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?

Sanctification, Our Appetite Changes

Let me start by saying this “I may be friendly, but I am not your friend. Our relationship is more important than friendship.

Hebrews 13:17(NLT)17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.Yes, the Bible clearly states that God gives some individuals spiritual authority over others. There are various levels of authority in any person’s life, and each of these levels may involve different people in different positions of authority. Of course, we must begin with the highest authority, which is God.Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, holds all authority and has distributed some of that authority to various people on earth. Matthew 28:18(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Because of our sinful nature, and because of the abuses or failures of authority that we have experienced, most people struggle on occasion with submitting to authorities.

God has chosen to place some in positions of authority for the sake of order and growth Ephesians 4:11–13(HCSB)11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.

The early church recognized the authority of the apostles and submitted to their teaching and direction. Next to the apostles in authority were the elders, or pastors, of the churches. As Paul and Barnabas established churches in their missionary journeys, they ordained elders in every church. Acts 14:23(HCSB)23 When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. These elders were responsible for teaching /pastoring, supervising, and being examples to the church

1 Peter 5:2–3(HCSB)Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. As spiritual leaders, these elders have a greater responsibility to God James 3:1(HCSB)Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, and must meet the qualifications God has established Titus 1:5–9(HCSB)The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of wildness or rebellion. For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.; 1 Timothy 3:1–7). Believers are told to acknowledge and respect those who are over them in spiritual matters
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13(HCSB)Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. and even to support them financially (1 Timothy 5:17–18(HCSB)17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says:Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages.

I said all of that to enforce the fact that I will tell you stuff at times that you will not like, but remember it is God who ordains and if God sent you to this church then He sent you to submit to the authority of the leadership of this house. It is for your benefit, I care about your soul, I care about your eternal residence more than your feelings. It is all part of the Sanctification process.

Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation.

To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity
1 Thessalonians 4:7(HCSB)For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification, and being such we are called to do good works Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)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.

Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, being made holy.

First step is cognition. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says. This is the importance of being under spiritual leadership that is steeped in biblical knowledge and truth.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:7(HCSB) Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

Also it will not take 20 years, you have to start producing fruit as soon as you were saved. Then Jesus told this story: Luke 13:6-9 (ESV)6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to? To the slop side of course!

Why? Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.

Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?

The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.

Why? Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.

This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.

Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.

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.

When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.

When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.

Luke 15:11(HCSB) He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The son was in the pig slop eating pig pods, stuff that would fill up his belly but give him no nourishment, how much do we take in throughout the week that fills us up but gives us no spiritual nourishment?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(HCSB) 9 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. 11 And some of you used to be like this. 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.

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

Malachi 3:1-6(NLT)“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. 4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.

It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, “ I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

1 Peter 4:12(NLT)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance.

Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)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.

Regeneration, Our Character Changes

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.

So the first thing you need to know about your adoption into God’s family through Christ is that God chose you and predestined you in love for adoption before the foundation of the world. God’s love for you and its expression in your adoption into his eternal family of joy did not start in this world. It reaches back to eternity. So when Paul says, “From him are all things” Romans 11:36(ESV)36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen, he includes our adoption, and means that before the foundation of the world he predestined you to be his child.

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 un-adopt 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. When He predestined us to become sons and daughters, we were then Justified before Him, we were pronounced innocent, we were set free from the PENALTY of sin.

Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation.

This is Justification, to stand before God with all debts paid, and clothed in the righteousness of His only Son, Jesus Christ. To be able know that you have “peace with God”–there is no more war between you and the Almighty.

Romans 5:1(HCSB) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word adoption, like the word justification, refers not to a change in our disposition and character, but to a change on our status.

Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings John 1:12-13(HCSB)But to all who did receive Him,He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God., but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature. Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and takes action accordingly.

Regeneration is necessary. Sinful human flesh cannot stand in God’s presence. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus said twice that a man must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God John 3:3-5(HCSB)3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. We don’t need renovation or reformation or reorganization; we need rebirth. Physical birth fits us for earth; spiritual rebirth fits us for heaven.

Before salvation, we were degenerate; after salvation we are regenerated. The result of regeneration is peace with God Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ., new life, and eternal sonship. Regeneration begins the process of sanctification wherein we become the people God intends us to be. Regeneration is God’s making a person spiritually alive, as a result of faith in Jesus Christ. Our rebirth is distinguished from our first birth, when we were conceived physically and inherited our sin nature. The new birth is a spiritual, holy, and heavenly birth that results in our being made alive spiritually.

Titus 3:3-7(HCSB)3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.4 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.

In biology, regeneration is the process of renewal, restoration, and growth that makes genomes, cells, organisms, and ecosystems resilient to natural fluctuations or events that cause disturbance or damage.

Romans 6:3-11(HCSB)3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness

Regeneration is a real thorough change, whereby one is made a new creature

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.

The Lord God makes the creature a new creature, “as the goldsmith melts down the vessel of dishonor, and makes it a vessel of honor.”

Regeneration is a change of qualities or dispositions. Bad qualities are removed, and contrary dispositions are replaced. We will sin but we do not make a practice of sinning.

Colossians 3:9-11(NLT)9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

It is a change into the likeness of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18(HCSB)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.

Regeneration is the “birth” by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the “growth” whereby it continues

1 Peter 2:2(HCSB)2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation,

After regeneration(Born again) we are now in the process of Sanctification(Being made holy) Sanctification we are being saved from the power of sin. It is God working His character into us and our character out of us. It is through the process of our dying to self and being obedient to the word and the Spirit we are daily changed.
Sanctification-is a continual process that conforms us into the image of the Son of God. Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. Jesus meets us where we are but His goal is to never leave us where He met us, We are to follow Him and strive for holiness AFTER He meets us where we are.

It is the Lord’s purpose to develop character within us. Proverbs 17:3(NLT) Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)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.

Regeneration is a radical change. Just as our physical birth resulted in a new individual entering the earthly realm, our spiritual birth results in a new person entering the heavenly realm. After regeneration, we begin to see and hear and seek after divine things; we begin to live a life of faith and holiness.

Purpose of the Church Pt4 Communion

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,
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.

Matthew 26:30(HCSB)30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives., He concluded the feast by singing a hymn and they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.

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. Israel had been in Egypt in bondage for over 400 years. They had been oppressed and enslaved. God delivered them by the leadership of Moses through a series of plagues. God’s command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.  Finally Pharaoh was so distraught at what was happening in his nation, that he let them go. The final plague, you remember, was the death of the firstborn, the angel of death came and killed the firstborn in every family, the firstborn of man and animal unless you had sacrificed a lamb and splattered the blood on the doorposts and the side beams. Then the angel of death passed by. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread.

There’s a simple principle that comes through in that and it is this, to be delivered from judgment requires death. That’s the first thing to think about. To be delivered from judgment requires death. Second, critical, that death can be the death of a substitute. That death can be the death of a substitute. God was saying, “I will spare you, I will deliver you from this judgment if there is the death of an innocent substitute.” The message of the Passover is God delivers through the death of an innocent substitute. From then on, all sacrifices and this is not the first sacrifice, but from then on all sacrifices were clearly indications that God delivers from judgment by the death of a substitute. But the animal sacrifices weren’t that substitute. No person was ever delivered from divine judgment of any animal. The repeated sacrifice of animals was simply a continual symbol of the fact that God does deliver by the death of an innocent substitute but no animal was ever satisfactory to God and so the sacrifices went on and on and on and on by the millions. And the people waited for a sacrifice that would be satisfactory to God which all those unsatisfactory sacrifices pointed.

Matthew 26:26-30 (HCSB)26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.” 30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew doesn’t tell us much about the meal. In fact, he really doesn’t tell us anything about it. Verse 26 says, “And as they were eating,” and that’s all he says. And maybe just briefly I could remind you of what the process was like. There were four cups of red wine to be shared. This is the first of those cups. A cup of blessing and that’s how the meal was initiated. That cup of red wine was mixed with water. In fact, not only mixed with water but mixed with a double amount of water so that there would be no intoxication, no drunkenness. And if they were to imbibe four such cups, it was important that it be strongly diluted. So it would begin with the first cup of red wine, the cup symbolizing the blessing of God upon them.

Following that first cup of red wine there would be a time to wash their hands, not for the sake of physical cleanliness but as a ceremonial cleansing which was designed to symbolize that each participant in this time of remembrance needed personal cleansing. You could not come before God to celebrate His redemption, His deliverance in an impure fashion, and so there was a ceremonial cleansing before they could eat which was to be symbolic of the cleansing of their hearts. And no doubt it was a time for introspection, a time for personal confession of sin as they were celebrating the salvation of God. They wanted to be sure their hearts were clean.

Following that brief time of cleansing of the hands they would indulge themselves in what could be called, in a sense, the first of a couple of appetizers, bitter herbs. The bitter herbs were symbolic of the bondage in Egypt and the bitterness of that bondage when they were enslaved and when life was so terribly difficult. Those herbs would be dipped in salt and vinegar to make them especially bitter and they would be eaten as a reminder of the bitterness of life before the redemption of God.

Following the bitter herbs would come the second cup of wine. At this point, the father if it was in the family, or the head of the table in the case here, the Lord Himself, He would hold up the second cup and with that the more formal part of the Passover feast was initiated. And he would, holding that second cup, begin to describe the significance of this feast. And he would take the people back to the time of Egyptian captivity and he would talk about the deliverance of almighty God through the plagues, and ultimately drowning Pharaoh’s army in the sea and delivering His people in freedom, ultimately into the promised land. And then they would sing the Hallel, and the Hallel is basically Psalm 113 through 118. They would sing perhaps the first few of those psalms together, psalms which exalt and extol God. And then they would drink that second cup of wine.

That was then followed by unleavened bread. After taking a large flat piece of unleavened bread, the host, the father, the head of the table would then break it and distribute it. That unleavened bread was then dipped into a sauce, a sauce usually made out of sweet apples and nuts called keroseth. And that’s the sauce into which they dipped that unleavened bread. Unleavened bread, as you well know, symbolized the fact that they were moving out of Egypt through the redemption of God and there was no leaven in the bread which means there was no influence remaining from the past. In other words, leaven symbolizes influence all through Scripture. Leavened bread means you take something from a past loaf that is fermented, you put it in another loaf but there was nothing from the past to be brought into their new life after redemption and so their bread was unleavened, no yeast in it.

After that, which was in a sense the last of the appetizers, they would engage themselves in eating the lamb. And you remember they were to have a spotless lamb without blemish. That lamb had a very clear prescription as to its character and its slaying. And then they would pursue that eating of the lamb as the high point of the Passover. And, of course, that was symbolic of the lamb that had to be slain and whose blood had to be put on the doorpost and the lintel which was a picture of Jesus Christ Himself, the Lamb of God, who would be slain for the sins of the world. And by the way, at the Passover table there is usually a bowl of water there, a bowl of salt water. That bowl of salt water sits there on the table to remind them of the tears they shed in slavery and also of the parting of the Red Sea.

The accounts of the Lord’s Supper are found in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:7-22; and John 13:21-30). 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. Heads or tails, nasty. They call it pluralism, diversity, openness, tolerance, they had a parade, it looked very official, but 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, bratty kids.” My translation.

Paul includes a statement not found in the Gospels:
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. 

We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul’s instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.

So then, through Paul, God speaks to them, and here’s what he says about Communion: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner.” So, let me say this: there’s a worthy and an unworthy way. In our day of pluralism, 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.

Some of you are partaking in an unworthy manner. You’re in open rebellion and sin. You come to church with your girlfriend and take Communion and then go home and sleep with her. That’s an unworthy manner.

“Will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Here’s what he’s saying. Some of you will say this: “You can’t judge me!” Then judge yourself. If you judge yourself, then no one else will have to judge you. You will see your own sin, folly, rebellion. You’ll come clean with God and his people. You’ll say, “You know what? I got a problem. I need help. I need God’s grace and God’s people to help me fix my sin.” That’s humility, it’s integrity, it’s honesty, so that you don’t have to partake in a way that is unworthy.

Before you take Communion, do you examine yourself? Do you examine your life? Do you consider your sin? Do you take a moment and ask, “Holy Spirit, your job is to convict me of sin. Let me know anything that’s amiss, and I want to get this right and I’m sorry. If there’s anybody here I need to reconcile with, let me go apologize. Is there anything that would keep me from partaking in a worthy manner?”

God always answers that prayer. God never looks at a humble child and willing heart and says, “Well, I won’t help you or speak to you.” God never responds that way. He’s a good Dad. Judge yourself. Stop judging others. Judge yourself. Stop being so frustrated with those who judge you. Judge yourself.

You say, “Well, what happens if I don’t do that? My girlfriend is cute.” “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have,” what? “Died.” Plain literal or figurative literal? This is a real funeral. Imagine that on a Sunday, people are coming up for Communion, dying. You have to step over the body to take Communion. You’re like, “You know what? I’m gonna pray a little more. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Now, some of you here say, “That’s very unloving, very unkind, very mean. That’s very harsh of God.” No, it’s actually very loving, very gracious, very kind, because God treats his people like he treated Pharaoh, begging, pleading, waiting, upping the consequences, and eventually you get so hard-hearted that you both know you’re not gonna repent.

Now, what happens to a church that doesn’t protect holiness? Well, it leads to meals being eaten like Genesis 3. “I want sin, and I want Satan.” And when we partake, we partake publicly. It’s your way of saying, “I personally belong to Jesus, and I personally am part of a people that belong to Jesus.” The first meal is forbidden fruit, and it is the first meal eaten without God in Genesis 3. So, most of you are likely familiar with the story. God creates our first parents, Adam and Eve, in his image and likeness. He puts them in this perfect, amazing garden. How many of you not only love good meals, you love to cook, and the ideal situation would be your own organic, fantastic garden? That’s where he puts them. He puts them in a garden. That means it has all of the fruits, and the vegetables, and the herbs. Everything you could imagine for just feasting and celebration.

And what God tells them is, “You can eat anything you want in this magnificent garden, with one exception, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Do not eat from that tree. Do not partake of that forbidden fruit.” That’s what God says. Now, some people’s view of God is that God essentially creates life as a law garden with a grace tree, meaning, the answer’s no to everything, and there’s only a thing or two that you really get to do. The way God created the world, it was a grace garden with a law tree in the middle. Tons of freedom and joy with one thing that was forbidden.

And what happens is Eve has a conversation with Satan. He’s the serpent; he’s the enemy. Revelation 12 and Revelation 20 say that this serpent, this dragon who comes to have a conversation with her, it’s Satan. It’s the enemy of God. It’s a rebellious angel. And what he invites her to do is to partake of forbidden fruit. And the Bible says that Adam, her husband, was a passive coward. He was there with her, complicit to the whole thing, and they partook of the fruit, the forbidden fruit.

As a result, they received a sin nature. God came searching for them; they hid from one another and God. They blamed each other. God had to clothe their nakedness. They were kicked out of the garden, they were separated from eternal life, they experienced death. By the next chapter, their two sons are fighting and one kills the other.

We inherit a sin nature, Romans 5:18–19(HCSB)18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. 19 For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Because of their rebellion, we all die. Does it seem like a lot, that eating fruit would result in that? You say, really? You ate the wrong thing off of a tree and every human being in the history of the world has a sin nature, is hell-bound, and dies?

It’s not just about eating a meal, it’s about picking a friend. What Adam and Eve were doing is saying, “We choose not to be friends with God. We choose to be friends with Satan. We choose to disobey God and obey Satan. We’re pushing God out of our lives and we’re inviting Satan in.” We don’t just eat meals, we worship, and sometimes eating is worshiping. That’s why Paul says in the New Testament, “For some people, their God is their stomach.”

Eating is a form of worshiping, and when we eat a meal, we’re not just choosing a food, we’re picking a relationship. That’s why Christians pray before their meals. “Lord Jesus, thank you. We welcome you.” Eating is a very sacred thing. It’s a worshipful thing.

And what happens in Genesis 3 is that a meal is eaten without God, and a friendship is forged in rebellion against God, and then the promise is made that Jesus will come and he will make all things new and better. What happens then is they are kicked out of the Garden of Eden and they’re cast away from the tree of life, because had they partaken of the tree of life, they would have lived forever in sin, separated from God. So, it was an act of grace that God kicked them out.

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, 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 here’s what we read in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves.” So, this is ongoing. It’s habitual, it’s common, it’s regular. “To the apostles’ teaching.” First thing, what’s the Bible say? “Fellowship.” This is where Christians hang out and get to know each other.

“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 here, 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.

The day finally came on that Friday when God chose His Lamb and offered Him as a sacrifice, a substitute for sinners and poured out His wrath on that innocent substitute. As we come to the verse that we read, verse 14, it is Thursday night of Passover week. Passover begins with this Thursday night, followed with seven days of the unleavened bread feast which also commemorated the exodus out of Egypt. Millennia have gone by, waiting for an adequate sacrifice. Millennia have gone by with people’s hearts hoping but never being satisfied that a true and final sacrifice had come. But one more day, a few more hours on Friday at exactly the hours of slaughter between three and six when all the Passover lambs had to be killed, the Lamb of God would die in that same period of time.

Slain not by a priest like the rest of the lambs but by God and by His own willing self-sacrifice. He became the perfect sacrifice for sin and this became then the last Passover. No longer did there need to be animal sacrifices pointing, pointing, pointing, pointing to the one who would come because once He came, the shadows all disappeared in the reality.

He had spent all of the night before on the Mount of Olives,telling them about the future, and now He reiterates again, yes there is a Kingdom, yes My death is not the end, yes I’m going to die but I’m going to rise again, I’m going to return to heaven but I’m going to come back and establish My Kingdom. There is hope. His death is not the end. He will be back on earth but not until His coming to set up His Kingdom.

Another statement Paul made that is not included in the gospel accounts is
1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV)“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”. This places a time limit on the ceremony—until our Lord’s return. From these brief accounts we learn how Jesus used two of the frailest of elements as symbols of His body and blood and initiated them to be a monument to His death. It was not a monument of carved marble or molded brass, but of bread and wine. That’s why Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 11, he gives the whole order for the Lord’s table, he says, “Do this until He…what?…comes.” And then when He comes and establishes His Kingdom, we’ll celebrate the Passover and the Lord’s table with the Lord Himself. It will probably be an evening very much like this only it will encompass all of us in some wondrous way as He again reiterates the memorial of the Passover which looked to the cross, a memorial of communion which looks at the cross as well. Yes He sees His suffering. Yes He sees His coming glory.

What is the New Covenant? The New Covenant is the covenant that is the saving covenant. It’s the covenant of forgiveness and salvation, it’s the covenant by which God forgives sinners and it’s ratified in the death of Christ.

How can God do that? Only when justice has been satisfied. You can only be delivered from judgment when death has been accomplished that satisfies God. It has to be the death of an innocent substitute who is satisfactory to God and that is Christ by God’s own choice. God made Him sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. I’ve said this so many times, God treated Jesus on the cross as if He lived your life…so He could treat you as if you lived His. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.

So from now on, there’s a new feast, the new ordinance, a new supper, the Lord’s supper. The bread and the cup reminding us of the Lamb of God chosen by God, sacrificed for sinners, satisfying God’s justice, a life poured out on our behalf so that our sins can be fully forgiven.

Purpose of the Church pt 3

Acts 2:42-47(NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

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
We cannot build godly, committed, and society-changing future generations with a selfish hit and miss approach to church.The key to the restoration of our culture and society is not the economy, our healthcare system, or even education, but the tone and temperature of our nation spiritually.  How can cold, lifeless, church skipping Christians possibly be the catalyst for fanning the flames of spiritual renewal and fire in the United States?  This coldness and lifelessness is reflected in the attitude of the Christian who says I don’t need to attend church all that much because I can get my spiritual food online or through broadcast media.  The attitude is reflected in the individual who says I don’t need to go to church because I can commune with God in nature on my own.

The culprits in the current spiritual malaise and indifference in our country are the selfish Christians who fail to consider how they can help, assist, and encourage someone else by coming faithfully to church instead of focusing on and serving their own wants, preferences, needs, and schedules.  That single mindset of coming to church not for what you can receive, but for what you can provide is the key to a true spiritual renewal in our land. When you are not in church the gifts and abilities in you are not made available to others.  That’s why skipping church is selfish and the complete opposite of the example of Jesus, the mission of Jesus, and the commands of Jesus.  If you are a consistent, constant, and faithful church goer, don’t let anything stop you from continuing in your dedication.  If you have become distant, cold, lifeless, and selfish in absenting yourself and your family from the Church, repent and return to a faithful lifestyle and relationship with your local church.

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.

So, first question is: what is baptism? What is it?

Romans 6:3–7(HCSB) 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.

It says, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus.” So, first thing I want to say is baptism is all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus, and what we believe is that we say the gospel and we show the gospel, meaning we’ll talk about Jesus, we’ll say things about Jesus, but then, in something called sacraments, baptism and Communion, we show our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, in Communion, it’s about Jesus’ broken body, shed blood, his death on the cross for our sins, and that’s Communion, the sacrament where we have this outward showing of this inward blessing that Jesus gives. And then, in baptism, we show Jesus’ resurrection. And so these ordinances are about Jesus, and they’re all about his death, burial, resurrection for our sins. And so the gospel is said through preaching and teaching, and it’s shown through baptism and Communion.

What he’s saying here is all of us who have been baptized into Christ—he’s talking about all of us, so baptism shows that you’re connected to Jesus and it shows that you’re connected to the church. So, when we see people baptized, it’s all of us, meaning all of God’s people. There are many denominations and traditions of Christians, but for two thousand years, Jesus’ people have been getting baptized. Doesn’t matter what your race, your income, your gender, your ethnicity, your nationality, or your history, all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus through being baptized. So, it’s for all of us.

So, one of the reasons we like to baptize people in the church, as the church, is it glorifies God. We believe it also is a blessing and a benefit to the person being baptized.

It’s also an encouragement to the church, and the church gets encouraged to see people are meeting Jesus. And he loves us, and he also loves them. He loves them by name, and when Jesus died for sinners, it includes that person whom he has great affection for. And so, we like to baptize as the church to celebrate as the church,we like to celebrate it so we can all be encouraged together.

And we like to do it publicly so that other people can see the work of Jesus in your life. What if someone was preparing to get baptized, so they thought, “Well, I’m gonna invite my neighbors,” because they’re friends with their neighbors. And the neighbor came to the service, just as a non-Christian, just to support their friend, heard about Jesus, and after they got baptized, they saw their neighbor come forward, repent of sin, trust in Jesus, become a Christian, and get baptized that very same service as well. You just never know what God’s gonna do. So, in obedience, you just go ahead and get baptized, and people see Jesus’ love for you and your love for Jesus.

Because, as he says, “All of us—” so, it’s this joyous celebration, for all of us, “—have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death,” so, it’s about Jesus’ death. Let me tell you about Jesus. Baptism makes no sense apart from Jesus, right?

It’s just getting dunked if Jesus isn’t involved.

Jesus is God, second member of the Trinity, Creator of all things. He comes down from heaven, as a man, takes upon himself human flesh, declares himself to be God. He lives without sin, the absolute, perfect life we should live and have failed to live. And then he goes to the cross and he dies in our place for our sins as our substitute. The death we deserve is the death Jesus endures. And so, baptism shows that Jesus died and that he was buried.

He goes on to explain that, “We were buried.” So, it’s about the death and burial of Jesus. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in a new way of life.

So, here’s what baptism is about: Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose from death. So, it’s the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus. That’s exactly what he says, which is why when we baptize someone, we’re saying Jesus died for them, Jesus was buried for them, and Jesus rose for them, and they love him, and he loves them. That’s why even in the act of baptism, we are showing Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. That’s what someone who’s getting baptized is saying. “Jesus is my God, died on the cross for me, was buried, rose from death, and my faith is in him, and my salvation is from him.”

And so, one of the reasons we get excited about baptism is because baptism’s about Jesus, we’re so excited about Jesus. We love Jesus, and we love to see people meet Jesus, and baptism is one of those occasions for celebration.

He goes on to say, “For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” What he’s saying is not only are there benefits and blessings to knowing Jesus in this life, forgiveness of sin, there is also eternal blessings and benefits on the other side of death. That just as Jesus died and rose, those who belong to Jesus will die and rise from death.

And what this does, this utterly transforms how we approach death. It gives us hope beyond the grave. And I have some friends that are struggling with health issues, they are struggling with potential life-threatening ailments and illness, and let me say this: there’s something worse that dying, and that’s dying apart from Jesus Christ. For those who die knowing Jesus Christ, they will die to be with Christ, they will rise to be like Christ, together, forever. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve suffering and death in this life, but we also have hope beyond it because Jesus conquered death.

He goes on to talk about: “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,” What he’s saying is this: because Jesus died for our sin, we can put our sin to death.

And for those of you who are new to Christianity, we’re talking about sin. We’re not just talking about failures, and faults, and flaws. We’re talking about disobedience and rebellion. That the Word of God gives us the will of God, and when we sin, we’re disobeying, disregarding the very words of God, and that’s sin. And what tends to happen is we assume sin becomes our lifestyle, so we celebrate it, or we tolerate it, or we accommodate it, or we blame others for it, or we try to manage it, or we try to hide it.

Here’s the good news: because of Jesus’ death, we could put our sin to death. Whatever has ensnared and enslaved you, you can walk away from it, just like Jesus walked away from his grave, if you are in Christ.

And when he uses this language of being enslaved, most of us tend to think of slavery in terms of someone or something that we hate overtaking, overpowering, and overwhelming us against our will. When the Bible uses the word “slavery,” it tends to refer to addictions, to sinful mind sets , and compulsions, and activities, things that we shouldn’t do, things that we’re ashamed of. This can include things like alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual perversion, addiction, sin, gambling, gluttony, pride, a lust for control. Whatever it might be, someone or something rules over you like a God and you almost feel powerless to it or to them.

And Jesus comes and he dies so that those false gods, those false lords can be put to death, and just as he rose, we get to walk away from our old life and walk in what here, Paul calls “newness of life.” So, in Jesus, you get a whole new life, and I can assure you of this: it’s true. And a Christian is not one who is yet perfect but is new. Their old life is buried with Christ, their new life is risen with Christ, and they’re on the path to perfection on the other side of resurrection in the presence of Christ.

And so, what Paul is saying is baptism is about all of that! That’s a lot of great theological, biblical truth that gets just unpacked in one act. It’s wonderful. So, when you see people get baptized, realize all of this: Jesus loves them, Jesus loves the church, this connects them with thousands of years of God’s people, this shows us our eternal resurrection, this shows us the love of Jesus, the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, this shows us that our old way of life can die, that we’re freed from our slavery to sin, and bondage, and Satan, and death, and one day we will have a perfected state, and until that day of resurrection, we have newness of life. So much joy! This is why we call the gospel “good news.” This is all such good news.

Does Baptism Save???

Now, another question comes up. Does baptism save? You hear this one a lot. There are certain Christian groups, cult groups, that will say, “Unless you’re baptized, you can’t go to heaven.” We don’t believe that at all.

The classic illustration is Jesus is on the cross, being crucified. There’s one guy on each side. One guy rejects Jesus, the other guy receives Jesus. That guy never did get baptized because he was being crucified. There wasn’t time for that. And Jesus looks at him and says, “Today, this day, you’ll be with me in Paradise.”

People get really superstitious and think, “Well, if I get dunked by a holy man, that’ll do it.” No, no. Jesus saves. Pastors don’t save, churches don’t save, baptism doesn’t save. Jesus saves. That’s our deep conviction. And what can happen is people want some assurance beyond Jesus. There is no assurance beyond Jesus, friends. There’s nothing more secure to place your faith in than Jesus.

Well, what happens is some people can wrongly think they’re saved because they’re baptized. Catholics believe in infant baptism. Many Catholics know and love Jesus.. Though I want all Catholics to know Jesus, some do, some don’t.

At a funeral once the priest says, I know it’s a sad day, but the good news is even though he didn’t walk with the Lord, he was baptized as an infant so we know that he’s gone to heaven. Just a thought, “He just put salvation in a human act of getting wet as a baby. No Jesus in this thing at all.”

We don’t believe that baptism saves.

Here’s what Paul says in

Ephesians 2:8–10(HCSB)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. and it’s all about salvation, forgiveness of sins, relationship with God, eternal life with God. “For you are saved by grace by grace—” How are we saved? By grace from Jesus, the Jesus who’s God, the Jesus who lived without sin, the Jesus who died for our sin, the Jesus who was buried, the Jesus who rose from the grave, the Jesus that we’re remembering in baptism. That Jesus. Grace from him. Undeserved gift, unmerited favor, unexplainable love. That’s our Jesus.

It says, “You’re saved by grace through faith.” The access to this grace is faith. It’s trusting Jesus. It’s trusting only Jesus, not anything in addition to Jesus, even baptism. There was a church in Galatia—Paul writes a letter called Galatians Galatians 5:10(HCSB)10 I have confidence in the Lord you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated! 

They were saying, “Well, to really be a Christian and have your sins forgiven, you need to believe in Jesus and get circumcised.” And Paul very strongly rebukes them and says, “It’s only Jesus. It’s always Jesus. It’s solely Jesus, because Jesus plus anything ruins everything.” You don’t need Jesus and baptism, you don’t need Jesus and Communion, you don’t need Jesus and speaking in tongues. You just need Jesus. That’s it. Grace from him accessed by faith in him.

He goes on to say, “And this is not your own doing; it’s a gift.” We don’t save ourselves. I can’t save you, the church can’t save you, baptism can’t save you, Communion can’t save you. Jesus saves you. If Jesus saves you, we’d love to baptize you to show how Jesus saved you. We’d love for you to take Communion, showing how Jesus saved you. We’d love you to be a member of the church to celebrate with the rest of God’s family how Jesus saves us. But those things in and of themselves, they do not save. Jesus alone saves.

He goes on. “It’s not a result of works.” It’s nothing that human beings do, including baptism, “so that no one can boast.” See, I didn’t save myself. I didn’t save my kids. Jesus saved me, Jesus saved them. Any boasting is boasting in him. This is who Jesus is, this is what he’s done. We love him, we appreciate him. That’s it.

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.” Here’s the pattern: saved by Jesus, grace from him, access through faith in him, that leads to a life of good works. Baptism is a good work. Communion? Good work. Church membership? Good work. Doing ministry? Good work. Giving generously? Good work. Caring for widows, orphans, the poor, those in need? Good works. We’re not saved by our good works, we’re saved by Jesus to our good works. You get that? We’re not saved by our good works, we’re saved by Jesus’ good works: his life, his death, his burial, his resurrection. It’s Jesus’ works that save us. We’re saved by Jesus’ works to our good works. We live a new life because we’re new creations because of Jesus.

What can happen is parents, sometimes with good intentions, they’re worried about the soul and the eternal destiny of their child, and so then they get a little superstitious. They’re like, “Well, if we put him in a nice outfit, and we take him to a holy building, and we hand him to a holy man, and he puts him in the holy water, maybe that’ll make sure that their sins are forgiven and they’re with Jesus forever.” There’s only one holy man to put your children into the hands of, and his name is Jesus.

Here’s the truth: Jesus decides who goes to heaven, who goes to hell. Whether it’s unborn children that die in utero, whether it’s an abortion or a baby who’s born and has a short life before they can come to understand the grace and the goodness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, here’s the answer: Jesus decides. Are you okay with that?

I’ll tell you what, I am. I trust Jesus to do what’s best, and good, and right. The Jesus that I see who loves kids, and welcomes kids, and says that the kingdom of God was made for kids, and tells us that God is a Father who loves his kids, trust him with your children. Trust him with your children’s children.

Do you understand that? I can’t save your kids by holding them and dunking them in the water, but Jesus can save them, and he loves your kids more than you do, and we trust him to make the right decisions, even with the babies.

But what we don’t want to do is give the impression that getting dunked saves you, because if those kids do grow up, they could look back on their baptism rather than back on their Jesus as the source of their hope for their salvation. And one day, at their funeral, somebody could say, “Well, they hated Jesus and they lived a reprobate life, but they got dunked, so we’re not worried.” And that’s false assurance, because the object of faith is not Jesus.

Repent & Be Baptized

How about you? I want you to respond. For those of you who are not Christians, the problem is sin, the answer is Jesus. He is God. He died and rose to conquer sin and death. He loves you. There’s nothing you can do—here’s the good news. There’s nothing you have to do to become a Christian. Trust in Jesus. Amen? And give your life to Jesus today and become a Christian, and you know what we’ll do? Guess what we’ll do? We’ll baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, showing that your faith is in that work of Jesus. We’ve got a wonderful opportunity to baptize you.

Some of you are here and you’ve been baptized, but you’re not growing in discipleship. You’re not maturing in the grace of God. Jesus doesn’t want you just to be baptized, but also be discipled. The root of a disciple is one who’s disciplined. We want you to grow in a disciplined, Spirit-empowered life for the glory of God. What do you need to repent of? Where do you need to grow? It’s not that you need to become a Christian or get baptized again, it’s that you need to continue forward as a disciple of Jesus, maturing and growing.

Third category, are you someone who, in hearing this, has been disobedient? You are a Christian, you do know Jesus, he does love you. You understand what I’m talking about, but you’ve never been baptized. Why are you disobedient? Obey him. It’s for God’s glory, your good, and our joy, and this will be a great day for you. Be obedient.

And some of you say, “Well, I don’t feel like it.” We don’t feel like being obedient, otherwise it wouldn’t be obedience. Obedience is, by definition, sometimes doing what you don’t feel like, trusting that if you obey, God will change your feelings. Don’t make your decisions on anything other than the commands of God. Jesus says, “Baptized.” That’s what he wants for you. Be obedient to that today. Let us know so that we can baptize you.

And, if you are someone who was baptized in a cult, or long before you knew Jesus, or as a baby and you didn’t have anything to do with it and didn’t come to know him until much later in life, today would be a good day for you to present yourself for baptism, to be baptized, making your own public testimony about your relationship with Jesus.

And some of you will ask, “Well, what about those who disagree with us?“ You know? I see just as many unicorns and leprechauns in this book as I do infant baptisms.” A grand whopping total of nothing. So, I would contend for the position of the Bible.

If you’re here and you disagree with us, and you’re not going to be difficult or divisive, we love you, welcome to Revival Life Church. We don’t want to have a fight, or a debate, or a divorce over this issue, but we all want to obey the Scriptures, and the clear, plain teaching of Scripture is repent of sin, trust in Jesus, and be baptized. And some of you need to do that because Jesus loves you and he wants you to share that with us. Amen?