Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Quote for the day

The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. - John Stott

Connect Groups

Here is a preview of a connect group that met the other night at Dan and Julie’s home. If you are not presently in a connect group we highly encourage you to talk with Christa Moose and get signed up.

What are Connect Groups?
Learning and Living connect group ministry identifies itself with our purpose statement of "equipping God's people to delight in His glory and declare that glory to the nations." These care groups meet together regularly in a non-church setting to help us pursue this goal of delighting in and declaring God's glory in a very personal and practical level.

This is accomplished through…

1. Encouraging one another (i.e., fellowship and biblical application) day after day in our battle against attitudes of unbelief that arise in our hearts to steal our joy in God (cf., Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:23-25);

2. Building up one another (i.e., ministry and discipleship) in faith through the use of spiritual gifts that God freely distributes to His body as He wills for the purpose of edification, so that we might become mature in Christ (cf., Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14: 12, 26; Hebrews 2:4); and

3. Pursuing our joy in God (i.e., worship and evangelism) through the multiplication of worshipers for the glory of God in our community and beyond.

Groups may vary according to age, special needs/interests, geographical location, family orientation, etc., but they seek to make the above three areas the goal of their existence.

John Piper stepping away from ministry for next 8 months

It would be rare to find a Christian especially in America who does not know of John Piper. The way Pastor John preaches and teaches evokes strong emotions from both those who love him and those who hate him. I started into full time ministry in 1998. In that same year I was given my first book outside of the Bible by my senior pastor Glenn Wagner and it was a John Piper book called “Desiring God.” After I read it I thought I want to know God like this man knows God. If you have never read that book then do yourself a huge favor, order it immediately and read it.

On Saturday Pastor John made a very important announcement. He is stepping away from the ministry for the next 8 months. Nancy first found this online yesterday and after reading the announcement out loud we both wept. As a pastor I understand and Nancy understands the toll that ministry can take on family and friends.

I am including the announcement the Dr. Piper gave at his church on Saturday night. It is heart warming, sincere, and very transparent regarding pastoral ministry at the most high profile level. John has always been very forthcoming about his own inadequacies in ministry and in this audio clip he doesn’t pull any punches. Allow me to encourage you to listen and pray for this man who God has chosen to use in our time not unlike He used Jonathan Edwards in the 18th Century. Read More...

Quote for the day

"I take it that man does not preach Christ and him crucified, who can get through a sermon without mentioning Christ's name once" - Spurgeon

Amazing Grace

How many times have we sung the beloved hymn by John Newton while in church? After four weeks of study in the doctrines of justification and regeneration I want you to look with me at some of these lyrics.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Look at the first two lines of the first stanza in lieu of the following verses in the Bible
Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Gen. 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Eph. 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Eph. 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Eph. 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else, And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Rom. 3:10 as it is written,

John Newton wrote about what he knew to be the human condition of every person born of ordinary generation from Adam. And he knew this about himself, that he was a wretch, evil and rebellious toward God and what he deserved was judgment, condemnation and hell. Read More...

Review for March 28

This morning we concluded our study of the doctrine of regeneration. However when we come to the “doctrine of salvation” we will cover this in much more depth. There are two different formats I am going to provide you with in the study of regeneration. First, the regular notes that I provided last week but will repost for those for you in the regular slide share format. And for those of you who want to see the readers digest version can simply click on this LINK. It may help to listen to the audio as you go through the first couple of slide to understand my description regarding ROLE VS. IDENTITY.

Next week is Easter Sunday and we will cover the resurrection. Hopefully I can post some preview notes during the week for you to read as we prepare our hearts for a wonderful Sunday of celebration.

If you want to print out the notes from today’s class. Click on this LINK

Click here to take survey

Quote for the day

“How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing ’some great thing’ in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning? Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do ’some great thing.’ We don’t have to do it, because Jesus has. . . . Jesus did it all for us, and he loves us — that is how we know our existence is justified. When we believe in what he accomplished for us with our minds, and when we are moved by what he did for us in our hearts, it begins to kill off the addiction, the need for success at all costs.”

- Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009), 93-94.

Therapeutic Moralistic Deism

Have you ever heard that term? Well, that is Dr. Michael Horton’s subject at the West Coast Conference 2010.

1:30 – 2:30 P.M.
Moralistic and Therapeutic Deism
The Creed of the new American religion is basically this: God is nice and we
are nice, so we should all be nice. The goal of life is to be happy and to feel good
about oneself, and good people will go to heaven when they die. Some who profess
this creed also profess to be Christian. In this message, Dr. Michael Horton explains
how biblical Christianity has been replaced by this vacuous moralistic and therapeutic

Here is a short video clip that was just shown live over the internet. Again if you would like to view the conference just click on this LINK.

March to the Cross

West Coast Conference 2010

This conference is being shown live over the internet right now. If you want more information about the West Coast Conference 2010 then just click on this LINK for the information. I just got this short clip from Dr. John MacArthur who is discussing “becoming a better you” the ministry of Joel Osteen. Dr. MacArthur has some very strong words about the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. And let me warn you if you are a fan of Joel Osteen and his ministry then put on your seat belt. OK, without any further ado here is short video clip of John MacArthur speaking about 20 minutes ago. Just to let you know I did not have time to do any video editing.

Should want to see the conference live then simply click on this LINK.

The Buzz

This is our Friday edition of the Buzz. For those who are new to our class or website, the Buzz becomes a place for us to dig deeper into the doctrines we study on Sunday. Also it will be a place that I have interviews, videos and audio clips of interest as they pertain to our spiritual growth.
Today’s topic Regeneration means to be “born again.” Since we have been studying the doctrine of regeneration I thought it would be helpful to give more depth and foundation to how we need to understand this critical doctrine.
Born again talk is unsettling to many people because this means not something that you do but must be something that is done to you. Therefore in the American evangelical world it means that we can’t plan, establish, make happen, control or bring it about because only God can do it.

The verses that specifically deal with the phrase “born again” are:
  • John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  • John 3:7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
  • 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • 1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

This is the doctrine of ”REGENERATION“ and can be supported with a number of verses:
John 1:12-13 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Read More...

Devotion time in Ezekiel 19-24

After reading in Ezekiel this morning I broke it down in the following way:
1. The cause of sin
2. The consequence of sin

Cause of Sin
The cause goes back to original sin that took place in the garden of Eden (Romans 5:12). Man has a heart that is hard, evil, wicked and rebellious against God. As a matter of fact man really wants to be his own god. He wants to plan, be strategic, control in order to be the captain of his own ship and the master of his own fate. Therefore man not only is conceived in sin, but continues to sin in falling short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Man depends on himself, relies on himself and trusts in himself to the point that he idolizes all that his hands can create. And when you think that these in Ezekiel are the people of God then we quickly realize this represents everyone in all the world. If God's people can't keep the law then what does that say about the rest of the people on planet earth? Each person that was ever born through ordinary generations from the day of Adam has a heart that is evil and desperately wicked. Just look at Genesis 6:5 "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Consequence of Sin
We have a poor understanding today in the church of how God views sin. As we are going through the attributes of God we learn that God is holy, God is just and God is wrathful against sin. In this section of Ezekiel we are seeing the judgment of God that is being delivered against His own people. There will be death by famine, death by the sword and death by disease. Here is where it helps to go back to the definition of the kingdom and put this into a greater context. The kingdom of God is where you have;

God's people in God's land under God's obedient vassal king. When you read through this section of the Old Testament most all the vassal kings are evil and rebellious. This means that the people are going to reflect the thoughts and actions of the leadership. The land of God must be a place of holiness and righteousness. But instead it has become a place where God's people worship their own various idols. And when you go back and read carefully Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27 and 28, God carefully lays out what will happen if the people obey and what will happen should they disobey. Because in Exodus 24:7-8 the people have put themselves under a covenant of works or covenant of the law. Now in Ezekiel we are reading the consequence that results from the breaking of God's law as it pertains to His people. When you read of the death and destruction that takes place it becomes very hard to read as the video player in your mind turns itself on. But there is an extremely valuable lesson in all this for us today. And that is when we see the horrific consequence of sin on planet earth, that is but a small pointer for us as to how God views sin on a worldwide scale. We read of two women eating their own children and we can hardly bear to think that actually occurred. That becomes a tangible picture for us like a grain of sand compared to the Rockie mountains as to our sin before the eyes of a holy God. Read More...

Quote for the day

"What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man can ever dream of deserving anything at God's hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God, as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man's heart, and the reign of self-righteousness is over. The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots. But the power of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart, and shows the man himself, and God. The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness. He will say with St. Paul, 'I am the chief of sinners.'-- 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Tim. i. 15 ; Gal. vi. 14.)

- J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (pp. 229).

Entertaining the flock

These articles are placed on this blog site to make those in our community aware of what happens when gospel centered teaching and Christ centered preaching leaves the church. The only option are for things to move in a man centered instead of a God centered direction.

If you like MTV, Nickelodeon, and Disney World all rolled into one fun filled and exciting service then you will love Journey Community Church. This is one among the many new church plants that are growing at a rapid rate around the United States. This particular church is receiving much attention in the community and was written up recently in the Metro Spirit under the title Church of Rock II. Here is an actual quote from the article “It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I visit a church whose band is so good that I would pay a cover charge to get in. The band rocked the house at Journey Community Church in Evans last Sunday… The reporter Angel Cleary goes on to write about a comedic video skit along with two crash test dummies that were an illustration for a marriage skit. Here is the article from Christian Research Net and also here is the entire article you can read at this LINK. Read More...

The survey is in, the people have spoken...

A while back I put a survey on our blog site regarding the different hats of Pat Jones. The final
results were much closer than I expected. If you want to see the results then simply click
on the photo above or this LINK.

"Getting used to the Dark"

The title of this blog is a great sermon by Vance Havner. Many of you have heard me refer to Vance Havner a number of different times over the past 18 months. Karen Mitchell in our class told me how much she loves to hear Vance Havner preach. He is with the Lord now, but he is known for the number of “one liners” that he uttered during the ministry years.

I have prepared a short preview of the audio version of “Getting used to the Dark.”

Also I have included some of the famous quotes from this wonderful man of God.

“When the tide gets low every shrimp has its own puddle”

I'm tired of hearing sin called sickness and alcoholism a disease. It is the only disease I know of that we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to spread. Read More...

Devotion time in God's word

I think Psalm 46 speaks very loudly to us in an environment that stays busy, hectic and very distracted. In Psalm 46:10 we read "Be still and know that I am God." This may be short and simple but there is much good theology in these words.

1. Be still - when is the last time you were consistently still over a period of days, weeks or yes even months? We must learn to be still not just to pretend or act still. It's like a muscle in the arm when you work it then it becomes stronger. It seems almost a paradox to say we need to practice becoming still but we do. How are you practicing to be still?

2. Know - just that word can tell so much about a person's theology. It says nowhere in this verse for you to "DO" anything. Of course doing is part of the Christian life, no self respecting orthodox evangelical would argue against that fact. But it doesn't start with doing it all starts with knowing. As I have said on many occasions, it is not what Jesus would do but rather what Jesus has already done that is the key. The Lord Jesus Christ links the word know with eternal life in John 17:3, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."(NIV)

3. I am God - we need to remember that in a world that has many, many different types of gods. The god of self-esteem, the god of success, the god of lifestyle, the god of I, me and my just to name just a few. But let's not get confused, God said to Moses tell them that I AM the great I AM. Once I heard a Bible teacher say that God told Moses I AM and now you fill in the blank. I AM...your savior, I AM...your shield and protection, I AM your wisdom and strength, I AM the Alpha and the Omega and so on.

There could be much more to think about and to write but that is a basic kind of devotion that I like to have first thing in the morning. And normally what I do is try and bring the devotion in during the day in conversations with people. Also I try to continue thinking about the main points like being still, knowing God and knowing that He is the great I AM.

Commitment to God's Word

Quote for the day

“If you read the Bible from cover to cover you realize that it narrates (proclaims!) a true and cohesive story: the good news that through Jesus Christ God has entered history to liberate and renew the world from its bondage to sin and suffering. This is the story of God, who pursues the restoration of his creation at the cost of his own life. He is making all things new (Rev 21:5)! That’s the simple and yet profound, life- and world-altering plotline of the Bible.”

- Michael R. Emlet, CrossTalk (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2009), 41.

Who is this Jesus?

We are “Marching to the Cross” as a class to study several doctrines that are critical for us to know. In our march the question may come from those inside or even outside the church “who is this Jesus?”

He is the last Adam
1 Corinthians 15:45

He is the Advocate
1 John 2:1

He is the All in All
Colossians 3:11

He is the Almighty
Revelation 1:8

He is altogether lovely
Song of Solomon 5:16

He is the Amen
Revelation 3:14

He is the Ancient of Days
Daniel 7:9-11

He is the Anchor
Hebrews 6:19

He is the Angel of the Lord
Genesis 16:9-14

He is His Anointed
Psalm 2:2

Justification and Regneneration

Justification deals with my bad record before God, whereas regeneration deals with my bad heart. Justification takes care of the problem I have as a fugitive from the law. And regeneration takes care of who I am in regard to my bad heart which defiles me. Justification takes place external to me in the courtroom of God. It is an instantaneous act of God in which His gavel comes down to pronounce me innocent in Christ. Regeneration takes place on planet earth and happens inside of me. It is an instantaneous act in which God imparts to me spiritual life so as to receive Christ by faith. They are two sides of the same coin in that you can't have one without the other.

Next Sunday, Lord willing we will dive more deeply into the doctrine of regeneration. Here a two definitions you might want to consider in regard to this doctrine:

* Regeneration is a creative act of power that God does inside of me where God comes and does a creative work in the heart
* Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us.

The illustration I like to use is that of a fist held up in the air. Make a fist with you left hand and hold it up in the air and pretend for a moment that this is a heart of stone. Whenever Biblical truth comes against this heart it simply bounces of because it is so very, very hard and cold. But then one day the gospel comes with a mega force of spiritual life in which when touched this heart of stone now has imparted to it the life giving force of Christ. At the moment, the very moment that the gospel of Christ which is being delivered via the Holy Spirit hits that hard heart it burst into life and that burst is faith. The heart of stone which once defiled me has now been taken out and a heart of flesh is now beating for Christ. Read More...

Review for March 21

I started today’s teaching with “how” doctrine works in my life when affliction, suffering and hardship show up. My goal as we began was to show the precious truth of God’s sovereignty in the hard things that happen life. It happened to Job, it happened to Paul, it happened to Jesus and it will happen to you and me. One of the roles I have as your teacher is to be sure that you are properly instructed in Bible doctrine, so that when the calamity hits and the adversity comes you will bless God and NOT blame God.
Therefore we took a quick tour of Job 1, 2 and 42. And then we traveled to Habakkuk 3:16-19 and finally to Romans 8:28 and Romans 8:18. Here is the point to the first part of the teaching this morning; when you are weak and broken and you rely on Christ in the hardship this is the point where He becomes most glorified in you as you become most satisfied in Him.

From our start we launched into the review of our “March to the Cross.” Here we are looking at the essential doctrines of justification, regeneration and the resurrection as we head toward Easter Sunday on April 6. The notes contained within will be a review and a preview of the coming week. So as time allows I want to encourage you to read through the notes and think in terms of definitions, illustrations and Scriptural support for these doctrines we are going over.

If you want to hear the audio from class on J.I. Packer’s comments on the church. Click on this LINK

If you want to print out the notes from today’s class. Click on this LINK

March to the Cross

This Sunday we continue our “March to the Cross” as we study the doctrine of regeneration. Remember from our first two weeks; justification deals with the external, but now we are going to see that in regeneration God deals with the internal. Hope to see you in class tomorrow.

Theology matters!

Quote for the day

“The preaching of the cross, the preaching of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on that cross, is the very heart and center of the Christian gospel and the Christian message. Put that in the center, place it in the front, proclaim it above everything else.”

- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted by Arturo G. Azurdia in Connected Christianity (Christian Focus: UK, 2009), 53.

Springtime in Charlotte

To see more photos click on the picture above

The Buzz

On this Friday edition of the Buzz I take up the issue of the “EMERGENT CHURCH”

  • Are you aware of this church movement in America?
  • Can you define it in general?
  • Did you know that the emergent church is one of the fastest forms of church growth in our country especially among our youth?
  • Do you think this is just another healthy expression of the orthodox local church or is it heretical false teaching?
  • Could your church be embracing and heading toward a more emergent church doctrine?
  • Are there basic differences in the essentials such as the substitutionary atonement of Christ for us as a result of the cross?

A brief review of Justification

We are "marching to the cross" as we head toward Easter Sunday. In the last two weeks we have specifically focused on the doctrine of justification. This is the one doctrine according to Martin Luther the church or individual stands or falls on. That is such an amazing statement to me from one of the key theologians in all of church history. Therefore I am trying to find different ways to present this to your learning and living. Today I have created a brief video that will give you a quick review of the definition and also the 6 essentials to know in regard to justification. Don't worry no test will be forthcoming but may I encourage each of you to read this between now and class on Sunday. I once heard a well know pastor and theologian say that one of the keys to a healthy marriage is a good understanding of justification. I think you could broaden the statement to include relationships with people.

Proverbs: A Mini-Guide to Life

This is from the Gospel Coalition Website and is an article from Pastor Tim Keller.

In my regular, daily Bible reading over the past year I read through Proverbs 3, a passage I’ve studied and preached through many times. But during this reading, I realized that in verses 3 through 12 we have all the themes of the rest of the book, and therefore a kind of mini-guide to faithful living. There are five things that comprise a wise, godly life. They function both as means to becoming wise and godly as well as signs that you are growing into such a life:

1. Put your heart’s deepest trust in God and his grace. Every day remind yourself of his unconditioned, covenantal love for you. Do not instead put your hopes in idols or in your own performance.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Prov 3:3-5a)

2. Submit your whole mind to the Scripture. Don’t think you know better than God’s word. Bring it to bear on every area of life. Become a person under authority.

Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5b-6)

3. Be humble and teachable toward others. Be forgiving and understanding when you want to be critical of them; be ready to learn from others when they come to be critical of you.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Prov 3:7-8)

The benefit of journaling

If you do not journal during Bible devotion time I would highly recommend that you do so. There is something about reading, thinking and writing notes that locks Scripture into the brain.
This has been something I have done consistently over the past 10 years, and have lots of notebooks filled with Scripture study and devotions. In regarding to journaling the verse that comes to mind is Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. As you journal with Scripture in front of you it becomes a very effective way to renew the mind. Obviously the transformation here is done by the Holy Spirit but we have a responsibility to be wise in the tools we use to take in the Scripture for our daily living.

Beware of 7 countefeit gospels

From Tullian Tchividjian:

In one of his [Paul Tripp] books (co-authored with Tim Lane), How People Change, he identifies seven counterfeit gospels—-”religious” ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from the gospel of grace. I found these unbelievably helpful. Which one (or two, or three) of these do you tend to gravitate towards?
Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.”

Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”

Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”

Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”

Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.”

Therapism. “I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs.”

Social-ism. “The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian relationships.”

Quote for the day

"The first device that Satan has to keep souls in a sad, doubting, and questioning condition, and so making their life a hell, is by causing them to be still poring and musing upon sin, to mind their sins more than their Savior; yes, so to mind their sins as to forget, yes, to neglect their Savior, that, as the Psalmist speaks, 'The Lord is not in all their thoughts' (Psalm 10:4). Their eyes are so fixed upon their disease, that they cannot see the remedy, though it be near; and they do so muse upon their debts, that they have neither mind nor heart to think of their Surety. A Christian should wear Christ in his bosom as a flower of delight, for he is a whole paradise of delight. He who minds not Christ more than his sin, can never be thankful and fruitful as he should."

- Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices

(via Josh Harris)

What do you treasure?

Jesus said in Matt. 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. There are so many things that vie to be our treasure. It can be expensive cars, nice homes, successful business careers, social recognition and yes even our own families.

But look at the parable in Matthew 13:44. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. For the Christian our treasure must be Christ Himself.

Father in heaven passion my heart by Your grace in such a way that my greatest treasure will be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ignorance is not bliss

In this short audio clip the producer from the White Horse Inn is interview students on a Bible college campus. The interview consists of two primary questions, have you ever studied Galatians and what is justification. Since we have invested the last two weeks of our class on the doctrine of justification I thought this would be a relevant post. The comments after the interview are those of the well regarded theologian J.I. Packer, co-author of Grounded in the Gospel. Listen closely as he explains the difference between those in church 200-300 years ago and today.

Simply click on this LINK

Union with Christ

Yesterday in SS our focus was on justification as we looked at 2 Corinthians 5:21. I listed the following points that would be helpful to study when devoting or studying on this verse. Here is the verse in the ESV; For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The study points:
  1. Christ knew no sin
  2. He made Him to be sin
  3. So that we might become the righteousness of God
  4. In Him

Unfortunately I never made it to point #4 “In Him.” However I came across a great description of this from Tony Reinke’s blog site called Miscellanies. In this blog he puts the notes from a lecture by Professor Richard Gaffin. The phrase in HIm, in Christ, and in the Lord is primarily used by the apostle Paul and occurs over 150 times in the New Testament. Ultimately this means our union in Christ but what does that really mean? Well, check out this article for further help in this area of your study.

Simply click on this LINK.

Week #26 in Bible Reading Plan

May I have your attention please? If you are traveling with us through the Bible this year we have reached the halfway point in our journey. As we continue there will be stops along the way to reflect on more Scripture. If you haven’t started it would be a great place to begin and allow this to be your day number one. What is the difference between those who can’t read the Bible and those who don’t read the Bible? Answer, nothing because both parties are functionally illiterate. So if you aren’t reading or haven’t starting may I appeal to you to pray for a passionate desire to read, and study the word of God? Read these words from the Lord Jesus in John 8:31“...“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” For those who are at week 26, I want to exhort you to continue running the race, keeping the faith and fighting the good fight!

Count the Cost

If you enjoyed our video clip from Paul Washer this morning, then you will enjoy this clip from Pastor Steven Lawson. It is from the I’ll Be Honest website and reads as follows;

What does it cost you to follow Christ? Everything. Steve Lawson preaches on Luke 14 on the Cost of Discipleship. The sad reality is that many people are just part of a crowd, many are in the crowd of those who listen to Piper, Washer, Conway, MacArthur, yet they themselves have not truly submitted to the Lordship of Christ. Search yourself out this very day... have you come to saving faith? Or do you just wish you had the reality of Christ that you see others have? Don't be part of the wrong crowd.

Grab your Bible and a pen, a cup of coffee or tea and take a few minutes to watch this video. Click on this LINK

Review for March 14

Today we continued in our “March to the Cross” as we again looked closely at the doctrine of justification. After last week a number of people in the class asked if I would continue teaching this particular doctrine. Therefore we are looking at the “doctrine of justification part 2 in our teaching this week. Please understand that in the notes I have included much more than we were able to cover in the class. I would highly recommend that you go through the power point presentation, grab your Bibles in order to mark Bible verses and make some study notes. Also you will find contained within this presentation 6 essential principles you need to learn regarding the doctrine of justification.

To see the entire Paul Washer video called “Jesus Died” just click on this LINK.

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

Quote for the day

Apostle Paul never starts with what we need to do; he begins with what God has already done;get it backwards and miss the gospel - Tullian Tchividjian

The Buzz

It’s Friday so time for another edition of the Buzz. In follow up to last week’s “The Sovereignty of God” in and through natural disasters you are in for another audio treat.

On January 8, 1956 there were five missionaries Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian who were killed by a tribe known as the Huaoranis.
These five brave men are credited with sparking an interest in Christian missions among the youth of their time and are still considered an encouragement to Christian missionaries working throughout the world. After her husband's death, Elisabeth Elliot and other missionaries began working among the Auca (Huaorani) Indians, where they had a profound impact and helped bring many people to Christ.

The following is a quote that was found in the journal of Jim Elliott - "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

I would like you to hear from the son of Nate Saint whose name is Steve Saint, he wrote a book that several years ago was turned into a movie called "The End of the Spear." The context of this is within the NPR interview last week done with Dr. John Piper. In that interview Dr. Piper referred to Nate Saint and here you will learn the rest of the story. Trust me this is well worth the time to put on bunny slippers, grab the hot chocolate, and listen to this incredible testimony of God’s sovereign grace in and through suffering.

Blessed Subtraction

Several years ago I was talking to a well known pastor about people leaving the church. He told me that if the church is preaching the gospel as instructed by the full counsel of God’s word then the term is called “blessed subtraction.” I must say I pondered on that for weeks if not months. In a day and time where so many churches are developing strategies to bring in the crowd, a preaching of the full gospel may take people out.

So when I found this picture here is the question that came into my mind regarding the subject of church growth. Would it be better to fill up the church in a “seeker-friendly,” try it before you buy it type of preaching, or basic gospel preaching where the crowds are much smaller? In later posts I will provide actual documentation on this specific issue. I would like you to answer the poll from the perspective of what you are actually observing in the American mega churches. A mega church is a church with attendance over 2000. The answer to poll question covers from Houston to Chicago in other words the whole country. Don’t answer based on what you would like to see but what you do see.

Check out the poll question below:

Why should Christians study the Bible?

1. There is no subject that is more worthy of our time.
By the way I meant to ask last night if you were asked to give the subject of the Bible in two words how would you respond?
My answer to that question would be Jesus Christ. Let me give you a quotation from one of the great Bible teachers who taught for many years at Columbia Bible College now known as Columbia International University. His name is Buck Hatch and he now resides with that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12. Here is a quote directly from Buck Hatch - "What is more important to man than God? He is everything. To know God is the primary, pre‑eminent pursuit of any human. And how is he, man, to study, to know God? God has shut Himself up, as it were, or limited Himself in His revelation to mankind through the channel of the written Word of God ‑ The Bible.
This is the only authentic, true text to which we may turn. Anything God has of Himself or His blessings comes from Himself immediately, directly, and only to a human being through this book, God's Word. Consequently, to know God is to know the Bible; to know the Bible is to know God. If God is all important, then His Word is all important. In other words, The Word of God is as important as God Himself. As far as mankind is concerned, this is true. A hunger for God will mean, must mean, a hunger for the Word of God. Therefore, one must immediately realize if God's Word is as important as God Himself (for by it we can know and understand God), then how we interpret God's Word is just as important as God's Word. We must know exactly what it says so that we may know exactly what God says! This is where correct and accurate Bible study plays its important role."

2. It is a litmus test for us as to determine if we are true disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Check out John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine". Sometimes what I like to do is to contrast what I have just read in order that the truth even be brought into my mind and heart in a more significant way. Therefore based on the verse above would it be fair to say that those who don't continue in His word aren't true disciples! Whoa, now that should really get our attention! By the way the word "continue" in this verse is the Greek word "meno" and it means to reside or stay in. If you cross reference this word it also appears in John 15:4 - "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me". One of the keys for determining whether are true or just professing disciples of the Lord Jesus is do we abide in His word!

Battling the epidemic of pornography

If you put a title on our reading today in Proverbs it would probably be "warning in regards to adultery." Jesus brings further clarity to this issue in the New Testament when He states from the "Sermon on the Mount" these words in Matthew 5:28; "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Since this is a class focused on Bible doctrine there are a number of "hot topics" that we will probably never cover in depth. However I am utilizing these blog articles with you to cover at times that which we may not cover on Sunday morning.

As you probably already know the divorce rate in America is a little over 50%. And the trend has turned in recent years, as the churches divorce rate has actually exceeded that of those in the world. The reason is because many outside the Christian faith have agreed to live together and not enter into a marriage covenant. And therefore would not be calculated as part of the divorce statistics. I think today the most significant form of adultery that we see in America, is that which is being committed online through pornography. Recently a major university was going to do a study in order to track the effects of pornography on males between let's say 20-40. I don't remember the exact ages but this is fairly close. They were to take one group with no exposure and then set up another test group who had significant exposure over a certain number of years. The study was cancelled before it started because they could find no males that had not been exposed to online pornography. This is not just a problem but an epidemic according to those in the know and it embraces both male and female.

However we should not be surprised by this when we read what the apostle Paul teaches in Romans Chapter 1. He writes under the inspiration of the Spirit, that when a culture, community or individuals start to exchange the glory of God for the glory of man they enter into a descending staircase of sin. This begins with sexual immorality that leads to a culture of homosexuality then leads to a culture of depraved minds. God gives people over to the desires of their hearts. The message in this section of Romans 1 is as follows; If you want to exchange the glory of God for the glory of self and if you continue and maintain this to be your passion and treasure then God will give you over to it. Step back for a minute or two, look at the newspaper and headline news and then read Romans 1 in the context of what you are seeing play out in the American culture. Read More...

Are we suffering from Biblical ignorance?

If we need evidence for the importance of learning Bible doctrine then we need to go no further than this article and audio clip. First the audio clip comes from Dr. Michael Horton with the White Horse Inn. And this was a question asked to students at a conservative evangelical college about Biblical ignorance. To listen just click on this LINK.

Crisis in America’s Churches: Bible Knowledge at All-Time Low by Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D.

A crisis of basic biblical and theological knowledge exists in America’s churches, and church leaders must do all they can to address this growing problem, so say experts monitoring the beliefs of people in Christian churches across the United States.

“The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy,” warns researcher George Barna. “How else can you describe matters when most churchgoing adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?”[1]

Other disturbing findings that document an overall lack of knowledge among churchgoing Christians include the following:

• The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is “God helps those who help themselves”—which is not actually in the Bible and actually conflicts with the basic message of Scripture.
• Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making or behavior.
• When given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1% of adult believers firmly embraced all thirteen as being biblical perspectives.[2] Read More...

Quote for the day

“God’s grace is his active favor bestowing the greatest gift upon those who have deserved the greatest punishment.”

– William Hendrickson, Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (London: Banner of Truth, 1959), 370.

Back to Basics

Before I go on with this review let me mention something close to my heart. Most people that you come across in the church today have never read the Bible through one time. Therefore one of the first exhortations from our very first study was for the men to read through the entire Bible each and every year. How should we expect to learn "how to study the Bible" if we have never read the very book we are going to study? So I will continue to emphasize as I did last night the big picture approach before starting into a study of individual books of the Bible.

Last night, I again challenged us to know the purpose of the Bible. And the answer is "the glory of God." We have discussed this before, talked about the importance of God's glory and even made references to how this should apply to our life. But I am asking the question from a three-fold perspective. Once the answer comes from the mouth there are three additional essentials I want you to know.
1. How would you define the term or phrase?
2. Can you give an illustration?
3. Are you able to support the definition with Scripture?

Guys this is not a question on Bible jeopardy! This is a question about knowing the God of the Bible and to know Him is to know His word. Check out the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." When we are studying the purpose of the Bible which means we are studying the purpose of God. And the natural follow up question is if the "glory of God" is the theme of the Bible is this the theme of our lives. If you died tomorrow and your wife, children, extended family and friends were able to give a eulogy would they say "his life was dedicated to or lived out for the glory of God." What is the goal of our conversion while we are living here on planet earth? In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we read this "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." Each and every day as we read and have devotions in the word of God the Spirit of God is transforming us little by little into a Christ likeness. And should we ask "WHY?" The answer is so that when others watch you, hear you and put a telescope lens up to your life, what they see is the demonstration of the greatness of Jesus Christ!

Is the doctrine of immutability practical?

One of the practical exercises that will help you learn doctrine is when you see a doctrine put it in the margin of your Bible. Another suggestion would be to keep a journal of the Scriptures and doctrines that you come to as you read through the Bible this year.

This morning our reading was 1 Kings Chapters 14-18. The last two weeks of February we as a class studied the doctrine of immutability. Before I show you where I see the doctrine of immutability in our reading this morning let's have a short review.

The Attribute of Immutability - to say that God is immutable is to say Biblically at least two things:
1. God can’t change in His attributes, His essence, His very being, that is who God is as God
2. He can’t change in His ethical commitments that are an extension of His own moral nature

The first aspect of His immutability is called ontological because this is referring to the very being of God, His essence can not change
God is holy which means He can not be unholy (Lev 11:44-45
God is love which means He can not be not loving (1John 4:8) God is just and therefore can not be unjust (Is 30:18)
God is omnipotent which means God can’t lack power (Genesis 18:14 and Luke 1:37)
God is faithful which means He can not be faithless (2 Timothy 2:13)

The next kind of immutability which is dependent upon the first one might be called ethical immutability.
So by God’s very nature when He make an ethical commitment then He is bound to it.

Bottom line the immutability of God might best be stated as follows; the word of God is as good as it is because the character of God is as good as it is. Again when you read through the Bible keep these things in mind. For example this morning I the following verses an immediately thought about the doctrine of immutability. Read More...

A Caring Community

When our class started in August of 2008 one of the slogans we used for a while was “A caring community unto the glory of God.” As I look back on the beginning days and now today these statements about our ‘learning and living” community still ring true.

So what do we care about?
- We care about getting people back to the basics of God's word
- We care about prayer individually and corporately
- We care about touching, calling and knowing the people in this class
- We care about gathering in order to build relationships at a deeper level
- We care about being there with meals or whatever may be necessary as those in the class are in crisis
- We care about the gospel not only in Charlotte but in the outermost parts of the earth
- We care about being intentional with the time we have to make a difference for the kingdom
- We care about getting involved with others even when it means inconveniencing ourselves
- We care about living truth and not just learning truth
- We care about using our God given gifts and encouraging others to use theirs
- We care about God because He first cared about us!

The Great Exchange

From the Gospel Coalition Blog site;

John Flavel:

Lord, the condemnation was yours,
that the justification might be mine.

The agony was yours,
that the victory might be mine.

The pain was yours,
and the ease mine.

The stripes were yours,
and the healing balm issuing from them mine.

The vinegar and gall were yours,
that the honey and sweet might be mine.

The curse was yours,
that the blessing might be mine.

The crown of thorns was yours,
that the crown of glory might be mine.

The death was yours,
the life purchased by it mine.

You paid the price
that I might enjoy the inheritance.

John Flavel (1671), from his sermon, “The Solemn Consecration of the Mediator,” in The Fountain of Life Opened Up: or, A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory.

The Big Picture

We meet at Pat’s house tomorrow night at 7 PM for our men’s Bible study. This is our continued teaching on “How To Study the Bible.” The first thing we must do is lay down a solid Bible grid from Genesis to Revelation. Often Bible study is about looking at one of the pieces of the puzzle. In doing so we get lost in the piece without being able to understand how the piece fits into the whole puzzle. This is week #5 of our winter session. After tomorrow’s Bible study we will take a two week break and then resume our study again.

What is saving faith?

Here is a great quote from J.I.Packer on this subject;

Faith is a conscious acknowledgment of our own unrighteousness and ungodliness and on that basis a looking to Christ as our own righteousness, a clasping of him as the ring clasps the jewel (so Luther), a receiving of him as an empty vessel receives treasure (so Calvin), and a reverent, resolute reliance on the biblical promise of life though him for all who believe. Faith is our act, but not our work; it is an instrument of reception without being a means of merit; it is the work in us of the Holy Spirit, who both evokes it and through it ingrafts us into Christ in such a sense that we know at once the personal relationship of sinner to Saviour and disciple to Master and with that the dynamic relationship of resurrection life, communicated through the Spirit’s indwelling. So faith takes, and rejoices, and hopes, and loves, and triumphs.
J. I. Packer, Honouring the People of God, p. 228.

Devotion in Luke 12

On Saturday our reading was in Luke 11-12. Look at the following section of Scripture;

Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Luke 12:16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.
Luke 12:17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’
Luke 12:18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
Luke 12:19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’
Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
Luke 12:21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Read carefully, read slowly and read from a God-centered perspective. Check out the statements of this rich man;

* what shall I do
* I have n place to story my crops
* This is what I will do
* I will tear down my barns and build larger ones
* and there I will store all my grain and my goods
* And I will say to my soul,
* Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease

Sitting under an excellent Bible teacher one night he asked the class does anyone here know of the unholy trinity? He said the unholy trinity in the church today is; "I, ME or MY." Our focus should be on Thou, Thee and Thy but unfortunately we live in a culture that recognizes and applauds the I, me and my. Notice that Jesus later in Luke Chapter 12 gives us something else to consider in this context when He says "“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." And we can also connect this to what Jesus taught when He said "from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." In this parable above you can tell much about this man's heart by listening to what is coming out of his mouth. I was in another class where the question was asked; "So how can we have a heart for Jesus?" The teacher paused and said "make Him your treasure!"

Jesus taught in a way and lived in a way that focused on the "Thou, Thee and Thy" and not the I, me or my. Could it be that we are much like the rich man in this parable in that our use of personal pronouns on a continuous basis reflects that which we most treasure in our hearts?

Connect Group

Our Connect Group gathered on Saturday night for a time of fun, food and fellowship. If you are in our community but not yet connected in a group then may I encourage you to do so. I took some pictures from our time together.

Here is a brief description regarding about connect groups.

Christa Moose in our class is responsible for the Connect Group ministry. She does such a great job with the organization and ongoing vision for this within our community.

What are Connect Groups?
Learning and Living care group ministry identifies itself with our purpose statement of "equipping God's people to delight in His glory and declare that glory to the nations." These care groups meet together regularly in a non-church setting to help us pursue this goal of delighting in and declaring God's glory in a very personal and practical level.

This is accomplished through…

1. Encouraging one another (i.e., fellowship and biblical application) day after day in our battle against attitudes of unbelief that arise in our hearts to steal our joy in God (cf., Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:23-25);

2. Building up one another (i.e., ministry and discipleship) in faith through the use of spiritual gifts that God freely distributes to His body as He wills for the purpose of edification, so that we might become mature in Christ (cf., Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 14: 12, 26; Hebrews 2:4); and

Review for March 7

Today we looked closely at the doctrine of justification. Over the years I have been privileged to read and study on this subject from a number of different pastors, teachers and theologians. The subject of justification is an ongoing study for me that continues to expand. Through my studies I stumbled upon a book by Charles Leiter called Justification and Regeneration. I found it to be an excellent book that is written for primarily for lay people on these two doctrines. The layout of the 6 essentials of justification that I plan to cover come from Pastor Leiter’s book. I also had to occasion to talk to him on the phone and thank him for his clear writing in this critical area of Bible doctrine. His book is a great tool and would suggest that you add it to your list as a must read.

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

Coming this Sunday

Listen to Phil Ryken’s definition of justification at the Gospel Coalition Conference

The Buzz

This is week #2 for The Buzz. Last week was an intro and why I am now tackling this type of broadcast for our class. There will be a number of different subjects as we continue in our study of Bible doctrine. But this week I have for you one of the best audio interviews I have ever heard on the sovereignty of God in and through natural disasters. In coming weeks I hope to have interviews and other subjects that will allow those in our community to dig deeper.
I hope you enjoy this edition of The Buzz.

Check out the video below in order to understand essentials needed while listening.

To listen just click on play button below;

The evangelical mess

Dr. John MacArthur has some strong words on his “Grace to you” blog for the present day, “trendy” evangelical churches in America.

You don’t have to be an astute observer of the evangelical scene to notice the unrelenting barrage of outlandish ideas, philosophies, and programs. Never in the history of the church has so much innovation met with so little critical thinking.

Giving a thoughtful biblical response becomes harder and harder all the time. Merely sorting through all the evangelical trends and recognizing which of these novelties really represent dangerous threats to the health and harmony of the church is challenging enough. Effectively answering the huge smorgasbord of accompanying errors poses an even greater dilemma. New errors sometimes seem to multiply faster than the previous ones can be answered.

To sort it all out in a godly way, cutting a straight path through the wreckage of evangelicalism, several old-fashioned, Christlike virtues are absolutely essential: biblical discernment, wisdom, fortitude, determination, endurance, skill in handling Scripture, strong convictions, the ability to speak candidly without waffling, and a willingness to enter into conflict.

Let’s be honest: those are not qualities the contemporary evangelical movement has cultivated. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Consider the values and motives that prompt postmodern evangelicals to do the things they do. The larger evangelical movement today is obsessed with opinion polls, brand identity, market research, merchandizing schemes, innovative strategies, and numerical growth. Evangelicals are also preoccupied with matters such as their image before the general public and before the academic world, their clout in the political arena, their portrayal by the media, and similar shallow, self-centered matters...

The sad truth is that the larger part of the evangelical movement is already so badly compromised that sound doctrine has almost become a nonissue.

The mad pursuit of nondoctrinal “relevancy.” Even at the very heart of the evangelical mainstream, where you might expect to find some commitment to biblical doctrine and at least a measure of concern about defending the faith, what you find instead is a movement utterly dominated by people whose first concern is to try to keep in step with the times in order to be “relevant.”

Sound doctrine? Too arcane for the average churchgoer. Biblical exposition? That alienates the unchurched. Clear preaching on sin and redemption? Let’s be careful not to subvert the self-esteem of hurting people. The Great Commission? Our most effective strategy has been making the church service into a massive Super Bowl party. Serious discipleship? Sure. There’s a great series of group studies based on The Matrix trilogy. Let’s work our way through that. Worship where God is recognized as high and lifted up? Get real. We need to reach people on the level where they are.

Evangelicals and their leaders have doggedly pursued that same course for several decades now—in spite of many clear biblical instructions that warn us not to be so childish (in addition to Eph. 4:14, see also 1 Cor. 14:20; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Heb. 5:12-14).

What’s the heart of the problem? It boils down to this:many inthe evangelical movement have forgotten who is Lord over the church. They have either abandoned or downright rejected their true Head and given His rightful place to evangelical pollsters and church-growth gurus.

If you want to read the entire article then click on this LINK.

The cross of Christ

The focus over the next 5 weeks in our community is going to be the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Over this period of time I am hoping to post any number of writings, audio’s and video’s about this subject. One of my key disappointments within the evangelical church in America has been a lack of focus and understanding regarding the gospel. We all know the expression “familiarity breeds contempt” and I fear this statement is true for many Christians today as to the cross of Christ. I pray that as we turn our attention to this important doctrine that we as a community of believers will have a fresh wind of the Spirit that will reignite our passions for Christ.

In this short video Paul Washer gives a strong exhortation that is titled “Jesus Died.” Allow me to encourage you to set aside a few minutes to watch and ponder this great truth in your life and the life of those within your sphere of influence.
To watch simply click on this LINK.

Bible reading in Ezekiel

The book of Ezekiel offers much debate among evangelicals because it contains so much figurative language. Hopefully as we study through the years I can give you some basic guidelines that will be helpful coming to this type of genre in the Bible.

In the first 6 chapters it seems that you have the following flow of events;

* The glory of God that is seen by Ezekiel in a vision
* The call of Ezekiel into prophetic ministry
* The capture of Jerusalem that is symbolized
* Jerusalem will be destroyed
* God's judgment against idolatry

This is where it is important to understand the covenants. When Moses brings the people to Mount Sinai God give them not only the 10 commandments on tablets of stone but another 613 commands. These commands are divided into three basic groups, civil, ceremonial and moral. Remember in our study that the definition of a covenant is a divinely sanctioned commitment. Divinely sanctioned doesn't mean divinely approved but it means that the covenant has sanctions in it which normally includes blessings and curses. A key for us to understand is that every covenant in the Bible does not operate under the same principle. Though all covenants have blessings and curses not all covenant relationships are conditioned on the human partner.

There are two types of covenants in the Bible

* One is a covenant of grace in which God Himself takes the sanctions
* And covenants of law or works in which the sanctions are taken against the human partner

The simple way to tell the difference is to ask the question; who is taking the oath by which the covenant is taking place. The oath is recognized by the language my I be under a curse if I don't do everything stated in this covenant.

Should God take the covenant on Himself then it will be a covenant of grace
Should man take the covenant on himself then it will be a covenant of works Read More...

The Buzz starts tomorrow

Believing is the evidence of being born again

In the next 5 weeks our class will take a “March to the Cross.” By the grace of God we, as a community, will cover these doctrines each year prior to Easter Sunday. These 5 doctrines are essential for us to know as we continue to learn and live the God-centered life.

  • Justification
  • Regeneration
  • Redemption
  • Propitiation
  • Resurrection

Along the way I hope to include some short video and audio files that will help us to build healthy Biblical categories in our study. This video clip has Dr. John Piper explaining that a person’s faith is the evidence necessary for regeneration. Don’t worry by the time we have concluded you will have definitions and Scripture support for each of these doctrines. To watch simply click on this LINK.

Beware of indifference to Bible doctrine

One of the arguments that I have battled over the years as a teacher is when people say Bible doctrine is not practical for true Christian living. To that I have a very good and astute theological reply; say what? Michael Patton who has a blog called the Parchment and Pen writes about this kind of thinking among Christians in the church.

This is very common in our world. It is also, to some degree, understandable. People are tired of the search for answers and have decided to just enjoy the journey. While it may not be called “emerging” anymore, the mood is still present and represents a large portion of our culture and church.

For these, the search has brought them nothing but confusion and disillusionment. There are so many things that they used to believe—used to passionately believe—that they no longer believe. They are embarrassed about their former commitments. Because of this, the best approach to theological issues is a sort of “soft-agnosticism.” In other words, people are not saying that truth does not exist, they are simply saying that they don’t know what it is and they don’t think you do either.

As a coping mechanism, theology is distanced from “practical” (Christian) living. Orthodoxy (right thinking) is disassociated with orthopraxy (right living).

A few words of advice for those who find themselves here or heading here:

1. There is no way to distance yourself from theology.
Even the belief that theology is impractical for Christian living is a theological belief. One would have to assume quite a bit about theology in order to make such an assertion. Agnosticism is a theological stance, and quit a complex one at that. You are a theologian whether you like it or not. The question is can you give sufficient warrant for your beliefs. Read More...

Quote for the day

“We are not only saved by grace, we are blessed by grace every day of our lives. A common misunderstanding is that we are saved by grace, but we can earn God’s blessings by our obedience. I believe this misunderstanding is not just common, it is the unspoken assumption of the vast majority of Christians.” - Jerry Bridges in March Decision magazine

Proverbs 4; the heart, the word and life

Our reading this morning is in Proverbs 4. Look carefully at Proverbs 4:23 and understand the context, here are 4 different translations;

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.

New International Version (NIV)
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Amplified Bible (AMP)
23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the outflowings of life.

And the emphasis in the NIV is important when it says "above all else" guard your heart. So in the context of the writer of Psalms how are we supposed to guard our hearts?

Now look at Proverbs 4:13 in the same 4 translations;

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go
Guard her, for she is your life.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
13 Hold fast to instruction, let her not go; keep her, for she is thy life.

The wisdom we as Christians need is Christ Himself and the way we are to learn, understand about Him is the very word of God. Isn't that also what we learn from the apostle Paul in Colossians 2? All wisdom and knowledge are in Christ;
Col. 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Look at the connection in this Proverb between one's heart, the word and their life!
And Moses talking to the nation of Israel about the commandments of God or His word in Deut. 32:47 “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life..."

It is everywhere in the Bible! God is always bringing us back to His word which when properly seen reveals Christ (wisdom in the Proverbs) and that is done through the illumination to our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Kings of the Southern Kingdom

Click on the pictures to make them larger

As we continue to read through the Bible we are now in 1 Kings. In this book of the Bible we see
the results of the divided kingdom. Here are the kings of the
Southern Kingdom with dates
along with Scripture. This is courtesy of the ESV online study Bible and its maps and charts.

Kings of the Northern Kingdom

Click on the pictures to make them larger

As we continue to read through the Bible we are now in 1 Kings. In this book of the Bible we see
the results of the divided kingdom. Here are the kings of the
Northern Kingdom with dates
along with Scripture. This is courtesy of the ESV online study Bible and its maps and charts.

What does it mean to believe?

John 6:35 ¶ Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

First I would like you to focus on two parallel phrases "he who comes" in John 6:35 and "he who believes.” And how that parallels with “will not hunger” and “will never thirst.” Do you see the implication of the word believe? Maybe it would be better for me to ask it this way? Just from this verse how would you define the word BELIEVE as the Lord Jesus uses it here? By the way the word believe and faith are the same words in the Greek, one is a verb and the other is a noun. But when reading the New Testament I find it helpful to interchange the words when reading the Scriptures.

For example in the case of John 6:35 you could read it in the following way "He who has faith." Now go back to John 6:35 and look at the parallel implications between someone who comes to Jesus and someone who believes in Jesus. Doesn't this mean the same thing within this context?

But here is the most important question, what does that mean? Look carefully at the context of what Jesus is saying and answer this question, how is Jesus teaching someone to believe in Him or come to Him? I am going to interchange come and believe as meaning the same thing.

Can you remember a time when you were physically hungry? Let’s say after church one Sunday you take the family to McAllister’s for lunch. They have a sandwich that is so good you can almost taste it before you even arrive at the restuarant. I want you to see the connection between the physical hunger and a spiritual hunger. As you eat the sandwich the hunger starts to become satisfied. Therefore when a person comes to or believes in Jesus, they come to Him in such a way that He and He alone is the One who satisfies them. It also means that believing in Jesus must be accompanied by a satisfaction in Him as the One who can fill our spiritual hunger. Is that true of your coming to and believing in Him? Read More...

No Bible Study Tonight

Old Testament Chart

Here is an Old Testament Chart that will help in getting a handle on the timeline as it relates to the kings and the prophets.
Also it is a very simple way to remember which prophets spoke to which group of people.

Quote for the day

This post from the blog of Ray Ortlund;

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

“The true Christian’s portion is the grace of God. This is the ‘good part’ which he has chosen, and it is the only portion which really deserves the name of ‘good.’ It is the only good thing which is substantial, satisfying, real and lasting. It is good in sickness and good in health, good in youth and good in age, good in adversity and good in prosperity, good in life and good in death, good in time and good in eternity. . . .

The true Christian’s possession shall never be taken from him. He alone, of all mankind, shall never be stripped of his inheritance. Kings must one day leave their palaces. Rich men must one day leave their money and lands. They only hold them till they die. But the poorest saint on earth has a treasure of which he will never be deprived. The grace of God and the favor of Christ are riches which no man can take from him. They will go with him to the grave when he dies. They will rise with him in the resurrection morning, and be his to all eternity.”

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, ad loc.

Why God does what He does

On Sunday our Bible reading was in Ephesians 1-3. If you remember a couple of weeks ago I started the Sunday School class by asking the question "what is the chief end of man?" The answer to that question is; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But then I followed up with the question; "what is the chief end of God?" And I think the answer is; to glorify Himself and enjoy Himself forever. In Ephesians 1:1-14 we can see the answer to the question "why does God act to choose a man in regard to salvation." And three times within the first 14 verses He tells us in very clear language. They are as follows:

Eph. 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph. 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph. 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Eph. 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Eph. 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Eph. 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

When we get to this doctrine of salvation there are many other words that we need to define such as election, predestination, foreknowledge, calling, and so on. But for the purpose of this note I want you to see God's answer to the why He does what He does. If Ephesians 1:1-14 gives us a glimpse into what happened prior to the foundations of the world then shouldn't this be consistent all through the Scripture? Read More...

The God-centeredness of God

The Bible must be read from a God-centered perspective. Even though we can see a plan of the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind, that redemption is for the glory of God. In this short video clip, Dr. James White provides some excellent insight on “how” we must come to Scripture if we want to understand it.

To watch simply click on this LINK.

Behind the Scenes

The “Learning and Living” leadership team met last night. It was incredible to watch how the Lord has put together such a committed group to “know Him and make Him known.” Last night the leaders put forth plans and schedules that will carry us through the 2010 year. If you are coming to our class but have yet to connect may I encourage you to do so. If you were to do a word search on the phrase “one another” in the New Testament, you would see it occurs over 100 times. Things like encourage one another, pray for one another, love one another and so on. We are created to be in relationship with each other so that as the gifts come together the body of Christ can most manifest the glory of God. Of course I had the camera and tried to get some action shots of the brainstorming and planning.

Review for February 28

If you want to print out the notes from a pdf file then simply click on this LINK

What is happening to Christianity in America?

I have mentioned this before but the role of a teacher is two-fold in teaching the Bible. At times there must be a warning to those in the body of Christ where false teaching has crept into the church. And second the teacher must bring the truth of God's word developed from a hermeneutical study of the text. Again as you have heard me say over and over, hermeneutics is simply a system of Bible study in which the goal is to arrive at what the author meant by what he wrote. It seems for the last 5 years I have been constantly burdened with the amount of false doctrine and teaching that has invaded the evangelical church. Before coming to teach at Carmel I was hoping to have a radio podcast to review current sermons from the pastors of the largest churches in Charlotte. But long story short one day the phone rang it was Pastor Russ and as Paul Harvey used to say "now you know the rest of the story."

The point of telling you that background is because my study and research has led me to the extremes within the evangelical church. One of my goals in the development of the blog site is to point those in our class toward those pastors, teachers and theologians who are Biblically sound. As you know the church in America has suffered over the past 30 years in what has been referred to as a "dumbing" down of the gospel. The very things that Christians used to hold as precious and dear have now been compromised in lieu of tolerance. Many times since we don't understand the basics of the Christian faith we are passing down our experiences instead of the gospel. Basically we have arrived at the point where no one is right and no one is wrong. Because now in our postmodern culture we both get to be right. There are several different angels that I want to approach this subject from as it relates to what is happening to Christianity in America. And today I have a clip for you from the Resurgence Blog, which is the Mars Hill Church in Seattle pastored by Mark Driscoll. In this clip you have an interview from a staff member at Resurgence church with Dr. Michael Horton. If you were to ask the question today of Dr. Michael Horton, professor at Westminster Seminary in California, what is happening to Christianity in America, here is a sample of what he thinks based on much research and evaluation. He is the author of two very helpful books that the church today needs to read;
1. Christless Chrisitianity
2. The Gospel Driven Life

In this short video clip he deals with the subject of "moral therapeutic deism." Now at first glance you might ask yourself what is that? But you will soon understand after seeing this video. And will go a long way as we seek to answer the question "what is happening to Christianity in America?"

To watch the video, simply click on this LINK.