Who Goes There?

 

Good advances don’t have universally positive fruit.

 
who goes thereFor instance, I wonder if our advances in literacy and scholarship might have undermined our theology in some respects.  For instance, what do we look for when we read the Old Testament?
Walter Kaiser suggested that the Old Testament is treated by many Christians like their Grandmother’s attic: there are certainly treasures there, but you don’t really want to venture in alone.  So there are too many of us who only go in on guided tours to key sites before retreating to the familiarity of the New Testament.
But let’s say we’ve overcome that fear factor and ventured in.  Since it is January, perhaps the percentage of Christians reading the Old Testament is at its highest point in the calendar.  What should we be looking for?
Many will look for instruction. 
After all, these things were written for our instruction, Paul explains in Romans 15:4. In 1Cor.10 he tells us that these things were written as examples to us.  So perhaps that should be our goal as we read the Old Testament: to pursue instructions for living well?  After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us its purpose is Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth (or is that just a church poster and bumper sticker?)
Certainly there is plenty by way of instruction in the Old Testament, but sometimes we can be naively optimistic when we assume that we can filter out instructions that no longer apply, and successfully follow those that do.  Especially when the example Paul is speaking of functions as a warning against pride!  By all means lets look out for instruction and example in the Old Testament, but to turn it into an instruction manual does run more than a slight risk of missing the point.
Indeed, let’s not a develop radar for instructions for life while missing the consistent pattern of human inability to succeed at life presented in those pages.  The repeated pattern of human failure and the minority remnant of often fragile and frail faith should rebuke us from assuming we can simply pluck meaningful verses and live by them.
Some will look for anticipation. 
Recognizing that the Old Testament is anticipating something in the New, some Bible readers know that they are looking for more than personal instruction.  They are looking for the promise of what is to come.  This is good.  This is much more God-centred than a mere instruction hunt tends to be.
There is the promise-theme starting in Genesis 3:15 with the anticipation of the seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head.  That flows through hints and promises channeling our focus through Shem, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, David, etc.  It points to a prophet like, but greater than Moses; a priest greater than Samuel; and a King who is the greater descendent of David.
But here is where the blessing of literacy might be undoing us somewhat.  Perhaps we can tend to zero in on the written anticipation within the divine plan, but lose sight of the divine person.  Certainly we should read the written word and we should interpret it as accurately as we possibly can, but the Bible tells us that it is possible to devour the text and miss the person.
We must look for a person.  
Our tendency in the flesh will always be to settle for instructions that we can follow (and where we can’t, we’ll adjust our list so that we can get closer to success).  This is why we must read the Old Testament and see what is there – the pattern of human failure is significant as the dark velvet on which to spot the shiny loyal-love of God’s grace.  We must be alert to the promise that is there.  But ultimately our faith is not in promises read, understood, believed and claimed.  Ultimately our faith is in the giver of the promise.  That was true for them to whom the promises were made, too.  We must read to meet the God who revealed himself and invited trust in Him, the giver of the promises.
In his warning in 1Cor.10:1-13, Paul points to Old Testament examples of people setting their hearts on something other than God.  Disaffected from God they trusted in themselves and became profoundly vulnerable.  It was not merely an issue of lost information, it was the spurned relationship that undid them.  So the warning for the Corinthians was what?  To set their eyes on the instructions when faced with temptation?  No, it was to look to a God who is faithful and actively involved in their circumstances.
In his reference to instruction in Romans 15:4, Paul refers to endurance and the encouragement of the Old Testament Scriptures that lead to hope.  Next verse he reinforces his point.  Not that by our effort in following the instruction we might live well, but that endurance and encouragement come from God as we follow Christ in relationship to the Father and God’s people.
Jesus told the “Bible experts” in John 5 that they searched the Scriptures looking for life, but they missed that the Scriptures were speaking of him!  On the other hand, I just read a Spurgeon sermon on the “goings forth” of Christ “from of old” where he listed some of the Christ-spottings in the Old Testament.  We’d find similar thoughts in Calvin and Edwards and others.  So perhaps some Bible experts had their hearts pointed in the right direction.  Let’s be sure we do too.
Read the Bible and notice both the instruction and the human failures.  Notice both the faith-response and the rebellion response of human hearts.  Notice God’s promises to the undeserving.  And notice that the invitation is to trust in the God who not only states promises, but reveals himself repeatedly along the way.  We trust in God.  We trust in Christ, the person whose revelation of the Father forever endorses the trustworthy nature of that which is promised.
~ Peter
You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]  

New Year’s Resolutions…

[You are encouraged to read Dr Shogren’s post at his blog.]

 

 – or New Covenant Miracles?

 

For many years, I made no New Year’s resolutions. My reasoning:

  • Why make a big deal just because the planet has revolved around the sun to an arbitrary point in space?
  • Why try to be a better persons on this one day when I should be doing it all the time?
  • Are resolutions relevant to me, since I don’t need to quit smoking, drinking or gambling?

I’ve come to think differently, having taken another look at the Bible and paid closer attention to human behavior. For the past 5 years or so, I have made a single New Year’s Resolution on December 31.
The Word reveals to us that there are two methods for making resolutions.
 
Method A: “I will try really hard to be a better person in this area.” [1] But don’t we all know what happens? The resolution comes unraveled, usually within a few days or weeks. “45 percent of Americans make resolutions, but only 8 percent keep them.” [2] And so, red-faced, we push our noble plan to the back of our minds, at least until next year.
We Christians have the inside knowledge that the problem lies with the one who is doing the resolving. The words “carnal” or “fleshly” refers to “humanity as flesh is contrasted with Spirit, [it] is sinful, and without the aid of the Spirit cannot please God.” [3] Yes, those outside of Christ can and do make resolutions. Nevertheless they will fall short, and for several fundamental reasons: they lack God’s wisdom concerning how they should alter their lives; they have not been born again and changed in the New Covenant; without the Spirit they might come to be relatively better persons, but they cannot alter their nature, please God or effect any real change (Rom 8:5-8). They launch the New Year with hopeful hearts, but their resolutions are fragile ice crystals that melt under the January sun.
The disturbing thing is that some of these people are Christians, who listen to their peers and reach for the same old bag of tricks for self-improvement. Oh, sure, they add religion to the mix: they might pray for strength; they may even have the Bible as their guiding star. Many (most?) of us Christians try to do a spiritual thing but in a “carnal” manner. For example, one famous preacher wrote about resolutions, but most of his advice is plain common sense, the sort of thing you might get from Reader’s DigestDon’t start out assuming you will fail; be realistic; don’t be self-centered; take concrete steps; have an accountability partner; don’t get discouraged. Toss in a Bible verse and a word or two about prayer, and voilà – a way of life that bears a surface resemblance to the gospel, but at heart is the world’s system. It is putting new wine into old wineskins and it will lead to frustrated intentions and efforts, no matter how sincere they are (see Matt 5:17).
Let’s take a step backward and think for a minute: Is this the miraculous, paradigm-breaking new life promised to us in Christ:Be a sensible person, Be realistic, Take small steps? What happened to the Bible’s jumbo-sized promises of a life of dynamic, lasting change?
 
Method B – God steps in to make us like him, first when we are saved and then moment by moment. Yes, we take steps and put forth effort in faith, but God himself is the real agent of change.
The Bible plan is that “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom 8:9). That means that any change in our lives must be spiritual (which in Paul’s language means “in and through the Spirit”), not through our efforts (the flesh, human common sense, without supernatural power).
Let’s unpack the Bible teaching with a “for instance”: If I resolve to be less selfish this year, and by next year, before God, I am authentically 25% less selfish, then my friends, we have witnessed a miracle, a work that only God can do. The yardstick of comparison would not be the success rate of the nicotine patch or Weight Watchers, but the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 or the healing of the lame man or even the creation of the stars, the sun, the moon. It will be the fruit of Almighty God’s involvement within us.
There is an excellent example in 1 Thess 4:10: “concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Paul was looking back to the prophecies of the New Covenant in Jer 31:31-34 and Ezek 36:26, showing how the pagan Thessalonians were living in the miraculous love that is the “fruit of the Spirit.” He is also directly alluding to Isa 54:13, “I will make all your sons taught by God.” “Taught by God” is not just taking a class about love; it is his complete package for change from the inside out. To the extent that they are walking in the Spirit, believers find that they are being motivated, are thinking, acting and reacting differently than they used to. In modern terms, the Spirit has re-written their software.
The Israelites looked forward to the New Covenant, but did not claim to have experienced its wonders. How blessed are we! From Pentecost onward, each believer is a temple of the Spirit, a “new creation.” This means that Christians have a fundamentally different nature than those we see every day in the world.
But back to the Christians who don’t understand what God has done, and who attempt to do good in their own power, or even in their own power mixed with some prayer or with a couple of relevant Bible verses on their smartphone. In fact, anyone at all could memorize Proverbs 23:20-21 –

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

And that person might find good help; he need not even be a Christian; he could be a Muslim or atheist or nothing in particular. But in gospel terms, this method of change can be as “fleshly” as the one who does evil things for evil reasons. That is what was happening in Galatia, where the Judaizers were struggling hard to be the people God wanted them to be; not only did they fall short, but they plummeted below the level they had started from. Legalists, according to Gal 5:16-17, become ever more angry, judgmental, bitter, divisive, sexually out of control.
What an embarrassing failure for all who name the name of Christ but reject his plan for life. They crouch in the shadow of the Spirit’s massive power plant, but imagine it’s best to rub two sticks together. It’s fruitless, and it’s an offense to God who provided us a crucified Savior in order to give us the ability to perceive, dream of, desire, and follow the holy path that he lays out for us (Eph 2:10).
Those who focus on the New Covenant live better than those who formulate tons of rules. That doesn’t mean that we “go all limp” and make no decisions; on the contrary, it turns us into active agents, as we ask that our decisions be an expression of God working through us.
The Christian’s New Year’s Resolutions ought to begin and end with confidence in Christ, with the power of the Spirit, with the New Covenant that rewrites us spiritually and, if we want to use the terms, in the realms of the motivational, the psychological, the behavioral, the social.
So, getting back to me: for the past 5 years or so, I have made New Year’s Resolutions. One had to do with my devotional life; another with my less-than-kind-attitude toward a specific group of people. I prayed. But my prayers did not sound like “I’m trying hard, Lord, I promise to do better, give me a push toward accomplishing my goal.” Rather I prayed along these lines, on December 31 and continually from then on:

Lord, you say in your Word that I should walk like ___. Mere self-control or determination will do me no good. But I confess that you are the God of the New Covenant and that you have made me to walk in holiness in this area of ___. Thus I ask that you would continue to rewrite me and change me from the inside out, doing a miracle by your powerful Holy Spirit. I believe that this will result in me living for you in this area of my life, making decisions and taking action as you guide me.

Do New Covenant Resolutions work? Well – if they didn’t, there is no way I would be writing this post!
NOTES:
[1] The US government actually maintains a list of the most popular resolutions (click HERE http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml).
[2] See [http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/the-truth-behind-new-year-s-resolutions-1.71900
[3] G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (rev. ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 511.
 
~ Gary

Visit Dr Shogren’s blog to comment on his article.
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/cmc-gary-shogren-sm.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Copyright Gary Shogren.
Gary has a PhD in New Testament Exegesis. He serves as Professor at Seminario ESEPA, San Jose, Costa Rica[/author_info] [/author]
[button link=”http://justinofnablus.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Gary Shogren’s blog![/button]

Protect Your Mind

 [The following content was not edited for online publication but is provided by Jimmy Snowden “as-is”.]

 
1 Samuel 15:35

“And The Lord regretted that He made Saul king over Israel.”

1 Corinthians 15 - hope!We will now continue through 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is dealing with a false teaching which had crept into the church of Corinth regarding the resurrection—they were teaching that the dead are not raised. In vss. 29-34 Paul seeks to dismantle the faulty foundations of this false teaching by demonstrating how everything done in the Christian life contradicts this theology. Last week’s sermon was really an application of the sermon I preached two weeks ago, “Beliefs Have Consequences.” In that first sermon I gave many illustrations from everyday life to demonstrate that what you believe effects what you do. Every decision you make is determined to one degree or another by a belief that you have. I gave the illustration of a log in a fire. Why is it that you don’t pick up a burning log out of a fire? Because of what you know to be true about burning logs, they are hot and burn your hands. What you know to be true about the log affects how you treat the log. This is the way we live our lives. This is true in everyday life and it is true in the Christian life. Your mind plays a central role not just in Christian thinking, but also in Christian living. Why? Because the Christian life flows out of the Christian mind. I ran across this quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“If you only realized who and what you are, you would have gone eighty per cent of the way to being a complete victor over everything that assails you.”[1]

I must admit that I would be prone to reject this statement if it came out of virtually any one else’s mouth. However, I have read enough of Lloyd-Jones to know that he is not talking about some mere intellectual assent to theological truths about who this Christian is as a child of God. I know that Lloyd-Jones is never content with mere intellectual knowledge. Rather, when he says “if you only realize” he certainly mean something  like this; if you would only embrace by Spirit-empowered faith the fullness of who you are as a child of God, you would get victory over 80% of the spiritual struggles in your life. I think he is right. It starts with knowing something. All of Christianity flows out of what you know. Not just intellectually—but truth that you embrace with Spirit-empowered faith.
Just think of what I mentioned last week from Romans 8:31. Imagine if you really believed and embraced fully the reality that God is for you. That one truth is so powerful for life. To believe that God is not the great antagonist of your life. To believe that God does not merely put up with you. To believe (and embrace with Spirit empowered faith) that God cares and that He is for you. Many Christians, though, don’t really believe that God is for them. They know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ—they know that they aren’t going to be judged by God in hell. However, they don’t go far enough. They say, “Well… He ain’t gonna destroy me, but that doesn’t mean that He likes me.” No, my friend. God is for you. God has so much for you. He wants you to live in fellowship with Him. He wants you to live in the blessing of all that He has promised you. I believe He looks on us and says, “Look at all that I have for you. Take it. Take hold of my promises. I want so much more for you.” No… not houses and cars and salaries, but joy and peace and freedom. What you believe effects what you do. I think Lloyd-Jones is right. If you were to realize who and what you are as a new creature, most of your problems in the Christian life would be solved. Our problem is that we don’t really believe He is for us. We basically believe that He puts up with us. Not true. He loves you. He is for you.
Let me give you another illustration.
How much differently would you live if you truly believed that you are no longer a slave to sin? I had a good friend in college. We would often times get together and talk about the things God was teaching us and the different things we were struggling with in our walk with Christ. One day my friend rebuked me in a friendly way. He scolded me. I was telling him about my struggles with a particular sin (laziness, lust, pride… I can’t remember what sin it was at the time). In the middle of telling him my woes he said, “Jimmy, it sounds like you don’t really believe what God has said about you.” I said, “What do you mean?” He took me to different verses in Romans 6 (vss. 2, 6, 17-18).

2 How can we who died to sin still live in it?… 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin… 17 Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

My friend pointed me to these verses and said, “You have died to sin. Sin is no longer your master. You have a new master, Jesus Christ. When you talk about your relation to sin you sound like you don’t believe what God has said. You sound like you are still alive to sin. You speak of sin as if it were still your master. You speak as if your struggle against sin were a lost cause.” He exhorted me, “Jimmy, you have a new master. His name is Jesus. You don’t have to obey sin. You don’t have to submit to it. You can get victory.” At one point he said, “Jimmy, play dead, because that is what you are—you are dead to sin.” Do you believe what God says about you? Do you believe what God says about your relation to sin? My friend, you are free! You are freed from slavery to sin. You aren’t free to do whatever you want. No. You are free to obey. You have a new master.
I can say that this conversation with my friend was one of the most important conversations that I have ever had. What I want you to see is that my friend was exhorting me to belief. What you believe effects what you do. If you believe that you are still a slave of sin, you aren’t going to make strides in your battle against sin. If you believe that your struggle against sin is a lost cause—an exercise in futility—you are aren’t going to wage war against it with any hope of victory. You will not resist the Devil for long. Why would you persist in fighting sin if you believe it is a losing battle anyway? You see, it is a battle for belief. What you believe effects what you do. What you believe about your relation to sin massively effects the way you fight against it. This is why so many Christians live in a haze of spiritual depression. They are depressed because they don’t believe what God has said about them. What you believe effects what you do. I agree, more or less, with Lloyd-Jones when he says, “If you only realized who and what you are, you would have gone eighty per cent of the way to being a complete victor over everything that assails you.” The Christian life is first and foremost a battle for belief (not just intellectual assent but true biblical belief) in the truth of God’s word.
Now this is exactly what Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:30-32.
He basically says, I would never live the sort of life I live if there were no resurrection of the dead. In other words, the life of daily death that he lived was one that naturally flowed out of a belief in the resurrection. The life he lived, the decisions he made screamed, “I believe in the resurrection!” Paul’s belief in the resurrection expressed itself in real, concrete actions. I will put it in the form of a principle: good doctrine produces righteous living. Paul’s belief in the resurrection produced radical self-sacrificial living. Radical self-sacrificial living flows out of a belief in the resurrection.
Think here about the tight connection between the Christian mind and the Christian life. What you believe effects what you do. If you believe that God is for you, it is going to effect the way you live the Christian life. If you believe that you are no longer a slave to sin, and that you have died to sin and that Jesus is your new master, it is going to effect the way you go to war against the sin in your life. If you believe in the resurrection it is going to shape the decisions you make, the way you relate to the world and the things of this world. Now here is the point I want to drive home this morning, and I think this point is clear in the text. I want to make the point by asking a question: If godliness (righteousness, right living) flows out of good doctrine, would it not follow that ungodliness (unrighteousness, wicked living) flows out of bad doctrine? The obvious answer is, Yes! Of course it is true. The fact is that what you believe effects what you do; and that cuts both ways. On the one hand, godliness flows out of good doctrine. On the other hand, ungodliness flows out of bad doctrine.
I hope you see here the importance of the mind in the Christian life.
It is why the sermon this morning is titled, “Protect Your Mind.” Why protect your mind? Because the mind determines the actions. Many people think that bad doctrine is bad for the Christian simply because it is wrong. That is one reason that bad doctrine is bad for us. Of course we want to think thoughts that are true and accurate and in accord with reality. Of course we want to think God’s thoughts after Him. But that is not the only reason why bad doctrine is bad for the Christian. Bad doctrine is bad because it results in bad living—ungodliness.
Let me give you an illustration of why bad doctrine is so dangerous. Back in the 1800’s doctors would practice bloodletting. Before modern day advancements in medicine and a greater understanding of how the circulatory system works, doctors believed that you could remove harmful and deadly viruses and infections by lancing the skin and letting the blood flow out of your body. They had wrong information. They thought you could get rid of an infection just by ridding your body of a small amount of blood. So they would cut you and let blood flow out of your body until they thought the infection or virus was out of your bloodstream. Many patients died because of this practice. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to China, worked as an assistant surgeon before going to China on the mission field. He got infected with a nasty virus while performing surgery through a small cut he had on his hand. He decided to operate on himself and lanced his finger. He passed out on the floor, and by the grace of God was found and nursed back to health. He almost killed himself unintentionally. Now we say, “Why would someone do something like that? Why would someone lance their hand in order to let more blood out of their body?” Well… that’s my point. They had bad information.
What you believe affects what you do. If your beliefs are based on bad information, you are going to make poor decisions. Once scientists came to an understanding of how the circulatory system works and of how infections infect, they stopped the practice of blood letter. This is the same with bad doctrine. Bad information results in bad decisions. This is why the mind of the Christian is so important. This is why we must be careful to have pure doctrine. This is why we must guard our minds from false teaching. False teaching affects more than your abstract thoughts. False teaching eventually affects the decisions you make. This is why we have to be in our bibles, devouring the truth.
 
1 Corinthians 15:32b  
Just consider what Paul says in vs. 32.

32 If the dead are not raised ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’

Paul is here quoting a common statement from the Epicurean philosophers. They saw no meaning to life, because they believe that there was no life after death. They argued that since life had no ultimate or grand purpose you might as well live it up, because this is all there is. It was a call to live a life of absolute reckless pleasure. The youth tell me that young people now say YOLO, which apparently means You Only Live Once. Youth nowadays (I am getting so old I can only speak of it like someone completely detached) say this before they make stupid decisions. The point of the phrase is that you need to make life as interesting and thrilling as possible because you only live once. So go ahead and take a bite of that big man’s burger without asking, YOLO! So go ahead and dump your ice cream sundae on your head, YOLO! It is a childish attempt to look at life in a thoughtful way while justifying bad manners and stupid behavior. Just as the Christian must reject Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” the Christian must also reject YOLO.
The Christian is told that the best life is yet to come. We are told not to store up treasures here on earth but in heaven. The fact is that our best life is to come and once you die you will actually step up into eternal life. It just isn’t true that you only live once. The Biblical message is that you live forever and that your decision matter because of that fact. And what Paul is saying is that if you reject the resurrection, there is absolutely no ground or basis for morality. Who cares how you live, it is all meaningless anyway. This is what the rejection of the resurrection of the dead leads to—a life of careless immorality. Do you see what Paul is saying here? What you believe effects what you do. False teaching has a corrosive effect not just on your mind but on your life as a whole.
 
1 Corinthians 15:33-34  
In vss. 33-34 Paul tells us that we need to protect our minds. And this is good counsel. If our beliefs affect the way we live—the decisions we make and the priorities of our lives—we should protect our beliefs. Consider what he says.

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 

            This saying, “Bad company ruins good morals” reminds me of a saying my mom always used to tell me and my two brothers, “Show me your friends and I will show your future.” Paul is saying that it does matter who you fellowship with. He is not saying that you can’t befriend unbelievers or anything like that. Rather, he is speaking about fellowship. The “Bad company” that Paul is referring to is most certainly the false teachers who were rejecting the resurrection of the dead. But here is the thing that we have to notice. Paul is telling the Corinthians to not fellowship with these false teachers. But why? Because false teaching “ruins good morals.” Isn’t that an interesting point. We tend to separate the two. You have your Christian mind over here and your Christian walk over here. God simply won’t let us think this way.
False teaching is serious business not just because it is wrong on an intellectual level, but because wrong beliefs produce sinful actions (ruins good morals) just as much as right beliefs produce righteous actions. And this is one of the great reasons why we are zealous to protect the purity of our doctrine; not just because we want to be right, but because false doctrine has consequences. What you believe effects what you do. And it appears from vs. 34 that this false teaching had already begun to corrupt the lives of those in Corinth. How long can you go on rejecting the resurrection without feeling a sense of meaninglessness? This is why we are exhorted to protect the purity of our doctrine all throughout the New Testament.

2 Corinthians 10:5; We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Titus 1:9; He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Jude 1:3-4; Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Think about the Judaizers in Galatia. Think about the Pharisees. Think about the false teachers that Timothy faced in Ephesus in 1 and 2 Timothy. Think about the false teachers that Jude was combating in Jude. There is one common thread that is evident in each of these false teachers—they were evil people. They were prideful, arrogant, self-centered people—most of them were driven by dishonest gain. Why? Because what you believe affects what you do. False teaching is dangerous because what you believe affects what you do. Notice how often bad morals accompanies false teaching.

1 Timothy 6:2b-5; 2 Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Titus 3:9-11; 9 Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

            I could go on and on with references which make a direct link between false teaching and ungodly living. Protect your mind. Paul actually tells us to warn a divisive false teacher twice of his error and if he does not heed your warning, have nothing to do with him. This is a near perfect parallel with Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15, “Bad company ruins good morals.” Don’t fellowship with false teachers. And we see that the negative effects of the false teaching were already having their effects on the Corinthians—their disbelief in the resurrection was already resulting in sinful actions. Paul then closes by exposing these false teachers for who they are. Paul was not afraid to say that these false teachers did not know God. It is imperative that we call false teachers for what they are. They are mutilators of the flesh. God hates false teaching and despises false teachers because they lead His people astray—not just in regard to their thinking, but also in regard to their living. The point. Guard your mind. Protect your mind. If what you belief effects what you do, you must see that the mind in the Christian life is of paramount importance. I don’t care how well meaning a false teacher may seem; have nothing to do with him or her. You have no business, for example listening to Joyce Meyer or TD Jakes or Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen or John Hagee. Stay away! Why? Because what you believe effects what you do.


[1] Lloyd-Jones, The Assurance of Salvation, 208.

~ Jimmy

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Jimmy Snowden
Jimmy serves as pastor for “Preaching and Vision” at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Previoulsy he fulfilled leadership roles in both Kansas City, Missouri and Las Vegas, Nevada. Jimmy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Hannibal-LaGrange College and a Master of Divinity degree from Liberty University.
Visit pastor Snowden’s Blog
 

A Good Outcome

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2 Corinthians 9:9-15 ESV

As it is written,
 “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.

 
Introduction:
First, here is a brief review. In the middle section of this letter, the apostle Paul has been encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ in Corinth to complete the offering that they have promised. For a number of years Paul had dreamed and promoted the need for a great collection from the primarily Gentile churches to help the suffering and primarily Jewish churches in Judea. The church at Corinth had eagerly promised to give toward the offering, and the time has approached to pick it up and take it to the needy.
After giving various words of instruction and encouragement, Paul concludes this section of the letter by telling his friends the good outcome he expects when the gift is given. In Acts Luke doesn’t tell us about the result, but there is no real reason to think that it varied from what the apostle writes in this end to the section. The Holy Spirit gave us these words through Paul, so that we could know what the Lord is able to accomplish through his people.
Many times we give to the Lord’s work, and we do not really find out the outcome of our giving. The Holy Spirit encourages all givers through these words. He uses them to let us know that our labors for the Lord are not for nothing. So then, may these words stir us to action!
 
Exposition
I.          The spring of the result (9:9-11)
The idea is that God provides for his people and expects them to show his righteous character in giving to the poor (9:9). This is important because the message of the Bible is the story of his glory. When we live for God’s glory, we fulfill God’s purpose for us, but in doing so we discover that the Lord is at work in us.
A.        God’s activity in his people (9:10).

1.         God acts consistently in the old and the new creations. In this present world, the Lord provides what is necessary to produce food (seed) and the food itself (bread). We must never think of God in a Deistic way, creating the world and then forgetting it. He is both Creator and Sustainer. He also acts in the same way in the lives of his people. He created our spiritual lives and he sustains them. The Lord is with his people. The Spirit lives in God’s people to provide us with fresh supplies of grace. Though we might feel weary and battered, he reenergizes us to keep following Christ.

Apply: This ought to provide us with assurance!

2.         God richly provides for the good works of his people. Continuing the agricultural imagery, we see that God supplies the seed necessary to do good works like giving. He increases our supply of seed, so that we can do more, and he enlarges our harvest. The Lord wants us to know that we are equipped to do great exploits for him.

Illustration: The Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior (Jdg 6:12), when he seemed anything but a mighty warrior. In the same way the Lord wants us to know our true identity in Jesus Christ and live in conformity with it by faith (cf. Heb 11:32ff.)
B.        God’s purpose in his generous provision for his sons and daughters (9:11).

1.         In an age of self-satisfaction, we desperately need to hear this verse. God makes his children rich. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3). He will meet our needs (Ph 4:19). He gives us much more than we left to follow him (Mk 10:28-30, read this carefully). In fact, everything is ours (1 Cor 3:21-23)! But, and this is what we totally must hear, God has enriched us in order that we might be generous to others.

Apply: We all need to broaden our horizons beyond our couches and recliners. God has something for each of us to do for his praise. As Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (Jn 4:35). Every good gift we have from God is an opportunity, not to please ourselves, but to advance the good news of Jesus.

2.         The Lord uses his ministers in this process (“through us”). We are part of God’s means to help his people build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12).

3.         Generosity toward Christ’s people leads to thanksgiving to God. Now, you do not thank someone unless they have done something for you. Here, we thank God for enabling us to be givers for the benefit of others.

Apply: What is our attitude towards the rich gifts that God has provided for us? Is our way of thinking being transformed so that we see our riches as means to help others? Where in your life do you have the biggest problem in this area?
 
II.        The service leading to the result (9:12-13)
A.        Two benefits of giving to meet the real needs of others (9:12)

1.         It supplies the needs of God’s people. We are doing something for the family. We should strive to recover this concept. Away with the localism and ethnic preferences of the worldly mind! Get rid of the smugness of superiority! When we give to help God’s people, we are providing for our family, which is God’s family.

2.         It overflows to many expressions of thanks to God. Notice this! We become part of God’s story in a richer way as we give and others give thanks to the glory of God. The great song of praise increases in quality and quantity. More people worship. More people worship more energetically. God is glorified in Christ as more and more people trace their benefits back to the Christ’s cross, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why do we love and give? It is because Christ loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20).

B.        The kind of praise that will come (9:13)

1.         They will praise the Lord for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the good news of Christ. When we turn from sin and trust in Christ, we confess or profess that he is our Lord and Savior. Then as new people in Christ, we begin to obey him. This change becomes clear to others in many ways. Here Paul is speaking of the generous actions that come from those who know the generous Lord.

Apply: Are you really converted? I’m not asking if you’re a religious or spiritual person. Let’s talk about the root of the matter. How are people around you seeing evidence of your new life in Christ? How is the Holy Spirit working in you to the aroma of Christ (2:15)? In what ways are you being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory (3:18)?

2.         They will praise the Lord for the generosity in sharing. Here is the reality of koinonia. True fellowship is not simply a matter of a pleasant conversation with coffee and donuts. It involves the sharing of ourselves with one another.

Apply: In our acrostic BLESS, we present the need to eat with one another. When people gather around a table together, their hearts start to open along with their mouths. Then we begin to see and comprehend the needs of each other. Do something daring! Open your heart!
 
III.       The surpassing grace that achieves the result (9:14-15)
A.        Every good work of a believer can be traced back to the grace of God (9:14; cf. Eph 2:8-10). When their gift is received, the needy believers will see the grace of God that was operating in the hearts of the Corinthians and others that gave. This would link their hearts together. When we act for the benefit of others, God uses our good works to develop unity among his people.

1.         Notice the quality of the grace operating in their hearts. It is “surpassing grace”! Aha! We have said before that the Corinthian believers have been trashed many times by people with agendas to make them look bad. Yet here the Holy Spirit says that God has given them surpassing grace. Here’s some good news for all who are in Christ. If you’re in him, you have incredible surpassing, overflowing grace from God! Oh that you by faith would lay hold of what God has given you!

2.         Notice the emphasis on the action of God. It is a gift from him. Follower of Jesus Christ, God has given you rich gifts! Open your eyes and enjoy the new creation. Live in the joy of the Lord every day.

B.        Every praise is in the context of God’s greatest gift.

1.         The identity of this gift is Jesus Christ himself (cf. 8:9). To have Christ is to have a treasure far, far richer than the whole universe. It is to have the living God in all his indescribable glory and goodness and fullness (Col 2:9-10). What kind of love is this that would give twisted rebellious people the greatest prize in the universe?

2.         The praise we all should offer – There is only one thing we can do: praise, worship, and give thanks to God! Let us join in thanking God for his indescribable gift!

~ Dave
 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
 

On A Mission

 
 

Let me raise a question about Christian missions.

 
How robust is the growth of Christianity today?   Better yet, how did Christianity grow in the first century; and how does our present growth compare with early church expansion?
I don’t have specific data but allow me to generalize from what I see, hear, and read in today’s missional world.  Early church growth was explosive while present day growth is modest.  Today’s growth ranges from moderate in parts of Africa, South America, and Asia, to dismal in Europe and America—including retractions in some settings.
Evidence of the early growth of the church was both internal and external.  An external witness came in the year 111 when a regional governor, Pliny, wrote to Emperor Trajan from his post in Bithynia (now part of Turkey) about the “contagion” of Christianity:

“For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it.  It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found.”

This report of “deserted” pagan temples corresponds to the report in Acts 19:26 where an unhappy pagan, Demetrius, charged that “not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia [present-day Turkey] this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people [from idols].”
What these accounts depict is that for fifty years—from the mid-40’s to the late-90’s—the church experienced dramatic growth in Roman regions as illustrated in the book of Acts.  And the momentum of that growth continued even into the early 4th century as the Roman Emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and made it the state religion.
Yet at some point, as Pliny noted in his report, that expansion slowed.  Jesus himself offered a comment on the change—particularly in Ephesus, a mother church in the Asian/Turkish region—when he appeared to the Apostle John about 15 years prior to Pliny’s report: “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).
Lost their first love?  Is love really so important in spreading Christianity?
Yes!  We think of Paul’s reference to his own love—“For the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14)—as a basis for his own devotion to missions.  And we see how an earlier absence of love in Judaism caused their theologians to miss Jesus as the Messiah:  “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me . . . . But I know that you do not have the love of God within you” (John 5:39-42).
Simply put, love is the basis both for launching and spreading faith.  Paul said as much to the Galatians when he called them to a “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6—see, too, 1 Corinthians 13).
Now back to our earlier question about the difference between the early growth of the church and the widespread inertia of today.  Jonathan Mangels caught my attention as a teacher with his master’s thesis on the motivation for missions.  He addressed the current motivation for Christian missions: duty.
He showed how the “great commission” of Matthew 28:19 is regularly treated in the literature and rhetoric of missions as separate and different from the “great commandment”—to love God and neighbor—of Matthew 22:37-40.  That 6-chapter separation—from Matthew 22 to 28—too readily removes missions from its motivation of love.  And in its place we find the commission turned into a duty: “Go!”
Whenever love, as a response to Christ’s prior love for us, is replaced by a responsibility to extend the truths of Christianity we run the risk of becoming coldly professional: the error of the Ephesian church.  A heart-to-heart growth, as enflamed hearts draw hungry hearts to Christ, is too readily dissolved into educational efforts, accountability checks, organizational charts, and literature or media distribution campaigns.
These instruments may be fine as long as they aren’t replacements for the “first love” that once carried the church in its dramatic growth.  Some of us in missions—a role for all Christians—may even want to invite the Spirit to give us a heart-inspection.  It’s free and very effective in changing motives!
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo.
~ Ron
 
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].
Visit Spreading The Goodness
Visit the Cor Deo Blog
 

Facts Thirty through Thirty Five

[Series Index]

A. Ward Brandenstein's To Walk In The Spirit

Part 2 – Who are we?

CHAPTER 3 continued – WHO I AM IN CHRIST BECAUSE OF WHO CHRIST IS IN ME

EXPOSITION OF THE 50 FACTS OF SALVATION

 
 
 
[learn_more caption=”CMC Editor’s Note”] In Ward Brandenstein’s introduction to chapter three he writes: “There is freedom from living a guilt-ridden life to those who have received Christ, once the person learns his true identity in Christ. All of the amazing facts occur at the moment that a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour!” Towards the close of his introduction to the 50 Facts he adds: “All of the facts are positional truths. Some may not be apparent as an evident experience at the moment of salvation. (What the believer is to do as a practical result of knowing who he is will be considered under the last section of walking in the Spirit.) These wonderful facts of salvation allow us to know who we are in Christ.” In our online presentation of these 50 facts of salvation we will consider one or more facts per week. We trust that you will be blessed as you follow along Ward Brandenstein’s unfolding of these precious truths.[/learn_more]  

“There is freedom from living a guilt-ridden life to those who have received Christ, once the person learns his true identity in Christ. All of the amazing facts occur at the moment that a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour!” – Ward Brandenstein

 

FACT 30 –  MEMBER IN CHRIST’S BODY

I Corinthians 10:17, For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.

I Corinthians 12:12,13, For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by (in) one Spirit were we all baptized into one body… and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:27, Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Romans 12:4,5, For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Ephesians 1:17a,22,23, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory… hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 2:14,16, For He is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one (the church), and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.  And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

Ephesians 3:3a,6, How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery…That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.

Ephesians 4:4, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

Ephesians 4:12, For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:15,16, But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ; From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 5:23, For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body.

Ephesians 5:30, For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

Colossians 1:18, And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.

Colossians 2:17, …but the body is of Christ.

Colossians 2:18,19, Let no man beguile you…intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from whom all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

Colossians 3:15, And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

The truths concerning the body of Christ were given by God to be written in the Scriptures uniquely through the Apostle Paul and will not be found in any New Testament books written by other writers.
There has been a great difference of opinion amongst various church groups as to whether the body is to be taken to mean either the invisible body or the local church as the body.  When describing the church as the invisible body, the intent seems to stress that the church is a vital organism consisting of all those individuals since the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost, continuing until Christ removes the church from the earth at the rapture.  This view would focus primarily on the church from the divine viewpoint.  Such a view is consistent with the truth that Christ is the head of the body as stated in Colossians  2:19.  On the other hand, some believers would emphasize that the placement of the members in the body is to be seen primarily in its practical sense; therefore, their emphasis would be that the local church is the body of Christ.  The difficulty with this view is the obvious disparity of not having enough members in a small church to allow Christ to accomplish all that needs to be done in His work throughout the entire world.  There is also the reality that in each local church, there is often the situation that the local church may admit someone to its membership without the person’s being truly born again and without divine placement being involved, making the person a member of the local church but not of the body of Christ.  Neither of these two views adequately explains the concept of the body of Christ.  In I  Corinthians 12:13, the Holy Spirit is the person who places the believer in the body of Christ; therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit in placing the believer in the body of Christ is most compatible with the view of the church in its universal aspect throughout the entire church age, but its manifestation may be seen in the local church.  Since the book of I Corinthians was written to a local church, some of the members who comprise the body of Christ will be evident there in Corinth, but not all.
The church as the body of Christ fulfils both the divine intent through all believers throughout all time amongst all nations, as well as fulfilling the practical aspect as it is evidenced in the local church.  The local church has a direct and important part to play in building up the body of Christ through missionary and discipleship ministries throughout the world.  In addition, the influence of the local church under the headship of Christ extends beyond any given time period. Every member of the body of Christ today is directly related to the work of faithful members of previous generations, as well as to those who succeed us.  Thus each individual can rejoice and rest in the truth that Christ has a place for him in the body of Christ today, and through walking with the Lord, the individual can discover that place in the body, as well as his accepting those who are serving along with him as equally placed by the Lord, as they, too, walk with Him.
 

FACT 31 –  NEW CREATION

Galatians 6:15, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (or literally, creation).

II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 4:24, And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Colossians 1:27, To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 3:10, And have put on the new man, that is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

A new creation refers to the new life principle resulting in the Christian believer’s being something different from what he previously was in Adam.  There appears to be a close correlation between the truth that the believer in Christ is a new creation and the truth of Christ’s indwelling the believer with Christ’s life being lived out through him.  The new life which Christ lives through the believer may result in a radical transformation in the life of the new believer immediately after his being born again.  Other converts may not see such a dramatic change in their living, but may experience a long, arduous journey of growth before much change is evident.  Regardless of the degree of difference in individual experiences, the reality of being a new creation in Christ, of having the new man, is equally true for all believers at the time of the new birth.  By accepting this truth, the individual can be freed from the feelings of frustration that often come when comparing one’s own life-experience with someone who seems to be doing better.  There may be the temptation of one’s rejecting the truth of Scripture because of insufficient proof of change in one’s own experience.  The solution is in accepting the Scripture and in being patient through the growth process as one studies the Word and grows in Christ in obedience to the Word.  Each person’s growth rate is unique to himself.
 

FACT 32 –  PARTAKER OF THE DIVINE NATURE

I Corinthians 10:17, For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.

I Peter 4:13, But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

I Peter 5:1, The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.

II Peter 1:3,4, According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; By which are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Hebrews 3:14, For we are made partakers of Christ, if (or, since) we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

Hebrews 12:9,10, Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence.  Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.

Being partakers of the divine nature (or, of Christ), raises the level of what happens in the believer at the time of his new birth and identification with Christ from being ego-centric to being Christo-centric.  The Father’s chastening is regarded as accomplishing God’s higher purpose of holiness in His children, and suffering is seen as a part of God’s process that results in the believer’s sharing in Christ’s glory throughout eternity to come.  Sharing in Christ’s glory becomes a reality at the revelation of Christ in glory at His second advent.
 

FACT 33 –  PERFECTED FOREVER

Hebrews 10:9a,10,12,14, Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.  By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God, For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

God’s will, that His Son should come to offer Himself as the one and only sacrifice for sins, provided everything needed for the salvation of all who trust in Him.  Thus, there is nothing the child of God can do or needs to do to be acceptable in God’s presence.  Thus, any exhortations to the believer to be perfect (See Matthew 5:48.) are for the benefit of the individual, i.e., for the individual to enjoy the fruit of the perfection already provided through Christ’s offering. When we understand our perfection as it relates to God’s salvation, it affords the believer the benefit of rest because of that finished work of Christ in securing redemption of mankind (Hebrews 4:3,9-11).
 

FACT 34 –  PLACED IN CHRIST

Galatians 3:27, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

I Corinthians 1:30a, But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus.

I Corinthians 4:15c, For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

I Corinthians 16:24, My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

II Corinthians 1:21, Now He who establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God.

II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature (creation); old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  KJV.

Romans 6:3, Know ye not that, as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?

Romans 8:1a, There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:1, Paul…to the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  (Also Ephesians 2:6)

Philippians 1:1, Paul and Timothy…to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi…

I John 3:24a,b, And He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him.

I John 4:13, By this know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.

I John 5:20, …we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.

There are approximately 115 references in the New Testament which use the phrase in Christ, or in Him, or in the Lord.  The reality of the believer’s being placed in Christ is inherent in each of the passages cited above.  When the truth of being baptized into Christ (See No. 3 above, Baptized in the Spirit, p. 9) is considered, along with the believer’s union with Christ (No. 50, United with Christ, p. 19), we become aware that being in Christ permeates the total life of the believer and has a direct bearing on his “walk” as the Spirit of God leads him.  After his salvation, the believer no longer lives his life to himself alone, but lives in view of Christ’s accompanying him in all that he does.  Christ’s presence is with him throughout his entire earthly walk.
 

FACT 35 –  PREDESTINED TO CONFORMITY TO CHRIST

Romans 8:29, For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

The goal that God has established for His children before they enter His family by means of the new birth is that they are placed on a course the instant they are saved that will, at the end, conform them (or, fill them out) to the exact likeness to God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  The reason God has set the believer on such a course is so that Christ and His children will have an identity in character when they stand together before God with Him in glory.  On that occasion the word of Hebrews 2:13 will be fully realized, …Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me.
The truth of Christ’s being the firstborn among many brethren refers directly to the fact of the resurrection, inasmuch as Christ was the first one to come forth from death by means of resurrection.  By Christ’s resurrection He provides the principle of life by which the Christian lives.  (See Romans 8:2,10.)
Next Week: Facts 36+
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein

Used with permission.
[Series Index
 
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.
 

Proverbs: Chapter Six – Watch out son!

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 6″] 1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
3 then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
4 Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
12 A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers
(Proverbs 6:1-19 ESV)
[/learn_more]

..

 Solomon: Son be cautious.

Proverbs 6:1–5 “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, 2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, 3 then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. 4 Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; 5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.”

 
One of the dangers of reading Proverbs rather casually, is that it can easily degenerate into being interpreted as merely moral or ethical advice. That then can degenerate further into Imagining that Christianity itself is just ethics and morals – do the right thing and you’ll have acceptance with God. New Covenant or not, being a Christian is just following the “new” rules Jesus brought. Forgetting the types and shadows of Christ throughout, so that you miss the Cross in it all.
On the other hand, some ignore Wisdom literature like Proverbs, setting the ethics and morals aside completely, because they’ve come to know grace and reconciliation to God in the imputed righteousness of Christ and don’t know how to balance the two. They live in a painful, unresolved tension between grace and works (not a true tension, but one bred of misunderstanding) and so leave those portions alone because they fear falling into works salvation. They do not grasp how these precious texts give us insight to how holiness is lived out in the power of the Spirit. So we do not want to ignore the morals and ethics altogether, or we miss some of the gifts God has treasured up for us in them.
In the text above we get an opportunity to explore what happens when two ethical principles seemingly collide.
Solomon warns his young son first of all to avoid committing himself to a “neighbor” (some translations “stranger” – not a family member) in an arrangement like co-signing for a car loan or a mortgage, etc. Not being the guarantor to someone else’s debt. Not taking their responsibility on himself. As we discussed in our sermon yesterday, this is over-involvement that is unhealthy. But it often appeals to us either because of pride – “I can be the rescuer” or perhaps out of a misguided sense of obligation in friendship. Obligation which in this case is out of proportion given the relationship.
So what is one to do in such a case? Isn’t it ethical to keep one’s word and go thru with it (once agreed to) even though one realizes it is a bad idea? We can’t just renege on it can we? We have to be men and women of our word – being honest and upright.
Solomon does not counsel failing to follow through even though it might be very costly and detrimental. What he does counsel is to do everything you can to re-negotiate, and put yourself out of harm’s way. And that, is humbling and embarrassing. Yet how many of us would rather suffer the consequences than humble ourselves sin such a matter?
How many have become engaged, and know full well that there are warning signs all over the place that it is not a good match. And yet, the invitations have gone out. The rooms booked. The shower gifts opened. And rather than suffer the embarrassment, an ill-advised marriage headed for disaster is launched.
How powerful is this principle? According to Matt. 14:9 – it boxed Herod into beheading John the Baptizer. And in Judges 34, it resulted in Jephthah sacrificing his daughter, even though the Word of the Lord was clear on the subject of human sacrifice.
The text is calling for nothing less than a Spirit enabled death to self in extraordinary terms.
Beloved, if you have entered into an improper or foolish agreement, then do everything you can within Biblical bounds to extricate yourself from it. Some things ought never to be promised, and then certainly never carried out. Oh that Jephtha had done this. His foolish, careless, rash oath to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house ought to have been  recanted of and NOT fulfilled. It was time for him to humble himself, rather than keep his pledge to do that which God never would demand, and at the cost of his daughter’s life.
Now this is good and sound but please – DO NOT stop at the ethics! If you do, you’ll miss the point. Because it is in precisely this kind of tension that we can see the root of the Gospel being exposed – the wonder of how God can be both just, and the justifier of sinful men. How can He remain holy and still save us? Not by being paralyzed by seeming collision between the two. But in the miracle of the substitutionary death of Jesus at Calvary. Christ our surety. Christ our guarantee. Christ Jesus, the answer to the REAL dilemma of the ages. In Him, the resolution of the cosmos is possible.
What a glorious Savior He is!

~ Reid

Next week: Chapter Six part Two
Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Commending Cor Deo’s UK Ministry

 

CMC is thankful to CorDeo!

As most of you know CMC is honored to be able to re-publish articles by Drs Peter Mead and Ron Frost. We have appreciated the partnership we share in the Gospel and the building up of God’s saints.  Peter and Ron are the founders of Cor Deo which is based in the United Kingdom. It exists to multiply believers “after God’s own heart.” We here at ChristMyCovenant.com encourage our friends from the UK, Canada, the US and beyond to join with them as they respond to God and share His heart with others! – Your CMC Editors
 
Cor Deo

What does Cor Deo offer?

Cor Deo offers a variety of events and programmes.  The full-time training programme and ministry team lasts for half a year and is described in detail on the Full-Time Programme tab.  We also invite all to join us for:
Conferences – In June of 2011 we ran Delighted by God: Heartfelt Christianity with guest speakers from UCCF (Mike Reeves) and Oakhill Theological College (Peter Sanlon) at All Souls, Langham Place.  In 2012 we were joined by evangelist, Glen Scrivener.  The Delighted by God audio files are available on the Resources page.  Future Delighted by God events to be confirmed.
Evening classes – Join the team for a series of evening classes, details to be confirmed for the next series.
One-day seminars – One-day seminars, dates and venues to be confirmed.
Week-long intensives – Join the mentors for a Monday to Friday intensive taste of Cor Deo training.  Ideal for those who cannot step out of work for half a year, but would love to study the Bible, theology, history, ministry, in a one-week Cor Deo package.  There are two Intensives scheduled so far in 2014.

 

Resources

Cor Deo Audio Resources

 
Delighted by God 2012 (London)
 Ron Frost – The Freedom of a Christian – Click here to listen (and here to download).
Glen Scrivener – Gospel-Shaped Evangelism – Click here to listen (and here to download).
Ron, Glen and Peter – Panel Discussion (Apologies for lower sound quality) – Click here to listen (and here to download).
Peter Mead – Glorious Gospel Ground Zero – Click here to listen (and here to download).
 
 
 
Delighted by God 2012 (Bristol)

Ron Frost – Luther’s Theology of the Cross – Click here to listen (and here to download.)
Peter Mead – The Greatest Seeker – Click here to listen (and here to download.)
 
 
 
 
 
Free!  Galatians Series 2012

Part 1. Free! (Peter) Galatians 1:1-2:10 … Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Part 2. Crucified! (Ron) Galatians 2:11-3:29 … Click here to listen(Click here to download)
Part 3. Abba! (Ron) Galatians 4 … Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Part 4. Serve! (Peter) Galatians 5:1-15 … Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Part 5. Fruit! (Ron) Galatians 5:16-26 … Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Part 6. Harvest! (Peter) Galatians 6 … Click here to listen (Click here to download)
 
Delighted By God 2011

Mike Reeves – The Heart-Winning God – Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Peter Mead – Deeply Satisfied? – Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Ron Frost – A Description of Christ – Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Peter Sanlon – The Transformative Power of the Bible – Click here to listen (Click here to download).  Peter has allowed us to share his article, first published in the Churchman Journal, “The Embers of Preaching and the Flames of Piety.” (Please note, to update the bio info, Peter has completed his PhD and is now teaching at Oakhill Theological College.)
.
Habakkuk Evening Class
Session 1: Click here to listen to session (Click here to download)
Click here to open the notes for this session
Session 2: Click here to listen to session (Click here to download)
Click here to open the notes for this session
Session 3: Click here to listen to session (Click here to download)
Click here to open the notes for this session
Session 4: Click here to listen to session (Click here to download)
Click here to open the notes for this session
 
Other Audio Resources
 Here is a message Ron preached on Ephesians 4:17-24 –
Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Here is a message Peter preached at a conference for full-time evangelists on “partnership in ministry”  –
Click here to listen (Click here to download)
Here is a message from James entitled “Got Religion” that Peter preached on the occasion of a baptism – Click here to listen (Click here to download)
 

Cor Deo Written Resources

Peter’s Articles:
Preaching & Heart-Level Hermeneutics
Ron’s Articles:
Discipleship Bible Reading (also available in Italian)
Bible Reading Resource:
Ron published Discover the Power of the Bible in 2000.  In it he included a brief introduction to each book of the Bible as an appendix.  Peter used these as a starting point for a church project in 2009.  These brief introductions may be helpful as we invite you to join us in reading and responding to God’s Word.
Book Introductions: Genesis – Esther
Book Introductions: Job – Malachi
Book Introductions: New Testament

Online Resources

Peter writes regularly for preachers on www.BiblicalPreaching.net
Ron writes weekly theological posts on www.SpreadingGoodness.org
Peter & Ron are both featured on UCCF’s www.TheologyNetwork.org

Cor Deo Speakers

Cor Deo mentors are available for preaching, seminars and special events. Please contact us to for more information.

Our Guiding Values

  1. Our calling is to participate in the glory of God’s triune love.
  2. We live in response to the revealing and redeeming work of the Son.
  3. We are captivated by God’s love, which the Holy Spirit pours out in our hearts.
  4. Our guiding resource is God’s Word, which sanctifies us in his truth.
  5. As God transforms us we share his heart with others, both near and far.
  6. We embrace the biblical priority of life to life ministry.
  7. We esteem and serve the Church, Christ’s beloved body.

 
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Gospel Assurance II

 [The following content was not edited for online publication
but is provided by Jimmy Snowden “as-is”.]

 
1 Corinthians 15:2
Studies in 1 Corinthians
Introduction
With this message we will be finishing a sermon I began last week on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Let me remind you of what we talked about last week. First, I laid forth for you a definition of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.
We established the fact that this definition consists of two points:

1. “All those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power… until the end of their lives.” In other words, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints teaches that a true born again Christian can never lose his or her salvation.

2. “All those who are truly born again… will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.” In other words, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints teaches us that those who place true saving faith in Jesus Christ will persevere in the faith until the end.

To put it another way:

1. The first point says, all those who have truly embraced Christ with true saving faith can never lose their salvation.

2. The second point answers the question, how do you know that you have placed true saving faith Christ? The fact is that there is a type of faith which does not save. I call it counterfeit faith.

Many people think they are truly saved and have been born again simply because they have prayed the sinners prayer or because they have asked Jesus into their heart or committed their life to Christ or have been baptized. But the Scriptures never point to these things as evidence that you have placed true saving faith in Christ. I believe that the majority of those who profess to be Christians in America are not truly born again. Yes, they may have prayed to receive Jesus, but they have not placed true saving faith in Christ Jesus.
Last week I asked the question, what are the marks of true saving faith? How can you know that you have placed true saving faith in Christ? How can you know that you are truly born again And this is an important question because only those who have placed true saving faith in Jesus Christ can have assurance that they are eternally secure in the grace of Christ. Last week I laid forth 5 different marks of true saving faith. This morning I will add two to that list. Let me remind you of the five marks from last week.

1. True saving faith always leads to a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17).
2. True saving faith always leads to love for both God and the people of God.
3. The one who has embraced Christ with true saving faith lives in obedience to the commandments of Christ.
4. The one who has embraced Christ with true saving faith hates sin and cannot live in it unrepentantly.
5. The one who has embraced Jesus with saving faith puts his trust not in his obedience or good works but in the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Number five is especially important because many become confused when we talk about the marks of true saving faith. Let me be clear that in these verses I am not asking the question, “How can I be saved?” The answer to that is simple, Repent, believe, and be baptized—throw yourself on Christ and Christ alone. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Rather, the perseverance of the saints asks the question, “How can I know that I am already saved—how can I know that I have placed true saving faith in Christ.” So, as I have quoted many times before, salvation is by faith alone, but the faith that saved is never alone. Thus far we have seen that true saving faith always evidences itself in a changed life characterized by love, obedience, and repentance. No… not perfect love, obedience, and repentance. But the one who has embraced Christ with true saving faith will live a life characterized, to one degree or another, by love, obedience, and repentance. If these things are not true of you, regardless of whether you have prayed the sinners prayer, been baptized, or asked Jesus into your heart, you can have no assurance that you are truly born again. Let’s look at the sixth mark of true saving faith.
6. True saving faith always perseveres to the end.
You know what it perseverance means. It brings to mind a marathon. 26.2 miles. No one can run a marathon without perseverance. It communicates the idea of endurance and persistence in spite of difficulties. True saving faith always perseveres. Another way to put it is to say that true saving faith never finally falls away from the faith. R.C. Sproul puts it this way, “If we have it, we never lose it. If we lose it, we never had it.”[1] In other words, if you are truly born again you will endure in the faith till the end. However, if you do not endure to the end, it is evidence that you were never a true child of God in the first place. This mark of true saving faith is taught all throughout the Scriptures. This is the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians 15:2.

2 by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Do you see what Paul is saying. You are saved by the Gospel of Christ “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.” The one who does not hold fast to the word—the one who does not persevere—has believed in vain. Paul is not here teaching that you can lose your salvation. Rather, he is saying that perseverance is a mark of true saving faith. The one who does not persevere in the faith was never truly born again in the first place. John communicates something of the same truth in 1 John 2:19.

2 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

John is here speaking of those who fell out of fellowship with the people of God. John tells us that those who fell away “were not of us.” In other words, they were never truly born again. He says that if they were truly born again, “they would have continued with us.” You see, perseverance is a mark of true saving faith. But he goes on to say that they went out “that it might become plain that they are all not of us.” The one who does not persevere in the faith was never truly born again in the first place. Let me walk you through a number of other passages which emphasize this same truth

Matthew 24:9-13; 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Colossians 1:21-23; 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Hebrews 3:12-14; 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

All of these passages clearly communicate that the one who does not persevere to the end will not be saved. These passages do not teach that the people of God earn their salvation by persevering. They also do not teach that the true child of God can lose his or her salvation by not persevering. Rather, these passages teach that the true child of God always perseveres to the end. This is a chief mark of whether or not you have placed saving faith in Christ or not. So lets look at these passages.
Matthew 24:9-13. Jesus is here telling His disciples of the persecution and deception that is about to come upon them.
In this passage we see three groups of people and how they respond to this persecution. Those who fall away, those who are led astray, and those who persevere to the end. Jesus is clearly saying that only those who persevere till the end will be saved. Those who fall away or are led astray will not be saved.
Colossians 1:21-23. Here Paul says that Jesus will present you holy and blameless, that is without the spot and stain of sin, before the Father if indeed you continue in the faith.
The clear implication is that if you do not continue in the faith you will not be holy and blameless before the Father. In other words, the one who does not continue in the faith—persevere in the faith is still in their sins.
Hebrews 3:12-14. Paul issues forth a warning against falling away  from the living God in vs. 12.
He then tells us how we can guard against falling away in vs. 13, encourage one another daily. He then tells us of the danger of falling away in vs. 14. The word “if” factors large in this passage. He says that we become partakers (sharers) of Christ if we hold our original confidence firm to the end. The clear implication is that the one who does not hold his confidence to the end has not become a partaker in Christ. He is not saying that the one who does not hold his confidence to the end loses his salvation, but that he was never truly born again in the first place. The evidence that you have placed true saving faith in Christ is that you persevere to the end. If you have it you never lose it. If you lose it you never had it.
Maybe you have known someone who has fallen away from the faith.
One of my best friends in the faith fell away about six years ago. He was one of my closest friends in the gospel for a number of years. He was radically converted. He was a student of God’s word. He was a passionate preacher and teacher of God’s word. He loved the people of God. I remember co-leading a youth group with him and watching him weep as he praised God for them and the work that God was doing in them. I had such sweet fellowship with him in the things of Christ. One day I got a call. My good friend had rejected the faith. I said immediately, “I have to call him.” I was told that he had thrown he got a new cell phone and he said that he didn’t want anyone from church to have his new number, especially me. He is now a self-avowed atheist. He has nothing to do with God and nothing to do with the church.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Is he a child of God? The average Christian in America would say “Yes” without hesitation. “I know that he is a Christian because he prayed a sinners prayer; he was baptized; he ministered the gospel with a sincere heart; I know that he is truly born again. I know that he is no longer walking with the Lord, but I know that he is saved.” But are these biblical evidences of true saving faith? I would argue that this is not biblical logic. God says in no uncertain terms that true saving faith is a persevering faith. The one who does not persevere proves him or herself to have never been born again. I cannot say for 100% sure whether or not my friend is still in his sins or if he is a child of God. However, I can say that I am very very confident that he is still in his sins. I can’t say for sure, but I can speak with confidence. I don’t know for sure, but I am pretty sure. If he is truly born again, he can have no assurance that he is. The fact is that perseverance is the mark of true saving faith. The one who does not persevere is not saved. He may be truly born again, but he can have no assurance that he is.
Let me close with two exhortations in regard to the perseverance of the saints.
You have a part to play in your own perseverance.
God will not keep you in the faith if you are not keeping yourself in the faith. God will not keep you in His love as you sit by passively. If you will not keep yourself, you will not be kept. This is the way God perseveres His people; by empowering us to persevere ourselves. And you must feel the weight of the warnings given in the new testament. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God… for we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” If you don’t persevere in the faith you are not saved.
You don’t earn salvation by persevering.
Nonetheless, perseverance gives evidence to the genuineness of your faith. Those who don’t persevere to the end will not be saved. Hence the word “if.” So you must take the Christian life seriously. You cannot have this mindset that God keeps His people saved without means. No. He keeps you saved by empowering you to keep yourself. You must keep yourself in the love of God (Jude 21). You must work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). You must abide in the vine (John 15:6). You must walk in the Spirit and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 8:13; 13:14). You have a part to play. So some of you need to take this Christian life more seriously than you do right now. You need to stop playing church, stop playing with sin, and stop slacking off in your relationship with God. You need to understand that your perseverance in the faith is not going to happen while you take a forty year spiritual nap. You have to pursue Christ. You have to abide in Him. You have to hold fast to the word of God. You cannot just play church and go through the motions.
Understand that God empowers all of His kids to persevere.
If you are truly born again you will persevere. Jesus says that he will not lose one of all that the Father has given Him (John 6:39). He says that you are in both His hands and in His Father’s hands and that no one can pluck you out of either of their hands (John 10:28-29). This is what Sprugeon called “God’s full nelson hold” on the Christian. So rest in His love and grace. Not only will you persevere in good times, you will persevere in the face of persecution. I know that many Chrsistians fear persecution. They say, “I am afraid that if persecution comes, I will fall away.” Here is the good news. If you are in Christ, you will not fall away. God will empower you. Yes, you must keep yourself in the love of God (Jude 21), but you must also remember that Christ keeps you (Jude 1). Yes, you must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). But you also must remember that it is God who is at work within you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints both comforts and exhorts us.
It comforts us by letting us know that God will certainly keep you until the end. However, it exhorts by saying to us that if you do not persevere to the end, you are still in your sins. It tells us, You can’t fall away, rejoice. And yet it tells us, Don’t fall away! But think of it Christian. If you are truly in Christ, God will keep you in His power and grace. This a doctrine which exhorts and comforts at the same time, it simultaneously calls you to intense action and calls you to rest in the grace of Christ. God keeps His kids, every single one of them. Jesus will not lose even one of all that the Father has given Him (John 6:39). And yet God ordains both the ends and the means to those ends. He has not just ordained that you will be kept, but He has ordained that He will keep you by empowering you to keep yourself. And one of the greatest ways that God keeps you is by warning you of the dangers of not persevering to the end.
So the Christian must feel ever so secure in the hands of Christ and yet he must also feel the urgency of his need to abide in Christ. You must feel the full weight of both. You must feel the full weight of His faithfulness to His promises—that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6); but you must also feel the full weight of your responsibility in that keeping process.  Will leave you
7. The one who has embraced Christ with true saving faith repents not just of sinful actions but of damnable doctrine.
In other words, the Christian is not one who simply submits to the commandments of Christ but also to the truth of Christ. Listen to what Jesus says in John 10:3-5 about His sheep.

3 The sheep hear his [the shepherd’s] voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.

Jesus is clearly the shepherd. Christians are the sheep.
Just as we saw last week in 1 John, Jesus is not here telling His sheep to listen to His voice. No. He is making an observation about His sheep—He stating what is already true about them. Jesus’ sheep hear His voice and follow. But not only is that true, it is equally true that Jesus’ sheep do not recognize the voice of strangers. Here Jesus is referring to false teachers who teach damnable doctrines. Now Jesus is not saying that His sheep will have perfect theology. Not a single one of us has perfect theology. We all have theological blind spots. Nonetheless, Jesus does say that a true sheep will not follow a false teacher. This is just what John says in 1 John 4:

5 They [false teachers] are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

“They” in the context refers to false teachers who were teaching that Jesus was not fully human. This is damnable doctrine. John says that these false teachers are from the world. Who listens to them? God’s people? No. God’s people don’t recognize the voice of strangers. Rather, the world listens to them, because they speak the lingo of the world. The people of God, in contrast, listen to God’s holy apostles. Notice once again that John is not commanding us to listen to Christ. Rather, he says, “Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.” He is making an observation. What we find here in John 4 is another way of saying what Jesus said in John 10—My sheep hear My voice and follow Me; they do not recognize the voice of strangers and thus do not follow them.
Now some will ask at this point, “Is it possible for a true born again Christian to embrace damnable doctrine (or a false gospel or some sort of damnable heresy)? I will answer in the same way that I answered the question, “Is it possible for a Christian to live in unrepentant sin.” My answer is, “Yes, but only for a season.” The greatest example of this is the book of Galatians. Certain false teachers had crept into the church in city of Galatia and were teaching a false Gospel. They were saying that faith in Christ is not enough for salvation. They taught that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ plus the works of the law. They believed that one must place their faith in Christ to be saved, but they didn’t believe that faith in Christ was enough. This went directly against the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And yet we know from Galatians 1:6-7 that many of the Christians in Galatia were embracing these false teachers and their false Gospel.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

There is no question that the Galatian Christians were beginning to embrace this false gospel. So, yes, it is possible for a Christian to embrace damnable doctrine. However, jump to Galatians 5:2-3. In Galatians 5 Paul tells us what is true of them if they do not repent of this false gospel. Consider what he says.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

So what is true of the one who does not repent of this false Gospel?
Paul tells us. “Christ will be of no advantage to you,” you are “obligated to keep the whole law,” “you are severed from Christ,” “you have fallen away from grace.” What is Paul saying? He is saying that the one who continues to reject the biblical Gospel is still in his sins and is not saved. There is a warning here. Paul is not here teaching that a Christian can lose his or her salvation by embracing a false gospel. Rather, he is saying that there is only one gospel with the power to save—that is the Gospel which promises salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. If anyone rejects this Gospel, they can’t be saved. The clear implication is that the one who does not repent of this false gospel was never saved in the first place, regardless of his or her profession of faith. It must also be said that Paul was confident that God’s true sheep in Galatia would repent of this doctrine.

Galatians 5:10; I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.

So when Paul was warning the Galatians in the first part of the chapter he was not wringing his hands. No, he was confident “in the Lord” that they were going to repent of their false doctrine. Why? Because he knew that they were truly born again. And let me say as a matter of fact that every true Christian in Galatia did repent of this false doctrine. How do I know this? Because those who didn’t repent were severed from Christ. No true Christian can be severed from Christ. No true Christian can lose his or her salvation. It can never be said of any true Christian, “Christ is of no benefit to you.”
So this leads to the question, “How long can a true born again Christian embrace damnable doctrine?” I don’t know. For a season. Paul is clear in Galatians 5 that the one who doesn’t repent of this false gospel is severed from Christ. A true Christian cannot live in a damnable heresy. We may also ask, “What constitutes a damnable doctrine?” Simply this, doctrinal “errors so grave that they threaten either the essence (esse) of the Christian faith or the well-being (bene esse) of the Christian church.”[2] This is a mark of true saving faith; it repents of damnable doctrine. The sheep hear the voice of Christ. They do not recognize the voice of strangers.


[1] R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?, 197.
[2] R.C. Sproul, “None Dare Call it Heresy” in Tabletalk.

~ Jimmy

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Jimmy Snowden
Jimmy serves as pastor for “Preaching and Vision” at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Previoulsy he fulfilled leadership roles in both Kansas City, Missouri and Las Vegas, Nevada. Jimmy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Hannibal-LaGrange College and a Master of Divinity degree from Liberty University.
Visit pastor Snowden’s Blog
 

God Is Able

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2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work. 

 
Introduction:
In chapters eight and nine of this letter, the apostle Paul is encouraging the Corinthian believers to complete their promised collection that will be part of a large gift for the needy believers in Judea. As he provides this encouragement, he gives the largest teaching section in the NTS about giving. What he says here is applicable not only to giving financially, but also to the giving of ourselves for the benefit of others. Remember the B in our acrostic BLESS.
In today’s message, the apostle wants his readers to understand that God is with us in this spiritual action. We must always keep this idea in our minds about the Christian life. Our Lord and Savior has not left his beloved bride, the church, to struggle alone in the world. Instead, he outfits us for ministry for the glory of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit partner with us to fulfill his purposes. So then, let us drink in the encouragement that the Lord gives us to give in these words of the Holy Scriptures.
 
Exposition:
God is ableI. The source of power to give for others (9:8a)
A. God himself has the ability.

1. God’s direct work in his people is a theme in this letter (1:4, 9-10, 21-22; 2:12, 14; 3:3, 6, 18; 4:7; 5:18-19; 7:6; 8:1; 10:4; 12:9; 13:4).
2. As people who live after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, we ought to act in faith on the reality of God’s power in us (Eph 1:18-23).

B. God energizes his people with overflowing grace. The idea of “overflowing” or “abounding” is found six times in chapters eight and nine and the word “grace” is found ten times! The Holy Spirit clearly wants us to grasp what new covenant life should be.

1. God is behind every grace that we experience. “The phrase ‘all grace’ is quite broad in scope, covering the material blessings and the spiritual motivation to share them” (Garland). It is common for people to focus on the situation they are in now. The Lord wants his people to approach life in a different manner. You have what you have because of God’s grace. God wants you to give out of what he has currently given to you. God is able to give you the strength, compassion, kindness, and gentleness to give for his glory and the good of others.
2. We ought to seek to live with overflowing grace. This is what our walk with the Lord should display. This requires trust that the Lord overflows with grace and desires us to live accordingly. The same overflowing grace that is ours in justification (Rm 5:20-21) is also available as we give for the good of others.

Illustration: Consider the trials we had with our parade float this year. The polar bear seemed to do quite well. But the igloo had to be rebuilt at least three times. One of the supports for the mural fell off along the route. The painting on the back was blown off it. The canopy over the equipment came apart. A couple penguins were given to spectators. But at the end, at the judges’ stand, our float was awarded “First Prize” and “Best of Show”. My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, that is what will happen to us. We might be bruised and battered and seemingly about to fall apart, but because we are in Christ and have his righteousness credited to us by grace through faith, we will be judged “First Prize” and “Best of Show”. Show that confidence in your daily walk with the Lord.
Apply: If you do not yet know the Lord, come to Christ and receive overflowing grace!
 
II. The kind of power to give for others (9:8b)
A. Powerful grace for all situations

1. The situation immediately before the Corinthian church was completing their promised contribution for the Judean believers—Christians that they had never met and were unlikely to meet in this world. Consider how we have given over the years to help people in Africa, India, and the Caribbean! Such giving has tested our faith and stretched our thin financial resources. We have chosen to do without in order that others might be helped. The church in Corinth was facing one of those situations. Paul wants to them to think about this question: Is the grace of God powerful enough to enable us to give generously to help other believers?
2. The American church finds itself in desperate need now. Many churches are facing hard times merely to keep their doors open. Many churches have trimmed back their giving to missionaries to the point of embarrassment. Most seem powerless to go out into the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Many are wandering from the faith because they refused to live by faith many years ago. Yet the word of God says, “In all things”! It is time to pick up the shield of faith and take the fight to the enemy of our souls.

B. Powerful grace at all times
1. God always provides us with the resources to give. Remember the earlier example of grace in the Macedonian churches (8:1-5). “It is no secret what God can do. What he’s done for others, he’ll do for you.”
Comment: When you read a book of the Bible, don’t forget what you read in previous parts when you reach the middle of the book. The Spirit of God builds truth on truth. Once in a while, read a whole book at a time, and I’m not referring to Obadiah, Philemon, 2 & 3 John, and Jude!
2. There is never a time that we cannot be generous to others. This can seem like an impossibility! But the word of God says, “Always”. Here is encouragement for when you pick up your pen to write your check. It is also encouragement for the times when you physically feel that you have nothing left to give.
C. Powerful grace to supply all we need
1. Paul borrows the word that is translated by the phrase “everything you need” from the Greek Stoics and Cynics. They used it to talk proudly about the person who was self-sufficient apart from others and quite self-content. Paul uses the word differently. For Paul, sufficiency come from God’s resources and dependence upon him. In other words, it is “Christ-sufficiency. Also, “everything you need” does not simply mean “everything you need for yourself” but “what you need for yourself and to give to others.”
2. Our problem is with the “what we need”. God doesn’t supply a simple, formulaic answer to a question about “how much do I need?” Instead, he expects us as his adult sons and daughters in Christ by the word and the Spirit to figure it out. What he does what us to put into our discernment is his ability to supply our true needs (Ph 4:19).
Apply: This area of life can provide us with a very fruitful topic of conversation with our Father in heaven! It is something to “pray in the Spirit” about. And how much it reveals the need for our Great Intercessor, the Lord Jesus!
 
III. The purpose for power to give to others (9:8c)
A. God gives us his power in order that we might do works for the benefit of others. Whatever we have received is to be passed on as we do good works. This is at the base of the new creation (Eph 2:8-10). (Please quote all three verses together!)

1. We absolutely must understand this. Sadly and to our own detriment, western Christians have read the Scriptures in far too much an individualistic way. Certainly, each of us must personally and individually trust Christ as our own Lord and Savior. However, when we are saved, we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13). From that point on, we are to act for the benefit of others, especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ. God does not give us grace to enjoy ourselves in isolation from others or enrich us that we might satisfy ourselves. Any spiritual gift that you receive is not given that you might be praised and honored by others but that you might put it into action for the glory of the Risen Christ.
2. The Lord has a mission for each of us. Every believer’s mission is shaped by the written word of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, your place in the temple of the living God, your spiritual gifts and personal abilities, and the events of God’s providence. Since we are in an affluent suburban setting, how this mission works out will be very different than being in a rural or urban setting.

Apply: Invest the next few weeks in identifying the needs in our community. During the last two weeks, we have demonstrated our presence here. Next, we need to make use of it for the good of many others outside.
B. God desires that we might overflow or excel with beneficial actions.

1. Ah, this is where it becomes very difficult! To talk about doing good to others and actually doing something might seem to stretch our feeble resources to the limits. I think I can hear someone silently objecting, “Pastor, I just can’t do more!” Uh, I can understand what you’re saying. But let me ask you, have you ever read Numbers 13-14? They failed to trust the Lord and were doomed to die in the wilderness!
2. Our text requires the supernatural, all-powerful grace of the Sovereign Lord! You and I cannot overflow in every good work apart from the almighty power of the Ascended Christ. Thankfully, that grace is ours, if we will believe the Lord.

Apply: From first to last, the real Christian life is a life of faith in Jesus Christ—crucified, risen, ascended, and coming again! Our problems are not outside us and the solutions inside us. Our problems start in our hearts, and the solution is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn your eyes upon Jesus!
~ Dave
 
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.
 

What If?

 
 

What if every Christian loved God
above all else; and, with that,
loved his neighbor as himself?

 
What if?Would friendships be stronger?  Marriages sweeter?  Families healthier?  Churches more winsome and dynamic?  Businesses staffed with Christian employees more productive?  Governments of Christian-majority nations more just and trustworthy?  Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! The potential for change is unending.
So what holds us back?  Why not start today?  The only thing to stop it happening is me.  And you.  And our Christian friends.  And their friends.  So we have a clear pathway to follow: I start today; and you start too; and we share with our friends, and they share with other friends; and soon Christianity will once again bring life and meaning to the world.
It sounds pretty utopian, I know. 
I can’t change you, nor our friends, nor their friends.  But why not start with us and see what happens next?  There’s nothing to stop us apart from an already defeated enemy whose sole device is distraction, and our habits of enjoying his distractions.  Which leads to the next question: “How to?”
God does it himself by changing our hearts.  As the Bible reminds us, apart from him we can do nothing.  His work is to “pour out God’s love in our hearts” and with that love our motives change.  This change represents God’s Spirit with and in us as in a marriage union—see 1 Corinthians 6:17-20.  So the biblical language of love isn’t some sort of ethereal love—a “willful devotion and obedience”—but a real “I care for you and find you delightful” sort of love that reflects a sound marriage.
So—knowing that his stirring is already at work in us—we turn to him and say, “Lord, I’m available . . . right here, right now!”
We will also do well to add an invitation for him to search us, to know our hearts, to see if any false values are blocking the Spirit’s work in us.  Only he can deal with spiritual snags.
Next we pick up the Bible and read it from the heart—to know him better.  Love needs a real person—not a noble idea, a loose sentiment, or a Christian duty—in order to form and grow.  Duty and disciplines are for workers and employees.  Love is a response to a lover by a lover.
The Bible gives us access to God’s loving heart: to his personality, his values, his distastes, his desires. 
There we meet the triune Father-Son-and-Spirit God who is drawing us, teasing us, intriguing us, and opening the “eyes of our heart” to see more and more of his glory.
I realize this is not so easy for those of us who have been “trained” as Christian: taught to view our affirmation of creeds as faith; and to see our obedience to moral traditions as signs of spirituality.  Jesus comes, instead, as a living presence.  He is not a creedal icon or a moral litmus, but one who invites us to a “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6).  Only when this personal connection is made will we recognize that church creeds and traditions are products of faith—in the measure the original authors knew and loved the Lord—but never its basis.
Conversation is the true measure of our faith: we speak with Christ in response to what he shares with us.  After we meet him in person the Bible comes alive to us.  Pages that were once opaque now become lenses we look “through” to see the one who speaks in the written words.  As in any human relationship, we respond to the personalities of those who write to us and we visualize them as companions.
Prayer, then, is our response—our hearts speaking in return to the one we hear, see, and care for.
Now, let’s tie the “what if” to the “how to”. 
Both come together whenever we ask, from the heart: “Lord, how can I please you?”
Immature faith may ask that question once a week, on Sunday.  Mature faith asks it every moment of the day.  We ask it when we call a friend, knowing that Christ’s love for our friend is greater than our own.  We ask when we turn to our electronic devices; when we watch a movie; when we make an appointment, plan a trip, or spend our money.  We ask because he loves us and we love him.
I’m ready to go there today.  You too?  Be sure to invite your friends.  His love is calling.
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo.
~ Ron
 
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].
Visit Spreading The Goodness
Visit the Cor Deo Blog
 

Facts Twenty Six through Twenty Nine

[Series Index]

A. Ward Brandenstein's To Walk In The Spirit

Part 2 – Who are we?

CHAPTER 3 continued – WHO I AM IN CHRIST BECAUSE OF WHO CHRIST IS IN ME

EXPOSITION OF THE 50 FACTS OF SALVATION

 
 
 
[learn_more caption=”CMC Editor’s Note”] In Ward Brandenstein’s introduction to chapter three he writes: “There is freedom from living a guilt-ridden life to those who have received Christ, once the person learns his true identity in Christ. All of the amazing facts occur at the moment that a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour!” Towards the close of his introduction to the 50 Facts he adds: “All of the facts are positional truths. Some may not be apparent as an evident experience at the moment of salvation. (What the believer is to do as a practical result of knowing who he is will be considered under the last section of walking in the Spirit.) These wonderful facts of salvation allow us to know who we are in Christ.” In our online presentation of these 50 facts of salvation we will consider one or more facts per week. We trust that you will be blessed as you follow along Ward Brandenstein’s unfolding of these precious truths.[/learn_more]  

“There is freedom from living a guilt-ridden life to those who have received Christ, once the person learns his true identity in Christ. All of the amazing facts occur at the moment that a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her Saviour!” – Ward Brandenstein

 

FACT 26 –  INDWELT BY GOD: FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT

John 14:16,17a,e,f, And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth…but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:20, At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

John 14:23, Jesus answered…If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 17:23, I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

I Corinthians 3:16, Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

I Corinthians 6:19, What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Romans 8:9, But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

Ephesians 3:17a, That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.

Colossians 1:27b,c, …Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I John 2:27, But the anointing which ye have received of Him (God) abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you;…ye shall abide in Him.

I John 3:24, And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him.  And by this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit whom He hath given us.

I John 4:4, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

I John 4:12,13, No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:15,16, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.  God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

The truth of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is understood by many believers as a reality in their lives based on some of the foregoing Scripture passages, and yet many of those who know that truth do not realize the teaching of the indwelling presence of God, the Father, and God, the Son, as well.  The difficulty arises from two considerations.  First, because of the truth of God’s being omnipresent, it is difficult for us to understand how it is also possible to think of God’s abiding in us.  But just as God is infinite in relation to time (i.e., eternal) and that He reveals Himself as the I AM (to Him everything is in the eternal present tense), so He is infinite in regard to space or location and is able to be everywhere at once.  Thus, He indwells all believers at the same time no matter where they may be.  The psalmist showed his realization of this in Psalm 139:7, when he asks, …Whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  Then in verse 8 and following, he affirms that God is present wherever he would go.  In a similar sense King Solomon asked the question at the dedication of the temple as recorded in I Kings 8:27,

But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have built!

The problem we have of understanding God’s indwelling presence in each believer can only be resolved as we accept in faith the truth, as presented in the Scriptures, that affirms that God does so indwell us.
Secondly, we have difficulty realizing that Jesus indwells each believer because we tend to regard Jesus as being limited to being present only where He is in His physical presence.  Since Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, it is difficult to think of His dwelling in the believer on the earth while He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  Nevertheless, in the realm of the Spirit, Jesus is able to be both at the right hand of the Father in heaven and indwelling the believer at the same time.  With God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’s abiding in the believer and the believer’s abiding in God, there is that blessing of the believer’s nearness to God and God’s nearness to him or her which provides comfort and assurance throughout one’s entire earthly sojourn.
 

FACT 27 –  JUSTIFIED

Galatians 2:16c-f, …even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

I Corinthians 6:11b-e, …ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 3:23,24, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:28, Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Romans 5:1, Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:9, Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Romans 8:30, Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

A very common explanation of the word, justified, is given as “just as if I’d never sinned”.  But that definition fails to convey the real impact of the truth concerning justification.  The words, justified and justification are from the word in the Greek, dikaios, which is also translated in other Scriptures as being righteous or having righteousness.  There are approximately 70 times that the various words occur in the New Testament that have just as the basic part of the word.  In addition to these seventy uses, there are more than 140 uses of the same Greek words in the New Testament with the word, rightrighteous, and other similar words with right as their base.  The resulting benefit to the believer of being justified is that God regards the believer as having Christ’s righteousness. The believer, therefore, can experience the benefit in the practical realm as he or she presents his or her members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom. 6:13).  Thus, righteousness also becomes a reality in the experience of the child of God.
 

FACT 28 –  KEPT BY GOD

John 17:11d,e, Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:15, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

I Thessalonians 5:23,24, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.

Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:5, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 4:19, Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

II Timothy 4:18, And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jude 1, Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God, the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Jude 24, 25, Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

What assurance! What peace!  What a foundation for rest, to know that it is God’s desire and purpose that we be preserved throughout our present life to be presented blameless before Him at His appearing!  The basis for our assurance is God’s commitment to Himself to accomplish everything that is needed to present us blameless before Him at His appearing.
God has placed so much value on that which He has determined for our destiny in glory that He will jealously guard us on our journey in time.  (See Exodus 34:14 and II Corinthians 11:2.)  God’s keeping will necessitate His correction and chastening of us as He deems necessary according to Hebrews 12.  Even though God chastens us, He is committed to His higher purpose of preserving until Christ’s appearing those of us who who belong to Him.
 

FACT 29 –  LIGHT IN THE LORD

Ephesians 5:8, For ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light.

Ephesians 5:13, But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatever doth make manifest is light.

I John 2:8, Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

I John 2:10, He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.

Being light in the Lord places the Christian in a position that provides him with the choice of living according to his new privilege, i.e., departing from darkness.  This truth is similar to the earlier one in which the children of God are also children of the light, p. 19.  In this instance of being light in the Lord, however, the implication is that darkness is equated with hating a brother.  Being light in the Lord makes it possible for the believer to love his brother and thereby to be protected from occasions of stumbling. 
Next Week: Facts 30+
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein

Used with permission.
[Series Index
 
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.
 

Proverbs: Warnings Against Unfaithfulness (III)

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 5″] 1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two- edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray
(Proverbs 5:1-23 ESV)
[/learn_more]

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 Solomon does not sugar coat harsh realities.

Proverbs 5:3–6 “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.”

 
We have noted that Proverbs uses the imagery of the “forbidden woman” as a type of all temptation to sin. The picture is especially poignant for a young man, but we do not want to lose the impact of it for both men and women in all sorts of temptation. The idea is, that it is alluring and appeals to the natural appetites, but contains the element of drawing us toward what is not rightfully ours.
The 6th verse contains a massively important insight.  Temptation always includes this element of failure to consider the end of what it is proposing.
The first part of that diversion is found in that It offers “an” end – some pleasure, some satisfaction, to supply something which we imagine is missing and “ought” to be ours – but not THE end. It obscures, distracts us from seeing the ultimate end of succumbing – death.
Here is why the appeals of sin and temptation have such an apparent sincerity to their claims – they are deceived themselves. The arguments they use are plausible and seemingly filled with good will. But the deception of blindness is there. And we must bring the Light to it to understand. We must bring Christ into the situation. We must ask: How does what we are contemplating accord with Who He is and what He is about in the world? This is the question which must ever be in our hearts and minds.
We must also ask – as Believers – How does what we are contemplating accord with who WE are IN Christ? With how our mission as His ambassadors in the world fits with this act, or attitude, or pursuit?
This theme of considering what is fitting given who Christ is and who we are in Him is found throughout Scripture – and it brings us back to think about ultimate ends versus immediate ends. If I have planned a trip to California as a final destination where my family is and my job is and all the things I truly love are, but someone has said if I go to New York City I will be really happy for a day – I have to ask myself, can going east get me west? No. Obviously not.
Can any sin move me closer to Heaven? No.
Can any sin move me closer to the image of Christ? No.
Can any temporary pleasure which will be immediately followed with days or even years of guilt, shame, regret and the ruinous impact on other’s lives if not my own really be worth it? No! And yet that is the very decision we often make. No wonder one old wag said that “sin is the divorce of reason from the will.” In it, we will what is in the final analysis unreasonable.
So the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:2–3

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

We don’t want to overstate this, but more important than asking “does the Bible say this is sin or that is OK?” is asking – how does this fit with who I am as God’s image-bearer? Is it “proper” among the saints? Does it fit? Will it take me where I am supposed to be going?

~ Reid

Next week: Chapter Six
Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
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Reid Ferguson
Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Delighting in the Trinity

 

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith

 

Dr Peter Mead
A Review by contributor
Dr Peter Mead
Whatever else we may be or do, we present God to others.  We present God in our preaching of the Bible, and we present God as we live our lives.  A critical question, then, has to be this: which God do we present?
Mike Reeves’ new book, The Good God, from Paternoster, is exactly what the doctor ordered for the church today.  And not one of those miserable doctors that prescribes some yucky fluid in a plastic bottle.  I mean one of those doctors that suggests a break in the sun and a feast of good food to help you feel better from all that ails you.  The church today needs to bask in the sun and feast on the truth offered so gloriously and accessibly in this little book.
Mike introduces the reader to the God who is loving, giving, overflowing, relational.  With his light and accessible manner, Mike shares a profound taster of just how good God is.  Clearly Mike loves God and it shows throughout.  Some books on the Trinity can come across as a technical manual of heresies to avoid.  Others as an exercise in premeditated obfuscation.  This little book sizzles with energy, addresses the issues with clear insight rather than excessive technicality, and stirs the reader’s heart to worship, to delight, and sometimes even to laugh in sheer joy.
Mike’s biblical references scattered throughout don’t come across as a defensive attempt to prove a point, nor as a theological citation method that distracts the reader.  Rather they subconsciously stir the reader to want to get back into the Bible and see this good God afresh.  As you’d expect from a Reeves book, there are also enjoyable windows into church history as key voices from folks famous, and not so, pop up to share a thought along the way.
The book is shaped, well, um, trinitarianly.  An introductory chapter invites the reader into the pre-creation love relationship that is the Trinity.  Then the book looks at creation, redemption and the Christian life (as in, Father, Son, Spirit, although brick walls can’t be built between the roles of each in each chapter).  The book closes with a chapter that asks who among the gods is like you, O LORD?  I won’t give away the end of the book by sharing Mike’s answer, but I know if you start, you’ll want to read to the end anyway!
I will say this though, the advance of anti-theist “new atheism” gets a clear response in the final chapter.  Oh, and for one final twist, just when you feel like there’s nothing left to add, he also addresses three of the big issues that Christians sometimes throw out in opposition to an emphasis on God’s loving relationality. Superb.
This book is a must read and a must share.  As you read it you will think of others you wish would read it – from atheists to strident single-author-reading Christians. But most of all, I think you will be thankful that you read it. I am genuinely excited about how God will use this book in the years ahead!
To order your copy in the UK, click here. In the US click here. Note – the book is released in the USA by IVP under the title, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith.
~ Peter
You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo
~ Peter
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]