Learning and Living the God-centered life

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A God-centered theology

From the Resurgence Blog Site
Most Christians can look back and describe the day they “accepted Christ.” This may have been some sort of physical act—a silent prayer, a walk down an aisle, a stick thrown into the fire to mark our new allegiance.

But the longer I have been a pastor the more “accepting Christ” rings hollow. To me it sounds more and more like a work—something we do to earn the favor of God. It’s a commitment, but that doesn’t mean there is faith. A gap exists between us accepting Christ and Christ accepting us.

Trust God's work, not your own
Good works do not please or appease him. Our favor with him is based on our trust in his work, not ours. And is that not what most exhortations to accept Christ mean? “Make a commitment and God will save you.” Not so subtly, we have preached commitment as salvation. And, then, even worse, growing in our walk with Jesus is reaching ever-higher planes of commitment.

Commitment is a result of salvation. Devotion to Christ flows from belief, not from volition. It is an act of heart, not will. Is it no wonder then, so many question their salvation? They question because they think their justification with God is based on commitment, and when their commitment wanes, they sense they might not really be a Christian. They are counting on their commitment to save them, not Jesus.

Woe to those who are deeply committed and blameless in their devotion—for, except by grace, they will never see their grand mistake. Do not put your hope in the fact that you have accepted Christ. Hope in the fact that Christ has accepted you.
TheGap

John MacArthur Q and A

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The importance of God's word

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! - Buck Hatch, former professor at Columbia Bible College

The doctrine of God

Doctrine of God

The Glory of God

Class in the morning will be totally focused on the glory of God. First I plan to take us through a 4 step process in evaluating this from the Bible.

1. His Purpose

Numbers 14:21 As I live, all the earth will be filled with the Glory of God.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

Psalm 72:19 Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory!

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.


2. Our Problem

We don't exhibit God's Glory in our lives which is the essence of sin.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and are (continually) falling short of the Glory of God.

3. His Provision

God has provided The Lord Jesus for our need ‑ our falling short of His Glory.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us...and we beheld His Glory.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of His Glory, the exact representation of His nature.

John 17:22 And the Glory which Thou hast given to Me I have given to them.

Luke 2: 32 Simeon took Him in his arms and said, A light of Revelation to the gentiles, and the Glory of Thy people Israel. Read More...

NOT a prayer of salvation

I was ministering to a gentlemen years ago who didn’t know if he was saved. When I asked him to tell me about his conversion he told me a story similar to the prayer in this video. There is nothing in this prayer that indicates a receiving of Christ and His death on the cross to pay for sin. It is a very general, if you are up there somewhere then help me out down here because I am in trouble. How often have we prayed this way, instead of praying Lord use this hard thing in my life to show your glory!

Are you thirsty for God?

From the Buzzard Blog
You have to be hungry first. You have to be thirsty first.

You won’t truly appreciate a feast unless you’re really hungry. You won’t enjoy a cool drink of water unless you’ve been thirsty for a long time.

It’s the same with God.

The people who flocked to Jesus where the hungry and thirsty people. The fat, full, and bloated don’t come to God, the thirsty do.

You must be thirsty before you can really drink.

Jesus: Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The woman: Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty…

God will put you in circumstances that starve you. He will take away your normal food and drink. He does this because he loves you. He does this to expose your deepest thirst. He does this to wake you up and make you alive. He has your best interest in mind. He will withhold the food, water, idols, and noise you normally fill yourself with until you feel the sweet pain of the deep thirst of your heart, the thirst that only God can quench.

You meet God when God brings you to the point that you cry out, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” God fills your thirst so that you can leave the old, empty wells behind.

Are you in the middle of a famine? Be thankful. God is starving you in order to truly feed you.

The greatness of God

"The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him -- and of her."
- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

What could short circuit the gospel for the younger generation?



If God is only a means to your self-advancement and exaltation, rather than your seeing in him something infinitely glorious, as a God consumed with the manifestation of his glory, then you need to check your conversion. - John Piper

The satisfaction of God's wrath

This is the doctrine of propitiation. Here is a definition that you need to learn and think about on as daily basis as you preach the gospel to yourself.

Propitiation - Translated from the Greek word hilasterion, meaning “that which expiates or propitiates” or “the gift which procures propitiation”. It means “satisfaction” or “appeasement,” specifically towards God. In the New Testament, propitiation is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross by which He appeases the wrath of God who would otherwise be offended by our sin and demand that we pay the penalty for it. The concept of propitiation is often associated with the idea of a substitutionary atonement. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Repenting from what?

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical
- Tim Keller (The Prodigal God)

The nature of saving faith

“The nature of saving faith demands more than facts as a ground — not less, but more. . . . [S]aving faith is not mere receiving of facts. It is the receiving of Christ as the one who died for us and rose again, and is infinitely glorious, and wondrously beautiful, and supremely valuable. Therefore, the ground of such faith must be the spiritual sight of such glory and beauty and value.”

- John Piper, Think: The life of the Mind and the Love of God (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 73


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

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...

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

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.

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 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...

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.

The goodness of God

From Randy Alcorn’s book “The Goodness of God”

Jesus Christ’s life and death demonstrate that God has never dished out any suffering he hasn’t taken on himself.

His death on the cross is God’s answer to the question, “Why don’t you do something about evil?” God allowed Jesus’ temporary suffering so he could prevent our eternal suffering . . .

God wrote the script of this drama of redemption long before Satan, demons, Adam and Eve—and you and I—took the stage. And from the beginning, he knew that the utterly spectacular ending would make the dark middle worth it. Paul writes, “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9). How could God give us grace before our lives began, even before the universe itself existed? Only because God knew and determined in advance the work of Christ for us on the cross.

The story’s low point is the death of Jesus, yet this low point is the basis upon which he will one day, in a dramatic resolution to the story, return to establish his eternal kingdom on Earth.

The omnipresence of God

At the end of class yesterday I was going over this final point regarding the omnipresence of God:

Because it is one thing to have the attribute and quite another to have the expression of that attribute.

Isn't it different to talk about God's omnipresence which means He is everywhere and God's manifest presence?

Manifest presence means that God is there in a focused, deliberate and intentional way watching over not just seeing what is there but attending to and caring for, providing for, strengthening and enabling and protecting.

For example:
God is omnipresent but in the temple God's glory came and dwelled.

Start your week knowing that the God of the Bible who is self-existent, self-sufficient, infinite and omnipresent is with His own in a very deliberate and intentional way. He is not just everywhere in the world but He is right with you. And this God of whom we are studying and knowing and loving is NOT with you because you deserve it or have merited it in any way. Instead God is with you to attend to and care for you and strengthen you because of His grace. Doesn't that bring rise in our very souls to a point of thankfulness (Colossians 3:17) and rejoicing (Philippians 4:4) and demonstrating Him as great (1 Cor. 10:31)? Continue praying that you might always be amazed at His grace!

What is saving faith?

The teaching plan for our class is to cover the doctrine of salvation in the 2011 year. More than likely we will start on this sometime in April. Therefore I am going to, from time to time, get you thinking about salvation issues even before we cover this in our class on Bible doctrine. The following is an excellent article to help us understand “saving faith.” This from Dr. John Piper’s book - Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, p. 67-69. Hope you enjoy.

Now, the key question is: What does faith receive in order to be justifying faith?
The answer, of course, is that faith receives Jesus. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Faith saves because it receives Jesus.

But we must make clear what this actually means, because there are so many people who say they have received Christ and believed on Christ but give little or no evidence that they are spiritually alive. They are unresponsive to the spiritual beauty of Jesus. They are unmoved by the glories of Christ. They don’t have the spirit of the apostle Paul when he said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). This is not their spirit, yet they say they have received Christ. It looks as though it is possible to “receive Christ” and not have him for what he is.

One way to describe this problem is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable. They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being safe), and as prosperity-giver (because they love being wealthy), and as creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose). But they don’t receive him as supremely and person- ally valuable for who he is. They don’t receive him the way Paul did when he spoke of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” They don’t receive him as he really is—more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe. They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him. Read More...

In your power or by God's power

This is an article by Os Hillman that will serve as some additional commentary to how we started class on Sunday. I began asking 10 specific questions for us to consider as we launch into this new fall year. The biggest danger is that we do any of these things by our strength instead of the strength alone that God can provide. Hope you enjoy this article:

When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark..." 1 Chronicles 13:9-10

There are good things we can do, but only God-things we should do. Those activities not born out of the Spirit will result in wood, hay, and stubble. What seems good in our eyes may be an abomination in God's eyes. For instance, if you decide to build an orphanage but God has never directed you to do so, then God will not see that work as good; it was born out of your own strength, even though it was a "good work."

The most difficult challenge a Christian workplace believer will ever have is to know what things to be involved in and what things not to be involved in. Many workplace believers have a great ability to see opportunity. What appears to be a "slam dunk" may come back to haunt us if God never ordains us to enter that arena. There are many good things we can be involved with. However, there are God-things we are supposed to be involved with. Uzzah was a good man in David's sight. It was a time of celebration, and David and the people were transporting the ark of God. However, the ark hit a bump, and Uzzah reached for the ark to hold it steady. He touched the ark, and he immediately died. David became very upset with God about this situation; he questioned whether he could serve God. Read More...

Incommunicable attributes of God



Courtesy of Wordle

In preparation for Sunday

An overview in the Doctrine of God

In studying the notes for Sunday it became apparent to me that we are only going to scratch the surface as to the attributes of God. My hope is that these notes will get many of you started and excited about a lifetime study regarding the doctrine of God. I got out some of my reference studies this week and quickly observed from both Stephen Charnock's "The Existence and Attributes of God" and John Frames's "The Doctrine of God" represent about 2000 pages of writing on this subject. And then in review of the notes I plan to cover on Sunday I realize this to be a brief thumb nail sketch on the God of the Bible. There is so much to cover and yet so little time. So my strategy is to summarize these attributes clearly and concisely praying that this will lead many of you to further study and growth in this area.

Doctrine of God

Preparation for Sunday

This week we will start into the specific incommunicable attributes of God. My recommendation is that each of you prepare for this Sunday by starting with slide #16-45. These notes will give us an overview of the following attributes:

Self Existence
Self Sufficiency
Infinity
Omnipresence


This means that the following Sunday (September 19) will be reserved for the discussion of the last two incommunicable attributes we plan to cover which are eternity and immutability. Read More...

Preparing for Sunday

The Stretching Process
After Nancy and I got married I decided to take Tae Kwan Do. The biggest problem for me was the stretching. My instructor "Master Sir" as he was called was determined to get me loosened up. So one day while on the mat he had me sit down and spread my legs to the side as far as they would go. Then he told me to touch my head on the floor. Well, I couldn't do it until "Master Sir" got behind me and pushed so hard that my head did hit the floor. The next day I looked and the inside of my thighs were black and blue. I learned that stretching often causes pain physically and I have noticed that when teaching doctrine it does that spiritually. If you have never studied the "Doctrine of God" over a period of time my warning to you is prepare to be stretched. As one pastor put it "better your mind be stretched to the breaking point as opposed to breaking God’s word.”

This week I will pick up right where we left off last Sunday.

Point #1 - Methodology in the Doctrine of God
I am going to talk about my two favorite ways to study the doctrine of God as it relates to the method.
First we will briefly look at the transcendence of God which will include a working definition along with Scriptural support. And then we will do the same with the immanence of God. If you want to see both of these categories displayed in Scripture then I suggest that you study:
  • Isaiah 57:15
  • Isaiah 66:1-2
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Study Resources for 2010-2011

Study Resources

The first book you see is Bible Doctrine. This is an excellent resource that is very reader friendly when it comes to the terms and definitions we will be covering this year regarding doctrine. I am planning to cover quite a bit of material as we push from week to week. Hopefully those in our class will review the notes but this book is an excellent tool for deeper study. My challenge in to get each of you to take what we are learning and teach others in your own sphere of influence. At the conclusion of this year my prayer is that you have a clear and concise understanding as you relate the Doctrine of God, Doctrine of man, Doctrine of Christ and the Doctrine of Faith to the overall plan of the Bible.

The second book The Gospel Primer is my favorite where it comes to teaching how to preach the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. Unfortunately many people today in the church think of the gospel on in terms of what got them saved. But the apostle Paul says that the gospel is the power of salvation unto God for all those who continue believing (my paraphrase for Romans 1:16). You don't just need the gospel to get saved but rather to continue being saved!




Understanding Neo-orthodoxy

Learning and Living is a basic Bible doctrine class. But from day one I have been exhorting the importance of Biblical hermeneutics when reading and interpreting Scripture. And I have said more than once we have three basic groups within the evangelical sector today.

1. Orthodox - this group believes that the Bible is the word of God
2. Liberal - this group believes that the Bible contains the word of God
3. Neo-orthodox - this group believes that the Bible becomes the word of God

I have also noted that the fastest growing segment in the evangelical church of the 30 and under group is that of neo-orthodoxy. Even though you may be unfamiliar with this movement it is large and I believe dangerous. Dr. John McArthur has written a concise article that will help us to understand better what those who are neo-orthodox really believe and what is their guiding hermeneutic.

Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. Its heyday came in the middle of the twentieth century with the writings of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebaur. Those men echoed the language and the thinking of [Soren] Kierkegaard, speaking of the primacy of “personal authenticity,” while downplaying or denying the significance of objective truth. Barth, the father of neo-orthodoxy, explicitly acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard.

Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant, What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”
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"Accurately Handling..."

Our banner verse this year is 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. During the year as I find articles or short devotions on this verse I will post them on our website. The following is an article from the Puritan Lad blog site.

What sort of book is the Bible? The answer to that question has great ramifications in how it is preached. Too often, the Bible is misused even by those who believe it's truths, but miss the ultimate story.

First, there are the therapeutics, who treat the Bible as a therapy manual. They are convinced that, whatever problem they may face, there is a specific answer to that problem if they can just find the right passage. If you are lonely, hurt, or depressed, the correct verse will fix your problem and help you "fulfill your purpose".

There are the enchanters, who use the Bible as a magic spell to encounter whatever issues they face. Just observe the popularity that surrounded the mysticism of the "Jabez Prayer" chants and the "Meal that Heals" potions from a few years ago.

Then there are the pragmatics. For these, the Bible is a how-to manual. They believe that. if you want to make more money, become more healthy, find the right diet, improve your relationships, or have better sex, there is a specific Scripture passage for each of these areas. (Note for modern evangelicals: The Bible does NOT teach us "how to have great sex").

Along these same lines are the legalists and the moralists, who hold that the Bible teaches us ways to please God by our works. Just "do good", and if you struggle, it is the job of the church to help you do better, usually resorting to pop-psychology and behavioral modification techniques.

However, while there are certainly practical teachings and wisdom that we can (and should) apply to our lives, the Bible is not a magic book, a therapy manual, a how-to instuction guide, or a book on ethics. The Bible, from beginning to end, is a story of redemption. It is how a Just and Holy God took His wrath, which was deserved to be poured out upon wicked and abominable men clothed in sin and deformity, and instead poured it upon His only Son. It is about God's love, not man's importance; God's grace, not man's worthiness. The Bible's main character is Christ, not the idols of "Me" and "purpose".


Let us not only live as those who believe the Word, but as workers who have "no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Ready, Set and Launch

Introduction on Sunday

Since this is our first Sunday into the fall launch I will take the opportunity to present our curriculum.
Also I am going to put forward our theme verse for the year which is 2 Timothy 2:15, along with some discussion on why we are a "learning" AND "living" the God-centered life class. In other words I am going to try and put some Biblical explanation for why it is important that both happen and not just one at the exclusion of the other. I also thought it may be helpful for me to give each of you a copy of the notes that I presented during the leadership session on Tuesday night.

Doctrine of God curriculum for August - December 2010

Learning the God-centered Life

Introduction (Starting August 29th)
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

For those especially who are new or looking to plant this year in a SS class my goal this coming week will be to give an overall view of our class as it relates to: “Learning the Christian Life and Living the Christian Life.” Much of the information in this blog article will be presented to our community on Sunday.
This is going to be year where I will introduce what I think are the best resources available for Bible study such as Logos Bible study software. We are planning a night and this will be for the entire class sometime in October to have an in depth look at this particular resource.

An exciting part of our Learning the God-centered life will occur with Dr. Bruce Ware in February 25-27 as he presents to us The Doctrine of Christ.
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What does love look like?

Andy Naselli over at Between Two Worlds gives an excellent summary of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. As a matter of fact Nancy and I were privileged to do some pre-marital counseling this past year and this is the material we used along with the Bible.

What does love look like?

Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.

Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.

Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.

Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.

Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.

Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.

Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.

Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.

Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
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Are we under the 10 commandments?

From DesiringGod Website

No. The Bible says we're not under the law.

I love Romans 7:4-6. By way of analogy, it says that you are married to the law. And you better stay married because if you leave this husband and go marry another you are going to be called an adulterer. But if your husband dies, then you can go and remarry.

And then Paul draws the analogy out—a little complex the way he does it—saying that you died to the law. You aren't married anymore, you can have another husband, namely Christ. He's raised from the dead.

So, our approach towards ethics is different. We don't ask the question, "Am I under the law?" We are under grace. The law is already fulfilled perfectly by Jesus. We are in Jesus and as far justification goes, God sees it as completed for you, one-hundred percent. He says, "You've trusted my Son. You've been grafted in him. You are in Christ Jesus and he fulfilled the law perfectly. He covered all your sins." God sees you in and through Christ, therefore, as far as final judgment goes God is 100% for you. That is settled and nothing is going to change it.

Now, shall we sin that grace may abound? Paul says, "Dead men don't sin." If you've died to sin, how can you still live in it? The new birth is the writing of the law on our heart so that we are not under it, it is under us. It is just coming out.
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Why a transformed life IS NOT proof of salvation

Before you pick up the stones read the following article. My background as some of you know is business consulting rooted in the self help movement of men like Eric Berne, Napoleon Hill, Maxwell Maltz, and Stephen Covey just to name a few. Each one of these men wrote and taught methods and philosophies that were and are very life transformational for their students. In light of that kind of thinking which has influenced the American church, I came across this excellent blog article by Daniel Neades.

Many religions transform lives. Mormonism has produced zealous clean-living converts who would put most evangelicals to shame in their general moral conduct. And radical Islam certainly transforms the lives of those who decide to become suicide bombers – and those of their victims.

Self-help books transform lives. Here’s one not atypical comment of many concerning Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

This book changed my life. After reading this book back in 1997 my whole thinking about myself and others changed. I wish they teach this book in high school in every country in the world. Since 97 I buy this book and give it as gift to anyone I come across, especially to young people. You read it and judge it.

The religion of the Pharisees transformed lives. Yet Jesus said of them:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15, NKJV)

Clearly, Jesus didn’t approve of that particular sort of life transformation.

We should be concerned that Pharisaism, which was really all about making God’s law doable, is alive and well in far too many of today’s churches. Whenever anyone gives you five simple steps to keep God’s law (whether it is to stay out of debt, or have healthy relationships, etc.), understand that Pharisaism is the religion being offered. Likewise, when someone preaches the law and tells you to just go out and do it. But the Bible tells us that God’s law exists primarily to show us our sin – it does not have the power to make us righteous:
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Doctrine Divides...and that is good!

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

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

The false conversions from the true conversions.

The ones under law from the ones under grace.

The swine from the pearls.

The profane from the holy.

The tares from the wheat.

The goats from the sheep.

The wolves from the flock.

The hirelings from the shepherds.

The “other gospels” from the one true Gospel.

The false christs from the one true Christ.

The darkness from the Light.

The lies from the Truth.

The errors from the facts.

The wicked from the righteous.

The wide gate from the narrow gate.

The broad road from the narrow road.

and

The many paths from the only Way

If God hides it can you find it?

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

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

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

Becoming like a child

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



The doctrine of God

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

click on the photo above to enlarge

Fighting the good fight

1. GRACE comes down (from God)

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

3. LOVE overflows (into the lives of others)

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

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

Digging deeper in Romans 6:17

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

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

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

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

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

Coming this Sunday

The doctrine of salvation

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

Romans Chapter 6

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

Learning how to study

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

Learning (doctrine) then Living (application)

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

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

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

Coming this Sunday

This week I decided to continue teaching in Romans 6. Several comments from those in our class could be summarized as follows “don’t stop now I am starting to understand what Paul is teaching us about practical Christian living.” So with that feedback and especially in light of our Q and A sessions this month we will finish up, Lord willing, chapter 6 over the next few weeks.


The main thrust tomorrow will be a quick review of everything we have covered so far and then Romans 6:15-17.

There are 4 things to note regarding these verses:
1. There are only 2 masters, either sin or righteousness

2. These two masters are diametrically opposite of one another, difference between light and darkness, life and death, God and Satan, heaven and hell, everything that is good and pure and all that is evil and destructive

3. Because they are opposites then you can't serve both of them at once

4. Every single person is either a slave of one or the other, there is no such thing as being totally free because you are either free to sin or free to obey God

Hope to see you tomorrow as we learn and live the God-centered life

Launch into the summer

We met last night for Q and A session #3 at the home of Allen and Bonnie Cleveland. I want to say thanks to them for hosting and also to publicly thank the Duckett's and Rhino's for our first two sessions. Next week we are meeting at our home and plan to invite the entire class as we launch into the summer. Nancy is planning to have a "discussion and dessert" time whereas I want to call it "blowout at the Brimbos." I have several things that I would like to cover that should provide some very interesting dialogue for those who attend. Last night at the Q and A I mentioned the biggest evangelical story to hit the church within the past 100 years. Well, I am going to unveil that next week it full detail. Do you know what it is? Do you know how it is impacting the church today and in the future?

For the past two summers I have spent time praying and planning for the upcoming year. In the mega-church in Charlotte there are two main launches, one is in the fall and the other is the beginning of the new year. It has been my habit to start in June and basically as best I can, build a curriculum for the next year of teaching. The first year of our class the main area of concentration was on the word of God and in our second year our main focus has been on the doctrine of God. One of the sub-goals in the first two years has been to teach on the doctrine of salvation prior to and after Easter Sunday. As a class we have studied the doctrines of justification, regeneration, propitiation, atonement, redemption and resurrection. This year through prayer and discussion I decided to teach on a practical application of the doctrines of justification, regeneration and resurrection from Romans 6:1-14. This Sunday I will conclude our "Practical Christian Living" as we finish up the imperatives that Paul gives in Romans 6:11-14. Can you imagine if you had been in the congregation of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones and spent a solid year in Romans 6? Of course this will be my defense for those who may think 6 weeks in one chapter is too long. Read More...

Bible Doctrine

On Tuesday night we had our Q and A session #2 at Danny and Rhonda’s home. One of the questions that I have been asked about are resources for Bible study. As most of you know this class is primarily dedicated to the learning of Bible doctrine. Doctrine simply means what the whole Bible has to say about any particular subject or topic. The design of this curriculum is to study:
The doctrine of God’s word
The doctrine of God Himself
The doctrine of Christ
The doctrine of the Spirit
The doctrine of man
The doctrine of salvation


Since March we have been looking at three specific doctrines that come under the doctrine of salvation. They are justification, regeneration and resurrection. After looking at these doctrines it has been my goal during the last 5 weeks to teach the practical application that come from these doctrines, as we can see in the first 14 verses of Romans 6. Read More...

Why the "prosperity" gospel is so dangerous

Here is a short but powerful response to the prosperity gospel by Dr. John Piper.

Jesus said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” His disciples were astonished, as many in the “prosperity” movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher by saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They responded in disbelief: “Then who can be saved?” Jesus says, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).

This means that their astonishment was warranted. A camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. This is not a metaphor for something requiring great effort or humble sacrifice. It can’t be done. We know this because Jesus said, Impossible! That was his word, not ours. “With man it is impossible.” The point is that the heart-change required is something man can’t do for himself. God must do it—“. . . but [it is] not [impossible] with God.”

We can’t make ourselves stop treasuring money above Christ. But God can. That is good news. And that should be part of the message that prosperity preachers herald before they entice people to become more camel-like. Why would a preacher want to preach a gospel that encourages the desire to be rich and thus confirms people in their natural unfitness for the kingdom of God?

Definition of Justification

We took 5 weeks on our “March to the Cross” to study in more depth the doctrines of justification, regeneration and resurrection. Therefore I am including an excellent definition from Dr. Douglas Moo that is a bit long but very help in understanding justification.

The Bible pictures all human beings as defendants in a courtroom: a courtroom in which God is the judge and our sins constitute the evidence against us. The judge weighs the evidence and finds every single one of us guilty of sin and announces that we, therefore, must be condemned. The marvelous news of justification is that God has himself provided for us the means of escaping that condemnation: by responding to his gracious initiative in faith, we become joined with Christ, who died for us and was raised for us. We become joined to Christ, who takes on himself the penalty for our sin and covers us with the ‘righteousness’ that we need to reverse the verdict of condemnation and receive the verdict of ‘justified’, ‘right’ with God. And because we have been joined to Christ, the holy one, and have in that union received the gift of God’s powerful holy Spirit, we, who have been justified, also find our lives transformed so that we love God and neighbor.

Atonement

During the last 5 weeks we have been looking at three doctrines on our "March to the Cross." In our reading this week our assignment was Leviticus 16-18 which reminded me of another important word and doctrine, that being atonement. By now you know the drill; can you define it, illustrate it and then support it with Scripture. In the old days I would teach on a book, word, doctrine or a particular Bible truth and move on, but not today. I am reviewing more now in my teaching style than ever, staying on subjects longer and finding that you can teach doctrine way too fast but never too slow. So I am going to cover some ground in this blog article that has already been tilled so to speak. But I hope that these type of reviews will promote review and study in order to keep this important Biblical truths fresh in your mind.

This is all prompted by the reading from Leviticus 16 and the word "ATONEMENT."

Definition
In general the word ATONEMENT is the reparation or price that is paid for wrong doing.

Illustration
If you park in a restricted zone down town to go into a store and you get a ticket, that would be considered a wrong doing before the law and you now must pay $35. This is considered to be the price for your atonement. And when you pay the $35 your status moves from guilt to innocent through the atonement made via the payment.

Well, what about the term “vicarious atonement” or “substitutionary atonement,” what does this mean?

Go back to the parking ticket illustration:
You are the guilty party and you owe the $35, but someone else steps in and pays the $35 for you. As long as they are innocent and don’t owe for any outstanding parking tickets, then the clerk will take their $35 and apply it to your account. And though you were guilty you are not innocent but this time through a vicarious atonement, which means one in the stead of another.
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Evidence for the Resurrection

Michael Patton from the Parchment and Pen Blog Site gives us a great article on evidence for the resurrection.

Here is what we need:

1. Internal Evidence: Evidence coming from within the primary witness documents, the New Testament.

2. External Evidence: Collaborative evidence coming from outside the primary witness documents.

Internal Evidence:

* Honesty
* Irrelevant Details
* Harmony
* Public Extraordinary Claims
* Lack of Motivation for Fabrication


Honesty:
The entire Bible records both successes and failures of the heroes. I have always been impressed by this. It never paints the glorious picture that you would expect from legendary material, but shows them in all their worst moments. The Israelites whined, David murdered, Peter denied, the apostles abandoned Christ in fear, Moses became angry, Jacob deceived, Noah got drunk, Adam and Eve disobeyed, Paul persecuted, Solomon worshiped idols, Abraham was a bigamist, Lot committed incest, John the Baptist doubted, Abraham doubted, Sarah doubted, Nicodemus doubted, Thomas doubted, Jonah ran, Samson self-served, and John, at the very end of the story, when he should have had it all figured out, worshiped an angel (Rev 22:8). I love it! (ahem).

And these are the Jews who wrote the Bible!

In addition, the most faithful are seen as suffering the most (Joseph, Job, and Lazarus), while the wicked are seen as prospering (the rich man). In the case of the Gospels, the disciples who recorded it claimed to have abandoned Christ and did not believe in His resurrection when told. Even after the resurrection, they still present themselves as completely ignorant of God’s plan (Acts 1:6-7). Women are the first to witness the resurrection which has an element of self-incrimination since a woman’s testimony was not worth anything in the first century. If someone were making this up, why include such an incriminating detail? (I am glad they did—what an Easter message this is for us today!)
Read More...

What does "imputation" mean?

Today we remember the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The significance of His death is very important as is the resurrection of His body to life. But today let’s look at the word “imputation” as it relates to our salvation and the death of Christ on the cross.

Imputation
A term suggesting judicial activity, referring to both sin and righteousness; Adam’s sin becomes the sin of all human beings in the judicial processes of God, and Christ’s sacrifice is credited to those who exercise faith in Him; (Romans 4:3; James 2:23; Philemon 18)
Karleen, P. S. (1987). The handbook to Bible study

According to Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology:
The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer for his justification. The word impute is familiar and unambiguous. To impute is to ascribe to, to reckon to, to lay to one’s charge. It seems unnecessary to remark that this does not, and cannot mean that the righteousness of Christ is infused into the believer, or in any way so imparted to him as to change, or constitute his moral character. Imputation never changes the inward, subjective state of the person to whom the imputation is made. When sin is imputed to a man he is not made sinful; when the zeal of Phinehas was imputed to him, he was not made zealous. When you impute theft to a man, you do not make him a thief. When you impute goodness to a man, you do not make him good. So when righteousness is imputed to the believer, he does not thereby become subjectively righteous. If the righteousness be adequate, and if the imputation be made on adequate grounds and by competent authority, the person to whom the imputation is made has the right to be treated as righteous. And, therefore, in the forensic, although not in the moral or subjective sense, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ does make the sinner righteous. That is, it gives him a right to the full pardon of all his sins and a claim in justice to eternal life.

Also I have provided a short audio clip for those who also would like to listen in regard to the doctrine of imputation. Simply click on this LINK.

Theology to Doxology

As we continue in our study of Bible doctrine, we should be move from theology to doxology. Because the greatest purpose in life is the worship and praise of God.

“Because God is a person (indeed, he is pictured as our Father), our relationship with him has a dimension of warmth and understanding. God is not a bureau or a department, a machine or a computer that automatically supplies the needs of people. He is a knowing, loving, good Father. He can be approached. He can be spoken to, and he in turn speaks.” - Millard J. Erickson (Christian Theology, pg. 296)

March to the Cross

We are entering into week #5 in our “March to the Cross.” This has been a time in our class where we are looking at three important doctrines that relate to the death of Christ and His resurrection. In the first two weeks we studied the doctrine of justification and in the last two weeks the doctrine of regeneration. This week we are going to look at three specific elements of the resurrection.

  1. Biblical predictions
  2. Biblical evidence
  3. Biblical implications

Also within this blog site I plan to give you some resource material that I am coming across in my own study. I hope these short articles will encourage you to study along with me as we look into God’s word regarding the resurrection this coming Sunday.

RESURRECTION. The most startling characteristic of the first Christian preaching is its emphasis on the resurrection. The first preachers were sure that Christ had risen, and sure, in consequence, that believers would in due course rise also. This set them off from all the other teachers of the ancient world. There are resurrections elsewhere, but none of them is like that of Christ. They are mostly mythological tales connected with the change of the season and the annual miracle of spring. The Gospels tell of an individual who truly died but overcame death by rising again. And if it is true that Christ’s resurrection bears no resemblance to anything in paganism it is also true that the attitude of believers to their own resurrection, the corollary of their Lord’s, is radically different from anything in the heathen world. Nothing is more characteristic of even the best thought of the day than its hopelessness in the face of death. Clearly the resurrection is of the very first importance for the Christian faith.
The Christian idea of resurrection is to be distinguished from both Greek and Jewish ideas. The Greeks thought of the body as a hindrance to true life and they looked for the time when the soul would be free from its shackles. They conceived of life after death in terms of the immortality of the soul, but they firmly rejected all ideas of resurrection (cf. the mockery of Paul’s preaching in Acts 17:32). The Jews were firmly persuaded of the values of the body, and thought these would not be lost. They thus looked for the body to be raised. But they thought it would be exactly the same body (Apocalypse of Baruch 1:2). The Christians thought of the body as being raised, but also transformed so as to be a suitable vehicle for the very different life of the age to come (1 Cor. 15:42ff.). The Christian idea is thus distinctive.

Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (1010). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

March to the Cross



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...

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.



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.



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.

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...

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.

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...

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...

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...

March to the Cross

If you follow professional football then Peyton Manning is a familiar name. As the current quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts he is know for his ability to call audibles. An audible is a change of the play at the line of scrimmage for another play based on a variety of factors. All that to say that I am calling an audible in our study of doctrine for the next 5 weeks. Already I excited about this series that I plan to title “March to the Cross.” This will cover the doctrines of justification, atonement, regeneration, redemption and resurrection. Martin Luther was quoted as follows “the church stands and falls based on it’s understanding of justification.” If Luther were alive today he would be appalled to see how little the church understands these basics of the Christian faith.

As I have had the privilege to teach God’s word over the years I want to tell you what has been criticized the most. It has been those who equate the learning of Bible doctrine, to a person who is a spiritual egghead who ends up knowing all the facts but does nothing about what he knows. However when one comes to a healthy understanding of the Bible it clearly says learn correctly in order to live correctly.

My point here is don’t discount or underestimate the power of God’s word. We are not people who are worshipping the word but rather we look to Christ in all things through His revealed word. I hope you see the difference. Regardless we are not learning doctrine to be contestants on Bible jeopardy but rather that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ. In most cases the biggest critics of intense study in Bible doctrine comes from those who have little passion or desire for the word of God. Allow me to challenge you as I was challenged during the early years of Bible study. How can you be close and intimate with Christ if you are not close and intimate with His word? My Bible teacher used to have piercing eyes when he made the following statement and might I add with much passion “you can be no closer to the Lord Jesus Christ that you are to His word!” When ever he would make that statement the room would almost always have an eerie silence. He would not leave it, but would stay there long enough to come eye to eye with what seemed to be every person in the class. Read More...

The sovereignty of God over all things

We are studying during the 2010 year the doctrine of God. As we progress eventually we come to the sovereignty of God.
This has been a much debated doctrine over the history of the church. But many times what ensues when calamity or adversity happens in life are the questions such as “Why me, Why This, Why now?” This is a repost from Justin Taylor’s excellent blog site.

[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.

Why you?

Why you?

Why would you enter this world of evils?

Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?

Why would you do this for me, of all people?

But you did.

You did this for the joy set before you.

You did this for love.

You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heartfelt response:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.

Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:
Read More...

Doctrine and Discipleship

When we talk about doctrine, a very basic definition is what the whole Bible has to say about a certain topic or subject. And when we discuss the word discipleship we are talking about being a learner of Jesus. In our learning Bible doctrine we are learning about Jesus and therefore doctrine is a critical part of the discipleship process. Keep in mind it is NOT the only thing but hear me clearly, it today is the most neglected part of discipleship. I will continue to say the big problem in our Christian living today is that we have the imperatives ahead of the indicatives. (Deeds not Creeds) If you are new to our class and this blog and have no idea what that statement means then click on this LINK. We get it wrong when we make discipleship about what we do instead about what Jesus has already done.

Here is a short clip from Pastor Ken Jones on discipleship. Click on this LINK.

Isaiah 44:12-17 in today's culture

Last Sunday I started out with the following question; “What is the chief end of man?”
The answer to this first question of the Westminster catechism is “to glorify God and enjoy HIm forever.”

Well, that begs the next question which is “how” are we to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
And before I gave the answer, my goal was to show the problem in order that we will appreciate more the solution.

To review last week’s power point, click on this LINK.

Therefore I read from Isaiah 44:12-17
Is. 44:12 ¶ The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary.
Is. 44:13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house.
Is. 44:14 Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow.
Is. 44:15 Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it.
Is. 44:16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.”
Is. 44:17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”

This morning while perusing through some of my favorite blogs I stumbled onto this video at the Resurgence Blog specifically entitled Isaiah 44.

It is less than 5 minutes but has a powerful message especially for those of us in this American culture. Simply click on this LINK.

By the way the answer is through “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.”

Spiritual Maturity

This from the blog site of Justin Taylor
Wise counsel from Millard Erickson:

Most persons in ministry will be called on to interpret the message at a level about one step below where they are personally;

They should also try to study some theology at least one step above their position in order to remain intellectually alive and growing. —Christian Theology, p. 80











When ignorance IS NOT bliss

The White Horse Inn recently celebrated there 20 year anniversary on the radio. The tag line for the show is simply this”know what you believe and why you believe it.” They do a great job in talking about the basics of the Christian faith especially as it comes to the understanding of Bible doctrine. In the last 30 years there has been a purposeful dumbing down of the gospel. It has been said by some of the largest and most popular growing churches in America that people need to “TRY IT” before they “BUY IT.” So the marketing of Christ starts from the church that brings in the clowns and three ring circus, all the way to the pastor who shows up in a polo shirt and Bermuda shorts. It becomes all about stories, illustrations and feel good in order that those in attendance can learn how to live their best life now.

However in previous years there was a reverence and real commitment to God’s word and these basic foundational doctrines. I am including a 21st century clip from a Christian booksellers convention in which those there were asked to give a definition of justification. If you want to know how important the church has considered this doctrine to be over the years then listen to the words of Martin Luther. “The church will either stand or fall based on it’s understanding of justification.”

So with this in mind listen to this interview with fellow Christians as they attempt to define justification.
Click on this LINK.

Bible Doctrine is not fast food

When learning Bible doctrine you can go too fast but you can never go too slow. Therefore I am committed as we go through the doctrine of God to have us marinade in each of these areas. The teaching of doctrine should be very practical to all who are participating in our class. Each week, as we read through the Bible, there are opportunities to recognize and meditate on the very doctrines that we are studying. Our tendency will be to hear the truth and then want to immediately move to another truth. And that is the very reason I have been so insistent on the three following things in regard to our study:

  • Be able to define the doctrine
  • Be able to give an illustration where applicable
  • Be able to support the definition with Scripture

My former Bible teacher drilled this statement in my head “Bert if you can’t explain it or articulate it then you simply don’t know it yet.” He would go on to say you may have heard it and recognize it, but the principle or truth is still just rolling around inside your head. There were many times he would put me on the spot to explain something and instead I sounded like Porky Pig. But I am thankful that he continued to exhort me to study and remain consistent in the study of God’s word. He would say you need to approach this like a marathon and not a sprint.

Also let me encourage you to study these doctrines 15 minutes for 5 days instead of 1-2 hours one day during the week. Trust me, these are truths that the brain needs to assimilate in small doses over long periods of time. The reason I so love the retreat format is because you can cover large amounts of foundational Bible truth. And then throughout the year break down into small bite sized study increments. Presently I am working with two primary Bible foundations. The class on Sunday is dedicated to Bible doctrine. In this type of study we looking specifically at the doctrine of God’s word, God Himself, Man, Christ, Spirit and finally the doctrine of salvation. Think of this kind of Bible study in terms of a circle. Read More...

Coming this Sunday



For the notes from Sunday’s class simply click on this LINK

Coming this Sunday (weather permitting)

The last few weeks we have been covering the doctrine of the self-suffiiciency of God. This Sunday I will start with a brief review but then move into the application for this doctrine. When we started out I gave a three-fold approach to this particular study;
  • Definition of Self-Sufficiency
  • Scriptural Support for this Doctrine
  • Illustrations that help to explain so we can understand

It is common to hear the following objections to the doctrine of self-sufficiency;
Key Questions that arise because of God’s Self-Sufficiency

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
2. Why does God demand our obedience?
3. Why does God enlist our service?
4. Why does God call us to pray?
5. Why does he require our worship?

On Sunday we will spend time going through these five questions listed above. If you want to preview the answers to these objections prior to class then I have included them in this blog article.

Allow me to mention that my study in Bible doctrine has been mainly and specifically done under the teaching of Dr. Larry Dixon, Dr Wayne Grudem, and Dr. Bruce Ware. In this article I am using the very notes given to me by Dr. Ware on this subject. So I want to again say thanks to each of these fine theologians, and a special thanks again to Dr. Ware who has been kind to share notes and much teaching on this subject.

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
The answer is NOT that God was lonely and needed fellowship. Ps 50 – he’s offended and dishonored to think so.
Rather, particularly in relation to his people, the answer it this: though he doesn’t need us, he loves us, and his purpose in creating and redeeming us is not that we might fill up some lack in him, but that he might fill us up with himself. He made us empty to be filled with his fullness, thirsty to drink of the water of life, weak to receive his strength, foolish to be instructed and corrected by his wisdom. In his love, he longs to give, to share the bounty. He wants us to experience in finite measure the fullness of joy and blessing that he knows infinitely—all to redound to the praise and glory of his name, the Giver and Provider of all the good we enjoy. C. S. Lewis, in his The Problem of Pain, says that God’s love is not like ours, helping another while needing also to be helped. No, God’s love, says Lewis, is “bottomlessly selfless, by very definition; it has everything to give and nothing to receive” (p. 50). Read More...

Coming this Sunday

The teaching plan for Sunday is to continue in the self-sufficiency of God. The study plan that I am attempting to lay out for the class, and by the way, it is different than the reading plan and the devotion plan. But the study plan has three main components;
  • Define the doctrine in easy to understand layman's language
  • Support the articulation of a doctrine with the Bible
  • Give illustrations where applicable

For example, since we are studying the doctrine of self sufficiency we need to start with a definition.
Definition of self-sufficiency - God possesses within Himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite
measure.

Last week we read the entire chapter of Isaiah 40 and then looked at verses 12-17. The breakdown of this section of Scripture seems to flow in the following manner.
In Isaiah 40:12 we can see the power, bigness and immensity of God. Then in verse 13-14 Isaiah moves from God's power to the knowledge and wisdom of God. And finally in verses 15-17 we learn the implication to the nations of the verses above.

An illustration of this text might be the one that I used in class last week.
Illustration:. My plan, Lord willing is to have this very devotion some morning in Isaiah 40:12 with the grandchildren and then take them to the beach. When I get there I am going to ask them if they want to see me do an experiment? So I say now kids when Pa Pa B gets in the ocean he is going to go down and scoop up all the water in his two hands and when he comes up out of the water I want you to notice the level at which the water drops. Of course they will say they didn't see any change and that is when I will act amazed and say OK I am going to do it again and this time watch very closely. Again the same response and then I plan to come up on the beach and kneel beside them and tell them about the God who made everything and how He can scoop up the Atlantic Ocean in His hand and hold it. So what kind of picture is Isaiah trying to get us to see in this passage about our God? He is really big, powerful and immense!
Read More...

Beginning with the End

This has been a week of fruitful discussion regarding the “self-sufficiency” of God. On Sunday I am planning to begin where we left off last Sunday. Here is what is critical to understand from the meaning of Isaiah 40:17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. First of all let’s be sure we know what this DOES NOT mean. It doesn’t mean that God regards us as a big fat zero, doesn’t care and we are just a bunch on nothings running around on planet earth. And we know that because of verses like:

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” You could paraphrase for God so love the nations.

Revelation 5:9 “And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

You can see from the reading of the verses above that we are very much something in the eyes of God.

So what does Isaiah 40:17 mean? It means that our talent, abilities, and giftedness when compared to the glory, magnificence, knowledge and wisdom of God doesn’t even make it on the radar screen. If you take all of human accomplishments from the beginning of recorded time until today and place that next to the accomplishments of God they look like nothing.

Remember again our definition of the sufficiency of God - “God possesses within Himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite measure.”

You might be thinking OK, I believe that God is self-sufficient but that means He really doesn’t need me for anything. So the next logical series of questions might be as follows;

1. Why are we here? What is our purpose?
2. Why does God demand our obedience?
3. Why does God enlist our service?
4. Why does God call us to pray?
5. Why does he require our worship?

The Bible has answers for us in this regard so stay tuned for further details in the weeks to come.

Do you love Christ?

Sometimes in our gospel zeal we end up talking more about the benefits that we do the Benefactor. We focus our attention on the gifts rather than the Giver. In our excitement to tell others about the blessings and say little about the Blessor. So in this brief blog article I am asking a simple question “Do you love Jesus Christ?”

I am not asking do you love Christ for what He can do for you in terms of health, wealth and prosperity. But as I heard one pastor ask the question, if you could have eternal life, get all sins forgiven forever, have fellowship with family members and friends throughout eternity, enjoy the unending delights in a glorious heaven for eternity but the only catch is the Lord Jesus isn’t there, would you still want to go?

The knowledge of God

Our Bible reading for today is Exodus 17-20. If I asked you where the Ten Commandments are located in the Bible, how would you answer? OK, here is a hint, they are located within our Bible reading plan for today. Let me go one step further, what if I were to ask you to name the Ten Commandments. Could you name all ten of them? You might answer "no I can't," but going to heaven is not conditioned upon being able to recite the Ten Commandments." And to that I whole heartedly agree and would further add the only condition for heaven is faith in Christ. So why even bring this up unless we are training for Bible Jeopardy and want to enter a team from our SS class? By the way as a small side note but important to the point of this email, that question was asked not long ago in survey form to various Christians. To hear how they did click on this LINK.

The post-modern evangelicals get a bit upset when Bible knowledge is a main emphasis within the church. Here is a quote from a popular pastor today that has a church between 10-15,000 members, in he said “most Christians are educated way beyond their level of obedience anyway.” The overall implication of this kind of preaching is to downgrade what a Christian needs to know and upgrade what a Christian needs to do. Once again we get the imperatives (commands) ahead of the indicatives (the realities of what Christ accomplished on the cross). I want to make it clear that there is a huge difference between "knowing about God" and actually "knowing God." But I will continue to maintain as we learn Bible doctrine, that a litmus test of our knowing God is in direct proportion to our knowing His word. A.W. Tozer said in the 1950's that the knowledge of God in the American church was so low that he classified it as idolatry. Why would he say something that strong? Because he knew that when people don't know the God of the Bible they tend to construct a god of their own imaginations. And how is that different that going out in the backyard and cutting down a tree to pray to and worship. So why is knowledge important? Because the Bible teaches it is important throughout the Old and New Testament. I could give many examples but let me refer you to;

Habakkuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.


Do you see the connection that God makes in the passage above between knowing Him and glorifying Him?

When I ask can you name the Ten Commandments it is not asked from the Bible jeopardy perspective but from the knowing God perspective. As you read, embrace and understand these commandments you will get to know the God of the Bible. As this knowledge grows so will your behavior as a Christian. We all behave in a way that is consistent with those things that we behold on a regular and continuous basis. (Romans 12:1-2)

So let me ask again in the context of this email, can you name the Ten Commandments?