Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Devotion in Joshua

As you come to Joshua Chapter 6 read slowly, carefully and prayerfully. I got so excited this morning that I stopped at verse 2 and called Pat. If you think that I have sent you a good number of emails over the last year then you need to check Pat's cell phone bill. Since he has gotten to know me via our class he has revised his cell phone plan at least 3 times :). Anyway check out Joshua 6:2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. Here is my paraphrase for this verse "So now I want you to go an possess that which is already yours!"

SS community for every person who is in Christ this is the message from the LORD Himself to us. At the cross of Christ pays in full the penalty of sin and has defeated the power of sin, death and the devil. So relate this truth back to Joshua 6:2 - go and occupy that which you already possess!

We need to shout this with a mega phone from the top of the Bank of America building "All Christians, All Christians, Here this now, Here this now. BE THE CHRISTIAN THAT YOU SAY YOU HAVE BECOME! Or we could say it this way "Occupy, live in, and enjoy the land in Christ which you have already been given!" So if your mind now flows to the next logical question it might be "how" am I to do that? Here is the answer, hear God's word, rest in God's word and keep God's word! Just like Joshua does in Chapter 6. Isn't it amazing that we always in some way, shape or form come back to the importance of our obedience to His word. Can you imagine a fighting warrior, who is the Rambo of the Old Testament hearing these instructions from God as to how they are going to capture Jericho. I want you to march around the city and then blow the trumpets. You might have expected Joshua to say "do what LORD?" Which begs the question, how are we responding daily to the revealed word of God in our lives?

Keep reading, studying and praying, don't leave your Bibles until you get glory bumps,

An education in "Postmodernism"

Over the 2009-2010 teaching year we as you know will continue to study basic Bible doctrine. However, I am also going to be introducing you to those things to watch out for that are harmful in the evangelical church. On Sunday I ended with the dangers of legalism, and how we as Americans are hard wired to be legalists.

However on the other side of the pendulum something much larger and more dangerous looms for the 21 century church and that is postmodernism. At the end of the teaching on Sunday I gave an overall definition. The plan next was to show the following video but all the technology just locked up. So here is the video that I intended to show on Sunday. In this first part of the video Dr. John MacArthur gives a very good and succinct definition of postmodernism that I suggest you write down and study. Simply click on this LINK.

On the heels of that video is an article that I read this morning from Pastor Gary Gilley (one of the good guys). If you want to read the whole article then click on this LINK. But this is the section of the article that really caught my attention as to what the disease of “POSTMODERNISM” has produced in the church and right under our noses.

The Product of Uncertainty - by Gary Gilley

A medical physician friend of mine compares this postmodern/mystical approach to the AIDS virus. He told me, “Postmodernism attacks true Christianity’s defense system, the truth (including God’s Word), denying it exists or at least that it can be known with any degree of certainty. Like the AIDS virus, which leaves the body subject to all manner of infections and malignancies, postmodernism leaves Christianity with all manner of heresies if not apostasy.”[10]

This disease of uncertainty has produced a very ill patient. A recent report entitled, “Crisis in America ’s Churches: Bible Knowledge at All-Time Low”reveals a startling picture of the evangelical church. Below are some of the findings by George Barna and other researchers as documented in this report:

The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is “God helps those who help themselves” – which is not in the Bible.
Less than one out of every ten believers possesses a biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making or behavior.
When given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1% of adult believers firmly embrace all thirteen as being biblical perspectives.
Of Baptists (of all kinds) only 34% believe Satan is real, 57% believe that good works earn heaven, 45% do not believe that Jesus was sinless and 34% do not believe the Bible is totally accurate.

Only 32% of “born-again” Christians believes in the existence of absolute moral truth.


Commenting on such beliefs Professor Gary Burge of Wheaton College believes such theological and biblical illiteracy is the result of:

The failure of the church to transmit what it believes to the next generation. One of the reasons for this is an overemphasis on personal experience to the exclusion of serious Christian education.
Many churches have abandoned serious Bible exposition and theological teaching. Exegesis is becoming a “lost art” in the pulpit. Read More...

Devotion time

Yesterday in SS we read together Romans 1-2 and I made some brief comments on the text as we read. The point from yesterday is how important it is for us to read the Bible.
I actually know a friend of mine who pastors in Kinston, NC. There are times when for his message he reads the Bible to his congregation. He will read large sections of Scripture for 30-40 minutes so the people will just be soaked and saturated under the word of God. So as I prayed, studied and thought about Sunday I sensed the need to just read a larger section of Scripture. As a matter of fact I am thinking about having one Sunday of the month committed to reading large sections and then again making brief comments as we read. This, I believe, helps us to put rubber to the road so to speak when it comes to the practical reading through the Bible.

This morning I am reading through Genesis 4-7 and also thinking about what I read in Romans 3-4. It is so amazing to me how it all dove tails into one incredible story. I have heard the Bible summed up in the following: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration.

Check out these verses which give us great Biblical insight into our condition before God as result of the fall in Genesis 3. And what happened in the fall? It was the first time recorded in the Bible that God's word was broken. God gave a specific and clear command to Adam and he disobeyed. In Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And then in Rom. 3:10-12 we read:
Rom. 3:10 “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
Rom. 3:11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
Rom. 3:12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”


Finally in Romans 3:23 my favorite definition in regard to sin: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." At a later time we will go back and look at Romans 3:23 in relation to Romans 1:21-23 and how man exchanges the very glory of God for the glory of man.

Think of the implication of these verses for you and me as it relates to the prospect of our eternal future. We show up on that day and here is the record of our lives read in the public courtroom in the heavenly realms:
"Thoughts of the heart evil on a continuous basis"
"Unrighteous in thoughts, words and actions"
"Never seeking for God"
"No good done at all"
"Falling short of God's glory"

If Romans 3:21-26 doesn't come into the picture for us then the verdict will be judgment, condemnation and hell. Because our sin however much or however little has resulted in an infinite offense before the infinite holiness and righteousness of God Himself. And it will take an eternity in hell to pay for that violation against God. This is not just bad news but the worst news that anyone could ever possibly hear on that day. As Jesus Himself reads the sentence before God's public courtroom and declares a person to an eternal damnation.

So what hope is there for you or for me? An unrighteous man or woman to be able to stand in the very presence of a righteous God and spend eternity with Him. This is only possible by way of the cross of Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that in your reading of Genesis and the account of the fall and in Romans 1-3 you can clearly see that your sinful condition is terminal. As we will read later in Ephesian 2 you are dead in your trespasses and sins which means a miracle must take place to raise you from the dead. Read More...

Week #2

Bible Reading for the Week

Sunday Romans 3-4

Monday Genesis 4-7

Tuesday Joshua 6-10

Wednesday Psalm 3-5

Thursday Job 3-4

Friday Isaiah 7-11

Saturday Matthew 3-4


Review for September 27

You have heard the expression the best laid plans of mice and men. The plan for this week was to complete our study in the relationship with Jesus and the Father. And then move into our next teaching which is Jesus and His relationship with the Holy Spirit. However after study and pray on Saturday and early this morning I sensed a need to go in another direction. Building from our 52 week Bible reading plan launch from last week I read and made some comments on Romans 1 and 2.
Folks, we need as a community to be nourished by the word of God on a daily basis. Sometimes instead of just encouraging people to get in the word I think it is important to do it together.

I started with the words that Jesus gave to the apostle Peter in John Chapter 21:15-17

15So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

The Greek word for feed is the same in verse 15 and 17. It is the word bosko and shows the duty of the Christian teacher to promote the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. Also to note it is written in the present tense which means ongoing, constant and habitual and in the imperative mood which means a command.

The word Greek word for feed in verse 16 is the word poimainĊ. This means to tend to and care for or you might say shepherd the members of the church. Also this word is a verb and written in the present tense and the imperative mood.

Here we have the resurrected Christ prior to His ascension giving the apostle Peter some final instructions. And what are the mandatory instructions that He leaves with Peter?
FEED MY SHEEP
FEED MY SHEEP
FEED MY SHEEP
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Quote for the day

“Growing in the gospel means seeing more of God’s holiness and more of my sin. And because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need not fear seeing God as he really is or admitting how broken we really are. Our hope is not in our own goodness, nor in the vain expectation that God will compromise his standards and ‘grade on a curve.’ Rather, we rest in Jesus as our perfect Redeemer — the One who is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).”

- Bob Thune and Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life (World Harvest Mission, 2009), 6.

Preview for this Sunday

The plan is to first finish up with point #4 in regard to Jesus and His relationship with God the Father.
Here is a preview of those notes that I am going to start with in the first part of our class.

FOURTH - THE FATHER'S PURPOSE THAT ALL THINGS BE SUBJECTED TO AND SUMMED UP IN THE SON

It is as if the Father says I chose to fulfill My will and to carry out My plan and My purposes, only as they are fulfilled in My Son

The Father chooses to implement His purposes and to carry out His wise plan and design through the Son and not apart from the Son

Do we recognize the generous nature and the sharing nature of the Father in this regard?

God the Father does not say "Son and Spirit stand aside and I will do My work and you watch."

No but in fact He says to the Son "I want you to be honored in the work that I do and accomplish" this is what the Father has accomplished right?

Colossians 1:13 - It is the Father who has transfered us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son
So the Father does this through the Son and not apart from the Son

The Father generously not only makes a way for the Son to participate and carry out His work but His does so in a way in which the Son receives the glory and honor.
The Father says "Look at My Son, what a glorious Son He is!"
Love Him, follow Him, treasure Him, adore Him and worship Him

The Father chooses to implement His good and wise plan not apart from but through His Son

The Father shares with the Son the work that is His to accomplish and in doing so the Father honors the Son

READ Psalm 2:7-9
Psa. 2:7 ¶ “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
Psa. 2:8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
Psa. 2:9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

The Father is the one who bestows this honor on the Son
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A Cardinal Rule of Bible Study

On Tuesday nights the men in our community are meeting for a 10 week series on “How to Study the Bible.”

In my early years of Bible reading and study I was taught by a man I never met whose name is Buck Hatch. He was a Bible teacher for over 50 years and spent the majority of his time at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, SC. Buck taught a class called “Biblical Hermeneutics.” It means a system of Bible study in order to understand what the Bible means. If you study under or with Buck Hatch then you will hear the cardinal rule of Bible study which is as follows:

There is only one correct interpretation of any one Scripture and that is what the author meant by what he wrote. The correct interpretation of any Scripture is the Author's meaning.

As we study doctrine together, we must be very careful with those that minimize or try to distort solid Biblical interpretation. Again it is not what you think or what I think that counts, it is what God thinks and says that counts!

Quote for the day


“What we have created in America is false Christianity based on the premise that God exists to help us be more successful as we seek these things. He is here to help us get what we want, do what we please and achieve our own goals and ambitions. God is here to help us find happiness and fulfillment in life....Nothing could be further from the biblical truth. God does not offer to come and help us be more successful in our lives. He calls us to die! We are to die to self, to sin, to the lives we lived without him. We turn aside from the purposes of our lives and yield to his purposes. We are to “deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow him.” We must present our bodies as living sacrifices. We must be buried with Christ by baptism into death so that we may be raised to walk a new life in him." - Dave Miller

Devotion and The Doctrine of God

months we have been taking a close look at the Trinity. As I have said more than once, to know God is to know that God is Triune. Therefore as we read, study and have devotions our goal is NOT to know about God but to know Him. It is NOT to know Him based on what the culture is telling us about Him but in fact what the Bible is telling us about Him.

I have accumulated lots of study notes over the years and as we hit upon the different topics in the Bible I plan to use them in our blog site. The problem is that all the notes are not properly footnoted, so just know that I stand on the shoulders of many wonderful and godly Bible teachers, pastors and theologians.

In our study of the doctrine of God consider the following questions:
  • What is at stake in pursuing a knowledge of God?
  • Does it matter if we know God rightly?
  • Does it matter if we grow in the knowledge of God?

Illustration - Knowledge of the Holy - AW Tozer
The thoughts that we think about God are the most important thoughts that we will ever have
We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God
God has so made us that we instinctively and naturally seek to become like that which we esteem most highly


Now the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 takes on a fresh meaning doesn't it?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Of course because God deserves that kind of love and also because He commands it. However there is another reason and here it is, we become like what we love.

Biblical truth for our consideration?
We are hardwired to take on the characteristics of what we adore

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Bible Reading Plan

In case you missed our kickoff for the Bible Reading Plan on Sunday you can find it in the sidebar of this blog site -



Thanks for your response and please understand from past experience there is no perfect plan for everyone in a class or the church. However I have found this plan to bring a balanced reading in both Old and New Testament as you go through the year.

Someone talked to me the other day and shared the following observation “hey Bert check out what God says about His word in Joshua and Psalms 1 from our Bible Reading this week.

Josh. 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Psa. 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psa. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Well, needless to say, as that was being pointed out to me I had somewhat of a mini glory fit. Because this is exactly what happens when a group of believers commit to getting back to the word together. They share observations and in doing so we encourage one another to know Him by knowing His word.

Remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. The key is to finish well not just to start well. So be prepared for some leg cramps, maybe I should say some brain cramps along the way. But through all of the ups and downs keep moving and keep reading.

Blessings




Question for consideration

Do you obey God in order to get things from God or do you obey God in order to get God?

Your answer will give insight as to whether you stand on a foundation of religion or the gospel.

blogEntryTopper

When legalism runs amok

The "almost" gospel

I was thinking about our ongoing discussion regarding Bible doctrine. There are at least two things that Biblical teaching should provide:
1. It should guard us from Bible error
2. The other is to move us into the truth of God's word for our daily living
The reason I am hyped about “false teaching" in the evangelical church is because there is much of it today and the people who sit under it are being deceived. This year when we read through the book of Job here is a heads up for you to notice. Job has three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar who provide what they think is Biblical counsel for Job in his time of need. I challenge you to read their advice and try to separate out the good theology from the bad. The reason it will be difficult is because there is the good mixed with the bad but it is so hard to distinguish. But when you arrive at the last chapter Job 42 here is what the writer of Job informs us in regard to these three friends of Job.

Job 42:7 ¶ It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.

On that day God's wrath will be kindled against those who have not spoken the true gospel. We may think that a church is preaching Christ, forgiveness and sin so this means that the gospel is being preached. However when one starts to pull back the onion it is a gospel of moral improvement and what you get when Jesus comes into your heart. By the way as you have heard me say Jesus doesn't come to earth to fix our self image and no where is Scripture will you find the expression to ask Jesus in your heart. The expression you will find is Jesus Himself replaces your heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
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7 marks of genuine salvation

A.W. Pink addresses in this quote seven marks as a litmus test for salvation.

First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced.

Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.

Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.

Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ.

Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.

Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.

Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end.

Devotion in Genesis

In my devotion in Genesis 1 and 2, I was drawn to the command that God gave to Adam in Gen. 2:16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; Gen. 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
I started to think, what about this command was unclear or hard to understand. The fact is the command was very clear. Then I remember some study I have done in the doctrine of perspicuity. I know that isn't a word that we use often but the early church did and it basically means the clarity of Scripture.

Kevin Vanhoozer writes:
"The idea that the Bible is clear does not obviate the need for interpretation but, on the contrary, makes the work of interpretation even more important. The clarity of Scripture means that understanding is possible, not that it is easy. Redeeming the text does not mean reconciling all interpretive conflicts. The clarity of Scripture is neither an absolute value nor an abstract property, but a specific function relative to its particular aim: to witness to Christ. The clarity of Scripture, in other words, does not mean that we will know everything there is to know about the text, but that we will know enough to be able, and responsible, to respond to its subject matter. The clarity of Scripture is not a matter of its obviousness so much as its efficacy; the Bible is clear enough to render its communicative action effective."

Again the command God gave to Adam was very clear and Adam understood it. However as we will see in Genesis Chapter 3 a key strategy that Satan had then, and one that he has today is to attack the "meaning" of God's word as to make it unclear.

Often in my times of devotion (I learned this from George Mueller), to take what I am learning from God’s word and turn it into a prayer. Therefore my time is both reading, learning, devoting and prayer all wrapped up together.

Father in heaven thank you for making your word clear to me. May I have eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand the very things that you have given me in the Bible. Extend to me by your grace, the faith I need to be obedient so that I may know you much richly and more fully and that I may make you known.

blessings,

We have lift off, I repeat, we have lift off!

This will serve as the review for September 20.


Yesterday we officially launched into the 2009-2010 Bible reading plan. We handed out cards yesterday that can be placed in your Bible in order to keep us at the same place at the same time in our reading this year. Can you imagine a community of people committed to reading through the word of God so that Christ may be demonstrated as great? Well, that is our goal as we move into year two of our “learning and living the God-centered life” community.

I was hoping to launch our Bible reading plan on September 13. But after going into the worship service at 11 AM it quickly became obvious why it was not able to happen until this week. For those of you who missed it Dr. Poplin preached on “the importance of God’s word.”

As usual I did not get through the teaching in Power Point. But I have included the notes and the links that you might find challenging and somewhat fun. There were two short videos that I had planned to show this past Sunday but didn’t get to them.

We again went over the challenge that I am laying before this community for the 2009-2010 year. And the reason for my ongoing emphasis is the testimony given yesterday by Patti Duckworth. I wanted to go up front and just conclude by saying “folks I hope your ears were attentive to all that Patti said this morning because that is the lesson.” It has been a blessing and joy for Nancy and I to start getting to know people like the Duckworth’s. Over the years the Lord has called to a ministry of challenging people back to His word. As Rodney and Cynthia Young have been called to those in China and go overseas, so Nancy and I sense God’s calling to those in Southeast Charlotte who need to know Him by knowing His word.

The challenge for the 2009-2010 year

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" Lord you have my full and undivided attention. There will be, by Your grace, no competition between recreation, entertainment, business, kids activities or anything else that can so easily distract and entangle me. Though I recognize all these activities will be part of my life, I maintain and cling to the truth that you are my life.

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" I first of all will prepare my heart to hear from God as never before. I will recognize that God is sovereign, and may do with me whatever He pleases. But heavenly Father my prayer will be for You to extend to me a measure of faith as never before, with regards to the reading, devotion and study of Your word.

"FINALLY THIS YEAR" I am praying to trust,depend, rely on Christ as neverbefore. And I am longing to be desperate for You Lord and You alone!!!

I think I could give you a Bible verse to support each sentence but for now I pray that the challenge will be part of your 2009-2010 years.

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How do you pray?

Listen to part of this prayer from King David in Psalm 143. Then step back, be still and do what the Puritan's used to call "Biblical logic" in regard to the text.

"Teach me to do your will
for you are my God
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing
For the glory of your name, O LORD, save me."

David recognizes that God Himself must show up and reveals the truth NOT ONLY to know His will, but also for him to do the will that he knows. There is a humble recognition from King David as one described as a man after God's own heart. King David is praying "Teach me because God I understand that if You don't unveil it I will not do it."

Did you ever play hide and seek during your childhood? Do you think if God hides His word from you that you could ever find it? 2 Chronicles 16:9 says "the eyes of the LORD roam to and fro throughout the earth to find those whose heart is completely His..." Are you the type of Christian that falls before Him and prays "LORD I am desperate for You to show up and teach me!

Check out these next two verses in lieu of this kind of attitude in prayer.
Psa. 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.

1Pet. 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

In Psalm 42:1 there is the referring of a need for God to quench your thirst spiritually, in the same manner as a deer in the forest needs water to quench its thirst physically. But do you see the main point. By the way for those who are coming to "How to study the Bible" this is figurative language and technically is called a simile. That aside, the deer must get the water to survive, so my question is that the kind of dependence and reliance that you have before the sovereign God of this universe. In other words if you don't quench my spiritual thirst LORD I will not make it so please know that I am desperate for you. Read More...

Legalism, the deadly disease

Since we are preparing to launch the reading of the Bible during the next year, I sensed a need to post something about legalism. One thing I have noticed about American Christians, if you give them a challenge they will respond with in most cases “I can do it!” And what follows can be a duty based mentality instead of one that is motivated by delight. Over the years I have written and read lots of different blogs. Tony Reinke is a blog writer who I credit in this short article regarding “Legalism.” So as we approach the reading of the Bible this year please don’t think that in doing so you are winning the approval of God. If you are in Christ then you already have the 100% approval of God and your obedience to things like reading the Bible should flow out of that truth. So without further ado legalism the deadly disease.

Rules are not the problem

Almost 900 passages in the Bible contain the phrase “do not.” Which is to say that the Bible contains quite a lot of prohibitions. Jesus condensed some chief prohibitions for us: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother’” There are a lot of rules in the Bible.

Which is to say that if you apply the entire Bible to the Christian life, you can end up with a long list of helpful rules and reminders (i.e. the “one anothers”).

See the fundamental danger of legalism is not living with rules or not living by rules—whether you attend church every week or not, whether you drink wine or not. Legalism points to a much deeper heart issue.

A false gospel

At its most dangerous level, legalism is a soteriological problem. That is, legalism is a false gospel and a false hope.

Legalism is the lie that says God's pleasure and joy in me is dependent upon my performance rather than the finished work of Christ.


It is legalism that causes the Pharisee to look proudly into the sky in the presence of a tax collector. It is legalism that causes a poor missionary in Africa to think God is more pleased with him than an American Christian businessman driving a Mercedes. It is legalism that causes the preacher behind the pulpit to think God is more pleased with him than the tatooed Christian teenager sitting in the back row. Read More...

Understanding Bible translations

Since we are preparing to launch into our Bible reading plan for the year, I am often asked about Bible translations. It may help for you to understand some of the basics of a Bible translation. And for that I will allow both Michael Patton and Douglas Stuart along with Gordon Fee to give you some sound instruction.

* Formal Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate word for word (although this is really impossible). Examples: NAS, KJV, ASV, ESV. Less readable, but better for study in contemporary languages. Why? Because they will usually attempt to make fewer interpretive decisions on any text that can be understood in many ways. This allows the reader to struggle through the options.
Literal The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense of the receptor language. A literal translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points.

* Dynamic Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate thought for thought. Examples: NIV, TNIV, NRSV, etc. Not quite as good for deep study, but usually better for reading and memorization. Dynamic equivalence translations make good pulpit or teaching Bibles.
Dynamic Equivalent The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but "updates" matters of language, grammar and style.

* Paraphrase: Translations that seek to use common language and idioms to get the basic point across in a very readable way. Examples: Message, Philip’s Translation, NLT, GNB, etc. While paraphrases are not good for study or memorization, they are very readable and cause you to read the text differently than you normally would. In this respect, they have great value. Read More...

Launching our Bible reading plan

On Sunday we will officially launch our Bible Reading Plan for this 2009-2010 year. I am going give a brief description as it relates to Bible translations. For your information the Bible I use for study is an NASB and the one I use for reading is NLT. Maybe this chart can be helpful as you decide on a translation that you want to use this year.

Is your obedience to Christ motivated by love?

One of the key points in studying the love relationship between God the Father and Jesus is as follows: It is just as God-like to exert proper and rightful authority as it is God-like to yield, submit to and obey that authority. And the reason for this is because both actions are motivated by love! Think about it, the very frame work of love that we can see in the Trinity is based on authority and submission.

Again look John 14:31 and the words from Christ Himself when he says "but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me..." There is obedience by Jesus to the will of His Father 24/7 and it stems from His love for the Father. So when His disciples bring food to Him in John 4 and say in essence we got the food for you now eat, Jesus says "my food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." The desire to accomplish the work of the Father stems from His love for the Father.

Do you see the relationship between the Father and the Son which is motivated by love? Then bring this into your own daily Christian walk. We have far too many people actively participating in church ministry that have this part of their doctrine upside down. They go to Bible study, pray, give and serve thinking that in doing so they are receiving the approval of God. It basically looks like this: if I obey God then He will approve of me. However the gospel brings us to this understanding, as a believer in Christ I am already approved of 100% and because of this approval I delight in obeying what Christ commands. The first is based on works to receive merit and approval and the second is motivated by love.

Illustration:
For our 31st wedding anniversary I decided to get Nancy 31 roses. Pretend with me for a minute that I go out that morning and get the 31 roses and come back to the front of the house and ring the door bell. First of all that will strike Nancy as strange because I normally come into the house through the garage. But this time I am outside ringing the door bell and she comes to and opens the door. Now remember behind my back are 31 fresh and beautiful red roses. I bring the roses from behind my back and present them to her and I say "Nancy these roses are for you." And she takes them and says "Brim" (my nickname when she is touched by my sweetness), she says "Brim, why did you do this?" Now listen real carefully to my answer and see what you think. I say "because Nancy I have been reading books about couple married for an extended period of time and they say this is what I ought to do." For the ladies that are reading this "how would you react to that statement?"
Rewind the tape, Nancy says "Brim why did you do this." And this time I say "because my love, nothing makes me happier in my life than when I can honor and be with you!"

What is the difference between scene 1 and scene 2 in the illustration above? In scene 1 the motive is duty and in scene 2 the motive is love. Which scene is playing out in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Keep studying and being aware this year as we read through the Bible this love relationship between Jesus and His Father. Because it is the very relationship that we should have with Him and with others.

for His glory,

Beginning this Tuesday night...


We begin our men’s Bible study on Tuesday night at the home of Pat and Kay Jones. Should you want to come and need directions to their home just click on this LINK. Our study will begin promptly at 7 and will end at 8:30 pm. In this 10 week study, which is composed of two 5 week studies with a break of two weeks in between, the subject is “How to study the Bible.” Did you know there is a system for understanding how to study the Bible? The word is hermeneutics and yes it is in the Bible!

So may I encourage the men in our class to come in order that as brothers in Christ we may learn “how” to approach study and understand the Bible. I cannot over emphasize the importance especially in this culture the need today for an accurate interpretation of God’s word. The goal of this 10 week session will be to give you the tools to help you become good Bible readers so that you can live out properly what you learn.

I look forward to seeing you this coming Tuesday night.

Review for September 13

Today we studied point #3 in the relationship of Jesus to God the Father. Specifically we looked at the love relationship between the Father and the Son. There is so much here and yet it feels like when we are in class so little time. Therefore may I encourage you to read the notes and look up the Scripture references. Here is one of the key points that I hope you picked up from our study this morning.

It is just as God-like to submit to rightful authority as it is God-like to exert wise, proper and rightful authority as both are motivated by love.

As one studies the relationship between God the Father and Jesus we can see that God commands what is good and right, this is done in love. Jesus obeys, yields and submits to the will of the Father, this is motivated by His love for the Father. In studying this relationship from a Trinitarian perspective there is much we can learn and live in our own personal relationships.

If you would like to review the audio and notes for our class today. If you would like to read the note then CLICK ON THIS LINK.
Should you want to hear the audio CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Next week we conclude in our relationship between Jesus and God the Father with point #4 which say that “God the Father sums all things up in Jesus the Son.” What does this mean and how does it impact us in our day to day Christian lives?

I recommend you come back frequently to our website to check for homework assignments and to watch for the number of opportunities we have for fellowship. Today was a transition day for us as this was our first time in the uptown auditorium. As we get more familiar with the room, set up, and technical equipment it will start to feel like our home.

Doctrine and Devotions

Last Sunday I suggested that as you read through the Bible that you note in the margin when you come across Bible doctrine that we have studied or are studying. The word doctrine simply means what the whole Bible has to say about any particular subject or topic. In our class curriculum we are going to learn what the Bible has to say about the word of God, God Himself, Christ, Spirit, mankind and salvation. All that being said this week my devotions took me to Psalm 139. Nancy B. and I went through this together and thought it might be helpful for me to share with you. In this note what I will do is list the verses then give the doctrine along with a definition of that doctrine. Then a further look at the verses. My goal is that you become readers, thinkers and the type of Bible students that pray over God's word asking for illumination from the Holy Spirit. In doing so the revelation of His word attaches to you and transforms you from one degree of glory to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). If that doesn't get you excited at some level then call 911 as you may not have a pulse.

First of all I recommend that you with prepared hearts read Psalm 139.
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!


In the first 6 verses you can see the sovereignty of God and the omniscience of God. Do you remember the definition of sovereignty from our retreat in May?
"God plans and carries out His perfect will as He alone knows is best, and He does so without failure or defeat." Read More...

Homework and Preview for Sunday-Part 2

The following notes should consist of the second half of our class on Sunday. However the way things are going we might not even make it through Point #3. But just in case, you can read, review and study what is coming either on Sunday or at some point in time down the road.

FOURTH - THE FATHER'S PURPOSE THAT ALL THINGS BE SUBJECTED TO AND SUMMED UP IN THE SON

It is as if the Father says I chose to fulfill My will and to carry out My plan and My purposes, only as they are fulfilled in My Son

The Father chooses to implement His purposes and to carry out His wise plan and design through the Son and not apart from the Son

Do we recognize the generous nature and the sharing nature of the Father in this regard?
God the Father does not say "Son and Spirit stand aside and I will do My work and you watch."
No but in fact He says to the Son "I want you to be honored in the work that I do and accomplish" this is what the Father has accomplished right?

READ Colossians 1:13
Col. 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
It is the Father who has transfered us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son

So the Father does this through the Son and not apart from the Son
The Father generously not only makes a way for the Son to participate and carry out His work but His does so in a way in which the Son receives the glory and honor.
The Father says "Look at My Son, what a glorious Son He is!"
Love Him, follow Him, treasure Him, adore Him and worship Him
The Father chooses to implement His good and wise plan not apart from but through His Son
The Father shares with the Son the work that is His to accomplish and in doing so the Father honors the Son Read More...

A Trinitarian Examination

Do you like to take tests? Well, here is one but don’t worry no grades are going to be given out.

Here are some questions to see how you are coming along in our study of the Trinity.

1. Can you give a brief or extended definition of the Trinity?

2. Why is it important to study the Trinity?

3. Is the Trinity essential to salvation? If so, then explain and support with Scripture.

4. What are the 4 main categories we are studying regarding the relationship that Jesus has with God the Father?

5. Explain as best you can the categories listed above and support with Bible verses.

6. Can you go through a review of the Trinity and our church history?

7. List for me some of the Triadic passages in the New Testament.

8. Is there a single verse that can support the doctrine of the Trinity? If so, then list it.

9. Does the orthodox church consider the doctrine of the Trinity to be an essential?

10. If we were to have a friendly competition with the church in America 100 years ago regarding the questions above who do you think would win?

11. When is the last time you studied the Trinity?

12. How would your saved family members do on this test regarding the Trinity?

13. Should I come over the with the chocolate chips and milk?

Homework and Preview for Sunday



We are presently studying with the Trinity the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. There are four categories that I would encourage you to look at in the Scriptures.
  1. The Father is supreme among the Persons of the Godhead
  2. Jesus in under the authority or headship of the Father
  3. The love relationship between Jesus and God the Father
  4. God the Father sums all things up in Jesus the Son

So here are the homework notes and what I am planning to cover this coming Sunday. I said this past Sunday that one of the benefits of studying doctrine is being able to recognize it when you are having devotion time. Therefore as you go through and learn these categories, you also are going to find much practical application. However let me just say a quick word about Americans, church and application. We are far too quick to want to know how this applies and specifically applies to me. When you come to the doctrine of God first and foremost you are seeing Him as being maximized, that automatically means you become minimized. I think today we need more John 3:30 type of Christians, which says we need to decrease and He needs to increase. So with that being said move with me to category number three in our study of Jesus and His relationship with God the Father. Read More...

Don't forget...

We’re Moving - This Sunday to the Uptown Auditorium

Click on this LINK

Jesus lived to please God, how about you?

Last Sunday we studied about Jesus and His relationship with God the Father. In point #2 the emphasis was that Jesus is under the headship or authority of the Father.
Again read and think deeply on the following verses:
John 8:28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
John 8:29 “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”

There is too much here for one blog article but a few points for our learning and living the God-centered life.

Look at these words from the Lord Jesus Himself:
1. Jesus does nothing on His own initiative...and yet would you agree with me that Jesus is God
2. Jesus speak only that which the Father teaches Him...and yet as God there is nothing that Jesus doesn't know right?
3. Jesus always does those things that please the Father...and yet in the Trinity there is an ongoing pleasing taking place between each of the Persons of the God-head

Here is my point, this verse is like a neon sign to show us that this is not Jesus as God though He is God in every way but rather to show us Jesus as man. The early church worked for the first 4 centuries to secure the doctrine that Jesus is God, remember the word "homousious" from our friend Athanasius. This is the word the early church stood on which said that Jesus is the same nature as the Father. However it seems that we have done much of our teaching on the deity of Jesus but we are not as adept when in comes to the humanity of Jesus. (Sidenote: that is why the gospels are so very critical for each of us to read through each and every year! Because it answers the question how can an unrighteous human being every stand before a glorious and holy God. We can see and come to understand that only are we able to do that in Christ because of the life we see Him live out before us in the gospels. And what kind of life was that? Jesus during His 33 years on planet earth perfectly fulfilled the law of God in every way and was without sin. The only way to understand this is read, read, read the gospel accounts which is the story of the life of Jesus. My old seminary professor said it this way "the gospels are passion narratives about Jesus on the way to the cross.") Is that the longest sidenote in history or what? Read More...

Review for September 6

The apostle Paul writes to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 the following:
2Tim. 3:1 ¶ But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2Tim. 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
2Tim. 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
2Tim. 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2Tim. 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

And he continues the admonishment in Chapter 4:
2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
2Tim. 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Therefore our class is about getting back to sound Biblical doctrine. And the plan is to do that one doctrine at a time. We are presently studying the doctrine of God and more specifically the Trinity. It bothers me when people think that doctrine is just about getting more information in our already overloaded brains. Folks, we are hardwired in such a way that we all behave consistently those things that we behold in our hearts and minds. Doctrine means what the Bible says about any particular subject. We are looking at six specific subjects that include:

  • The doctrine of God's word
  • The doctrine of God
  • The doctrine of man
  • The doctrine of Christ
  • The doctrine of the Holy Spirit
  • The doctrine of salvation

Also I have heard from opponents of in depth Bible doctrine study statements like "doctrine divides." And to that I say of course it does, doctrine divides the truth from error, the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and the light from the darkness. Instead of running from doctrine we need to run toward an understanding of it as we learn and live the God-centered life.

We are all getting back to our regular routines after the summer and now our fall launch begins. In these first two weeks I have tried to lay some ground work as to the mission and goal of our class for this year. Since we have new members this has been a good time for all of us to cover some familiar ground as it relates to our community. Allow me to keep before each of us the following challenge during the 2009-2010 time frame which I am calling "Finally This Year." Read More...

ATTENTION-ATTENTION "We're Moving"

Our SS Community will begin meeting in the Uptown Auditorium next Sunday, September 13. The set up will allow us to have some tables for those who like to spread out and take notes. Thanks to Russ Rosser, and all of the staff who have worked so closely with us during this past year. It has been a real privilege and joy to teach God’s word in a community where there is such a desire to learn and live the God-centered life.

Quote for the day

The gospel is not simply the story of “Christ, and Him crucified” it is also a story of my own crucifixion. For the Bible tells me that I , too, was crucified on Christ’s cross (Galatians 2:20).
My old self was slain there, and my love affair with the world was crucified there too. The cross is also the place where I crucify my flesh and all its sinful desires. Truly, Christ’s death and my death are so intertwined as to be inseparable.

God is committed to my dying every day, and He calls me to that same commitment. He insists that every hour be my dying hour, and He wants my death on the cross to be as central to my own life story as is Christ’s death to the gospel story. “Let this same attitude by in you,” He says, “which was also in Christ Jesus”...who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Crucifixion hurts. In fact, its heart-wrenching brutality can numb the senses. It is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. It is not merely death, but excruciating death.

Nevertheless, I must set my face like a flint toward the cross and embrace this crucifixion in everything that I do. I should expect every day to encounter circumstantial evidence of God’s commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be conformed more fully to Christ’s death, no matter the pain involved.

When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don’t want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When I want to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die.

“Not My will, but Yours be done,” Christ trustingly prayed on the eve of His crucifixion; and preaching His story to myself each day puts me in a frame of mind to trust God and embrace the cross of my own dying also. - Milton Vincent, “A Gospel Primer for Christians” pp. 41-43

Men's Bible study for the fall

We will start our fall men’s Bible study on September 15 at 7:00 PM at the home of Pat and Kay Jones. As Pat mentioned on Sunday the study will be broken up into two 5 week formats with a two week break in between. Last year we studied the “importance” of the Bible and in this 10 week session we are going to learn “HOW” to study the Bible. As part of this study we will look at the various Bible translations and I will cover the best Bible study softwares that you can utilize. (Both free and one you may want to purchase)

September 15 - 7 PM

September 22 - 7 PM

September 29 - 7 PM

October 6 - 7 PM

October 13 - 7 PM


Break (two weeks)

November 3 - 7 PM

November 10 - 7 PM

November 17 - 7 PM

November 24 - 7 PM

December 1 - 7 PM

For directions to the home of Pat Jones simply click on this LINK