Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Bible Doctrine

How a False Prophet would teach High School English

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

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.


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!

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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

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…

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

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.”

Look to Christ NOT to yourself

From the Gospel Coalition blog site

In an excellent article entitled “Does Justification Still Matter?“, Mike Horton raises the same concern I raise with regard to our natural tendency to focus inward more than Christ-ward. He writes:

Most people in the pew, however, are simply not acquainted with the doctrine of justification. Often, it is not a part of the diet of preaching and church life, much less a dominant theme in the Christian subculture. With either stern rigor or happy tips for better living, “fundamentalists” and “progressives” alike smother the gospel in moralism, through constant exhortations to personal transformation that keep the sheep looking to themselves rather than looking outside of themselves to Christ… The average feature article in [Christian magazines] or Christian best-seller’s is concerned with “good works”-trends in spirituality, social activism, church growth, and discipleship. However, it’s pretty clear that justification is simply not on the radar. Even where it is not outright rejected, it is often ignored. Perhaps the forgiveness of sins and justification are appropriate for “getting saved,” but then comes the real business of Christian living-as if there could be any genuine holiness of life that did not arise out of a perpetual confidence that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Because we are so naturally prone to look at ourselves and our performance more than we do to Christ and his performance, we need constant reminders of the gospel.

As Horton says, there can be no genuine holiness of life that does not arise out of a perpetual confidence that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The only way to deal with remaining sin long term is to develop a distaste for it in light of the glorious acceptance, security and forgiveness we already posses in Christ. I need to be reminded of this all the time, every day. Because the fact is that guilt doesn’t produce holiness; grace does.

As I said at the conclusion of my original post, the bottom line is this, Christian: because of Christ’s work on your behalf, God does not dwell on your sin the way you do. So, relax and rejoice…and you’ll actually start to get better. The irony, of course, is that it’s only when we stop obsessing over our own need to be holy and focus instead on the beauty of Christ’s holiness, that we actually become more holy!

The Law and Gospel

  • This is from Tullian Tchividjian’s blog site
This is probably the best shortest explanation of the all important distinction between God’s law and God’s gospel that I’ve read. It’s from Mike Horton’s new book The Christian Faith:

In the Reformed tradition, the law-gospel distinction was interpreted within the historical context of distinct covenants in history. The covenant of creation (also called the covenant of works or law) was based on the personal performance of all righteousness by the covenant servant. The covenant of grace is based on the fulfillment of all righteousness by our representative head and is dispensed to the covenant people through faith in him. There is still law in the covenant of grace. However, it is no longer able to condemn believers but directs them in lives of gratitude for God’s mercy in Christ.

As I’ve said here before, the commands in the Bible are like a set of railroad tracks. The tracks provide no power for the train but the train must stay on the tracks in order to function. The law, in other words, never gives any power to do what it commands. It shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it has no sanctifying power. Only the gospel has power, as it were, to move the train. This is why the Bible never tells us what to do before first soaking our hearts and minds in what God in Christ has already done.

How we get the Christian life WRONG

This is an excellent post by Tim Chester that relates to living out the gospel.

There are two ways we get life wrong:

1. We want to be our own Lord instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Lord with me as lord, running life my way. I want to be in charge. This often leads to behaviour that by moral standards is bad, e.g. sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. We do not think Jesus is enough, disbelieving that living under His rule is the “good life.” So we replace Jesus with others things.

But there is another way we get life wrong:

2. We want to be our own Saviour instead of Jesus

I often replace Jesus as Saviour with me as saviour: attempting to save myself by doing good things, saving other people by straightening out their lives, or saving the world through good causes.

Continue reading…

Seeing Jesus in all of Scripture

In Luke 24 there is an encounter between the two men on the road to Emmaus and Christ on Resurrection Day. The men in their sad and downcast disposition are in need of a Bible lesson and the Lord Jesus gives them one. This is a very important lesson because it taught them and it teaches us that Scripture must be interpreted in light of seeing Jesus. As a matter of fact Jesus say in Luke 24:17 that all of the Scripture is about Him. Luke 24:27 “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

I want to bring you resources that can equip you to better see Jesus when you read the Bible. So, in this article I have posted a section from Tim Keller’s book called King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 57-58: from Justin Taylor’s blog site. Read this article to see how Pastor Keller interprets the story of Jonah through the grid of seeing Jesus.

We have a resource that can enable us to stay calm inside no matter how the storms rage outside.

Here’s a clue: Mark has deliberately laid out this account using language that is parallel, almost identical, to the language of the famous Old Testament account of Jonah.

Both Jesus and Jonah were in a boat, and both boats were overtaken by a storm—the descriptions of the storm are almost identical.

Both Jesus and Jonah were asleep.

In both stories the sailors woke up the sleeper and said, “We’re going to die.”

And in both cases there was a miraculous divine intervention and the sea was calmed.

Further, in both stories the sailors then become even more terrified than they were before the storm was calmed.Continue reading…

It's back to Romans 6

Since we studied Romans 6 for two months I thought many of you would appreciate this article.

Doug Moo, commenting on Romans 6:1-14 and the exhortation to “become what you are becoming.”

Balance on this point is essential. “Indicative” and “imperative” must be neither divided nor confused. If divided, with “justification” and “sanctification” put into separate compartments, we can forget that true holiness of life comes only as the outworking and realization of the life of Christ in us. This leads to a “moralism” or “legalism” in which the believer “goes it on his own,” thinking that holiness will be attained through sheer effort, or ever more elaborate programs, or ever-increasing numbers of rules. But if indicative and imperative are confused, with “justification” and “sanctification” collapsed together into one, we can neglect the fact that the outworking of the life of Christ in us is made our responsibility. This neglect leads to an unconcern with holiness of life, or to a “God-does-it-all” attitude in which the believer in which the believer thinks to become holy through a kind of spiritual osmosis.

Paul makes it clear, by the sequence in this paragraph, that we can live a holy life only as we appropriate the benefits of our union with Christ. But he also makes it clear, because there is a sequence, that living the holy life is distinct from (but not separate from) what we have attained by our union with Christ and that holiness of life can be stifled if we fail continually to appropriate and put to work the new life God has given us. Jeremiah Bourroughs, a seventeenth-century Puritan, put it like this: “…from him [Christ] as from a fountain, sanctification flows into the souls of the Saints: their sanctification comes not so much from their struggling, and endeavors, and vows, and resolutions, as it comes flowing to them from their union with him.” (The Epistle to the Romans, 391)

The "consumer" gospel

I have mentioned on more than one occasion the consumer mentality that exists in America. How easily that has invaded the church today in which we have a "Burger King" (have it your way) Jesus. In this sense we market the gospel to be a self help program, a gospel that can develop better leaders, fix a bad marriage, keep our children from rebelling, give better health, and even secure our 401 K plans. So think about this for a minute, if Jesus can do all of that, plus I don't have to go to hell where I suffer for an eternity, and my sins can be forgiven so I don't go to bed with a guilty conscience, and you can convince me that God does have a wonderful plan for my life, then sure I will take Jesus - do you have more than one?

We have created in our consumerism a gospel of felt needs and we sell Jesus as the One who can fill the need. The Christian life becomes in essence an off shoot of going to the local Jiffy Lube where they roll out the red carpet and give you service in 15 minutes and you are on your way. I go into Christian book stores and see devotion books that are labeled a "5 minute time with God daily." And in my mind I am thinking "love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength." Folks there are 1,440 minutes in every day which means 1% of our day would be 14 minutes with God in the morning or evening for prayer and Bible. And yet for the American consumer who has little time for Christ other than Sunday, holidays and emergencies, we market a 5 minute devotion book. This is the day of "fast food" religious activity but it is not the gospel spoken of in the Bible. Something is wrong, desperately wrong and every fiber of my being wants to cry out REPENT AND BELIEVE!

I am drawn to the language in the Bible that the Lord Jesus Himself spoke when it comes to being a "genuine" Christian. Look closely at these words and compare them to the consumeristic gospel that exists for us so that we can have our "BEST LIFE NOW!"

Mark 8:34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. The context of these words are when Jesus first tells His disciples in plain language that He must go to cross and die and then 3 days later be raised from the dead.

The Christian life is about:
1. Denying self - in the day and time in which we live this is something I rarely hear talked about or preached. This is about us denying everything in our lives that could be a distraction from the real treasure and prize which is Christ Himself. As C.S. Lewis once stated "we have been so happy for years playing with mud pies in the streets and we have no idea what it would be like to enjoy a day on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Do you see how this statement of "deny yourself" plays out in a day of consumerism? Tell the people in church, it is not about what you can get from Jesus but what you are willing to give up in order to follow Jesus. Let me ask you a question - what are the things in your life right now that take your time and attention away from Christ? Is there something or are there things that you value here on planet earth that you value more than Him?

2. Take up your cross - Every day you must go to the electric chair, the hanging gallows, the lethal injection chamber and die. You are dying daily to everything that would keep you from the main thing and the main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out this verse Romans 8:13 "for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." The only way this can be done as you read carefully through this section of Scripture is via the Spirit by the very word of God! Are you in the word daily, consistently and getting saturated to the point that when others bump into you throughout the day you bleed Jesus. Please don't confuse DUTY with DELIGHT. Is Christ the passion and treasure of your life so that you are a man or a woman after God's own heart? 2Chronciles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.Continue reading…

Basic Bible 101

If you go to our website on a regular basis you will notice the scroll banner at the top. In the next few days it will be about the upcoming class for Sunday. I am calling the next two weeks Basic Bible 101. At the start of each new calendar year I like to encourage people in a fresh way to get back in God’s word.

This class could be called back to the basics of the Bible. During the past two years we have touched on doctrines such as:
Holy Spirit

Doctrine simply means what does all of Scripture say about any particular subject. The Greek word for doctrine in the New Testament is didaskalia. If one does a word search for the various words in the New Testament related to doctrine (Strong’s numbers 1319-1322) it reveals that they occur over 200 times. For example as it relates to doctrine, reflect on the epistles of the apostle Paul. One can see how he often starts by addressing the doctrine and then moves to the application. In the book of Ephesians the first three chapters describes the doctrine of who we are in Christ. In the last three chapters we are then exhorted to act in a way consistent with who we are in Christ. The book of Romans gives us eleven chapters on the doctrine of salvation. And then starting with chapter 12 we enter into application of the very doctrine that Paul has been teaching in the first eleven chapters. My point is this, if we don’t learn Biblical truth correctly then how can we expect to live it our correctly. The answer to that question is we won’t and we can’t.

So our class is a roll up your sleeves, grab up your Bibles and let’s get back to the basics. This is just good old fashion Bible reading, study and devotion with no short cuts or quick fix solutions. The one requirement that is non-negotiable is a heart prepared to hear, receive and be obedient to God’s word. In September of 2008 we first studied Mark 4 and the parable of the sower. Do you remember the main point of that parable? The success of the seed is dependent upon the condition of the soil. Also when king Solomon was given that one request by God we determined that in looking at Scripture he actually asked for a hearing heart. I often wonder about those I have taught as to whether or not this principle has made a significant impact in their Bible study. My recommendation is to never start Bible reading, study and devotion without a prepared heart.

So this Sunday is called Basic Bible 101 but you who have been with us could say it will be heart preparation as we head into the 2011 year.

Hope to see each of you this Sunday!