Gospel Assurance

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

 
1 Corinthians 15:2
Studies in 1 CorinthiansThis week we are hovering over 1 Corinthians 15:2. This week we will be looking at it from a broader theological perspective. We are going to be focusing in particular on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, because our passage here in 1 Corinthians 15 teaches the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Although this may be a non-starter for some of you I am going to start this sermon off with a definition of this doctrine.
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.
This definition of the perseverance of the saints really consists of two major 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. It can be summarized this way.

1. Every person who places true saving faith in Jesus Christ can never cease to be a redeemed child of God.

2. But how do you know if you have placed true saving faith in Christ? Perseverance in the faith. All of those who place true saving faith in Christ persevere to the end. The clear implication is that those who do not persevere to the end never placed true saving faith in Christ. They may have prayed a prayer or made an emotional decision, but they never placed true saving faith in Christ.

Two things are true about you if you are a true child of God:

1. You can never lose your salvation and

2. You will persevere in the faith till the end of your life.

It is tempting to go ahead and lay out a defense of the fact that a true child of God cannot lose his or her salvation. However, I already did that. You may remember that I preached a sermon on the first point about 4 months ago when we were in 1 Corinthians 13:8; “Love bears all things… endures all things.” In that sermon I emphasized this fact that the one who has truly been born again can never lose his or her right standing with God. I stated that the same God who had the power to save you has the power to keep you saved until either you die or Christ comes back. I pointed to many passages to establish my point. Although I am tempted to rehash the arguments I made in that sermon, and add a few more, I want to move along to this second part of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints because that is what the subject matter of 1 Corinthians 15:2 is all about.
We will now be focusing on the second part of the doctrine of the perseverance of the faith.
And this second part asks the question, “How can I know that I have placed true saving faith in Jesus Christ.” Now this is an important question to ask, and its important because the Scriptures teach that there is a type of faith (or belief) which does not save. I personally call it counterfeit faith, because it resembles saving faith in some ways. James talks about this counterfeit, non-saving faith in James 2:14-17.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Here James talks about someone who professes to have faith in Christ but does not produce good works.
James asks the question, “Can that faith save him?” The clear implied answer is “No.” This is why he goes on to say that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Here James is not saying that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ plus works, such that one must earn salvation by adding good works to their faith in Christ. No. This would contradict what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” What then is James saying? He is saying that a faith which does not produce the fruit of good works is not a saving faith. Saving faith always produces good works. This is why many say, Salvation is by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone—it is always accompanied by good works. So James here talks about a faith which cannot save. A faith which does not result in good works is a faith which cannot save.
So it is important to know that there is such a thing as a faith which cannot save.
Many Christians do not know this. I was never taught this while I was growing up—and I grew up in the church. I was taught that if a person prayed a sinners prayer or merely professed to be a Christian, they were truly born again regardless of how they lived their life. But this just isn’t biblical. There are many who think themselves to be saved and are not. They think that they are truly born again because they prayed the sinners prayer or because they made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ or because they asked Him into their heart or because they have been baptized or because they go to church or because they read their bibles and pray. But James here clearly states that true saving faith is always accompanied by good works. And it doesn’t matter if you prayed a prayer or asked Jesus into your heart or made a commitment to follow Him or have been baptized, if your faith does not produce good works, you have not placed true saving faith in Jesus Christ.
So you see why this question is so necessary.
We know that all of those who place true saving faith in Christ can never lose their salvation, but how can you know that you have placed true saving faith in Jesus Christ? And I must say that this is not just speculative Christian theology. No, this meets you right where you are at. You need to be asking yourself if you have embraced Christ with true saving faith. It is my contention that the overwhelming majority of those who think themselves to be saved are in fact not—they may believe the intellectual claims of Christ, they may have made a commitment to follow Jesus, they may have been baptized, but they have not placed true saving faith in Christ. So we need to ask, how can you know that you have placed true saving faith in Christ? Or to ask it in another way, what are the distinguishing marks of true saving faith? The Scriptures give us many ways to identify true saving faith. With the time that we have left I will list the different biblical marks of true saving faith.
1. True saving faith always leads to a changed life.
If you have embraced Christ with true saving faith you will have a changed life. One preacher said it well, a faith which does not change you is a faith which does not save you. This is why Paul says,

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus speaks of salvation as a “new birth” (John 3). The one who has been born again hasn’t merely made a decision to follow Jesus. The one who has been born again has been given a new nature. This is what Ezekiel 36 is all about. When God saves a person He takes out the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. The heart refers to who you are at the very root of your being, your nature. How can you be given a new nature and yet be left unchanged. The one who has truly embraced Christ with saving faith will have changed life. So what will be different about this new life that you have? That leads me to the second and third marks of true saving faith.
2. True saving faith always leads to love for both God and the people of God.
Because you have been given a new nature you now love the things you used to hate and hate the things that you love. The one who professes to be a Christian and yet does not love Christ, is not truly born again. Do you love Christ—do you love God—or have you only come to Him for fire insurance? Do you delight in God? Because you have a new nature you have new affections. But not only does the Christian love God, he also loves God’s people. This is just what John communicates in 1 John 3:14-15.

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

What John says here is extreme. Many do not like the straightforwardness of it and so they try to dumb it down or explain it away. We must be content to take God at His word. John says what he means here. He says that the way that we know we have passed out of death into life is that we love the brothers. He says that the one who does not love the brethren abides in death and doesn’t have eternal life in him. Notice that John is not here commanding us to do anything. Rather, he is telling us what is already true of you if you are a Christian. He is not exhorting the people of God to love each other and to not hate each other. Rather, he is making a declaration—if you are a child of God you most certainly already love God and His people, and if you don’t, you are not a child of God. The one who has embraced Christ with saving faith is a new creature with a new nature—a nature which loves God and His people. Think on these things. Do you love God? Do you love His people. Don’t fool yourself. Let God search your heart. If you do not love God and His people, you are still in your sins—you have not “passed out of death to life.”
3. The one who has embraced Christ with true saving faith lives in obedience to the commandments of Christ.
I have to be bold here. I know that some of you will have a knee jerk reaction against this. But you have to understand that this is biblical. When I say that the the genuine Christian lives in obedience to the commands of Christ I do not mean that the genuine Christian lives in perfect obedience to the commands of Christ. However, I will say that obedience will characterize your life if you are a genuine Christian. If obedience to the commandments of Christ does not characterize your life, you are not a Christian. This is just what John say sin 1 John 2:3-6.

3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Once again, many either dumb the teaching of this passage down and explain it away or they outright neglect it. But John says what he means and he means what he says. Notice once again that John is not exhorting the people of God to do anything. He is simply making a observational statement. He is not telling us what to do; rather, he is telling you what is already true about you if you are a Christian. In other words, he does not say, “If you want to know God, you must keep His commandments.” Rather, he is telling us what is true about those who do know Him. And what is a distinguishing mark of those who know God? They obey His commandments. They live in obedience to His word. The one who says that He knows God but doesn’t obey His commandments is a liar. His profession is false.
We don’t like passages like this because we want to think that everyone we know, our family members, friends, and neighbors are on their way to heaven. I want to ask you, do you live in obedience to Christ? Is your life characterized by obedience? If not, you are not a Christian. I don’t say this to beat you up or because I enjoy watching you squirm. I ask you this because you need to know whether you are born again or not. You need to know where you stand with Christ. I know that you may have prayed to receive Christ. I know that you may have asked Him to come into your heart. I know that you may have been baptized. But none that means a thing if you do not keep His commandments. Are you born again? If you have placed true saving faith in Christ, you will live in obedience to His commandments. Now we know that the Christian will not live in perfect obedience to the commandments of Christ because John just said that “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (John 2:1). So John is not teaching sinless perfection here. However, he is saying that the one who has embraced Christ with saving faith does live 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.
If you are in Christ you are a new creature with a new nature. As a new creature with a new nature, you no longer love the things you used to love. The sin you used to love and cherish now makes you nauseous. If God has given you new life you are miserable when you sin. This is ironically often times one of the most encouraging signs that God has done a work in your heart—that you are miserable in your sin. Have you ever felt defeated by sin and you are miserable because you can’t seem to get victory over it? Rejoice! Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who mourn… blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” You are demonstrating that you are a new creature in Christ.
Would an unbeliever who is dead to the things of God be miserable in their sin? No. Unbelievers delight in their sin. But the Christian says, “I hate this sin. I want to please God. I want to live for His glory, but I just can’t get victory over this.” Rejoice in your misery. Paul does tell us in 2 Corinthians 6: that he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” Some people want to say that the Christian life should be characterized by nothing but joy and others that the Christian life should be characterized by nothing but sorrow. Joy should be the consistent note of the Christian, although the Christian will experience sorrow over sin as well. Sometimes they come together. You can rejoice even as you are filled with sorrow, because your sorrow gives evidence that you are sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit—your hatred for sin gives you evidence that you are not spiritually dead. Consider what John says in 1 John 3:6-9.

6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Once again, John is not telling us to do anything.
Rather, he is describing what is already true about you if you are a true born again Christian. If these verses do not describe you, you are not born again—you are still in your sins and you need to embrace Christ with saving faith. So what is true about the Christian. Well… the Christian cannot make a practice of sinning. John is not commanding us to not make a practice of sinning. He is telling us that a true child of God doesn’t make a practice of sinning. He takes things even one step further in vs. 9 by telling us that the true child of God “cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” John is not here teaching Christian perfection. That would contradict what John said back in 1 John 1:8, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” What he is saying is that the Christian, because He has been born of God, cannot live a life of habitual unrepentant sin. Can you live in unrepentant sin. Let me list a few sins. Lying, cheating, drunkenness, sexual immorality, greed, etc. Can you live a life of habitual unrepentant sin?
Some of you I am sure are asking, Can a Christian live in unrepentant sin at all.
The answer is yes, but only for a season. We of course can always point to David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed in battle to cover up his sin as an example. Or we can point to Peter’s three denials. However, you will notice with both David and Peter that the did not live in this unrepentant sin. When God sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David for his sin, how did he respond? Conviction, brokenness, and repentance. Just read Psalm 51 to see how David responded to God’s rebuke through Nathan. David fell into unrepentant sin for a season but God granted David repentance. The same was true with Peter. Peter was broken over his sin. Not long after Peter sinned we see him preaching the Gospel to thousands of Jews at Pentecost and then rejoicing that he was counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ’s sake. Both David and Peter evidence that the Christian can fall into gross sin. However, both David and Peter also evidence the fact that the Christian can’t stay there. The genuine Christian is miserable in his sin. The genuine Christian repents of his sin. The genuine Christian cannot live in sin, and if he should live in sin, God will discipline him just as he did with David and Peter.

6 the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

This is an amazing passage, isn’t it. God disciplines those he loves. The one who is left without discipline is not a son, but an illegitimate child. If God does not discipline you when you pursue sin, you are not a Christian. God disciplines those He loves. Do you have this confidence, that God will not let you alone in your sin? So the Christian fall into unrepentant sin, but only temporarily.
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.
Next week I will be adding to this list, but I wanted to end here because I don’t want you to misunderstand what the basis of your hope and confidence are before God. Your hope should not be in your faithfulness or in your obedience but in Christ. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This morning I have been answering the question, How can you know that you have embraced Christ with saving faith. I have not been answering the question, “How can you become a Christian.” I have been answering the question, “How can you know that you are genuinely born again.” The basis of your confidence before God is Christ and Christ alone. It is important to distinguish between the root and the fruit. You are to be rooted in the cross. And the evidence that you are truly rooted in the Gospel is that you will produce the fruit of love, obedience, and repentance.
But your hope is to be in Christ and in Christ alone.
You are not to put your hope in your performance or in your godliness. In other words, you don’t become a Christian by being godly. No… the only way you can be a child of God is by placing your faith in Christ alone. But the question is, how can I know that I have placed true saving faith in Christ. Well… do you live in obedience to the commands of Christ, do you love God and His people, do you repent of your sin? So what should you do if these passages we went to do not describe you? There is only one thing that you can do, embrace Christ with saving faith. Throw yourself upon Him as your only hope. Fruit follows saving faith. Good works flow out of saving faith. They are the result and not the cause of saving faith.
Next week we will continue to answer the question, “How can I know that I have placed true saving faith in Christ?” I will add one or two more answers to the list of answers that provided this morning, and we will turn our attention to 1 Corinthians 15:2.
~ 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.
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The Cheerful Giver

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2 Corinthians 9:1-7 ESV
1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 
Introduction:
cheerful giverThe idea of giving is one of the great themes of the good news (cf. Jn 3:16). It pulses through the true Christian way of life as we imitate the God who gives and gives and gives in an overflowing fashion. This second letter to the Corinthians talks much about the generous nature of new covenant ministry. Our Father is the God of all comfort; he makes us stand firm in Christ; he has put his Spirit into our hearts. Our Father wants us to live in joy and love; he has given us greater glory than the old covenant could give; he has made us part of his new creation; he has made us his temple in which he lives; he comforts the downcast and enables us to do the unexpected. God is at work in us in a generous way!
In the same way, our Father in heaven wants our giving to reflect his giving. He wants us to give in a generous and cheerful manner. Let us all remember that giving means more than financial contributions, which is the subject here. There are a number of “four letter words” that can be joined with giving, like love, hope, time, work, self, pray, and of course, cash.
In our previous message from this chapter, we learned of two ideas or principles that should affect the way we give: the principle of organization and the principle of the harvest. Today, we come to the third idea—the principle of cheerfulness.
 
Exposition
Three guidelines to promote cheerful giving
I.          Cheerful giving should be an individual matter that is settled in privacy.
A.        Like many parts of the Christian way of life, our individual acts connect with those of the local group we are members of.

1.         The collection was the gift from the entire congregation in Corinth. The contribution from each one would be part of the whole. It is like when we take our offering for the needs of others before the Lord’s Table each month. What each person decides to put in becomes part of the fund that we use to help one another.

2.         Yet the amount each one gives is decided individually. It is not something that is decided by the Lord, by an apostle or any other minister, or by the congregation. It is a private, individual decision. This is consistent with Paul’s earlier teaching in 1 Cor 16:3.

B.        This teaching agrees with other aspects of the Christian way of life

1.         God has given us earthly riches for which we are individually responsible to use for his glory. Each of us should review what we can do to use worldly wealth to lay up treasures in heaven. But this is your private duty. We must respect the privacy of others.

2.         God has made the church, the body of Christ, a free society, in which its individual members must agree to work together for the glory of God, the benefit of others, and the common good. In financial matters, no tithe is prescribed that we are obligated to present. Each family unit decides what it can contribute to the work of the Lord.

Apply: The gospel ministry in this place continues because believers in Jesus freely and privately decide to give that it may continue. Your giving shows the glory of Jesus in a heart transformed by gospel grace. That is why we haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have any group visit you “suggesting” how much money you ought to give. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!
 
II.        Cheerful giving requires us to decide what to give.
A.        The Lord expects us to think about what we give.

1.         The word translated “decided” points to a settled decision. The person thinks through the issues and makes what he/she thinks is best.

2.         This means that cheerful giving will not be impulsive giving. Too often people are emotionally raped by pictures of the suffering and by heart-breaking stories. In response, they make pledges to soothe their jangled emotions, and it can appear to be cheerful giving, as they feel relief. But they are not doing it out of joy, but out of a sense of guilt that they still have much while others are suffering. Too often, such pledges are not fulfilled.

B.        The Lord wants us to avoid negative actions as we give.

1.         He does not want us to give reluctantly. We should not feel inward sorrow when we give. We should not have personal affections for money—like it is our friend and giving it is losing a dear friend. Money is a tool that we can use to honor God and help others. Reluctance and cheerfulness are not partners.

2.         He does not want us to give under compulsion. If the Corinthians did not complete their collection promptly, then they might feel compelled to give to avoid embarrassment. Since all our giving should reflect a generous, willing heart, any feelings of compulsion must be avoided. “Everybody else is giving, so I guess I have to give also!” Feelings of being compelled and cheerfulness do not coexist.

Apply: As you give of yourself, your time, and your money, do not give because you want to protect your reputation. Give because you have decided as an adult son or daughter of God that this is a way to be a partner in the work of the gospel. Give because you want others to enjoy the glory of the Lord. Give because you want to demonstrate something of God’s generous giving.
 
III.       Cheerful giving will put God into the process.
A.        The idea of God loving a cheerful giver is rooted in the OTS.

1.        Under the law covenant, every seventh year was the time for cancelling debts. During the previous years a poor man may have become deeply indebted to someone. But when the seventh year arrived, all debts were cancelled. Since this was true, some might be reluctant to lend to the poor as the seventh year approached. “It is unlikely that I’ll be repaid before the seventh year, so I won’t lend to a poor man.” Instead, the Lord encouraged the people to give generously to the poor, because he would bless them in all they did (Deut 15:1-11).

2.         In the OT writings, the same idea is found in Prov 22:9. The wise person will look at others with a generous spirit, because they are confident that they will be blessed by the Lord for sharing their food with the poor.

B.        By the Spirit, Paul expands this idea.

1.         God loves a cheerful giver; he delights in people who show his character by giving generously to others (cf. Heb 13:16).

2.         All this should impress us with how much this new covenant age is to be a time of joy! When a legalistic spirit rules in the hearts of people, they place a high priority on rules, on acting properly, and on making sure “everybody gets what they deserve”. The Spirit in the new covenant transforms people who live according to it to be people of cheerful generosity. Joy is a high priority for the Holy Spirit and those who are filled by him (Gal 5:22; etc.)

Apply: This week we have many people who will serve the Lord in our Vacation Bible School. Some will serve by teaching classes or by helping the teachers of the classes. Some will serve by contributing snacks for the children and food for the picnic. Some will serve by being at the picnic and seeking to make new friends there. Some will serve by cleaning up during VBS and immediately after it at 12:15 on Friday. Let each one give themselves cheerfully!
~ 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.
 

Two Types of Leaders

 
 

A leader with Christ’s heart differs
from leaders in the world
as light differs from darkness.

 
Jesus taught as much and lived as such.  Think, for instance, of how he loved all those he led.  Worldly leaders, by contrast, love goals and achievements.
Think too of the final measure of Christ’s loving leadership: he moved resolutely to his death for the sake of his followers.  Yet worldly leaders regularly ask their followers to die to a healthy lifestyle in pursuit of strategic opportunities, bottom line profits, more recruits, and a host of other soulless ambitions.
While Jesus characterized his true followers as those who love the Father and share a love for each other most world leaders withhold their affections from followers.  And if such leaders affirm their group it comes as a motivational stir: an approval based on performance.
There are endless contrasts to be made.  Jesus grants his disciples full access to family membership and eternal life with him.  A worldly leader measures a person’s worth by his or her current productivity and that value lasts only for as long as a contract is in place.
Jesus was devoted to the quality of his disciples’ growth and their spiritual health while worldly leaders prefer quantitative data in measuring success.  And with that they treat staff as resources to be managed rather than companions to be cared for.
So here is my question. 
I'm the CEO - You shut up!Why do so many Christian ministries—churches, mission organizations, Bible colleges, and care organizations—embrace the world’s form of leadership?  Why this misguided faith?  Did Jesus get it all wrong?  Or do we need a rethink?  Do we, perhaps, even need new hearts?
Let me mention a couple of tangible examples of ungodly leadership.
I’m familiar with a Bible college that fired its director of Information Technology.  All the staff were professing Christians and he was not charged with a moral fault.  Yet a day came when he was fired without warning.  In the event he was escorted to his office by campus security, told to collect his personal items under close supervision, and then escorted off campus as the critical office logins were all changed.  I’m told it was pretty brutal, yet it followed the world’s standards for dismissing IT specialists.
On hearing this story I reflected on how Jesus handled a truly failed disciple, Judas Iscariot.  On the evening Judas went out to betray Jesus—with Jesus knowing what was coming—Jesus was a stubbornly compassionate leader.  He washed the betrayer’s feet and fed him the bread and wine of the last supper.  Mercy and dignity were offered to the end.
I also know of a youth pastor whose ministry was deep, and fruitful.  He had a young family so after his early morning meetings with students he would return home to be with his wife and children.  Then he launched his ministry “day” when the youth were available after school was out.  He ministered 50 or more hours a week.  Yet a couple of elders—both effective leaders in their world settings—told him that as a church employee he was required to keep 9 to 5 business hours in his office on top of any of his early morning and late evening ministry activities.  When he realized he was merely a church “employee” this pastor moved on to a new setting.
Jesus, in his ministry, told his disciples, “I no longer call you servants but friends.”  In similar terms he offered himself as a bridegroom seeking to capture his bride’s heart: a lover with his beloved rather than an employer with his employees.
Why, then, do we endure leaders who aren’t actually Christ-like?
Could it be that we treasure programs more than we treasure people?  Or that we aren’t as Christian as we think we are?
Most of us know some very successful Christian leaders whose leadership is worldly rather than Christian.  For such leaders isn’t it time to repent?  Or, perhaps, to resign from Christian ministry.  Another world needs their values, not the church.
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
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Facts Twenty Two through Twenty 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 22 –  HAVING ACCESS TO GOD

Romans 5:1,2, Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, By whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:18, For through Him (Christ) we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 3:9a,11,12, And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery…According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus, our Lord, In whom (Christ Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.

Hebrews 4:14,16, Seeing, then, that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 10:19,22, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

We are able to come into the Father’s presence as often and as long a time as we need to because Jesus is the believer’s great High Priest and because the indwelling Holy Spirit words our prayers in the Father’s presence in just the way the Father can receive them (Rom. 8:26,27).  God is not made weary by our frequent requests.
God’s Holy Spirit creates within the child of God the desire to be close to the Father:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  …Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba (“Daddy,” a term of intimacy) Father. (Rom. 8:14,15b)

FACT 23 –  HAVING LIBERTY

John 8:31,32, Then said Jesus…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:36, If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Galatians 5:1, Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:13, For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

II Corinthians 3:17, Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Romans 6:18, Being, then, made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Romans 6:22, But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 8:2, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:21, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

A person is in bondage to sin, corruption, self, death, ignorance, and confusion before coming to Christ.  A person in Christ is set free to righteousness, holiness, Christ’s life (eternal life), to spirit-directed and spirit-empowered living, to freedom from guilt and condemnation, and to the choice to glorify God without duress.  In no case does the scriptural truth of liberty give an individual the right to live in unrestricted freedom to do whatever he sees fit.  In reality, he is free to choose whom he will serve.  Man was never designed by God to succeed in living his life totally according to his or her self will, independently from God.  Liberty, therefore, means that I am free to serve God willingly.
 

FACT 24 –  HEIRS OF GOD, JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST

Galatians 3:29, And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 4:7, Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Romans 8:16,17, The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs – heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ – if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

Titus 3:7, That, being justified by His (Jesus Christ’s) grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 1:14, Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 6:17, (The promise) Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath.

Just as God has appointed His Son, Jesus, the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), so the child of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, receives the witness of being an heir of God and a joint-heir (or, co-heir) with Jesus Christ.  The promise in Rev. 21:7 is the final declaration for the believer of the fulfillment of the inheritance, when it says, He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
 

FACT 25 –  HOLY NATION

Exodus 19:5,6a, Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.

I Peter 2:9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people of His own, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The holiness which God granted to the nation of Israel, which was on the condition of their faithful obedience to the law given to Moses at Sinai, is stated as a reality for everyone who believes in Christ apart from the law.  The word, holy, indicates that we, as God’s people, are set apart to God from sinners, and we are being made citizens of a holy nation.  Thereby, a sense of citizenship and being a part of an entity larger than our own experience staves off the sense that we are only a small minority.  All other national identities dissolve at death, but the believer’s being a member of a holy nation is for both time and eternity.
In summary, holy means set apart, so as a holy nation, we come to realize that there is a distinctiveness about the believers who belong to God that sets us apart from any earthly nationality.  As a people of His own, we are made to see that God’s ownership over us puts us in a place of special regard in God’s sight.
(IDENTIFICATION – In the printed book see BAPTIZED, p. 9, and UNITED WITH CHRIST, p. 19)

 

Next Week: Facts 26+
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.
 

Knowing Noah

Note: All Scripture quotations from the ESV, unless noted otherwise.

Noah’s ark was but a shadow,
dim shadow, of a far greater reality.

 
Todd BrayeHollywood’s upcoming Noah (March 2014) is good reason to speak of the actual historical, biblical character. If the trailer is any indication, the movie production could very well be a huge success. The formula is well-tested and proven. Take an impressive story, enlist actors and actresses the likes of Crowe, Hopkins, Watson, and Connelly, shoot on a timeless, almost transcendent set, create brilliant special effects, engulf it all with a huge, soul-entrancing, symphonic soundtrack, and you will draw a crowd. The urge to see the movie will undeniably be irresistible. At the very least, both Jews and Christians will be compelled to experience it. To be honest, I must confess to being somewhat intrigued, and may even shell out the ridiculous ticket price on a future date with my wife.
However, as any biblically-shaped, discerning Christian knows, Hollywood is not in the truth business. There’s simply no money in it. But not only is truth a hard sell (if I may put it that way), Hollywood must not be expected to accurately portray redemptive history. To do so is as naive as it is unrealistic. Considering the natural state of men who hate God and despise His authoritative Word, hoping for a faithful Sunday School lesson at the local Cineplex Odeon is dreadfully unrealistic, if not ridiculously silly. So when another blog reports that Noah is inaccurate and contains “bizarre, unbiblical aspects,” I am more than inclined to believe it; the short video promotion plainly displays its weirdness.
So, what’s Noah really about anyway?
At the risk of oversimplification, I suggest the biblical account is not about Noah at all. It’s actually about God. It’s not that Noah is irrelevant. He’s just not the point. Instead, in Noah’s segment of Genesis, and on the set of post-Edenic earth, God continues to reveal Himself. In so doing, He manifests two glorious attributes.
By the Flood, God reveals His uncompromising holiness. Near the beginning of the chapter, Genesis 6 announces humanity’s depravity. Moses writes, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen. 6:6-7). Indeed, the earth “was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11).
As it was, so it now is.
human violenceUndeniably. The earth is filled with violence! But I digress. In Noah’s day, God saw the corruption of creation. He saw that what He had declared “very good” (Gen. 1:31) had become very bad. Immediately, the Scripture tells us God spoke to Noah, saying “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:13. Italics added).
The Flood is thus an act of divine judgment. Throughout redemptive history, God consistently reveals Himself as One who manifests His holiness by judging corrupt flesh. In Ezekiel, the prophet speaks against the nation of Sidon, foretelling of its divine “judgments.” These judgments came as “pestilence,” “blood in [her] streets,” and a “sword upon her every side” (38:22-23, NASB). Why? God explicitly, and simply, tells us: “Then they will know that I am the Lord,when I execute judgments in her, And shall manifest my holiness in her” (28:22). In his Epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18). The very death of Jesus Christ, the bloody and merciless slaughter of The Lamb, was itself a demonstration of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:25). And, of course, there is yet to come a final unleashing of divine judgment. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and those He knows from those He doesn’t, throwing the chaff into the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:11-15). This is the God of the Bible. This is Noah’s God. He reveals His holiness by judgment and wrath. But there is more! Much more!
By Noah’s flood, God also reveals His particular and glorious mercy.
Pay careful attention here. God’s actions refute the false “Wideness in God’s Mercy” teaching so prevalent in today’s pluralistic marketplace of religion. If wideness, or inclusiveness, describes anything, it’s God’s judgment, not mercy! The Scriptures already cited make that crystal clear. But now, fix your eyes on the boat. For in the deluge of fierce judgment is a refuge of sweet mercy!
You know what happens. I need not tell you. God commands Noah to make “an ark of gopher wood” (Gen. 6:14). Every creature on board – Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, along with “two of every sort [of “every living thing,” “male and female”] – were rescued from the watery wrath. I can only imagine the ark was chock full, filled with the blessed objects of divine, definite, but exclusive, narrow mercy. Outside the ark, death reigned as millions upon millions of living creatures – men, women, children, and every other living thing – died. They bore the full brunt of God’s just judgment against the “wickedness of man.”
But wait a minute.
Does Scripture not say, and thus God Himself not say, that He would “bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh” (Gen. 6:17)? Indeed it does. And He did. It is written, “Everything that is on the earth shall die.” God “determined to make an end of all flesh” (Gen. 6:13). Evidently then, “all” doesn’t always mean “all,” since Noah and his passengers were excepted. To be sure, the end of all kinds of flesh had come. But some – a very few in number by comparison – remained. God kept them, and only them, from His torrential, seemingly unending, downpour. God kept His word. He destroyed all flesh, notwithstanding the life-boat. He “did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah…with seven others” (2 Peter 2:5). We must let Scripture define its terms. “All” does not necessarily mean “each and every,” for God mercifully, and purposefully, commanded Noah to bring into the ark with him “two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life” (Gen. 7:15). This mercy, though narrow, is definite. It is particular. And it is real; it actually rescued.
I suggest to you that the significance (or theological function) of Noah’s Ark is two-fold. First, while it demonstrates God’s righteousness, it most certainly displays His faithfulness. Let me briefly explain. Before time began, God promised “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). A few chapters before the Flood, in pronouncing judgment upon the serpent in the Garden of Eden, God promised the serpent He would “put enmity between [it] and the woman, and between [its] offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise [its] head, and [it] shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). “Her offspring” here is Jesus Christ. He would one day defeat the serpent (i.e., Satan himself), bringing “the hope of eternal life” to all mankind. So, no ark, no Jesus. No Jesus, no hope. The ark preserved humanity, or a remnant thereof, in order that one day, “when the fullness of time had come, God [would send] forth his Son, born of woman…” (Galatians 4:4). Her offspring would indeed bruise the serpent’s head! What was promised in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament.
Second, the ark is but a shadow, a dim shadow, of a far greater reality.
In the grand scope of redemptive history, the ark anticipates a greater rescue. To be precise, Noah’s ark foreshadows the Person & Work of Jesus Christ. As the ark saved a few persons from divine judgement, Jesus would one day deliver many “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Luke’s words on the matter are sufficient: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to [the two apostles on the road to Emmaus] in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). In other words, the entire Old Testament, of which Noah’s epic is part, speaks of Jesus Christ. Graeme Goldsworthy writes:

“It is clear…that Jesus and the apostles regarded the whole of the Old Testament as testimony to the Christ; it is all about Jesus. Thus we conclude that there is no dimension of the Old Testament message that does not in some way foreshadow Christ” (Gospel-Centred Hermeneutics, 251).

Therefore, to divorce the Noah narrative from the Christ event is to dreadfully and tragically miss its chief end. We must understand that the Bible is not a collection of unrelated narratives. It is, rather, one grand narrative in which God’s redemptive purpose culminates in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Any retelling of the part without due consideration for the whole is thus completely inadequate; the shadow fails to be, indeed cannot be, the thing itself.
And what of the thing itself? The Person and Work of Christ is worthy of countless books and blog posts. But consider this: Noah’s ark saved a few people. And it also delivered representatives of every living creature upon the earth. But as the thing itself, the antitype, the Person and Work of Christ was designed to accomplish much, much more. It is far too simplistic, if not minimalistic, to confine the effects of the cross to humanity. If the design of the cross was limited to sinners, it would be an unspeakably glorious thing. The work of Christ would in no way be diminished. To redeem His sheep, chosen before the foundation of the world, is unquestionably, in and of itself, worthy of an eternity of praise. However, as the ark delivered a portion of creation (“two of every sort”), the Ark who is Christ inaugurated a covenant in which all things are being made new. The New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22) will be a place where, unlike the present earth post-flood, only “righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Until then “the creation waits with eager longing” to “be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21). The shadow fails by epic proportions to be the thing itself! The ark served its purpose. It delivered a fallen creation. But by His death and resurrection, Christ redeemed the entire cosmos, having set the stage for the final “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). The ark did not, nor could it, make all things new. But that is precisely what God began to do in Christ (2 Corinthians. 5:17). The work of Christ has gloriously cosmic consequences!
What’s Noah about?
I’m certain Hollywood won’t tell you. So, I say, don’t wait for the movie, friends. Read the Book, the whole Book!

Proverbs: Warnings Against Unfaithfulness (II)

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[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]

..

 Solomon continues instructing his son.

Proverbs 5:15–20 “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?”

 
It is ESSENTIAL in overcoming temptation that we are taking full advantage of what God HAS given to us, so as to prevent having much of an appetite for what He has not. This is an abiding and vitally important principle. It was established for us back in Eden.
Before God’s command to our first parents forbidding them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, came this: Genesis 2:15–16 “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.” It is interesting that this “permission” (“you may”) is prefaced in the text by saying “the Lord God commanded.”
Eat! Was the first command.
And with it, the reminder that they may “surely eat of EVERY tree of the garden.” In other words, have as much as you want. Taste as many different things as I have given you. And do not let yourself go hungry, you may SURELY eat. Scope it out. Sample them all. Eat to your heart’s and stomach’s content. Eat!
It is only AFTER this that man is commanded to refrain from the forbidden tree. God is not interested in depriving us and then setting us up to fall. He provides for us out of the rich bounties that are at our disposal.
It is for want of reveling fully in His goodness and grace and filling our souls with the delights which do rightly belong to us, that we are so powerless to refuse those things which are not appointed for us, when offered. This is true in every area of temptation, but it has special application to the married.
Consider God’s Kindness
For married couples, there can be no doubt that the Writer’s words are aimed especially at making sure your physical and emotional desires are being properly met WITHIN your relationship. If you give up there, or begin to grow dissatisfied, much care must be taken to be sure one or the other is not defrauding their partner and thus creating a scenario where temptation has a better chance of getting a foothold.
In order for this to be a reality for most of us, the truth is that husbands and wives must discuss this with one another, and take responsibility toward one another in it. It must be talked about. Calmly. Lovingly. Thoughtfully, allowing for each other’s varied needs and differing appetites. But when such talk is off limits; when we are too embarrassed or unwilling to open up to one another – and not loving enough to accommodate one another (this is NEVER one-sided) we will inevitably run the risk of unspoken and un-agreed upon expectations driving a wedge between us. In practice then, we add weight to our spouse’s already existing burden of temptation. And what can be more unloving than to weaken our partner’s ability to fight the temptations which accost us all? So that each is tempted to find solace in places they were never intended to.
What a practical way to learn how to “love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

~ Reid

Next week: Part Three of Chapter Five
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.

Deeper than Duty

 

God’s Word speaks of Relationship

 
deeper than dutyThe Bible doesn’t just use language of relationship, it actually does speak of relationship.  This may be a subtle difference, but it is important.  God isn’t just pretending to enter into relationship with us any more than He is just pretending to be in relationship within the Godhead.  It’s not a matter of Him “dumbing down” the reality to something we can grasp, even though the reality of God’s love is surely beyond our ability to ever fully grasp.
On Sunday I preached a sermon entitled “Got Religion?” at a baptismal service.  I spoke from James – probably the most “religious” book of the New Testament.  James is apparently full of duty and expectation that is placed upon the follower of Christ.  It gives a definition of true religion.  It is like the Sermon on the Mount in epistle form.  Yet the sermon showed that even the book of James isn’t primarily about duty, but about relationship with God.
How relationship and duty intersect are so important. 
To listen to some people, while Christianity “uses” the language of relationship, the core issue is really duty.
Then as soon as there is a sniff of a challenge in the air, the response is a swift restatement of the necessity of duty in the Christian life, as if to question that emphasis is to insist there are no duties at all.
The issue here is that of primary emphasis and driving motivation. 
It is not about the mutual exclusivity of duty and relational delight, nor am I suggesting that healthy relationships are built on feelings alone.
Let me think out loud in terms of marriage (since that is God’s illustration of choice).  My wife is expecting any day now and when labour begins, I will be there.  Is that a duty?  Sort of, but that seems like a strange term to use.  It certainly isn’t a term I would use in describing it to my wife – “I’m here because it is the right thing to do!”  Somehow the language of duty seems to be a sure path to numbness in a relationship.  But when our relationship is healthy, then we feel, we’re not numb.
I suppose I could list many duties involved in being a husband.  But my wife would be encouraged to see me struggling to list the things I do under that label.
I wonder if we might be setting Christians up for difficulty when we talk of the Christian life primarily in terms of duties?  That is, duty is about externals, and even if they are a good idea, the danger is that if we emphasize externals we create dutiful but numb believers.  Sadly I fear that too many Christians could be described as dutiful but numb.  Maybe our relationship with God isn’t simply two obedience steps away from thriving.
I was listening to an audiobook recently that made a simple, yet profound observation.  When people met Jesus, they began to feel.  As I listened to the testimony at the baptism on Sunday, I saw evidence of the same.
~ 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]  

The Gospel and the Christian

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

 
 
1 Corinthians 15:1-2

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

1 Corinthians 15 - hope!
Last week we began our journey through 1 Corinthians 15. You will remember that the Corinthians were embracing a false teaching regarding the resurrection. Some in the Corinthian church were teaching that there is no future bodily resurrection of the people of God at the end of the age. Paul sets forth to straighten out their theology in 1 Corinthians 15. He begins by pointing the Corinthians to the Gospel. The reason he begins with the Gospel is because the Gospel centers on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul wants them to see that they cannot at one and the same time believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and yet not believe in the resurrection of the dead. “Now if Christ is Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Corinthians 15:12-13). He wants them to see that their rejection of the resurrection at the end of the day calls into question the very gospel which they cherish and embrace.
 
1 Corinthians 15:1
So Paul begins with the resurrection Gospel in vss. 1-11. I have broken vss. 1-11 up into two sections: in vss. 1-2 Paul tells us how we relate to the Gospel and in vss. 3-11 he tells us the contents of the Gospel. Last week began to look at vss. 1-2, but only got through vs. 1. Paul tells us four things about how we relate to the Gospel in vss. 1-2.

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,

A. We need to be reminded of the Gospel. You will remember that Paul reminded already preached the Gospel to them. The Corinthians in particular were in need of a reminder because they were beginning to undermine the Gospel by rejecting the resurrection of the dead.

B. We must receive this Gospel. This does not mean that we simply agree with the intellectual fact claims of the Gospel, although that is part of it. It means, even more, that we personally entrust ourselves to Christ alone for salvation.

C. We must take our stand in the Gospel. To take our stand in the Gospel means that we remain unmovable and resolute in our trust in Christ. It means that we be unwavering in our trust in Him. It means that we say, “If there is no salvation in Christ I will certainly be condemned, because He is my only hope.” I said last week that it means that reconsidering is not an option. As I was driving home from church last week Peter came to mind. Do you remember when all the crowds left Jesus in John 6? Jesus said that said some difficult things about eating His flesh and drinking His blood and nearly everyone in this massive crowd left and stopped following Him. In vs. 67 Jesus turns to His disciples and says, “Do you want to go away as well?” I think Jesus was putting His disciples to the test here. Had they truly taken their stand in the Gospel? Now you may say what you want about Peter—there is no doubt that he put his foot in his mouth on a regular basis and that he denied Jesus three times. But I think we are often times too hard on Peter. Peter’s response in this passage is just wonderful. Jesus says, “Do you want to go away as well.” To which Peter replies:

John 6:68-69; 68 Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

             Peter has taken his stand in the Gospel of Christ. Even when Jesus sounds like a kook and a madman and everyone abandons him, Peter remains unmovable. He has taken His stand in Christ. Where else do we have to go? Jesus, you are our only hope. Peter was all in—he held nothing back. He was not conditionally committed to Christ. He took his stand in the Gospel. I must press you again this morning; have you taken your stand in the Gospel? Are you holding back? Are you all in for Jesus, trusting Him alone, or are you leaving your options open. You know how it works. You want a back up plan. Friends, if you are to be saved you must have no back up plan. You must forsake your sin and throw yourself on Christ as your only hope. You must be able to say with Peter, “To whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.” I have no back up plan. Are you sitting on the fence today or have you taken your stand in the Gospel? Consider the twin exhortations of Joshua in Joshua 24 and Elijah in 1 Kings 18.

Joshua 24:15; Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

1 Kings 18:21; And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

Some of you are waffling between two opinions.
Some of you are waffling between following the world and following Christ.
Stop waffling—stop limping! “Choose this day whom you will serve.” There is no fence sitting when it comes to the Gospel. You are either trusting in Christ alone and throwing yourself upon Him as your only hope or you are not a Christian and you are still in your sins. This Gospel demands a response. You either take your stand in this Gospel or you are still in your sins.
Now last week I said that to take your stand in the Gospel means that you are not open for reconsidering. I know that many will hear this and say, “Jimmy, that sounds awful close minded.” To this I respond, “Ya think?!” Of course I am close minded. Our world would be much simpler if everyone admitted that they are close minded. I have never met or heard anyone who is truly open minded to everything. Yet we live in this strange culture where the greatest virtue is being open minded and the greatest vice is being close minded. Yet everyone is close minded to at least one degree. I hope that you are not open minded in regard to racism or the reestablishment of segregation or slavery. I hope that you are not open minded in regard to radical Isalmic Jihad. In fact the one who boasts of being open minded above all things is not open minded to be close minded beliefs.
This may sound like a joke at first, but it is actually an important point. The majority of beliefs which humans have held throughout history have been close minded beliefs. To be close minded to close minded beliefs is to be close minded to the majority of beliefs which humans have held throughout history—that is a massive point! So I say without hesitation that I am close minded. When the Creator God speaks I do not question. Shall the clay stand over the Potter and critique His work and hold His word in suspicion until he can verify its truthfulness with his pigmy brain? I find this to be madness. Now when I say that I am close minded I am not saying that I am not teachable or that I do not find a thrill in discovery. It also doesn’t mean that I am not open to discussing perplexing questions or opposing viewpoints. What it does mean is that I have taken my stand in the Gospel and I am therefore unwilling to reconsider the Gospel. I say with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
1 Corinthians 15:2
Now we move along to the last statement that Paul makes about how we relate with the Gospel. 4. We are saved this Gospel.

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

            Now there are a few things that are worthy of note in this verse.
 
God saves with the Gospel. He says, “by which you are being saved.” The Gospel has the power to save. Isn’t it strange that God decided to save men with a message? I find that to be strange. But that is how God decided to do it. According to God’s sovereign wisdom, your eternity is decided by your response to a preached message. We are being saved by this Gospel message. This is the means that God has ordained to save men from their sin.

Romans 1:16; The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:18; The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

This is the means that God has ordained. Many, however, don’t believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. They pay lip service to this idea but don’t trust the truth of it. But this is a truth to be believed. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation—“you are being saved” by it.
We often times think, though, that the Gospel is in need of our help. We tend to think that the Gospel is outmoded and outdated and irrelevant as it is. We tend to think that the Gospel needs our creativity and fresh perspective to make it effective. But creativity is not the power of God unto salvation, the Gospel is. The Gospel only need be proclaimed. This is why so many pastors and churches have turned their churches into a circus; because they don’t trust the simple Gospel in the hands of the Spirit of God. They believe they have to help it out. They look at the Gospel as if it were something to be sold. So they dress it up and put all sorts of glitter and glamour on it to make it more appealing. This has everything to do with faith. Do you believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation or not? If so you will leave it as it is. If you believe that it is the power of God unto salvation you will not feel the need to help it out in order to procure or secure results by dressing it up. Rather, you will preach it as it is in the power that God supplies and trust in the power of the Spirit and not in the effectiveness of your methods or techniques. This Gospel is the power of God, by it we are being saved.
 
Salvation is a present reality. Notice that you are “being saved” by this Gospel. Paul does not say that you were saved, but that you are being saved. In other words salvation is a present reality. So often when we speak of salvation we only speak of it as if it were something in the past. We speak of “getting saved” as if salvation were like a flu shot, a one time past event. But the Scriptures clearly communicate that there is something of a process to salvation. R.C. Sproul says,
“The verb to save appears in the Bible in various tenses. We have been saved, are being saved, and shall be saved. There is a past, present, and future dimension to salvation. Our salvation began in eternity, is realized in time, and looks forward to heaven.”[1] So there is a past, present, and future dimension to salvation. I have thought of it like this.

Past: Salvation from the Penalty of sin.
Present: Salvation from the Power of sin.
Future: Salvation from the Presence of sin.

 
Past: Salvation from the penalty (condemnation or guilt) of sin. There is nothing wrong with saying, “God saved me on July 5th 1988.” Paul tells the Ephesians,

Ephesians 2:8; “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8).

1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 8:1; “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

 
Salvation is spoken of in Ephesians 2 and 1 Corinthians 6 as a past event. These things happened in the past. If you are in Christ you have already been justified and cleansed and sanctified. This is why all of God’s kids can say a hearty amen to Paul’s words in Romans 8:1. 2. Present: salvation from the power of sin. Although we have been set free from the penalty of sin, we are in need of daily deliverance from the power and dominion of sin in our lives. This is where 1 Corinthians 15:2 comes in. We are “being saved” by the Gospel. Paul uses similar wording in 1 Corinthians 1:18. This is also why Jesus tells us to pray,

1 Corinthians 1:18; For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Matthew 6:13; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

This is a prayer that we are to pray daily. We all sin on a daily, hourly, minutely basis. Not a single one of us loves God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength perfectly. We all fall short. We all battle against sin, the flesh, Satan, and the world until we die. Not a single one us will become perfectly sinless in this life. Yet God saves us from the power and dominion of sin on a daily basis. 3. Future: Salvation from the presence of sin. Only when Christ comes back in all of His glory will be fully and finally set free from sin. And oh what a glorious day that will be! We won’t have to pray for daily deliverance from sin in heaven. There will be no battle. We will be fully and finally set free from sin forever. This future dimension of salvation is spoken of all throughout Scripture.

Romans 13:11; Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.

Hebrews 9:28; Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

1 Peter 1:5; who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

This future dimension is the goal and climax of salvation. Piper says, “It is a great mistake to think of salvation as stage one in the Christian life and sanctification (or holiness, or obedience) as stage two. Salvation is the big biblical term that describes all God’s saving work for us and in us, past, present, and future.”[2] And God gives us a birds eye view of this salvation in Romans 8:29-30.

29 Those whom he foreknew he also predestined… 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Theologians refer to this passage as the Golden Chain of salvation. Paul starts in eternity past when God foreknew you and predestines you, moves along to that time when God called you and justified you, and then moves all the way to glorification, which will not happen until Christ returns in all of His glory. What we are looking at here is the grand sweep of salvation. Salvation began in eternity past and will not be brought to its completion until Christ returns. You are meant to draw a big circle around all the links in this chain and write “Salvation” over the whole of it. This is what salvation is. We must understand this. This is why Paul speaks of salvation as a present process in 1 Corinthians 15. What is my point in going into all of this talk about salvation? The point is that Paul speaks of salvation as a present process in 1 Corinthians 15:2. We are “being saved” by this Gospel. This tells us something very important about the Christian life.
The Gospel is for Christians.
This tells us that we never outgrow our need for the Gospel. Paul Washer once said that, contrary to popular thought, the Gospel is not a flu shot that you get once and then never revisit it. You know how a flu shot works. You get it before winter arrives and once you get it you are all set as far as the flu is concerned. You don’t have to keep getting flu shots every week or day or hour. No… once you get the flu shot you are inoculated. But this isn’t how Christianity works. You don’t get your one dose of Gospel to get you in the kingdom and then go about your merry way. Sure, there is an initial reception of the Gospel, but the Christian must keep drinking from the fountain of God’s grace in the Gospel. This is how many treat the sinners prayer. They pray the prayer and then say, “Well… now I’m covered. I got my fire insurance and I am good to go.” That isn’t how Christianity works. Once you embrace Christ with saving faith, you have just entered the Christian life. It is the Gospel that gets you into the kingdom and it is the same Gospel which keeps you in the kingdom. So the Gospel is not just the introductory message of Christianity that you leave behind once you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. No… you need this Gospel just as much today as you needed it when you first believed. You will never graduate from the Gospel. But we often times think that the Gospel is only for unbelievers. It’s not.
The true evidence that you have embraced this Gospel with saving faith is your perseverance in this Gospel.
This is where that big word “if” comes in. This statement shocks many. Paul says that we are saved by this Gospel “if we hold fast.” This passage is troubling to many because it seems that Paul is either saying that the Christian who does not hold fast to the Gospel loses his salvation or that Paul is saying that we earn our salvation by holding fast to the Gospel. But Paul is teaching neither of these things. You will notice that he does not say, “by which you are being saved, by holding fast the gospel I preached to you.” In other words, Paul is not telling us how we are being saved. What then is Paul talking about? The key is found in the next phrase, “unless you believed in vain.” He is contrasting saving faith with vain faith. What he is saying is that true saving faith always perseveres in the true Gospel.
If you claim to have faith in Christ but you do not “hold fast to the word” of the Gospel it is evidence that your faith is not a saving faith, it is a vain faith. Paul is not saying that the Christian who does not hold fast to this Gospel loses his salvation. Rather, he is saying that the Christian who doesn’t hold fast to this Gospel was never truly saved in the first place, but placed a vain faith in Christ. Perseverance in the faith is one of the true markers of a Christian. And the Corinthians were in need of this warning from Paul, they were, after all, embracing a false teaching which undermined the one true Gospel which alone has the power to save. Make no mistake about it, Paul was drawing a line in the sand here in vs. 2. He wanted the Corinthians to know that this false teaching in regard to the resurrection was something of a testing ground for them. If they continued in this teaching, it was evidence they were never truly born again to start with. What Paul says here to the Corinthians is so very similar to what he says to the Galatian Christians who also being taught a false Gospel. In Galatians 5:2-4.

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

This morning I will leave you with this one final thought; hold fast to the Gospel. Doctrine matters. We need to protect and guard the pure truth of the Gospel (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14; Jude 1:3). There are eternal consequences for embracing a false Gospel.
Conclusion
Next week the sermon will be titled “If.” I am going to be doing more of a biblical survey of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. I will seek to demonstrate from the Scriptures how often warnings like this one here are repeated in the Scriptures, and I will seek to demonstrate just how vital it is that we persevere in this faith.



[1] R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?, 198. See also J.I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness, 43-44; Paul Washer, The Gospel’s Power and Message, 61-63; D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Christian Soldier, 319
[2] John Piper, The Pleasures of God, 245-246.

~ 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
 

Generous Giving

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2 Corinthians 9:1-7 ESV
1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 
Introduction:

stingy
What! Me Stingy?
A current television commercial shows a man asking a small group of children some questions around theme “What is better….” What is better—big or small, fast or slow? Of course, they are trying to sell you the benefits of their fast communication connections. But suppose you were the kids in that commercial and I asked you, “What is better—generous or stingy?” And the answer is… generous!
Paul’s goal in this part of the section about giving to help the poor emphasizes generous giving. He wants his dear friends to participate in this collection in a generous, joyful manner. The question is not whether they wanted to give; they did. Their need was about how to complete their project. It is easy to want to do something; it is much harder to actually finish the job. A flower garden can look good in May, but all summer you need to keep the weeds away!
 
Exposition
Three ideas about giving that the Corinthians needed to apply, in order to give in a way that honored the Lord. We will look at the first two today.
I. The principle of organization (9:1-5)
A. Their desire to give was a good example to other believers. Someone many, many years ago gave me a book titled The Corinthian Catastrophe. It sounds very dramatic, but the title misrepresents the Corinthians and ultimately gives wrong ideas about the Christian life. Every Christian and groups of Christians are going to have struggles as they grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord. The followers of Christ in Corinth were just like the rest of us—a strange mixture of godliness and remaining sin. If you don’t think you have this problem, you have a big one called “pride”. But, let’s return to the point.

1. Their enthusiasm stirred many others believers in Macedonia to action. The apostle Paul had told them the previous year how much enthusiasm the Corinthians had for this ministry project and it motivated them to do the same. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going!” Our attitudes about serving the Lord affect others more than we think! A smile, a cheerful greeting, a fervent prayer, a loving phone call, and other acts of kindness can go a long way toward changing a whole group of people.

Example: When we think of our acrostic BLESS, God can use us, use our acts of blessing, to change many people. But negativity is destructive!

2. Notice that Paul carefully and wisely is talking about their “eagerness to help” and that they “were ready to give”. They were enthusiastic about the project, but they needed more than enthusiasm. They needed to give! Happily talking about giving is not the same thing as actually giving.

B. Paul was sending them Titus and the two unnamed brothers to help them complete the collection before he arrived with others from Macedonia. Evidently, these two brothers were smart enough to know that they would need to keep their mouths shut about the situation they were walking into at Corinth. Titus knew that the collection had not been completed, but he was willing to return to see it finished.

1. He is concerned that the collection will not be ready, in spite of their previous enthusiasm. Some people need help about how to finish a job. But as the matter stood at the time of the writing of the letter, Paul was concerned that both the Corinthians and he might be embarrassed. He might be, because he had bragged so much about them. They might be, because they didn’t have the offering ready after they had promised to. (Remember, they had said that they were “all in” about this ministry gift!)

2. So, Titus and the two other brothers would arrive before Paul to help them “finish the arrangements for the generous gift they had promised.” You can well imagine Titus arriving and asking, “So do you have your offering ready? You don’t? I know you all wanted to do this! You are a loving and compassionate people, as you have already proved to me. Okay, let us help you! Now here is what you need to do….”

Comment: We need to treat other believers with respect, because they are in Jesus Christ, and so sons and daughters of the King! Every word must be to build others up according to their need (Eph 4:29). Our goal must be to see them demonstrate the glory of knowing the Lord of glory. You cannot achieve that goal apart from interacting with others in a way that honors the Lord.

3. This administrative help was needed, because Paul foresees an unpleasant consequence, if the offering is not ready when he comes. People need to plan to set aside money and then actually set it aside gradually, so that the full amount is ready when the collection comes. Otherwise, it is like going for a motor vehicle inspection when you think all you need is a bulb replaced and new wiper blades, but you’re told that your car also needs a new exhaust system. You’re not prepared to spend the extra money, and you become worried, cranky, or upset in some way! Then you’re writing the check with a less than pleasant attitude. The same idea holds true about giving to help others. “Oh no, I forgot!

How much should I give? Uh, I can’t give that much! I really need this money for other matters! Oh well, I’ll put five dollars in the plate; they’re always asking for too much money all the time anyway!”
Apply: Organize your finances so that you can give generously rather than grudgingly. The Lord had a plan about how to save his people. We also need to plan to help others. Our do something for the benefit of others in our acrostic BLESS is one such starting point.
 
II. The principle of the harvest (9:6) – Paul wants them to realize that giving is like sowing seed in your garden.
You only can harvest in proportion to what you planted. Paul is presenting a general principle. We all know that some times in this fallen world things don’t work out as we anticipate. An investment might appear sound, until some crook embezzles your investment. At other times, surprisingly, a contractor might bid out a job thinking he might make a certain profit, but all goes well and he makes twice as much. But that is not the point Paul is making.
A. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly.

1. This word is spoken to warn them not to dilly-dally in collecting their gifts. If they do, they will only be able to sow sparingly.
2. The idea is that you can only get out of something what you put into it. If you only plant two tomato plants, you are, other things being equal, only going to harvest a few tomatoes. The two tomato plants you plant don’t miraculously become ten or twenty, and so you won’t reap like you planted ten or twenty.

Example: In Christ’s parable (Mt 25:14-30), the man given five talents was able to make five more. The man with two talents gained two more, and he wasn’t expected to make as much as the man with ten. The master only expected the two additional. Sadly, the man with one did nothing, and was punished for his lack of love for his master. Jesus expects us to produce in conformity with want he gives us.
B. If you give generously, you will also reap generously.

1. This word is intended to urge them to finish the collection in a diligent and joyful manner. If they take the advice given, they will enthusiastically give their promised gift.
2. In this scenario, if you plant much, you will also reap much. If you plant twenty-four tomato plants, like I once did, you will harvest a lot of tomatoes! You’ll be looking for someone to give your tomatoes to! In the rest of this chapter, Paul will present the abundant harvest that their generous giving will harvest.

Apply: As in the parable of the talents, God richly rewards those who act like he wants them to act. “Plant” a lot of kindness, compassion, joy, and peace, and the Lord of the harvest will make sure that you receive much more in the last day (Luke 10:29-30)! Our Lord holds out the prospect of reward because he wants us to experience joy on that day. He wants us to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
~ 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.
 

God’s Agenda in Job

 
 

Job’s pain pushed him to ask God
for a reprieve and
also for an explanation.

 
In effect, “What, oh my God, are you doing?!”  
In the dialogue with his friends Job knew something of what the Bible reader knows from the start.  He was not, as his friends presumed, a very evil man facing God’s proper justice.  Rather he was a remarkably faithful man undergoing a prolonged spiritual stress test.  Job said as much: “when he [God] has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (23:10).
And ultimately Job came through with his faith intact.
But there was room for him to grow; and we can all grow with him.  When we face our own spiritual challenges—and God will allow each of us some golden growth opportunities—we will land somewhere in a wide spectrum represented by Job on the one hand, and his wife on the other.  It was his wife, we recall, who suggested, “Curse God and die.” 
A bigger and more troubling question raised by Job’s episode is well known: why does a good God allow good people to go through evil times?  What was God’s agenda in allowing Satan to create such havoc in Job’s family and personal life?
Let’s let God speak for himself. 
The problem God raised with Job in 40:6-14 is striking: it confronted human pride.  And rightly so.  Job, we know, complained about God’s handling of his welfare and reputation throughout the book.  He was certain he had done nothing to account for his suffering: God alone could account for it.  And Job wanted God to give him that account—an explanation of the misalignment between Job’s ordinary faults and God’s extraordinary provision of pain.
God’s broader response to Job in chapters 38-39 set up God’s particular agenda.
What is it, God asked Job, that you bring to your presumed courtroom as you challenge my judgments?  What do you know, for instance, about creation?  Can you explain the operations of the heavens and the earth?  What can you tell me about the living creatures I made to inhabit the earth—about how they live and succeed in their unique settings?  To be a faultfinder with God you first need to set out your own credentials.
Job was silenced by God’s challenge: he lacked any of the qualities God offers.
And that opened the door to God’s real concern: that ever since Adam first sought to “be like God” every human maintains at least some ambition to play God.  Every complaint we offer ultimately assumes either a major or minor premise of our own deity: our right to determine what is good and evil.  Yet God claims that “all things” belong to him—even the realm of his enemy—and that in everything he is at work for good among all who love him and are engaged in his purposes.
God then confronted Job’s presumed status as a judge of divinity: “Will you even put me in the wrong?  Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8).
But God’s purpose, we find, was not just to chasten an already humbled Job. 
In his grace he set out a bigger picture.  He disclosed his purpose for the creation in the period between Adam’s fall and the coming of a new and sinless re-Creation: for our present era.  His work is to winnow the humble from the proud—to separate those who repent in the face of the true God from those who are irredeemably committed to their own standing as gods.  Listen to God’s own mission as he sets it out to Job:
“Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand” (40:12).  If Job can fulfill that task—of turning stone-like hearts into hearts that delight in God’s love—“Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.”
Job’s story offers us a picture of a God who, in mercy, invites us to give thanks in everything.  It was a painful journey for Job, yet he arrived in good order.  And each of us is invited to do the same.
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 Eighteen through Twenty One

[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 18 –  GLORIFIED

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.

There are a great many Scriptures which refer to the future glory which the child of Christ will realize at the resurrection when he will receive a glorified body and share in Christ’s glory at the second advent.  In dealing with our present glorification, the remarkable truth in Romans 8:30 is that the word glorified is in the aorist tense in the original language of the New Testament.  The aorist tense conveys the sense of an action occuring at a point of time in the past with the result continuing into the future.  Thus, God, the Eternally Present One, the I AM, with whom the past or future is one eternal present, is able to see the believer as glorified, as well as called, justified, and sanctified at the moment that person places faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.  What peace, assurance, and contentment this affords the child of God!
Being glorified brings the reality of the ultimate state that the child of God is promised into present experience.  The writer, John, has this in mind in I John 3:2, when he says,

…it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.

At the transfiguration, a preview of Jesus in glory was given the disciples.  In Matthew 17:2, it is described, …His face did shine like the sun, and His raiment was as white as the light.  In other words, light actually emanated from Christ in a physical sense.  Thus, in view of the glory Christ has, God considers the child of God as already glorified through identification with Christ.  The practical result of the believer’s knowing this is given in I John 3:3, And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.
 

FACT 19 –  GOD’S BUILDING

I Corinthians 3:9, For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s cultivated field, ye are God’s building.

Ephesians 2:20-22, And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

I Peter 2:5, Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures use the concept of a building being built to teach the fact that God is doing a work throughout the entire church age in the midst of the world system by forming believers into a building, the believers being the parts of the building.  Each believer has a place in that work as God chooses.  In the passage in I Peter 2:5, the believers are said to be the living stones in the building which is God’s dwelling place.
The Apostle Paul considers himself as a co-worker with God in the building process, and continues the idea as he shows in I Corinthians 3 that each person must take heed how he builds on Christ who is the foundation.  The purpose of the building is an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22). This dwelling of God through the Spirit in believers is the present day antitype or fulfillment to God’s previously having dwelt in the tabernacle and in the temple during His relationship to Israel as seen in the Old Testament.
The tabernacling theme of the Old Testament is related to Christ in His incarnation in John 1:14:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.

He dwelt among us can be translated from the Greek, He tabernacled among us.  In summary, within the Old Testament time, God’s dwelling was in the literal tabernacle and temple; in the New Testament, God’s dwelling or residence is tabernacled in Christ through His incarnation and in the believer since Pentecost.
 

FACT 20 –  GOD’S ELECT; CHOSEN OF GOD

Matt. 20:16, So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen.

Matt. 22:14, For many are called, but few are chosen.

I Cor. 1:26-30, For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called;  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  That no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Rom. 8:33, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?  Shall God that justifieth?

Eph. 1:4, According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him…

Col. 3:12, Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.

Titus 1:1, Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.

I Pet. 1:2, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…

I Pet. 2:9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people of His own, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

II Tim. 2:10, Therefore, I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Rev. 17:14, These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Election or elected means that individuals have been chosen or selected out from a larger group to be a part of a chosen generation who are to show forth the praises of God (I Pet. 2:9).  Scripture reveals that believers are able to be believers as a result of God’s choice.  The Scriptures which speak of believers as God’s elect do not mention the manner or means by which God’s choice influences that of the individual.  The relationship of the believer’s choice to God’s choice is left to the truth of God’s being omniscient, and is never explained to the satisfaction of man’s rational understanding.  Election is a truth which must be accepted by faith, since God reveals it as truth in His Word.  The truth of being God’s elect is only applied to the person after he places faith in Christ.  The emphasis never is given that he is chosen to make him believe.
The terms, chosen and elect, are two English translations from the same word, eklektos, in the original Greek.  The Scripture states that those who are elect (or, chosen) are few when compared to those who have been called(Matt. 20:16; 22:14).  The call of God is general; God’s choosing is specific and effectual.  None of those who are the elect will fail to believe in Christ.
Being chosen is not based on worldly status (I Cor. 1:26-30), but is in great contrast to the world’s view.  Those who are elect are unblameable (Rom. 8:33; Eph.1:4).  The choosing took place before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).  The choosing was based on the foreknowledge of God (I Pet. 1:2).
Those who are elect are to develop character consistent with their position (Col. 3:12).  Paul’s apostleship is consistent with the faith of God’s elect (Titus 1:1).  Obedience is manifested as the individual trusts Christ because of being God’s elect (I Pet. 1:2).  As already mentioned, those who are elect are to show forth the praises of God (I Pet. 2:9).  Paul’s sufferings were experienced for the benefit of God’s elect (II Tim. 2:10).  Those who appear with Christ in His power and glory, are both called and chosen (Rev. 17:14).
 

FACT 21 –  GOD’S INHERITANCE

Ephesians 1:18, The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

The Apostle Paul prays that believers will be enlightened to know the truth that God’s inheritance will be obtained in the saints.  Also, Paul wants the believers to know that God’s inheritance in the saints brings glory to Him.  Then, he wants them to know that there are riches accruing to God through the glory which is brought to Him through the outworking or manifestation of redemption in the lives of the saints.
Not only is there an inheritance which the child of God receives from God, but mutually there is the inheritance which God will receive when all the sons of God are made manifest or revealed (Rom. 8:19) at the revelation of Christ when we shall appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).
 
Next Week: Facts 22+
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

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

..

[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]

..

 Solomon doesn’t mince words with his son.

Proverbs 5:3 “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil”

 
As we saw in a recent sermon yesterday, Proverbs 5 is what we might call a “strong meat” passage. Solomon doesn’t mince words with his son. Since the subject matter impacts the eternal state of his son’s soul, he spares nothing. He is bold and plain in his speech.
In our politically correct day – the tendency to be overly polite has crept even into the Church, so that our words are often “defanged” in an all-costs effort not to offend anyone. Offending people has taken on the character of being the only real cardinal sin of our age. You can say anything, as long as in reality it says nothing that can bother anyone else.
The Bible treats people as more valuable than that. It assumes that what is most loving, is what is actually best for people not what may or may not make them feel best. It respects us as being able to grapple with the truth, and not needing to live in a fantasy world where all is lilies and puffy clouds. God is a God of truth. And as made in His image, humankind is to be a race of truth – hard as some truths may be.
Let me remind you briefly of two things which appear in the text above, and which were amplified in the rest of this chapter.
1. Useful for our studying the rest of Proverbs (as well as other passages of Scripture) is to bear in mind that the idea of a “forbidden woman” is not ONLY an appeal to dealing with sexual sin for men – but a picture of all temptation to sin, for men, women and children alike.

All temptation – no matter what the object, calls us to partake of the forbidden, what God for whatever reason(s) has put off limits to us. As forbidden, it is some thing (or some one) we have no right to.

With that, comes a promise of certain “sweetness” – a seductive good implied in what is being proposed. This is accompanied by arguments in the heart and mind to smooth out any objections to pursuing the proposed good our consciences, God’s Word or anyone else might propose to us. The power of which resides in the fact that our own hearts are self-deceptive: Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

2. The unmasking of sin is one of our greatest weapons in overcoming it. Seeing it for what it really is. Stripping away the illusion. It is a constant battle, and a tactic which cannot be overestimated. We desperately need to see things as they are from God’s perspective. What Francis Schaeffer used to call “real reality.”

Our culture has decided to not call sin sin anymore. We concoct an entire glossary of terms to avoid it. Alternative lifestyle. Parsing facts. Polyamory. The “disease” model for drunkenness = alcoholism. Positive self-image. Addictive behaviors. Creative or un-orthodox accounting practices. Any way of describing things so as to denude them of any moral content. So we paint sin in the best possible light. We give it a pretty, or at least a non-offensive mask to hide behind. We excuse it in others so that we can excuse it in ourselves if need be. And more than anything, we avoid connecting it with the out-pouring of God’s wrath on Christ in our stead at Calvary.

Solomon wanted to make sin as repulsive to his son as he possibly could. A tactic we need to employ for ourselves. One which should bring us back to contemplate the horror of the cross again and again.

~ Reid

Next week: Part Two of Chapter Five
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.

The Wonder of Wonders

 

When you kiss your little Baby,

you kissed the face of God?

 
Christmas is a season of traditions, and I think it was in 2011 when we started a new one in our family.  My daughters and I have discovered the joy of driving at night with Christmas music turned up ridiculously loud and singing together at the top of our lungs.  One of their favourites is Mary Did You Know.  There are some lyrics in that song that send shivers down my spine (if that can be a good thing, rather than just a fear thing).

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby, you kissed the face of God?

All the hype in the world cannot overcome the genuine wonder of the incarnation.  All the magic of flying reindeer and a lightning fast large man getting down narrow or nonexistent chimneys is nothing compared to the reality of Christmas – the reality of the God over all, stooping down to become flesh and dwell amongst us.  Richard Sibbes wrote that

The Incarnation is a greater mystery than that of creation.  We cannot too often meditate of these things.  It is the life and soul of a Christian.  It is the marrow of the gospel.  It is the wonder of wonders.  We need not wonder at anything after this.     

Let’s be sure to not let the plastic version of Christmas offered by the world (enjoyable as some of it is!) make us lose our sense of the wonder of the incarnation.  It is the wonder of wonders.

Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping child you’re holding, is the great, I AM!

Now if I could just find a good version of my favourite Christmas song, then we could go for another drive in the dark:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th’ incarnate Deity, 
pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Christmas greetings from everyone associated with Cor Deo.
Thank you for praying for us.  We hope you have a great Christmas and a very encouraging New Year.
~ 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]  

The Resurrection Gospel

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

 
 
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Studies in 1 CorinthiansAs we move along in our study through 1 Corinthians to 1 Corinthians 15. Before we get there, though, I want to say two last things about 1 Corinthians 14.
I made the following statement as we were considering 1 Corinthians 14:35; “Let it also be noted that Paul does not say this to the women, ‘If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask the elders after the service.’ Rather, he says, ‘If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home’ (vs. 35).” After the service a number of people came up to me and asked, “What about those women who are single or whose husband’s are not walking with the Lord?” To which I replied, “I actually had a statement prepared in my notes to address that very issue, but just didn’t mention it. Opps.”  I will address it here.
If you are single or your husband is not walking with the Lord, you should seek the spiritual leadership of the pastors. You should wait till after the service and speak to the pastors. My comments were directed in particular at men to step up to the plate and embrace their God-given responsibility to their wives. But if you husband is not walking with the Lord or you are single, you should seek spiritual leadership from your elders.
 
Overview of 1 Corinthians 15
For this session we are moving along to 1 Corinthians 15. I am excited to start this new chapter in our study through 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter is by far the most doctrinal in the whole of 1 Corinthians. Thus far we have seen that the church in Corinth was a mess. We saw that they had unity problems in chapters 1-4, the church refused to excommunicate a man who was having sexual relations with his step mother in chapter 5, some of the members of the church were suing each other and visiting prostitutes in chapter 6, Paul addresses certain practical issues regarding divorce and remarriage in chapter 7, some of the theologically mature believers were exercising their Christian liberty to the spiritual detriment of others in the body in chapters 8-10, women seemed to be revolting against male headship and God had made sick and even killed some of the Corinthians for observing the Lord’s table in an unworthy manner  in 1 Corinthians 11, the Corinthians were using their gifts for the purpose of selfishly exalting themselves instead of building up others in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and now we come to chapter 15. Here we find that at least some of the Corinthians were embracing false doctrine in regard to the resurrection.
The church in Corinth was truly a mess. You think we have church problems? This was a church that was in need of correction on almost every front. What is most amazing about 1 Corinthians is that God continued to pursue them. God did not see the messed up folk at Corinth as mere messed up folk, he saw them as His own holy, blood-bought messed up folk. This is no prospective pastor under the sun who would willing take this church on. But we learn something about the love and grace of God as we read 1 Corinthians. As messed up as they were, God continues to pursue them. He even says of them…

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Let me ask you, if you were a member of first Baptist church of Corinth, would you continue to love them or would you be looking to move your membership elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to leave a church. But I think if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would have written First Baptist of Corinth off. But when God looks at the church He sees His precious bride. Even though she may be a train wreck, He loves her. He purchased her with His blood, and He will do whatever is necessary to purify her from her ungodliness.
 

I have come with one purpose

To capture for Myself a bride

By My life she is lovely

And by My death she’s justified

I have always been her husband

Though many lovers she has known

So with water I will wash her

And by My word alone

Cause I haven’t come for only you

But for My people to pursue

And you cannot care for Me with no regard for her

If you love Me you will love the church

I have long pursued her

As a harlot and a whore

But she will feast upon Me

She will drink and thirst no more

 
God loves His blood-bought bride. 1 Corinthians is a reminder to us that God will not leave us to wallow in our sin. God will never stop pursuing the purity of His bride. We know from 2 Corinthians that although the Corinthians did heed the word of God through Paul in 1 Corinthians, they were still pretty messed up. Listen to what Paul says to them in 2 Corinthians 11:2;

“I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”

Paul would not write them off. He pursued their purity. Why? So that he could present them as a pure virgin to Christ. Jesus died to purchase these Corinthians with His blood. The church is Christ’s body, we are God’s children, the bride of Christ, the sheep of His pasture, His holy sanctuary. He loves us—even in our brokenness—even in our struggle against sin He delights in us. The good news of 1 Corinthians is that God will never throw us away—He will not tolerate sin, but He will not throw us away. “Oh love that will not let me go.”
In 1 Corinthians 15 we see that the Corinthians needed to be corrected on yet another front. Not only were they fighting one another, refusing to deal with sin, taking each other to court, etc., etc., they were embracing false doctrine. It appears that false teachers had crept into the church and were teaching the people of God that there is no resurrection. Now when the Scriptures speak of the resurrection it can be referring to one of three things. 1. It can refer to the resurrection of Jesus Himself. 2. It can refer to the spiritual resurrection every believer experiences at the moment of salvation. This spiritual resurrection is spoken of in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God “made us alive together with Christ” “even when we were dead in our trespasses.” Jesus speaks of this same reality in terms of the new birth (John 3:3). 3. It can also refer to the real bodily resurrection of the people of God when Christ returns in all of His glory. Jesus clearly teaches us this in John 5 and 6 and Romans 8.

John 5:28-29; 28 An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John 6:40; 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Romans 8:23; 23 We who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

So which of these three resurrections were the false teachers denying; the resurrection of Jesus, the spiritual resurrection of the believer at the time of conversion, or the bodily resurrection of the believer when Christ returns? We can find our answer in vs. 12 of 1 Corinthians 15.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

The Corinthians were clearly not rejecting the resurrection of Jesus, but the resurrection of the people of God from the dead. We must understand that this is not a small technical error on some minor doctrine. This cuts at the very heart of the Gospel. What is the promise of the Gospel? Eternal life. If there is no resurrection from the dead, there is no eternal life. The fact is that hope characterizes the life of the Christian. We hope for what the fulfillment of all the great promises of God in Christ. We enjoy foretastes of what we have been promised in the here and now, but we will not enjoy the fullness of the promises of the Gospel until we reach heaven. The Christian longs to be with Christ without the hindrance of sin. The Christian is one who simultaneously looks backwards and forwards. We look backwards to the cross where our sins were paid for through the death of Christ. That is the basis of our hope. But the object of our hope is our future in heaven. Christ’s death purchases for us our heavenly inheritance. But what if there is no resurrection of the dead? There is no hope. This just what Paul says in vss. 17-19, 31-32.

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied… 31 I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Paul basically says that Christianity has nothing to offer if it doesn’t offer a future in heaven. He says in vs. 18 that if there is no resurrection from the dead then those who have fallen asleep have actually “perished.” This is such an important word. God makes a clear distinction between perishing and dying. To perish is the equivalent of eternal death. Death, on the other hand, is temporary for the Christian. Death is a passageway into eternal life. But Paul’s point is that if there is no resurrection from the dead, death is the final word for the Christian. He then says in vs. 19 that Christianity is a big fat waste of time “if in Christ we have hope in this life only.” Why put up with all of the hassle of being a Christian if there is no heavenly reward. This is what Paul emphasizes in vs. 31-32. If there is no heavenly reward, if death is the final word for the Christian, for what purpose does he die every day? If there is no resurrection from the dead, why not just live careless and reckless lives?
No one would with a right mind would choose to follow the way of Christ if there was no heavenly promise. Think of the things that Jesus has called us to. He has called us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). He has called us to radical discipleship. He has told us that the way to life is narrow and hard and few find it and that way to destruction is broad and easy (Matthew 7:13-14). Paul tells us that everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus tells us that the word will hate us because of Him (John 15:18-21). Suffering, persecution, and hardship come with the territory of being a Christian. Why would anyone choose this path if there were no heavenly reward? Why not, do as Paul says if there no resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Why not just live careless lives? Why bother with faithfulness to Christ if it comes at such a high cost if there is no heavenly reward? What is the point of suffering for the name of Christ if death is the final word.
Friends, the resurrection is the object of our hope.
A Christian simply will not persevere in the faith if he does not have a robust theology of heaven and the resurrection. Why would anyone endure persecution—why would anyone be torn from limb to limb—if he was not confident that he was going to receive the crown of life? Christianity is a forward looking religion. Hope and faith characterize the Christian life. The majority of what God has promised has yet to be fulfilled. If there is no resurrection of the dead there is no reason to persevere. If the Christian is not straining forward to latch hold of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, he will have no reason to persevere in the face of persecution and suffering.
Paul hammers this point home to the Corinthians to demonstrate to them how dangerous this false teaching is. Without this hope Christianity has nothing to offer. Now I do not want to communicate that the Christian life is an unhappy life. No. The Christian life is the happiest of all lives. The point that Paul is making, however, is that what makes the Christian life the happiest of all lives is that the Christian knows what awaits him on the other side of the grave.
Now you will notice that Paul doesn’t talk about the resurrection of the people of God until vs. 12. In vss. 1-11 his focus is on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I think that we must ask this question; Why is it that Paul emphasizes the resurrection of Christ in vss. 1-11 if the resurrection of Christ is not in dispute. Why doesn’t he begin by talking about the resurrection of the believer? This is a question that must be asked and deserves an answer. I think there are two answers to this question. 1. Paul emphasizes the resurrection of Christ in order to establish common ground with the Corinthian believers. Paul is clearly a successful debater. Instead of attacking this false teaching at the point of conflict, he seeks to attack it by establishing common ground. He reminds them of the Gospel that they have received and in which they stand. He reminds them of the Gospel that they cherish—the only Gospel which can save. He reminds them of the content of this Gospel—that it the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
His point is to establish common ground.
He doesn’t attack at the point of conflict. Rather, he reminds them of this Gospel which they have come to love and he emphasizes the fact that the resurrection is an essential element in this Gospel. You can hear the Corinthian believers amening him on every point in vss. 1-11. Paul then pulls the rug out from under their feet in vs. 12 by saying, if you hold so strongly that Jesus rose from the dead, why do some of you say that the dead are not raised. Do you see his logic? Paul established common ground with them so that they could see that what they were teaching was in direct conflict with the Gospel that they had received from him and on which they had taken their stand and by which they are being saved.
I can imagine Moe pulling this sort of a stunt, can’t you? Can’t you see Moe saying something like this: 1. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Amen?! 2. Jesus purchased with His blood people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). Amen?! 3. Jesus through His death has made peace between Jews and Gentiles through the blood of His cross (Ephesians 2:11-17). 4. Jesus has created “in Himself one new man” by bringing Jews and Gentiles together through the work of the cross (Ephesians 2:15). Amen?! 5. Jesus has made we Gentiles fellow citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem with the Jews (Ephesians 2:19). Amen?! 6. Now that Jesus has brought Jews and Gentiles together through His cross “we [all—Jews and Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Amen?! 7. If you believe that God has brought Jews and Gentiles together to be one new man in Christ Jesus, why then do you separate Jews and Gentiles by giving them two separate inheritances in the heavenly kingdom? Do you see what this argument is doing? He establishes common ground. He then points his finger at you and says, “Don’t you see that if you agree with points 1-6, you cannot hold to point 7? These two things don’t line up. What you believe so strongly seems to contradict what you are saying over here. This is just what Paul is doing in 1 Corinthians 15. If the very gospel you are relying on for salvation emphasizes the resurrection of Christ from the dead, how can you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?
The second reason Paul focuses on the resurrection of Christ in vss. 1-11 even though it is not in dispute is because he wants the Corinthians to see that it is perilous to reject the resurrection of the dead. He wants them to see that you cannot believe that there is no resurrection from the dead and yet believe the Gospel at the same time. The Gospel, after all, centers on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If the dead are not raise, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised there is no Gospel. The resurrection is at the heart of the Gospel. A dead savior is no savior at all. He emphasizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ in vss. 1-11 so that they might see the danger of this false teaching. To say that there is no resurrection of the dead is to say that there is no gospel.
So Paul focuses on the Gospel in vss. 1-11. In vss. 1-2 Paul speaks about our relationship to the Gospel. In vss. 3-11 Paul focuses on the content of the Gospel. He puts our focus on this Gospel because at the very heart of this Gospel is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Lets take a look at vss. 1-2 with the time we have left. Read it with me.

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Paul here emphasizes our relationship to the Gospel.
He makes four statements about our relationship to the Gospel in these two verses. We will look briefly at four of them this morning. 1. First, we see that the Gospel is worthy of a reminder. I know that we often times think that repetition is a bad thing. But when it comes to Christianity, we cannot hear the Gospel enough. Paul has already preached the Gospel to these Corinthians—notice the past tense “preached.” When Paul reminds them of this Gospel he is not sharing with them anything new. Just like us, they know it inside and out. But just like us, they need it repeated again and again. The Gospel is a message which we need to hear every day. It cannot be repeated too often. We need to be careful that we are not like the Athenians in Acts 17 who were always craving something new (Acts 17;21).
We need to be people who love the old old story. We don’t need new and fresh ways to look at the truth. We need the eyes of our hearts enlightened to see the weight and glory and significance and reality of the simple truth that we already know. I came to a crisis point when I was in 1 Corinthians 11. I was no longer enjoying preparing sermons. I was no longer sure of what I was preaching. I was reading about 150 pages of commentary every week. I finally realized that I was so busy chasing after new ways of looking at the text that I had no time to actually meditate on the truth of the text. I gave Kristal 8 of my 13 commentaries and told her to hide them and to not give them back until I was finished through 1 Corinthians.
Nearly every morning when I get up I pray to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t want to be one of those dead beat 50 year old pastors who merely pass along information to your people. I don’t want to just know facts about you, I want to know you. When I preach I want to preach the old truths with an unction such that your people feel the weight and glory of your truth. I don’t want to just stimulate their heads. I want you to work through me in such a way that they come to see that these truths communicate what is real in the spiritual realm—that these truths although unseen can be leaned upon. We don’t need new truth. We need to be reminded of what we already know.
Second, he says that they have received this Gospel.
The Gospel is something to be received. Have you received the Gospel? If you have not received this Gospel, you are not a Christian. To receive the Gospel is not merely to agree with the intellectual content of the Gospel. You may think that you are a Christian because you merely agree that Jesus is God and that He died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave. But to receive the Gospel is not to merely agree with the intellectual truth claims of the Gospel. To receive the Gospel is to abandon yourself to it as your only hope before God. To receive the Gospel is to throw aside every other ground of assurance before God. To receive the Gospel is to cling to the message of Christ crucified as your only hope. So what Paul says about receiving the Gospel is closely related with what he says about standing in the Gospel. To take a stand in the Gospel means that you are firmly grounded in the Gospel. You are putting all of your eggs in the Gospel bag. You are unmoved in your confidence in the Gospel.
The word “stand” literally denotes “the physical act of standing” and “is often used to denote conviction, resoluteness, steadfastness, firmness, and the quality of being unwavering and immoveable.”[1] In other words to take your stand in the Gospel means that you are not leaving your options opened. To take your stand in the Gospel means that you are not open or willing to reconsider or to reexamine the evidence. To take your stand in the Gospel means that you say, “If there is no salvation in Christ, I will surely be condemned, because He is my only hope.” To take your stand in the Gospel is to forsake all for the sake of following Him—abandoning all hope outside of Him. The message of Jesus and His apostles was not “Try Jesus.” It was a radical and unqualified call to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is not like a vacuum cleaner. There is no money back guarantee. Try it out for a month and if you don’t like it you will get all your money back, guaranteed! No. The Gospel is the call to throw yourself upon Him as your only hope.
Have you done this? Are you holding back? Have you received Him? Have you taken your stand in Him? Or are you keeping your options on the table. You do enough Jesus stuff but have not completely surrendered your life to Him. May you give yourself to Him wholly today. There is no salvation outside of Him. You must receive Him and take your stand in Him.


[1] Washer, The Gospel’s Power and Message, 15.

~ 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.
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