29 October 2011
24 October 2011
One of the most widespread but unsound religious teachings of our day is that there are many roads to God. One person said this “There are many religions in the world and there are many ways to God. Some call God by the name ‘Allah’ and others by the name ‘Jehovah’ and others by many other names, but there is only ONE GOD, regardless of how He is addressed. All religions have the same goal, namely, to get to God, and it doesn’t so much matter what a person believes, as long as he is sincere and believes he is doing right in his heart. Eventually we will all end up in the same place.” So if men or women are sincere, we are told, it does not matter which path they travel—in the end they will all reach the same destination. Is that the Gospel truth? If so the next time someone tells you that it doesn’t matter what you believe about religion as long as you are sincere ask them these questions.....
• Does it matter if a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
• Does it matter if a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
• Does it matter if a woman eats a poisonous mushroom, even though she thought it would be quite nourishing?
Jesus couldn’t have said it any clearer......"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. It’s only though Christ alone...the finishing work of the cross.What is the Gospel truth? The supremacy of Christ in my death to sin, and in my resurrection to eternal. So I rejoice in the Gospel truth...... and we as a church should celebrate the Gospel truth. So I am here as Matt Chandler said “to celebrate my death this morning with you” Why? Because of the Gospel truth found in the only Begotten Son [Jesus Christ]. When I look at the finishing work of the cross I see my sin and my death being killed on the Son of God. And for that I celebrate my death to sin and I celebrate my new life in His resurrection. That’s what the gospel truth is! And this is what Paul is trying to remind the church about what our salvation truly means!
• It’s not’s mans effort or some form of ritual or tradition taught by man!
• We cannot attain Heaven though our good deeds or works
• We cannot get there by jumping though a certain set of hoops and customs to attain His sovereign grace found in the Gospel
We are saved by His sanctifying mercies found in Emmanuel’s veins and this is what Paul is trying to remind the church. The pagans and the Jewish legalist were trying to cause confusion in the body of Christ. Remember the small mishap with Peter and his thinking until Paul faced him and told him straight......Gal 2:11-16 “But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?" We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Paul reminded Peter that God had done away with the ceremonial laws regarding ritual washings and ritual uncleanliness. The Gospel made it acceptable for him to enter a Gentile home and eat at a Gentile table. The cross effected a reconciliation between these two groups by making them into one body — the Body of Christ. God's people are no longer just the Jews. Now God's people are made up of both the Jew and the Greek, both the bond and the free, both the male and the female. God's election has extended to people of every race and tongue and nation. But Sadly we still see this today in church....only in different ways.....
• Having people jump through hoops and formulas to get them saved.
• Sign the card to put in the back of your bible [like it’s some lucky rabbits foot]
• You must do this, this and that in order to find salvation.
• You must be a part of a church [building] in order to be saved.
• You said the sinner’s prayer [whatever that is] when you were 5 and never lived for Christ and your 50, that’s ok, as long as you meant back then. NO! THAT’S NOT OK!
That’s not the Gospel truth! The Gospel truth is this.........We are only fully saved through the transforming work found in His Son [Jesus Christ] “the fullness of Godhead bodily” through the Holy Spirit. We are completely full in Christ as we looked at last week “and you are complete in Him” (v10). I want to leave you with three simple Gospel truths that we can hold onto even when times get tough, when we have doubt, confused, or life seems unbearable. First one is remember.......
1. OUR SALVATION IS COMPETE THAT’S THE GOSPEL TRUTH (v11-v12)
Paul is not saying that people who are non-Jewish must become like the Jews in the ritual of circumcision [which was done of the 8th day after birth] in order to attain salvation. WHY? Because of this statement “The circumcision made without hands” no human agent has any part in your salvation. In the proclamation of the Gospel YES! In your decision and regeneration NO! The circumcision that Paul is talking about here is not covenant that God gave to Abraham when he was 99 years found in (Gen 17:11-6). The circumcision here was a symbol of our need to have our hearts cleansed and filth removed or cut off from our lives [which is sin]. It’s the same language Stephen used in front of the Sanhedrin....."You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” Acts 7:51. As circumcision removes the flesh the same thing must happen to the heart! As born again believers our “sinful nature” was cut away on the cross of Christ! Only Christ is able to do this....”made without hands”. The old self the person before conversion is killed and buried with Christ at His death. ....The new self is baptized in His resurrection 2Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Phil 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” We have been freed from the bondage of sin that is made without hands! [Read Romans chapter 5-6]
• No human agent or formula can save you
• No preacher can save you
• No missionary can save you
• No church membership can save you
• No baptism can save you
Only the Gospel that was made without hands! His sovereign work and plan for fallen sinners. Our salvation is complete in Him that’s the Gospel truth! As Paul said in......Rom 6:6-14 “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 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. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
2. WE ARE COMPLETELY FORGIVEN THAT’S THE GOSPEL TRUTH (v13-v14)
We all had or some of you still have a certificate of debt! It’s like a written document or contract that a debtor has in acknowledgement of his or her debt to a person in this case its GOD, the Creator of the universe! We have broken His law the 10 commandments, His moral standard! And what Paul is saying here is that it’s been removed... wiped clean.....Look what he says “cancelled the record of debt that stood against us...” (v14). This is like a teacher wiping away the words on a chalk board! This is what Christ has done for us on the Cross so that we could have eternal life.......What does this forgiveness feel or look like? There is a story about a young farm boy was having trouble behaving, as he should. His father gave him the project of putting a nail in the barn door every time he did something bad. He gave him a bag of nails and a hammer. For several weeks, the path from the house to the barn stayed well worn, as the boy obediently pounded a nail in the barn door each time he disobeyed. Soon he came to his father and said, "Dad, I am all out of nails! Now what do I do?" His father then told him to pull out one of the nails each time he obeyed. Sometime later, he again came to his father and said, "Dad, I have pulled all the nails, but…" "But what?" his dad asked. "Dad, the nails are gone, but there are holes all over the door, and it is ugly!" God pulls the nails through His forgiveness, but many times the holes are left as scars of the evil deeds and thoughts. He never erases our mind but He gives us sustaining grace to overcome them with joy not guilt...Because He has forgiven me from my sin. Micah wrote these words..... “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19. He nailed to the cross “not a trace of it remains to held against us...our forgiveness is complete in the fullness of Christ! That’s the Gospel truth!
3. WE HAVE COMPLETE VICTORY IN HIS RESURRECTION THAT’S THE GOSPEL TRUTH (V15)
“He had disarmed...” which literally means.....”stripped away” Jesus Christ singlehanded through His death and resurrection has stripped away the bondage of sin that once held us captive leading us to death and judgement. And to show His victory! Paul writes that Jesus has made a public spectacle of His enemy. Which means!Though His victory over sin and death has made a mockery of Satan and his fallen angels. "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:55-57. Paul asks this question with sarcasm “death where is you victory and sting? So basically! Christ’s victory on the cross has halted the demons and their feeble attempt to stop redemptive work and its stripped Satan of his so called power. It’s the same imagery that a Roman General would do after winning the BIG BATTLE. The Roman General would parade his defeated captives through the streets of Rome. This is what Christ has done in the Gospel! As the Hebrew writer said “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb 2:14. That’s why Paul can so boldly and so can we.....Rom 8:37-39 “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.
In the Gospel we find a complete.....Transformation in His salvation through His sacrificial death and resurrection. Pardon for sin in His grace of forgiveness [past, present and future]. Victory over death in the His finishing work on the cross [sealed and secured for all eternity by a sovereign Lord. As Paul Washer once said “God saved you for Himself; God saved you by Himself; God saved you from Himself.” So my question for you this week is....Have you truly embraced the Gospel found in His Son though brokenness found in repentance and faith in the Son of God? Or do you have religion with good intentions that lead to death and judgement? There is only.......
• one God in three persons
• one plan of redemption
• one salvation found in the Gospel
• one and only Saviour
• one body [the church made up of different people]
• one Spirit given to all who believe in the Son
• one Lord over all things [His name is Jesus Christ]
Because as Watchmen Nee said “Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, "in Christ." And that’s the Gospel truth!
18 October 2011
17 October 2011
Everywhere you look you see hundreds of warning signs and labels all over the place from your home to the workplace even in the grocery store. For example: Soon as you seat down in your vehicle you have in your face this yellow caution sticks with big black lettering above your head saying “children can be killed or seriously injured by the air bag.” You open the gas lid and it tells you what type of fuel to put into your car or truck. You pop the hood on your vehicle and you see warning signs all over the place......from what type of oil to what type of anti-freeze you should be using in your vehicle. If you thought that wasn't enough! When you’re driving you're faced with all these warning signs as well.....I can remember when we're on vacation this summer being on some back roads in the mountains seeing signs in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere warning us and fellow drivers about the conditions ahead. Signs about.....falling rock, avalanche area, bears in the area and narrow road for the next few kilometres. Why where these warning signs important? Answer! If you add the wrong fluid or gas or don't paying attention to the warning signs as you drive, you could find that it leads to an expensive repair or possibly death or injury. These signs are here to help us, not to make our lives harder or more difficult or better yet a pain. These signs and warnings are for our protection and they're here to help us make wiser choices. We are to read the warning signs and obey them.....they're here to help prevent us from possible injury or worse, death! Think about for a moment! You’re driving down a road that you have never been on before at night! It’s starting to get really foggy and visibility is poor. Without those signs that tell us which way the road goes we would be in serious trouble wouldn’t we? These same principles and examples can be applied to the Christian life! Paul starts his next sentence with a stern warning from where we left off last week about something that is incredibly important, which is a proper biblical foundation rooted in the Scriptures. Why do I say that.....look at (v8a) He begins his sentence with a very powerful word that gets the people’s attention! “beware”. What is Paul warning us to be ready for? (v8b) Men with their empty words. It’s sad to see good intentional people fall prey to these kinds of people, because it only leads them down a road of destruction and despair. As one theologian said “I have seen vibrant Christian women put on floor-length dresses and wear bonnets, all because a “leader” said this was a path to true godliness. I have seen intelligent, college-age men refuse to wear shirts or trousers made of mixed fibers because the Old Testament forbade Israelites to wear clothing that was part wool and part linen”.....................and He went on to say “it amazingly easy for intelligent people to rest their lives on what will ultimately prove to be nothing. We see them standing on street corners selling their literature. We read of them following their guru to another land giving him all they have, and dying there. We see them attending religious pep rallies, where they are told that health and wealth are theirs if they only believe in themselves. We see vast religious empires held together by an enslaving sociology which is almost impossible to escape
So Paul gives us a warning sticker to slap in our bibles and foreheads. Why? It’s possible for seemingly healthy believers to be led astray. We are to guard ourselves against spiritual seduction...again lets read the verse again! (v8) Paul uses the word Philosophy, which simply means “a love of wisdom”. This was something that was running through the streets. See! Philosophy had everything to do with.....Theories about God, the meaning of life or the origins of man. This was a big problem for both the Jews and the Greeks, that’s why the Gospel was foolishness to those who are perishing. Remember what Paul wrote......“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. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles," 1 Cor 18-22
See we have to understand that the philosophy of that day is no different today! Most philosophisers looked upon Christians as evil, weak people who were brainwashed by a few men. For example one of hundreds of course! Fredrich Nietzsche scorned Christianity as a religion of weaklings! Nietzsche was the first to proclaim that God was dead. Sadly! History tells us that Nietzsche was so set in his ways of understanding that this well known educated man spent the last 11 years of his life insane. What’s worse, is that many have or are following in his footsteps when it comes to Christianity and the origins of life. Richard Dawkins world renowned Atheist said “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” Stephen Hawkins quadropligect and activist said "Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." Here is a few more!........Voltaire a historian and philosopher said “Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.” Christopher Hitchens an active Atheist who is presently dying of terminal cancer said “Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life -- except religion” This is so sad! But as the late great preacher Francis Schaeffer said “man’s rebellion against God has driven him beneath the line of despair." Remember what Paul wrote.....“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,” Rom 1:21-22. There was certain heresy threatening the church, though Paul doesn’t specifically state what that is. Whatever it was, it was enough to raise the red flags or throw out a word of caution "danger ahead!" because it was empty and counterfeit! (v8) The philosophy of this world according to the text is empty and full of deception. Which means to trick someone or something that seduces a person into believing a lie.We see it all the time in beer commercials to politic were people are trying to sell you a bill of good or to buy into what they are selling.The reason you buy into it! They sounded like well educated people who know what they are talking about! It’s someone who sounds and looks the part on the outside but inside they are rotten to the core! Jesus said this about the religious teachers “.............Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Luke 11:39. He also said "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Matt 7:15. And this is something that has been passed down from generation to generation! Why do I say that? Paul says “according to human traditions” Tradition .....here in the text means...... tradition by instruction, narrative, something that has been passed down to the next generation! Think about it! Most philosophers have built their own work on previous philosophers. Socrates teaching where handed down to his student Plato and from there he passed it on down to his student Aristotle, and so on and so and we come to a man who was insane for the last 11 years of his life. Why? Because they followed in the traditions of men and believed the lie that has been passed down to them! First Century Judaism is another example which the Jewish leaders and teachers had added to the word of God with so many customs and rituals. Jesus said this about their customs and rituals....“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:8-9. The church does the same silly things today that have been passed down from generation to generation.
• You can’t chew gum
• You are not allowed to dance
• You can’t play cards or board games because they are demonic in nature
• You can’t drink alcohol
• You can’t smoke cigarettes
• You must become a member in order to be part of a church
• You can’t cut your grass on Sunday “its the day of rest”
• You are not allowed to go to the store on Sunday
• You shouldn’t watch TV
• You shouldn’t eat in a restaurant on Sunday because you are causing someone to work
• And the list is endless.....
The traditions of men is nothing more than ignorance and falsehood handed down from generation to generation. If you keep telling the same lie over and over again! What happens is that over time, lies become true! The same is applied here when we fall to the traditions of men. Its ignorance to the scriptures by saying we must do this in order to find favour with God and His precious church. But they have no biblical foundation to make those claims or dogmatic statements! Sadly all this as Paul said this comes from “elementary spirits” (v8) They're childish [immature] principles that have been handed down from generation to generation by the traditions of man which is rooted and originated from Demonic Spirits according to what Paul writes here in the text. See the fundamental problem with man’s philosophy is that it’s not in accord with Jesus Christ and His blessed Gospel! (by what we read at the end of v8) See the world tells you and me that ....
Your number one and we're all winners............ (but tell that to the Vancouver Canucks)
There are no absolute truths............ (but tell that to a elementary Math Teacher)
You control your own destiny................ (tell that to Steve Jobs CEO of Apple)
Just do it, if it feels right for you............(that’s what Richard Ramirez “the Night Stalker” did every night before he brutally killed his victims)
These kinds of statements leave a person with a false sense of security because they’re deceived by empty words! If you don’t believe me look at the fallen marriages today....the behaviour of children....the youth.......our Governments, schools and work places...the Church even! It’s a vicious cycle that has been built on the philosophy of man which a foundation that is built on the sand and not the rock which is the Bible. A proper biblical foundation is what is missing in so many homes....businesses...and Government facilities ....and most of all churches! Look at (v9-v10) Paul gives us another biblical truth of where our foundation begins and ends! Christ holds all the fullness of deity! This is where we build our lives on..... the foundation of Christ and not on the empty philosophy of man and their fallen traditions “the fullness of Godhead bodily”. We have everything we need for life.......We must understand that His fullness meets our individual needs. He gives us what that moment requires....wisdom...strength...courage! Whether it is how to or what to do, when we’re.....
• Dealing with gambling
• Marriage problems
• How to raise children
• Habits and disorders
• How to model modesty and purity
• The roles of the family
• The Christian life as we take the narrow road home into His sovereign arms
Christ is SUFFIENT for everything....this is what Paul is warning the church about. We don’t need the world’s philosophy or ideas! Why? We have the proper foundation found in His word. Everything is right here at your fingertips to learn and understand as you grow in grace. We don’t need to words of Socrates or Aristotle when we have Jesus Christ as our Advocator and the Helper which is the Holy Spirit to guide us through life! We don’t need this world’s empty deceit...Why? Its foolishness! As I read earlier from the word of God......“For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” 1 Cor 1:18-22. Christ is everything we need! We don’t need empty words by fallen men or women who think what they are saying is true. If it’s not built on the foundations of Scripture..... it’s built on the sand which is empty deceit by the traditions of men and not of God!We are full in Christ and the question comes down to this! If you are full of Him, how can you want anything else?
So I stand here as Paul did some 2000 years ago WARNING YOU TO BEWARE! Walk carefully on the foundation given to us in His word! SO MY SUNDAY QUESTION........Is your spiritual life based on a shaky foundation which is crumbling and distorted by the philosophies and the tradition of men? Or is it based on the solid life-giving foundation of biblical truth?
13 October 2011
12 October 2011
As Paul said "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:10-14..............Don't follow the worlds pattern of retirement! Follow the pattern of Christ and Paul's! Why? The reward is beyond ourcomprehension as Paul said to Timothy before his head was removed my Nero "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." 2 Tim 4:6-8
10 October 2011
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians! Everyday is a day to be thankful! Here are a few things that I hold very close and dear to my heart.
I’m thankful for...
• The Triune God who created all things for their glory!
• The Triune God who created life by breathing into them the breath of life.
• God the Father who sent His only Begotten Son to be my [our] sacrifice on the altar of sacrifice and praise.
• The God man [Jesus Christ] for coming into this sinful world to save sinners.
• The God man [Jesus Christ] for dying on the cross and bearing the full wrath [judgement] for my sin by God the Father
• The Helper [the Holy Spirit] who illuminated the word of God [the Gospel] and revealed my sin to my blackened heart
• The grace found in the great salvation that was freely given to me by the finishing work on the cross
• Being spared the wrath that is yet to come for those [unsaved] who don’t believe in Christ Jesus
• Eternal Life with the Son [Jesus Christ]
• My beautiful and godly wife whom God gave to me
• My beautiful 4 children....Rachel....Victoria....Zachariah....Hannah
• Our fifth child who we never got to meet and who was spared to see this fallen world
• My best friend Trevor Peck and his family, who are a godly example and an inspiration to me
• My mentor John Mank, who took this new believer [Me] under his wing and showed me biblical truth
• My church family at the Moosehorn Baptist Church
I [we] serve an amazing and awesome God who carries and walks us through life’s challenges and circumstances.....How one could not be thankful every day for His sustaining grace and love is insane to and unheard of. He is my sovereign LORD, who will never leave me, nor forsake me! And He is enough! As Paul Washer said “He saved me, what else needs to be done to motivate me? Isn’t salvation enough?" As the late great Isaac Watts said "How divinely full of glory and pleasure shall that hour be when all the millions of mankind that have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God shall meet together and stand around Him, with every tongue and every heart full of joy and praise! How astonishing will be the glory and the joy of that day when all the saints shall join together in one common song of gratitude and love, and of everlasting thankfulness to this Redeemer! With that unknown delight, and inexpressible satisfaction, shall all that are saved from the ruins of sin and hell address the Lamb that was slain, and rejoice in His presence!" THANK YOU LORD FOR SAVING MY SOUL AND GIVING ME A LIVING HOPE! Thank you....SDG
What are some of the greatest qualities of the pastor or better yet the church? Is it.......
• Sound doctrine
• A firm boldness for the Gospel
• A desire to walk in Holiness
• Sunday school for all ages
• The worship team
• The pastor’s ability to speak clearly
All these things mentioned above are very important [vital] elements to a good pastor and a solid biblical church. But as John MacArthur says “perhaps the most necessary ingredient in the life of the any minister of Jesus Christ is love for the church. No one can truly serve God in the church without that motivation.” The greatest quality for the church and mostly for pastors comes down to this one question! Do I love my church? And you can ask yourself that question right now!
• It’s not a case of...... I like this church.
• It’s not a case of...... I like coming here on occasion.
• It’s not a case of...... there is really nowhere else to go.
The question is...... Do I truly love this church and the people inside it? Ravi Zacharias said “...Love... is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.” Jesus loved the church so much.......He what?............Died for her. Paul wrote these words! Even though Paul is addressing this to the husbands in the context Christ’s love for the church is clearly demonstrated as an example for the church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” Eph 5:25. BUT! Jesus wasn’t the only one passionate for the church. The apostle Paul was equally passionate for the church. Think about for a moment! Wherever Paul went he was always faced with obstacles from those who oppose the Gospel
• He faced riots in Ephesus
• Beatings in Philippi
• Stoned in Lystra
• Shipwrecked at sea
• Danger was everywhere
Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure,..........” 2 Cor 1:8. He also said wrote in 2 Co 11:24-28 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” Paul’s passion was for the church [the body that makes up the church] You and me! On numerous occasions Paul displayed this love through his letters to the church. To the church at Corinth he said “you are our letter, written in our hearts...” 2 Cor 6:11. To the church at Philippi he said “I have you in my heart” Phil 1:7........Can you say that about this church? Paul loved the church because he loved God and his passion for the church was to have a strong biblical foundation as a body of believers.
To be passionately in love with Christ is to be passionately in love with the church. Why do I say that? Look at the opening remarks to this chapter (v1) Paul didn’t just care about certain individuals in the church! Despite knowing Epaphras, Philemon and the newly converted Onesimus. Paul has never met a great majority of the people in the church of Colosse, but he had a passion for their maturity and foundation to grow. Just as it is a loving parent’s passion to see their children grow to maturity! Which can be a struggle at times, but you do it any way because you love your children. It was Paul’s struggle...which literally means “agony” for Paul to see the church mature and to have a proper biblical foundation. His struggles [anguish] for the church were for them to have........
1. A STRONG HEART (V2A)
“their hearts may be encouraged” which means to call along side, comfort, exhort, to strengthen. Paul wanted to strengthen the church because of the false teaching that was being spread throughout Rome and into the surrounding cities and villages. He wasn’t talking about just their emotions....he was speaking on a broader scope of the inner person....the center of your being! Again the heart is the active will of your life [your mind] which will control your emotions! John MacArthur said this in his commentary......“The emotions respond to what goes on in the heart, to what the mind perceives. The way to control the emotions then is through the mind. When the mind is filled with biblical truth, the emotions respond properly.” That’s why the bible says.....Prov 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” and in Prov 23:19 “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.” Believers are to guard their hearts from the flesh. The only way to do that is a strong biblical foundation! Remember! The lack of study and time spent in the word will dictate how you live and react to situations or problems in your life. This is only capable as we commune or fellowship in obedience to the Spirit [the Helper]
2. A UNITED LOVE (V2B)
“knit together” means to unite, or bring together. This means”compacted in love” love will draw them together. Vernon McGee said “a church is not united by gifts or even by what we term today as spirituality. The bond that unites believers is love. It is the cement that holds us together; it is the Elmer’s glue of the church.” This is what a church family does and we are responsible to one another to keep this biblical foundation knit together. A fervent love for the church is a necessary balance to a strong mind! Paul wrote these words.......“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13:1-3. Believers share a common life....all come to Christ in the same way......we all possess the same eternal life.....and we are all placed into the body of Christ by the same Spirit. As the bible says “all one in Christ Jesus.”
3. ESTABLISHED UNDERSTANDING (V2-V5)
He uses the word “full assurance” in understanding God’s covenant promise to the believer found in the foundations of scripture. It literally means “to be under full sail” What does a sail do? It moves a boat along the water....the Christian is to continue moving along spiritually, moving along for God. John MacArthur had this to say in his commentary. “Paul desires that the Colossians also experience all the wealth that comes from full assurance. Without that assurance, believers cannot enjoy all the blessing that are theirs in Christ. For example, no one can look forward with hope to the blessings of Heaven who doubts whether he is going there.” “understanding” refers to applying biblical principles to your everyday life. This is exclusive property of Christian’s..... because the natural man does not accept the things of God. 1Cor 2:12-16 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 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. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.” Attain to His riches found in His word and you will be established because they are yours in Christ Jesus.
4. WALKING IN CHRIST (V6-7A)
“walk” also refers to daily conduct. In the context of this passage we are to continue believing in Christ no matter what some else might say! Not allowing your understanding to be deluded or swayed away from the truth found in Scripture. (v4). “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”1 Tim 4:1. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises [masquerades] himself as an angel of light.” 2Cor 11:13-15. We are to be careful and walking daily in Christ. In broader terms walking with Christ means living in union with Him....It means maintaining a lifestyle patterned after His. Meaning....
• If Christ forgives.....we’re to forgive.
• If Christ hates sin.....we’re to hate sin
• If Christ served.....we’re to serve one another
• If Christ loves holiness......we’re to love holiness
• If Christ loves truth......we’re to love the truth
• If Christ hates what is false.....we’re to hate what is false
• If Christ loved the church.....we’re to love the church
Like a tree firmly planted with deep roots in rich soil....we have been rooted in Christ so we are to walk in Christ at all times! No buts or excuses. (v7a) Christ is our source of spiritual nourishment and growth.When we are walking in Christ the result is we are being established in the faith. A healthy Christian lifestyle truly depends on this biblical foundation “walking in Christ” As Paul said “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.......” Rom 16:25
5. OVERFLOWING WITH GRATITUDE (V7B)
“overflowing” or as some versions say “abundance” which means: to be abundantly furnished with, to have in abundance, to superabound. This can only happens when we are firmly rooted.......being built up.......and established in the faith since before the foundations of the earth.....It’s that overflowing or better yet that overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for saving a wretch like me. It’s a life that is extremely thankful for His sustaining grace and love found in His gospel. You’re simply blown away by the abundance of His overflowing grace and love. It’s that overflowing love you have the Hebrew penned in his letter.....“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Heb 13:15
Is your love for Christ and the church overflowing with thankfulness and praise this morning? As Kent Hughes said “thankfulness is a good test our spiritual state. A thankless spirit betrays a life which no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ. Thankful heart herald spiritual health ” A Christian life that is firmly planted in the ground by the Word of God is a life that Paul.....myself [all pastors]....and most of all God’s desire for the church.
When we have a proper foundation our lives are transformed because its scripture that is changing us and not the other way around. Where we say “the scripture need to adapt to my behaviour or lifestyle.” It’s the other way around! We need to conform to the Scriptures.The word of God radically changes a life that’s why we are here.
The word of God radically gives us the passion and the love for Christ and His blessed church [the saved ones]The church He died for so that we could praise His name with thanksgiving. So I go back to my original question!
Do I [you] love this church and people inside it?
06 October 2011
03 October 2011
A promising artist once painted a picture of the Last Supper. He took it to the writer Tolstoy for his opinion. Carefully and understandingly the Russian master of words studied the canvas. Then pointing to the central Figure, he declared “you do not love Him.” .......“Why that is the Lord Jesus Christ,” explained the artist! ”I know,” insisted Tolstoy, “but you don’t love Him. If you loved Him more, you would paint Him better. That can also be said about our serving not just here in our church but in our homes and communities! A lot can be said about the way we serve one another by the picture we paint of Christ in our life! Are we [Christians, the Church] making much of Him? Are we just going through the motions of doing as little as possible because that’s why we hire a pastor? Seriously think about that! A Christian’s life or service is never done until God says so! What does the word servant mean! Servant means....... one that serves others [a public servant]; a man, woman or child that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer. J I Packer said this about the word "Servant" “In our English New Testament “Servant” usually represents the Greek “doulos” (slave). Sometimes it means “diakonos” (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master's purchased property. Bought to serve his master's needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave's sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one's Savior. “ Paul wrote these words.....1Cor 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” How does one glorify God in their body? By serving instead of being served!
• It means getting involved with adoration to glorify God.
• It means stepping up to the plate without having to be asked.
• It means filling a hole or gap so that we can be a stable foundation.
• It means sacrifice for the sake of the family.
• It means to think of others above yourself.
• It means spiritual sweet from the whole church body.
Listen to what C T Studd said “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As Spurgeon said “Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” Again a servant’s life is never finished until the master says so! That’s what it means to be a servant of God. Especially in our case and in this church! Christ is the head of the church and we are His slaves.......servants and we are to be used for His glory! Gordon MacDonald said these words “Whosoever gives a cup of cold water to a little one, refreshes the heart of the Father. To do as God does, is to receive God; to do service to one of his children is to receive the Father.” Remember what Jesus said......“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (Christians, the church), you did it to me.' Matt 25:37-40
Since the beginning of his letter! Paul has exalting Christ as extremely valuable and vital to the church. Paul has displaying Christ as extremely supreme in creation....in the church...and ultimate in reconciliation found in the Gospel. But! Paul shifts gears here as he explains the responsibility of the church...the Christian....the servant or slave of God! Remember! We are His hands....feet...and voices to the church and to the ends of the world!
As I said last week! Paul wrote these profound words........2Cor 5:18-20 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” In this portion of Paul’s letter to the church we see 4 characteristics of a servant’s heart or life.
1. A SERVANTS ATTITUDE (V24)
“I rejoice in my sufferings” What did you just say Paul? That’s kind of a morbid statement wouldn’t you say? Only a Christian can say those words! Reason being! Christ is supreme over every situation! I watched a video the other day about a young 12 year old boy named Victor Watters who died of cancer this past month. As I was studying this passage and this very sentence “I rejoice in my suffering” I thought of this little boy who found victory and joy even in cancer! Paul’s present suffering was a Roman prison cell.....what were his charges? Preaching the gospel to the people.This didn’t stop Paul from finding joy in suffering. This didn’t stop Paul from serving the church and the people around him. This didn’t stop Paul from having a right attitude despite the circumstance. See a SERVANT’S ATTITUDE should always be filled with joy no matter how trivial or hard the situation might be at the time. A SERVANT’S ATTITUDE doesn’t say “I’m too busy, let someone else do it” A SERVANT’S ATTITUDE says “I rejoice no matter what for the sake of the body...the church!”
2. A SERVANTS CHARGE (V25-V27)
For Paul the preaching of God’s word was the most important element in the church. Biblical exposition (verse by verse) was vital for the body of the church. A Christian will only grow by reading and hearing God’s word. This is God’s charge or command to His servants. There are no short cuts to understanding God’s word! It requires you read the text....sing the text....memorize the text...... and most of all apply the text. This is a charge that God has put on the church! As Paul said to Timothy in his last letter 2Ti 4:1-5 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. Why? He continues to say..... (v3) “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
3. A SERVANTS PURPOSE (V28)
What is my purpose here? Helping the church to grow in unity and maturity! Ultimately my purpose is to be used for the glory of God as a slave to my Redeemer. We are not to stay like infants..........we are to grow! Paul’s passion was for the church to mature and grow in Christ! Paul wasn’t in the business of “I’ll save ‘em, and you raise ‘em” kind of thinking! Rather his joy was to present to Christ believers who were growing and maturing in their faith. Remember what Paul said to the church in Thessalonica “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1Thess 2:19-20. Everyone [here as believer] has a responsibility to serve one another in some capacity. Whether it’s helping in the kitchen....helping with the children.....cleaning up.......shaking people’s hands as they come into the building......providing a meal for someone.....discipling someone and so on. Whatever the task might be......we are called to serve the church body for the glory of God, because this is what pleases our Master who is in Heaven. 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (Christians, the church), you did it to me.' Matt 25:40
4. A SERVANTS ENERGY (V29)
Everything we do is to be done with all our might [our energy] for the glory of God. The word “labor” denotes the image of a person who has taken an extreme beating. It’s looking at person who is exhausted from a long hard day’s work. It means to be in agony as a athlete trains for the Olympics. Paul strained every physical and moral sinew to present every man complete in Christ. As Paul said “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” 1 Thess 2:9. We have a duty to the body and most of all God our Master to serve Him until we are in agony.....exhausted! Luther worked so hard that many days according to biographers, he fell into bed. Moody’s bedtime prayer on one occasion, as he rolled his tired body into bed, was “Lord, I’m tired! Amen” John Wesley rode sixty to seventy miles many days of his life and preached an average of three sermons a day, whether he was riding or not. Alexander MacLaren a Baptist preacher would get to his office when the workmen went to work so he could hear their boots outside, and would put on workmen’s boots to remind him why he was in his study. G Campbell Morgan kept a newspaper clipping for twenty five years, entitled “Sheer Hard Work,” and said: what is true of the minister is true of every man who bear the name of Christ. We have not begun to touch the great business of salvation when we have sung “rescue the perishing, care for the dying.” We have not entered into the business of evangelizing the city or the world until we have put our own lives into the business, our own immediate physical endeavour, inspired by spiritual devotion.”
We are all called to serve not be served! It doesn’t matter if you’re the pastor or the person who just became a Christian! Christ can use you, in any situation...Whether you’re young or old! There is a story of a woman in Africa who became a Christian. Being filled with gratitude, she decided to do something for Christ. She was blind, uneducated, and seventy years of age. She came to her missionary with her French Bible and asked her to underline John 3:16 in red ink. Mystified, the missionary watched her as she took her Bible and sat in front of a boys’ school in the afternoon. When school dismissed, she would call a boy or two and ask them if they knew French. When they proudly responded that they did, she would say, “Please read this passage underlined in red.” When they did, she would ask “Do you know what this means?” And she would tell them about Christ. The missionary says that over the years twenty-four young men became pastors due to her work. She had a servant’s attitude because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servants charge because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servant’s purpose because Christ was supreme in her life! She had a servant’s energy because Christ was supreme in her life! She was a servant who painted a HD quality picture of Christ in her life. What’s more amazing is that this is the Christian's call by God to the church. The question is ..........are listening to His call today?