What Are We To Do? (Week Eight)

[Series Index]

A. Ward Brandenstein's To Walk In The Spirit

Part 4 – What are we to do?

CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…

Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers

 

In Ward Brandenstein’s introduction to chapter five he writes: “The Christian life is intended by God to be far more than simply a religious experience or the practicing of religion.  It is the living of life that is in balance, that is fulfilling, and that is free of regrets.  It is literally Christ living out His life through the individual.  That does not mean that the individual becomes passive and uninvolved.  Rather, it is an active participation of the person in a submissive dependency to Christ’s headship over himself.  To the extent that each believer willingly submits himself to Christ’s will and way, Christ’s righteousness will be a practical result and a benefit to that person.  This is not something that God demands of the Christian, but is something God has provided and leaves up to the individual to choose and follow willingly. In order to understand this principle of being willingly submissive to Christ, it would be well to consider several commands and admonitions that will clarify the part the believer will need to play to realize fulfilled life as a Christian.”

..

The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.

 

The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)

 

THE WORLD IS UNDER GOD’S JUDGMENT NOW

The world system is not able to succeed when viewed from God’s standpoint.

In I Corinthians 1:20,21, it states,

Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

The wisdom by which the world operates scoffs at God or the need for God.  God saves people through the means of preaching, which the world considers as foolishness.  So the world system is doomed to failure because it regards God and His means of saving people as foolishness.

The Scriptures continue the same principle of God’s attitude towards the world’s wisdom in I Corinthians 3:19,20, where it says:

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.  And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

The word, foolish(ness) comes from the Greek word which means “moron, stupid, heedless”.  It also carries the idea of “put to silence”.  In the Scripture quoted above, it states that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  The picture presented is that the world’s propoganda is regarded by God as meaningless and is not worth hearing.  The word, vain, has the meaning of “empty, to no purpose”.

In view of the verses just quoted, God has given His judgment that the world’s wisdom is empty and purposeless.  Therefore, the believer can only find eternal blessing for both time and eternity by heeding what God says and by separating himself from the world.

The permanent, eternal benefit of godliness in contrast to the limited, temporal nature of the world is stated in I John 2:17:

And the world passeth away, and the lust of it; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

The believer is exhorted, by means of the contrast given, to choose doing the will of God which is eternal, rather than allowing himself to be deceived by the allurements of the world and spending his time in that which will not endure.  As the believer understands that God regards the world system and its wisdom as foolishness, it should cause the believer to want to separate himself from the world’s influence and attitudes.

One final truth needs to be considered concerning the world: the world’s regard for God is enmity.

THE WORLD’S REGARD FOR GOD IS ENMITY

The impossibility of persons ever coming to God on the basis of the wisdom of the world is stated in I Cor. 1:21,

For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

The phrase, the world by wisdom knew not God, indicates that it was absolutely impossible for the world to ever know God experientially.  The word, to know, used here is the same word used by Jesus in John 17:3, when He says,

This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.

It is impossible on the basis of the world’s wisdom for the world to experience the kind of knowledge of God that is eternal life.

Another Scripture which shows the world’s enmity against God is James 4:4,

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James is very strong in His warning to believers that there cannot be any allowance for the believer to have an attitude of cooperation or participation in the world without becoming an enemy of God.  This warning should certainly help the believer to see that he must be separate from the world.

The characteristics which define the world are stated in I John 2:16,

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Not only is the world characterized by these characteristics of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, but they aptly describe “soulishness” or carnality in the life of the believer.  In addition, they were included in Satan’s temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden (See Gen. 3:6) and in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11).

In I John 2:15, the believer is commanded to love not the world (See Believers Are to Separate From The World As To Their Walk.)  In view of the present consideration of verse 16 above, the believer is given the reason why he should not love the world.  It might be well to note also that the world’s business is usually aimed at satisfying these three characteristics.  To the degree that the believer is controlled by the world to endeavor to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, he will not be able to love God as he would be able to do if he obeyed the command of verse 15 to not love the world.

In I John 3:1, the verse concludes with the statement, …the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.  In view of this, the child of God should not consider it to be an unusual thing when the world doesn’t seem interested in him or show kindness or consideration, because the world holds in regard those who belong in the world system.  Therefore, the world’s attitude against God and against those who believe in Him should be reason enough for the believer to want to be an overcomer (I John 5:4,5).  He is able to overcome the world because of his being in Christ and Christ’s being in him.  I John 4:4 states,

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

Next Week: Part Five continued: The Flesh
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.
 

Sure, like, why not?

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

 

Looked at from one angle,
my life may be divided into two halves.

The first half was labeled: No thanks.

The second half: Yes, lets!

 

[I’m a theologian and it’s been a long day of the Greek of Romans 13. Let’s take a break]

no thanks 2Actual Examples of “No Thanks”:

Gary, you want to go sailing in the bay with us? No thanks.

How about playing some hoops? Don’t feel like it.

You want to go and hear this messianic group, “The Liberated Wailing Wall”? Thank you, no.

You’ve gotta come to our clam bake! Thanks anyway.

.
What made me change directions?

Probably just growing up some, but two events made me rethink things.

First: a College Retreat. I almost never went to any social or sport event in high school or college. I’m just not interested, I thought. I have things to do. Then my fiancée Karen and I decided to go on our senior class retreat. And I had an excellent time. I became friendly with people whom I knew mainly as backs of heads from class. So, I asked, why hadn’t I done this before?

Second: My college roommate Sam just would not stop pestering me to go to this Christian concert with him. You’ll love it, he said.He’s not Larry Norman, he said – guess where my head was at! –but he’s amazingNaw, I replied. I’d better not; I have stuff to do, I retorted. C’mon, man! No. It turns out that was my last opportunity to hear Keith Green perform before he died in that plane crash. I became a big fan of his – but posthumously.

I hear there’s a Jim Carrey movie called “Yes Man”. “Carl Allen is at a standstill. No future…Until the day he enrolls into a personal development program based on a very simple idea: say yes to everything!” Lessons are learned, perils are avoided, the boy gets the girl (Zooey Deschanel!), etc.

I joke around with my kids that they ought to be “Yes let’s! Guys and Gal”, to go to a game or get ice cream or see a show, just because someone suggests it. I try to make my rapid response, “Absolutely, let’s do it!”

One way of viewing the Christian life is that it is a long list of things Not To Do. And certainly, there is some truth here, and we see Christians doing plenty of bad stuff. Just say no.

But at the heart of the matter is a ringing Yes: ‘All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory’ (2 Cor 1:20 NLT).
.

God designed our new life in Christ to be positive, open, vital, growing.

The new life is meant to be lived, not locked away. Like the parent who scatters Easter eggs [1] for the little ones to discover, our loving Father delights for us to find new blessings, learn new truths, share our joy with others. May we live firmly in God’s truth, in his own armor, but unintimidated by life.

NOTES:

[1] And yes, I know all about the origins of Easter eggs. It’s an illustration.

~ Gary

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

Radical: Meals

..

The Christian needs Radical Meals

 

Luke 11:37
As he spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so he went in and took his place at the table. 

Luke 14:10
But when you are invited, go and take the least important place, so that when your host approaches he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up here to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who share the meal with you. 

Luke 17:7
“Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, ‘Come at once and sit down for a meal’? 

.

Introduction 

We are in a short series on the theme “Radical”. As has been mentioned, the idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this series is by no means a repetition of that book. We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. First we saw that true Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer. Those who follow Christ Jesus get involved in his radical way of life. Next, we considered a group of women who became radical in their relationship with God and in their way of life. They experienced radical change when the encountered the authority of the Radical Redeemer. And they exhibited radical consecration when they joined his followers and contributed financially to Christ’s ministry. Last week we saw that the person with radical faith is confident in God the Father’s provision, devoted to the Father’s vision, and participating in the Father’s mission.

Christ has given us, his people, a mission. We are to make learners or followers of Christ in all nations (Lk 24:45-49). Christ has given us the Holy Spirit for power in that mission. I think most Christians understand this much. We know that there is no “Plan B” and that unless the Spirit works, nothing of spiritual significance happens. However… well, to speak frankly, in spite of our knowledge nothing much of anything happens, especially after you’ve been a Christian a couple years. There simply isn’t much radical about our lives.

At this point we might give a number of explanations, from which we all might perhaps acquire a weird combination of guilt, blame shifting, committee forming, and program making that in the end also accomplishes nothing. Before we run down those paths again, I’d like to make a bold suggestion. Let’s look at how Jesus actually connected with people. Let’s listen to some passages from the Gospel of Luke 4:39; 5:4-11; 29-32; 7:31-35, 36-50; 9:1-6, 10-17; 10:5-9, 38-42; 11:37-38; 12:16-21, 29-31, 35-44; 13:29; 15:1-2, 22-32; 19:1-10; 22:7-38; 24:28-31. As this brief survey shows, Jesus shared meals with people, or told his followers to share meals with others, or used the subject of food to teach people. 

We should follow Jesus and use meals as opportunities for the gospel. But to do this in his way, we must have his attitudes permeating our way of life.

Exposition

I.The attitude of compassion (14:1-6)

A.Jesus found himself in an unpleasant situation.

1.He was a dinner guest in a home of a prominent Pharisee. Jesus was willing to eat with those who opposed him at their place. He did not think that he had to be in control by having others on his turf.

Illustration: Success of going to a Kurdish coffee shop instead of a Christian coffee shop

2.He was being carefully watched, because they wanted to catch Jesus in some real or supposed fault. Then they could attack him. Obviously, this is not a happy crowd at the dinner, but Jesus was willing to go there for his Father’s glory. We don’t do things to feel good, but to love God and to love people (cf. Ph 1:12-20).

3.He saw a man with a serious physical problem. (There is no need to speculate on its exact nature.) Jesus tried to have some before dinner conversation about helping the man, but no one would talk with him. A good reply to his question would have been, “Yes, it is lawful to help him. Jesus, will you heal him for the glory of God and his good?”

B.Jesus pressed on in spite of the coldness of his hosts. [Some things aren’t easy!]

1.He healed the man, which solved his physical need. Then he sent him away, which provided for his social need, since the healed man would not be the object of their hostility. (Yes, they did turn on those Jesus healed. Think of the man born blind, Jn 9). 

2.He stood up for God’s ways in the face of their lack of pity for the man and obvious hostility toward Jesus. They kept quiet, not wanting to say that Jesus is right.

Apply: What about you—do you agree that Jesus is right and then live in conformity with his word?

II.The attitude of humility (14:7-14)

A.Jesus saw people acting out of selfish ambition. They were looking for the best seats at the dinner table, so that others could see how important they were. Have you thought about how these matters work? If you are put before someone, then they are beneath you. And those higher up the pecking order are usually treated better than those who are lower. Those above are served first, fussed over, and things like that. This is the way of the world. Contrast the attitude and action of Jesus (Luke 22:24-27).

1.In response, Jesus decided to tell a story, not about any dinner, but about a wedding feast. (Remember that history is heading toward the wedding supper of the Lamb, Rev 19:9.) Since Jesus had been to wedding feasts before, he had probably seen this scene. You know how it is. “Oh, you’re seated at table #22.” And when you get to your assigned table, there is jockeying for position at the table to get the best seats.

2.The point of Jesus’ story is to act with humility for the good of others and not with pride to satisfy yourself. The Lord’s way is to humble yourself, as he did by coming from heaven to become truly human, in order to die for us (Ph 2:5-11). God awarded Christ’s service for others with glory. We should serve one another humbly in love (Gal 5:13).

B.Jesus also corrected his host about how to serve others and not oneself. 

1.Use meals to help others, not to satisfy yourself. People too often give meals or parties to exalt themselves before others and then expect to be repaid with an invitation to another party. Jesus upsets all social conventions by saying to invite the disadvantaged who cannot possibly pay you back.

Comment: You and I fit each of those categories (14:13) in a spiritual sense. When we know what we were by natural and God’s grace to us, it is easy to draw people near with grace.

2.Jesus also points to what is really important—the resurrection of the righteous. It is another way of telling us to lay up treasure in heaven by serving others now. Use meals to win others to the Lord.

Apply: We must seriously ask ourselves if we are willing in love to eat with people unlike us. Or are we seeking our own pleasure and some kind of worldly repayment?

III.The attitude of generosity (14:15-24)

Illustration: Were you ever in a class where there was a show-off, who was always trying to impress the instructor with their knowledge? It is a miserable situation for everyone else in the room, including the teacher! Someone at this dinner thought they had something very profound to say. Jesus uses the comment to teach more about the importance of meals.

A.Jesus tells the story of a snubbed host of a great banquet. If you’re going to give a banquet, you have many preparations to make, chief of which is getting food and preparing it. This involves great expense for the host.

1.The man in the story acted according to the social customs of the time. He gave proper prior invitations, and then informed his guests that the banquet was ready.

2.But when the time for the banquet arrived, all the invited guests failed to show, giving ridiculous excuses for their failure to come. Only fools would buy animals or land without first inspecting them. And to talk about needing to be alone with your new wife was a matter of “too much information” and socially unacceptable.

B.The man giving the banquet was angered by their rejection. But he did not allow his anger to stop him from being generous.

1.So he told his servant to invite all the disadvantaged people that he could find—those who could never repay him. Notice that Jesus uses the four same categories of disadvantaged people. His servant did just that.

2.But there was still room, so he told his servant to go bring in anyone he could find, so that his house would be full. This is our challenge: to bring people to Christ, so that they will be ready to celebrate with Jesus at the wedding feast of the Lamb!

Lessons:

1. Let us evaluate ourselves. Jesus welcomed and ate with socially outcast sinners (15:1-2). Do we? Can we call ourselves his people, if we fail to draw near to people he drew near to?

2. “Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus, then you’ll be doing mission” (Chester, A Meal with Jesus, in chapter four).

3. “Don’t start with a big program. Don’t suddenly think you can add to your church budget and begin. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community…. You don’t need a big program. You don’t need to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin. And there is no place in God’s world where there are no people who will come and share a home as long as it is a real home” (Schaeffer, quoted by Chester in ibid).

4. Start this summer. Invite your neighbors and perhaps one or two from our church. Pray with your gospel partners ahead of time. Have a meal. Just talk with your neighbors. Find out what is on their heart. Ask questions that show you really care about them. Then use your newfound opportunities to gently lead them toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

~ 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.