Evangelism and Missions

If you were to ask the average Christian, “What was the mission of Jesus?” you’d no doubt hear that Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins, so that we might have eternal life. I believe this is true, profoundly and wonderfully. But I also believe it’s not the full story. The mission of Jesus, though ultimately centered in the cross and though leading to life after death, is not the whole picture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News. The good news that we were once dead but now we are alive, we were once on a path to hell and now we are not. We are to spread this good news to the whole earth, but are we doing what we are called to do? Do we go out and spread the gospel or do we beg people to come see the church, the music, listen to the preacher, check out children’s church, etc?

The whole idea of missionaries is to infiltrate a culture, learn the culture and preach the gospel to that culture. Only in America do we create a different culture and tell people to stay away from different cultures.

Here in America is the only “mission field” that we scold people for being like the culture. Every other country in the world we send missionaries to learn the culture of the people and preach the gospel to those people. We need to learn what it is to meet people where they are and say “Come up Here”!!

We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather ‘missional’ churches.

The missional Church is concerned with meeting the needs of others and discipling the lost. Most churches now are nothing more than fancy buildings for people who talk the same,act the same, like the same music and movies to have a place to gather and make themselves feel good about themselves.

Acts 1:8(HCSB)8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 is personal “the Holy Spirit comes upon YOU AND YOU will be my witnesses,Jesus said be fishers of men and if you read it backwards it says

If your not fishing for men you are not following Jesus Christ.

We sit back and let cults come in to our neighborhoods and peddle their theology that is sending people straight to Hell.

What we have done as “The Christian Church” is made the people we are supposed to be evangelizing, our enemies. We would rather stay away from the dark than shine a light in it. But they still need the word too the gospel should be heard too. Romans 1:16-17(HCSB)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.We claim we are not ashamed but yet we still haven’t evangelized our own neighborhoods. We in our Christian bubble while our brothers and sisters overseas are getting locked and chopped up for the sake of the gospel. See American’s ain’t Christian we just practicing a ritual.

Thats why we should be missional. Because what most churches peddle is nothing more than humanistic self-help repackaged with a sprinkle of Jesus on top. The culture around us doesn’t want any part of that. They are hungry for real, authentic Christianity. We build up walls and create Christian bubbles to protect ourselves from THEM. We have christian movies, music, coffee shops, clothing, restaurants, books,tv stations, cartoons,vernacular,etc. We created a closed off Christian culture that is very hard for the average non believer to come to Christ and learn. Because we were never to do that!!! We were always made to GO, GO and Make disciples.
Matthew 28:18-19(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”I know you read the Great Commission let me just remind ya’ll Make Disciples of the Nation teach them to obey the Lord Hate to never lead someone to Christ before I see the Lord.The Great Commission says make Disciples of all nation. Have we even made em in our own nation?

We like to believe this doctrine of salvation that Romans speaks of Romans 10:13(HCSB)13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who will tell them?

Romans 10:14-15(HCSB)14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values John 17:14-19(HCSB)I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.15 I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by the truth;Your word is truth.18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.19 I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Jesus is not asking his Father for his disciples to be taken out of the world, but he is praying for them as they are “sent into” the world. He begins with them being “not of the world” and prays for them as they are “sent into” the world.

Jesus’s assumption in John 17 is that those who have embraced him, and identified with him, are indeed not of the world. And now his summons is our sending — we are sent into the world on mission for gospel advance through disciple making.

Jesus’s true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We’ve been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.

We are to preach the gospel and live life worthy of being called a Christian, this does not mean that we will not mess up. This means that we have something worth telling the wold about. Do you even care that the world around you is lost and on their way to hell? It is not our responsibility on how the world will react to the gospel. That is the Father’s responsibility, the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts of the men to repent and turn to Him.

John 16:8-11(HCSB)When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

All of salvation is grace.  It is grace that God chose to save the ungodly; it is grace that Christ came to earth to secure the salvation of His treasured possession through His own blood; and it is grace that exchanges a man’s heart of stone for a heart of flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men is known as regeneration.  Before man is able to respond to the Gospel message, he must be given ears to hear.  Because man is born dead in sin, he must be made alive in order to respond positively to the call to repentance (just think about a corpse’s ability to respond to anything). Without this work of the Holy Spirit, man would remain condemned and dead in his sins.

Jeremiah 17:9(ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Deuteronomy 30:6(ESV) And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Ezekiel 36:26(ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Luke 8:15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Acts 16:14(ESV) One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

2 Corinthians 5:17(ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

So why evangelize? Because God chose the method of men preaching the gospel  to turn the hearts of men from stone into flesh. Then what? It is our job to disciple them. We think  that evangelism is the hardest part but it is not, discipleship is.

Jesus sent his inner core of disciples into the world for the purpose of making more disciples. These new followers of Jesus would not only believe in him, but also would obey all the commands Jesus gave to his first disciples. The second generation of disciples were to make more disciples, who would make more disciples, who would make more disciples, and so forth until all nations are filled with disciples of Jesus.

Matthew 10:7-8(HCSB)7 As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.

John 13:34(HCSB)34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.

But, whereas the first disciples were to minister only among their fellow Jews while Jesus was on earth, after the resurrection they – and we – are sent out to all nations. Jesus explained this sending quite succinctly:

John 20:21(HCSB) Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”We who follow Jesus are a sent people, even as Jesus was sent into the world by his Heavenly Father. We are a community sent on a mission together: to keep on doing the ministry of Jesus so that all people and all creation might experience the reconciliation of God. God has designed the church of Jesus Christ to be a “missional” fellowship. The word “mission” comes from the Latin word missio, which means “having been sent.” Since we have been sent to do God’s work, we are a “missional” community together.

Christians have often used this kind of language differently, to identify as “missionaries” those whom we send to far away places to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Thus, these missionaries are sent, having been sent by God and by the church. But this language has sometimes obscured the fundamental missional calling of the whole church together and every individual member. If we think of ourselves primarily as sending others away to do “missions,” then we may forget that we also have been sent by God into our particular part of the world to fulfill God’s mission right where we are, even as we share in the global mission of God.

Though many churches have mission statements or talk about the importance of having a mission, where missional churches differ is in their attitude toward the world. It is patterned after what God has done in Jesus Christ, that is, to be missional means to be sent into the world; not to expect people to come to us. This idea differentiates a missional church from an “attractional” church.

The attractional church seeks to reach out to the culture and draw people into the church. But this practice only works where no significant cultural shift is required when moving from outside to inside the church. The process of extracting people from the culture and assimilating them into the church diminishes their ability to speak to those outside. As a result, people cease to be missional and instead leave that work to the clergy.

Missional represents a significant shift in the way one thinks about the church. Being missional means we should engage the world the same way Jesus did—by going out rather than just reaching out. Missional means that when a church is in mission, it is then the true church.

Here in America is the only “mission field” that we scold people for being like the culture. Every other country in the world we send missionaries to learn the culture of the people and preach the gospel to those people. We need to learn what it is to meet people where they are and say “Come up Here”!!

We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather ‘missional’ churches.

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Rotten or Graceful Speech?

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.The same words that hurt can heal, it’s a matter of how you pick them. There are some people that aren’t into all the words.There are some that would have you not use certain words.

There are around 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7 of them that are really bad. 399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They’d have to be outrageous to be separated from a group that large.That’s what they told us they were, remember? “That’s a bad word!”  No bad words, there are bad thoughts, bad intentions, and but words?!(George Carlin – 7 Words you can never say on TV)

We ought to have the freedom to use language contextually and not be bound by religiosity. That doesn’t mean that we ought to cuss like a sailor, but words have power… even what our culture considers offensive. (To be clear, I don’t often agree with under-girding theological assumptions that drive his use of foul or provocative language at various times)

I hear people use this verse alot Ephesians 4:29(NASB)29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” I wonder what determines unwholesome speech? Does the pop culture? Does the FCC? Do the religious people? Nope. The answer comes in the second part of the statement: “…only that which is good for building others up ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.” This statement both relativizes cussing and invites contextualization. The test, does using this word tear someone down or build up? If it doesn’t tear them down (because it is part of a language they understand) then we ought not live in a legalism that the Scriptures don’t impose.

Isaiah 5:20(ESV)Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  We are supposed to use good words for good things and bad words for bad things, the problems start when we mix them up. When we start to assume certain words are bad and certain words are good. Or we allow culture to dictate what is good and what is bad instead of letting scripture tell us.

Bible Translations are filtered through a bit of political correctness. As a pastor one of my goals is to instill a passion to interpret and believe what the Bible actually says into you guys. Not what we want it to say, but what it really says in all its grit and occasional offensiveness. Cleaning up God’s word is like telling a chef he didn’t prepare the meal correctly for the patrons.

But religious people have been covering up obscene language in the Bible for centuries. Jewish scribes in the middle ages, who copied the Hebrew Old Testament used as the base for all English translations, edited out some vulgar words and replaced them with nicer ones. For instance, God originally prophesied through Zechariah that women in Israel would be raped by wicked, invading armies. The word God inspired is shagel, and according to Hebrew linguists, shagel is an obscene word that describes a sexual act. But whenever God said shagel  as in Deuteronomy 28:30(ESV)30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.;

Isaiah 13:16(HCSB)Their children will be smashed to death before their eyes; their houses will be looted, and their wives raped., 

the Masorites replaced it with the more tame shakev—“to lie with.” And all of our “literal” English translations agree that the word from the middle ages is better than the one spoken by our Creator.

The Bible is full of obscene language. Ezekiel would have been never allowed to speak in another American church if he spoke the way he did in his day today. He talks about huge penises, female genital fluid produced at sexual arousal, and large quantities of semen being “poured out” on Israel—God’s wayward whore. Ezekiel 16:26-37(ESV)26 You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. 27 Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. 29 You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.

30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

35 “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: 36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, 37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.

Ezekiel 23:16-21(ESV)16 When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. 19 Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20 and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. 21 Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

 

Modern translators edit out the vulgarity so that Ezekiel can be read in church. The apostle Paul was so enrapture by the scandalous grace of God that he did what we considered the greatest sin of all, he assumedly cussed! “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as skubala, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8(NET). The Greek word skubala is more vulgar than crap and dung, and as harsh as s**t. Either way, most translations dim it down by using words like “rubbish,” which means trash, not excrement, or “dung” which is more accurate but far less offensive. And yes my friends, that word is a first century cuss word.

In some ways, it’s understandable that we don’t want to be using this type of language in church. But, on the other hand, the Gospel is offensive. Grace is scandalous. And that’s the real point. The biblical prophets sometimes use offensive language, but not to produce shock for its own sake. Edginess was never the goal, and neither was some vague notion of Christian “freedom.” God’s messengers used vulgar images to shock their religious audience out of complacency. Because sometimes the goodness of God becomes lost in the fog of Christianese rhetoric and religious routine, and the only way to wake us up is to use provocative language.

So how do we reconcile Ezekiel’s filthy tongue with Ephesians 4:29(ESV)? 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Does this outlaw all forms of vulgarity? Not exactly. The word for “corrupting” (sapros) literally means “rotten, decaying, unwholesome.” The whole point is not to forbid certain words that are labeled “cuss words” by its culture, but all speech that does not “build up.”

Paul’s warning here does include using obscene or vulgar language that tears someone down, reflects worldly motives, or in any other way that’s unfit for a redeemed way of life. But “corrupting” primarily refers to slander, gossip or any other speech that tears someone down. Paul refers to the dangerous power of words, all words, when used to dehumanize another human being. Gossiping about a fellow church member, dropping a belittling comment on a blog or Facebook post or holding up a hateful sign at a gay-pride parade are all good examples of “corrupting” talk.

But if your Gospel presentation is putting your moralistic crowd to sleep, or if a pharisaic friend is more concerned about proper speech than an addiction to grace, then you may need to tell him that his Christ-less church attendance is nothing more than a bloody tampon until he clings to the Cross, as Isaiah did Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Ephesians 4:29(NASB) tells us, 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 

1Peter 3:10(ESV)“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
James 3:9-12(ESV) summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians—the “brothers”—should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and gossip, perverse, or corrupt speech come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer. Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.

Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8(HCSB)A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being

No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4(HCSB)  A wicked person listens to malicious talk;[a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

In the book of Romans, Paul reveals the sinful nature and lawlessness of mankind, stating how God poured out His wrath on those who rejected His laws. Because they had turned away from God’s instruction and guidance, He gave them over to their sinful natures. The list of sins includes gossips and slanderers Romans 1:29-32(HCSB)29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them. We see from this passage how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath.

Another group who were (and still are today) known for indulging in gossip is widows. Paul cautions widows against entertaining the habit of gossip and of being idle. These women are described as “gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” 1 Timothy 5:12-13(ESV)12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.. Because women tend to spend a lot of time in each other’s homes and work closely with other women, they hear and observe situations which can become distorted, especially when repeated over and over. Paul states that widows get into the habit of going from home to home, looking for something to occupy their idleness. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and God cautions against allowing idleness to enter our lives. Proverbs 20:19(HCSB)The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth.

Women are certainly not the only ones who have been found guilty of gossip. Anyone can engage in gossip simply by repeating something heard in confidence. The book of Proverbs has a long list of verses that cover the dangers of gossip and the potential hurt that results from it. Proverbs 11:12-13(HCSB)12  Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense, but a man with understanding keeps silent.13 A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.

The Bible tells us that Proverbs 16:28(HCSB)A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Many a friendship has been ruined over a misunderstanding that started with gossip. Those who engage in this behavior do nothing but stir up trouble and cause anger, bitterness, and pain among friends. Sadly, some people thrive on this and look for opportunities to destroy others. And when such people are confronted, they deny the allegations and answer with excuses and rationalizations. Rather than admit wrongdoing, they blame someone else or attempt to minimize the seriousness of the sin. Proverbs 18:7-8(HCSB)A fool’s mouth is his devastation, and his lips are a trap for his life.8 A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.

Proverbs 21:23(HCSB)The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble. So we must guard our tongues and refrain from the sinful act of gossip. If we surrender our natural desires to the Lord, He will help us to remain righteous. May we all follow the Bible’s teaching on gossip by keeping our mouths shut unless it is necessary and appropriate to speak.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. Luke 6:45(ESV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”.

Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man”, which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we gossip and use rotten speech, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our great God is 1 John 1:9(ESV)“faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. When this happens, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us.

In the end the battle for purity in the mouth is fought in the heart, because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If we see this, we won’t be as surprised with what Paul says in Ephesians. It is not what you might expect. We might expect Paul to admonish us to clean up our language. We might expect him to talk about words that are not vulgar or rotten or corrupt, but are pure and wholesome and creative and clear. But Paul doesn’t do what we expect.

Instead of proposing clean language, he proposes a whole new way of thinking about language. Instead of saying, “You don’t need dirty language to communicate your intention,” he says, “The root issue is whether your intention is love.” In other words the issue for Paul is not really language at all; the issue is love. The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace. You see he shifts from the external fruit to the internal root. He shifts from what we say to why we say it. That’s the issue.

Ephesians 4:29(NASB)29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for edifying, as fits the occasion [literally: good for edifying of need—meeting a particular need is in view] that it may impart grace to those who hear.

Do you see the shift? He doesn’t say, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but instead let fresh clean talk come out of your mouth.” He says, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but ask this: Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I meeting a need with the words that are coming out of my mouth? Am I building up faith into the people who hear?”

This is exactly what Paul does here in verse 29. He says, “Let no rotten talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good,” and then he shifts from the what to the why, “for edification to meet a need that it may impart grace to those who hear.” It is not Christian just to stop swearing. It is not Christian just to put good language in the mouth instead. It is Christian to ask the deeper, internal question: am I speaking now to edify? Is your mouth a means of grace?

Ephesians 5:1-5(NLT)Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

A Christian is a person whose rotten root within has been made new by grace through faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of God has taken the hate and anger and resentment that spill over in mean and vulgar and irreverent language, and has covered them with the blood of Christ and killed them along with the old unbelieving self.

How can you make your mouth a means of grace for others when you don’t hope in the grace of God for yourself? It is out of hopeless hearts of discouragement and frustration and anger and bitterness and resentment that all rotten and hurtful language comes.

But if you as a believer stop and think for a moment that Christ has died for your sin, that God has promised to work all things together for your good, that he has given you his own Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of sealing you for the day of redemption, then surely a deep and confident hope will be the root of your life. And up through that root will flow the sap of grace, and out onto the branches of your life will come the fruit of a whole new way of talking.

The question for your mouth will not merely be the moral question: Am I avoiding dirty words? But the Christian question: Am I building the faith of others by what I say? Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I frightened and anxious and angry about my life, or am I filled and overflowing with hope that the Spirit of God will keep me safe for the day of redemption?

Finding Strength in the Storm

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV)I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Proverbs 24:10 (ESV)If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Proverbs 3:4-6 (ESV)So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

James 1:2-4 (ESV)Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We cannot choose to avoid adversity, but we can choose how we will respond.Through adversity, God is able to accomplish so much in our lives, if we will only trust Him and seek His purposes. Jesus said that storms will come in our lives, but they don’t have to overcome us. Sometimes he calms the storms, but other times he calms His Disciple. One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a loved one, disease, injury, financial problems, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son. This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and storms, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7(ESV) “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to Romans 5:3-5(NLT)3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

1. SOMETIMES HE CALMS THE STORMS:

a. Just because you’re in a storm doesn’t mean you’ve sinned, Jesus said we will have difficulties in life. John 16:33(HCSB)33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

This story takes place right after an amazing miracle of provision – feeding the 5,000.

“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.” (Mark 6:45).

The disciples were obeying Jesus and found themselves in a storm.

Just because you’re in a storm doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t care.

Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The apostles’ lack of faith reminds us that even those who lived and walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, and heard His message still found it difficult to be 100 percent faith-filled all the time. In that way, the disciples were a lot like us. However, their lack of faith was rebuked—and, by extension, so is ours. If Jesus was able to rescue the apostles from the storm, He is also able to rescue us from the storms of everyday life: sickness, job loss, marriage problems, and even the sting of death.

c. When you’re in the storm, you will encounter Jesus in a new way.

Matthew 14:22 (HCSB)Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. 23 After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. 25 Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”29 “Come!” He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

• Jesus doesn’t always come in the way we would like Him to.

• When Jesus comes, He says, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Even though Jesus seemed absent in the storm, He was watching them.

• In the early morning, Jesus finally came to them.

  • God is never early, but he’s never late. He will come when the time is right.
  • When you’re in a storm, cry out to Jesus for help:

In their first storm, Mark tells us: Mark 4:38(HCSB)So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”

First Storm Jesus was with them and they asked who was he?

Second Storm Jesus didn’t go with them but met them then they knew who He was!!

When Jesus “gave orders to go over to the other side” (Matthew 8:18), He knew the storm was coming. He is omniscient (John 2:25); even with a storm brewing, He decided to launch out to sea. The Lord never promised we will never see a storm in life (as a matter of fact, He has told us to expect trouble, John 16:33(HCSB)33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”. Rather, He has promised that He will be with us in the storm. He will never leave His children alone in the midst of trouble; with perseverance we will overcome James 1:12(HCSB)12 A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

2. SOMETIMES HE CALMS HIS DISCIPLE:

Acts 27:7-8(ESV)7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Acts 27:18-21(ESV)18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. 21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 

• This storm was different than the ones the disciples faced:

o They had several days of rough sailing. The terrible storm raged many days.

o They had to throw out the ship’s cargo and equipment and lost a lot of stuff.

Most of the time its not the strength but the duration of the storm that destroys us.

o Finally, the ship itself was destroyed. “All hope was gone.”

Acts 27:22-26(ESV)22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

  • Jesus never calmed this storm for Paul, but the Lord gave him peace in the storm.

Remember, peace is not the absence of a storm – it is peace in the middle of your storm. No matter what happens in my life as a Christian, I have the promises of God’s Word for a safe landing on that heavenly shore. The storms of life will come and go but I don’t need to be afraid. Who do I know who may be going through a storm right now and needs my encouragement?

We do not know exactly when the storms will come into our lives. They usually come suddenly and violently, just like the storm at sea came upon Paul and his company.

These storms come when things are going smoothly. Just prior to the storm, Paul and his party were enjoying smooth sailing.

Since we do not know when these storms will come, we must learn to have confidence in the One who is Lord over the storms.

When we are living with in Him, we are braced for the storms that come.

There are five actions to take when you find yourself in one of life’s storms.

  1. Spend some time alone with God; All relationships take time. A relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships.Spending time alone with a loved one provides the opportunity to truly come to know that person. Spending time alone with God is no different. When we’re alone with God, we draw closer to Him and get to know Him in a different way than we do in group settings. Spending time alone with God rids our minds of distraction so that we can focus on Him and hear His Word. Abiding in Him, we enjoy the intimacy to which He calls us and come to truly know Him.
  1. Acknowledge His presence Proverbs 3:5-6(ESV)Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths..

3. Believe His promises (2 Peter 1:3(HCSB) His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.).

4. Count your blessings (Acts 27:35)James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5. Get rid of excess baggage (Acts 27:38) Here’s some baggage we all need to eradicate from our lives.

Intellectual baggage.  This baggage keeps us from thinking clearly.  Or understanding correctly.  It may be the wisdom of the world that characterized the Greek culture.  Paul warned of those who allowed their own reasoning from seeing the simplicity in Christ.  Intellectual baggage may fill out minds with useless information.  False information. Or preconceived and prejudicial information.  Get rid of intellectual baggage so your mind can think on the things of God.

Emotional baggage.  Emotions are powerful.  They drive us.  Or drain us.  They motivate us. Or demoralize us.  They can take us to exciting highs.  But also to depressing lows.  The Bible often speaks of controlling our emotions, through sobriety and self-discipline.  The sins of anger, wrath, envy, jealously and bitterness have to do with improper emotions.  And they create a burden that is difficult to bear.  Paul admonished the Ephesians and Colossians to “put off” these things.  Get rid of that baggage that is hindering growth and harming your relationships.

Behavioral baggage.  Too often we justify bad behavior by saying things like, “that’s just the way I am.”  Or, “I’m only human.”  God wants us to model our lives after Jesus.  To live as He lived. To walk as He walked.  To talk as He talked.  He gave us a behavioral example.  But when we take on the sins of the flesh, with habits that hurt us, and with addictions that alter our minds, wound our emotions and harm our bodies, we have acquired baggage that we need to unload and leave behind.

Intellectual, emotional and behavioral baggage negatively affects all of our relationships, with our family, Friends, Co-workers, Church Family and

most of all with our Heavenly Father.

Get rid of the excess baggage.  Hebrews 12:1(NLT)Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

GOD WILL COMFORT US SO WE CAN COMFORT OTHERS:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (ESV)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.[a] If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

  • When you go through storms, God will comfort you so you can comfort others.

• Is it a storm of addiction – trying to break free from a bondage you have had for years?

• Is it a storm of sickness – praying believing God for healing?

• Is it a storm of financial pressures – trying to get out of debt?

• Is it a storm of relationship challenges – trying to restore a broken relationship?

• Is it a storm of doubt and hopelessness? How can we hope to survive the storm?

In order to face the storms of life successfully, we must be committed to Jesus as well as having confidence in Him. Paul gives us an example of such a commitment. He stood before the frightened group and related to them the vision that he had experienced. He told them that an angel of the God to whom he belonged and whom he served had appeared to him assuring him that there would be no loss of life.The storms of life are going to come. We must learn to face them. How are we going to face them? I pray that we will face them with confidence in Jesus, with commitment to Jesus. If so, we will be able to face the storms victoriously, and we will be able to assure others in their storms of life.

God is Sovereign Man is Not

The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God works not just some things but all things according to the counsel of His own will. Ephesians 1:1-11(ESV)1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful[a] in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
His purposes are all-inclusive and never derailed, nothing takes Him by surprise.
Isaiah 46:8-11(ESV)“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10  declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

The sovereignty of God is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that He does so, always and without exception. In other words, God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).

The importance of getting this right is death and life,I heard this at one of our sister churches. “God is sovereign and because we are created in His image He has a sovereign will and we have a sovereign will and He cannot break our sovereign will.”

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation.

But that is, after all, precisely what Scripture teaches. Even faith is God’s gracious gift to His elect. Jesus said, John 6:65(ESV)65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”. Matthew 11:27(ESV)27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Therefore no one who is saved has anything to boast about.

Ephesians 2:8–9(ESV)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.

God’s sovereignty in salvation means that He saves whom He will, and those whom He saves owe nothing to anything in or of themselves. They are saved because God graciously chose them in eternity and regenerated and called them in history. They cannot even take credit for their faith because it is the gift that He Himself sovereignly bestows.

Everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence.
Psalm 115:3 (ESV)“Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases”.
Psalm 135:6 (ESV)“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps”. He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11)

Romans 11:36(ESV)36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 8:6(ESV)yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

What about sin? God is not the author of sin, but He certainly allowed it; it is essential to His eternal decree. God has a purpose for allowing it. He cannot be blamed for evil or tainted by its existence 1 Samuel 2:2(ESV)“There is none holy like the Lord:for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. But He certainly wasn’t caught off-guard or standing helpless to stop it when sin entered the universe. We do not know His purposes for allowing sin. If nothing else, He permitted it in order to destroy evil forever. And God sometimes uses evil to accomplish good (Genesis 50:20(ESV)20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Romans 8:28(ESV)28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. How can these things be? Scripture does not answer all the questions for us. But we know from His Word that God is utterly sovereign, He is perfectly holy, and He is absolutely just.

Admittedly, those truths are hard for the human mind to embrace, but Scripture is indisputable. God controls all things, right down to choosing who will be saved. Paul states the doctrine in inescapable terms in the ninth chapter of Romans, by showing that God chose Jacob and rejected his twin brother Esau “though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls” (Romans 9:6-24(ESV)But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Paul anticipated the argument against divine sovereignty: “You will say to me then, Romans 9:19(ESV)’Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” In other words, doesn’t God’s sovereignty cancel out human responsibility? But rather than offering a philosophical answer or a deep spiritual argument, Paul simply reprimanded the skeptic:Romans 9:20-21(ESV) 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have so that punishment is just if they reject the light. Romans 2:19-20(ESV)19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, John 5:40(ESV)40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. He told unbelievers, John 8:24(ESV)24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”. In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, John 6:37-44(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day and, John 6:65(ESV)65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”. How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that?
In Psalm 50:21(ESV)These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)“‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’”.

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33–34(ESV)33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

Here are a few scriptures on His Sovereignty

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (ESV)Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Psalm 115:3 (ESV)Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV)Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Job 42:2 (ESV)“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Psalm 103:19 (ESV)The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 9:21 (ESV)Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Romans 9:18 (ESV)So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Lamentations 3:37 (ESV)Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?

Ephesians 1:11-12 (ESV)In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Psalm 135:6 (ESV)Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

Romans 9:19-20 (ESV)You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV)The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Daniel 4:35 (ESV)All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Proverbs 16:33 (ESV)The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

Ephesians 1:11 (ESV)In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV)The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Isaiah 14:24 (ESV)The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,

Job 23:13 (ESV)But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does.

Deuteronomy 32:39 (ESV)“‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

John 6:44 (ESV)No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Jeremiah 32:27 (ESV)“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

1 Timothy 6:15 (ESV)Which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

Ephesians 1:4 (ESV)Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

2 Chronicles 20:6 (ESV)And said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.

Isaiah 14:27 (ESV)For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Philippians 2:13 (ESV)For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Job 12:23 (ESV)He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away.

1 Samuel 2:6 (ESV)The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 (ESV)Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

Proverbs 21:30 (ESV) No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord.

God has a plan for every life, but the details of this plan are carried out by the free choices of each person involved. As we said before, however, God’s plan is not always the same as His desires. The degree to which God’s desires are carried out in His plan for our lives is our responsibility. God, for instance, desires that we come to love Him for who He is and what He has done for us. But we are not robots programmed to say, “Praise you! Praise you!” No one can truly love God (or anyone else) without the power to choose.

The Christian’s walk with God is a divine-human process. God is always at work in the believer to produce the fruit of righteousness and Christlikeness, but the believer is also responsible for acting. It is not a matter of “let go and let God” on the one hand, or of living in the power of the flesh on the other hand.

Paul communicates this balance clearly, Galatians 2:20(ESV)20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Philippians 2:12-13(ESV)12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

God is at work in us, but we are also to act in obedience.This is called Sanctification.

Responsibility and voluntary choice are not the same thing as free will. We affirm that man is indeed responsible for the choices he makes, yet we deny that the Bible teaches that man has a free will since it is no where taught in the pages of Scripture. The Bible teaches, rather, that God ordains all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11) and it also teaches that man is culpable for his choices (Ezekiel 18:20, Matthew 12:37). Since the Scripture is our ultimate authority and highest presuppsosition, the multitude of clear scriptural declarations on this matter outweigh all unaided human logic. We find that almost always the objections to God’s meticulous providence over all things are moral and philosophical rather than exegetical or scriptural. This means we must strive to consciously affirm what the Scripture declares over all our finite understanding and sinful inner drive for independence.

In biblical terminology, fallen man is in bondage to a corruption of nature and that is why the biblical writers considered him not free (see Romans 6). Jesus Himself affirms that the one who sins is a “slave to sin” and only the Son can set him free. Note that even Jesus speaks of a kind of freedom here. He is not speaking of freedom from God but freedom from the bondage of sin, which is the kind of freedom those have who are in Christ. In this sense God is the most free Person since He is holy, set apart from sin… yet He cannot make choices contrary to His essence, i.e. He cannot be unholy. So, we must conclude, according to Jesus in John 8:31-36, that the natural man does not have a free will. The will is in bondage to sin and only He can set us free.

Excerpts from Theopedia and Grace to You.

Churches should talk about sex more often

The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It was written about and to deal with people just like us, people just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how explicit the Bible really is. They feel the need to censor it and God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6(NLT), and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8(NLT)Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  rather than a pile of crap(Skubala), as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.”

1 Samuel 25:22(KJV)So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.(At least the King James Version got that one right.)

The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, politically correct,holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life in a broken world.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded sermons. Take Psalm 77:1-3(NLT)“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help”

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us 1 Corinthians 10:11(HCSB)11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.. So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

What about Ezekiel 16(which says Whore in almost every verse), God compared Israel’s rebellion using bold, provocative and sexual language that would make our grandmothers blush.

I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism(sanctimonious, hypocritical, insincere, self-righteous, holier-than-thou,churchy;goody-goody)

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls Job 31:1(HCSB)I have made a covenant with my eyes.How then could I look at a young woman?

Modern culture has tried to redefine sexuality as a personal right to be exercised any way an individual wishes. Sexual behavior is considered a personal choice, kind of like a decision to buy a house or rent a condo. At the same time, popular opinion has all but removed the word sin from our culture’s vocabulary. The only sexual expression considered “wrong” is what is deemed distasteful to the definer. However, social acceptability varies so greatly that even the vilest of acts would be considered justified by many. So, before we can determine why sexual sin is such a big deal, we have to define sexual sin.

Fortunately, man has never been given the privilege of defining sin. The One who created sexuality also has the right to set the boundaries for it, and the Bible is clear about the guidelines. When God created the first man, Adam, and brought to him the first woman, Eve, He joined them together in marriage and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31; 2:18, 24). At that time, God introduced sexuality and set the boundaries for its expression. God created a union between a husband and wife that He called “becoming one flesh”

Genesis 2:24(HCSB)24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.( Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31). He then defined any sexual activity outside of the husband-wife relationship as a violation of His gift. Fornication, homosexuality, pornography, and lust are all violations of God’s intent when He created the sexual act.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality,[d] 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. ,

1 Corinthians 6:18(HCSB)18 Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.;

Galatians 5:19-21(HCSB)19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jude 1:7; Matthew 5:28;

Hebrews 13:4(HCSB)Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.

So why is the violation of those boundaries such a big deal? The first clue lies in Genesis 2:24 with the words “one flesh.” There is great unifying power within the sexual union. God designed it to involve not only bodies but hearts and lives. Sex was designed to consummate the lifetime union between a man and woman. Jesus said, “What God has joined together let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). He designed male and female bodies differently so that they could come together in an act of physical intimacy that joins them together for life. They “are no longer two, but one flesh” Mark 10:7-8(HCSB)For this reason a man will leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife],8  and the two will become one flesh.So they are no longer two, but one flesh.. The act of becoming one creates a new entity: a family. This powerful force also brings forth new life. The human race can only be propagated by the coming together of a man and a woman. And, within marriage, God blesses it. Sex is a gift to a husband and wife to make their relationship unique among all other relationships.

God created sex, He created it for us to enjoy, He created male and female with body parts to enjoy one another. Sex becomes “bad” when it is done outside of the covenant of marriage. It is also given as a covenant renewal.

God gave us Married people the gift of sex. There are two gifts after Salvation that God gave us for pleasure, Sex & Taste buds.

There are scriptures that speak about sex for pleasure, there is a whole book written called Song of Solomon.
Proverbs 5:15 (HCSB)Drink water from your own cistern,water flowing from your own well. 16 Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? 17 They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.18 Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 19  A loving doe, a graceful fawn—let her breasts always satisfy you;be lost in her love forever.

However, what God creates as good, Satan perverts. Satan began his defilement in the Garden of Eden with the words “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1). And that challenge to the authority of God continues still. When we use sexuality for entertainment or to satisfy lust, we cheapen the beauty of this powerful gift and defy the One who designed it. We also reap the consequences of our sin. Our sexual disobedience has produced a world of disease, abortion, perversion, child molestation, addiction, and sexual exploitation. God created boundaries for our good so that we could enjoy His gift as it was designed to be enjoyed.

Electricity is a powerful and helpful thing if used correctly. However, misused or abused, electricity can be deadly. The same is true of sexuality. Misused, sex is also deadly. Abusing God’s gift produces problems such as abortion, poverty, rape, adultery, divorce, pornography, and children growing up without fathers. Sexual sin begins with temptation, as all sin does. When we refuse to acknowledge God’s boundaries, we allow lust to dictate our choices. And lust never leads in the right direction. James 1:13-15 (HCSB)13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil,[a] and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Another reason sexual sin is such a big deal is that it destroys the picture of the unbreakable covenant God has with His people. The Bible uses marriage as a metaphor to describe the covenant relationship Jesus has with His “bride,” those whom He has bought with His own blood (Revelation 19:7; 2 Corinthians 11:2). In the Old Testament, God often compared rebellious Israel to a wayward wife, using adultery as a picture of the most heinous of sins (Jeremiah 3:6). God created the sex act to be a consummation of a covenant relationship—a covenant in which God has participated (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). The marriage covenant illustrates God’s unbreakable covenant with us. To engage in sex outside of marriage violates God’s intention and brings serious consequences.

God gave man and woman the joy and pleasure of sexual relations within the bounds of marriage, and the Bible is clear about the importance of maintaining sexual purity within the boundaries of that union between man and wife (Ephesians 5:31). Humans are well aware of the pleasing effect of this gift from God but have expanded it well beyond marriage and into virtually any circumstance. The secular world’s philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” pervades cultures, especially in the West, to the point where sexual purity is seen as archaic and unnecessary.

Sexual sin defiles more than just our physical bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18). It has spiritual significance. Almost every book of the Bible renounces sexual immorality, indicating that God considers it a grave sin. Committing sexual sin is directly opposed to God’s will to sanctify us. Look at what God says about sexual purity. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5(HCSB)For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.

Romans 13:13–14 outlines the life God desires us to live: 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires. Sexual sin is one more way people gratify the flesh rather than walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Jesus said that the “pure in heart” will “see God” (Matthew 5:8). Unrepentant sexual sin defiles the heart, making it impossible to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we wish to be pure in heart, we cannot engage in sexual sin.

In the New Testament, the word most often translated “sexual immorality” is porneia. This word is also translated as “whoredom,” “fornication,” and “idolatry.” It means “a surrendering of sexual purity”, and it is primarily used of premarital sexual relations. From this Greek word we get the English word pornography, stemming from the concept of “selling off.” Sexual immorality is the “selling off” of sexual purity and involves any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship.

Homosexuality is definitely a choice. Just as a man has the choice and is preprogrammed to sleep with as many women as possible but we exert self control to stop us from that, also a homosexual has the choice to sleep with people. Homosexuality is just a deeper perversion. There are six primary passages of Scripture that reference homosexuality: Genesis 19:4-9;
Leviticus 18:22(HCSB)22 You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13(HCSB)13 If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands.

Romans 1:24-27(HCSB)24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

1 Timothy 1:9-10(HCSB)We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10(HCSB)Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom..

There is a tendency to declare homosexuality as the worst of all sins. While it is undeniable, biblically speaking, that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, in no sense does the Bible describe homosexuality as an unforgivable sin. Nor does the Bible teach that homosexuality is a sin Christians will never struggle against.

Is it possible to be a gay Christian? If the phrase “gay Christian” refers to a person who struggles against homosexual desires and temptations – yes, a “gay Christian” is possible. However, the description “gay Christian” is not accurate for such a person, since he/she does not desire to be gay, and is struggling against the temptations. Such a person is not a “gay Christian,” but rather is simply a struggling Christian, just as there are Christians who struggle with fornication, lying, and stealing. If the phrase “gay Christian” refers to a person who actively, perpetually, and unrepentantly lives a homosexual lifestyle – no, it is not possible for such a person to truly be a Christian.

Sexuality is God’s design. He alone can define the parameters for its use. The Bible is clear that sex was created to be enjoyed between one man and one woman who are in a covenant marriage until one of them dies (Matthew 19:6). Sexuality is His sacred wedding gift to human beings. Any expression of it outside those parameters constitutes abuse of God’s gift. Abuse is the use of people or things in ways they were not designed to be used. The Bible calls this sin. Adultery, premarital sex, pornography, and homosexual relations are all outside God’s design, which makes them sin.

The following are some common objections to God’s commands against sexual immorality:

1. It’s not wrong if we love each other. The Bible makes no distinction between “loving” and “unloving” sexual relations. The only biblical distinction is between married and unmarried people. Sex within marriage is blessed (Genesis 1:28); sex outside of marriage is “fornication” or “sexual immorality”
1 Corinthians 7:2–5(HCSB)But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

2. Times have changed, and what was wrong in biblical times is no longer considered sin. Most of the passages condemning sexual immorality also include evils such as greed, lust, stealing, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21). We have no problem understanding that these other things are still sin. God’s character does not change with culture’s opinion

Malachi 3:6(HCSB)“Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

Numbers 23:19(HCSB)God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?

Hebrews 13:8(HCSB)Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

3. We’re married in God’s eyes. This argument implies that God is cross-eyed. The fallacy of this idea is that the God who created marriage in the first place would retract His own command to accommodate what He has called sin. God declared marriage to be one man and one woman united for life Mark 10:6–9(HCSB)But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife],8 and the two will become one flesh. The Bible often uses the imagery of a wedding and a covenant marriage as a metaphor to teach spiritual truth (Matthew 22:2; Revelation 19:9). Marriage is covenant and consummation, just because you are having sex with someone does not make you two married. there must be a covenant first then consummation. God takes marriage very seriously, and His “eyes” see immorality for what it is, regardless of how cleverly we have redefined it. Even when it comes to homosexual marriage.

While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. 1 Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful. According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love.Ephesians 4:15(HCSB)15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15-16(HCSB)15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame..

4. I can still have a good relationship with God because He understands. Proverbs 28:9(HCSB)Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is detestable. We fool ourselves when we think that we can stubbornly choose sin and God does not care. 1 John 2:3–4(HCSB) contains a serious challenge for those who persist in this line of thinking:This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Hebrews 13:4(HCSB) makes God’s expectation for His children crystal clear: Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. Sexual immorality is wrong. The blood of Jesus can cleanse us from every type of impurity when we repent and receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:7–9). But that cleansing means our old nature, including sexual immorality, is put to death (Romans 6:12–14, 8:13). Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

First, we are “sanctified,” and for that reason we are to avoid sexual immorality. The Greek word translated “sanctified” means literally “purified, made holy, consecrated [unto God].” As Christians, we are to live a purified life because we have been made holy by the exchange of our sin for the righteousness of Christ on the cross and have been made completely new creations in Christ 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.. Our old natures, with all their impurities, sexual and otherwise, have died, and now the life we live, we live by faith in the One who died for us (Galatians 2:20). To continue in sexual impurity (fornication) is to deny that, and doing so is, in fact, a legitimate reason to question whether we have ever truly been born again. Sanctification, the process by which we become more and more Christlike, is an essential evidence of the reality of our salvation.

1 Thessalonians 4:3–5(HCSB)For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God. We see the necessity of controlling our bodies. When we give in to sexual immorality, we give evidence that the Holy Spirit is not filling us because we do not possess one of the fruits of the Spirit—self-control. All believers display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) to a greater or lesser degree depending on whether or not we are allowing the Spirit to have control. Uncontrolled “passionate lust” is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), not of the Spirit. So controlling our lusts and living sexually pure lives is essential to anyone who professes to know Christ. In doing so, we honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18–20).

We know God’s rules and discipline reflect His love for us. Following what He says can only help us during our time on earth. By maintaining sexual purity before marriage, we avoid emotional entanglements that may negatively affect future relationships and marriages. Further, by keeping the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4), we can experience unreserved love for our mates, which is surpassed only by God’s enormous love for us.

What differentiates a Christian’s life from a non-Christian’s life is the struggle against sin. The Christian life is a progressive journey of overcoming the “acts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21) and allowing God’s Spirit to produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). Yes, Christians sin, sometimes horribly. Sadly, sometimes Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians. However, a true Christian will always repent, will always eventually return to God, and will always resume the struggle against sin. But the Bible gives no support for the idea that a person who perpetually and unrepentantly engages in sin can indeed be a Christian. Notice 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Purpose of the Church Pt5 Communion

Communion – the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level or the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

So, when we take Communion, it’s about who? Jesus! And I need you to know this ‘cause at so many churches, they either don’t take Communion, or they take it and don’t tell you what it’s about.

Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” so we do. And that when we partake, it’s not literally Jesus’ body and blood but a symbolic representation.

Catholics believe the Eucharist, or Communion, is both a sacrifice and a meal. We believe in the real presence of Jesus, who died for our sins. As we receive Christ’s Body and Blood, we also are nourished spiritually and brought closer to God.(Transubstantiation is the transformation in the Eucharist of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. This transformation of substance does not affect the appearances of the elements, which continue to appear to be bread and wine. The substance changes; the appearances do not.) This term was coined in the 1200’s, but the reality of the change of substance from ordinary bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ was believed by the apostles and their successors from the day of the Last Supper to the present.  So many anti-Catholics walk by sight, not by faith in regards to the Eucharist, but that is the exact same mistake the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers made about Jesus. If they could have seen him at His Transfiguration like Peter, James, and John did, they never would have treated Him with any disrespect like the anti-Catholics do. Similarly, if we could all see what the Eucharist REALLY is, we would all beg to be in the Blessed Sacrament,But Catholics walk by faith, not by sight.
Doctrine about the Eucharistic sacrifice. Holy Mass is a real sacrifice, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. It represents Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross, but in an unbloody manner. Priest and victim are both Christ, who offers himself through the priest. The laity also offers the sacrifice, but does not have the power to transubstantiate. The Eucharistic sacrifice is offered to God in praise, thanksgiving, petition and atonement, for the living and the dead. Saints may also be commemorated in honor and petition. The Church has the responsibility of determining the rites and prayers to be observed. The liturgy as a whole is the public worship by the mystical Body of Christ. In every liturgical activity Christ is present, in a manner that must be properly interpreted. In the 16th Century, a lot of men came up with their own peculiar traditions of what they erroneously believed the Eucharist to be, some kind of “symbol,” a word to be found nowhere in Scripture when describing the Eucharist.

That’s when God’s people are filled with the Holy Spirit and they gather as God’s family, and Jesus is honored, and remembered, and celebrated, and sin is repented of, and the cross of Jesus Christ is adored, the Holy Spirit is really present with God’s people, and it’s a sacred moment for the family to honor Jesus.

It’s more than just a looking back and a memorial feast, but we’re not gonna recrucify Christ every Sunday, because in Hebrews 10:10(HCSB) 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

”And that’s where, if you’re not a Christian, you turn from sin, trust in Jesus by faith, and you partake of Communion as an act of faith, as a demonstration of faith. And we get out of our seats and we do it together, remembering Jesus got out of his grave and one day we’ll get out of our graves, and together we’ll be with him forever.And let me say this: as God’s people take Communion, what we’re showing is, “I’m friends with Jesus and his people.” You can’t be a Christian and not connected to the church. I don’t get this. This is like a dad with five kids who adopts a kid, and that kid says, “He’s my dad, but I don’t have any siblings and I’m not part of the family.” It’s all together. God’s a Father, adopts you, you’re now part of a family. You got brothers and sisters. I don’t get this solo, independent, me and Jesus has our own thing,rebelling Christianity. It doesn’t make sense. The Bible knows nothing of it. If you’re connected to God, you’re connected to his people.

And when we partake in Communion in service or in homes together, what we’re doing is we’re doing it together saying, “I’m friends with Jesus, and I’m friends with you, and I’m part of the family.” And this happened in early Christianity. It says in Acts 2:42-47(HCSB)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. When the Christians started gathering, they would meet from the temple courts, big meetings like we do for services, and from house to house.

“And to the,” what? “Breaking of bread, having meals together and praying.” I’ll tell you the easiest way to build a friendship with somebody: have a meal and pray together. Eat together, pray together. Like, let’s say you’re married, you’re not getting along. Eat together, pray together, your friendship will grow because God always blesses those kinds of connecting moments. You’re struggling with your friends, try to resolve it over a meal. Start it, end it, bathe it in prayer. That’s how things get worked out relationally.

A study of the Lord’s Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning it contains. It was during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death that Jesus instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.

The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. It commemorated the final plague on Egypt when the firstborn of the Egyptians died and the Israelites were spared because of the blood of a lamb that was sprinkled on their doorposts. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread. God’s command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.

During the Last Supper—a Passover celebration—Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” Luke 22:19-21(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you. 21 But look, the hand of the one betraying Me is at the table with Me!. He concluded the feast by singing some psalms Matthew 26:30(HCSB)30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.

The church is a family, a community of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together to become more like Christ and less like our old selves. When you get a bunch of people who are imperfect together trying to live a new life, sometimes sparks fly, people get upset, offended, and feelings get hurt.

Colossians 3:12-17(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Some of people are partaking in an unworthy manner. You’re in open rebellion and sin.

Here’s a scary word of caution: there’s a church in Corinth. It’s not a great church. They’re getting drunk, they’re suing each other, they’re sleeping together, they’re hiring prostitutes. One guy’s sleeping with his mother or mother-in-law. Now days we call it legalistic to speak against,or we call it pulpit entertainment, politically correct sermons, diversity, openness, tolerance, we parades in honor of it, a magazine, a website, a whole Facebook group, and, t-shirts. God was very unhappy, and he said, “You’re not repenting. You’re claiming to love me and then you’re disobeying everything I say. You’re a bunch of rebellious, spoiled bratty kids.”

So then, through Paul, God speaks to them, and here’s what he says about Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:27-32(HCSB)27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world. “Therefore,whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way.” So, let me say this: there’s a worthy and an unworthy way. In our day of pulpit entertainment, politically correct sermons, tolerance, diversity, it’s, “Oh, no, no, we’re all—” Nope. There’s worthy and unworthy. There’s right and wrong. There’s obedient and disobedient. There’s qualified and disqualified. God’s grace doesn’t just forgive our sin. God’s grace empowers us to put our sin to death because Jesus died for it.

The bible is a mirror not a microscope, we are to read it and see our faults and change to be like Christ. Not to use to pass judgement on each other.

James 1:22-25(HCSB)22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE MIRROR OF GOD’S WORD, WHAT DO WE SEE?

1. We see our flaws. We see that we are sinners.

2. We also see that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we can now be sons and daughters of the Most High God!

3. We see that by believing in Jesus Christ, we can be changed forever.

2 Corinthians 3:18(HCSB)17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The first point is that the central requirement of love in the church community is both a gift and a command. Our life together originates in the covenant love of God and so one essential mark of our covenant relationships in church is love. And this love is the work of God.

This means that a church community is a bunch of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together. We have been saved from condemnation and transferred from death to life and from darkness to light but in this new relation to God we are not yet perfected or completed, but are on the way to becoming what we should be.

The first commitment of the our church community is love. In a sense all else is an unfolding of that. And the commitment of love and holiness is not a static one, because none of us has arrived, but a commitment to strive, forward,advance,promote and sustain holiness.

Luke 22:14-20(HCSB) 14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

Jesus constantly promoted community among His disciples. He enjoyed being with them.Jesus had fervent desire to eat with His disciples, FERVENT –  very hot glowing exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling, Passionate
DESIRE – a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment:

Communion is common unity, common Union. Communion it literally means intimacy. It is the divine remembrance of the life of a holy God invested into the heart of a people to transform the way the did life in front of a culture of people.

Luke 22:19(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus said to do this before He went to the cross, He could’ve waited till after the resurrection because He ate with men after He was resurrected. So if he just wanted them to remember the cross, He would’ve done it after the resurrection and said now do this in remembrance of me. Why did He do it before? Because Jesus didn’t come just to save us from hell. He came to give us permission to gain back what Adam forfeited in the garden. Jesus restored what Adam failed in. FELLOWSHIP with the father. Now instead of the ritualistic slaughter of animals that they had to do in the temple. It is his blood that let’s us into the holy of holies to talk with our father. He didn’t come as fire insurance He came to show us we can live a life free from the bondage of sin and conquer the flesh by a desire and have a hunger to go after God. He conquered temptation everyday and He said when you eat this remember that. Remember that your not at the mercy of your enemy anymore, remember I defeated him at the cross, I defeated him when I snatched the keys of death and the grave. I defeated him with I sit at the right hand of the father forever making intercession for you. Remember your not at the mercy of your flesh anymore, because for 33 years I lived not subject to the desires of my flesh I conquered the desires of the flesh and did not give into temptation. Do this in remembrance of me. And your going to remember that you are what you eat.

Jesus is showing us that we can come together as a company of people who can come together from all different points of life, different stages of our walk, different races and economic backgrounds because we can walk together in common union. Because we are now part of the family.

Romans 8:14-16(HCSB)14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

1 Corinthians 10:16(HCSB) The cup of blessing that we give thanks for, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests. By engaging in this united relationship a new level of consciousness and conscience emerges that spurs the group to higher order thinking and action, thus empowering and encouraging its members to exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. Thus community and family become closely intertwined, because aiming at a common unity strives to overcome brokenness, divisiveness, and, ultimately gaining wholeness with each of the members, with their environment, and with God. By giving mutual support, friendship and family merge. Both fellowship and community imply an inner and outer unity.

Don’t let this become a glorified hand washing station, but let us come together as a people who worship, praise and do life together as Jesus did with His disciples. We look at each other’s as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, our kids look at the older people as aunts and uncles. It not just something we do on Sunday’s but something we do everyday and our lives start being intertwined. Some of us don’t want that but those that do will ask “how can we get more deeply rooted in Him?” How can we get more passionate about Jesus?” What can we get rid of in our lives to make more room for Him? Jesus lived His life in front of His disciples that caused them to live in such a way that we are still reading and talking about it today. Colossians 3:1-4(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

So we can stay in our home and scream at the darkness or we can go out and shine His light.

2 Peter 1:4 (HCSB)By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

Galatians 5:16-17 (HCSB)I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

The question is not rather or not is it right or wrong but does it generate a hunger or thirst for the things of the spirit.

If you don’t want it to live quit feeding it. If you quit eating it long enough you will stop craving it. If you don’t want time with Jesus it’s an indicator that you haven’t spent time with him to perpetuate the cravings in your spirit for more of Him. Hunger is not a gift but a choice. If you see someone with a supernatural hunger for God it’s because they chose to eat those things of the spirit and starve the flesh.

We start looking for liberties, it’s not sin but it’s not healthy for the spirit. Some music out there is not sinful but it will not generate the appetite inside of you to successfully feed your spirit.

It’s not sin to listen to it and it’s not legalism to not listen, it’s liberty to let the appetite of the spirit dictate what you are ingesting.

The question for me is not is this sin or not anymore, I moved on from that , I grew. The question now for me is, will it feed my spirit? Will it bring the spiritual nourishment I need for my spirit or will it feed my flesh? Can I watch that? Sure but will I grow spiritually from it?

Will it make me hungrier for Him? Or will it generate a hunger, a craving for things that I don’t want to be hungry for anymore?

The more we eat Him. The more we will produce his nature naturally. We will start responding to people differently.

Do you know why stray cats and dogs hang around? Because you feed it. Lust hangs around because you feed it. You can’t say you can’t get rid of lust when you keep going to those sites, looking at women, etc.

You must have an appetite for one meal. The meal of the spirit.

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests. Thus community and family become closely intertwined, because aiming at a common unity strives to overcome brokenness, divisiveness, and, ultimately gaining wholeness with each of the members, with their environment, and with God. By giving mutual support, friendship and family merge. Both fellowship and community imply an inner and outer unity.

This church will never become a glorified hand washing station,or a museum for saints, or a country club that doesn’t welcome sinners but let us come together as a people who worship, praise and do life together as Jesus did with His disciples. Let us not point the finger at our brother’s and sister’s and their faults but let us forgive quickly, love plentifully and help joyfully. We look at each other’s as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, our kids look at the older people as aunts and uncles. It not just something we do on Sunday’s but something we do everyday and our lives start being intertwined. Some of us don’t want that but those that do will ask “how can we get more deeply rooted in Him?” How can we get more passionate about Jesus?” What can we get rid of in our lives to make more room for Him? Jesus lived His life in front of His disciples that caused them to live in such a way that we are still reading and talking about it today. Colossians 3:1-4(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Purpose of the Church Pt3 Church Attendance

It’s tempting sometimes to want to skip church. Maybe we have chores and errands that need to get done, maybe it’s too much work to get the family up and out the door in the morning, or maybe we just want to enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors.

If we attend church three out of four Sundays in the month, that’s enough, right?

This kind of thinking (which many Christians have probably fallen into) is really looking at church attendance from the wrong perspective.

Many of us think about church as something we have to do; it’s another thing to check off our weekly checklists. Our view toward church attendance can begin to be transformed, however, when we consider a few important things that remind us of the privilege of meeting each week specifically to focus on God and His people.

In some places, church attendance is regulated by the government. Unless you are registered, you cannot legally meet. Or you must meet in small numbers. Or you can meet, but are constantly afraid of what might happen. The news of church bombings across the world, often during worship services, is a frightening reminder of the high cost of meeting with other believers.

You don’t have to go to church, you get the privileges of being able to go to church.

We have the privilege of living in a society where we are free to get to go to church. It is hard to imagine persecuted believers whose baptismal services are secret, dangerous affairs ever saying they have to go to church. Listen to the global church, and be renewed in your gratitude for the privilege of freely worshipping with believers.

The importance of true Christian fellowship is that it reinforces these things in our mind and helps us to focus on Christ and His desires and goals for us. As iron sharpens iron, in true Christian fellowship Christians sharpen one another’s faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works, all to God’s glory. Church attendance is not just a “good suggestion”; it is God’s will for believers.

Walking into a church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than walking into a garage makes you a car. No matter how you slice it, going to church just isn’t going to save you — it’s only true faith in Christ alone that saves(Sola Christos). If indeed you are a true believer you are not going to lose your salvation by not going to church. However, it’s pretty hard to believe that a genuine believer would fail to go to church. The Christian life is to be lived within the context of the family of God Ephesians 3:14-15(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named,, and not in isolation.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Even in the early church, some were falling into the bad habit of not meeting with other believers. The author of Hebrews says that’s not the way to go. We need the encouragement that church attendance affords. And the approach of the end times should prompt us to be even more devoted to going to church.

If we cut off a hand or a finger and set it aside from the body it will eventually become dead and rotten. Same with a believer who does not belong to a local body.

Look again at what the Bible says, “Some have gotten out of the habit. We should not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other.” The church is an encouraging place. We all need encouragement. Life is hard. Life is difficult. We all run into various kinds of challenges; health problems, financial issues, conflict within our families. We have an opportunity to encourage one another and that is part of what church is about. Sunday service is where fellowship begins. Being in worship, coming to extra meetings and serving is where you get to know people on a deeper level. But it starts on Sunday; the launching point to fellowship and community is in church services. Every Sunday that you come, there are going to be people who are looking for you, wondering if you’re there. People will miss you. And the longer and more consistently you come, the more you will be missed. Because the more that you are in church, the more you are involved, the more people miss you and notice that you’re not around. It is a marvelous thing to be a part of a local church it is like having a much larger family.

You cannot say that you love Jesus and hate His bride.

It’s through our attendance at church that we hear the preaching of the Word of God. Ephesians 4:11-16(ESV)11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. This clearly tells us that God has placed pastors and teachers in the church “to prepare His people of works of service, so that the body of Christ might be build up and strengthened.” You cannot benefit yourself of this spiritual training if you are on the water on Sunday morning — trying to worship God in the Chapel of Dagon…

A church helps you defend Christianity against those who attack it. When Jude told the early Christians to “contend for the faith” Jude 1:3(ESV)Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. he directed his instruction toward a group of believers, not a scattering of lone-ranger Christians. Answering challenges from coworkers, friends and family members is always easier when you can ask fellow church members for help and wisdom. A church helps its members maintain correct doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13-16(ESV)13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. You might begin to adopt unbiblical ideas without realizing it yourself. But you probably won’t adopt unbiblical ideas without someone at your church realizing it, and they can help you get back to the truth.

The church must be together to carry out many of its purposes.

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

When a person trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, he or she is made a member of the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27(ESV)27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. For a church body to function properly, all of its “body parts” need to be present and working (1 Corinthians 12:14–20(ESV)12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

It’s not enough to just attend a church; we should be involved in some type of ministry to others, using the spiritual gifts God has given us.
Ephesians 4:11–13(ESV)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
A believer will never reach full spiritual maturity without having that outlet for his gifts, and we all need the assistance and encouragement of other believers
1 Corinthians 12:21–31(HCSB)
21 So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation. 24 But our presentable parts have no need of clothing. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25 so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. 28 And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages. 29  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? 30  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in other languages? Do all interpret?31 But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.

Church is not something that you do individually it is something that you do collectively. To be a follower of Christ is not just what you do by yourself it is what you do together with other people. We are what the Bible calls the “family of God.” A family is by its very nature inter-dependent. What it means to be a part of a local church is that you’re inter-dependent with other people in your church. There are strong reasons why you should come to church regularly.

1.Church is the place where believers can love one another
John 15:12-17(ESV)12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

2. Encourage one another 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11(ESV)For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

3. Inspire one another to love and good works Hebrews 10:24(ESV)And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

4. Serve one another Galatians 5:13(ESV)13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

5. Instruct one another Romans 15:14(ESV)14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

6. Honor one another Romans 12:10(ESV)10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

6.Be kind and compassionate to one another Ephesians 4:32(ESV)32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

1 Peter 2:5-6(ESV)you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church, and we are “like living stones . . . being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. As the building materials of God’s “spiritual house,” we naturally have a connection with one another, and that connection is evident every time the Church “goes to church.”

Christians should take church attendance seriously. The Christian life is to be lived within the context of the fellowship of the saints. The Bible knows nothing of a “lone ranger Christian.” Many logs burning together burn very brightly, but when a log falls off to the side, the embers quickly die out. When you face the difficulties of life as we all surely will, you’ll be thankful for the love, support, and prayers of your extended church family.

Don’t come occasionally to church. Don’t just come when you feel like it. Make regular church attendance a priority and let it be a good habit that becomes a part of who you are. Nothing does more for your spiritual health than regularly being in church. Being in a church service is irreplaceable. It is a moment in time and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. There will always be competition for your time and other things that you could do on a Sunday. But these are really good reasons you should regularly attend church.