.

    Ready let’s start by orienting ourselves in the room (or the box) facing north. Now we are going to add some stuff in order:

In the Northwest Corner picture a Giant Size #1 Award

Straight North picture a Cross

In the Northeast Corner is a Giant Name Tag

Facing East see a Hammock

In the Southeast Corner picture your parents

From due South imagine Freddy Krueger

In the Southwest corner you see your Spouse

Due West we find a Burglar breaking into your space

On top is a Court Room Witness Stand

Covering the floor are Heaps of Money

    You are probably thinking, Mike has lost it, what can this possibly have to do with the Ten Commandments? But bear with me and I believe you will see the big picture in a moment.

    I wish I could take credit for the concept of this Sermon but my Pastor, Don Elbourne of Lakeshore Baptist Church used a similar illustration recently and I have drawn from that.

    We are visually oriented people. That is why commercials, programs and movies are so explicit these days. They are designed (in an immoral way) to stimulate your senses and help you remember their message or product. Using visual cues in of itself is not a bad thing if it is done to glorify God. So let’s examine our room or unpack our box. Turn with me to Exodus Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy Chapter 5 and follow along:

 

1. Highest Award = No Other God Ex 20:3 and Deut 5:7

    We are commanded to have no other God than the God we find in the Bible. He is described in many ways but All Knowing, All Powerful, Creator of all things who is everywhere; tells me He is most deserving of the description in Jeramiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. How could anyone hold another higher?

This implies trusting only in Him

This implies acknowledging no other God

This implies defining Him only as the bible dictates

 

2. A Cross = No Imagery, Idols or Likeness Ex 20:4-7 and Deut 5:8-10

    Many today place little importance upon this command, to their own harm: Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

Idolatry is the ultimate expression of unfaithfulness to God and for that reason is the occasion for severe divine punishment. 3 The portrayal of the kings In 1 and 2 Kings Is especially revealing. Kings are assessed as either good or bad purely on religious grounds, that Is, on the question of whether they destroyed or introduced idols. Omri, one of the greatest kings of Israel, is a case in point. In spite of his political achievements and the ‘might that he showed’ (1 Ki. 16:27), he is only mentioned briefly, for ‘he led Israel to ... provoke the anger of the Lord) their God with their worthless idols’ (1 KI. 16:26). The theme of judgement on idolatry is also widespread in the NT. http://www.theologynetwork.org/biblical-studies/getting-stuck-in/the-concept-of-idolatry.htm

Implies Worshiping Only the God of the Bible

Implies not only no physical graven images but also those of the mind

Implies no symbolism, imagery, representations, etc.

 

3. Name Tag = Honor God’s Name Ex 20:7 and Deut 5:11

In forbidding the vain use of God’s name, the third commandment does not merely ban irreverent, worthless, and empty speech and actions about the Lord, His titles, and His character. Like the other commandments, it also implicitly calls us to do the opposite of what it forbids. In this case, as question and answer 99 of the Heidelberg Catechism explain, the statute calls us to “use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe.” http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/honoring-gods-holy-name/

Implies not only the obvious no cursing but no modifications of that

Implies do nothing false in God’s name, preach, teach etc.

 

4. Hammock = Keep the Sabbath Ex 20:8-11 and Deut 5:12-16

    Implies the obvious Resting on the Sabbath (Sunday) but even more Resting on Sunday involves contemplating God and His word Matt11: 28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest . 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Implies what we should be honoring God through Corporate Worship

 

5. Your Parents = Honor your Mother and Father Ex 20:12 and Deut 5:16

Implies respecting them

Implies listening to them in order to learn from them

Implies obeying them

Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

 

6. Freddy Krueger = Do Not Kill Ex 20:13 and Deut 5:17

    Matt 5:21-22 (Amplified Bible) You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother orharbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously andinsultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.

Implies respecting all life

Implies protecting life

Implies preserving life

 

7. Your Spouse = No Adultery Ex20:14 and Deut 18

Implies not only physical but mental lust

Matt 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Implies monogamy

Implies Sexual activity between spouses only

Implies Heterosexual relationships only

 

8. A Burglar = Do not Steal Ex 20:15 and Deut 5:19

Implies taking using only what is yours

Implies ownership of property (anti-socialism)

Implies not cheating another (full day’s work for a full day’s pay)

Includes cheating God of his due, Tithe

Includes cheating the Government of their due, Taxes

Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

 

9. Court Room Witness Chair – No Lying Ex 20:16 and Deut 5:20

Implies never spreading rumors and innuendo

Implies always standing up for the truth

Implies always telling the truth (and insuring it is so)

Prov 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

 

10. Big Money = Do not Covent Ex 20:17 and Deut 5:21

1 Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Implies being satisfied with what you have

Implies depending on God for your provision

Implies God is sovereign, in control of all things

    By associating the Ten Commandments with pictures I think you will find it much easier to remember them. Of course in remembering them, we pray that will make it easier to obey them.

In HIS Service

 

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

- - - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

   Let me ask you this, you believe in carnal Christians don’t you? That was a comment from one of the men I minister to the other day. My reply was simple. No, not in the modern understanding, but my belief does not matter. What God says in the bible is all that matters.

   In order to explore this I think we need to define what most folks are referring to as a carnal Christian. In the New Testament the word “carnal’ is translated from the Greek word, sarkikos; which literally means “fleshly.” When the vast majority of folks today refer to carnal Christians they are in context referring to one who lives a fleshly depraved life (old creature) and not a life for Christ (new creature)

   In examining this topic more closely I wish to make three points. First a true Christian cannot be a carnal Christian as we defined it above. Second Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. Lastly Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature.

   I believe one of the great failings in the church today is rightly dividing the word of God. It is far easier to take a scripture and barely scratch the surface of it when proclaiming its meaning than spending countless hours studying it in context. I believe this belief in “carnal Christians” is such an example. This belief that a true Christian can come to Christ and then live a life of sin and depravity is unbiblical.

    The theory that a Regenerated, Born Again, Holy Spirit indwelled Christian can be living a carnal life comes from a misunderstanding of 1Corinthians 3:1-3. The Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is writing to believers (Brethren) in the city of Corinth. He three times refers to them as carnal, but as unto carnal, for ye are yet carnal, and are ye not carnal. So it would on the surface appear that “carnal Christians” are a reality. If we ignore our definition above the answer could be yes in this context. BUT, Paul started preparing the road for these verses back in Chapter 2 verse 12, turn there with me.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    True believers, Christian brothers and sisters receive not the spirit of the world {could read flesh}. No they must in fact receive the spirit which is of God. Why? Simply put an unbeliever, natural man v.14, cannot receive the things of God and foremost on that list is Salvation. Salvation starts with regeneration or rebirth, the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who living the carnal or fleshly life Ephesians 2:1-10

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Note here in verse one Paul says they were dead, meaning slaves to trespasses and sin but made alive (quickened) in Christ. They in times past walked according to the world because their conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath. BUT ! ! ! For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Do you see it friends, prior to our regeneration we were carnal in every aspect of our lives but now we are made alive in Christ to do good (Biblical standards need apply) works. A man cannot claim to be a Christian and live a life of fleshly service.

    Need more, check out 1 Peter 1:23:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    Regenerated man is born of what kind of seed incorruptible. The Greek word here is Aphthartos, meaning not liable to corruption or decay.

    Paul could not have been referring to the brethren in Corinth as in the modern understanding of “carnal christians”. To accept the modern belief that a true Christian can live a corrupted, depraved life is to deny the power of God in regeneration.

    Our second point today is a familiar one; Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. We spent a good deal of time during our series on Free Will looking at this topic but it is worth another look.

    Allow me to summarize using Romans 7:15-23 {Amplified Bible}

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [that which my moral instinct condemns].

16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me fixed and operating in my soul].

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

22 For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

23 But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

    Here is the Apostle Paul, who says he does things he knows to be morally corrupt (v15) and evil v19. So by his own admission the Apostle Paul is a Carnal Christian? I think not. Look at verse 21 with me again:

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

    Do you see it Paul says, that when I want to do what is right and good, he is speaking of his desire. He does not desire to live a carnal life no he desire to live a righteous one. BUT!! He understands evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands, and occasionally he will stumble and sin. This is not describing a modern “carnal Christian”. This is describing every true Christian.

    The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. This is the carnal Paul is referring to when writing to the Corinthians. Again many in the modern church have twisted the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner. It is one thing to sin another to embrace sin.

    Our final point is that Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature. Since some struggle more than others with the battle between flesh and spirit maybe that is how the misguided concept of “Carnal Christians” has evolved today. It is a fact man will always battle with his old self. So much so Paul devotes two entire sections of letters to two churches (Galatians 5 and Ephesians 6) to the matter.

    In Galatians chapter 5 Paul starts with a plea for the Galatians to Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

    The next 15 verses are dedicated to showing the old sinful nature is one constrained by the law. If you choose to pursue righteousness under the law good luck. Verse 17 makes is plain: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Starting in verse 19 Paul lays it out. Here are the fruits (works, actions, desires) of those under the law (carnal man) and those who have the Holy Spirit guiding their lives. What to know if someone is a Christian what fruits are they displaying?

    The key for me is in verse 16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The word walk is the Greek word Peripateo and means to regulate one's life and to conduct one's self. In context here is to live one’s life as a matter of habit in the Spirit.

    How can you live a life pleasing to God? A fulfilling life that may occasionally be marred by sin; yet a life that is not consumed by sin? Make it your habit, your daily practice to Walk in the Spirit. Listen, practice makes perfect is not joke.

    Lest I neglect to mention Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, you cannot win the battle over flesh alone. Practice is great but is requires the power of God. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians explains this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Carnal (devoted to sin) Christians are an unbiblical concept. You cannot be a child of God and live a life dedicated to sin. You cannot be a child of God and expect not to fight with your flesh, fail and sin sometimes. You cannot expect just because you are a child of God that you can defeat your sinful temptations on your own. You can as a child of God through practice, prayer and the providence of God, be victorious over your old sinful nature living a life that Glorifies God.

    Until next time may God greatly bless you all.