Doctrine and what we believe

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(ESV)7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3(ESV)Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. and the teachings of God (John 6:45(ESV)45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—;

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12(ESV)9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The word translated “doctrine” means “instruction, especially as it applies to lifestyle application.” In other words, doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source. In the Bible, the word always refers to spiritually related fields of study. The Bible says of itself that it is 2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.. We are to be careful about what we believe and present as truth. 1 Timothy 4:16(ESV) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Biblical doctrine helps us understand the will of God for our lives. Biblical doctrine teaches us the nature and the character of God, John 4:24(ESV)24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”, the path of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 10:9–10(ESV)9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved., instruction for the church (1 Corinthians 14:26(ESV)26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.;

Titus 2:1–10(ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior., and God’s standard of holiness for our lives 1 Peter 1:14–16(ESV)14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Corinthians 6:18–20(ESV)18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. When we accept the Bible as God’s Word to us (2 Peter 1:20–21(ESV)20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.),(There is only one interpretation of scripture, not many) we have a solid foundation for our doctrine. There can be disagreement within the body of Christ over secondary points of doctrine, such as eschatology, church organization, or the style of music. But truly biblical doctrine is that which incorporates the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and draws conclusions based on that which seems most closely aligned with the character of our unchanging God.

Those “untaught” in sound doctrine are most prone to twisting the Scriptures “to their own destruction” 2 Peter 3:16(ESV)16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The Object of Sound Doctrine

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

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. 1 John 4:1(ESV)Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:24-25(ESV)24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.;

Acts 20:28-30(ESV)28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. They teach bankers to identify counterfeit bills by making them handle real money, that way when the fake shows up it is easily identifiable. Therefore it is imperative to your walk that you know the truth from the beginning.

Sound doctrine is important because the end of sound doctrine is life.
1 Timothy 4:16(ESV)16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Conversely, the end of unsound doctrine is destruction. Jude 1:4(ESV)4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Changing God’s message of grace is a “godless” thing to do, and the condemnation for such a deed is severe. Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) carries an anathema:(a curse,damnation) Galatians 1:6-9(ESV)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers. A love of God’s Word brings “great peace” (Psalm 119:165(ESV) Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble., and those “who proclaim peace . . . who proclaim salvation” are truly “beautiful”
Isaiah 52:7(ESV)How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

A pastor has a mandate from scripture to hold to sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.  Titus 1:9(ESV)9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Therefore I do not care if you think a Pastor should not be “arguing in a public forum such as Facebook, because the bible tells us to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine.

God loves us; and in His goodness He has given us the good gift of doctrine that we might learn of Him and of His gospel, and that we might please Him in our walk. Doctrine is the teaching of our heavenly Father, revealed in Jesus Christ, and transmitted to us by the Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture, and it is to be received, confessed, and followed in the church, to the glory of God’s name.

What we hold to as doctrine; the five solas, doctrines of grace and the Baptist Faith and Message, also the 2nd London Baptist Confessional(1689).
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

•Sola Fide, by faith alone.

•Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.

•Solus Christus, through Christ alone.

•Sola Gratia, by grace alone.

•Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Faith alone (Sola Fide)

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice. Our justification does not rest on any merit to be found in us, nor upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, nor that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)

The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Christ alone (Solus Christus)

Our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. It is denied that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Grace alone (Sola Gratia)

In salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is denied that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

It is affirmed that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

We adhere to a very high view of scripture and sees to derive our theological formulations based solely on God’s word. We focus on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. We also maintain that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin. The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil and sick. Man is a slave of sin. He does not seek for God. He cannot understand spiritual things. He is at enmity with God. And, is by nature a child of wrath.

God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him.

Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect.otherwise His death would have atoned for the sins of the whole world and no one would go to hell.

When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God.
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-10(ESV)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 2:1-10(ESV)And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:12,19 – sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

John 10:3-4(ESV)3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:25-29(ESV)25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 6:37,44,65(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

John 3:16-20(ESV)16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good, not even one.”

1.  We believe in the one true and living God, in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is invisible, personal, omnipresent, eternal, dependent on none, unchanging, truthful, trustworthy, almighty, sovereign, omniscient, righteous, holy, good, loving, merciful, long-suffering and gracious.

2.  We believe that Almighty God has revealed all that is necessary to life and salvation in the sixty six books of Holy Scripture which are the Word of God.   All Scripture was given by inspiration of God, is infallible and inerrant, and is the final arbiter in all disputes. Its authority is derived from its Author and not from the opinions of men.

3. We believe that God made our first father Adam perfect, holy and upright.   He was appointed representative and head of the human race thereby exposing all his offspring to the effects of his obedience or disobedience to God’s commands.

4.  We believe that Adam fell from his original righteousness into sin and brought upon himself and all his offspring death, condemnation and sinnership.

5.  We believe it is utterly beyond the power of fallen man to love God, to keep his laws, to understand the gospel, to repent of sin or trust in Christ.

6. We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for his own glory did elect an innumerable host of men and women to eternal life as an act of free and sovereign grace.   This election was in no way dependent upon his foresight of human faith, decision, works or merit.

7.  We believe that God sent his Son into the world, conceived of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, unchangeably sinless, both God and man, born under the Law, to live a perfect life of righteousness, on behalf of his elect people.

8. We believe that God’s Son died at Calvary to effect propitiation, reconciliation, redemption and atonement for his elect people. God bore testimony to his acceptance of his Son’s work by raising him from the dead.

9. We believe that God’s Son ascended to the right hand of his Father and is enthroned in glory, where he intercedes on behalf of his people and rules over all things for their sake.

10. We believe that God the Son has poured out the Holy Spirit to work alongside the preached Word. The Spirit of God regenerates the elect sinner and draws him irresistibly to faith in Christ the Saviour.

11. We believe the elect, who are called by grace, are justified in the sight of God on account of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ which is received by faith alone.

12.  We believe that such as are regenerated, called and justified shall persevere in holiness and never fall away.

13. We believe that baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper are gospel ordinances belonging only to regenerated believers.

14. We believe that the local church is under the authority of Christ alone.The communion of saints, however, requires recognition of and fellowship with other churches.

15. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again to raise the dead, both righteous and unrighteous, and that the righteous shall enjoy everlasting life and the wicked endure everlasting punishment.

For more detailed exposition on our beliefs you can look it up in the Baptist Faith and Message.

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Philippians Pt8 Women in Ministry and Anxiety

Philippians 4:1-7(HCSB)So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for—my joy and crown. In this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. 2 I urge Euodia (ee-oo-dah) and I urge Syntyche(syn-ta-kee ) to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve. He put Adam in the garden and gave him the authority to name all the animals.  Afterward, God made Eve as a helper to Adam. This is an important concept because Paul refers to the order of creation in his epistle to Timothy when he discusses the relationship between men and women in the church context.  Let’s take a look.

1 Timothy 2:12-14(HCSB)12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. 13 For Adam was created first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed.

1 Timothy 3:15(HCSB)15 But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

At the very least, there is an authority structure set up by God.  The woman is not to have authority over the man (1 Timothy 2:12) in the church context, “the household of God,” (1 Timothy 3:15). This verse is not about political, social, or economic aspects of the secular realm.  It is not about a “patriarchal society” at the time of Paul.  This is the instruction to the household of God and anchors its teaching on the doctrinal truth that Adam was created first.

While the Bible does not support the practice of women serving as pastors, numerous passages speak clearly and forcibly to the inherent worth and value of women. Women in the New Testament engaged in significant ministry, performing valuable service in sometimes-difficult situations. This is readily seen in the Acts of the Apostles. Both Priscilla and Aquila spoke privately to Apollos at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26), correcting his incomplete and flawed theology. Further, women clearly played a significant role in the work of the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Romans, Paul identified sixteen significant helpers in ministry (Romans 16:1-16), and at least ten of them were women. Who knows what the health of the church at Philippi would have been were it not for Lydia (Acts 16:13-15), apparently a benefactor to the church, and others such as Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3)? And of course, women made a significant contribution to Jesus’ ministry. Luke recalled with appreciation their financial support and company with Him (Luke 8:1-3).

Near the end of his life, ten to fifteen years after the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul wrote to both Timothy and Titus, giving them pastoral instructions about how the church is to be organized. Both 1 Timothy and Titus provide clearly for a hierarchical approach to church order in which men rather than women were to occupy that role.

Some have pointed to Galatians as justification for women serving as pastors. Galatians 3:28(HCSB)28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. However, it is a misuse of Scripture to produce church hierarchy from passages on salvation. While Paul clearly affirms the equality of men and women in salvation, he equally and just as clearly affirms the priority of men in church leadership. There is no conflict. The contextual issue is crucial for an accurate exposition in this, as in all areas of scripture. Readers must exercise great care to determine the nature of the passage to properly contextualize what exactly the scripture is meant to convey.

Biblical exegesis requires sensitivity to the context of a passage. When Scripture is taken out of its context, faulty conclusions and blurred perspectives result. Two matters impact this discussion significantly – the issues of literary context and cultural context.

An example of the importance of correct contextual analysis occurs in Galatians 3:28(HCSB). In explaining the meaning of justification, Paul said that in Christ there is “neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.” The outstanding social characteristic of Christianity is that ethnic (“Jew nor Greek”), economic (“bond nor free”), and gender (“male nor female”) distinctions have no bearing on salvation, nor upon equal standing among all Christians. It is obvious that the context of the statement is its explanation of the impact of justification(salvation). This is a soteriological statement: it speaks to the doctrine of salvation. The teaching is that all believers, without regard to social distinctions, have equal access to God through Christ, and, consequently, are to be unified in the Body of Christ.

God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women.
Titus 2:3–5(HCSB)3 In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them.

Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helps. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying, only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, and to proclaim the gospel to the lost.

Philippians 4:6(HCSB) 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. This does not mean “If you’re anxious, try prayer; it works.” Rather, it means, “If you’re anxious, examine either your lack of faith in the living God, who has promised to supply the basic needs of His children.” Or, “Examine your focus, whether you’re living for Christ and His kingdom or for yourself.” Whatever the root cause, anxiety is sin that must be confessed to God and put off. Proper concern turns to sinful anxiety when we lack faith in God’s role as the Sovereign Lord and provider, and when we put self at the center instead of God’s kingdom and righteousness. So the first step in dealing with anxiety is to examine whether it is due to lack of faith or to a wrong focus on self. Confess the sin to God and yield to Him.

“Be anxious for nothing.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that anxiety stems from a lack of faith and from a wrong focus on the things of this world instead of on the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:25-34(HCSB)25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. If we excuse our anxieties by saying, “Well, it’s only human to have these emotions,” or, “Anyone would feel anxious in this situation,” we will not overcome it because we are not confronting the root cause of it,we are excusing it. What is the sin? It is the sin of not believing God and of not seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.

This means that when it comes to the matter of dealing with our anxiety, we must confront our motives for wanting to have peace. If our reason for wanting to be free from anxiety is so that we can live a peaceful, pleasant life, our focus is self-centered and therefore wrong. There are many people who come to Christ because they are anxious and they want the peace He offers. But if they do not confront the fact that they are living to please themselves rather than God, they will simply settle into a self-centered life where they “use God” for their own peace and comfort. Jesus said, Mark 8:35(HCSB)35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. The peace Christ offers is the by-product of enthroning Christ as Lord over your life and living for His kingdom.

Philippians 46(HCSB) 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

*Prayer—a general word for prayer, always used with reference to God, with the distinction of deep respect or reverence. When Paul says to make our requests known “to God,” the Greek word means “face to face with God,” to come directly before Him. This means that when we pray, we must stop to remember that we are coming into the very presence of the holy God, where even the holy angels cover their faces and cry, Holy Holy Holy, Isaiah 6:2-3(HCSB)2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”. Yes, He welcomes us into His presence as a father welcomes his children. Through our High Priest, the Lord Jesus, God invites us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). But we must remember that it is to the throne of the universe, to the Sovereign, Eternal God that we come.

This means, of course, that we must always examine our hearts and confess and forsake all sin when we come to God in prayer. The psalmist says, Psalm 66:18(ESV) If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But we also have the assurance that if we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us. 1 John 1:7-9(ESV)7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Please notice that the believer is told to come directly to God in prayer. Christ is our mediator, our High Priest. The Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer prompts and moves us as we pray, interceding for us (Romans 8:26-27). Thus prayer is a personal drawing near to the Triune God.

*Supplications–This word gives prominence to the sense of need and also looks at specific requests. Sometimes people ask, “Why pray, since God already knows what we need?” John Calvin has some of the most profound and practical words on prayer that I have ever read (Institutes of the Christian Religion [Eerdmans], ed. by John McNeill, III:XX). He points out that whatever we need and lack is to be found “in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the Father willed all the fullness of his bounty to abide” (III:XX:1). It is through prayer “that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father” (III: [Eerdmans], ed. by John McNeill, III:XX). He points out that whatever we need and lack is to be found “in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the Father willed all the fullness of his bounty to abide” (III:XX:1). It is through prayer “that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father” (III:XX:2). Prayer is not so much for God’s sake as for ours. It shows us our total need for God Himself, and not just for certain temporal benefits. It casts us in dependence on Him, so that we will “seek, love, and serve Him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to Him as to a sacred anchor.” It purifies our desires, since we must bring them to God Himself. It prepares us to receive thankfully what He gives, being reminded that it comes from His hand. It helps us to meditate on His kindness as we delight in what He has given. It confirms to us our own weakness and God’s great providence and faithfulness in meeting our needs (Calvin develops these points in III:XX:3).

This means that our supplications must be in line with God’s will and purpose. In the Lord’s Prayer, we learn that the first focus of our prayers should be on God’s kingdom and righteousness, and only secondarily on our personal needs (Matthew 6:9-13(HCSB)5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. 8 Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us today our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13  And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

*Thanksgiving–When you’re anxious, presumably you’re in a situation that gives some cause for anxiety! At such times, thankfulness is not automatic or spontaneous. You have to do it deliberately by faith. Thanksgiving in a time of trials reflects three things: (1) Remembrance of God’s supply in the past. You think back over His faithfulness to you up to this point and realize that His mercies have sustained you. He has been with you in every trial. He never abandons or forsakes His children, even if we face persecution or death for His sake.

(2) Submission to God’s sovereignty in the present. To thank God in the midst of a crisis or trial is to say, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I submit to Your sovereign purpose in this situation. I trust that You know what You’re doing and will work it together for good.” We are not just to thank God when we feel like it, but also when we don’t feel like it (1 Thessalonians 5:18(HCSB)Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

(3) Trust in God’s sufficiency for the future. A thankful heart rests upon the all-sufficient God, knowing that even though we don’t see how He is going to do it, He will meet our every need as we cast ourselves on Him.

Philippians 4:7 (HCSB) And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is not some psychological peace gained through coping techniques. Some Christian psychiatrists give all sorts of “common sense” and psychological methods (alongside the “spiritual”) that you can use to alleviate your anxiety, including picking a phrase (any phrase will do, they say) and repeating it over and over! This is just thinly disguised Transcendental Meditation!

No, what Paul is talking about is the peace that comes from the God who is never subject to anxiety because He is the sovereign, omnipotent Creator and Lord of the universe. Nothing takes Him by surprise or makes Him bite His nails, wondering how it will turn out. This is the peace that Jesus promised, “not as the world gives.” It is humanly not explainable. But, praise God, it is real, and every child of God has known it and has known that it comes from God alone, not from psychological insights.

John 14:27(HCSB)27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

Note that this peace stands guard like a sentry over our inner person, our hearts (the comprehensive term for our whole person) and minds (specifically, our thoughts which threaten to trouble us) in Christ Jesus. We are in intimate, permanent union with Him, and to get to us, anxiety must go through Christ Jesus! So what God promises isn’t just a quick fix, where prayer is a technique that will bring you calm until you get through the crisis. Paul is talking about an ongoing, deepening, intimate relationship with the God of peace, where you seek to please Him with all your thoughts, words, and deeds. In a time of trial, you draw near to the God of peace, you focus on His grace to you in Christ Jesus, you pour out your heart to Him, and the result is, His peace stands guard over your heart and mind. Matthew 11:28-29(HCSB)28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

What kind of peace does He give those who trust in Him? It is a quiet confidence that, since our sovereign, loving, all-powerful God is in control, we have nothing to fear. Jesus gives us peace with God through the forgiveness of sin. He provides peace of mind through an unhindered relationship with Him. He shows us how to have peace with man by teaching us how to love others. When He is in control, no situation, heartache or sorrow can ever disturb that peace. It is true peace, a peace not found anywhere else, no drug, alcohol, sex, pornography, spouse, money, gambling, tv preacher, self motivation will ever be able to give you the kind of peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.

Tragedy, heartache and sorrow will come into your life, but Christ, the Prince of Peace, will sit upon the throne of your life and He will give you His pardon, His purpose and His peace.

Philippians Pt6 Count it all as Lost

Philippians 3-11(HCSB) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a protection for you. 2 Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— 4 although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; 6 regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. 7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul speaking of his religiously self-righteous way of life before meeting Jesus, says, Philippians 3:8(NET)8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,. That little word “Skubala” has been the source of big controversy. Various English translations use words such as “rubbish,” “garbage,” “filth,” “dung,” “refuse,” “worthless trash,” and “dog dung.” Making the entire issue more difficult is that the word is a hapax legomenon, which means it appears only once in the entire New Testament.

Greek scholar and expert Daniel B. Wallace has studied this word in great detail, and he explains: “In Philippians 3:8, the best translation of skuvbala seems clearly to be from the first group of definitions [that is, meaning (human) excrement]. The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between ‘crap’ and ’s**t.’”

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not advanced discipleship; it is basic Christianity. This is confirmed in Jesus’s words, Luke 14:33(ESV)33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Renouncing all we have is the same as “counting everything as loss.” This is what happens in conversion. You can’t be a disciple without it. Jesus said this. Renouncing all (counting all as loss) means that, if we must choose between Christ and anything else, we will choose Christ. For most people Christ is just an addition to their already jacked up lives. and if there isn’t anything better then they will do the “Christian” thing. They come to church when it is convenient, they worship when it is convenient, there is no separation between them and the world or them and their old ways.

Jesus describes this conversion in a parable: Matthew 13:44 (ESV)“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Selling all you have with joy, in order to have the treasure of the kingdom, is a parable-way of saying: count everything as loss in order to gain Christ.

So, to become a Christian is to awaken from the blindness of spiritual death and find Jesus so all-sufficient and all-satisfying that 1) we count everything as loss, 2) we renounce all our possessions, and, in parable-language, 3) we sell all we have to possess the treasure of Christ.

If you ask people “what is Christianity, you will probably get whole lot of different answers.  It seems to me that there is widespread confusion with regard to those who present themselves as the vendors of Christianity and its benefits.  Just exactly what do you think people assume Christianity offers?  Health, wealth, success, peace of mind, a certain level of tranquility, perhaps the promise of a better job, a better career, the fulfillment of your dreams and ambitions and desires, perhaps even everything you can think of and articulate, that would be a fairly common presentation of Christianity.

But I think the overall general sense of Christianity is that it offers you whatever you want.  Whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever it is that satisfies you, whatever it is that fulfills your ambitions, your desires and your dreams, that’s what Christianity offers you.  Christianity offers to make you everything you really want to be.

That is a very confusing message and a very unbiblical one. It also lays out a complex answer to what should be a very simple answer. In a word, what Christianity offers you is Christ, Jesus Christ, that’s what Christianity offers. That is a very simple, straightforward, one word answer to what has become a very complicated issue. We offer Christ in offering the gospel.  The surpassing theme of the Scripture, the surpassing theme of the New Testament, in particular, is Jesus Christ.  And in not having Christ, you have nothing.  And in having Christ, you have everything.

Christianity is very simple, it is very pure, it is about having Christ, knowing Christ.  Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  He says in Philippians 3:8  that when he saw the glory of Christ, everything else became (Skubala)manure.  And so he says, Philippians 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus What is that?  What is the prize when we’re called up?  It is to be like Christ.  Paul says, “One day I will be like Christ.  Until then, my goal is to pursue that Christlikeness.”

We have only one message, and that is Christ.  We tell sinners they can have a relationship with Christ and in that relationship with Him, they will receive everything they need, all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.  And yet in the name of Christianity, in the name of the gospel, in the name of the church, in the name of evangelism, people are told all kinds of things, promised all kinds of things, sold all kinds of things and in the middle somewhere is, if recognizable, a significantly diminished little Christ.  Anything that diminishes Jesus Christ is a perverted presentation, it is another gospel, a false gospel.

Christ is Christianity and He is all there is to offer because He is all that we need. When you ask…what is a Christian?  It is one for whom to live is Christ.  Christ is our life.  We have no other life.  We have nothing but Christ and we have everything in Christ. Christ is not an addendum, an additive to your life, He is not something you add to it. Church is not something you go to when you have nothing else better to do. Christians not gathering together often was unheard of in the New Testament. Living for Christ wholeheartedly was and is the only way. Every other way is a false way, every other way is crap, it is idolatry.

Apparently the Philippians had been told that there was something more needed than just Jesus Christ.  Something beyond Christ was necessary.  There was some insufficiency in Christ that prompts the Apostle Paul to write these words.  The insufficiencies in Christ can be made up by philosophy, human traditions, doctrines of man, external gifts, etc.. Christ is not enough.

If church history teaches us anything, it is that legalism — the belief that we must add something to grace to make us acceptable in God’s sight — is a never ending threat to the church. The catholic church, for example, made the system of penance a precondition of divine forgiveness. More recently, some traditions identify true Christians as those who do not drink, dance, or smoke nor chew and don’t run with those who do.

There have always been those who are unwilling to accept the idea of God’s salvation being offered freely to those who believe. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. We thank God for His grace, but we understand that He expects us to somehow earn that grace—in other words, there must be something that we can do to pay off the debt we owe to God. In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judiazers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14(NLT)14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? Here Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”

The first legalists in church history were the Judaizers described in the New Testament. These false teachers asserted that Gentile converts must believe in Jesus and do works of the Law, such as circumcision, to be declared righteous before God. Even the Philippian church needed to be warned about the Judaizers, and we find this warning in today’s passage.

Using the word dogs, Paul ironically contrasts the Judaizers’ false gospel with the true Apostolic gospel. The ancient Jews did not keep dogs as pets because the dogs living in ancient Israel were wild, unclean scavengers. In turn, the Jews often applied the word dogs to Gentiles, for they regarded non-Jews as unclean. In calling members of the Judaizing party “dogs,” Paul warns the Philippians that these Judaizers are actually filthy, even if ] Judaizers believe they are cleansing Gentile converts by circumcision.

Paul continues, calling the Judaizers “evildoers … those who mutilate the flesh”. God instituted circumcision as an old covenant sacrament (Genesis 17:1–14), but its new covenant fulfillment is baptism. Colossians 2:11–12(NLT) 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

True circumcision is heart circumcision, the baptism into (union with) Jesus by faith. Romans 6:3–4(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. This sets us apart as holy, which is why all who trust in Christ alone are “the circumcision,” the true worshippers of God.

A Judiazer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. Paul is saying watch out for those dogs, those religious ones who tell you to mutilate the flesh in order to serve Christ.

To add anything to the work that Christ did for salvation is to negate God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, not by returning to the Law. Galatians 2:21(NLT)21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

We see dogs/judaizers being corrected in the New Testament. Paul admonished the Judaizers in Galatia, who thought they were holy because they were circumcised a bit, to go all out and cut the whole thing off. This literally would have meant that these dogs would no longer be accepted as Jews, and not only cut off physically but also cut off spiritually from temple worship. Paul says:

Galatians 5:11–14(HCSB)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! 13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

People love to prooftext verses, and they don’t read the context. The guy (Paul)who said “love one another” prefaced it by saying “cut your penis off.” How curious it is that sheep and the religious alike are prone to quote the latter half of this section of God’s Word and argue that we should be loving, as Jesus taught, while conveniently ignoring the part about cutting ones manhood off. Indeed, when the Bible says we need to be loving, we need to read the verses around those words to see how the Bible also exemplifies how to be loving to God, sheep, lost people, and religious people. Apparently, in some cases telling religious judaizers to castrate themselves is loving.

Though this is a long time ago, nothing has really changed.  There are people today who tell us that Christ is not enough, we need more than Christ, more than all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Him.  We need Christ plus philosophy, human traditions, man made doctrines, external gifts, baptism,etc.

Pentecostal (UPC)– Oneness churches, generally teach the following as the foundation of Christian conversion: repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. The Oneness Pentecostal movements generally teach that to receive and maintain salvation, a person must adhere to four essential requirements.

1. Faith in Jesus Only

Oneness teachers would agree that salvation requires putting one’s full faith in the Jesus of Oneness doctrine, that is the Jesus who is the totality of the Godhead, who died on the cross as an atonement for sin, and who rose again from the dead. They do not believe in the trinity. God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action).  The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent.

2. Repentance and Baptism in the “Name of Jesus”

Acts 2:38 is used as evidence that the early church baptized only in the name of Jesus. They maintain that baptism in the trinitarian formula is invalid since it implies belief in three gods. They claim Matthew 28:19 is not to be taken as a command to baptize in that formula. Oneness believers believe that for water baptism to be valid, one must be baptized in the name of Jesus, rather than the mainstream baptismal formula in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

3. Speaking in Tongues

Like most traditional Pentecostals and charismatics, Oneness Pentecostals teach that speaking in tongues is a gift to be exercised today. However, unlike most traditionalists, the Oneness movements maintain that speaking in tongues is not just a post-conversion indicator of the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, but an essential ingredient in the salvation experience itself.

4. Adherence to Holiness Standards

Most Oneness Pentecostals teach that once salvation is gained initially by the preceding ingredients, it must be maintained by daily adherence to legalistic codes of personal behavior. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited. Women are not allowed to cut their hair, wear short dresses or slacks, use make-up, or wear jewelry. Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean shaven, and have short haircuts. Violations of these codes may result in a loss of salvation and exclusion from church fellowship.

Oneness Pentecostals have an anti-trinitarian view of God, an unbiblical doctrine of Jesus Christ, and unbiblical requirements for salvation (speaking in tongues, water baptism in “Jesus’ name,” and a legalistic moral code). Thus, those churches adhering to its basic doctrines cannot be regarded as authentically Christian. Any group or church that claims to be Christian yet deviates at any point from historical Christian faith is, by definition, a cult. Oneness Pentecostal churches are, therefore, cultic in nature and outside the theological parameters of historic Christianity.

Catholicism – Salvation, in Roman Catholicism, is a process with many steps: To begin, God grants actual grace to a person which enables him to believe in Christ (CCC 2000) and also believe in the truth of the Catholic Church (CCC 1814).  After belief, the person must be baptized, which is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257).  This baptism erases original sin (CCC 405), unites the person with Christ (CCC 977), infuses grace into the person (CCC 1999), and grants justification (CCC 1992, 2020).  After baptism, he is saved.  But, to maintain his salvation, it is necessary for him to perform good works (CCC 2010, 2068, 2080) and participate in the sacraments (CCC 1129) which provide grace that is “proper to each sacrament” (CCC 1129, 2003).  This is necessary in order to maintain infused grace (CCC 987, 1468).  However, grace can be lessened by venial sins or completely lost by mortal sins.  Venial sins (CCC 1862) remove part of the infused grace but not the saving grace known as sanctifying grace (CCC 1863). To remedy the problem of venial sins, the Catholic is to take the Eucharist which the Church teaches forgives venial sins (CCC 1416).  He must also perform various penance which must be done in concert with perfect contrition (CCC 1452). But there is a problem.  Sins require punishment.  Even though sins are absolved by a priest (CCC 1463, 1495) the punishment due to a person because of his sin can remain.  To deal with that remaining punishment, indulgences are administered to deal with the punishment due to the guilt of the sins already forgiven (CCC 1471, 1498).  These indulgences draw upon the “good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (CCC 1477) and “of Christ and the saints” so as to obtain “the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins” (CCC 1478).  Furthermore, the indulgences can be applied to themselves or the dead (CCC 1471) who are in purgatory (CCC 1498).  Now, in case the Catholic has committed a mortal sin, then all his infused grace is lost.  To regain this grace, he must partake of special penance (CCC 980) since it helps restore grace that was lost (CCC 1468, 1496).  To conclude, the Roman Catholic must have faith, participate in the sacraments, take the Eucharist, keep the commandments, perform penance, and do indulgences in order to attain, maintain, and regain his salvation as well as reduce the punishment due to him for the sins of which he has already forgiven.

Colossians 2:8-15(NLT) 8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

In verses 13 and 14, not only a complete salvation but a complete forgiveness.  “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us…that’s the record of all our sins which was, of course, hostile to us…and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

I want you to notice something.  Verse 9, “In Christ.”  Verse 10, “with Christ”  Verse 11, “Ito Christ”  Verse 12, “Buried with Christ.  Raised with Him.”  Verse 13, “God made you alive with Christ”  It is about being in Him, in Him, with Him, with Him.  And because we have Christ, we have complete salvation and complete forgiveness…so complete that He has literally blotted out our transgressions, canceled out, erased, wiped off our sins. In verse 15, “On our behalf He disarmed the rulers and authorities, the host of hell, the demons, Satan.”  He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them.  Again, through Him.  When He disarmed the rulers and authorities, we triumphed over them through Him.  Because we have Christ, we have complete salvation.  Because we have Christ, we have complete forgiveness.  Because we have Christ, we have complete victory over all the hosts of hell.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines adds nothing whatsoever to that.  What we offer in offering the gospel is what this text presents.  We are offering a transformation through faith in Jesus Christ from death to life.  We are offering the forgiveness of all our sins for Jesus paid in full the penalty for those sins, the list of our sins literally was nailed to His cross.  We are offering in the gospel true, total, complete, triumph over Satan and demons.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines can do nothing to embellish that.

So what does it take?

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.

Purpose of the Church Pt7 Tithe and Offerings

Acts 2:45(ESV) And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

1 John 3:16-18(ESV)16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Ezekiel 16:49-50(ESV) Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Seven Biblical Reasons to Tithe

1. Honoring an Old Testament Principle

Tithing honors an Old Testament principle of how God provided for the ministers he called and the expenses of their ministry.

You recall that in the Old Testament God designated one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi, to be the tribe that would have the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple. So instead of giving them a portion of the land, God said that these vocational ministers of the tabernacle should live off the tithes of the other eleven tribes. In Numbers 18:20–21(ESV) God said to Aaron,

You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.

When we tithe today, we honor a principle found here. Some of God’s people are called not to do moneymaking business in the ordinary ways. They are called to be pastors and ministers and missionaries and ministry assistants, and so on. The rest of God’s people (call them “lay ministers”) are to be gainfully employed and support the “vocational ministers”—and the costs of that ministry. In the Old Testament God laid down that this be done by tithe.

If the question is raised whether Jesus, in the New Testament, continued this principle for the sake of his church, one of the strongest arguments that he did is Matthew 23:23(ESV) where he says,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

So Jesus endorses tithing: don’t neglect it. It is not as essential as justice love and mercy; but it is to be done.

Yet one might say that he is only talking to Jews in an essentially Old Testament setting. Maybe so. But there is another pointer that the principle was preserved in the early church. In 1 Corinthians 9:13–14(ESV) Paul says,

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services [in the temple] eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar [of sacrifice in the temple] have their share with the altar?

In other words he reminds the church that in the Old Testament economy there was this system in which the Levites who worked in the temple lived off the tithes brought to the temple. Then he says in verse 14:

So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

A church should definitely provide for the financial needs of its pastor(s) and any other full-time ministers. First Corinthians 9:14 gives the church clear instruction: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” We pay people to prepare and serve our physical food; shouldn’t we also be willing to pay those who see to our spiritual food? And, honestly, which is more important—physical food or spiritual food—based on Matthew 4:4?

1 Timothy 5:17–18(ESV)“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’” There are several points made in this passage. Church elders should be honored, and this honor includes wages. Those elders who serve the church well—especially teachers and preachers—should receive double honor. They have earned it. It would be cruel to work an ox while denying it grain, and we should take care not to treat our pastors cruelly. Let them share in the material blessings of the congregation they serve. Are not pastors worth more than many oxen?

There is nothing spiritual about making a pastor “suffer for the Lord.” Yes, a pastor has been divinely called to his ministry, but it does not follow that a congregation should say, “Let God take care of him.” God says the local church is responsible to take care of him and his family. Caring for the spiritual needs of a congregation is an important work—probably more important than other things we normally spend money on, such as meeting our physical needs, maintaining our vehicles, and entertaining ourselves.
1 Corinthians 9:7.

It is true that the apostle Paul supported himself as he ministered in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:12). He drew no salary from the Corinthians. But he made it clear that he did this as a voluntary sacrifice on their behalf, “that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel” (verse 18). Paul did take wages from other churches (2 Corinthians 11:8). His arrangement in Corinth was the exception, not the rule.

The least Paul is saying is that those who spend their lives in the service of the Word of God should be supported by the rest of the Christians. But since he draws attention to the way it was done in the Old Testament as the model, it seems likely that tithing would have been the early Christian guideline, if not mandate.

In other words when we tithe today, we honor a principle and plan of God that sustained the ministry in the Old Testament and probably sustained the New Testament ministry as well.

2. Honoring the Creator as Owner of All

When we release a tenth of our income and give it over to the ministry and mission of Christ in the world, we honor the Creator rights of God who owns everything, including all our income.

One objection to thinking of a tenth of our income as especially belonging to God is that ALL our money belongs to God. Psalm 24:1(ESV)The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

That is absolutely true. What you do with every cent says something about your view of God and what he means to you. And what your values are in this age. And what you think your few years on earth should be spent for. That’s true.

But God is wise and knows us deeply. He knows that there is something wrong with the husband who answers his wife’s complaint that he doesn’t give her any time by saying, “What do you mean, I don’t give you my time? ALL my time is yours. I work all day long for you and the children.” That has a very hollow ring to it if he doesn’t give her any “especially time.” Giving her some evenings together and some dates does not deny that all his time is for her, it proves it. This is why God declares one day in seven especially God’s. They are all his, and making one special proves it.

And this is the way it is with our money and God. Giving God a tenth of our income does not deny that all our money is God’s, it proves that we believe it. Tithing is like a constant offering of the first fruits of the whole thing. The tenth is yours, O, Lord, in a special way, because all of it is yours in an ordinary way.

I believe the tithe should be the first check we write after the income deposit is made in the bank. And when you write it, you put a seal over what’s left: GOD’S. The tithe reminds us of that, and proves that we really believe it.

3. The Antidote to Covetousness

Giving away a tenth of our income to the mission and ministry of Christ is an antidote to covetousness.

The last of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt not covet.” Jesus said in Luke 12:15(ESV) “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of covetousness [or greed].” And in Colossians 3:5(ESV)5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Paul calls covetousness “idolatry.” Wanting things too much is incredibly dangerous for your soul. Hebrews 13:5(ESV) says,

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.

Every time you give a tithe, you must deal with the desire for what you might have bought for yourself. To give is not to buy. And that weekly crisis is utterly important to maintain. We must fight covetousness almost every day. And God has appointed an antidote: giving. He tests us again and again: what do we desire most—the advancement of his name or 10% more security and comfort and fun? As Jesus says, Matthew 6:21(ESV)21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Tithing is one of God’s great antidotes to covetousness.

4. Governing Ever-Expanding Spending

The fourth reason is almost the same as the last one, but not quite. When we go to the tithe and beyond, as I am suggesting we should, it puts a governor on ever-expanding spending.

There is an almost infallible human rule: spending expands to fill the income. This is why you could have a book a few years ago entitled Getting By on $100,000 a Year. If you make more, you buy more, and the things you buy have to be stored and repaired and insured. Spending begets spending. If you have less at your disposal, you spend less. And most of the time you don’t even think about it. I spend absolutely no time thinking about world cruises and $30,000 cars. But if I made two or three hundred thousand dollars a year, pretty soon things like that wouldn’t seem any more strange to me than all the stuff I buy now—because I could afford it.

If this is true—if expenses almost inevitably expand to fill the income—how shall we restrain ourselves from accumulating more and more stuff and more and more expensive stuff, and looking to the world like we have all the same values they do in our little earthly prelude to eternity? The answer is that as our income grows, we move beyond the tithe. We resolve to give a greater and greater percentage of our income to advance the kingdom. This puts the brakes on our natural impulse toward luxury.

2 Corinthians 9:6–14(ESV) 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

Two Kinds of Giving

Notice first that in verses 5, 6, and 7 two kinds of giving are contrasted.

▪Verse 5: “So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift.” (Literally: “not as covetousness but as blessing.”)

▪Verse 6: “The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (Don’t give sparingly; give bountifully, generously.)

▪Verse 7: “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (Don’t give begrudgingly; give freely and cheerfully.)

Three descriptions of how not to give, and three descriptions of how to give:

▪Verse 5, NOT as an exaction or covetously; verse 6, NOT sparingly; verse 7, NOT reluctantly or begrudgingly.

▪BUT, verse 5, as a willing gift; verse 6, bountifully; verse 7, cheerfully.

How Not to Give

Let’s think for a moment about bad giving. In each of these three descriptions the essence of what’s wrong is the desire to hold back. There is giving! But it’s coming from a heart that wants to hold back.

Take the word “sparingly,” for example, in verse 6. If I say, “Spare my life!” I mean, let me keep it; don’t take it from me. If I say, “Spare no effort!” I mean, hold back no effort. Give all the effort you can! When Paul said, “God did not spare his only Son,” he meant, God did not hold him back. He didn’t keep just for himself. He shared him.

So to give sparingly is to give from a heart that deep inside wants to hold back. There are enough external constraints and pressures to make us give something. But the real feeling of our heart is not to think of how much we can give, but how much we can keep.

That’s how not to give.

How to Give

Take the positive side now. In verse 6 the word is “bountifully.” In the Greek it’s the same word as the one used in verse 5. Literally, it means give on the basis of blessing. Our giving should rest upon the great truth that God is a bountifully blessing God, and then our gift in turn should be a bountiful blessing to others. Verse 7 says, it should be “cheerful.”

So giving bountifully means giving from a heart that wants to share things. Something has happened in the heart so that the basic desire is now to give and share as much as possible instead of keep as much as possible. It’s as though there was a magnet in the soul that used to be turned so that it pulled possessions into itself; and now something has happened to turn it around to the other pole so that it pushes things out toward others.

God as Giver Before Our Giving
Verse 8 talks about God’s giving on the backside of our giving, that is, the giving he gives first that enables us to give: “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance [or: make every grace abound to you], so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.” So here he says very clearly that God wants to be known as a bountiful God. He is able—he omnipotently able to give us whatever we need in order to be generous. He IS a giver in this affair, not a Taker.

Free and Generous Giving
Verse 9 picks up an image that Paul used in verse 6, namely, the image of sowing seed. In verse 6 he said that if you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Now in verse 9 he gives an illustration taken from Psalm 112:9(ESV) of a person who sows seed bountifully. “As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.'”

So the sowing of seed in verse 6 and the scattering of seed in verse 9 is the free and generous giving of help to meet the needs of people. And this generosity is called righteousness in verse 9.

Now in verse 10 he takes that Old Testament quote from verse 9 and brings out its relation to God. He is the one who gives the seed for scattering and he is the one who will bring a harvest from this righteousness. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources [lit.: ‘your seed’ or ‘your sowing’]”—so there God is the Giver on the back side of our giving again: he gives the seed so we can scatter it abroad as verse 9 says.

God as Giver After Our Giving
Then verse 10 goes on and says, ” . . . and he will increase [or: cause to grow] the harvest of your righteousness.” Now what does that mean? Well, “righteousness” in verse 9 is the generous scattering of seed to those in need. The harvest of righteousness is probably what grows up as a result of this scattering. In other words, “God will increase the harvest of your righteousness” means the same as “He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Bountiful sowing is righteousness. Bountiful reaping is the increased harvest of this righteousness.

So the point of verse 10 is that God is the Giver, not Taker, on both sides of our giving: he gives seed before we give so that we can sow it generously; and he gives harvest after we give so that we are rewarded for our generosity.

The great truth of this text is that God wants to be known and trusted and loved as the Giver not the Taker in this whole affair of giving. Otherwise all our giving is draining, burdensome, oppressive, legalistic, and sparing. And who needs it!

5. God’s Way of Bringing About Good Deeds

The fifth reason for going to the tithe and beyond in our giving is that this is God’s way of bringing about many good deeds for his glory.

At the end of verse 8 Paul says that when you sow bountifully and cheerfully, you will “have an abundance for every good deed.” The goal is good deeds. Excess money is for good deeds. These are the things that make your light shine and cause people to give glory to your Father in heaven. If you lay up treasures on earth, people have no reason to think your Father in heaven is glorious. You look like you love what everyone else loves. According to Titus 2:13(ESV) Christ died “to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good deeds.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 says that the aim of material bounty is “for every good deed.” Verse 11 says, “You will be enriched in everything for all liberality.” Excess money is given to us so we can show where our treasure is by giving it away.

So the fifth reason for going to the tithe and bountifully beyond is that this is God’s way of providing for many good deeds.

6. God’s Way of Providing for You

The sixth reason for pressing to the tithe and beyond is that it is God’s way of providing you, the tither, sufficient money for your needs.

Giving is a way of having what you need. Giving in a regular, disciplined, generous way—up to and beyond the tithe—is simply good sense in view of the promises of God. Verse 6 says, “He who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.” Then verse 8 says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency . . . ” In other words the “bountiful reaping” promised in verse 6 is explained in verse 8 by God’s pledge to give a sufficiency for us and an abundance for good deeds.

This seems to be Paul’s way of expressing Malachi 3:10(ESV)10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

This is an amazing challenge from God. Test me, he says. You think you can’t afford to tithe? Well test me. And what we will find when we test him is that we cannot afford not to tithe—and beyond! This is the only safe way to handle our money. Jesus once said, in Luke 6:38(ESV)Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.

This is not a guarantee of getting rich. It’s a guarantee of “an abundance for every good work” and sufficiency for yourself.

7. Proving and Strengthening Our Faith

Finally, in our giving we should press toward the tithe and beyond because it will prove and strengthen our faith in God promises.

There is an absolute correlation between faith in the promises of God and peace of mind in giving away what we may think we need but don’t. Hebrews 13:5(ESV) Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; [why? because of a promise] for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Every time you doubt that you can live on 90% of your income, let the glorious promise of God strengthen your faith: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19(ESV).

What tithing boils down to is a faith issue. Do we trust God’s promises? Trust God. He will never fail or forsake you. He will supply all your needs.

Excerpt from John Piper

Purpose of the Church Pt6 Teach, Correct, Rebuke

2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Correction is not judgment, as the Bible says that we should correct, rebuke and be bold to those who are sinning. It is to be done in an act of caring for them in the hope that they will believe. That way we could contribute to the saving of a soul. If we don’t, we could be responsible for suppressing the truth which could mean eternal death instead of eternal life for that person. James 5:20(ESV)20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The Word of God is inspired so that you might trust it to be accurate when you…TEACH

To teach you must know what is right. You can’t teach if you don’t know what is right.

Therefore you must study. Read the Bible on your own, attend church, fellowship with other believers, attend Bible study, have devotions, pray, etc.

Learn about the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, salvation by grace, the consequence of sin, hell, heaven, the return of Christ, etc.

The Word of God is inspired so that you might trust it and be accurate when you…REBUKE

To rebuke means that scold and correct in a sharp way.

To urge someone to stop sinning: Perhaps a Christian is in sin. You are to warn him.

1 Timothy 5:20 (ESV)As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Perhaps an unbeliever is not aware of his sin; therefore, you offer correction, warning, or admonition.

1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

The Word of God is inspired so that you might trust it and be accurate when you…CORRECT

To correct here means to restore to an upright or right state with the improvement of life or character. You can correct erring doctrines or understanding or even bad interpretations of scripture You can even correct yourselves when you examine the Word and discover any errors you may have in understanding or practice.

The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God works not just some things but all things according to the counsel of His own will. Ephesians 1:11(ESV)11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, His purposes are all-inclusive and never derailed Isaiah 46:11(ESV)calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.; nothing takes Him by surprise. The sovereignty of God is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that He does so, always and without exception. In other words, God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).

RC Sproul says “Don’t you realize that if there is one molecule in this universe running around loose outside the scope or the sphere of God’s divine control and authority and power, then that single maverick molecule may be the grain of sand that changes the entire course of human history, that blocks God from keeping the promises he has made to his people?” It may be that one maverick molecule that will prevent Christ from the consummation of his kingdom. For if there is one maverick molecule, it would mean that God is not sovereign.

 If there is any element of the universe that is outside of his authority, then he no longer is God over all. In other words, sovereignty belongs to deity. Sovereignty is a natural attribute of the Creator. God owns what he makes, and he rules what he owns.

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

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

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

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

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

God’s sovereignty in salvation means that He saves whom He will, and those whom He saves owe nothing to anything in or of themselves. They are saved because God graciously chose them in eternity and regenerated and called them in history. They cannot even take credit for their faith because it is the gift that He Himself sovereignly bestows. The blood of Jesus saves exactly everyone it was meant to save, not one more not one less. Everyone that is saved is part of God’s plan.

Predestination is the teaching that God has, from all eternity, freely determined whatsoever shall come to pass.  We find this in Ephesians 1:11 which says, “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”  Notice Paul teaches that predestination occurs according to the purpose of God and that God works all things after His will.  The “all things” means exactly that, all things.

•Predestination:  “God’s actions in willing something to a specific result; also called “foreordination.” Some Christian theologians, particularly in the Reformed tradition, have seen it as indicating God’s eternal decree by which all creatures are foreordained to eternal life or death. It may also be used synonymously with “election” and indicates God’s gracious initiation of salvation for those who believe in Jesus Christ.”1

•”The divine determination of human beings to eternal salvation or eternal damnation. The doctrine of predestination is a branch, so to speak, of the doctrine of election; God’s predestinating activity is a function of his existence as the electing God.

The word predestination comes from the Greek προορίζω, “prooridzo.”  The word occurs six times in six verses in the New Testament.

1Acts 4:28(ESV)28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

2Romans 8:29-30(ESV)29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 Corinthians 2:7(NASB) “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”

4Ephesians 1:5(ESV) “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”

5Ephesians 1:11(ESV), “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

By looking at these verses we can see that predestination reveals God’s great sovereignty and right to do with His creation as he desires.  But also we can see that predestination deals with salvation.  Unfortunately, many Christians do not accept the biblical teaching on predestination.  Many do not like the idea that God predestines people for salvation, but the fact is the Bible teaches it.

So, predestination is God determining certain things to occur ahead of time. What did God determine ahead of time? According to Romans 8:29-30, God predetermined that certain individuals would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified. Essentially, God predetermines that certain individuals will be saved. Numerous scriptures refer to believers in Christ being chosen.

Matthew 24:22(ESV) 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Matthew 24:31(ESV) 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Mark 13:20(ESV) 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

Mark 13:27(ESV) 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

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

John 6:65(ESV)65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

John 15:16(NASB) “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”

Acts 9:15(NASB) “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.”

Romans 8:33(ESV) 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Romans 9:11(ESV) 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—

Romans 11:5-7(ESV) 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

Romans 11:28(ESV) 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

Ephesians 1:4-5(ESV)4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 

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

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

Colossians 3:12(ESV) 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

1 Thessalonians 1:4(ESV) 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14(ESV)13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 2:10(ESV) 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Titus 1:1(ESV) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

1 Peter 1:1-2(ESV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 2:9(ESV)9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 

2 Peter 1:10(ESV)10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Predestination is the biblical doctrine that God in His sovereignty chooses certain individuals to be saved.

The most common objection to the doctrine of predestination is that it is unfair. Why would God choose certain individuals and not others? The important thing to remember is that no one deserves to be saved. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and are all worthy of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). As a result, God would be perfectly just in allowing all of us to spend eternity in hell. However, God chooses to save some of us. He is not being unfair to those who are not chosen, because they are receiving what they deserve. God’s choosing to be gracious to some is not unfair to the others. No one deserves anything from God; therefore, no one can object if he does not receive anything from God.

Reformed theology is generally considered synonymous with Calvinism but traces back to Jesus in John 6 and Paul in his letters to Rome and Ephesians. Although there had been significant earlier attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church before Luther – such as those of Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, and John Wycliffe – Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work The Ninety-Five Theses. Luther began by criticizing the selling of indulgences, insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The Protestant position, however, would come to incorporate doctrinal changes such as

•It means to affirm the great “Solas” of the Reformation. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

• Sola Fide, by faith alone.

• Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.

• Solus Christus, through Christ alone.

• Sola Gratia, by grace alone.

• Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

These phrases may be found individually expressed in the various writings of the 16th century Reformers

•It means to affirm and promote a profoundly high view of the sovereignty of God.

•It means to affirm the doctrines of grace, to see God as the author of salvation from beginning to end, commonly referred to as the acronym TULIP.

Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems of theology that attempt to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the matter of salvation. Calvinism is named for John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564. Arminianism is named for Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609. Calvinism got coined as the name for Reformed theology and Reformed theology is just another name for Biblical Theology.

Both systems can be summarized with five points. Reformed Theology holds to the total depravity of man while Arminianism holds to partial depravity. Reformed Theology’s doctrine of total depravity states that every aspect of humanity is corrupted by sin; therefore, human beings are unable to come to God on their own accord. Partial depravity states that every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that human beings are unable to place faith in God of their own accord. Note: classical Arminianism rejects “partial depravity” and holds a view very close to Calvinistic “total depravity”. In general, Arminians believe there is an “intermediate” state between total depravity and salvation. In this state, made possible by prevenient grace, the sinner is being drawn to Christ and has the God-given ability to choose salvation. But No one seeks after God’s plan of salvation on his own accord.
Romans 3:10-1810 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;11no one understands; no one seeks for God.12. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good, not even one.”13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;16 in their paths are ruin and misery,17 and the way of peace they have not known.”18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Those without Christ are blind to their need for salvation.
2 Corinthians 4:4(ESV)4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
This only changes when God begins drawing a person to Himself. It is God who opens eyes and enlightens minds to the need for Jesus Christ as Savior. A person cannot repent (change the mind about sin and the need for salvation) unless God grants repentance Acts 11:18(ESV)18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Therefore, if you understand God’s plan of salvation, recognize your need for it, and feel compelled to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, then believe, and you are saved.

Reformed Theology includes the belief that election is unconditional, while Arminianism believes in conditional election. Unconditional election is the view that God elects individuals to salvation based entirely on His will, not on anything inherently worthy in the individual. Conditional election states that God elects individuals to salvation based on His foreknowledge of who will believe in Christ unto salvation, thereby on the condition that the individual chooses God. Which would not make God sovereign but a time traveler.

Reformed Theology sees the atonement as limited, while Arminianism sees it as unlimited. This is the most controversial of the five points. Limited atonement is the belief that Jesus only died for the elect. Unlimited atonement is the belief that Jesus died for all, but that His death is not effectual until a person chooses Him by faith.

Reformed Theology includes the belief that God’s grace is irresistible, while Arminianism says that an individual can resist the grace of God. Irresistible grace argues that when God calls a person to salvation, that person will inevitably come to salvation. Resistible grace states that God calls all to salvation, but that many people resist and reject this call.

Reformed Theology holds to perseverance of the saints while Arminianism holds to conditional salvation. Perseverance of the saints refers to the concept that a person who is elected by God will persevere in faith and will not permanently deny Christ or turn away from Him. Conditional salvation is the view that a believer in Christ can, of his/her own free will, turn away from Christ and thereby lose salvation.

Here are some theologians and teachers of reformed theology over the years Augustine,John Wycliffe,John Hus, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli,John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, A.W. Pink, Sinclair Ferguson,James White, Paul Washer,Voddie Baucham,J.C.Ryle,Alistair Begg, Wayne Grudem, R.C. Sproul,R.C. Sproul, Jr., John Piper, John MacArthur,R. Albert Mohler, David Platt,Tim Challies,Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, and many more

A main opponent that has reared its ugly head thoughout the last 2000 years has been something called pelagianism.

Pelagianism derives its name from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome, though he was British by birth. It is a heresy dealing with the nature of man. Pelagius, whose family name was Morgan, taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God. In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention. Pelagianism teaches that man’s nature is basically good. Thus it denies original sin, the doctrine that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. He said that Adam only hurt himself when he fell, and all of his descendants were not affected by Adam’s sin. Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God. He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God’s grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him.

Pelagianism fails to understand man’s nature and weakness. We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12, NIV). Furthermore, Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” Therefore, we are unable to do God’s will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14). We were affected by the fall of Adam–contrary to what Pelagius taught.

Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism (a heresy derived from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome). Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will; but, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will, and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person, and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner; but, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism says the sinner has the ability to initiate belief in God.

•Semi-Pelagianism says God’s grace is a response to man’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism denies predestination.

Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange in 529.

Condemned as a heresy

Pelagius has been condemned by many councils throughout church history including the following:

•Councils of Carthage (412, 416 and 418)

•Council of Ephesus (431)

•The Council of Orange (529)

•Council of Trent (1546) Roman Catholic

•2nd Helvetic (1561/66) 8-9. (Swiss-German Reformed)

•Augsburg Confession (1530) Art. 9, 18 (Lutheran)

•Gallican Confession (1559) Art. 10 (French Reformed)

•Belgic Confession (1561) Art. 15 (Lowlands, French/Dutch/German Reformed)

•The Anglican Articles (1571), 9. (English)

•Canons of Dort (1618-9), 3/4.2 (Dutch/German/French Reformed)

Here are some Arminian/pelagian/ semi pelagian teachers/preachers, A.W Tozer, John Wesley, Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham,Bill Johnson, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson

William J. Seymour (1870–1922) Azusa Street Revival

Charles Parham (1873–1929) Speaking in Tongues

•Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944) Foursquare Church

Smith Wigglesworth (1859–1947) Pentecostalism

William Branham (1909–1965) Faith Healer

Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976) Faith Healer

Oral Roberts (1918–2009) Oral Roberts University

Jimmy Swaggart (1935–) Assemblies of God

Kenneth E. Hagin (1917–2003) Word of Faith

Mark J. Sheppeard (1982–) Apostolic

Kenneth Copeland (1936–) Prosperity Gospel

Joyce Meyer (1943–) Prosperity Gospel

Benny Hinn (1952–) Prosperity Gospel

T.D. Jakes (1957–) Prosperity Gospel

Joseph Prince (1963–) Prosperity Gospel

Joel Osteen (1963–) Prosperity Gospel

Also here are some religions and denominations that are ArminianArminian direction include Methodists, Free Will Baptists, Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, General Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Church of the Nazarene, The Wesleyan Church, The Salvation Army, Conservative Mennonites, Old Order Mennonites, Amish,Assemblies of God, Four Square, Pentecostals and Charismatics.

The Word of God is inspired so that you might trust it and be accurate when you…TRAIN IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.

This includes the training and education of children with the cultivation of mind and morals.

As saved sinners, we are in constant need of training. We must hear the Word, study it, and apply it.

Training implies that it is something that is done over and over with the aim at improvement.

These four things: Teaching, Correcting, Rebuking, and Training in Righteousness are each outward as well as inward. We are active in each of them. The inspired Word of God is there for you also, so that you might be able to do Good Works. It is part of the calling: To do Good. Before being a Christian, you could not do good. You may “accidentally” do something seemingly good but it was sinful in its intent. It is only because of the Cross of Christ, because of His shed blood that you even attempt to do anything that is good.

You do good to glorify Jesus, not simply for the sake of doing good.

Ephesians 2:10(ESV)“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,”.

Good works are a manifestation of what you know and believe.

That is why the Scriptures are there to Teach, Correct, Rebuke, and Train. The Word of God is your guide to that which is right, pure, holy, and truthful.

So that you might believe that which is true, not false, and in truth, accurately do that which is pleasing in the sight of God, to His glory.

There is no other source of inspiration on earth.

Eternal Security, Can we lose our Salvation?

SALVATION BY GRACE

A born-again believer does NOT convert to the Mormon faith or become an atheist. When a man claims that he “used to be a Christian,” but now has become a non-believer, he’s a liar. He never was a Christian to begin with. He may have once had the philosophy of Christianity, or the organization of Christianity; but he never had genuine Christianity, which is found by faith in Jesus Christ alone.

You don’t trust Christ one day and then forsake him the next, it doesn’t work that way. A child of God will always be a child of God. God doesn’t disown us because we mess up, Just like a good Father doesn’t disown their child because they mess up. If you don’t have Jesus Christ today, it is ONLY because you never really trusted Him at all. This is why the Bible warns us to make sure we are saved— 2 Corinthians 13:5(HCSB)Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.

Most American churches claim to be saved and have a form of Jesus, but they have religion; not Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Isaiah 59:2 (NET)But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers.

Romans 5:8 (HCSB)But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

According to Romans 5:8, God demonstrated His love for us through the death of His Son. Why did Christ have to die for us? Because Scripture declares all men to be sinful. To “sin” means to miss the mark. The Bible declares “Romans 3:23(NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (the perfect holiness)”. In other words, our sin separates us from God who is perfect holiness and God must therefore judge sinful man. Sin entered in through the fall of Adam,(Romans 5:12When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.)
The doctrine of total depravity is an acknowledgement that the Bible teaches that as a result of the fall of man (Genesis 3:6) every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. In other words, sin affects all areas of our being including who we are and what we do.

It penetrates to the very core of our being so that everything is tainted by sin and Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)We are all infected and impure with sin.When we display our righteous deeds,they are nothing but filthy rags.” All of our deeds are filthy rags before a holy God. It acknowledges that the Bible teaches that we sin because we are sinners by nature. We are not born “good” you don’t have to teach a child to be bad. You have to teach them how to be good. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

In all the vastness of our world, in all of the diversity of religious beliefs, there are only two essential types of belief for Salvation, works and Grace. There seem to be many differences between the world’s religions, but they are all essentially the same–they all center around human works. All involve human beings accomplishing a task or set of tasks to achieve a goal and receive a reward. The tasks may be different, the goal may have differing names, and the reward may be called many things (Heaven Paradise, Nirvana), but the principle underlying all of them is the same–Quid Pro Quo, which is Latin for “this for that.” In the world’s religions, salvation (righteousness, oneness with the Infinite, perfect nothingness, or whatever is the term in a particular religion) is earned by what one does. Unfortunately, within this group of religions based on human effort are many species of religion that go by the name of Christianity.

True Bible Christianity, however, “the faith once delivered to the saints,” is totally distinct from the world’s religions in this area as in so many others. The thing that makes Christianity far different from all other religions is the concept of Grace. WORKS

GRACE

1.Salvation is 100 percent a work of God–we are unable, because of our bondage to sin and rebellion, to do anything meriting God’s favor.

2. God reaches down to save people–He conceived the plan, He sent His Son to accomplish the plan–He does 100% of the work.

3. When we experience what the Bible calls the New Birth (John 3:3-8), we are then SAVED, we pass from death to life (Eph 2:1-6; John 5:24; 6:40; 6:47).

4. As a part of the gift of Salvation, we become adopted children of God (Gal 3:26(HCSB) for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”

Galatians 4:7(HCSB)“So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

5. When we sin, God deals with us as a Father to a child (Hebrews 12:4-8(HCSB)“In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline — which all receive — then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
6. God’s Grace and actions are the determining factors in our salvation, even to include His working in our lives to develop a lifestyle consistent with salvation. (Eph 2:8-10; Phil. 2:12-13)

The Grace of God is so simple, yet so profound that it is beyond the greatest minds to fully understand. It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, about people getting what they deserve, about “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings. The best simple definition this writer has ever heard for Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

The meaning of Grace behind that simple explanation is one of the most hated teachings in the world because it so totally undermines and removes all traces of human pride. The Doctrine of Grace teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, to help in our salvation, to do anything to merit all or any part of our salvation, or to keep our salvation. We are saved totally as an act of God’s will, and we do not deserve it in any way. Indeed, those that are saved are equally (if not more) deserving of Hell as those who actually go there! This is the most important first principle in understanding Grace–no one in the entire human race deserves any consideration from God, we are all rebels and sinners, and we all deserve Hell. Except for His own redemption plan, God could rightfully have sent the entire human race to eternal punishment long ago!

The description Paul gives of believers before salvation, fits the entire human race if they are without Christ:

Ephesians 2:1-3(HCSB) 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

In spite of our fitness for wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-10(HCSB) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

What is the meaning of Grace? We were dead spiritually; we were fit for nothing but wrath; we were rebels and in bondage to sin and Satan. In the midst of that condition, God saved us. We exercised faith, which is itself a gift of God (John 6:44-47(HCSB) 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father.47 “I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.), and God blessed us with the greatest possible gift–eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! John 5:24(HCSB) 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

John 6:37(HCSB)Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.

What is more, we can add nothing to Grace. Before we were saved, we had nothing to contribute to the process ( Romans 3:10-11(HCSB) 10 as it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands;there is no one who seeks God.;

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB) 14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually; and During the New Birth experience, we add nothing to it. The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.

You might ask, “If this is all a work of God, where do I fit in the process?” The answer is you must believe, you must exercise faith in Christ for salvation. (Romans 10:9-13(HCSB) 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

Paul and Silas in jail speaking with the jailer

Acts 16:30-31(HCSB)30 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.). This exercise is not a work, however, because is involves no ability on our part and no effort on our part. That is the hard thing to understand about faith–it is not an action, it is a surrender, a throwing up of the hands and saying, “I can do nothing in myself.”

What are we saved from? In the doctrine of salvation, we are saved from God’s wrath, that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9(NLT) And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation)

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NLT)For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.

Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation.

Justification by Faith

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves justification from sin.

What does the term “Justified” mean? The Bible meaning of the word is to be totally blameless and totally guiltless–to be able to stand before God clean and pure in every way. A play on the word helps us to understand its meaning. If I am Justified, it is Just-as-if-I’d never sinned, and Just-as-if-I’d always been holy and done the right things. Remember our helpless position before God–as “children of Wrath,”

Our Father, however, has devised a plan and made a way for us to stand righteous before Him. He has sent His own Son as a Sacrifice on our behalf, (Chapter 5) and those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life, and shall be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

Romans 3:21-24(HCSB)21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This righteousness we receive is imputed righteousness–that is a theological term which means removing the guilt and penalty of sin while at the same time declaring a sinner righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. God legally declares us to be righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross.

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.

Taken together, the concepts of Grace and Justification by Faith show the uniqueness of the Christian doctrine of Salvation. The message of Grace is God Saves Sinners. It is His Plan, it was His Son who died and rose again, it is His Spirit who enlivens the preaching and witness of believers to awaken sinners to their need of salvation and lead them to faith in Christ.

You are no more justified the first day you accepted Christ than the your last day on earth, you may be more sanctified but you are no more justified. A Christian is justified. Romans 5:1 (ESV)“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared.

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, John 10:27-29(HSCB) My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son? Jesus tells us that he gives eternal life to the sheep, the Christians.  He clearly and definitely states that they shall never perish.  There is no qualifier here.  There is no statement such as, “they shall never perish if they remain faithful.”  There is only the clear declaration that they shall never perish.  This inability to perish is a result of the Lord Jesus giving them eternal life.

Furthermore, Jesus says that no one shall snatch them out of his hand, which further emphasizes the idea that those who have eternal life will never perish.  But, can we snatch ourselves out of Jesus’ hand?  No, we can’t because the term “no one” includes the person who is saved.  Therefore, you cannot snatch yourself out of Christ’s hand.

Ephesians 4:30 (HCSB) And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 (HCSB) so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

What sin is so big that Jesus’ death could not atone for it? There is none that I know of. Every sin that man can commit against God and man, even the most heinous was dealt with at the cross of Calvary. If this is so, then what sin can be so bad that it would cause God to “unforgive” that which He has already paid for?

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin.  The Christian is regenerated.  He is changed from within–being made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.)  Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it.  Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches.  1 John 2:4-5 (HCSB) The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him:

Colossians 2:14(HCSB)14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.
This certificate of debt is canceled on the cross not when a person believes. This is crucial to this doctrine because if the sin debt is canceled on the cross, then the sin debt’s cancelling does not depend upon the person’s accepting or rejecting it, and then it become cancelled, otherwise, it would not be canceled on the cross. So, if it’s canceled on the cross, then it’s canceled by the work of God, and God will apply to the redeemed that debt cancellation–when they have faith. If it means that a person ultimately will go to Hell by losing his salvation, then how has the sin debt actually been canceled at the cross?

Salvation is a gift. And therefore, if it is a gift that God gives, it would have to be a gift that God would have to take back. And what would cause Him to take it back? He saved you when you were a lost sinner. Why would He take away your salvation because you fall or stumble or make a mistake or sin?

He’s not going to take your salvation back. He is a giver and He doesn’t take His gifts back. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 11 that “The gifts of God are without repentance.” They’re irrevocable. God doesn’t take His gifts back. And one of those gifts is salvation. And that Scripture is the proof that He won’t take your salvation away from you, because it is a free gift.

The adopting Father chooses the orphan, the orphan does not choose the father. The bible is clear that we were children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3(HCSB) We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. and children of the devil. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. before God chose us as His children. Romans 8:14-17(HCSB) All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

The awesome thing about God is He chose us as His children, then He gives us the tools(Holy Spirit, the Bible, prayer) to draw closer to Him and to keep from sinning and He says He will carry it onto completion.
Philippians 1:6(HCSB)6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Three of the watchwords of the revival of Biblical preaching known as the Reformation were: Sola Fide (Faith alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), and Sola Christi (Christ alone). These Latin terms describe God’s salvation plan in a nutshell–He has done it all, and we can claim no credit for ourselves. The result of this wonderful outpouring of His love is our salvation, and that results further in the fourth watchword: Soli Deo Gloria (The Glory to God alone).

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.