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

 

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.