Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Review for October 31

SBS class_10312010

Today’s audio on Almost Christian click on this LINK

Happy Reformation Day

Luther nails 95 Theses to the wall

Review for October 24

This past Sunday we looked at Romans 3:21-26 which many theologians, scholars, pastors and teachers have concluded is the most important paragraph in the Bible. My goal on Sunday was to show how my devotion time in this section of Scripture relates to the doctrine of God and plan of the Bible. The doctrine of God we are going through on Sunday mornings and the plan of the Bible is the focus of our men’s Bible study. Romans 3:21-26 shows us clearly the plan of the Bible and also the doctrine of God’s self sufficiency. I find that it can be helpful from time to time to leave the curriculum in lieu of a practical application, like devotion time, as it relates to what we are learning in our study.

Hopefully you can see the connecting of dots as you read this paragraph in Romans to the plan of the Bible and the doctrine of God. As I have said many times before I share with you the study notes to encourage you to study these things for yourself. Therefore may I encourage you to find in your own devotion time these various doctrines and write them in the margin of your Bible. As you read and re-read the Scriptures they will become clearer and more precious to you over the years.

SBS Class Oct242010

Jury Duty

Away this week and should return for homework, review for Sunday and updated Bible reading by Saturday.

Unity not Uniformity

Quote for the day

Cheer up; you’re a lot worse off than you think you are, but in Jesus you’re far more loved than you ever could have imagined. - Jack Miller

Coming to a Christian bookstore near you...

Building relationships

From the Sacred Sandwich website

As a people person, Pastor Nickerson always enjoys getting to know each congregant a little better.

The extent of God's love

“If you are truly trusting in Christ, you can’t confess a sin for which God has not provided forgiveness in Jesus.

Indeed, if you work at the discipline of confessing your sin, it should not lead to despair at all, but rather to rejoicing over the extent of God’s love to you in Christ.”

— Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence, It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 42

We preach Christ crucified

The best preaching is, “We preach Christ crucified.”

The best living is, “We are crucified with Christ.”

The best man is a crucified man.

The more we live beholding our Lord’s unutterable griefs, and understanding how he has fully put away our sin, the more holiness shall we produce.

The more we dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard, where we can view heaven, and earth, and hell, all moved by his wondrous passion—the more noble will our lives become.

Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.

Get close to Christ, and carry the remembrance of him about you from day to day, and you will do right royal deeds.

Come, let us slay sin, for Christ was slain.

Come, let us bury all our pride, for Christ was buried.

Come, let us rise to newness of life, for Christ has risen.

Let us be united with our crucified Lord in his one great object—let us live and die with him, and then every action of our lives will be very beautiful.

- Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon dated November 2, 1884

Who is your savior?

If you’re avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless you and save you, then you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper, but ironically you are avoiding him as Savior. You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. - Tim Keller from The Reason for God

The heavens declare the glory of God...

Where in the world is Pat Jones?

Many of you know that our class leader can be found visiting the four corners of the world. He is a globe trotting kind of guy, so can you guess where is was this week?


Doctor's Advice

Legalism comes in two forms...

Adapted from Tullian Tchividjian's book Surprised by Grace.
I’m ecstatic about the resurgence of gospel centrality taking place in the evangelical church. The idea that the gospel is not only for those outside the church but also for those inside the church; that it not only ignites the Christian life but is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day, may seem like a new idea, but it’s really old. I’m glad it’s re-gaining traction, but as far as we’ve come, we need to go further.

For all the talk of gospel-centeredness, there’s still some fear and trepidation fueled by a common misunderstanding regarding the radical nature of grace. Even amongst the proponents of gospel-centrality, I still hear talk about there being two equal dangers that Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness.

The False Balance of “Legalism vs. Lawlessness”

Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Sometimes, legalism and lawlessness are presented as two ditches on either side of the gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe that this “balanced” way of framing the issue can unwittingly keep us from really understanding the gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty. Read More...

Relating the gospel to our lives

“Receiving and resting in the truths of the gospel translates into a Christian life of joy, peace, freedom, and love. So the gospel also gives us a new way to live and relate to other people. It frees us from sin’s stranglehold on our lives, liberates our conscience, and releases us from living according to the principles of this world. Since our new identity and new way to live is based solely on faith, the gospel excludes all manner of boasting and arrogance. Everything that we have has been given to us — thus it is called the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24). Moreover, this gospel has continual and daily applicability. It is not only relevant to us when we first believe, but continues to work in us and through us as we continue to believe. This continual life of faith visibly expresses itself in love (Gal 5:6).”

- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, i-ii.

What happens when we are born again?

The believer has such a sight and such a knowledge of things that, ever since, he is quite another man than he was before. It has exceedingly altered his internal tempers and disposition. The knowledge that he has is so substantial, so inward, and so affecting, that it has quite transformed the soul and put a new nature into the man, has quite changed his very innermost principles, and has made things otherwise, even from the very foundation, so that all things have become new to them. Yes, he is a new creature, he is just as if he was not the same, but born again, created over a second time.
- Jonathan Edwards

Understanding the storyline of the Bible

What is the plot line or the story line of the Bible? It is a true story about the unfolding and progressive plan of God to redeem mankind. The story is not about how someone can have a better marriage, a more successful career, or even how to live a healthy lifestyle. But it is a story about mankind being at enmity with God so that the only reconciliation available is through Jesus Christ who died, was buried and three days later rose from the dead. The pronouncement of this event in history is called the good news. And it is good news because God has acted in the person and work of Jesus Christ to save people from their sins. The very sins that once kept them separated from God have been paid in full by the death of Christ on the cross. Also there has been a transferring of righteousness from Jesus to the account of every believer so that they now have the very righteousness of Christ. It is now that the believer can know with 100% confidence that God is for them and no longer is against them. This is really news, good news, the kind of news that makes an eternal difference in the lives of those who will receive it by faith.

A Time to Tailgate

From Karen Sheats

Greetings everyone - I hope that you're all enjoying this wonderful Fall weather and having a good week.

It's not too late - Our Tailgate Luncheon with the Intersect Class is THIS SUNDAY. Just $5 per adult and bring your children. I will be picking up the meat (hamburgers and hot dogs) this Sat. and must have a pretty good idea of a head count.

We will have tents provided by the church that will cover the food and prep area - bring your lawn chairs, tents if you have them and yard games. Mark Karow from Intersect will be our grill master for the afternoon. Intersect is providing desserts and drinks and our class is bringing the side dishes.

I still need a couple of volunteers to help set up. This shouldn't take too long - meet in the ball field by the "A" parking lot. Also, you may want to park in the A parking lot by the ball field that morning so that unloading is easier. If food needs to be stored you can use the refrigerator in the kitchen by the Carmel Room - or store it in a cooler. Don't' forget to bring a change of clothes!! No fun playing games in heels or wearing a coat and tie!!!

E-mail me if you haven't already signed up and let me know how many adults and children you will be bringing and what side dish.

What a way to bring in the Autumn Season!!!

New Christian reality TV show coming...

For those of you who like reality TV there is a new show coming in 2011. The name of the show is “Pat and the Pastor.
This will track the fun and unusual relationship between a SS class leader and the teacher. It will provide both video and audio of what it’s really like behind the scenes of SS class in 21st Century America. Here is a short audio except from the this new reality TV series. Pat has just received a series of strong emails from Pastor B. and is responding with a voice mail of his own. Disclaimer: The names have not been changed nor has anything else been changed because no one here is innocent.

Pat Jones (class leader extraordinaire) - To listen CLICK ON THIS LINK

Halloween is fast approaching

From the Sacred Sandwich Blog site

The kingdom of God

“The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with the coming of Jesus. His kingdom is not part of the present age — an age where the flesh reigns; where people are divided, relationships are broken, and suspicion and competition dominate; where money, sex, and power are abused; where leaders are first and servants are last; where behavior is controlled by laws, and identity is defined by race, gender, or social standing; and where gifts and resources are used for the advancement of oneself.

Rather, the kingdom of God is the new age. It is the age of the Spirit (Matt 12:28). It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). The kingdom of God is about the renewal, restoration, and reconciliation of all things, and God has made us a part of this great story of salvation.” - Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006)

Are you pragmatic?

Something to think about

Chris Rosebrough ask a great question in regard to the difference between a gift and a wage.
Do we as Christians understand and live out that difference?

Webster's dictionary defines a GIFT as:
noun: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation

The same dictionary defines a WAGE as:
noun: a payment usually of money for labor or services usually according to contract and on an hourly, daily, or piecework basis —often used in plural

With these definitions in mind let me ask you a question. Before I ask the question let me set the context of the question for you.

Imagine you and I have a face to face friendship and that one day I told you that I had very special GIFT that I wanted to give you. That the GIFT I wanted to GIVE to you was very precious and would bless your socks off. I assured you that I was giving you the GIFT purely out of the kindness of my heart. BUT that there were some CONDITIONS to your receiving this GIFT. Here are the CONDITIONS.

1. YOU HAVE TO meet with me every day for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. YOU HAVE TO read, study and master the content of all my writings.
3. YOU HAVE TO give me 10% of your gross income for the rest of your life.
4. YOU HAVE TO encourage other people to read my writings.
5. YOU HAVE TO participate in a weekly small group that is dedicated to reading and discussing my writings.

So here is the question, is the GIFT that I am promising to GIVE you really a GIFT or is it a WAGE?

Are you reading the Bible incorrectly?

From the Resurgence blog site

Two opposite errors exist in approaching the Bible. One is not to read it. The other is to know it so well that you miss Jesus. Jesus pointed out this error: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Are you surprised to believe this error exists? We constantly talk about reading and studying the Bible as an unqualified good. But clearly, the way we read the Bible is just as important as reading it.

So how can you know if you might be reading the Bible, looking for life, but missing Jesus completely? Here are a few clues: Read More...

The reality of God's grace

“Confidence in Christ is admirable, but not effrontery and self-confidence. I am afraid of those people who are so very sure, so very confident all of a sudden, and yet have never felt the burden of sin. Be ashamed and be confounded while you lay hold on Christ, for the more He does for you the less you must think of yourself. You may very accurately measure the reality of your Grace by the reality of your self-loathing.” - Charles Spurgeon, The Secret of Health

Review for October 10

If God doesn't need us then why are we here?

The importance of God's self sufficiency in the Christian life

Tomorrow is a critical day for our class as we come to understand the doctrine of self-sufficiency. Would you take some time today and pray that hearts might be open so that eyes can see and ears can hear this truth about God and us? This doctrine is a priority for our understanding of the Christian life.

So if God is self sufficient and doesn't need us then:
1. Why are we here?
2. Why does God demand so much from us?

These two points will be the main focus of Sunday's class. It is so important that we get this straight in our thinking when it comes to God and the Bible. The way you and I answer these two questions will manifest itself in "HOW" we go about living the Christian life.

Most of you have heard me teach on the first half of this doctrine before. But I want to tell you with the strongest exhortation possible, we will never get beyond our need for the doctrine of self sufficiency instead we will just move further into it. I have purposely not spent much time on the back half of this doctrine but I plan to do so on Sunday. Please come with a prepared heart and a sense of anticipation and expectation as we conclude on the doctrine of self sufficiency.

Remember to keep our banner verse firmly entrenched as we go through the 2010-2011 year.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

The gift that keeps on giving

Without the gospel there is nothing but desert on earth and no confession of God and no thanksgiving. But where the gospel and Christ are, there is Bethlehem abounding in grain, and grateful Judea; there everybody has enough in Christ and there is nothing but thanksgiving for God’s mercies. But the doctrines of men [ie legalistic attempts at justification with God through pious duty] thank only themselves, and yet they permit arid land and deadly hunger to remain. No heart is ever satisfied unless it hears Christ preached properly in the gospel; when this happens, a person comes to Bethlehem and finds him; then he also comes and stays in Judea and thanks his God eternally; then he is satisfied; then, too, God is praised and confessed. Apart from the gospel there is nothing but ingratitude and we do nothing but die of hunger. - From a Christmas sermon by Martin Luther (Works, 52:20)

The good news

“The gospel is the best news we could ever hear. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his power to transform our lives and relationships, communities, and ultimately, the nations. Through this gospel, we are freely given a new identity — an identity not based on race, social class, gender, a theological system, or a system of rules and regulations. Rather it is a new and perfect identity based solely on faith in Jesus — an identity that defines every aspect of our lives. We are now forgiven, righteous, adopted, accepted, free, and heirs to everything that belongs to Christ. So even our sin, weakness, and failures do not define who we are. Because of this good news, we no longer have to hide from our sin and pretend that we have it all together, for God knows and loves us as we are, not as we pretend to be.” - Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation, 2nd ed. (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006)

Check out this church video

What does sanctification look like in a believers life?

The man whose soul is “growing” takes more interest in spiritual things every year. He does not neglect his duty in the world. He discharges faithfully, diligently, and conscientiously every relation of life, whether at home or abroad. But the things he loves best are spiritual things. The ways, and fashions, and amusements, and recreations of the world have a continually decreasing place in his heart. He does not condemn them as downright sinful, nor say that those who have anything to do with them are going to hell. He only feels that they have a constantly diminishing hold on his own affections, and gradually seem smaller and more trifling in his eyes. Spiritual companions, spiritual occupations, spiritual conversation, appear of ever-increasing value to him. Would any one know if he is growing in grace? Then let him look within for increasing spirituality of taste. - J.C. Ryle (Holiness, 107)

The importance of New Testament verbs

INDICATIVES and the IMPERATIVES - Pastor Ken Jones

The Self-Sufficiency of God

On Sunday we took an in depth look at the attribute of God’s self sufficiency. The definition of self sufficiency is as follows:
God possesses within himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite measure. Or, to say it another way, God has no need for anything outside of who God is, in and of himself. God needs nothing apart from himself, for He possesses every quality within himself.

We need always remember that God is the Giver and we are the receiver. God is full and we are the ones who are empty. God is strong and we are weak. There is not one single thing, whether it be in Christian service, financial giving, missions, or in any other ministry capacity that I can do to help God out. In other words when you compare all the talents, abilities, power and influence in the entire world to our God it ranks on a scale as less than nothing. (Isaiah 40:12-17)

Therefore we have a position that we need constantly and consistently to keep before this self-sufficient God. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Amazing Grace

‎Dear God, I confess that I am not what I should be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I will be, but by your grace I am what I am, and that I am not what I once was! - John Newton 1725-1807 (Author of Amazing Grace)

What is the homework assignment?

Since we have new people coming in and out of our class I thought it might help to have a repost regarding our homework from week to week.

Do we have homework? The short answer to that question is yes. If you are new to the “Learning and Living” Community then here is what you need to know about the homework assignments. This class was started on the premise of getting people back to the word of God, until the word of God got back into them.

The three specific disciplines we have taught from day one involve
  • Bible reading
  • Bible devotion
  • Bible study

Assignment #1 - Read through the entire Bible.
We are presently on a 90 day Bible reading plan. So for the person that wants to know, what is the homework for the day, I first want to point them to Bible reading plan. Recent church statistics show that over 90% of those within the church have not read through the Bible at least one time. It is harder to teach when there is not an understanding of the Scriptures as a whole.

One of the key components the church is missing today in Bible study is being able to see the big picture connection from Genesis to Revelation. In the first month of our class we covered many different aspects of the Bible. One morning I asked the class, "who is the author of Genesis?" Someone spoke up and said "Moses" to which I replied "that is correct." Then I repeated the question a different way and asked "who is the real Author of Genesis?" At that point someone else spoke up and said "the Holy Spirit" to which I replied "that is correct." So even though the Bible is composed of 66 books with over 40 different authors, there is one mind and one Author that is connecting it all together. Read More...

The Cross

“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.

Pumped up on the Plan

It’s not too late to join us as we Read the Bible in 90 days!

(Click on the unaltered photo above and print out a copy of the plan)

The wrath of God

“It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is!”
- Jonathan Edwards

Practical ways to glorify God

Here are 20 practical ways from Kevin DeYoung that we can glorify God according to Scripture:

1. Give God verbal declarations of praise (Rev. 4:8-9).

2. Live a life of noticeable piety (Matt. 5:16; James 1:27; 1 Peter 2:12).

3. Ask God for things in Jesus’ name (John 14:13).

4. Bear fruit and show yourself to be a disciple of Jesus (John 15:8).

5. Declare the truth about Jesus (John 16:14).

6. Love your life less than God (John 21:19; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:16).

7. Worship God as God (Rom. 1:21).

8. Live a life of sexual purity (1 Cor. 6:20).

9. Live a life of generosity (2 Cor. 9:13).

10. Rejoice in God’s glory displayed in creation (Psalm 19:1). Read More...

Mark your Calendars!

Retreat 2011 with Dr. Bruce Ware

To see in more detail click on this LINK

Understanding faith

"Faith is the means, not the ground, of salvation. Paul declared that we are saved through faith, never that we are saved on account of faith. The merit of Christ is the ground of salvation. Faith is the instrument that links believers to Christ and his merit." - page 1,923 of The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible in a comment on Philippians 3:9.

Preview for October 3

On Sunday we took the entire class time to look more in depth at God’s attribute of self-sufficiency. As I said on Sunday if you have never studied this attribute then be prepared for a bit of a brain cramp. Unfortunately Americans are over saturated with self esteem, self actualization and the “if its to be its up to me” attitude. It is sad to say much of that thinking and behaving has entered the church. I think this study on self sufficiency might just be the most important one that we cover this winter. Therefore I have included in this blog article all the notes which include yesterday and our upcoming class next week.

We started yesterday with a basic definition for self sufficiency: God possesses within himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite measure. My recommendation is that you read through these notes at least twice this week. Take some devotion time and go through the Scriptures listed and think deeply on these things. Do you understand that we can serve God in a way that is blasphemous?I It seems that many today in the church are more focused on the method of serving than the motive. I want to teach a Wednesday night elective sometime and this be the title of the class - DON’T SERVE GOD (from the mindset that He needs it). Again as I have done throughout our study on the doctrine of God, thanks to Dr. Bruce Ware for his teaching and notes on these critical doctrines.

Self Sufficiency of God (includes all notes)