Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

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Philippians Pt 3 Jesus left His throne

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 HCSB

At Christmas, we are confronted with the difficult task of separating the reality of the gospel from the fallacy of Christmas traditions. There is so much confusion that sometimes you feel like the real Christmas story is like a precious diamond lost amongst a bunch of svarsky crystals. It just seems impossible to find.  Christmas has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion.

The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift-giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the noise of shopping malls. The soberness of the incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season. Blinking colored lights somehow have some connection to the star of Bethlehem. The room in the inn, so obscure, so dirty, somehow embraces the thought of a warm house, a yule log on the fireplace, and feasting.  Cheap plastic toys for little kids with which to act out their foolishness are mixed with the true value of the gifts given by wise men.  Salesmen somehow get mixed up with shepherds.

The pain of childbirth is mixed with the parties.  The filth of the stable is confounded with the whiteness of fresh snow.  And then there’s Mary, Joseph, A Christmas Story(You’ll shoot your eye out) and Bing Crosby.

The great reality of Christmas, which is the glory of the Lord being revealed, is obscured by so much tinsel, evergreen trees, temporal activity, and commercialism; and I think it’s true that Santa Claus really has become the focus of Christmas for most people.  In fact, it’s amazing, but I think some people have trouble confusing Santa Claus with Jesus,  You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why:

Santa Claus is coming to town! He’s making a list, And checking it twice, Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town!

He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake!

Matthew 1:18-25(HCSB)18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7(HCSB)In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus[a] that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him[d] and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

That first Christmas, earth was not aware to the significance of a simple birth in a quiet town. But heaven wasn’t. The holy angels waited in anticipation to break forth in praise and worship and adoration at the birth of the newborn Christ. This Child’s birth meant deliverance for mankind. The angel told Joseph: Matthew 1:21(HCSB)21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

Unlike Isaac, who ascended the mountain with Abraham unaware he was to be the sacrifice, Jesus descended from heaven in full awareness of what the Father had in store for Him. Scripture records for us what may have been a farewell message Jesus gave just prior to His incarnation.

When He comes into the world, He says,Hebrews 10:5-7(HCSB)Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. 6  You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7  Then I said, “See—it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll—I have come to do Your will, God!

That passage of Scripture gives us a remarkable look at the heart of the Savior before His birth. He knew He was entering the world to be the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. His body had been divinely prepared by God specifically for that purpose. Jesus was going to die for the sins of the world, and He knew it. Moreover, He was doing it willingly. That was the whole point of the incarnation.
John 10:14-18(HCSB)14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.”

The important issue of Christmas is not so much that Jesus came, but why He came. There was no salvation in His birth. Nor did the sinless way He lived His life have any redemptive force of its own. His example, as flawless as it was, could not rescue men from their sins. Even His teaching, the greatest truth ever revealed to man, could not save us from our sins. There was a price to be paid for our sins. Someone had to die. Only Jesus could do it.

Jesus came to earth, of course, to reveal God to mankind. He came to teach truth. He came to fulfill the Law. He came to offer His kingdom. He came to show us how to live. He came to reveal God’s love. He came to bring peace. He came to heal the sick. He came to minister to the needy.

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day stagger up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.

Christ’s Humility and Exaltation

This portion of scripture tells of the descension of the Son of God to earth, to die, and then to return in exaltation to glory. It’s the theology of Christmas, it tells us what happened from the divine side of the story.

Philippians 2:5-11(HCSB)5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9  For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He abandoned a sovereign position. Go back to verse 6 and this identifies His person, His nature, His character, His attributes in eternity before He came. In a word, His sovereign position. It says in verse 6 that He existed in the form of God thus He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or seized.

So the story of Christmas begins with the Son of God abandoning a sovereign position. Secondly, He accepted a slave’s place…He accepted a slave’s place. Back to verse 7, “Taking the form of a slave.” It’s doulos, slave and there’s no such word as bondservant in the Greek, it’s the word for slave. He came down. How far down? He came to be a slave. He took off the robes of majesty and put on the apron of a slave. This, of course, is what the Old Testament promises. Regarding Jesus’ birth—Isaiah 7:14(ESV): “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 9:6(ESV): “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 53:6-12(HCSB)We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted,yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8  He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.9 They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.10  Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely.When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. 11He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

He takes on the attributes, takes on the characteristics of a slave. He literally becomes a slave, a slave of God and a slave of sinners, if you will. He came not to be served, but to serve. Luke 22:27(HCSB)27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. And how? By giving His life.

I think the point of Christmas is right here. Christmas, there’s no better time in the year than to teach us the illustration of the lesson of humility. The character of Christ, He was unselfish. He was humble. And Paul is challenging the church to that perspective; an attitude of a willingness to suffer, to be humiliated, to be selfless, to be sacrificing, so that God can lift us up. And the thing we need to learn, people, is not to always be asserting ourselves, defending ourselves, pushing ourselves up, but to be humble and selfless. That is the message of Christmas to us.

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

So we are free from the fear of death. God has justified us. Satan cannot overturn that command. And God means for our ultimate safety to have an immediate effect on our lives. He means for the happy ending to take away the slavery and fear of the Now. If we do not need to fear our last and greatest enemy, death, then we do not need to fear anything. We can be free. Free for joy. Free for others. What a great Christmas present from God to us! And from us to the world!

It’s appropriate to commemorate the birth of Christ. But don’t make the mistake of leaving Him as a baby in a manger. Keep in mind that His birth was just the first step in God’s glorious plan of redemption. Remember that it’s the triumph of Christ’s sacrificial death that gives meaning to His humble birth. You can’t truly celebrate one without the other

We all have sinned, Sinfulness is the general characteristic of all mankind; we are all guilty before God. We are sinners by nature and by our own acts of transgression.

Romans 3:9-10(HCSB)”What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one.”

Romans 3:23(HCSB)for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  

Psalm 14:3(HCSB)All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.

We are all sinners because Adam passed on his sinful condition that leads inevitably to our personal sin and death.Romans 5:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. All share Adam’s death sentence as an inherited condition (the “sin nature”) that is passed down to and through the human race and that every child brings into the world. Even before a child can be held accountable for personal sin, he or she is naturally prone to disobey, to tell lies, etc. Every child is born with a sin nature.

Titus 3:4-7(HCSB)But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.

The Atonement of Christ is the sacrificial work of Jesus for sinners. In his death on the cross, Christ atoned for the sins of humanity such that God is satisfied and reconciliation is accomplished for all who will be redeemed.Jesus’ death satisfied and reconciled sinners to God.

1 Timothy 1:15-17(HCSB) 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Light in the Darkness

1 John 4:4-6(HCSB) You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world. Therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.

The Christian faith that once existed in the background of American life and culture has diminished to such an extent that America is now a post-Christian nation. “Christians are ostracized. Gay marriage is celebrated. Abortion is literally destroying an entire generation. The culture around us is a Post-Christian Culture where the Christian ideological belief system is frowned upon. This is happening all around us, yet many Christians remain oblivious. “The church is dying, and no one is noticing because we’re wasting time criticizing, taking selfies when we feed the homeless or trying to make club members rather than evangelizing.”

Hell is hot, forever is a long time, and it’s our turn to stop making excuses and start making a difference. This is no time to trade in our combat boots for vacation flip-flops. The days are darker, which means our means of resolution must be stronger and our convictions must be clearer.”

1 Corinthians 9:19-23(HCSB) Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits.

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.

So maybe it would serve us better — at least in light of John 17 — to revise the popular phrase “in, but not of” in this way: “not of, but sent into.” The beginning place is being “not of the world,” and the movement is toward being “sent into” the world. The accent falls on being sent, with a mission, to the world — not being mainly on a mission to disassociate from this 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 disciplemaking.

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.

As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the apathetic, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. This is a daily activity and commitment.

We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.

1 Peter 2:1-10 HCSB “So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone — rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God — you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected — this One has become the cornerstone, and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

The darkness does not get darker, it does not get an adjective, only the light gets an adjective. It doesn’t matter how dark the darkness was in your life. It could be sexual darkness, anger darkness, addiction dark, when you shine the light, the wonderful light of Jesus the darkness has to flee. Darkness is just regular darkness we can try to magnify the degree of darkness or celebrate the wonderful light! 

The degree of the darkness has no effect on the degree of the light.

No matter how dark a room is the smallest amount of light illuminates it. It can’t be so dark that light doesn’t work. The reason the world is so dark is not the degree of darkness but the absence of the flame in the heart of the believer. When there is an explosion of the flame in the heart of the believer you will see the driving out of darkness.

Purpose of the Church Pt2 Teach Sound Doctrine

Is it enough to “just believe in Jesus” in some structureless sense that separates “faith” from any particular doctrine about Him, or is doctrine—and the content of our faith—really important after all?

Scripture plainly teaches that we must be sound in the faith—which is to say that doctrine does matter.
1 Timothy 4:6(ESV)6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

 2 Timothy 4:2-3(ESV)2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Titus 1:9(ESV)9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 2:1(ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Sound Doctrine matters a lot.

1 Timothy 6:3-4(ESV)3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions.

The purpose of the church is to teach and preach sound doctrine while protecting the flock from wolves and false teachers. The Bible is clear that we are not to treat wolves in the same way that we treat sheep. The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said it well: “With the wolves you cannot be too severe; with the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle”. Luther also said, A preacher must not only feed the sheep so as to instruct them how they are to be good Christians, but he must also keep the wolves from attacking the sheep and leading them astray with false doctrine and error;

Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity.

God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we think about the truth He has revealed. All Scripture testifies to the fact that God wants us to know and understand the truth. He wants us to be wise. His will is that we use our minds. We are supposed to think, meditate, and above all, to be discerning.

The content of our faith is crucial. Sincerity is not sufficient.Paul charges Titus, Titus 2:1 (ESV)“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine”. Such a mandate makes it obvious that sound doctrine is important. But why is it important? Does it really make a difference what we believe? If I were to ask you what you think is the largest problem facing the church in America, what would your response be?

“A lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient” John MacArthur

Discernment = In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22(ESV) teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, 1 John 4:1(ESV)Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.

Here are a few reasons the church is in the crisis it is in.

1The rise of extreme tolerance – The church is reluctant to take a definitive stand on any issue.

2A refusal to shun the world – The church is preoccupied with image and influence.

3A failure to interpret Scripture accurately.

4A lack of spiritual maturity.

Many men get told stuff for going too far but no one says anything about those cowards that do not go far enough. We need pastors that will teach and preach sound doctrine not tickle and entertain the ears of people. The Word is a sword and the sword is to cut not to entertain.

Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. The overall teaching of the church contains many elements, but the primary message is explicitly defined: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4(ESV)For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,. This good news is not open for interpretation, and it is “of first importance.” Change that message, and the basis of faith shifts from Christ to something else. Over time the methods may change bit the message must stay in tact. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” Ephesians 1:3(ESV)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,; Romans 5:8-9(ESV)but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 

To proclaim the truth and to support the truth through Scripture and reason, this is the greatest need of the church.” John MacArthur

“There are too many ballpark interpreters and preachers. The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of uncertainty and misplaced emphases in handling the Word of God. Many churches are on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics, ignorance of biblical languages and unsystematic theology. Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will not do. We need qualified preachers and teachers who will take the time and make the necessary sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God’s people as they read and study God’s holy Word.”

The biggest problem facing the church is lack of discernment. If you can’t discern the truth you can die of a thousand heresies. It’s just like spiritual AIDS. A deficient immune system leaves you susceptible to dying at the hands of a thousand illnesses.

Along with the responsibility to teach, preach, and instruct, part of the responsibility of ministry is to reprove, rebuke and exhort
2 Timothy 4:2(ESV)preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.; Titus 1:9(ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. And in that vein, it needs to be said that a massive part of Christianity lacks discernment.

As shepherds we must teach and preach sound doctrine and show people how to have spiritual discernment. You must know what you believe, why you believe and be able to give a defense on it.
1 Peter 3:15(ESV)5 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Titus 1:15-16(ESV) To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Knowledge of what the gospel teaches about various subjects is the preventative vaccine that enables the believer to resist false teaching. Truly embracing this vaccine produces not merely head knowledge of the gospel, but good works that flow out genuine saving faith.

Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God’s communication to the world. Our duty is to deliver the message, not to change it. Jude conveys an urgency in guarding the trust:
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. Philippians 1:27(ESV)27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, To “contend” carries the idea of strenuously fighting for something, to give it everything you’ve got. The Bible includes a warning neither to add to nor subtract from God’s Word
Revelation 22:18-19(ESV)18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Rather than alter the apostles’ doctrine, we receive what has been passed down to us and keep it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus”
2 Timothy 1:13(ESV)13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite dissimilar. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, and slave trading are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine”
1 Timothy 1:9-10(ESV)understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness but sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. 1 John 4:1(ESV)“Many false prophets have gone out into the world”. There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock

Matthew 13:25(ESV)25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
Acts 20:29(ESV)
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is.
Many times when those who stand firm in God’s Word as truth and call out false teachers they are told they have a critical or judgmental spirit, it is because we have stepped on the tender toes of a false teacher that is teaching the opposite of what biblical Christianity teaches. We are told that they are humble people with good hearts, and we need to stop bashing them. We are also told that we are false teachers because we are creating disunity in the Body of Christ, first off if they are a false teacher then they are wolves and not part of the Body, secondly we (true teachers) can back up what we say in scripture in context, we do not cherry pick and take scriptures out of context to make our doctrines.

May I suggest that these well-meaning scolders and followers of false doctrines  are possibly venting at the wrong people? The real dividers in the Church can be found throughout scripture.
Romans 16:17-18(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites.They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.

Some will say we need to be in “unity” yes we will be in unity with those teacheras and churches that teach sound doctrine, not doctrines that will send people to hell.

Sound doctrine is important because the end of sound doctrine is life.
1 Timothy 4:16(ESV)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. Conversely, the end of unsound doctrine is destruction.
Jude 1:4(ESV)For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Changing God’s message of grace is a “godless” thing to do, and the condemnation for such a deed is severe. Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) carries an anathema: “let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:6-9(ESV)I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers. A love of God’s Word brings “great peace” Psalm 119:165(ESV)Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. and those “who proclaim peace . . . who proclaim salvation” are truly “beautiful”
Isaiah 52:7(ESV)How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”. A pastor “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” Titus 1:9(ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it..

The word of wisdom is Proverbs 22:28, (ESV) Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set. If we can apply this to sound doctrine, the lesson is that we must preserve it intact. May we never stray from “the simplicity that is in Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:3(ESV)But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Purpose of the Church Pt1

Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people.

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23(ESV) says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return. The body of Christ is comprised of two aspects:

1) The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13(NLT)“13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.. This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—what we call local churches. A Baptist church, Assemblies of God church, Non-Denominational church, etc., is not the church, as in the universal church—but rather is a local church, a local body of believers. The universal church consist of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.

Acts 2:42-47(ESV) 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This could be considered a purpose statement for the church: According to these verses, the purposes/activities of the church should be 1) teaching biblical doctrine, 2) providing a place of fellowship for believers, 3) observing the Lord’s supper, 4) praying, 5) taking care of each others needs, and 6) Worship

1. Teach Biblical Doctrine

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship,” that’s friendship, “to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul.” People were amazed because God showed up and the Holy Spirit was working. Jesus ascended back into heaven and sent the Spirit, and when the Spirit of God dropped on the people of God, lives were changed in large number, and the world has never been the same.
“And many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” We still see people healed and miracles done because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So here’s what it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” We devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching; we open the Word of God. God used them to teach the Old Testament, to write some of the New Testament, and to be eyewitnesses to others who wrote the rest of the New Testament. Everything connects to apostolic teaching. We believe in the Bible. We believe in the whole Bible. We’re not trying to invent a new religion. We’re not trying to change anything. Our goal is faithfulness to the timeless truths of the Word of God not traditions of man.

2. A Place for Fellowship
Some people joke about the “Bedside Baptists” who attend the “Chapel of the Tube” on Sunday mornings. But it’s more than a joke. Many people refuse to get near a church unless their family member is playing the role of a sheep in the Christmas pageant! They claim they can get more out of a fishing trip than from the typical sermon.

Can a Christian survive apart from a church? Some Christians have no choice. They are trapped in a hospital bed, or working in an isolated area where no church exists. And God is certainly sufficient to care for their needs. You can still get to heaven if you can’t go to church.

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. 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.

Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honor one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

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.

3. The 2 Ordinances (Baptism and Communion)

Protestants and Evangelicals see ordinances as symbolic reenactments of the gospel message that Christ lived, died, was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will someday return. Rather than requirements for salvation, ordinances are visual aids to help us better understand and appreciate what Jesus Christ accomplished for us in His redemptive work. Ordinances are determined by three factors: they were instituted by Christ, they were taught by the apostles, and they were practiced by the early church. Since baptism and communion are the only rites which qualify under these three factors, there can be only two ordinances, neither of which are requirements for salvation.

Ordinances are generally understood to be those things Jesus told us to observe with other Christians. Regarding baptism, Matthew 28:18-20(ESV) says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
As for communion, also called the Lord’s Supper, Luke 22:19 (ESV) says, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Most churches observe these two practices, but may not necessarily refer to them as ordinances.

4. Prayer
Prayer is Communication with the Father, our Creator. Before Salvation we have no communication with the Father. Just the fact that people like us can speak to the Creator of the universe is itself an amazing thing. Even more astounding is the fact that He hears us and acts on our behalf! The first thing we need to understand about effective prayer is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to even make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and pray.
Hebrews 10:19-23 (ESV)19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Without Jesus the only prayer God hears is that of repentance. If you are not saved God is not obligated to listen to any of your prayers. 

Jesus is the gate into the House of Prayer, repentance is the key.

Isaiah 59:1-2(HCSB) Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.

5. Compassion
Acts 2:45 (HCSB)45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.

The word compassion means: (1) a deep awareness and sympathy of the sufferings of another. It also has a second definition: (2) the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it.

In addition to having the sorrow that is felt for the suffering of others, it is a willingness and an urge to assist them. The word actually means to do something about feeling sorry, to be affected by their situation. It is to enter into one’s sorrow and pain. When we feel true compassion, we will be moved inwardly. Having empathy; to have one’s heart reach out toward the needs of others. To be compassionate, to pity; to be kindhearted. It means to be tenderhearted; to be sensitive and affectionate, to be moved with tender feelings over the pain and sufferings of others.

This compassion will stand ready to assist the one who is sorrowing. Paul preached that God is the source of all the believer’s ability for showing true compassion. In Colossians. 3:12-13(HCSB) 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.

If you’re going to form the vision, you also have to be able to fund the vision.If you want your church to grow, you must learn how to motivate believers to invest their resources into the Kingdom for ministry and for facilities. You can either give by reason or by revelation. Giving by reason means this – I look at what I have, I figure out what’s reasonable, and I commit that amount. It doesn’t take any faith to give by reason. I just figure out what can I afford to give. Giving by revelation means I determine my gift by praying “Lord, what do you want to give through me?” This requires faith. When you give by revelation, you’re committing an act of worship and saying, “How much am I willing to trust God?”

James 2:15-19(HCSB)15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

James the little brother of Jesus is saying you can say that you believe but the evidence of your belief is in good works! He contrast it by telling people that who are just believing without “good Works” are like the demons but even less because at lest the demons shudder!

There are so many people who suffer and keep on suffering never having their needs met. Which causes many in the world to become hardened to others’ sufferings. Many hoard and build up assets when they could be sacrificing and reaching out so that they can meet the world’s needs. This should not be said of the believer. It does not mean that believers should be without the necessities of life. All believers need to have compassion when they see the sufferings of others. Compassion is to be felt by believers to the point they are moved to act. These actions will include sacrificing and reaching out to meet others’ needs.

Notice how compassion will not leave any room for selfishness. True compassion will have a person deny himself so he can help others in their needs and sufferings. As people assist others, they are drawn together. People being united can be done by compassion – when a person shows a feeling for another and sacrifices – reaching out to help each other. A great bond is formed between the believer and the ones that he ministers to.

6. Worship
What you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in God you will sacrifice all other aspects of life to make sure you are in His presence.

Worship is a lifestyle. People don’t have sin problems they have worship problems. People continue in their sin because they fail to worship the God of scripture.  The highest we take people most of the time is into sin management. People glory in football and sacrifice coming to church so they can worship their idol. God wants all of you not just what you want to give him. If you glory in Hunting you will sacrifice for it, God doesn’t say not to do these things but we are not to esteem them above God.

We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions. We see this all the time as people don’t come to church, they don’t worship unless they “feel” like it, their favorite song is played, or their favorite worship leader is leading. We are not to let our worship be dictated by our feelings or our emotions.
John 4:24(ESV)God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Christian worship engages both heart and head. It necessitates true doctrine about the Father and his Son, and their partnership in rescuing sinners, and due emotion about that doctrine. It is both an affair of the heart and an affair of the mind. At bottom, it’s not what we do (or don’t do) with our hands (or what someone else is doing or not doing), but what we do with our hearts and minds — because the one who has captured our hearts and minds. Worship is in spirit and in truth.

Only God can make dead men live

We ask ourselves often the question – What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be really born again?And there’s a lot of confusion about it. There are a lot of people, as we know, claiming to be born again today that it’s very obvious don’t know the meaning of it. Before we are baptized, we must come to believe that we are sinners in need of salvation Romans 3:23(ESV)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Hamartia means missing the mark. Now watch, this is the real true biblical definition of sin. Sin is a failure to hit God’s target. Sin is a failure to glorify God, Romans 1:21-25(ESV)21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. When they knew God they…what?…glorified Him not as God.That is sin. Sin is coming short of glorifying God. This is the state of man before salvation: wholly defiled. Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior. Apart from the grace of God, there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.
As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself.Genesis 6:5(ESV)5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Romans 3:10-18(ESV)10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s goodness, works, birthright,nationality, parents,etc. because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.
Romans 8:29-30(ESV)29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 9:6-19(ESV)6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 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. 9 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?”
Ephesians 1:4-7(ESV)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 for adoption 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,
Ephesians 1:11-12(ESV)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.
The doctrine of irresistible grace recognizes that the Bible describes natural man as “dead in his trespasses and sins”
Ephesians 2:1-10(HCSB)1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This ought to eliminate any doubt and any question. Cause it’s here.
Colossians 2:13(ESV)13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,, and, because man is spiritually dead, he must first be made alive or regenerated in order to understand and respond to the gospel message.

A good illustration of this is seen in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:43, it is recorded that Jesus told Lazarus to “come forth” and that Lazarus came forth out of the tomb. What had to happen before Lazarus—who had been dead for several days—would be able to respond to Jesus’ command? He had to be made alive because a dead man cannot hear or respond. The same is true spiritually. If we are dead in our sins, as the Bible clearly teaches, then before we can respond to the gospel message and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we must first be made alive. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, one must be “born again to see the kingdom of God.” John 1:12-13 tells us that being born again is not the result of something we do—“the will of man”—but is a sovereign act of God. Just as Lazarus could not bring himself back to life or respond to Jesus’ command without being brought back to life, neither can sinful man.
You had as much to do with your spiritual birth as you did with your natural one. 

Ephesians 2:1-10 makes it very clear that while we are still dead in our trespasses and sin God makes us alive. The Bible is also clear that the act of being born again or regenerated is a sovereign act of God. It is something He does which enables us to believe the gospel message, not something that comes as a result of our belief.

The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. The blood of Jesus saves every person it was intended to save not one more not one less. Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds
John 6:36-44(ESV)36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 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.
The reason God’s grace is irresistible and always brings forth the desired result is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom. Colossians 1:13(ESV)13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. Or, as Psalm 3:8(ESV) puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure. Ephesians 4:30(ESV) tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16(ESV) 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.John 10:27-29(ESV)27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
We can also call this adoption and it is “from Him”—from God. “In love he predestined us for adoption.”Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

So adoption was part of a God’s plan. It was his idea, his purpose. It was not an afterthought. He didn’t discover one day that against his plan and foreknowledge humans had sinned and orphaned themselves in the world, and then come up with the idea of adopting them into his family. No, Paul says, he predestined adoption. He planned it. The misguided but popular concept that all people are children of God and can truthfully call Him “Abba Father” is simply not true. Just as children do not choose to be adopted or choose who will adopt them, neither do Christians choose to become children of God. Instead, God chooses them. He predestines them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”, having been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world”

And if we ask when this predestination happened, verse 4 makes that plain: “He chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in His sight.” Before the creation of the world, and before we existed, God looked on us in our need, and he looked upon his Son crucified and risen as the all sufficient atonement for our sin, and because of that he chose us to be holy and blameless. And to that end he “predestined us for adoption.” It happened before the creation of the world. Therefore your adoption is not based on your fitness, your worth, or your character. It is rooted in God’s eternal purpose and grace. And that means that your adoption is not fragile or flimsy or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt you. He knows we are unworthy. And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable. He reached down when we were at our worst to make us sons and daughters.

Before the foundation of the world God saw that we would be sinners and planned the death of his Son so that our sins could be forgiven and God’s wrath removed. God adopted us in our unworthiness to make his grace look great. You were adopted for the praise of the glory of his grace. God’s action in adopting us is radically God-centered and God-exalting.

Why were the Pharisees against Jesus?

Religion will always try to kill the Prophetic, Religion will always add to the saving grace of the Jesus and add a work to it.

God works in history. He works in the context of people and personalities and politics to teach us, correct us, and act on our behalf. In the time of Christ, the social upperclass included super-legalistic Pharisees, power-hungry Sadducees, favor-seeking Herodians, Jewish priests, and Roman rulers maintaining a precarious order. In all of their history together, these groups may have agreed on only one thing: Jesus had to die. The Pharisees valued religion. They studied, memorized, and debated the Law of Moses, and when that wasn’t enough, they added more laws. Their middle-class position situated them close to the people, but their legalism put them in conflict with Jesus. They heard Jesus clearly saying (in a culturally understood way) that He was God and the Son of God. They might have dismissed Jesus as a madman except those who had been burdened by their teachings were now finding freedom in Jesus Matthew 11:28(HCSB)28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. In addition, Jesus taught that the Pharisees were hypocrites and false teachers (Matthew 23:11). Jesus was a threat to the Pharisees’ beliefs, social position, and power—but they were unable to kill Him outright. Although the Jews could execute someone for religious reasons (see Stephen’s stoning in Acts 7), if the Pharisees had personally killed Jesus, they would have faced an angry populace and lost even more influence (Luke 20:19). Unable to get rid of Jesus themselves, the Pharisees had to find political justification for an execution. Then Rome could do the dirty work. The middle men between the Jews and the Romans were the Sadducees. Sadducees were upper class. They held the majority of the positions in the Sanhedrin and the most political power. They were also Hellenists, which means they welcomed the influence of Greek culture and philosophy. But because the Pharisees were so influential among the people, the Sadducees often had to bow to the will of the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin. It was simple for the Pharisees to convince the Sadducees that, if Jesus were allowed to live, He would inspire a revolt and bring the wrath of Rome on all of Israel. As much as the Sadducees longed for the day when they could rule without foreign interference, they knew that any revolt had to be absolutely successful or Israel would be destroyed (as it was in A.D. 70). Meanwhile, the Roman rulers in Palestine were charged with keeping the peace. If violence erupted (which it did occasionally), Caesar would come down hard on both the Jews and the appointed Roman leaders.  The Pharisees lit the fire. They pounced on the fact that the people of Jerusalem called Jesus a king during the triumphal entry (Luke 19:28). The Pharisees, with the Sadducees on their side, began to accuse Jesus of plotting to overthrow Rome, as if He were a rabble-rouser of the first degree. Ironically, this is probably the exact opposite reason that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus (Mark 14:10). It’s likely that Judas was hoping for the overthrow of Rome, and when he realized that Jesus was not interested in a political coup, he became treacherously disillusioned. The Jewish leaders took their trumped-up charge against Jesus to the Roman ruler Pilate. Pilate knew the allegations were bogus, but he couldn’t control the crowd—a crowd that was incited to clamor for Jesus’ death (Mark 15:11). Fear became a strong motivation for Pilate. If the people rioted, Rome would declare him an ineffective leader and he’d be ruined politically.The New Testament records that the religious leaders hated Jesus to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a sentence of death. What made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted to see Him dead? There Are Many Reasons They Wanted Jesus Dead There were a number of things about Jesus that infuriated the religious leaders. These included. 1 The claims that He made. 2 The deeds that He did. 3 His threat to their religious system. 4 His threat to their way of life. 5 The people with whom He socialized. 6 The lack of respect He had for their religious traditions. These six things caused outraged among the religious rulers. Consequently they wanted to see Jesus dead. We will consider each of these reasons. 1. Jesus’ Claims Outweighed Their Authority When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah it meant His authority outweighed their authority. The religious leaders did not believe His claims and were angry that some of the people did. They said, John 7:48-49(HCSB)48 Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd, which doesn’t know the law, is accursed!” The religious leaders assumed that the belief of some of the crowd was due to ignorance. But the attention Jesus was getting brought out the leaders’ hatred and jealousy. The jealousy of the religious leaders caused them to want Jesus dead. 2. His Deeds Outraged The Religious Rulers The deeds of Jesus also angered the religious leaders. After seeing Jesus heal a demon-possessed man some of the multitude questioned if Jesus could be the Messiah: Matthew 12:23-24(HCSB)23 And all the crowds were astounded and said, “Perhaps this is the Son of David!” 24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, “The man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” The miracle was undeniable, for the man was blind and mute as well as demon-possessed. Rather than believe Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious rulers attributed Jesus’ power to the devil. Thus their “official” explanation was that Jesus’ power came from Satan. This was another cause for which they wanted Him dead. 3. Jesus Was A Threat To Their Religious System Jesus was also a threat to their religious system. He pointed out the hypocrisy that was connected with their practice. The Bible records that on two different occasions He came into the temple precincts and drove out the moneychangers. John 2:13-17(HCSB)13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. 4. Jesus Was A Threat To Their Way Of Life There were political reasons that the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. There was an unstable situation between the Jews and the Romans. The thought of a Messiah who may lead an uprising against Rome 5. The People With Whom He Socialized Outraged The Religious Rulers The religious leaders were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud that they did not socialize with “sinners.” They did not believe that the Messiah would socialize with such a crowd. When one Pharisee saw Jesus allow a woman to wash His feet, he said, Luke 7:39(HCSB)39 When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!” Jesus noted their opinion of Him. Matthew 11:19(HCSB)19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” The religious rulers believed themselves to be righteous by avoiding sinners. When Jesus kept company with these individuals, it infuriated the proud Pharisees and other religious rulers. 6. Jesus Had A Lack Of Respect For Their Traditions As much as anything, the lack of respect that Jesus had for their religious traditions incensed the religious leaders. Jesus ignored these traditions, which they observed so minutely. He knew they were human-made rules that had not come from God. And it was Jesus’ disregard for their traditions concerning the Sabbath that caused the most outrage. God had commanded the Sabbath to be a day of rest from labors and a time to worship Him. The religious leaders added all types of restrictions to the Sabbath making it difficult, if not impossible to observe. Jesus was grieved and angry at the way they had perverted the Sabbath observance. He asked the religious leaders, Mark 3:4-5(HCSB)4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Jesus then healed a man in their presence. This healing on the Sabbath was more than they could endure. They concluded that the genuine Messiah would not dare do such a thing. Their response was immediate: Mark 3:6(HCSB)6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. They were convinced that Jesus had to die. They Had No Godly Or Righteous Motive It was not for anything godly or righteous that the religious leaders wanted to put Jesus to death. It was their hypocrisy, pride and arrogance that caused them to bring Jesus before Pilate to be crucified. They did not want to hear the truth of God. Summary The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead for a number of reasons-none of the reasons were righteous. First, the claims that he made demonstrated that his authority was greater than theirs. The religious leaders could not accept this. The miraculous deeds that he, which demonstrated his superior authority, was also a reason they wanted him dead. Jesus was also a threat to their religious system. He went the temple and condemned the practices. They also considered him a threat to their way of life. They were worried how the Romans would respond. The people with whom Jesus socialized offended the pride of the religious leaders. Above all, it was the lack of respect for their religious traditions that caused them to desire to kill him. This is particularly true of Jesus’ attitude toward the Sabbath. All of these things contributed to their evil desire to want Jesus dead. So, the Pharisees wanted Jesus dead because He pointed out their sin and undermined their influence. Judas wanted Jesus dead because He was not the political champion Judas had hoped. The Sadducees wanted Jesus dead to ensure the stability of their political position. Pilate didn’t want Jesus dead, but he feared a riot. God used all of this to get His Son to the cross to die for our sins. Ultimately, it wasn’t Jews or Romans or Pilate or Judas who put Jesus on the cross; it was greed, fear, jealousy and selfishness. Jesus died because of sin and through His death justified us and saved us from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13).