11 November 2018

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU WALK CHILD OF GOD



Eph 5:15-21

There is something every single one of us has heard at one point in time growing up. And that is “Make sure you look both ways before you cross the street.” What’s funny about this is that I say the same thing to my children, all the time. Why? Because we care deeply about them and the last thing we want to see is for them is to get hurt. Ever! I often wondered as a child, “Why would my parents remind me every day about this?” This should be something that is common sense or comes natural, as we explore this world. But we all know, we too, have forgotten at times how to look both ways before crossing once or twice in our lives. (Those close calls, or brushes with pending doom.) This statement is a statement of concern for your well-being and for you to apply this to your own life. With the same warning and urgency that our parents gave to us and as we give to our children. Paul is saying the same thing as we continue to dive into this section of his letter to the church here in chapter five.

We already know that we are saved by marvelous grace though the gospel confession as we read through chapter one. We already know that Christ Jesus suffered, bleed, died a sinner’s death and rose again to fulfill the Father’s wrath for sinners. We already know that we were darkness, but now we are children of light. And now… Paul says something that any good parent would say to their child as they leave the house to face the world and all its dysfunction.

Paul says “Look carefully then how you walk” (v15) This is based upon what has already been thought. For us who have been raised from the dead and living as lights that reflect the gospel of Christ we are to walk by observing how we walk in a world of darkness. We are to imitate our Heavenly Father seeking and walking in His wisdom over the foolishness of this present world system. The wise walk only suits the child of God for the glory of God. 

Many times throughout the scripture we see this same urgent statement given to a child of God about walking worthy of the gospel. Romans 13:13-14 says “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” We know we are not to walk as we once did and as those who don’t believe. Eph 4:17 We know we are to walk in the light of truth and holiness. 1 John 1:7 says “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” It’s through the gospel we are able to walk worthy of our calling and worthy of the glorious Christ. It’s through the gospel we are declared holy and righteous, all on the grounds of the finished work of Christ.

So! What are we to be careful with? The answer is found in the next verse. “making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.” (v16) Our time as brothers and sisters in Christ are to be used and spent for His glory. What does Paul mean when he says “The days are evil?” During this time there were corruption, debauched living, paganism and ramped heresies plaguing the church and the families of God. We know this to be true by what we read in Eph 4:14Greediness, dishonesty, and immorality was a way of life for the city of Ephesus and it was permeating into the church and this was a great concern for Paul and the witness of the gospel there. Eph 5:3-6

Understand Less than a hundred years after Paul wrote this letter, Rome was persecuting Christians and was becoming more intense and very cruel then it has ever been. Christians were burned alive, thrown to wild beasts, and brutalized on many occasions in many other ways. For this church evil times were going to become more and more evil. This would affect the church of Ephesus many years later with an encouraging remark, but a gentle rebukeAll because they forgot the most important thing during this time of evil for church of any age. Rev 2:2-4 says "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

The evil of this world can make a Christian/Church, become callous to the world, to the church, and most of all, towards image bearers of God …refereeing to lost people. The evil of this world can make us hold to our doctrines, but lacking in compassion for those outside and inside the church. The evil that is around us can make us become religious and not genuine lights of the gospel. The evil of this world can make us become resentful and angry with our present world system, even to the point of not sharing the gospel. It’s the evil of this world that can make our hearts feel and say “I don’t care if they go to Hell”

We must, must, must pray that this is never said to us as a church on that day. We must pray this is not our own hearts this morning because of the evil that is around us. Paul said it was going to get worse not better so be prepared and walk as children of Light because the gospel gives us hope. The gospel and the glory of God is everything or should be everything to us as a church and as individuals. This is why we are to walk with wisdom that is from above through the leading and submission to the Spirit as the evil of this world continues.

Matt 24:3-14 reminds of this truth as Jesus said “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

So Paul goes on to say “Therefore do not be foolish” (v17) “Foolish” or “fool” commonly refers to a person who acts unintelligently and irresponsibly. Scripture defines a fool as a person who says in his or her heart “There is no God” A fool according to the scripture is someone who is moral corrupt or morally bankrupt. The foolish man or woman is someone who lives there life apart from God. Psalm 14:1-4 saysThe fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD? A foolish person is someone who denies God all together by their words or actions.

This is a person who is born spiritually foolish Romans 1:21-22 says “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” The foolish and natural man or woman has more important things to do and they consider that more important over their eternal state. 1 Cor 2:14 says “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

John MacArthur said when talking about the foolish man or woman “The natural man has the most important things in life exactly reversed. Consequently, he thinks foolishness is wisdom and wisdom is foolishness. No man can live without a god of some sort, and the spiritual fool inevitably substitutes a false god for the true God. He creates gods of his own making and, in effect, becomes his own god, his own authority in all things.”
  
We know this to be the problem then, now, and into the future, when Christ’s return! Why? Prov 12:15 says “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” To help us from such foolish thinking and living, and so that we don’t fall to our natural ways of our fallen previous state. Paul uses some unorthodox language in this text; about how we are to live and be governed by the Spirit, and not by the flesh and our desires. (v18) “Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (v18)

Getting drunk with wine is not only a hindrance but a counterfeit of being filled with the Spirit of God. Many people think that drinking will help them find peace and joyfulness through a past or present struggle or a certain problem. But we all know it only leads to more heartache and pain. People drink to be happy but this is where we do not find true and lasting happiness. This is not God filled….. But a person who seeks ways to find happiness outside of God’s sovereign grace and care and wills for our lives. When we read the Proverb “A joyful heart is medicine” Prov 17:22. This is not refereeing or opening the door to social drinking; or something that is going to alter your ability to understand and function.

So what is Paul trying to say to us about this? We are to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, when one is filled with the Spirit he or she is now under the influence and submission to the Spirit. “Be filled with the Spirit”(v18) We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not a dramatic mysterious experience like you been zapped by the Energizer Bunny. We need to understand that being filled is not the same as possessing, or being indwelt by, because the Spirit indwells the believer at the moment of salvation. Paul said “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Rom 8:9. We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not a kind of spiritual intoxication which we lose self-control, Why? Because “self-control” is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Gal 5:22. We need to understand that being filled with the Spirit is not some progression of receiving Him in small portions. Every Christian through the saving grace of the gospel, fully possesses the Spirit. God doesn’t just give you a part of Him. but all the fullness of the Spirit. John 3:34 says “for he gives the Spirit without measure.”
  
What Paul is saying is that alcohol is a depressant, while the Spirit is a simulant. Today the church needs the Holy Spirit in this way more than ever before. Many churches are spiritual empty of the joy that is found in Christ and the gospel, but not just the church age. We have seen this in the nation of Israel! Jer 2:5 the LORD asks the question “Thus says the LORD: "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? The answer is given in (v13 of Jeremiah chapter two) “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” It’s seeking pleasures in something else, seeking to find that next and greatest high to fill their broken hearts with a counterfeit joy.

See to be filled with the Spirit is not like a flu shot or an evening of Bing drinking once and awhile. It’s a continuation of being filled by the Spirit of God for the purpose to displaying a genuine love and joy found in Christ alone. In the Greek this statement is referring to “Be being kept filled”. It’s a command that includes the idea of conscious continuation. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option for the believer but a mandate. No Christian can fulfill the will of God apart from God’s Spirit. John MacArthur said “Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit.”

So the question we need to ask ourselves is….. How are we to walk with wisdom and not fools; being guided by the Spirit daily shining for Him and His glory? (v19) The answer is found in the remaining verses of this portion of scripture (v19-v21). Singing vertically to Him and His glory. 

A Spirit filled life produces music to the Heavens and the glory of God. 

This is not judged on your ability to sing or hold a note. This is pure worship and it’s promoting a gathering of like-minded people. We sing because He gives us the joy to sing for such a great salvation in His Son. See! It’s not our abilities, strengths, the ability to articulate or speak, it’s not even our ability to display mountain moving faith. It’s the manifestation of joy that Spirit provides to and through us, as we sing to Him for His glorious Name. “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.” Psalm 33:1. 

Giving thanks for His saving grace and giving us an eternal hope as we live in this darkened world as reflections of His glorious gospel. 

It’s the expression for God’s children who have a genuine expression of gratitude that is pleasing to God. It’s our hope and desire for future things where we will finally taste the victory of the finished work of Christ. The glorious resurrection awaits those who are hidden in Him through the gospel. Our eternal joy of sinlessness and everlasting satisfaction in Christ alone and the complete denial of my sinfulness and desires that hinder my joy here on Earth. It’s the victory that Paul proclaimed when he said “As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:36-39

Submitting to one another out of reverence for God is good. 

A Spirit filled life leads us to walk in humility and it opens our eyes to see the needs of other and the welfare of the body of Christ. The general meaning here is, that Christianity does not break up the relations of life, and produce disorder, lawlessness, and insubordination. But submits to one another under the authority of Scripture and love for the church body. The church has a function with many parts and they need to work together because the end goal is to glorify our Father who is in Heaven. And the last thing I want to see you do, or I do, is offend a holy God by our rebellious and insubordinate attitude towards one another. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God….” 1 Peter 2:16-17. This is something that sets the stage for the next section of Paul’s letter that we will look at in a couple of weeks. So stay tuned! 

Charles Spurgeon had a question for his church family and it’s something I think we need to ponder today! As it relates to the child of God as we walk the walk of faith. 1 John 2:6 says “Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did.” Charles Spurgeon said “Hang this question up in your houses! "What would Jesus do?" And then think of another, "How would Jesus do it?" Why did Spurgeon say that? Because what Jesus would do, and how He would do it…..will always stand as the best guide to us. So church family! “Look carefully then how you walk”. As 1 Peter 2:21 says "Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." We as God’s children are supposed to make the most of our time about Christ and His gospel. Christians should make the most of their time about His work because we do not want to waste our lives on earthly pursuits. We must passionately shine our lights as a reflection of His glory for a world to see and taste the glory of the gospel. While we have breath may it used solely for Him!

Why? Because when we stand before Him in all His glory we will not regret having spent our lives wiselySo look both ways and use this time for His glory, under the authority and submission of the Spirit as we sing, give thanks and live our lives for His glorious Name. As 1 Thess 5:17-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. For this is the will of God for you and me

28 October 2018

ONCE DARKNESS NOW YOU ARE LIGHT PART 2



Eph 5:5-14

Light has no business taking part in anything that is darkness, in reference to what we talked about last week. The Apostle Paul says “Take no part” or “Have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness” (v11) What does he mean by this? The child of God should not become involved in evil even by association. John MacArthur said “We cannot witness to the world if we do not go out into the world; and we cannot go far into the world before coming in contact with all sorts of wickedness. But we are never to identify with that wickedness, or give it opportunity to take hold in our own life. To compromise God’s standards is to weaken our witness as well as our character.”

Over and over again we hear the cries of Paul and the apostles to what? “Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thess 5:22. We are to live a life under His grace free from all forms of evil, because we are now children of Light. The evidence and our witness to such a great salvation through Christ alone. The evil system of this world is destructive and all they does is tear down and destroy. Do Christians fall into these types of sins?  Of course! But true Christians will not persist in them because the gospel reminds you of God’s goodness when He pulling your dead corpse up from the ground into His glorious light of salvation. Paul said this to the Church at Corinth “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.” 1 Cor 6:11
The warning that Paul is giving is the foolishness of earthy pursuits and acceptance from an eternal perspective.

Remember what Jesus said “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his life.” Mark 8:36. We are not to be “deceived by empty words” (v6) it’s full of error and devoid of truth. Its darkness/person telling you that sin is tolerable and that God will not exclude unrepentant sinners into the Kingdom. We live in a world that believes this that all (everyone) will be in heaven whether you believe or not in Christ alone. This is a dangerous heresy and it’s blasphemous to speak such foul words that are being polluted from pulpits across the globe to suit a world of darkness. It’s a slap in the face of Jesus when he said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When Peter said “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:8-12

When Stephen said “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:51-60

How about what the Apostle Paul said “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:8-11

See a child of the King, have a God more satisfying than sexual sin, greed or covetousness and idolatry. This is why God is worthy of endless praise and thanksgiving. (v4) A God who has taken these dry dead bones, filled with complete darkness and through gospel, He poured into our lives, new life, and the light of His only begotten Son of God. He has given us the Kingdom which is life eternal and it’s because of that the true believer worships the triune God for His glory. We only lose focus of this truth when we take our gaze off the Light and listen to darkness and becoming partakers with them. Paul is reminding us that we were once dead and lost but know we are saved by grace so walk as children of Light (v7-v10). We do this by NOT JOINING those in darkness, but living as children of Light and doing what is pleasing to Him. (v10). Last week we looked at what is good, right and true as expositional listeners and students of His word.

Because this…. Cultivates a hunger and thirst for His Word “How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth…” Psalm 119:103. Walking as children of Light helps us to focus on God’s will for our lives. Walking as children of Light helps us to protect the gospel from corruption and heresies. Walking as children of Light helps us to grow in reverence God. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Heb 12:28-28

We always and sometimes daily need to ask the question! What will please the LORD? In this moment, in my relationships, my conversation, actions. In my singleness, my marriage, my decision making, my response to positive and negative comments or remarks. How you respond to these things on a daily basis will give evidence to whether you are a Light or darkness. You will know them by their fruits. 

We are not to actively participate in darkness but we are to do something about it. Answer is found in (v11b) “expose them” But in order to do this properly and biblicallyWe need wisdom, discernment, gentleness and courage to know how to confront and expose the works of darkness. Paul says light illuminates darkness, just as a flashlight can guide you in the dark so that you do not trip and fall over things unseen. We know this to be true! “…Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12. We are surrounded by sinful practices from all sides; we are not immune to the dangers around us, and Paul knows this to be true. Paul says “take no part in unfruitful the works of darkness.” (v11) Why? There is a danger if we stay or surround ourselves with people who practice this behavior on a 24 hour time frame. This danger can cause the child of God to become desensitized and makes us accept what we should abhor, tolerate, tempts or actually desire what is displeasing to God.
  
Look what Paul says in (v12) “For it shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” The darkness is strong around us and we need to be a strong light exposing the darkness around us. For the purpose that we too don’t become dim lights or desensitized by the culture and following the talking heads of this generation. Turn on the lights in a basement what happens when you see the floor start to move? Insects and critters in our basements hate the Light. Just as our present world systems hates the things of God, but we are never to entertain this in our homes, churches and society, but we must gently expose the darkness for what is. Because it’s not pleasing to God in our homes and churches. But this isn’t going to be easy for the child of Light. Why? Jesus said these words “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." John 3:16-21
  
Sometimes such exposure and reproof will be direct and at other times it will be indirect. But none the less it is to be done for the restoration of a soul. And it’s our responsibility to hold everything to the Light of scripture, without exception even your sinful behavior at times. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105. “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,” Prov 6:23. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17. Matthew Henry said “We must witness against the sins of others, and endeavor to convince them of their sinfulness in our words; but especially by the holiness of our lives.” Our holy living has consequences not only for our own sanctification but also for the eternal good of others. As we seek to please God, humbly admitting how we fall short of His standards, we provide a beacon of hope to those trapped in the darkness of sin.”

A true child of light takes no part in darkness, but with humility expose the deeds of darkness for what it is (v11- v15) Being a child of Light reveals the heart and guides our footsteps but it also exposes something the world doesn’t want to see. Light exposes darkness and in contrast to what Paul has been saying here in this chapter. See! Light produces fruit that is pleasing to God….. but darkness is a denial of the sun and is fruitless and yielding nonproducing deeds/fruits. It’s like putting a tarp over a patch of grass…leave down for a period of time and what do you see when you lift it up? Dead grassBut when the light is exposed to the grass it does something unimaginable! It slowly can be brought back to life. By exposing the darkness for what it is……it will in turn through God’s grace restore a person who is darkness into His glorious light. Our commission as children of Light is to hold everything up to the light of scripture, to expose and seek to remedy whatever is evil. Many Christians do not expose or rebuke evil because they do keep their own spiritual and moral house under the submission of God word because they are less discerned about their own life. Everything we do must be held to scripture even if it means we have repentance in our lives and homes first. This is what it means to live as children of Light.

 If this is something you struggle with or don’t think your light is very bright Might I suggest something!   Ask God to help you. The light of God that shines through us both illumines and transforms exposes and cleanses. Only two responses can follow such exposure and this is why it’s hard for many Christians. Many will hate the light and those whose lives provide the light, and they will try to stamp out the light and silence the church. Others will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and see the darkness of their deeds. They will turn from their sin to Christ and thereby, thereby begin to glorify the Lord.

The gospel saves!
  
Let me encourage you with the words of Jesus “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”. Matt. 5:16. Our lives are to glorify Him…it’s never been or about us at all. The gospel is one part the other is displaying to others in darkness the glory of God who saves sinners like them. Our mandate and call in this life is to glorify our glorious God by imitating Him to lost and broken people who do not realize they are lost, broken and waiting final judgement by a sovereign and holy God. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. So let’s get out there and do this as children of Light for His glory and His gospel.

Why?....... (v14) says it all! “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (v14) The sinner who is asleep in the darkness of sin is unaware of his or her lost condition and tragic destiny. Arise from the dead is a summons to repentance and faith in Christ alone. And an appeal to turn away from the dead ways of sin and destruction. Christ will shine on you is the good news!

What is the good news?

(use your hand/ fingers to demonstrate) Jesus died for our sins and was raise on the third day. As one puritan preacher said “I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light; Look unto to Me, thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.” I looked to Jesus, and I found In Him my star, my sun; And in that light of Life I’ll walk, till travelling days are done.” Prov 4:18 says “The path of the righteous is like a light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” This is our duty to expose the darkness with gentleness and humility until we leave this earth into eternal glory. With the invitation of the gospel to those who are darkness, to come into His glorious light and live for the glory of His Name.

25 October 2018

IMPORTANT THEOLOGICAL TRUTH PART 5



You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 
2 Timothy 2:3-6

There are some days when I say to myself “What’s the point in trying? 
Why do I put my family and myself through the pain of defeat? Nobody is listening anyways.” 
Do you feel this way some days? 
Or is this just me? 
Why do we try so hard when we know nine times out ten it only leads to frustration, pain, rejection or worse - being hurt by the people around you? I guess the big question is, ‘Why would a holy and perfect God allow me and you to go through such trying days?’ The answer is: why wouldn’t He? We are all sinners, accursed, haters of God. The only reason we are not put to death is because of what King Jesus did on the cross some 2000 years ago.
So why does God allow us to go through hardships as we wait upon Him to call us home? The Bible is very clear and explicit when it says trials are for our [the Christian’s] benefit to strengthen and mould us into the image of the Son [Jesus Christ].  

The next word I want to look at that goes so easily under the radar with most Christians is the word “endure” which means: To bear; to sustain; to support without breaking or yielding to force or pressure. Metals are said to endure a certain degree of heat without melting; to bear with patience, to bear without opposition or sinking under the pressure; to bear up under hardship or persecution; to remain under; to be strong, firm, to persevere beneath a heavy burden. “And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved”. Matt 10:22.             

  We all start as this square block of wood, if I can use this as an example. And God cuts away the dead bark and starts to mould and shape us with all His fine precision tools into the person He created us to be, a person created for His glory. We all need shaping and sanding. Paul says the Christian life is going to be hard with many heartbreaks and struggles but this is the course He has for every one of us, because in the end there is joy and reward. John says He will wipe away every tear and remove all our sin and shame. Why? That’s where He [Jesus] will be. This is where all Christians will be - with the Potter – with the Carpenter who was working in and through us each and every moment. As Paul wrote in Philippians “...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (1:6). The Lord will continue the work He has begun in each and every one of us if you’re a child of the living God. But this doesn’t mean we will not face obstacles or road blocks until the day of Jesus Christ. Going back to what Paul said to Timothy as he was faced with his coming death, the Lord planned for him to die. 

We are to ENDURE, persevere as we continue to grow in our Christian walk. There are no easy ways out. Some might face greater challenges and some might go through smaller trials, but the Bible is abundantly clear that all children of God {Christians] are going to face trials and struggles at some point in their life. Why? So the Potter can continue to shape and sand us as we are faced with life’s decisions and having proper responses to what has been given to us by a loving and holy God. The Christian life is not about a life of ease and your best life now! It’s going to be hard work that requires us to endure as He continues this perfect work that He is doing in us.

These trials are for us to give God the glory as he delivers us though them. Man loves to boast and get all puffed up with pride when they achieve something or get through a situation. We are to be completely dependent upon Him as good soldiers, athletes and hard working farmers. We must endure and press forward as we wait for the call home to where the Potter lives. He is the One who has taken my wretched life, which deserves Hell, and continues to shaped me, mold me, and sand me all for His glory and good pleasure.                                

To Him be the glory!


22 October 2018

ONCE DARKNESS NOW YOU ARE LIGHT PART 1



Eph 5:1-5-14

How dark were you and I before Christ got a hold of our lives though the gospel that brought light into darkness? The answer to this question is found in this portion of Paul’s letter. The Apostle Paul says “you were darkness” (v7) meaning you weren’t a little dark or a half sinful…you were dead in your sins and trespasses. You were complete darkness in the sight of a holy God. What do I mean and what is Paul saying? Before Christ came our total existence was darkness. Our whole being and our whole character were characterized by darkness. We call this “total depravity” man's natural condition due to original sin, apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man. 

“Total Depravity” or a better phrased by my Ligonier Ministry Friends “radical corruption” is a doctrine that says….. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). The Bible teaches that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). The natural man is held captive by a love for sin (John 3:19; John 8:34) so that he will not seek God (Romans 3:10-11) and does not understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). Natural mankind suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness and they in darkness continue to willfully live in sin. Romans 1:18 says “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Mankind is totally depraved, this sinful lifestyle seems right to men. Prov 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Man rejects the gospel of Christ as foolishness. 1 Cor 1:18 says “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.” Our minds are “hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is unable to do so” Romans 8:7And in turn as Isaiah 64:6-7 says “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”

Total depravity does not mean……. Man is as wicked or sinful as he could be, nor does it mean that man is without a conscience or any sense of right or wrong. Neither does it mean that man does not or cannot do things that seem to be good when viewed from a human perspective or measured against a human standard. But it does mean we are darkness and there is no light apart from Christ and the gospel. This should be a wakeup call for the child of God because darkness is never so dark as when a redeemed soul isn’t satisfied with God. This is why it’s important to understand what Paul is saying to us this morning! The verb "were" emphasizes a past condition. It’s the same use of the word we find in Eph 2:1 “You were dead in the trespasses and sins.” It’s the darkness we uses to live and love in our former lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh. John MacArthur says “We were not simply victims of Satan’s system but were contributors to it. We were not merely in sin; our very nature was characterized by sin.”

Think about this as we go through this! The realities of those in darkness have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. We know this to be true by what is written in (v5) and Paul says “You can be sure of this” or “Take that to the bank”. This is no small matter to ignore or shrug our shoulder at. For many, will come to a destructive end. Paul says this in (v6) “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” 

Who are the disobedient sons? Those who are still darkness, not in darkness, but those who are darkness. What are we to do? Paul gives the answer in (v7b) “Walk as children of the Light' Have you ever sat outside on a bright sunny day and used a mirror to reflect the sun’s light? As the light shines on us, we hold up my mirror and we can reflect the light to shine on whomever we point it at. We are not the light, were just letting our mirror reflect the Light to shine on others the glories of Christ through the gospel confession. 

If we are going to reflect the light on others, there are a couple of things that are very important: We must keep our mirror facing toward the light. If I turn away from the light, I cannot reflect the light. We must make sure that nothing comes between the light and you. If that happens, we cannot reflect the light. The Bible tells us that "There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light: he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:6-9. The story we proclaim and live by is foreign and strange to world of darkness who have no care for the things of God and His gospel. John 12:36 says “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." 1 Thess 5:5-11 we read this reminder “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” This is our mission field church family and it begins by living and being examples of Christ inside here and outside for the world to see and hear and turn from their wicked ways. Why? They are about to face the wrath of God for their darkened hearts of rebellion and sin. We too were among them, BUT NOW! We are children of Light and we are to live as children of Light for the glory of His precious name. Our lives are to reflect the divine characteristics/standards of the gospel. Why? It’s because of this light we are now walking in what is good, right and true. (v9) 

Good or goodness…..refers to that which is pleasant, useful, suitable or worthy. It’s what is free from defects, beautiful and honorable. Goodness finds its fullest and highest expression in what is willingly and sacrificially done for others. Paul uses the same language when he said “bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Cor 15:33 

Right……we are commanded to live righteously because this has to do with how we live and interact with everyone. This has to do first with our relationship to God and His sanctifying grace. Paul wrote this “….For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." Rom 4:1-8. We are to live our lives righteously and pursue righteousness, because we know that Christ is our positional righteousness through the gospel. We are commanded to live this way as instruments of righteousness in darkness. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” Rom 6:13. Its evidence of a changed heart of the glory of God in the life of a believer. 1 John 2:29 says “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

True……has to do with honesty, reliability, trustworthiness and integrity. The Christian life, just as every other kind of life, is only healthy when it is growing. The believer is constantly learning and changing for His glory from one extreme to another. This is the joy of the gospel how it takes something unholy and declares them holy though the life transforming works of Christ through the Spirit. Every Christian should be pursuing and learning what is pleasing to God and His glory. Peter penned these words “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-8

See! Truth is in opposition to error, lies, hypocrisy. Truth shows what it is to walk as children of light. Eph 4:15 reminds “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Something really important we need to understand here! Without these fruits there is no evidence of life of God. That’s what Paul is summarizing if our lives consist of these wickedness (v3-v6) Jesus warned the believers about this "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Every believer will bear fruit of some kind but those in darkness bear bad fruit. There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian, we call this a false convert Where there is life we call this evidence of life, just as where there is death we call this evidence of death. We have been removed from our darkened estate and now we are to walk as children of the glorious King, who saves sinners, from death and wrath, to life and godliness.

......To be continued next Sunday :)