Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Nov 2009

Chuch tolerance or Church discipline

This comes as a response to the reading at the beginning of the week in 1 Corinthians 5-6

One of the buzz words in the culture we live in today is that of tolerance. This teaches that everyone has the right to their own view of the truth. As long as their view doesn't violate or impose on me then we should all be able to CO-EXIST (the sign you see on the back of many cars.) Though this may be the theme of the day in our society, the apostle Paul has a bit different take when it comes to tolerance in the church. At the beginning of this week the reading assignment was 1 Corinthian 5 and 6. Every time I read Corinthians I think about the modern day church.

In 1 Corinthians 5 the apostle Paul is dealing with a situation involving a sexual relationship between a man and his stepmother. It is the church's tolerance of this sin in which they have a mock humility that has the apostle Paul so upset. Paul says though I am not with you physically I am with you in the Spirit. And then goes on to say that church discipline must be invoked and this man is to be cast out of the church. He even goes further, the apostle Paul says that they are to turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. Why does the apostle Paul deal so strongly with this kind of sin issue? And then he tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:6. I like the way my New Living Translation reads on this "Don't you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? You might say this about 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is not tolerant of sin that isn't dealt with in the body of Christ. As a matter of fact he goes on to say what I think may surprise many Christians today. Paul tells us not to judge those outside the church because God will judge them. However, please read carefully, keep this in context but do not be ignorant of this next statement, Bert paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 5:12 "WE ARE TO JUDGE THOSE WITHIN THE CHURCH." By the way the word judge in this sentence is a verb and is the Greek word "krino."

The meaning of this word is as follows. The verb is written in the present tense which means continually and ongoing.
1) to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
2) to approve, esteem, to prefer
3) to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
4) to determine, resolve, decree
5) to judge
a) to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
1) to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one's case may be examined and judgment passed upon it
b) to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
1) of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others
6) to rule, govern
a) to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
7) to contend together, of warriors and combatants
a) to dispute
b) in a forensic sense
1) to go to law, have suit at law

Do you know what this was called in the early days of our church history? This is known as church discipline! And unfortunately it ranks in at least the top 3 problems today that the evangelical church faces and it may be in the top 2. I was part of an intense discussion in a seminary class in which the subject came to church discipline. The professor who was a wonderful and godly man and said that we in the American evangelical church have lost this Biblical mandate. And what he meant was we apparently have lost the ability as a church to enforce it within the evangelical culture in which we live. Read More...

"smoking" Church

In an effort to include the “Seeker-Friendly” approach to church we present the newest in the corporate strategy. This may seem a bit unconventional but just wrap your mind around how many more people can be drawn into the building. In other words growth is possible when you give people exactly what they want - right? So if you would like to view what one church is doing to bring and keep people then check out this video. Simply click on this LINK.

The Turkey call works!

Normally at the beginning of each class our leader Pat Jones calls us together with his famous turkey call, well folks the proof is in the pudding as they say.

And just for fun “A Thanksgiving Moment”, simply click on this

Thankful on Thanksgiving

When the word thanksgiving comes to mind I am reminded of Psalm 100. Since today is Thanksgiving I turned to Psalm 100 for a time of reading and devotion. Hebrew poetry contains much parallelism and though I don’t know the technical terms I sometimes recognize it when I see it.

Psa. 100:1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Psa. 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.

Psa. 100:3 Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Psa. 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psa. 100:5 For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

Do you see how verse 1, 2 and 4 are about joy and gladness?
And verses 3 and 5 talk about what we need to know.

Or could we say that our response of joy should be in direct relation to our knowledge of God. What do we need to know about the God of our salvation? And I would contend that we need to know of His grace. Should you ask the question how can gain knowledge about this kind of grace, the answer is just read God’s word. The Bible is a story about the grace of God as He redeems mankind from the sin that has separated him from God. By His grace we are able to become more and more knowledge of Him which results in great joy and thanksgiving to Him!

Are you joyful and thankful? If you are it is because of the grace of God that has intersected your life in such a way that you are His sheep and He is your Shepherd!

Defining the terms

This is a short audio clip of Dr. Michael Wittmer author of the book “Don’t stop believing” has with Michael Horton of the White Horse Inn radio program. We have been talking since the beginning of our class about defining the terms. Just to list some important terms we have talked about in the past would be things like, justification, sanctification, propitiation, redemption, and ransom to name a few. It seems today that we need to define properly the terms before we enter into dialogue regarding these things.

This clip is an excellent review of the terms:

It last less than 3 minutes but will start to help all of us get a good grasp on how these terms are defining the way we do church in America. Also as a teacher let me add that these terms have much to do with how we interpret the Scriptures.

To listen simply click on this LINK.

Application from Sunday's class

Yesterday was the conclusion in our teaching on "the Trinity." This obviously was our first major section of teaching regarding the doctrine of God. Here are the points of application that need to be emphasized in this area of our doctrinal study.

#1 - Marvel at the submission of the incarnate Christ to the leading and direction of the Spirit

Look closely at the humility of Christ in not only becoming one of us but also His submission to follow the leading of the Spirit
And this is the Spirit to whom Jesus has authority in the Trinity

Marvel at the ability of the Spirit to serve unnoticed as it were, without overt recognition of the honor and glory that is reserved for the Father and the Son.

#2 - Marvel at the humility of the Spirit
Preachers say we want God to be glorified and Jesus to be honored but you don't hear about the Spirit being glorified and you shouldn't hear that because the Spirit doesn't want to be glorified Himself.

If we are Spirit filled then we are a people who are longing to see Christ glorified and honored in the power of the Spirit
This is what the Spirit wants and He does not put Himself forward. And understand that the Spirit has the very same essence as the Father and the Son, He is God. The Spirit has no resentment that the Father shines the spot light on Jesus and that the ultimate glory goes to God the Father, while the Spirit is in the background.

We need to marvel at the humility of God the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit can accept joyfully, willingly and gladly an eternity of not receiving front and center recognition…then do we think it is possible that we who are filled with the Spirit, might be able to perform good works that no one notices. Might we as the people of God do helpful things that are honoring to God that we know will receive no recognition and can we be happy and joyful that Christ is honored! Read More...

Review for November 22

The first thing I wanted to accomplish this morning is to encourage and remind about our Bible reading plan for this year. As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas season schedules and activities get very hectic. So it becomes important for us to stay focused on our reading and study during these holiday months.

I took the first part of our class to review Matthew 24 that was part of our reading assignment for this past Saturday. This is the Mount Olivet discourse and contains some critical information for us today in the church. Jesus is asked by His disciples what will be the sign of His return. Jesus says be aware of those who will mislead you. Folks the danger today in the evangelical church are those being mislead by false teaching and bad doctrine When you have the basic essentials like the Trinity, substitutionary atonement of Christ for our sins and the virgin birth that are being disregarded, then you know we live in dangerous days. One of the key goals of this class is to learn the basic Bible doctrines so you can protect yourself and family from what is incorrect. If you want to see the importance of this from the perspective of Christ Himself then read Matthew 24:1-14.

During the past week I came across a couple of audio surveys that I want to share with you in this blog article. I have posted these earlier blog posts during the week. But in case you are behind in reading and study I will re-post in this class review. These were interviews done on two subjects, first the ten commandments and the other was the gospel. By the way the gospel interview was conducted at a Christian Booksellers Convention. The point is for you to listen to the questions and see how other Christians responded to some of these basics of the faith. And the further point I want to make is this, if we are negligent about the ten commandments and the gospel then how about the other essentials in the Bible. The bottom line is that we for the most part in the evangelical church have become apathetic and ignorant toward God’s word.

For example:
The Ten Commandments audio interview; LINK

Today was the conclusion of our teaching on the Trinity. Even though I only covered 8 of the 20 slides you can review all of the notes by clicking on this

This document is a pdf that can be downloaded or printed out for your convenience.

Also the audio for today’s lesson can be listened to at this LINK.

Manna from Heaven

The leadership team has concluded that we need have a mission focus for each month. This can be a wonderful time to pray for the various mission projects that we support. Our focus for the month of November will be “Manna from Heaven.” Here is a brief bio on this particular mission ministry.

MANNA FROM HEAVEN MINISTRIES, INC. began seven years ago when Robert Johnson cooked one plate of hot dogs and beans for a hungry neighbor. The next week, this same neighbor came back only this time with a friend. The next week there were eight hungry people; then 16 and then 35. Today, Johnson feeds 100 hungry people, primarily from two streets in the Villa Heights and Belmont neighborhoods, every Sunday. People walk for blocks and blocks to receive what is possibly the only meal they might have that week.

“we aren’t just feeding the soul of the man but the whole of the man”

Manna desires to go beyond just filling stomachs. You can’t witness to a hungry man! We desire to meet their needs, physically, and spiritually by being the hands and feet of Jesus and sharing with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

In addition to a weekly meal, Manna seeks to meet the additional needs of the Community. In late summer, school supplies and school clothes are collected. Clothing is always needed. Warm coats, hats, socks, boots and gloves for the homeless. Providing food for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ensuring every child gets a gift on Christmas morning along with the true meaning of Christmas! Often times, Manna also offers financial assistance to those who cannot pay their bills.

How we do what we do….Manna from Heaven relies solely on the support of individuals and corporations who give of their time, money and supplies to meet the needs of the less fortunate.
What can I do? In addition to cash donations, Manna needs WalMart gift cards and gas cards to help the people in the community. We also need a larger building with a commercial kitchen. We are currently working on our 501(c)3 which will be filed in 2010, so your gifts will be tax deductible and is retroactive 18 months.
THE FUTURE: It is the desire of Robert, the Board and his team of volunteers that one day Manna from Heaven, Inc. will operate independently in its own structure. A building with a kitchen, a place for people needing shelter, a clothes closet and more is the dream of many who share the vision of Manna from Heaven Ministries, Inc.

Manna from Heaven Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 78332
Charlotte, NC 28271-7030

Robert Johnson (704) 609-7399
Lynn Wooten (704) 582-1450

The Gospel

I have gotten a bit exercised during this past week of study regarding the basics of the Christian faith. And the reason for my concern is what I hear from those within the evangelical church. Therefore I am going to start posting some of the basic things that we should know as Christians and let you grade yourself. A number of these things you will recognize from our previous classes but I am curious about your retention and application for these things. The other day I put something up concerning the 10 Commandments.

My subject for today is “the gospel.” If a non-believer were to come up to you today and ask for a clear explanation of the gospel, that you could support Biblically, would you be able to do it? Not long ago a Christian radio program put this question to over 60 different people at a Christian Booksellers Convention. In order to hear their responses when asked about the gospel simply click on this LINK.

When one prominent pastor and theologian heard this particular show he was driving in his car. After hearing the responses of those asked about the gospel he became so distraught that he pulled his car off the side of the road and wept. Do you understand the gospel, and can you articulate it in such a way that others can understand it?

Preview for Sunday, November 22

We should conclude on Sunday this section of teaching regarding Jesus and His relationship with the Spirit. As a matter of fact this brings us to the conclusion of the teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity which of course falls under the Doctrine of God.

I hope and pray that as we have been discussing the Trinity starting in May of 2009, that you are seeing this doctrine in your Bible reading. Also on Sunday I will do a quick review of the categories to once again establish in your mind in the relationship between Jesus and God the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Here are an initial preview of the notes for the class on Sunday

THIRD MAJOR THEME - The Spirit's uniform purpose to put forward Jesus (extends the last point)

When the Spirit does His work then Jesus gets top billing,
Jesus gets displayed
Jesus gets glorified

The text though inspired by the Spirit is focused on the Son

You might think that the Author would write about Himself but in fact the Spirit writes about Jesus

Scriptural Support - Go to 2 Timothy 3:16-17
2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
2Tim. 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

How does this God breathed Scripture come about?

Go to 2 Peter 1:20-21
2Pet. 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
2Pet. 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The whole of Scripture is God-breathed as the Spirit worked in the life of human authors to write exactly what the Spirit directs them to write as they write freely from their human wills.

This is an excellent example of compatabalism, which is the sovereignty of God working in perfect conjunction with the free will of man, to accomplish all that God purposes and desires.
The Spirit inspires them to write but what do they write about?

Go to Luke 24:24-27, 44

Luke 24:24 “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Luke 24:44 - Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Who inspired these writings, the Spirit and what were they written about, they were written about Jesus Read More...

The Ten Commandments


If someone were to approach you with this one question how would you do? Can you name the ten commandments off the top of your head? Now before you go and look up the answer just give it a try. How did you do? And if someone were to ask you where the ten commandments are located in the Bible would you know?

My point is not to scold or belittle but to make you aware of a serious problem in the evangelical church today. There is a tremendous lack of basic Bible knowledge. We have given up the learning of God’s word for other things that have taken priority in our lives. May this 2009 and 2010 be the time that we say as a collective group of saints “Finally This Year!”

Here is a short audio clip of some people that were interviewed on the street and asked if they could name the ten commandments. Just click on this LINK.

Devotion in Judges 17-21

Good morning, it's great to be back in Charlotte and had a wonderful anniversary week. Pat informed me last night that he told the group on Sunday that since I couldn't remember the day of my anniversary that I just took the week. Let me just go on the record and say this, every day with my Nancy B. is like an anniversary! I can see Pat rolling his eyes right now.

The book of Judges is hard to read after the great victory that Joshua had in bringing God's people into the land. Again I am reminded that in the days of the Judges and today we are only one generation away from apostasy. The two verses that have caught my attention over the years and still grab me in the reading of Judges are Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25.

Judg. 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
Judg. 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

I am going to connect these two verses to what I see happening to a large degree in the American Evangelical Church. This to me is the very definition of the post modern generation especially as it regards their view of Scripture. In a nutshell post-modernism doesn't believe in absolutes but is defined by relativism. When a true post-modern reads the Bible they say things like "this is what it means to me, or this is what I feel this means or this is how the Bible is speaking to me." What? Don't hear this wrong my post-modern friends, but who cares what it means to you? The real question that should be before us is what does the Bible mean! The cardinal rule for proper Bible study is as follows: The interpretation of any Scripture is equal to what the author meant at the time he wrote it. Therefore it becomes our job through prayer and the Holy Spirit to use good Bible study methods in order to arrive at the author's intended meaning.

When the post modern church says that it is OK for someone to decide what the Scriptures mean to them then the consequence will be straight from Judges 21:25 everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Read More...

You are hard wired for God's glory

A couple of years ago my daughter, Anna got me into photography. I happened to go out and buy a point and click camera. But when I brought it home Anna said to me “Dad you don’t know what you are holding in your hand.” She went on to give me a small lecture, allow me to paraphrase, she said the world is a canvas and the camera is the brush. Dad, go out there and learn to paint because in everything you see there is a picture.

So while Nancy and I have been away for a few days I got out the camera. These pictures are echoes, shadows and pointers toward the great God of this universe.

Fall pictures; click on this LINK
Butterfly pictures; click on this

Psalms 1 says that the "heavens declare the glory of God."

  • Well how about the sunsets, waterfalls and nightfalls in the desert?
  • Have you ever experienced a great basketball game where your team wins in the last second on a game winning field goal?
  • Have you ever been to a movie in which the images, sounds and script seemed to mesmerize you for a 2 hour period of time?
  • Have you ever been on top of an 11,000 foot snow covered mountain and looked across the horizon of the earth?

What is so incredible about these views and experiences? I will tell you, for a brief moment in time you are occupied and amazed with something much greater than yourself. As a matter of fact you entirely forget about yourself altogether. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to improve their self esteem as one pastor once said. We are all hard wired for glory. What a privilege that every day we have a chance to experience the glory of fellowship with the Lord Jesus, through His living word. There is no satisfaction greater for the human soul. Christ in you the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27).

Preview for Sunday, November 8

As we conclude Theme #1 in regard to Jesus and the Spirit, here are our summary points.

Overall Point #1
Jesus lived His life in the power of the Spirit as a man by what God provided Him

Overall Point #2
Jesus life of submission to the direction of the Spirit

This is remarkable that the Son of the Father, the second person of the Trinity in His humanity, and His incarnational mission submits fully to the direction and empowerment of the Spirit

The humility of the Son is not only taking on human flesh to be our substitute and become one of us, but also His humility is express in the way the Son accepts the leadership and direction of the Spirit, over whom in the Trinity the Son has rights and authority

Go to Luke 4:1-2

Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness
Luke 4:2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.
Jesus was lead or impelled by the Spirit (Mark 1:12) the Greek word "ekballo"
Luke 4:14 - And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

Jesus lives His life in the power of the Spirit and follows the direction of the Spirit
This is one of the major themes we see in the life and ministry of Jesus as He relates to the Holy Spirit

Jesus and His relationship to the Spirit

Theme #1 - Jesus lived His life in the power of the Spirit
Scriptures we have considered so far in this study:
Isaiah 11:1-5
Matthew 26:39
Galatians 5:22-23
Philippians 2:6-8
Isaiah 61:1-3
Hebrews 5:8-9
Luke 4:18-19
Mark 13:32
Matthew 12:28
Acts 10:38
Acts 1:8
Luke 2:40, 52

While Jesus submitted to the Spirit for the sake of His incarnational mission, the Scripture makes clear that the fundamental role of the Spirit is to extol, elevate, to honor, to glorify Jesus. Therefore we see the Spirit putting Jesus forward and not the Spirit Himself The goal and mission of the Spirit is to always put Jesus in front of people Read More...

Christ Centered Worship

As I put in an earlier blog, we have been discussing “the gospel” from the very beginning of our class back in August 2008. Therefore when I see books about the gospel I am drawn to them. The next book I am planning to read is by Bryan Chapell called “Christ-centered Worship.” Here is a short description of what he considers to be Christ-centered worship.

“Christ-centered worship is not just talking or singing about Jesus a lot. Christ-centered worship reflects the contours of the gospel. In the individual life of a believer, the gospel progresses through recognition of the greatness and goodness of God, the acknowledgment of our sin and need of grace, assurance of God's forgiveness through Christ, thankful acknowledgment of God's blessing, desire for greater knowledge of him through his Word, grateful obedience in response to his grace, and a life devoted to his purposes with assurance of his blessing.

In the corporate life of the church this same gospel pattern is reflected in worship. Opening moments offer recognition of the greatness and goodness of God that naturally folds into confession, assurance of pardon, thanksgiving, instruction, and a charge to serve God in response to his grace in Christ. This is not a novel idea but, in fact, is the way most churches have organized their worship across the centuries. Only in recent times have we lost sight of these gospel contours and substituted pragmatic preferences for Christ-centered worship. My goal is to re-acquaint the church with the gospel-shape of its worship so that we are united around Christ's purposes rather than arguing about stylistic preferences.”

Review for November 1

We are continuing with our teaching of Jesus and His relationship to the Holy Spirit. And the emphasis for yesterday was yes Jesus is fully God and He is also fully man. So we arrive at a number of verses that in order to understand them we need a category of Jesus as man. For example and these were covered yesterday;
Luke 2:40 and Luke 2:52 in which the text says that Jesus grew in understanding and wisdom. And we know from previous discussion and text that Jesus is God and we know that God is omniscient which means “all knowing.” So when we come to this verse then our conclusion is that we learn this is not Jesus as God but rather Jesus as man. The further point being that while on planet earth Jesus lived in the power of the Spirit. This means as Jesus lived then so we can and should live now and that is in the power of the Spirit. The more we come to these verses and meditate on these things it should give us great encouragement and hope.

However I do want to discuss how we ended the class yesterday. I had us go to Hebrews 5:8-9
Heb. 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Heb. 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

What does it mean that Jesus learned obedience?

Well here is what it CAN NOT mean
It doesn't mean that He learned to obey having first disobeyed because we know that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15)

But rather He was learning to obey, by His suffering, in a progressive way, more and more difficult things in order that God could prepare Him for the most difficult thing, which was the cross.
The Father was preparing Him for the hardest thing which was obedience to the point of death, yes even death on the cross.
And how does Christ go to the cross? Answer, in the power of the Spirit.

And if you remember I said I sensed it was necessary for us to stop and look at the application. This is sometimes the struggle in teaching and that is when to complete the material at hand and when to stop for sake of application. As most of you know by now I am very bothered by how much culture has invaded the evangelical church. If you look at many television broadcasts, go into the section of the bookstore with Christian material there is a large dose of “health, wealth and prosperity.” My problem is that we are selling the benefits of the gospel but often leave out the Benefactor. We seem to be all about the gifts even though we give only a casual mention regarding the Giver. And if you were to ask many in the church if they would want to go to heaven and get perfect health, all the pleasures they can imagine, and have friendships and family for eternity and yet no Jesus they would still want to go? We might be shocked how many would answer yes to that question. In other words they don’t want Jesus but everything that Jesus can provide for them. Read More...

And this year's Heisman winner is...

Known as “Heisman B”, rumors are he may opt for the draft this year.

George Mueller

Here is a short bio of George Mueller that I pulled off the DesiringGod website.

Pastor George Mueller was born in Germany in 1805, spent most of his life in Bristol , England , preached nine times in Minneapolis in 1880, traveled to 42 countries between the ages of 70 and 87, and died at the age of 92, the most famous orphanage founder in the world. He built 5 orphan houses, cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime, pastored the same church for 66 years, never incurred debt, never asked anyone for money, didn't take a salary for 68 years, and never went hungry. He lost three children in infancy, his first wife Mary after 39 years, his second wife Susannah after 23 years, and his daughter Lydia when she was 58. In response to the new teaching that Christ snatches the church out of the world before the Tribulation, Mueller reportedly said, “If you can show me a trumpet after the last and a resurrection before the first, then I can believe this new doctrine.” He was a Baptist who admitted people to his church as members who had only been sprinkled as infants. He served the Lord's Supper weekly. He rejected life insurance and retirement accounts, preached for Charles Spurgeon, inspired Hudson Taylor, and did follow up for D. L. Moody.

Since we have been teaching on the importance of God’s word from day one in our class, I thought it might be helpful to share the following audio. Here is a short audio of what George Mueller learned and shared about prayer and devotion time in God’s word.

To listen click on this LINK.