May 29, 2016

Five Things I Know From Romans 6

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

We live in a world when it seems that everything we thought we knew is turned upside down.

Morals. Ethics. Religion. Marriage. Gender. Right and Wrong. Good and Evil. And absolute truth have all become targets of subjectivism. We are constantly told, “there is no absolute truth.” That everything is relative. And that each of us has a right to our “own truth.”

However, some things in life we just know. Either by observation. Experience. Intuition. Or just plain common sense, which it seems has become rather uncommon in our age.

Then there are things we know by revelation. From God’s Word. The Bible. In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul tells us some things we can know.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (Rom 6:3-10).

(1) I Know that Jesus was raised from the Dead.

The Bible affirms the resurrection of our Lord. Witnesses saw him. The sadness of the disciples was turned to gladness. (Lk. 24) Doubting Thomas became believing Thomas. (Jn. 20:24-29).The resurrection was at the heart of the gospel message. (1 Cor. 15). Critics could not deny it. The tomb was empty. The apostles staked their lives on this fact. And were willing to suffer and die for the resurrected Savior whose story they preached with feeling and fervor.

(2) I know that I am dead to sin.

How? Because when baptized, I was immersed into a new relationship. With Christ. With him who loves me and died for me. I was buried into his death. As He died, I died to sin. And I was “washed in His blood” (Rev. 1:5). I know that. And that gives assurance.

(3) I know that I am alive with Christ.

Christ died, but was raised. I died to sin, but was raised. Christ is alive. I am alive. I enjoy life in all its fullness because of Jesus. I know that. And that supplies joy.

(4) I know that I am not Satan’s slave.

He doesn’t own me. I don’t have to listen to him. He can only harm me if I give him permission. His power is limited. Why? Because of the power of Christ. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32). Thanks be to God, I’m free. I know that. And that provides peace.

(5) I know that death has no dominion over me.

Since I am not sin’s slave, death doesn’t control me. It has no power over me. It doesn’t frighten me. I am not manipulated by Satan or his minions. I know Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And that offers hope.

Don’t be discouraged or dissuaded by the deception of the devil and his disciples. We can know Truth. It is unchanging. Unbending. And unalterable. When the eyes of our understanding are enlightened by God’s Word there is so much that we can know.

I know God loves me. I know that Jesus died for me. I know that I am heaven bound! That’s why I know I have assurance. Joy. Peace. And hope.

 

 

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May 22, 2016

The Rock – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:2-4)

The apostle Paul concludes this brief review of Israel’s experience in the wilderness by saying, “Now these things happened as examples for us…” (I Corinthians 4:6). Therefore, pay attention.

It is quite fashionable today, among the intelligentsia, to deny that the Exodus really happened, and the challenges sound reasonable. Providing food and water for that many people for that long in that desert is humanly impossible. It would appear that Paul agrees. He reminds us they were spiritual people and their provision was not human. God supernaturally provided for them by the power of His Spirit. They received “spiritual food,” and “spiritual drink,” from a “spiritual rock.” If you understand that, impossible problems dissolve.

The provision of water was unmistakably, dramatically, miraculously provided when Moses smote the rock at Horeb (Exodus 17). They were quarreling with Moses because they had no water. God told Moses to use the same staff with which he struck the Nile. He was instructed, “strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

Much later, David sang of this amazing provision:

“He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths. He brought forth streams also from the rock And caused waters to run down like rivers,” (Psalm 78:15-16).

Paul tells the Corinthians that the miracle had great symbolic significance as well. He said, “the Rock was Christ,” (II Corinthians 4:4).

The Greek word used here for “rock” is πέτρα (petra), the same word used by Christ when He said “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Consider the definition of this word by BDAG.

“1. bedrock or massive rock formations, rock as distinguished from stones…”

Christ is the one foundation upon which the church is built.

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” ( I Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “…If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. …but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

The actual rock from which the waters burst forth in the wilderness did not literally “follow them,” of course, but “that spiritual Rock” did follow them, for Christ was there with them through all their years of wandering.

The literal water followed them too, keeping them alive for 40 years. When Moses struck the rock, God opened a mighty spring, “And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths” (Psalm 78:14). Evidently He tapped a deep pressurized aquifer from which He “caused waters to run down like rivers” (Psalm 78:16).

Are you paying attention? “…these things happened as examples for us.” We are baptized, spiritual people following our spiritual rock toward our “promised land.” He is still with us. Do you think He has forgotten how to provide what we need?

 

 

May 15, 2016

What’s Wrong With The World? – Ken Weliever

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I accidently came across this blog the other day simple called “What’s Wrong with the World? I have not deeply delved into it, so I am not necessarily recommending it. But it looks interesting.

Their statement of purpose says their blog is “dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the cross of Christ.” Their lengthy statement specifically mentions two dangers: (1) the Islamic doctrine of JIHAD and (2) “the brazen defiance of God” in what is generally called “liberalism.”

Apparently there are seven authors with Paul J. Cella, whose conservative writings have been published in The New Atlantis, Touchstone, and The American Conservative, being the Editor in Chief. A cursory perusal of some of the posts include their views about the social, political, economic, moral and ethical problems our world is facing.

The title of their blog reminds me of a story when the London Times asked a number of writers for essays on the topic, “What’s Wrong with World?” G. K. Chesterton replied with the most pointed and succinct response.

“Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton.”

Chesterton’s wit and wisdom touches a painfully and highly personal nerve. For those of us who preach, teach and write regarding spiritual matters, it is often to easy to rail against the sins of society and forget that we too have our own shortcomings to correct.

In fact, it may be true that many Christians, while pointing fingers and lamenting about the wrongs in our world, might be well served to stop, take a deep breath, and look within our own hearts. Our own lives. Our own families.

Maybe the critics of Christianity who accuse Christians of hypocrisy ought to consider what they are offering positively in the place of the religion of Jesus Christ. Is your standard of living ennobling, encouraging and lifting our society to a higher moral plane?

Even those among us who carp against the customs of the Lord’s church and within its ranks rail against the problem of Pharisaism, traditionalism, and apathy, ought to also look within themselves.

What’s wrong with the world?

“Is it me?”

It’s so easy to see in others selfishness, pride and jealousy. Envy, gluttony, and greed are so obvious. In the lives of other people. And lust, laziness and anger are apparent to the casual observer. At least in everyone else.

The Bible demands “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Self-examination is difficult. Demanding. And daunting. It requires honesty. Integrity. And open-mindedness.

Self-examination begins with a humble heart that admits, “I, too, have faults.” Spiritual scrutiny calls for open-mindedness. Moral inspection of our inner most being necessitates complete transparency before God.

The only way to really accomplish this kind of personal introspection of our thoughts, motives and actions is by applying the Word of God as the ultimate standard of authority.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb, 4:12-13)

What’s wrong with the world?

“Is it me, Lord?”

 

 

 

May 8, 2016

Are There Conditions To God’s Grace?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

One of the most popular concepts in the religious world is “salvation by grace.” Properly understood, the concept of God’s grace is one of the most important doctrines in the Bible. It means that the forgiveness of our sins is a gift. After rebelling against God by the sins that we have committed, we do not deserve mercy. There is nothing we could do to earn back God’s favor. We are lost, and if we are ever to be rescued from our plight, God must graciously do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Salvation by grace is forgiveness on the basis of God’s love: God gives us, based on Christ’s sacrifice for us, a gift that we could never earn for ourselves.

Many biblical texts teach that this is the nature of salvation in Christ. One such text is Ephesians 2:8-9: “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.”

But there is a problem here. Many people go beyond the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace and teach that God’s grace is unconditional: in other words, grace requires nothing that we must do to receive the gift. Those who believe in “unconditional grace” take this idea in two different directions:

  1. Some believe that, in the end, God will save everybody. If salvation is a matter of unconditional grace on God’s part, why would He not want to save everybody? This is the doctrine of “universalism.”
  2. Others believe that, despite God’s grace, some are going to be lost. But if salvation is a matter of unconditional grace and some are lost, then it must be God who decides who will receive His grace and who will not. This is the doctrine of “predestination” or “sovereign grace.”

But the Bible teaches neither universalism nor predestination (at least in the sense of unconditional predestination to salvation). It teaches that there are conditions attached to the reception of God’s grace. Some individuals will accept those conditions and receive God’s gift, but others will refuse those conditions and forfeit the gift that they might have received.

On Pentecost in Acts 2, many responded to Peter’s sermon urgently: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). If Peter had taken the modern approach, he would have said, “There is nothing you have to do; salvation is totally by grace.” But Peter did not say that. What he said was this: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).

Repentance and baptism do not earn salvation for anyone. They do not put God in our debt. They are not meritorious works by which we justify ourselves in God’s sight. They are, however, conditions that must be met before God’s gift will be given. And that is why Peter could exhort his hearers to take action immediately to avoid being lost: “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:40).

Naaman, a Syrian army commander in the Old Testament, is a good example of how a gift may depend on action by the recipient. A leper, he had been sent to Elisha the prophet for healing. Elisha told him, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). Although reluctant at first, Naaman finally did what he was told, and he was cleansed of his leprosy. No serious Bible student would say that he would have been healed if he had not done as Elisha instructed him. Yet washing in the Jordan River did not earn him freedom from leprosy, and there was nothing meritorious about his obedience. The gift was pure grace on God’s part — but Naaman would have died a leper if he had not complied with God’s instructions.

Similarly, repentance and baptism do not merit our salvation, but they are nevertheless conditions that God has attached to His gift. Peter could not have been clearer when he said that baptism is “for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Who is bold enough to contradict the Scriptures and suggest that the gift may be given whether or not one does what God has commanded?

Contrary to what is often alleged, baptism is not a “work of human righteousness” — it is God’s work! Listen to Colossians 2:12: “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

So is salvation in Christ by grace? Yes it is! Are there conditions that must be complied with to receive that grace? Yes there are! And these simple terms — applicable to every human being — separate those who have a truly obedient heart from those who do not.

If you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be — the Son of God who died to make our salvation possible — and you are wondering what comes next, then consider the following texts:

  • “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
  • “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).

In baptism, we die with Christ (Romans 6:3) and we appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21).

Is your conscience at peace because you know you’ve accepted God’s grace on His terms? If not, it’s urgent that you ask yourself, “Why not?”

By Gary Henry—Wordpoints.com

 

 

May 1, 2016

He Knows – Don R.Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“‘I know your deeds: your love, faith, service, and steadfast endurance. … (Revelation 2:19 NET)

The seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation were not in Kansas or Arkansas, where religious freedom is protected (for now). Asia Minor of the late first century was dominated and threatened by tyrants. Some claimed to be divine and demanded worship. John told these churches he “shares with you in the persecution.” (Revelation 1:9 NET)

In His life on earth, Jesus had been victorious over the worst the Devil could do. Now, seated at the right hand of God He addresses each of seven letters to each of these seven churches with the assurance: “I know…” He has not deserted them, departing into the vast distance beyond time and space, removed from their presence and awareness of their threatening circumstances. The victorious Messiah addresses the messenger of each church and says, “I know…” Whatever the danger, what ever we are doing – or not doing, He knows!

For some, this should be terrifying. To Sardis He said, “‘…I know your deeds, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but in reality you are dead. Wake up…” (Revelation 3:1-2 NET)

Many are fooled by appearances, but He knows our innermost thoughts. He knows when outward display of religious activity masks a real heart of compromising self-interest. To Laodicea He said, “‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot…” (Revelation 3:15 NET)

He also knows when our heart is pure and dedicated. To Ephesus, “‘I know your works as well as your labor and steadfast endurance…” (Revelation 2:2 NET). To Pergamum, “I know…you continue to cling to my name and you have not denied your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was killed…” (Revelation 2:13 NET)

He knows when we really love Him. He is speaking to Thyatira when He says, “I know your deeds: your love, faith, service, and steadfast endurance. …” (Revelation 2:19 NET) “Love” is translated from the Greek word ἀγαπη (agape). The lexicon BDAG defines:

“1. the quality of warm regard for and interest in another, esteem, affection, regard, love…”

Jesus sees this. He knows all about our grounded, honest “faith” in Him and His Word, He knows about our sincere “service” when we can’t afford it, as well as our “steadfast endurance” in spite of Satan’s exhausting ordeals.

When He says that He knows, the sense is that He understands, because He has been through it all Himself. Therefore…

“…we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris