Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
May 2011

How a False Prophet would teach High School English

Be sure to watch all the way to the end of this video!

The Prison of Conditionality

Yesterday in class I spend the majority of our time regarding sanctification on what it means to receive grace unconditionally. We especially in America that believe in programs, strategies and plans are about control and credit. We want to take control of our lives and we also want to glory in taking credit for being successful. When you talk about unconditional grace that is completely counter-intuitive to most people. Since this is fresh on our minds from yesterday here is an article that should further aid in our understanding of unconditional grace.

This from the Gospel Coalition Blog site

Gerhard Forde puts his finger on why the gospel is so scandalous:

The gospel of justification by faith is such a shocker, such an explosion, because it is an absolutely unconditional promise. It is not an “if-then” kind of statement, but “because-therefore” pronouncement: because Jesus dies and rose, your sins are forgiven and you are righteous in the sight of God! It bursts in upon our little world all shut up and barricaded behind our accustomed conditional thinking as some strange comet from goodness-knows-where, something we can’t really seem to wrap our minds around, the logic of which appears closed to us. How can it be entirely unconditional? Isn’t it terribly dangerous? How can anyone say flat out, “You are righteous for Jesus’ sake? Is there not some price to be paid, some-thing (however minuscule) to be done? After all, there can’t be such thing as a free lunch, can there?”

You see, we really are sealed up in the prison of our conditional thinking. It is terribly difficult for us to get out, and even if someone batters down the door and shatters the bars, chances are we will stay in the prison anyway! We seem always to want to hold out for something somehow, that little bit of something, and we do it with a passion and an anxiety that betrays its true source–the Old Adam that just does not want to lose control.

Review for May 29

In the last 3 years I have said “I am not as interested in us going through this teaching on doctrine as I am in this teaching of doctrine going through us. And that we the case today as I only covered a fraction of the material in these Power Points slides in regard to SANCTIFICATION.

Hopefully you can read through these notes prior to our class next week.

SBS Class May292011

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

Can you believe this?

It was the perfect evening. At just the right time I handed my beautiful bride of 35 years a rose as a symbol of my love and abiding affection. This was such a sweet and precious time. The photo was taken, one which I will be able to treasure for a lifetime and then I look...whoa, wait a minute, how did Pat Jones get in this shot? The photographer doesn’t notice and now I am left with this wonderful memory of Nancy, myself and Pat.

Devotion time in Isaiah 26

Did you notice this language in Isaiah 26:8-9?

8 In the path of your judgments,
O Lord,
we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
the desire of our soul.

My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

When saving faith is involved the language is affectional and not intellectual. We wait on the Lord, we desire Him with our soul, Christ becomes the very thing that our soul yearns for and we seek to have Him satisfy us!

I think the daily battle of sanctification is in essence a "fight for joy" in God. I once heard John Piper express it this way "The fight for joy in the Christian life is the battle you engage in daily to see Jesus as your treasure and to savor Him as that treasure above everything else in your life."

This kind of language is a reflection of the heart. There are so many other distractions and things that we can yearn for, enjoy and allow to satisfy us. Therefore we as a people of God must cry out, appeal, and pray to God for the faith, that only He can give, which will apprehend Christ each day as our greatest prize!

Review for May 22

Today we finished up on the “Doctrine of Faith” as it relates to the doctrine of salvation. For the past several weeks we have been considered the following questions in regard to this doctrine.

1. Why is it important to understand faith? (man’s perspective)
2. What is faith?
3. What does “saving”faith look like from the Bible?
4. How does this faith work?
5. Why is it important to understand faith (God’s perspective)

Our focus was on the phrase “FAITH CREDITED AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” in Romans 4. Here are notes that capture the review from the last few weeks plus the lesson covered this morning.
SBS Class May222011

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

Learning to download and play audio files

This is a full service website in regard to helping you learn and live the word of God. One of the requests I have received over the past 3 years has to do with downloading and playing audio files. if you are 35 and under this will seem very basic but if you need help in this area then check out the document below. Should you have any questions please contact me. Hope this helps.
How to download and play an audio file

No Rapture so far...

To read the article CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE

OK, here is my take on the end times. There is NO rapture, yes Christians go through the tribulation and when Jesus returns it will be to set up His kingdom (new heaven and new earth). This doctrine of end times is very important but not considered an essential that we all believe the same way. However I have had people leave church and SS class because I have given my stated position. If you believe in a Rapture and a literal 1000 kingdom prior to us entering heaven forever then please be my guest for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner. I will not divide fellowship with you on this issue at all. However if you start to waver on the substitutionary atonement of Christ for sins then that is another matter all together. Can we please get some teaching from the evangelical orthodox churches on what are the essentials to the faith as opposed to the important but non essentials? If you would like some help with this issue listen to Q and A session with Dr. Bruce Ware from our Wild Dunes Retreat 2011. CLICK ON THIS LINK.


Recommended Summer Reading List

We all need the gospel all the time. I was reminded of this once again with the following quote from Harold Senkbeil's book Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness.
"Our Heavenly Father attaches no strings to His love. His love for us doesn’t depend on our love for others. Our relationship with the Father was established long ago, in the body and blood of His Son. Jesus Christ erased all our sins and shouldered all our sorrows. Already now we have a solid relationship with our heavenly Father; there’s no need to fret about it. That relationship doesn’t depend on our love for Him, but on His love for us. It hinges on the Gospel of God, not the Law of God…Again, the Old Adam betrays us. Our sinful nature would much rather hear Law than Gospel. The sinful nature is a seasoned do-it-yourselfer. We’d rather know what we should do, yet God insists on telling us who we are. The best way to tell you what to do as a Christian is to tell you who you are in Christ. The sinful nature likes to think it can earn (and keep) God’s favor. Our Old Adam prefers to base security with God the Father on His Law rather than His Gospel."

It is only as you LEARN the gospel that you LIVE it in such a way, that you are more and more satisfied in Christ, and He is more and more glorified in you.

Let me ask you a very basic question, did you sin this week? It may have been something you said to a client in anger, a thought about a family relationship while driving down the interstate or maybe it was a reaction to something that happened like when you are cut off in traffic. The only antidote for that is the gospel. Ask 100 Christians today what is the gospel and give key verse or verses to support it and record the results. It is so ironic to me that the bracelet so popular for Christians to wear was "what would Jesus do" NOT "what has Jesus done." Again notice how we always tend to be drawn to what we do and not what has been accomplished on our behalf.

If you remember nothing else from our time together these last 3 years then remember this; "As Christians we live under the banner IT IS FINISHED."

In just a few short weeks summer will be upon us and family travel and vacations will be in full swing. Many of us head to the beach, put on the sunscreen, grab a chair and a book to have some fun in the sun. Let me paint the picture, there is a comfortable breeze, you are in a beach chair and the ocean water is coming back and forth under your feet. You think of if I just had a good book I could read right now it would be perfect. Then you remember, yes the list that Bert gave us of the 18 books I can read this summer, specifically dedicated to helping me further understand the gospel. You go get up from the chair and go grab a book from your beach bag and the reading starts. Continue reading…

Developing a category of faith that is Biblical

Sometimes the regular routines of life work against a clear understanding of Bible doctrine. I think this is true for many of us when it comes to the doctrine of faith. This Sunday we are going to take a close look at the phrase "faith credited as righteousness." First of all this must be extremely important because the apostle Paul dedicates all of Romans 4 to give us his exposition on what this means. I find it very interesting and insightful that of all the people in the entire Bible the one picked to illustrate this point is Abraham. We see the word for faith appear in Genesis 15:6 when we read "Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness." When someone reads and thinks about how faith is credited this may be their category;

I have a check for $100.
I drive to the bank and fill out a deposit ticket.
I give it to the teller and I receive back a deposit receipt.
I go home and open my banking account online.
And sure enough there it is $100 has been credited to my account.
I earned the money, I drove to the bank and I make the deposit and it was then credited to my account.

So to carry that logic out a bit further we might think in these terms when we read about faith being credited to our spiritual accounts as righteousness. For example;
Salvation from God costs 1 billion dollars, and I can only come up with $100,000 which we will call faith.
When God looks at my life from heaven and sees $100,000 of faith because of His mercy and grace He credits that to my account and makes the difference and therefore considers me to be righteous.
I am now accepted, forgiven and righteous before God because He has credited my faith as the righteousness that He demands.

Is that what faith credited as righteousness means or is it something much different that what I described above?

It IS NOT God seeing a righteousness in us or something that we do and Him somehow making up the difference. But rather "faith being reckoned as righteousness" means there is an alien righteousness namely the righteousness of God in Christ which is credit to our account THROUGH faith. And the fact that He credits faith as righteousness DOES NOT mean the faith is the righteousness.

On Sunday I am going to focus on the phrase FAITH CREDITED AS RIGHTEOUSNESS and specifically on the three words; faith, credited and righteousness to understand what they mean. In reading my faith illustrations above you might tend to think is this really that important? My question for you is this, does your legal standing before the Judge of the universe as acquitted, accepted, approved, and not guilty before God; does that legal standing rest on a righteousness in you or does it rest on the righteousness of Christ?

You can count on this fact, the apostle Paul thought it was so critical that he invested all of Chapter 4 to explain what faith credited as righteousness means for the Christian.

Hope to see you this Sunday!

The good news of the gospel

“At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and offered to all who believe. This is therefore very ‘good news.’

Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. While we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful. Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.”

— Joe Thorn
Note To Self
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2011), 30

Is it worship STYLE or worship SUBSTANCE?

Kevin DeYoung writes an excellent article on church growth.

Here are some questions that he thinks each church should be asking:

  • Is the gospel faithful preached?

  • Is the Bible taught with clarity and passion?

  • Are the sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?

  • Do the elders/pastors and deacons meet the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament?

  • Are the sacraments faithfully administered and protected?

  • Is church discipline practiced?

  • Do the elders exercise personal care over the flock?

  • Are there good relationships among the staff and other leaders?

  • Is the worship service put together thoughtfully and carried out with undistracting excellence (as much as possible).

  • Do the people in the congregation sing the songs with gusto or are they going through the motions?

  • Is a high bar set for church membership?
Continue reading…

Review for May 15

SBS Class May 15, 2011

Slide #3 is the audio on the survey taken “what does justification mean?” To listen CLICK ON THIS LINK.

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

Here are the study notes on FOREKNOWLEDGE simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Making all thing new (not all new things)

From the Gospel Coalition blog site:

For a long time now, I’ve been convinced that the way most Christians think about redemption is influenced more by ancient Greek philosophy than by the Bible. We think of ultimate redemption as being redemption from the body, not of the body; redemption from the world, not of the world; redemption from the material, not of the material. This, however, goes against what the Bible clearly teaches about redemption.

In the Lord’s Prayer we see that God’s ultimate goal for earth is that it become like heaven.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)

God’s mission is to bring heaven to earth—this planet!

There are many people who believe that God will destroy this present world—all of it—and start over, creating a new world from scratch. As I’ve talked to people who believe this, most base their conclusion on 2 Peter 3, where the apostle Peter says, “The heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (verse 7). He goes on to say, “The earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (verse 10).

In wrestling with this passage, one pastor recently concluded, “There is virtually no continuity between the present and the new creation. The new creation is truly new. The old passes away; it is burned up and dissolved.” Like this pastor, many have tended to see in that last sentence (verse 10) more than what’s there, a misunderstanding fueled in part by a questionable translation.

Continue reading…

Devotion time in Psalm 63

Is your Bible reading intersecting your Bible doctrine? This morning I was blessed in my reading and devotion time by staying in Psalm 63 as it pertains to saving faith. One of my first steps was to take 5 Bible translations and compare the language each of them used in verse 1.

NASB - My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee
NLT - My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for You
ESV - My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
KJV - my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee
NIV - I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,

Now fast forward to the New Testament and again read the words of the Lord Jesus to those who had just seen Him feed the 15-20,000.
John 6:35 - “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

Sound familiar?

Saving faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus Christ. I want to be sure that you see this language used in emotionally affectional and not just intellectual. A person can have all their Bible doctrine together and go straight to hell when they die. Because as we are learning in James "even the demons believe...and they shutter." I also want you to notice that the language is the evidence NOT ONLY in our coming to faith in Christ but in our being kept by faith in Christ. The same faith that causes a person to be BORN AGAIN is the same faith that keep us walking with Christ in our sanctification. Continue reading…

The doctrine of election

If we are going to have a thorough and accurate study in the doctrine of salvation then we need to study the doctrine of election. As you have probably already concluded this doctrine is kept under the radar in many American churches. The more and more that the church moves away from the orthodoxy (the Bible is the word of God) and toward neo-orthodoxy (the Bible becomes the word) the less taught, less understood and less discussed will be the doctrine of election. Last Sunday we saw clear evidence in the teaching of our Lord Jesus in regard to this doctrine. In John 6:37 we read "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me...", these you could say are God's own people or God's elect. I want to share something with you that helped me years ago when wrestling through this particular doctrine. A pastor/theologian said that to the degree that you are MAN centered and not GOD centered in your theology is the degree to which you struggle with the doctrine of election.

Why are we so man centered in our personal theology?
You have heard me use this illustration many times in our class but over the years I have heard preached mainly "Jesus died for you." Also I have heard that if you were the only person on planet earth that Jesus would have died for you. The problem with Jesus died for me is that makes me the centerpiece in the story of salvation. But that is not true. The primary reason Jesus came was for God not for man. Jesus came according to Romans 3:21-26 to reconcile sinful man back to God so that the glory of God might be displayed. By the way that was the THEME of Pastor Rob Kelly's sermon that he preached on October 10, 2010 - "The one truth that changes everything.” Rob taught us in that message that Jesus died primarily for God. Whoa...It doesn't get more God-centered than that now does it?

I have taught doctrine for years and can almost tell you before I teach on election the questions, reactions, problems and discussion. Side note: One pastor I heard once said that he started to read Romans 9, (which is about the sovereignty of God in election) in a church and people started to leave and that was before he made any comments on it. If you don't know or you may not care but I am informing you, this doctrine is very very important and very controversial. Continue reading…

Review for May 8

On Sunday we looked at John 6:37-40 and discussed the following things from this critical section of Scripture on how saving faith works.

Spiritual Truth #1
God gives those who are His own to Jesus

Scriptural proof
John 6:37
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me”

John 6:39
“…all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day”

Spiritual Truth #2
Because God gives them to Jesus they come (believe)

Scriptural proof
John 6:37 "all that the Father gives Me will come…"
Remember to keep the words come and believe as the same as used in this context.

Spiritual Truth #3
Those who are given to Jesus are those that come to Jesus and they are also eternally kept by Jesus.

Scriptural proof - John 6 verse 37 and 39 and 40
The giving and the coming is the work of God the Father and the keeping is the work of God the Son.Continue reading…

What is the Gospel?

From the Reformation website;

The gospel is not behavior modification, becoming a better person or learning to become more moral. it is not taking the life of Jesus as a model way to live or transforming/redeeming the secular realm. It is not living highly communal lives with others and sharing generously in communities who practice the way of Jesus in local culture.

These may all be good things, but they are not to be confused with the gospel. Did you notice the one characteristic of all of the above activities has nothing to do with what Christ has done for us, but all about what we do for him. The true gospel, rather, is news about what Christ the Saviour, has already done for us (in his life, death and resurrection) rather than instruction and advice about what you are to do for God. Christ's accomplishment, not ours, is the essence of the gospel. Above all the gospel of Christ brings good news, rather than instruction about our behavior. The gospel of not about what we do, but our acts inevitably follow in thanksgiving because of what Christ has done for us.Continue reading…

The doctrine of salvation

The Doctrine of Salvation

If you would like to see the video clip shown today which is SLIDE #12 then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

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