Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

A preview for this coming Sunday

The word faith can be very misunderstood in the context of our personal salvation. In the book of James we read about two distinct type of faith that are not able to save.

James 2:26
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

James 2:19
“You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”

Also the apostle Paul gives us a warning in 1 Corinthians 15 about a type of faith that is useless in regard to salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:1–2
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”

In these three examples are types of non saving faith mentioned in the Bible:
1. A faith that is dead
2. A faith that is demonic
3. A faith that is vain

We have the Christian lingo down and often tell others that you just need to have faith in God or have faith in Christ. If a family member, friend or neighbor were to ask you about faith in Christ could you give them a proper definition, illustration and Scriptural support? Would you be able to distinguish for them betwee dead faith, demonic faith and useless faith? Continue reading…

That's my King

The gospel health of your church on Easter

This from Doug Wolter

As people enter our doors this Easter Sunday, will they see us as real people worshiping a real Savior? Will they enter a community of grace? Tim Chester, in his excellent book, You Can Change, lists some great questions to discern if your church is a community of grace, and thus attractive to broken, needy sinners.
  • Are people open about their sin or is there a culture of pretending?
  • Is community life messy or sanitized?
  • Are broken people attracted to your community?
  • Is conflict out in the open or is it suppressed?
  • Are forgiveness and reconciliation actively pursued?
  • Do you constantly return to the cross in your conversation, prayers and praise?

Response to the Truth


Organized Religion is Dying

Some Statistics
In the past decade, many books, endless blog-posts, and countless conference sessions have illuminated this exodus away from organized religion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (and used) the statistic that 3500 churches will close their doors this year, never to reopen. In many cases, the death of these churches is not a tragedy. Looking at a recent Pew Forum survey will help make this point.

Researchers from Pew Forum discovered the following when surveying a cross-section of adults who claim to be evangelicals (Southern Evangelicals are the subject here only because they tend to have a higher adherence rate than evangelicals in other regions – this is best case scenario):

  • 98% of all southern Evangelicals believe in the existence of God
  • 41% of southern Evangelicals believe there is only one true interpretation of the Bible’s teachings
  • 36% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe their religion to be “the one, true faith that leads to eternal life”

If 98% of Southern Evangelicals are certain about the existence of God, but only 36% of the same group believes their faith is uniquely true, then 64% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe in a gospel contrary to that of the Bible. Simply put, the average church and the average Christian in America do not understand or believe the Gospel. When a church loses the revolutionary power of the Gospel, legalism and religion replace it. Churches are dying because they are nothing more than organized religion, which cannot change the heart of men. When a legalistic dinosaur dies, that’s a good thing!

To read this entire article from the Resurgence Blog simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Test all ministers by the word of God

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to ministers of religion because of their office. Ordination and office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses introduced into the church by ordained men. Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers ought not to be lightly refused. But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch. We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes to make us crucify Christ again. We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion–but it matters greatly what it is that is said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. “To the law and to the testimony–if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). ~ J.C. Ryle

Review for April 17


If you would like to listen to the audio for this class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

This is from a blog post by Kim Riddlebarger

When we speak of Scripture as “sufficient,” we mean that the Bible reveals everything God wants us to know about his will, and how to be saved from his wrath. The Bible was given for a very specific purpose. The Bible does not teach us everything that might be useful or practical to know, nor was it intended to do so. The Bible was not given to satisfy sinful human curiosity, nor will we find answers to all of the mysteries of life. The secret things belong to God (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29).

But the Bible does reveal both the law and the gospel. The law is that which God commands of us and is found in a passage such as Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments). The gospel is what God gives to us in Jesus Christ which meets the demands of his law, and is spelled out by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (as but one example). Although the moral law is universal–it us written upon our hearts because we are created in God’s image–only in the Bible do we find God’s law in written form so that God’s will is perfectly clear to all.
Continue reading…

When I sin

Let me repeat what I have said on many occasions in our class. "We never get beyond our need for the gospel we simply move further into the gospel." Please remember the apostle Paul tells us that in the gospel is located the power of God. In context, Paul is teaching us that the power of which he speaks is the very righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is something that God declares me to be in my justification and He is now transforming me into the righteousness of Christ in my sanctification. Therefore the gospel is what gets me into the kingdom of God and it is the same thing that keeps me in the kingdom of God. My point is we never move away from our daily need of the gospel.

I am constantly on the lookout for books, quotes, audios and videos that can help deepen our understanding of the gospel. In some reading this morning I came across the following quote from Tullian Tchividjian as it relates to our daily growth as Christians.

"Every temptation to sin is a temptation, in the moment, to disbelieve the gospel–the temptation to secure for myself in that moment something I think I need in order to be happy, something I don’t yet have: meaning, freedom, validation, and so on. Bad behavior happens when we fail to believe that everything I need, in Christ I already have; it happens when we fail to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in the gospel. Conversely, good behavior happens when we daily rest in and receive Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being every day— into our rebellious regions of unbelief (what writer calls “our unevangelized territories”) smashing any sense of need to secure for ourselves anything beyond what Christ has already secured for us."

When I have sin in my life, at that very moment, I am choosing to find my happiness or security in something other than Christ. My problem is that I am not believing the gospel. I called Pat earlier this week and said I know the gospel is true, I can articulate it and even break down the verbs and nouns. But in my sinning, though I know the gospel to be true, at the time the sin is happening it is NOT true for me. And though my standing before God has been declared righteous I still am dealing with the presence of sin which wages war. The solution for that sin past, present and future is "THE GOSPEL." He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

At every step Jesus is our substitute

Was he flogged? It was done so that "by his wounds we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). Was he condemned though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty. Did he wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory. Was he stripped of his clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was he mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed. Was he reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin. Was he declared unable to save himself? It was so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did he die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory. - J.C. Ryle commentary in Matthew from Take Your Vitamin Z website

Review for April 10

SBS Class April 102011

If you would like to listen to the audio for this class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

The promises of God within the plan of God

The Old Testament is the story of God’s amazing promises. Step back and try to take it in:
God promises to give life to people who will reflect his glory.
God promises to destroy evil and rid the world of its curse.
God promises to bless people from all nations.
God promises to reconcile sinners to himself through a sacrifice for sins.
God promises that his people will live under the blessing of his rule forever.
God promises that all his people will walk in all his ways.
God promises to bring new life from the grave. . . .

Here is the breathtaking sweep of what God promises us in Jesus Christ. Jesus came and lived and died and rose again so that:
We might become a new creation fully reflecting the image of God.
We might be delivered from the curse of evil.
We might enjoy the blessing of God together with a vast company of redeemed people from all nations.
We might be reconciled to God through Christ, who offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins.
We might live under the blessing of God’s rule forever.
We might walk in God’s ways, loving him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
We might receive new life from the grave. . . .Continue reading…

Follow on Twitter

I know some of you may not be into Facebook or Twitter and that is fine. My style and gifting lends more to Twitter than Facebook. So I thought I would give you a sample of some of my April Tweets. If you would like to follow or just check in from time to time then CLICK ON THIS LINK.
Jesus comes to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He frees you from everything that is smaller than Himself.

"Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry and under every idol is disbelief in the gospel." - Martin Luther

You don't fully realize what idols you have in life until God takes them away.

Whatever your heart clings to and relies on becomes the very thing you worship.

Our trials are God's platform to capture us by His grace.

The Bible never teaches us to go out and get what we don't have but rather to take hold of what we do have in Christ.Continue reading…

How to spoil the Gospel

The Gospel in fact is a most curiously and delicately compounded medicine, and is a medicine that is very easily spoiled.

You may spoil the gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to Faith, — Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place, — the Church, the Ministry … and the mischief is done …

You may spoil the Gospel by addition. You only have to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done …

You may spoil the Gospel by disproportion. You only have to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. Once alter the proportion of the parts of the truth, and truth soon becomes downright error …

— J. C. Ryle, quoted by Peter Adam in
Hearing God's Word
(Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2004), 24

Bible Devotion in Leviticus

When you read in Leviticus about what the Israelites could eat and what they could not eat, the context is holiness and unholiness. God prescribes for His people what is acceptable and what is not acceptable based on what He says NOT what they think.

This book of the Bible helps to reaffirm for me the importance of Bible doctrine. God's truth is absolute and not relative like so many today would like to proclaim. Even though we may want to have shades of grey in our religion we serve a God who teaches us in black and white. I have said before and will continue to say that doctrine divides. It divides truth from error, right from wrong, wheat from tare, sheep from goat and believer from non believer.

A key application for us from Leviticus is our distinctiveness as Christians from the world around us. Is there a marked difference in our lives in regard to the truth of God's word? Or do we just blend in with everyone else in our tolerance of things that are unholy. Are we so casual and lukewarm in our faith that there is little contrast between us as Christians and our non-believing neighbors? God says to us today "be holy as I am holy." We no longer are under the food restrictions of the OT Jews however we should stand out as different unto the glory of God!

Indicators you might heading toward Pelagianism

If you are unfamiliar with the word Pelagianism then read through the notes from class last Sunday or listen to the audio. Therefore I have listed (tongue and cheek) some indicators that might show you are heading toward Pelagianism. By the way Pelagianism was officially declared a heresy at the Council at Carthage in 416 AD.

  • You believe that God has done His part, now you have to do yours.
  • You believe that every time you repent, God wipes your slate clean.
  • You believe that people are saved because they responded to an altar call.
  • You believe that it is unfair for God to command things people can't do.
  • You believe that God helps those who help themselves.
  • You fear that the Rapture might take place before you get a chance to repent of your latest lapse from Christian character.
  • You think the Book of Life is written in pencil.
  • You feel compelled to remind everyone that obedience is necessary lest they think that because salvation is of grace and not works, grace is a license for sin.

borrowed from Contra Mundum website

Classic Fishing Video

Pat Jones and I really enjoy fishing. If you like to get on the water and wet a hook then you will appreciate this video starring Bill Dance. Unfortunately each one of these scenes reminds me of the things I have done whle attempting to catch fish.

What is "decisional regeneration?"

This week we are coming to a very critical place in the teaching of the gospel. Last week we finished our look at the doctrine of sin and now we need to understand the solution for sin. We are going to study the doctrine of redemption or how we are rescued in Christ. I think the modern day church movement has done much to confuse when it comes to a person getting born again or converted. The language in many churches equates to walk down the aisle, pray a prayer and make a decision for Jesus. But is this what the Bible instructs us to do? Here is a short video on the danger in the church today of “decisional regeneration.”

10 ways to prevent sermon napping


Parody on Rob Bell's "Love Wins"

Do we really believe that the path to eternal life is narrow? So narrow that not even atheist hippy pop stars will make it in? Don your shallow thinking cap and come wander some contours of meaning in this parody of Rob Bell's Love Wins book trailer.

6 Counterfeit Gospels

from the book Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax

Review for April 3

SBS Class April 32011

If you would like to listen to today’s class then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

If would like to listen to the audio played in class today featuring Dr. John MacArthur then CLICK ON THIS LINK.