29 August 2012

THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE PART 1





James 1:21-25

Charles Spurgeon once told of sitting in a nice restaurant. As he ate he kept noticing a rather angry looking man across the dining room who scowled at him every time he looked his way. Finally Spurgeon decided to go over and speak to the man to see what his problem was. However, as he stood he realized that what he had been seeing was his own reflection in mirrors that lined the walls across the room. We may not always like what we see in the mirror of God’s Word but what we see there is always the truth and always the best! SEE! God’s word is a mirror that displays what still needs to go in our lives, God’s word is to help and guide us in His righteousness. The biblical truth is that when we are in right relationship with God the things of this world don’t seem to be so pleasing to our sight anymore. Why? Because Christ is precious to us. As J C Ryle said “Look to the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can."

How does one come to that position in life and say “I’m completely satisfied in Christ” IT COMES THROUGH:
  • Reading and memorizing the Holy Scriptures.
  • Rightly dividing the word of truth showing yourself approved unto God.
  • The supernatural power of God’s sanctifying grace.
  • The harvest of fruit that you bare as He grows you in His grace.

I THINK WE HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT HOW POWERFUL AND RELEVANT THIS BOOK TRULY IS IN OUR GENERATION? This isn't some fairy-tale story about a needy God looking for His princess. This is a letter telling us about the how AWESOME GOD truly is whether it’s through His creation, His redemptive plan or the glories of His majesty. This is a book that will not maybe; but transform your life….it will literally gut you from the inside out and make you a new creation. As Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Cor 5:17. As we continue in this letter that challenges the person to examine his or hers life as it lines up with scripture....A letter we can call “Practical applications for the Christian life” or better yet “Just do it!” JAMES TELLS US IN THIS PASSAGE AND THE PASSAGE THAT FOLLOWS HOW WE CAN GROW IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE. And it begins with this foundational and fundamental truth……(v21a)

“put off” implies “a rupture from a former association” literally “to put or take something away from its normal location and thus to put it out of the way (way out of the way!).” The Apostle Paul said “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 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.” Rom 13:12-14

This verb has 5 senses: 
  • hold back to a later time
  • cause to feel intense dislike or distaste
  • take away the enthusiasm of
  • cause to feel embarrassment
  • avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing (duties, questions, or issues)

It’s like getting ready for a physical activity by putting on the proper attire. It was used literally of runners who participated in the Olympic Games who stripped off and cast aside their clothes and then ran almost completely naked in the stadium.

PUTTING ASIDE WHAT?

“all filthiness” means “depravity, defilement or dirty garments” This is a vivid word picture. James is saying take off your filthy attitudes and actions (moral defilement) just as you would soiled, smelly clothes! As a snake sheds its skin to make ready for the new one that is underneath the old skin. 2Cor 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” One Writer explains this way...We all bring baggage from our old way of life over into the Christian life. Usually, we’re blind to much of it. We don’t realize that we’re displeasing God by our thoughts, words, or actions. As we begin to read God’s word, it convicts us of areas that we didn’t even know were sin. When this happens, the receptive heart cleans out the crud of sin and puts on the clean clothes of new life in Christ. If you don’t do this, the crud will prevent you from growing as a Christian.


WHAT ELSE ARE WE TO PUT OFF?

“overflow [abundance] of wickedness” this is speaking of “evil desires or intent” Signifies: moral evil and  it pertains to sin that is deliberate and determined. Albert Barnes in his commentary of this word said “the particular reference in these passages is to the reception of the truth; and the doctrine taught is, that a corrupt mind, a mind full of sensuality and wickedness, is not favorable to the reception of the truth. It is not fitted to see its beauty, to appreciate its value, to understand it’s just claims, or to welcome it to the soul.” All you’re left with is an unteachable spirit that is more interested in what they desire over what God desires. As the Apostle Paul said “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Eph 4:31. He also wrote in Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”Filthiness is a serious barrier to us. It hinders our ability to clearly hear and comprehend the Word of God. So we must put off the works of darkness…put off the works of the flesh!

USUALLY WHEN YOU TAKE OFF OR REMOVE SOMETHING…YOU HAVE TO REPLACE IT WITH SOMETHING ELSE! THIS IS WHERE OUR FOUNDATION BEGINS AND CONTINUES……..(v21b)

“receive with meekness the implanted word” which is a teachable heart to act upon His word. A teachable spirit that will grow, take hold of through the truth of God’s word. See in order to receive……. you must be ready to receive the foundation which is God’s instruction as He carries you through His righteousness. Paul said in 1Thess 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” See this goes back to (v20) Trusting in Him…… because He knows what’s best for His children!
  • It’s a righteousness that God gives
  • It’s a righteousness that God requires
  • It’s a righteousness that God does

Matt 18:2-4 “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
  • We are to receive the word with joy; not with opposition and resistance.
  • We are to receive the word as a privilege; not as an interruption into my day.
  • We are to receive the word for wisdom; not to contradict and debate everything to fit my ideas.
  • We are to receive the word as instruction; not to de-construct to our life-style
  • We are to receive the word to grow to His likeness; not ours.

When you receive something we are required to do something! And that is? Act upon it. He must increase! I must decrease! He must be glorified I must be sanctified and purified into the image of the Son. WHY ARE WE TO RECEIVE THE WORD WITH MEEKNESS? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY FOR YOU TO SEE THE KINGDOM…………. (v21c)

“which is able to save your soul” which simple means to “keep alive, rescue, deliver from bondage. As Vernie McGee said “I have been saved, I’am being saved, I shall be saved.” It’s the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through the written word that brings a person to foot of the Cross in repentance and faith. The word of God powerful….a power that can penetrate the vilest of sinner. Heb 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”Just as the word brought salvation….the word will continue in your sanctification as you await glorification. Put off the works of the flesh and the devil and put on Christ and grow deeper in love with Him. The word of God is the greatest prevention against sin of the flesh. As one Scottish preacher said “sin will keep you the bible, or the bible will keep you from sin.” William Gurnall said "He that loves the Word and the purity of its precepts cannot turn traitor." My life should be evident to a life that has and is continuing to be transformed by the power of God’s word.

REMEMBER when you put off self……your putting something far greater and more powerful that anything you could imagine…it’s Christ...But for that to take place, we must put off what is crippling our relationship with the Triune God. As Ps 137:7 says “Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!" Lay aside everything that hinders my life from the intimate relationship that have with Christ Jesus. Strip it all away and leave nothing but the foundation so that I can be clothed in His righteousness. So that I can receive with joy the implanted word which will save you, keep you and glorify you into the arms of Jesus Christ my Lord.

16 August 2012

14 August 2012

Q&A Session with Dr. Al Mohler




Gal 2:20-21

What is the glorious truth of the Gospel? Before we can answer that we need to understand something about the Gospel. There are two foundational principles of the gospel we recognize as the pillars to the Christian faith! The 1st Pillar it’s by the grace of God! Paul wrote in Eph 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. The 2nd Pillar is the death and resurrection of Christ! This is a vital truth, because if it isn't true, than what Paul writes scares me to death; he wrote in 1 Cor 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” Without these two principles the gospel is nothing but a gospel created by man for man. [Gal 1:6-9]. SEE! Jesus came to sinners [bad people] Listen to the heart of Paul as he deals with his dilemma of sin “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!....” Rom 7:24-25

•        That He would consider the rebellious sons and daughters of Adam a hope of eternal life.
•        That I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
•        That I have been born again by the finishing work of the cross.
•        That it was the power of God unto salvation that I’m declared His own [declared righteous].

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." We come to a letter where there was a lot of confusion for the early church! Was it by works? Or was it by the grace of God through faith that we are declared His? According to this letter Paul wrote to the church….a born again Christian is someone who has been transformed by the power of God for the glory of God.


WHAT IS THE GLORIOUS TRUTH FOUND IN THE GOSPEL?


1. THAT I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED TO MY SIN AND SELF (v20) 

“I have been crucified with Christ” This is our victory over sin and death….this is required for a Christian to see the Kingdom of God. This is a powerful portion of scripture basically is telling us that justice has been satisfied and the Christian is forever free from any further penalty of sin. It required someone to show grace and for someone to take our place in the courtroom of God. If you were to look at Rembrandt’s painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you’d be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows.” Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross. Paul washer said "God saved you for Himself; God saved you by Himself; God saved you from Himself." It was my sin your sin that held Him there! As Isaiah said “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;….” Isa 53:5. This had to be done in order for me [us] to be set free from the bondage of sin. As Paul wrote in Rom 6:6-7 “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.”


WHAT IS THE GLORIOUS TRUTH FOUND IN THE GOSPEL?


2. I HAVE ESCAPED THE WRATH OF GOD AND ETERNAL TORMENT. (V21)

Why do I say this?By what we read at the end of (v21) “for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” This portion of scripture can be better translated “Christ died needlessly” Think about it! If there was another way to solve the sin problem God would have done that don’t you think? The greatest example of this is Jesus praying in the garden before His death. Jesus said in Luke 22:41-42 “And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Those that insist you can earn salvation by their own efforts undermine the foundation of true biblical Christianity and render Jesus’ death as unnecessary. Which according to the Gospel of Jesus the wrath still abides upon you! John 3:16-18 "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.


It’s not Jesus plus this, that and the other….It’s Christ alone by the glory of God alone, through faith alone. “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 4:12. Christ came to do a work that none of us could ever do ….Meaning the ability to achieve eternal life for sinful man and woman. There is nothing I can do to add to the grace that has already been given in Jesus Christ my Lord. I can’t achieve, strive, or become a Christian apart from the saving work through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That’s why we can read in the same letter…..“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" Gal 3:13. 


The gospel is everything and it’s complete for those who put repent and put their faith in the Saviour. All the glory to Him….as the Hymn writer wrote “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” If this isn't true then the wrath of God still abide upon us! If this isn’t true then Jesus was liar and a lunatic and this statement is false and a waste of time...“by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Col 2:14. But! I know that Jesus was no lunatic or are a liar. Why? Because I’m here [you’re here] as proof to His wonderful grace found in Christ. A Gospel that finished with these precious words….. “it is finished” 

J C Ryle said “Christ’s death is the Christian’s life. Christ’s cross is the Christian’s title to heaven. Christ “lifted up” and put to shame on Calvary is the ladder by which Christians “enter into the holiest,” and are at length landed in glory. It is true that we are sinners–but Christ has suffered for us. It is true that we deserve death–but Christ has died for us. It is true that we are guilty debtors–but Christ has paid our debts with His own blood. This is the real Gospel! This is the good news! On this let us lean while we live. To this let us cling when we die. Christ has been “lifted up” on the cross, and has thrown open the gates of heaven to all believers.” That’s the glorious truth of the GOSPEL!.....................SDG

06 August 2012

Let There Be

HOW DO WE HANDLE THE WORD OF GOD



James 1:19-20

Have you ever said those words “Think before you speak”? If so WHEN? Before or after the foot is inserts into your mouth? I can’t count the number of times that I've put myself into a situation where I've inserted my own foot [sometimes both]! Whether it’s with my wife, my children, my friends, at work....even people in the church. We [myself] easily fail in this area of life….because the natural man or woman wants to express what’s on their mind not thinking of others or the cost! As children of God we are to think before we speak at all times that for example what Paul told the church “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col 4:5-6. In I Peter 3:15-16 it says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” James said “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (v26). This is only possible when we think before we speak! And the same rule applies when it comes to handling the word of God. Why? Because it bares the fruit of righteousness found in Christ. James says in (v21) God’s word is “engrafted” which means “the implanted word” God plants His word into our regenerate hearts.....this is where we get the parable of the Sower! Jesus described the: Hard heart, Shallow heart, Crowded heart, Fruitful heart. See one of the most important tests of true salvation is your fruit! [This means a changed life] As yourself this question! Is my life different today than it was yesterday, last week, last month, or last year? J C Ryle said “The Christianity which is from above will always be known by its fruits. It will produce in the person who has it repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, spirituality, kindness, self-denial, unselfishness, forgiving spirit, moderation, truthfulness, hospitality, and patience. The degree in which these various graces appear may vary in different believers. The germ and seeds of them will be found in all who are the children of God. By their fruits they will be known. Is this your faith? If not, you should doubt whether it is authentic.” Examine your life as it lines up with scripture. THINK ABOUT..........

A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT IS NEVER ASHAMED OF THE NAME HE OR SHE HAS BEEN GIVEN IN CHRIST......Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL GROW IN HOLY LIVING.......Rom 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL BE BUILDING SPIRITUAL CHARACTER......Gal 5;22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”


A MARK OF GENUINE FRUIT WILL ALWAYS PRAISE THE LORD.......Heb 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

How long would it take for you to look at an apple tree to see if it has bad fruit on it? And, how long would it take for you to look at an apple tree to see if it has good fruit on it? Answer: Instantly. Remember what Jesus said in the gospel of John 5:1-5 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. A person can only bear fruit under the supervision of Christ which is found in the gospel and His salvation and sanctifying grace. The evidence of your salvation is that you continue to grow and walk in His righteousness! But understand! This is only possible through the seeds of God’s word being planted in your life [into your heart]. HERE ARE THREE AREAS IN WHICH THE SEEDS OF GOD’S WORD HELP US GROW ACCORDING TO JAMES’S LETTER!

SWIFT TO HEAR

This is a statement could basically summarize the foundation of the Christian faith! [Religion]. If the bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing” then this is a vital piece of information for the Christian to bear fruit. What James is telling us is that we can endure and grow through the reading and applying the word to our lives. We should be “quick” [ready, excited, eager] to hear what God is telling us through the written word. Again I go back to (v18) “he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” He brought us forth by the super-natural power of His word. Quick to hear what God is saying to us……. like a mother who is always quick to hear her baby make the smallest cry. Think about the Berean’s in the book of Acts! Acts 17:11 said “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Not only did they have a discerning heart to test all things but they had a readiness, excitement to hear the word so that they could grow deeper in love with Christ. Warren Weirsbe gave a wonderful example of what it means to be swift to hear! “King David was hiding from the Philistines who were in possession of Bethlehem, He yearned for a drink of cool water from the well in Bethlehem….a well he often visited in his boyhood and youth. He did not issue an order to his men; he simply said this to himself [2 Sam 23;15]. Three of his mighty men heard their kings sigh for the water, and they risked their lives to secure the water and bring it to him. They were “swift to hear” James is telling us that we need to be ready [quick] to hear our Masters voice……even if that means giving up everything or losing our life for the sake of the gospel as these believers were doing.


SLOW TO SPEAK

There is a good reason why God gave us two ears and only one mouth! Because that one mouth gets us into enough trouble as it is. The two ears attached to the side our head should give us a clue to the fact that God desires us to hear more than we are to speak. A prime example of this is Martha and Mary. Martha was quick to express her displeasure for her sister’s lack of participation. Listening is a vital part in growing! From the time you’re toddler, until the time you’re elderly and frail.

Prov 13:3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Prov 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Prov 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

When it comes to the word of God we must be silent on the inside as well as on the outside. Basically talk little, not hurried, acting with reflection, thinking before you speak. We must reflect on the word first and go to the Lord with or troubles

SLOW TO WRATH [OR ANGER]

This is where we [all] need to precede with caution! Anger is a natural emotion that usually ends in an instant response when triggered! Examples: David when he was raged by the refusal of food from Nabal [1 Sam 25]. Peter when he cut the ear off of the servant that came to arrest Jesus in the garden. [Matt 26] Wrath (means) hot anger, passion, a violent passion of the mind, is the display of an enraged sinful nature. We are forbidden to allow anger to display itself in our lives; we must flee from all types of wrath. But as Paul said! “Let love be genuine. Abhor (detest) what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Rom 12:9. The anger that James is talking about keeping in the context of this letter is a anger towards God’s truth when it confronts sin or conflicts with a cherished personal belief or standard of behaviour. This anger is referring to a hostile person to scriptural truth when it does not correspond t0 one’s own convictions. As John MacArthur explains it “People desired to have their own opinions confirmed, their own ways approved, their own likes and dislikes accepted by others.”This was happening in the church! And more so today with the health and wealth camps to the Emerging / seeker Sensitive s0-churches. Sadly from a pastor’s perspective! Paul warned Timothy of this in his last letter…….2 Tim 4:3-4 “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.”James said it was even happening among the believers here in this letter He wrote in 4:1 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” A prime example of this was a man named Thomas Jefferson who was angry because the bible didn't co-inside with what he held to be true…meaning the word according to Thomas Jefferson.

The word of God is everything to us…….for without it we would be lost like so many people around the globe today. The word of God is to our life line…our communication with the Creator of the Universe. Is this so in your life? Let’s do a personal inventory of our Christian Lives:
  • Does this book you hold in your hands bring you Joy?
  • Is it your desire and passion to know Him more intimately?
  • Does His word bring you encouragement in your darkest hour, as you face the trials of today?
  • Do you persistently go to Him and wait on Him before you act?
  • Does anger get the victory, or do you display self-control and give your trials to the Lord?

As Solomon said “the way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who pursues righteousness” Prov 15:9
  • We need to pursue the Word of God.
  • We need to be walking in the truth of His word.
  • We need to be separate from this world and pursue His righteousness.
  • We need to pursue the Lord with open ears…..quiet mouths and gentle obedience.

Genuine Christians pursue righteousness because of the implanted word, which is well pleasing in the sight of God because they bear fruit of Christ righteousness. As Kay Arthur says “Snuggle in God's arms. When you are hurting, when you feel lonely, left out. let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all-sufficient power and love.” Where and only where, we can gain victory in our trials and bare genuine fruit of Christ righteousness; through His love letter that makes the Christian excited, mindful and humble as He leads us home. THE BIBLE!  A perfect and good gift from the Father of lights [the Creator and sustainer of our lives]. SDG