Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

The glory of God

I really enjoy taking photos when we come to the beach. As you view the pictures above mediate on the glory of God.

Have you ever seen a sunset over the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean when the sunlight streams through the clouds to bring out shades of red, yellow and violet?

Have you ever been to a movie that kept you captivated for two hours?

Have you ever been a the top of a 10,000 foot mountain and seen a panoroma of the city below?

Have you ever been to the Indianapolis 500 or the Coca Cola 600 and heard the sound and seen the speed of those race cars?

Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon?

Have you ever seen Tiger Wood’s make the last putt of the day to win a golf tournament?

Have you ever heard Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma?

Have you ever seen a great white shark attack a sea lion?

Have you ever been inside St. Peter's cathedral?

Have you ever watched the "Blue Angels" do an air show?

Folks, we are hard wired or you might even say "spring loaded" from birth to be amazed and awed by splendor, greatness, power, and majesty! Just think of the times in your own life when, like the examples listed above, something or someone has caused you to be mesmerized in the moment so to speak. Do you know what happens when you are in that moment? You totally forget or have any awareness of self and you are totally captivated by the richness, power and glory of the thing on which you are focused.

Now just take that thought process and move it over onto God Himself. This is the very reason you and I were made to enjoy and display the glory of God!

Preview for Sunday - April 5

This coming Sunday the plan is for us to look at what I will call the front view of the cross. In doing so we will talk about in more detail the words atonement, propitiation and justification. As I have had the privilege to teach 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 learning God’s word. We are not people who are worshipping the word, but rather we look to and rely on 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 in order 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. My former Bible teacher used to make the following statement with piercing eyes and 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 be left in 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. I fully expect and welcome criticism that scours at an intense study of doctrine and words like atonement, propitiation and justification. But these critics whether they be in or outside the church must stand accountable to Christ on that day. And I say if we are ashamed of the digging into and understanding of His word, then that translates into being ashamed of Him. How might we claim that we love Christ and yet we have no love for His word? OK, time for me to get off my soapbox before I fall off and hurt myself.

When we come to the cross we can see that it provides a solution for two basic problems.
We can understand that we are perpetrators, and the Scriptures tell us that while we were enemies that Christ died for us. The Scriptures are telling us of the guilt that we have as humans due our rebellion against God’s holy and just will for our lives. And therefore that puts us under God’s wrath and condemnation. The words atonement, propitiation and justification focus on the significance of what Jesus has done to overcome our problem of guilt in order that we would be able to regain God’s favor. And through His this atonement He has satisfied the penalty that was against us and now God declares us as righteous in His sight. I am calling this the “front view” of the cross.

But there is another side to the cross because there is another problem with sin. We are not only perpetrators but we are also victims. This means that we are brought into this world in bondage to the forces of sin, death and the devil. We do not have the personal resources to rescue us from this bondage in order to live as God intended us to live in a fellowship relationship with Him.

So what I am calling the “back view” of the cross looks at the cross with the terms in the New Testament.
We also come to understand what Jesus has done to deliver us from the evil forces and powers. And in this sense His work on the cross redeems or buys us back, a kind of deliverance by achieving a victory over those forces through redemptive work. We looked at this is some detail during the 5 weeks in our study of Romans 6 which was titled “Be who you are in Christ.” The words that we are going to focus on in regard to the back view of the cross are REDEMPTION and RANSOM.

But for now and the next two weeks we are concerned with a “front view” of the cross as it relates to the Trinity. I want to encourage all of you studying along with us to re-read the notes that I posted this past Sunday. These notes are not exhaustive but enough to get us started as we come to grips with these key Bible doctrines. Within these notes are the subjects of atonement and propitiation and now we need to deal with the last subject which is justification. Read More...

Review of March 29

We live in a world that is about pragmatism and relativism. Today as people look at their spiritual lives there are fewer and fewer absolutes that they are willing to accept. In 2008 Granger Community Church (10,000 member plus mega-church), whose senior pastor is Mark Beeson, reported that 60% of those attending don't believe the Bible is the authoritative word of God. I remind you that Granger is a non denominational evangelical church. Please understand I am not picking on Granger but hopefully you can see where a mission field exists today in America. The key mission field, in my opinion, exists within the walls of the church. I stand with and proclaim with the apostle Paul "that I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power unto salvation for all who believe..."

Therefore this past Sunday, and for the next two Sundays we will be focused on the Trinity and salvation. I am purposesly taking the time to emphasize the different aspects of the gospel as Easter Sunday approaches. Next Sunday I plan to cover three words that are critical to learning and living a cross-centered life.
1. Atonement
2. Propitiation
3. Justification

Romans 3:21-26 are the verses I am asking you to meditate on for this week. Even though the word atonement is not used per say, we can see these Biblical truth vividly displayed in this great text. Atonement means the price that is paid for wrong doing. Therefore since we could not pay for our own wrong doing against God, we in fact needed a substitute. And of course that substitute was Christ Himself. This particular doctrine so essential to the orthodox church is called "substitutionary atonement or vicarious atonement." This means that the Lord Jesus, the one who was tempted as we were and yet was without sin, He is the one who actually makes the payment for our sin. Remember the wages of sin is death and so He in fact atones for sin via His death on the cross, so that we who are guilty before a righteous and holy God may be declared innocent. This isn’t just a show or a nice object lesson to show us the value of sacrifice as an example, but Christ enters into the Holy of Holies before God the Father and makes the payment for our sins. Jesus sacrifices His life through the shedding of His blood and death in our stead and thereby making an atonement for our sins. Read More...

Ministry at Habitat

Carl Barthelson has been involved with the Habitat Restore Ministry for the last 2 years. Thanks to Carl for heading this up in our class and to those who came out and served. Hopefully this will be the start of another opportunity for our SS community to be involved in kingdom building in Charlotte.

New Community Member

We were not able to get his name last week. He came in to the class fast, listened fast, and left so fast that no one saw him, spoke to him or even knew he was there. But I did received an email this week. He has read through the Bible three times this past week, has attended all Bible studies at Carmel, and is presently serving on each committee and is involved in every activity within the church. He officially joined our class and every other community class that meets on Sunday.
Who is this masked man?

Women's Ministry

Foundations for our study of the Trinity

In the following weeks I am going to be laying out some basic foundations for our study of the Trinity. The first four I am teaching will be as follows:

The Trinity and salvation - the doctrine of the Trinity is both central and necessary for our salvation. If we should remove the Trinity then the whole Christian faith would disintegrate.

The Trinity and prayer - The Christian’s life of prayer must rightly acknowledge the roles of Father, son and Spirit as we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Sprit.

The Trinity and worship - If we are going to worship Biblically then worship of the true and living God consciously acknowledges the relationship and roles of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

The Trinity and what makes it distinct from other religions and it’s place in church history - The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most distinguishing doctrines of the Christian faith and therefore is deserving of our careful study, passionate embrace and thoughtful application.

May I encourage those who are actively involved in this study of doctrine to read again the following blog article? This will set in motion some thought processes as we come this week to the Trinity as it regards our salvation. I start out the blog article with the following statement “First of all in regard to our salvation we must have One that is paying the penalty for our sins.” Another name for this is atonement.

Since this is a term Christians have heard but may not have studied we will take a few minutes in our class to define and discuss ATONEMENT. Here are some introductory notes that you can review for homework prior to class on Sunday.

What is vicarious atonement?
We are more familiar with the word atonement, which means a price to be paid for wrong doing.

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 now considered to be the price for your atonement. And should you pay the $35 your status moves from guilt to innocent through the atonement made via the payment.

But now we bring into the picture a phrase called vicarious atonement.


The Power of the Gospel

Our community retreat is May 1-3 at Ridgecrest in Asheville. The topic is going to be “The Gospel.” Therefore over the next couple of months I will include various gospel encouragements on our blog site.

This is a great story regarding the power of the gospel.

Quote for the day

See to it that you fasten your attention on God's Word and stay in it, like an infant in a cradle. If you let go for one moment, you have fallen away from the truth. The one intention of the devil is to get people away from the Word and to induce them to measure God's will and works with their reason." ~ Martin Luther

Beware of your background

Several weeks ago while teaching I warned those in the class of my past activities. In particular I mentioned a video that I hoped would never surface regarding my background and former business involvement. However in these days of instant information, headline news, internet and you tube the inevitable has happened. Just remember before you watch and make any judgments this was life prior to involvement in full time ministry. Here is the video, again please don't be too critical. Click on this LINK.

ESV Study Bible - 2009 Book of the Year

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced the winners of the 2009 Christian Book Awards during the Christian Book Expo in Dallas.

The ESV Study Bible, which has sold more than 180,000 units within five months of release, won both its category for best Bible as well as the overall Christian Book of the Year award. This is the first time in the award's 30-year history that a study Bible was named Christian Book of the Year.

Crossway President Lane Dennis called the recognition "stunning." He said the reaction to the Bible had been remarkable, and he credited the "tremendous" team at Crossway for its development. "It's amazing to think about the impact it's having worldwide, that especially during challenging times, people are turning to God's Word," he told Christian Retailing. "It's his gift--what an honor it is to publish it."

The Christian Book Awards winners were selected from 218 products submitted by ECPA member publishers in 2008.

In celebration of winning the Book of the Year award, we are pleased to provide a 35% discount on all print editions of the ESV Study Bible thru April 8, 2009. Just click on this LINK.

Happiness of the soul

During the first 8 months we have been focusing on the importance of Bible reading, devotion and study. One of my goals as we continue, is to introduce our community to heroes of the Christian faith down through the church history. Over my years in full time ministry I have noticed much attention that is paid to contemporary writers of Christian material. Record sales have been recorded with books such as “The Prayer of Jabez”, “The Purpose Driven Life” and even more recently “Your Best Life Now.”
However I remember years ago a pastor/theologian said that the first thing after the Bible he recommended were the autobiographies of great Christian men and women throughout church history.

The following is quoted from the autobiography of George Mueller. Please pay close attention to what George Mueller discovered about the word of God and its application for his own life. This article is lengthy but well worth the time and underlining different sections as we continue on in our “learning and living the God-centered life.”

It has recently pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the fifth edition for the press, more than fourteen years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one!
- George Mueller

The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.

For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning.

Heroes of the faith - A.W. Tozer

This past Sunday morning I included a quote from A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) in our teaching lesson. I am particularly fond of his best selling book “The Knowledge of the Holy.” In these days of trendy Christian books and self help messages may I recommend to you A.W. Tozer.

Putting on Trinitarian Eyeglasses

Have you ever looked at Romans 3:21-26 from a Trinitarian perspective? Allow me to go through this with you for a minute in this blog article. The objective is to show why the Trinity is essential for us in our own salvation and in the church.
Rom. 3:21 ¶ But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Rom. 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom. 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Rom. 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Rom. 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

First of all in regard to our salvation we must have One that is paying the penalty for our sins. In Romans 3:21-26 we can see that person is in fact God the Son. Please keep in mind, and we will study this later, God the Son is both fully God and fully man. He is not part God and part man but is all of each. Therefore as man, Christ is the one who make the substitute for us. The Lord Jesus has to be one of us, in order to take our place by His death on the cross. But if He is just one of us that will not accomplish the atonement. Therefore He must be 100% man in order to take our place, and 100% God in order to make an acceptable sacrifice.


Review of March 22

In class this morning the outline was as follows:
Part 1 - A word about DOCTRINE
Part 2 - Why do we need to study the DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
Part 3 - A.W. Tozer’s evaluation of the modern churches view of God
Part 4 - Foundations of the Trinity - Reason #1 The Trinity and Salvation

In class next week, Lord willing, we will begin with The Trinity and Salvation. During these coming months I will be pulling notes, audio, video and resource materials from many different authors, pastors, theologians and teachers. The list will include people like John Frame, Stephen Charnock, Wayne Grudem, Paul Washer, Mark Kielar and Dr. Bruce Ware just to name a few. In many cases this information comes to you straight from notes I have gathered through my own personal study over the years and does not alway have the footnotes available. In the next few weeks I will lean heavily on Dr. Bruce Ware and his tremendous insight in regard to the Trinity. For those of you who are interested in more study on this topic may I highly recommend his book THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT.

The notes from today that you can view below will give you a review and preview of next week’s class. Please be patient as we move into the DOCTRINE OF GOD. Some of these things will require some time and meditation but I promise you it will be worth it.
Allow me to continue to exhort you to know these basic doctrines of the Bible. Again I point us all to 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.”
I am so excited to be on this journey with you as we together are learning and living the God-centered life. May the notes serve to encourage you in personal study as you get in the word so the word can get into you!

Also note that audio CD’s are available each week at the table as you come into our class . These are free resources and we encourage you to take them, to listen, and share with others.

The Gospel

Never let the Gospel get smaller

This article from Dr. John Piper at Desiring God ministries.

Seek to see and feel the gospel as bigger as years go by rather than smaller.

Our temptation is to think that the gospel is for beginners and then we go on to greater things. But the real challenge is to see the gospel as the greatest thing—and getting greater all the time.

The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart,

* grace gets bigger;
* Christ gets greater;
* his death gets more wonderful;
* his resurrection gets more astonishing;
* the work of the Spirit gets mightier;
* the power of the gospel gets more pervasive;
* its global extent gets wider;
* your own sin gets uglier;
* the devil gets more evil;
* the gospel's roots in eternity go deeper;
* its connections with everything in the Bible and in the world get stronger;
* and the magnitude of its celebration in eternity gets louder.

So keep this in mind: Never let the gospel get smaller in your heart.

Pray that it won’t. Read solid books on it. Sing about it. Tell someone about it who is ignorant or unsure about it.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel.... For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Doctrine Divides

From the Contending and Defending Blog Site:

Whenever you hear this it’s usually followed up with “we all worship the same God” and “can’t we all get along?”

Whenever the mantra “doctrine divides” is employed, it’s always with a negative connotation. But have you stopped to ponder why?

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 fed 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.


The many paths from the only Way.

Doctrine divides; doctrine divides; thank God Almighty, doctrine divides!

Review of March 15

Sunday was moving day for our community called “Learning and Living the God-centered life.” We moved from an 8 month study of the importance of Bible reading, study and devotion and now we are transitioning into the DOCTRINE OF GOD.
The first task for us to undertake in this doctrinal area is that of the TRINITY. So in our class on Sunday my objective was three-fold.
Objective #1 - to help us as a community look toward the future which is our upcoming retreat May 1-3 which we are calling “The Gospel.” I also gave a short bio on myself for those new to the class who are wondering about my background, and how Nancy and I came to teach at Carmel.

Objective #2 - to be sure we understand the past by challenging the community with 5 questions to consider from Romans 6:1-14. I called this section during our time together yesterday “A Blast from the Past.”

Objective #3 - to move us into our study of the Trinity. How many of us have studied the Trinity in the last year, 3 years, 5 years or at all in our Christian lives? Well, I am so excited about us studying this aspect of the Doctrine of God. Here is the format for our study of the Trinity during the weeks to come:

Introduction to the Trinity
Foundation as to why we need to study the Trinity
Historical look at the Trinity in the church
Theological definition and relationships of each member of the Trinity

The Trilogy of Ricky the Raccoon

It was just a normal Friday afternoon or so we thought. The dogs started to bark and when we looked out into the backyard there was “Ricky the Raccoon.” At first I thought no big deal he is just passing through and then he started to climb the back steps. And here is the rest of the story.

Join us for the trilogy of Ricky the Raccoon.
Part 1 - Ricky gets on the porch
Part 2 - Ricky gets away from the house
Part 3 - Ricky gets caught by animal control

Coming to a theatre near you...



Beware of "application only" approach to Scripture

This is an excellent article to help those in our class understand the importance and distinction between doctrine and application. We have become a culture that focuses on the results. Therefore when you get into the American church things can be driven by application instead of doctrine. And as my old boss used to say that means you are simply working on the wrong end of the problem. The following article is written by Michael C. Patton who has a blog called Parchment and Pen. I hope you will take time to read and process in light of our class that is both about learning and living the God-centered life. Our curriculum is first and foremost about learning sound Biblical doctrine and this article explains why that is a good thing.

Belief is no good without practice is a stupid statement. Yes, I have read James (once or twice).

My argument has been pretty simple so far. God is glorified when he is known truly. God is glorified by our trust in what he says. It is God’s great pleasure to reveal himself to his children. God is glorified when he is known and understood. God desires orthodoxy and right belief.

But some of my comments have made some people very uncomfortable, especially this one (emphasized in italics):

I was in a small group venting about my expository preaching class ten years ago. I said, “They are trying to get me to pull out direct immediate application—something for the people to do—out of every sermon.” I complained about this. My group of young seminarians were divided. I told them that not only were some passages of Scripture not able to produce direct immediate application without sinful manipulation, but sometimes, I told them, “God simply wants us to believe what he said. This is application enough!”

In our Evangelical/emerging climate, we have those who seem to have come to some sort of personal epiphany about the problem with the church. “Doctrine divides and causes problems.” Fair enough. “Christians have the tendency to have an arrogant attitude about doctrine, systematically condemning those who don’t agree with them on everything and, in doing so, fail to express love. They elevate correct doctrine above love.” Agreed. “Therefore, we should quit talking about doctrine and just love each other.” Time out! Love without truth is not Christian.

“But what does being doctrinally correct actually do? How can it help the world today? How does it alleviate oppression? How does it feed the hungry? How does it promote equality? And what about the environment?”

You see? There you go again. You think that this life is about you. You think it is about man. You think that if it does not effect the world within the next hour or day or week, according to your standards, it is a bad stewardship of your time.

“Belief is no good without practice.” Translation in our generation: “Since right belief (doctrine, systematic theology, understanding, etc) does not evidence itself in practical matters immediately and causes people to be arrogant, we should not even worry about belief at all and just get out there and “do” what we know is right. Orthodoxy is bad. Orthopraxy is good.”

This fails to understand that right belief itself is the application—the ultimate application. How so? Because belief will always produce of itself. This belief will sometimes evidence itself in ways that are immediate and sometimes in ways that become an integral part of a persons life and personality. (Hang with me). Read More...

How to Read the Bible

Pastor Ray Ortlund writes from his blog site Christ is Deeper Still
There are two ways to read the Bible.

We can read it as law or as promise.

If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us we should do. Even the promises will be conditioned by demand. But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do. Even the commands are conditioned by provision.

In Galatians 3 Paul explains which hermeneutic is the correct one. "This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise" (Galatians 3:17-18).

So, if we want to know whether we should read the Bible through the lens of law or promise, demand or provision, burden or gift, command or grace, we can just start reading on page one and see which comes first. And in fact, promise comes first, in God's word to Abram in Genesis 12. Then the law is added later, in Exodus 20. The category "promise" establishes the larger, wraparound framework for everything else added in along the way.

The deepest message of the Bible is the promises of God through grace. The Bible presents itself to us this way. The laws and commands and examples and warnings are all there. We must revere them. But they do not provide the hermeneutic with which we make sense of the whole. We can and should understand them as qualified by God's gracious promise in Christ. Should you want to read the entire article click on this LINK.

Bible Interpretation

This is from the Theology Today blog site:

Here are 10 simple rules in order to help with proper Bible Interpretation:

  1. Pray! Pray! Pray! The Holy Spirit knows better then you do!
  2. Always know what the verse actually says, not what you think you remember it saying
  3. Take the verse in literary context, don’t just read what you want to read to prove your point and don’t forget the Bible is a mosaic of different kinds of literature meant to be read different ways.
  4. Take the verse in cultural context, just like you saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” is not what you literally meant
  5. Remember the Bible is a whole 66 books! Interpret all verses in relation the other 1000’s of verses
  6. Check the other translations, The variations are complimentary and show the whole picture
  7. The Bible was not originally written in English, go back to the sources
  8. Theological presuppositions are bad, scripture determines doctrine, not the other way around
  9. Check the Theologians’ opinions, (check out the ESV Study Bible) The Ph.D, professor of heart surgery of Harvard is better then your uncle Ted’s heart removal service. Professional opinions matter! (but don’t assume they’re always right)
  10. Assume nothing, be ready to learn, don’t give up. Remember, only God knows everything.

Foundation and Application

The evangelical church today must recommit herself to strong Bible based foundations in the lives of those that attend in order that the results will be God honoring application for life. These foundations include but are not limited to the Bible itself, God, man, Christ, the Spirit, and salvation. Can you imagine building a home in which the foundation was suspect? You go into the kitchen one morning and feel the house start to shift and then back to the bedroom and it shifts again. Wouldn’t this impact your attitude and confidence of living in this home? Of course these kinds of examples we know and understand completely in everyday life, but for some reason we seem less inclined to know and understand them when it comes to our spiritual life.

The Lord Jesus says in John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Have we thought much about these kind of statements that Jesus made while He lived on planet earth? Just for a moment let’s look at the opposite of that statement. If a person doesn’t know the truth then the lack of truth will be the very thing that keeps them from getting free or keeps them enslaved. I maintain that the truth here is the truth of His word. And it will be the knowing of His word that frees you from the world, flesh and the devil and frees you to live in and for Christ. This is a very basic example but should teach us that the foundation of truth must be in place before there is an application of that same truth. As a side note just go back one verse and read carefully what Jesus says to those around Him “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” The Greek word for continue is “meno” and it means to abide in, to stay in or to remain in. This is the same word as “abide” that we read in
John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
The foundation is abiding in Christ through His word and the application is the bearing of fruit that results from a word transformed life! Read More...

Review of March 8

BE WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST! In the last month we have been looking this as the theme of Romans 6:1-14. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible and it is rich with doctrine and application. Today I gave a 5 question test to check out the understanding of Romans 6:1-14. A good friend and dear brother in the Lord approached me after class and said that this was like trying to take a sip from a fire hose.

So if that was the case for you today may I encourage you to take some time in order to review the study notes. These notes are given to prompt you to further study, prayer and meditation in regard to what we are learning as to Romans 6.

This concludes PHASE #1 of the “Learning and Living the God-centered life” community. We have spent that last 8 months looking at the doctrine of the Bible. And it has been exciting to observe people getting into a consistent reading, studying and devotion time with the word of God. In next week’s class we will begin our study into the DOCTRINE OF GOD.

Review of March 1_part 5

This will conclude our overview in Romans 6:1-14 that I have titled “Be Who You Are In Christ.” In this last article I want us to look at these 4 imperatives in Romans 6:11-13, and then take a brief look at the summary verse that closes the first half of Romans 6 which is verse 14.
Have you noticed in our thumbnail sketch of Romans 1-6 how the apostle Paul has just given us one truth after the other? He starts out with the truth of the gospel, the truth of righteousness, the truth of God's wrath, the truth of man's sin, the truth of being justified by faith, and in Chapter 6 the truth of grace and regneration. Then in Romans 6:11-13 the apostle Paul actually gives us for the first time a list of 4 imperatives that he exhorts us to do!
1. consider yourselves to be dead to sin
2. do not let sin
reign in your mortal body
3. do not go on
presenting the members of your body to sin
4. but
present yourselves to God

Observe carefully the pattern and structure of the inspired word of God written through the apostle Paul. As you look take note of the way Paul writes in Romans. It should become obvious to you that God first gives the foundation of doctrine before He gives us the application for living!

Also notice that we are not to just be passive in the process of our spiritual growth in Christ. This is not a religion of “let go and let God.” And yet you will notice that Romans 6:10 is something that we must first believe before we take the actions Paul exhorts us to in Romans 6:11-13. This means that our behaviors are preceded by our faith and that without faith the actions that we take will not be glorifying nor pleasing to God. Faith is the seeing, realizing, depending, relying and counting on the facts which are already true. Isn’t it amazing that we can read in Genesis 1 that God speaks the universe into existence with a single word and yet we have trouble believing that He can take care of a particular problem in our lives. It is also good to remember that as Christians this is not a fight of faith in which we are trying to secure a victory. Christ has already been victorious and won the battle and we now are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. Therefore we fight from a position of victory and not for a position of victory.

Here is an overview of Romans 6:11-14
Romans 6:11-13 (exhortation)
Paul’s exhortation that in light of these facts realize what is true of you and act accordingly.

Romans 6:14 (assurance)
True of all Christians having passed from the old realm into the new realm.

So let’s breakdown these verses in order to understand the practical application for our Christian lives.
In Romans 6:11 check out the first imperative which is the word consider:
Consider - reckon, conclude or count upon the fact that you are dead to sin and live unto God. This is absolutely true whether you feel it or not. Grace is now reigning and sin no longer fits into your life because you are a new person.


5 trends in the church today

We are a community that is committed to “learning and living” the God centered-life. Therefore from time to time I will post current articles regarding various subjects as to the Christian life. Obviously the church is very important to all of us who are in Christ. The following is article written on a lecture by D.A. Carson as it relates to the church in America. Dr. Carson is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is the author of more than 35 books.

D A Carson, September 26, 2008

1. It is important to observe contradictory trends.

Interestingly, Dr. Carson encouraged us to recognize the good things in our current culture. He said we have a lot more good commentaries available to us than we did fifty years ago. Yet, mainline churches have fewer conversions than ever before. This is a contradictory trend, according to Carson.

I understand this to mean that we know more and have access to more information, but it is not resulting in more conversions. We apparently know more about God, but less about His mission to seek and to save those who are lost. Our mainline churches are focusing on the minutia difference between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism, for example, but are ignoring the call to both know God and to follow his sending us to our neighbor's house. There should be a constant tension between group Bible studies and sharing of one's faith. Otherwise we end up in a holy huddle somewhere arguing about non-essentials.

2. Current evangelical fragments are moving into a new phase -- into polarized "clumps."

Don said evangelicals are identifying themselves in clump-like expressions of evangelicalism (Health/Wealth clump, Openness clump, Arminian clump, etc.). Carson said the National Pastor's Conference (NPC) is as inclusive as possible -- some speakers are stellar while others are simply heretical -- but they include as many unique tribal representatives as possible. "Even Reformed circles are clumping," said Carson, "and the center is emptying out in favor of vague, dilute evangelicalism."

Carson astutely said that old-time gospel would be around until Jesus comes while he believes (as Don humorously put it, "not as a prophet or the son of a prophet, but one who works for a non-profit") that in 25 years nobody will be calling themselves "emergent" but many will still be centralized in the gospel.

I wonder what will replace the center as the varied subcultures of evangelicalism move to the fringes. For orthodox confessionalists, the center is the perfect place for the gospel. We need pastors who call their people "back" to the inner city of the gospel without relenting to the flight to the suburbs of dilute evangelicalism, as Carson put it.

Review of March 1_part 4

In our part 3 review we discussed the importance of the word picture that Paul gives regarding baptism in order that we see how this relates to our union in Christ. It not only shows our death with Christ but also the fact that we are now alive with Him.

Romans 6:6 starts with the words “knowing this” and maybe we should ask the question what is it that we need to know? I think the knowing this is referring to the 4 steps that Paul lays out in Romans 6:6
Step #1 that our old self was crucified with Him,
Step #2 that our body of sin might be done away with,
Step #3 that we should no longer be slaves to sin; And finally the goal
Step #4 for he who has died is freed from sin.

I took time in our part 2 review to cover in depth, what I think Paul means when he says we have died to sin which is Step #4. Since that has already been discussed I will simply refer you to those notes and should you want to study this again just click on this LINK.

In this blog I would like to discuss more fully the first 3 points that are listed above in reference to Romans 6:6 so let’s take them one at a time.

Step #1- our old self was crucified with Him
This is your old man (who you were in Adam) that was crucified and this is the tie in that Paul wants us to get when he talks about baptism as a picture in the death and burial of the old man. According to Paul, if you are a Christian then your old man has been crucified, dead and buried. The old man is not still wiggling on the cross and he is not still hiding inside of you. And you are not fighting against the old man because he really is dead.

This may invoke a question from the reader such as the why did God put to death my old man? And from Romans 6:6 we could determine the following:
Reason #1 - so the flesh would no longer rule over me
Reason #2 - so that I am no longer a slave to sin

It is also important to remember that as we read and study Romans 6 we are actually learning what God does when a person is “born again” or they experience the “new birth” or we could say what happens when they are “regenerated.” If you remember in a previous review Romans 6:1 and Romans 6:15 answer questions about grace whereas Romans 6:2-10 and Romans 6:16-23 answer questions regarding regeneration.


Review of March 1_part 3

We left off in yesterday’s review discussing what it means to be dead to sin. And we can see that in Romans 6:3-5 the apostle Paul gives us a word picture of what this is like in the ordinance of Baptism.

So when did this happen in which I was crucified with Christ?
It happened when He was crucified.
Well it was purchased for us 2000 years ago when Christ took us with Him to the cross and rose again on our behalf.

Well then when do I actually enter into to this life and experience it?
And that is the day when you are justified by faith through grace in Christ

This is when your old man was crucified and you were risen to walk in newness of life. And that is why Paul refers to baptism in this next verses.
Therefore baptism is the initiation of the Christian life and the testimony to the reality of what has happened in regeneration. It is a picture of the death and burial of the old man and the resurrection of our new man in Christ.
We don’t get the full import of this picture because most people can’t hold their breath that long. But if they could go down in the water for 10 minutes and we could see this represents their death and then when they come up they are rising as a new person into a new life.

Colossians 2:11-12
Col. 2:11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Col. 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

What did circumcision symbolize? It is just like that of baptism.
It never saved or regenerated anyone to get circumcised just like it never saves or regenerates anyone to get baptized.

Review of March 1_Part 2

In our Part 1 review of Romans 6:1-14 we left off with the phrase in Romans 6:2 “died to sin.” And at the conclusion of yesterday’s notes my point was the importance of this phrase in understanding what this means as it relates to our regeneration. Well, maybe the best way to understand this is to first of all try to explain what it DOES NOT mean. I find this to be a very helpful way to study Scripture. Sometimes if you look at the opposite of what is not said or what isn’t said it can help one to understand the truth that is being stated.

First let’s look at what “died to sin” DOES NOT mean
#1 Paul doesn’t say that we are dying to sin, so he is not talking about a process here

#2 Paul doesn’t say we have finally died to sin, which would indicate that we have been dying and now are dead to sin

#3 Paul doesn’t say how shall we who “ought” to die to sin, still live in it

#4 We who determined to die to sin, Because we died based on what happened to us

#5 That the Christian no longer is having a problem with or isn’t affected by sin any longer

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be dead to sin?
Well we can best understand what Paul means by keeping this in context with what he has been saying. And for that we need to go back to Chapter 5:12-21.

Realm #1 - where there is sin, condemnation and death, and it was in that realm that sin reigns and death reigns

Realm #2 - there is righteousness, life, and justification and where grace reigns and we reign in life because we are in Christ

We have been moved out of the realm in which sin reigns and now have moved into the realm where grace reigns.

Voila_Capture6

Become a legalist in 20 easy to follow steps

1. Stay totally away from the local church and the fellowship of believers.

2. Get isolated from others except close family and do nothing but study, remember you are trying to obtain more information NOT transformation.

3. Always demand either orally or silently that you are right no matter what you say or do.

4. Learn to be critical of everyone else and their puny theological takes on the Scripture.

5. Tell others that church history for 2000 years is virtually unimportant and you have some new and very unique takes on God's word.

6. Talk about yourself at every opportunity, your favorite words are I, me and my.

7. Write letters to constantly correct leadership in the church in order to get those dummies back on track, remember you are right!

8. Never submit to anyone, especially pastors or elders even if it is Biblical.

9. Constantly talk about those around you in a way that is condescending and negative way.

10. Learn the best way to twist Scripture so that when you are confronted with sin you can justify it in your own mind. Read More...

There's SNOW place like home!

After the snow last night I went out this morning and took a short video of this winter blast. Our dogs love the snow and of course I feel it necessary to do a running commentary. Hope you enjoy the snow day!

Review of March 1_Part 1

This Sunday we continued on in our “application for the feet” by looking at Romans 6. Since I was gone last week this was a heavy review from our class together on February 15. Before launching into Romans 6 it is helpful to pick up the context that the apostle Paul sets up in Chapters 1-5.

As we move into Romans 6 I want us as a class to understand that Paul is exhorting Christians in this Chapter to “Be Who You Are in Christ!” Even though that may sound a bit strange to us, I have found over the years that far to few Christians have a solid Biblical understanding of who they are in Christ. If you ask the average Christian on the street the following question “are you dead to sin?” they will typically answer no. But Scripture is clear in Romans 6:2 that Christians have died to sin.

Therefore in the very APPLICATION of our Christian lives we should know:
Point #1 - What it means to be dead to sin and alive to Christ?
Point #2 - How did it happen that we are now dead to sin?
Point #3 - How are we now to live on a daily basis in lieu of this fact?
Point #4 - What assurance do I have that I can do so?

My bottom line point for us as a “learning and living the God-centered life” community is that Romans 6 is such an important chapter in understanding “how to” live the Christian life.

Therefore this week my goal will be to do a 5 PART SERIES that will cover the basics of Romans 6:1-14. Please know that this is in no way an exhaustive study but I hope these notes will encourage you to dig in and grasp these nuggets and apply them to your life. I stand on the shoulders of many teachers, pastors and scholars who have gone before me in Romans 6.

In Romans 1:16 the apostle Paul starts to expound of the gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Even though Paul had been shamed for the gospel he was not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation.

Well, how can the gospel be so powerful?
The way the gospel is so powerful is because it offers us righteousness from God.
Why do I need this righteousness?
Because all men are under the wrath of God.
Do you remember what we discussed is the most right thing that God can do?
The most right thing that God does is to uphold the glory of His name. And the reason that unbelieving men are under the wrath of God is that they have exchanged the glory of God for their own glory.