Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Bible Basics


1. ANTICIPATION - If you were to read through the Old Testament over and over it would leave you with a strong impression that someone is coming. And that would in fact be correct because the Old Testament is constantly pointing to the coming of Christ.
Do you remember what Jesus explained to the two men on the road to Emmaus? Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. Therefore when we read the Old Testament we need to be aware that it speaks of the Jesus Himself.

2. MANIFESTATION - When we arrive at the books of Matthew-John we can see that He is here! The gospels in the New Testament record for us the birth, life, teaching, ministry, miracles, rejection, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
This means that Jesus is the unfolding or declaration of God the Father to us, to see the Son is to see the Father. Therefore as we read the Bible and pull out the truth from the text, to do so correctly means that we will see Jesus.

3. PROCLAMATION - In the book of Acts, we have the resurrected Jesus giving instructions to His disciples in Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” In Acts Chapter 2 the Spirit fills those at Pentecost and this begins the taking of the message to Jerusalem, Judea, Sumaria, and then to the outer most parts of the earth. Read More...

Matt Chandler challenges Southern Baptists to get back to the gospel

This articles from the Christian Post

A young evangelical preacher known for his no-frills sermons didn’t go soft when it came to rebuking pastors who are preaching something other than the Gospel and those who are pretending to be godly.

Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, addresses Southern Baptists at the Pastors’ Conference, June 14, in Orlando, Fla.
“I, unfortunately, with a great deal of sorrow have walked away from the idea that all of you are men and women of the Word,” Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, told a group of Southern Baptist pastors Monday. “I’ve just come to find that a lot of you are really good at clichés and really bad at tying in the Word.”

Chandler, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer, was in Orlando, Fla., as one of several well-known speakers during the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.

A pastors event is held every year just ahead of the denomination’s annual meeting to encourage and refresh those who lead congregations in the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

Though Southern Baptists overall are recognized for being conservative evangelicals, Chandler took the group back to the core of their faith the Gospel. After all, someone can grow up in the church, go to Vacation Bible School every summer and participate in all the programs and still not understand the Gospel, he indicated.

Chandler has found some pastors to be preaching the Gospel as a means of justification but failing to teach the Gospel as a means of sanctification. That results in churches primarily focused on evangelism and having “no care in the world for the depths of spirituality and understanding the nature and character of God.” Read more...

The calendar offerings

On Monday our Bible reading was in Numbers 25-28. In Chapter 28 there is a list of the offerings given by the LORD to Moses. Here is a summary of the calendar offerings that are courtesy of the Bible Knowledge Commentary. In the chart below you have the occasion for the offering, the type of offering and amount, and the section of Scripture that refers to the particular offering.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

The gospel is the power of God

Romans 1:16 and the power of God

On Sunday I asked the question; do you think the apostle Paul knew something about God's power? Paul was a student of the Old Testament and knew of God's creation of the world, the delivering of His people through the Red Sea and at Mount Sinai where God wrote the ten commandments on tablets of stone.
Yes, the apostle Paul knew very well about the power of God. And yet when he pens the book of Romans he mentions the power of God as it relates to salvation. The very power of God according to Paul is located in the gospel.

Let's take a closer look at Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. The context of this verse is Paul writing to the Christians in Rome. And he says that is important for these Christians to continue to believe the gospel because it is their salvation that is at stake. This is the point where many today in the American church would respond with "what did you just say?" Why do I need to continue being saved when I learned early on that I got saved? Herein lies the problem in that we have failed to teach people properly the different categories in regard to salvation.

The three categories in salvation

The first category in salvation is a past tense event called justification. This is when at a point in time a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior. It is at this time that God from His public courtroom in heaven declares this person to be righteous, which is grounded in the very life, death and resurrection of Christ. When we talk about someone that got saved we are really talking about when they got justified. Read More...

But now and But when

We talked about in class today the phrase “but now” which we came across in Romans 6:22. At that time I made the comment that a fun study would be to look up the number of times the apostle Paul has a “but now” in the epistles. Well I decided to give you the verses on the “but now” and the “but when.” If you are looking for a way to put some variety in your devotion time then spend some time on these two phrases and the verses. Remember to read these in context which means reading verses prior to and after.

To enlarge and view simply click on either of the photos above

Quote for the day

“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians, 179.


Review for June 13

This morning we concluded our teaching on Romans Chapter 6. I am sad to be leaving Romans 6 but am thrilled that we have been able to dig in for the past 2 months. Wow, can you believe it? Time flies when you are studying the Bible. This teaching falls under the “doctrine of salvation.” And for the last 8 weeks we taken an in depth look from Romans as to what it means “to be the Christian you say you’ve become.”

SBS Class June 132010

Fishers of fish?

Obviously Jim and Ken somehow misunderstood that Jesus called Peter, James and John “FROM” the water not “TO” the water. Hey guys you are to be a fishers of men not a fishers of fish. Where is Pastor Russ when you need him? Whatever...

For even a larger picture of this should you need one just click on the photo.

8 steps for understanding Romans 6

Step #1 - Prepare the Heart

As someone once said "it doesn't do much good to tune the fiddle after the concert is over." There are many people who come to the Bible to get their hearts right but the key is to get your heart right before you come to the Bible.

This step is not negotiable but mandatory if there is going to be proper Bible study. The number one problem for why people don't read and study is due to sin that is tolerated or known in their life. Haven't you heard that sin keeps you from the Bible and the Bible keeps you from sin? Well that is very true.

In our first Q and A Session we dealt specifically with the problem of a heart that is hard toward the Lord. If you would like some further teaching on this subject then click on this LINK.

When I first was learning how to study the Bible the following verses were memorized to help me keep this in the forefront of my mind. These are verses that deal with affections of the heart toward God and His word.

Psalm 118:19 - Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

Jeremiah 33:3 - Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

2 Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.

Step #2 - Read, Read, and Read Romans 6:1-23

We need to form better habits when it comes to reading large sections of Scripture. That is why since I have been so insistent about us as a class reading through the entire Bible each and every year. This forms a unity of Scripture in the mind that helps to connect all the dots. Because as we know there is one ultimate Author of each book and that is God Himself. Read More...

A practical way to start the day

Many times I am asked about the "how to's" of the Christian life. When I started teaching on the major doctrines of the Bible in September 2006 my motto became "what we believe is how we behave." Therefore we need to have a strong foundation in basic Biblical doctrine so that our lives will reflect and display the glory of God! One of the most practical theologians, pastors and teachers that I have ever seen or heard is Dr. John Piper. I recently read an article on how he begins each new day in Christ.

Just remember the acronym APTAT

I acknowledge that apart from Christ I can do nothing of eternal value (John 15:5). I acknowledge with Paul in Romans 7:18, "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." I acknowledge that the old "I" which loved to deny this fact was crucified with Christ.

"P" -
I pray
I pray with Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 that Christ would make me abound in love. I pray that grace might reign in my life through righteousness (Romans 5:21). I pray that God would produce in me the obedience he demands (Hebrews 13:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

"T" -
I trust. This is the key because Galatians 3:5 says, "Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?" In other words, the ongoing work of the Spirit to enable us to love as we ought happens only as we trust the promises of God (Galatians 5:6). So by faith I lay hold on a promise like Isaiah 41:10: "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." I trust that as I act, it will not be I but the power of Christ in me and me only clinging to him in faith. Read More...

Doctrine Divides...and that is good!

Allow me to submit for your consideration, that “doctrine divides” is actually a good thing–a positive thing. It’s true that “doctrine divides,” and here’s what it divides:

The ones just wanting to be comfortable from the ones willing to take up their cross.

The false conversions from the true conversions.

The ones under law from the ones under grace.

The swine from the pearls.

The profane from the holy.

The tares from the wheat.

The goats from the sheep.

The wolves from the flock.

The hirelings from the shepherds.

The “other gospels” from the one true Gospel.

The false christs from the one true Christ.

The darkness from the Light.

The lies from the Truth.

The errors from the facts.

The wicked from the righteous.

The wide gate from the narrow gate.

The broad road from the narrow road.


The many paths from the only Way

If God hides it can you find it?

This morning our Bible reading is in Proverbs 25 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. So what does the Bible say about things that God may choose to hide? Check out Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

And I recall when the Lord Jesus had just come from Chorazin and Bethsaida where He preached the gospel but it was rejected by the people. Matthew 11:25-26"At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."

What is it that God might be hiding today? I think God is hiding the gospel from many (pastors and congregation) in the professing American church. Because we have become wise and learned (man-centered) instead of like little children (God-centered). We market, plan, promote events and even bring in consultants so we can be bigger and better. But where is the prayerful dependence on God? Are we seeking Him and waiting on Him? Is it more about what we want or is it more about what He wants? Is our behavior like that of a helpless child who must simply rest in the ability of the father to take care of each and every need?

Becoming like a child

If your Bible reading and devotion time is dry and boring it may be that you are not child like when approaching God's word. Do you pray for God to reveal His word to you because it is the very food you need and depend on in order to survive for the day? Is there an ongoing desperation for Christ as the One that you rest in and rely on? Do you know that sometimes people miss the gospel by 18 inches? That is the approximate distance between the head and the heart. May we as His people have a heart for God's word so that He would be pleased to reveal Himself to us for His glory!

Quote for the day

Read and ponder this quote in lieu of what we have been studying in Romans 6.

"I often tell my congregation that when it comes to battling sin in our lives, the difference between Christians and non-Christians is not that non-Christians sin whereas Christians don't. The difference is found in which side we take in the battle. Christians take God's side against sin, whereas non-Christians take sin's side against God. In other words, a Christian will sin, but then he will turn to God and his Word and say, 'Help me fight against sin.' A non-Christian, even if he recognizes his sin, effectively responds, 'I want my sin more than God.'" - Mark Dever

One more time

I was studying in Romans 6:15-23 this afternoon. In doing so I came across the following comment on Romans 6:17 which reads, But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.

The verb “delivered” is second person plural. The Greek text reads, “the form of doctrine into which you were delivered.” That is, in salvation, God constituted the believer according to this chapter (vv. 1–14) inwardly so that he would react to the doctrines of grace by nature (the divine nature) in such a way as to receive and obey them. We were delivered into the teaching (doctrine, didachē (διδαχη)) in that we were constituted in salvation so that we would obey it. Paul thanks God that whereas before salvation we were slaves of the evil nature, we were in salvation delivered (handed over paradidōmi (παραδιδωμι)) to the teachings of grace so that we become slaves of righteousness.
Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 6:17). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

The point Wuest is making here is one we covered this past Sunday. The gospel is not delivered to you but in fact you are delivered to the gospel. And the only way that miraculous event can happen in your life is by God Himself.

The doctrine of God

We will getting back to our study in the doctrine of God after next week’s final look at Romans 6. In order to refresh a bit here is a chart courtesy of the ESV online study Bible. As we return to the doctrine of God the first order of business is to continue in our study of the incommunicable attributes. These are the attributes that are privileged to God alone.

click on the photo above to enlarge

God's responsibility vs. man's responsibility

Let's take a few minutes to dig a bit deeper into Romans 6:17-19. In the notes given (part 1 and part 2), plus the past two weeks of class you should have the flow of Paul's thought up to this point. So look with me at Romans 6:17:
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed

It's Greek to me

I want us to focus on the word "committed." This is a verb that is in the passive voice. Each Greek verb has the following 5 characteristics: (for more on this click on this LINK)

This particular verb resides in the passive voice. It means that the action is happening to the subject. For example when I say "the ball hit Bert." In this sentence Bert is receiving the action of the verb. If I reverse the sentence "Bert hit the ball" this means that Bert is doing or providing the action of the verb.

God's responsibility

In Romans 6:17 I would argue that the form of teaching that Paul refers to here might be the doctrine of the gospel. And so here is how is what the sentence would mean considering the word "committed" is now in the passive voice. The believers in Rome did not have the gospel delivered to them but those in Rome were delivered over to the gospel. I know that may be an awkward way to talk but it is what the verse means. Read More...

Review for June 6

SBS Class June62010

Fighting the good fight

1. GRACE comes down (from God)

2. JOY rises (in the believer as they are satisfied in God)

3. LOVE overflows (into the lives of others)

It is easy to draw a chart but to live this out is where the "rubber meets the road" in the Christian life. I am constantly reading and listening to those who have modeled godly living in their lives and ministry.

The following are notes from a Dr. John Piper lecture on "how" he fights for joy! Hopefully this will encourage you to run the race, and keep the faith as you continue fighting the good fight. Read More...

Digging deeper in Romans 6:17

Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed”

The apostle Paul wants us to understand the following three very important aspects regarding our conversion or regeneration:

  1. the will conforms itself in obedience to the very word of God
  2. the emotions are constantly being affected for the things of God
  3. the mind is constantly being taught the truth of God's word

Examples where it can become spiritually unhealthy if a church just focuses on either one or two and not all three mentioned above

  • There is an intellectual interest in the doctrines of Christianity but it can be void of the emotion and passion for the things of Christ and no obedience via the will to the word of Christ Parable stated in Matthew 7:24-27
  • On the other hand you can have whole churches built around the emotions and having a spiritual rush every time the people get together. And the people say we don't want any of that doctrine stuff. Paul writes in Romans 10:1-2
  • Then you can have churches that are involved in feeding the poor, going to take care of the homeless, ministering to the shut ins, helping all those who are widows by painting the houses and mowing the lawns. In this example there is an obedience but no truth or emotion. (The social gospel which promotes salvation by works)

Romans 6 "The Conclusion"

The unity of Scripture

If you are new to “how to study” the Bible, please be patient. This is a skill that needs to be developed over the years but it is so exciting and rewarding! One of the purposes of this class is to help those attending to have a system that they use when doing Bible study and devotion.

The following is an article from Wayne Grudem whose book on Systematic Theology is taught today in most seminaries. He has an excellent reputation and provides much helpful insight into the study of God's word.

Keeping the “Big Picture” in Mind: Some Observations about the Whole of Scripture

Big Picture 1

The Bible is a historical document. Therefore, always ask, “What did the author want the original readers to understand by this statement?”

Big Picture 2

The original authors wanted the original readers to respond in some ways. Therefore, always ask, “What application did the original author want the readers to make to their lives?” Read More...

Coming this Sunday

The doctrine of salvation

In March we began with a study of three specific doctrines and their practical application for the Christian life. These doctrines are justification, sanctification and resurrection and they fall under a broader heading called the doctrine of salvation. Many times in the American church the word saved or salvation has more to do with a past event in a Christian's life. But as one reads through the New Testament we come to understand salvation to be a three-fold process. First, when someone talks about the manner in which they got saved, they are referring to a specific time in the past which is called justification. Second, the apostle Paul writes that we don't need just to be saved (past tense), but that we need saving (present tense) on a daily basis. This is the process called sanctification, which means the transformation that occurs in the Christian's life to make them into the likeness of Christ. Finally salvation is presented to us in the New Testament as a future tense word called glorification. Therefore it is important to remember that the doctrine of salvation includes the past, present and the future.

Romans Chapter 6

Most scholar concur that the greatest book in the Bible written for us on the doctrine of salvation is the book of Romans. When one arrives at Romans 6 the apostle Paul has dealt with how a person gets saved (past tense). And now he is specifically telling us how that practically works itself out in the life of someone who has been regenerated or born again. It helps me to think of Romans 6 as Paul's defense of grace and his explanation of regeneration. So as we are trying to keep our categories straight in regard to salvation this would fall under present salvation. I also think a great title for Romans Chapter 6 is "Be Who You Are in Christ." As you know from our study, Romans 6 divides into two sections Romans 6:1-14 and Romans 6:15-23. The apostle Paul follows the same pattern in each section. First he stresses the facts of what happened to us as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then Paul exhorts us to live in a manner consistent with who we now are in Christ.

Learning how to study

This coming Sunday we will work our way through verses 15-23 in more detail as we try to understand what it means to be a slave to righteousness. I want you to think about how we arrived at this point in Romans 6. By doing so it will help you learn a system of "how to study" when you come to a book of the Bible. If you remember we started with the overall theme of Romans then I gave you a plan for Chapters 1-6. After that was established we started to focus heavily on the context in Romans 6 that came directly from the last two verses in Chapter 5. Since then I have been concentrating on the sentences which are made up of words and grammar. As you put all that together here is what it looks like when you start to study or think through the book of Romans. Read More...

Learning (doctrine) then Living (application)

We have taken some time to look carefully and closely at Romans Chapter 6. In thinking about the structure and flow of Romans 6 it reminds and teaches me about the ways of God. The practical application of what to do in Romans doesn’t begin until the apostle Paul teaches us what Christ has already done at the cross. As Paul writes Romans under the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), we are studying the very thoughts of God. As we study the thoughts of God we then hopefully start to understand the ways of God. And even though we can only know in part, that part is still valuable in our overall Christian development.

In other words, according to the Bible the learning precedes the living when it comes to the Christian life. Some in the evangelical churches today are saying that doctrine divides, so we don’t teach it. But the Lord Jesus Himself said “if you know the truth, the truth will set you free.” It is the truth of Bible doctrine that allows a person to be free in the Christian life. For example there are Christians who think that God is holding them daily to a certain level of performance. And if they don’t jump the bar so to speak they will not meet with God’s approval. This translates into the love of God being either given or withheld based on what I do for Him. If a person lives this way they are not free in Christ but are in bondage to the law of performance. So if we continue to be ignorant of doctrines like justification and regeneration then this will result in lives that are going to be off in application. We must understand that God is not withholding His love from us due to how we perform. Since we have been reconciled in Christ, God is 100% on our side all the time no matter what happens in our life! Therefore being in Christ, we have a new heart (born again) and we are a new person, and no longer have any of our sins condemning us, because they have been absorbed by Christ at the cross.

These are the basics but they must be learned and embraced in order to live in a way, in which God is glorified, as we are most satisfied in Him. Now please don’t misunderstand my initial point or take it to an extreme. Obviously we are applying truth along the way even before we learn all these doctrines in detail. But again the principle applies and you will see this especially with the epistles of Paul, there is truth that must be learned in order that the truth can be properly lived.

Baptized with One Spirit

This pertains to the doctrine of salvation.

Several weeks ago we looked at the word “baptism” and what the word means in the Greek. There has been much debate over the years in the church as to what it means to be baptized in the Spirit. As you will read in this short article by Warren Wiersbe he believes and so do I, that spiritual baptism happens at the time of our conversion. It is a one time event and therefore it is not necessary to for us as Christians to try and have some additional or subsequent work of the Spirit that we seek out later on in our Christian lives. Check out what Warren Wiersbe has to say about this subject.

The baptism of the Spirit occurs at conversion when the Spirit enters the believing sinner, gives him new life, and makes his body the temple of God. All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism (1 Cor. 12:13). Nowhere does the Scripture command us to seek this baptism, because we have already experienced it and it need not be repeated.

The “filling of the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18ff) has to do with the Spiritʼs control of our lives. (In Scripture, to be filled by something means “to be controlled by.”) We are commanded to be filled, and we can be if we yield all to Christ and ask Him for the Spiritʼs filling. This is a repeated experience, for we constantly need to be filled with spiritual power if we are to glorify Christ. To be baptized by the Spirit means that we belong to Christʼs body. To be filled with the Spirit means that our bodies belong to Christ. The evidence of the Spiritʼs baptism at conversion is the witness of the Spirit within (Rom. 8:14–16). - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (1 Co 12:1–14). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

10 Questions

Ryan Townsend contributes some excellent questions that require prayerful consideration.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your Bible reading, study and devotion time this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

It's a matter of the heart

May I continue to remind that the way you have a devotion time can vary greatly during the course of a year. Sometimes the Lord draws you to a word, phrase, sentence, chapter or even a book that brings about a substantial quiet time. It has been most typical for me to have devotions that come from my Bible reading but not always. I have told this story before but it made a great impression on me from a former professor Dr. Larry Dixon. He told us as a class that his devotion time for the entire year had been in John Chapter 9. I also like the advice given by George Mueller in regard to having devotions, he said "don't get up from the table until your heart is happy in Christ."

In our reading this morning I was drawn to 1 Chronicles 29:18 "O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you." This is David's great prayer of praise and supplication that will mark the end of his reign as king of Israel. As I was having my devotion time just thinking about the wording in this verse it hit me as to why so many today don't read the Bible or have consistent Bible devotions. The fruit is our devotion time with God but the root is our heart toward God. If the heart is hard then our ears become dull of hearing. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. Read More...