What is the Trinity?

The Bible clearly speaks of: God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. But emphasizes that there is only ONE God.

If we were to use math, it would not be, 1+1+1=3. It would be 1x1x1=1. God is a triune God.•

The Trinity

◦God is three persons.

◦Each person is divine.

◦There is only one God.

Many theologians admit that the term “person” is not a perfect word to describe the three individual aspects/foci found in God.  When we normally use the word person, we understand it to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals.  But in God, there are not three entities nor three beings.  God is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence.  God is numerically one.  Yet, within the single divine essence are three individual subsistences that we call persons.

•Each of the three persons is completely divine in nature though each is not the totality of the Godhead.

•Each of the three persons is not the other two persons.

•Each of the three persons is related to the other two but are distinct from them.

The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, but this does not mean that the concept is not taught there.  The word “bible” is not found in the Bible either, but we use it anyway.  Likewise, the words “omniscience,” which means “all-knowing,” “omnipotence,” which means “all-powerful,” and “omnipresence,” which means “present everywhere” are not found in the Bible either; but we use these words to describe the attributes of God. So, to say that the Trinity isn’t true because the word isn’t in the Bible is an invalid argument.

Thus the term: “Tri” meaning three, and “Unity” meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity.

The most difficult thing about the Christian concept of the Trinity is that there is no way to perfectly and completely understand it. The Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain. God is infinitely greater than we are; therefore, we should not expect to be able to fully understand Him. The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. Though we can understand some facts about the relationship of the different Persons of the Trinity to one another, ultimately, it is incomprehensible to the human mind. However, this does not mean the Trinity is not true or that it is not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. The Bible speaks of the Father as God (Philippians 1:2), Jesus as God (Titus 2:13), and the Holy Spirit as God (Acts 5:3–4). Are these just three different ways of looking at God, or simply ways of referring to three different roles that God plays?

The answer must be no, because the Bible also indicates that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons. For example, since the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16), He cannot be the same person as the Son. Likewise, after the Son returned to the Father (John 16:10), the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world (John 14:26; Acts 2:33). Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be distinct from the Father and the Son.

In the baptism of Jesus, we see the Father speaking from heaven and the Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove as Jesus comes out of the water (Mark 1:10–11). In John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. it is affirmed that Jesus is God and, at the same time, that He was “with God,” thereby indicating that Jesus is a distinct Person from God the Father John 1:18(HCSB)No one has ever seen God.The One and Only Son—the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him.. And in John 16:13–15(HCSB)13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you. we see that although there is a close unity between them all, the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and the Son.

Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father

Romans 8:34(HCSB)Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised;He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

Acts 7:55-56(HCSB)55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

Ephesians 1:20(HCSB)20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—

Colossians 3:1(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 8:1(HCSB)Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

Hebrews 10:12-15(HCSB)12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He says:

Hebrews 12:2(HCSB)2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

1 Peter 3:22(HCSB) Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

Matthew 22:44(HCSB)The Lord declared to my Lord,‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet’?

Acts 2:33(HCSB)33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear.

The fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons means, in other words, that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. Jesus is God, but He is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, but He is not the Son or the Father. They are different Persons, not three different ways of looking at God.

Sometimes the Personhood of the Father and Son is appreciated, but the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is neglected. Sometimes the Spirit is treated more like a “force” than a Person. But the Holy Spirit is not an it, but a He

John 14:26(HCSB)26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 16:7–15(HCSB)7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. 8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an impersonal force (like gravity), is also shown by the fact that He speaks Hebrews 3:7-10(HCSB)7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, 8  do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,and saw My works 10 for 40 years.Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.”, reasons Acts 15:28(HCSB)28 For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: thinks and understands (1 Corinthians 2:10–11(HCSB)10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts[b] of God except the Spirit of God., wills (1 Corinthians 12:11(HCSB)11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills., feels Ephesians 4:30(HCSB)30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption., and gives personal fellowship (2 Corinthians 13:14(HCSB)13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

These are all qualities of personhood. In addition to these texts, the others we mentioned above make clear that the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Personhood of the Son and the Father. They are three real persons, not three roles God plays.

Another serious error people have made is to think that the Father became the Son, who then became the Holy Spirit. Contrary to this, the passages we have seen imply that God always was and always will be three Persons. There was never a time when one of the Persons of the Godhead did not exist. They are all eternal.

While the three members of the Trinity are distinct, this does not mean that any is inferior to the other. Instead, they are all identical in attributes. They are equal in power, love, mercy, justice, holiness, knowledge, and all other qualities.

The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods. Keep in mind when studying this subject that the word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture. This is a term that is used to attempt to describe the triune God—three coexistent, co-eternal Persons who make up God. Of real importance is that the concept represented by the word “Trinity” does exist in Scripture. The following is what God’s Word says about the Trinity:

1) There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2) The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun “Elohim” is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word “Elohim” and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for “God,” “Elohim,” definitely allows for the Trinity.

The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15(HCSB)12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.

2 Peter 1:21(HCSB)21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.; salvation ; Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.;

1 Peter 1:2(HCSB)2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

and Jesus’ works Isaiah 61:1(HCSB)The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;; Acts 10:38(HCSB)38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him.. Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If there is one passage which most clearly brings all of this together, it is Matthew 28:19(ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” First, notice that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinguished as distinct Persons. We baptize into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second, notice that each Person must be deity because they are all placed on the same level. In fact, would Jesus have us baptize in the name of a mere creature? Surely not. Therefore each of the Persons into whose name we are to be baptized must be deity. Third, notice that although the three divine Persons are distinct, we are baptized into their name (singular), not names (plural). The three Persons are distinct, yet only constitute one name. This can only be if they share one essence.

“Do I have to believe in the Trinity to be saved?” The answer is yes and no. Does a person have to fully understand and agree with every aspect of Trinitarianism to be saved? No. Are there some aspects of Trinitarianism that play key roles in salvation? Yes. For example, the deity of Christ is crucially important to the doctrine of salvation. If Jesus is not God, His death could not have paid the infinite penalty of sin. Only God is infinite—He had no beginning, and He has no end. All other creatures, including angels, are finite; they were created at some point. Only the death of an infinite Being could atone for the sin of mankind throughout eternity. If Jesus is not God, He could not be the Savior, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world John 1:29(HCSB)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!. An unbiblical view of Jesus’ divine nature results in an errant view of salvation. Every “Christian” cult that denies the true deity of Christ also teaches that we must add our own works to Christ’s death in order to be saved. The true and full deity of Christ, an aspect of Trinitarianism, refutes this concept.

In conclusion;

1. The Trinity is not belief in three gods. There is only one God, and we must never stray from this.

2. This one God exists as three Persons.

3. The three Persons are not each part of God, but are each fully God and equally God. Within God’s one undivided being there is an unfolding into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three Persons. The distinctions within the Godhead are not distinctions of His essence and neither are they something added onto His essence, but they are the unfolding of God’s one, undivided being into three interpersonal relationships such that there are three real Persons.

4. God is not one person who took three consecutive roles. That is the heresy of modalism. The Father did not become the Son and then the Holy Spirit. Instead, there have always been and always will be three distinct persons in the Godhead.

5. The Trinity is not a contradiction because God is not three in the same way that He is one. God is one in essence, three in Person.

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Who is Jesus? Pt4 Jesus is Lord

Psalm 16:1-2(HCSB)Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.2 I said to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”

I believe the apostles of the Bible had a deeper understanding of the concept of Lordship than we do and yet they addressed Jesus as their Lord, or their Lord and Savior. They were all from a culture that understood that to refer to someone as their Lord meant that the Lord was their master, or owner, or supreme authority and that their only function was to serve their Lord.

In our society today, especially in our Western culture, we do not want anyone to Lord it over us. After all, we are free and independent people. We must prefer Jesus to be our Savior because that appeals to us — to be saved from the consequences of our sins — it is very humanistic. What is really difficult is to say that Jesus is Lord in our lives and really mean it and live it. Not just say it as a Christian slogan.

This question gives us great insight into your own relationship with Jesus. WHO DO YOU SAY THAT JESUS IS?

Do you call Him Lord in your own life? If so, what are the implications of the confession that Jesus is Lord?

Have you bowed your knee to Him and submitted your life to Him as Lord, or Master and Supreme Ruler, of your life?Philippians 2:8-11(HCSB)He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9  For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lordship was at the very heart of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. Paul makes this clear in Romans 14:8-9(HCSB)8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living.

When the lordship of Jesus is a settled issue in the Christian’s life, all other issues are settled.  It is my privilege and responsibility to teach the members of my congregation what the Bible says about serving God; witnessing and soul winning; stewardship of time, talent, and treasure; faithfulness to God’s work; missions; and many other aspects of Christian responsibility. I contend that if the Christian has settled the lordship issue, then all other issues in his life are also settled. When Jesus is Lord of a person’s life, he will fulfill his duties, obligations, and responsibilities with joy.

S.M. Zwemer makes a sobering statement about the lordship of Jesus Christ: “Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”This is a challenge to all Christians to bring every area of our lives under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. In our lives there should be no rivalry for His throne.

If someone confesses “Jesus is Lord” but doesn’t actually submit to his “power and authority,” they are contradicting themselves. Their confession is meaningless. It’s like confessing “lego tv phone cartoon” or “round square” or “sav la sav sav la sav”” – or, just remaining silent.

No wonder Jesus asked,Luke 6:46(HCSB)46 “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? He’s pointing out that people who do this are simply saying ” sav la sav sav la sav”

We have seen that Christ is the most-often-used title for Jesus in the New Testament. The second-most-frequent designation for Him is Lord. So important is this title to the biblical understanding of Jesus that it became an integral part of the earliest Christian creed, the simple statement, “Jesus is Lord.” Lord is the most exalted title conferred on Jesus.

Sometimes it is difficult for people in the United States to grasp the full significance of the title Lord. ”

“The concept of lordship invested in one individual is repugnant to the American tradition, yet the New Testament boldly makes this claim for Jesus, asserting that absolute sovereign authority and imperial power are vested in Him.”

“Perhaps the most striking aspect of the title Lord was its relationship to the Old Testament. The Greek translation of the Old Testament used the word kurios to translate the Hebrew word adonai, a title used for God. The sacred name of God, Yahweh, was unspoken, often replaced in the liturgy of Israel with another word. When a substitute was used for the ineffable name of God, the usual selection was adonai, a title that called attention to God’s absolute rule over the earth.”

“The title Lord is so central to the life of the New Testament Christian community that the English word church derives from it. The Greek word for church is ekklesia, which is brought over into English in the word ecclesiastical.

Early Christians were martyred because they refused to confess Caesar as lord. They knew that Jesus alone is divine and would have no one usurp His status. These Christians knew the New Testament is not merely being polite when it calls Jesus “Lord”; rather, it is teaching that Jesus is God Almighty. Idols of sex, money, power, prestige, and so on can become lords if we are not careful; therefore, let us always confess that Jesus Christ alone is Lord.

In the New Testament, Lord is the most frequently used title for Jesus Christ. Although we rarely use this term in our daily lives, we are all quite familiar with another word: boss. That is basically what Lord means—one possessing authority, power, and control. The Word of God describes Jesus as the head of the church, the ruler over all creation, and the Lord of lords and King of kings Colossians 1:15–18(HCSB)15 He is the image of the invisible God,the firstborn over all creation.16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything

Revelation 17:14(HCSB)14 These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

The realm of Christ’s reign covers everything that happens in heaven and on the earth. No one—not even those who deny His existence—can be free of His rule or outside His sphere of authority. Although Satan tries to convince us that liberty is found in doing what we want, true freedom is acquired only through submission to Christ’s loving lordship.

Even death cannot release anyone from the authority of God’s Son. He is Lord of both the living and the dead. All people must decide to either yield or rebel against Him, but they have the opportunity to make this choice only while they are still living. After death, they will acknowledge Christ’s lordship through accountability to Him. If we have not bowed the knee to Jesus in life, we will be forced to bend it in the judgment.

A popular but terribly misguided notion is that Jesus can be your Savior without being Lord. Perhaps you’ve even thought this way: I’m trusting in Jesus to forgive my sins; later in life I’ll make Him Lord. That thinking is false—nobody makes Jesus Lord. He is Lord. The question is whether you will bow your knee to Him willingly in this life or forcefully  in the next life Philippians 2:10–11so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. 11 And everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and bring glory to God the Father. He doesn’t just want to forgive you and escort you to heaven. He wants to live through you and change you on the way.

So what does it mean to experience Jesus Christ as Lord of your life? It means you are yielding to His rule over every area of your life. He is . . .

Lord of your conduct. Jesus wants His desires and His will to rule over your actions, your words and feelings—your very character.

Lord of your relationships. Jesus wants to preside over your dating relationship or how you treat your spouse. He wants to rule over the way you parent. Jesus wants to be Lord over every interaction with business associates. All your relationships should yield to His rule.

Lord of your time. What should you do with your available time? How should you invest your life? If you want to live a life of purpose, you need to be about more than just flipping pages on the calendar. Jesus wants His priorities to be yours.

Lord of your talents. When you become a Christian, you are given some unique gifts; they are supernatural abilities intended to build God’s kingdom. Jesus wants to be Lord of the talents He gave you—whether those are gifts of music, teaching, mercy, helping, etc. Jesus wants to rule over how you invest those gifts in His kingdom.

Lord of your treasure. According to Christ, Matthew 6:21(HCSB)21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Jesus doesn’t care about the cash that’s burning a hole in your wallet. He cares about your money because He knows that until He has what you have, He doesn’t have you. When you surrender all you have to the lordship of Jesus, He gives it back so you can use it for Him. And He wants you to experience the joy in that.

Have you embraced Jesus as Lord? Nothing in your life will ever make sense until this does. If you ever wonder, What is life really about? How shall I invest my life?—here is your answer. Everything flows from this: Jesus Christ as Lord.

For Jesus to be Lord of your life means that He is the ruler, the boss, the master of your whole life. He cannot be Lord of a part – He must be given control of the entire life – the whole life.

When thinking about the whole life of a person, we must think of various parts that make up a person. Paul wrote,1 Thessalonians 5:23(HCSB)23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul makes it plain that the whole person is made up of spirit, soul, and body. A person has an inner, private, unseen-to-the-natural-eye aspect of life and he has an outer, visible, and public life that is seen and heard by those with whom he comes in contact day by day. Jesus desires to be Lord of the seen and the unseen, the visible and the invisible, the private aspects of our life and the public aspects of our life. He wants to be Lord of our spiritual life and of our physical life.

The inner sanctuary, the spirit and soul, contains the mind, the emotion, and the will. It is in our spirit and soul that we think, feel, choose, decide, dream, and plan. Battles are fought and won or lost on the battleground of our private life. Is Jesus Lord over this area of your life?

In Proverbs 4:23(HCSB)Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.

Don’t underestimate the importance of our private life. Although more attention is often given to the physical body, our true spiritual health is determined by the spirit and soul – not the body.

The outward life expresses the inner life. The outward life involves our eyes, our ears, our lips, our hands, our feet, our entire body. Our public life is expressed by what we see, what we say, what we hear, where we go, and what we do. It is so important that Jesus be Lord over our public life.

We need to see the public life in the context of home life, the workplace, the classroom, and the neighborhood. We need to see it in its relationship with friends, family, work colleagues, neighbors, and classmates. We need to see it in its attitude toward possessions, obligations, and responsibilities, and the use of time and resources.

What must a person do in order for Jesus Christ to be Lord of his life?  The easy answer is, “Surrender your life to Him.” This involves taking your hands off the controls of your life and allowing Him to be in control.

Such an important question requires more than a surface answer. For Jesus to become Lord of a person’s life involves absolute and total surrender. Remember, if He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. Have you yielded keys to every room in your life? Does He have the key to every room in your private life? Does He have the key to every room in your physical/ public life? Is there a room marked “private – keep out?” If so, you must be willing to surrender that key to the Lord.

There is a second element to yielding our lives to the Lord. In addition to absolute surrender, there must also be an acknowledgment of His ownership. Paul addressed the subject of ownership in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

We are not our own. We were bought at a price. We belong to Jesus. We are His purchased possession. When a person yields to the lordship of Jesus Christ, he or she acknowledges His ownership and gives up his or her personal rights.

Yielding to the lordship of Jesus Christ also involves total and unreserved obedience. If He is the Lord of your life, you are going to do what He tells you to do.

If asked what was the most important word in the Christian vocabulary, I would say, “Obedience.” We move forward in our spiritual growth in direct proportion to our obedience to the revealed truth of God’s Word.

In the account of Elijah’s response to God in 1 Kings 17 and 18. The Word of the Lord came to Elijah, and he did what God told him to do. Several times God spoke and Elijah obeyed. As a result of his obedience, Elijah was used in a powerful way to exalt God’s name.  His response to God’s Word was always immediate and exact. He did precisely what God told him to do as soon as God told him to do it. Remember that delayed obedience is the same as disobedience. Lordship involves obedience.

2 Corinthians 4:1-5(HCSB)Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

Jesus is more powerful and has more authority than all the most powerful people on earth. If we declare him to be our Lord, our obvious appropriate response to him is to obey him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The evidence of having received Jesus as our Lord is our obedience to him. Perhaps that is why the author of Hebrews said, Hebrews 5:9(ESV)9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,. Jesus implied as much when he said, John 14:24(HCSB)24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. Jesus raised an important question:Luke 6:46(HCSB)46 “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? Are you doing what the Lord has instructed you to do? Are you doing it immediately and exactly? Are you obeying God?

Matthew 7:21-23(HCSB)21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!

Time Talents and Treasures

Where are you spending your time, talent and treasures on?

Time –  Are we valuing the things of God with our time? or for selfish pleasure? Ephesians 5:15-16(HCSB)15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

There is no doubt that the responsibilities and pressures of this world scream for our attention. The myriad of things pulling us in different directions makes it all too easy for our time to get swallowed up in mundane, lesser matters. Those endeavors which have eternal value, then, often get relegated to the back burner. To avoid losing focus, we need to prioritize and set goals.

We need to place our focus on that which is eternal as opposed to the fleeting pleasures of this passing world. Accordingly, we should move forward with diligence and divine purpose as the courses of our lives progress toward God’s ultimate goal. We are to accomplish as much as we can with the time He has given us. We will be eternally rewarded for investing our time in good works. We should live as if each minute counts – because it really does.

If we want to honor God with our time, we have to realize that our time is not our own, it is God’s time. Unfortunately, we too often think that our time is ours to do whatever we wish with it. If we want to work, we can do that, if we want to watch television, we can do that, if we want to waste it doing nothing, we can do that. If we want to go do things we know are wrong we can do that. If we feel like coming to church, we can do that too. Certainly God has given us this freedom of choice, but God teaches us through the Bible tells us that nothing we have is our own, it is God’s.
Psalm 24:1(HCSB)The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord;

Talents – are we using our talents for advancing the Kingdom or for pleasure and selfish gain? The gifts we have received are not ours alone. God gave them to us for the purpose of serving Him and serving other people. Romans 12:4-8(HCSB)4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts.If prophecy,use it according to the standard of one’s faith;7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8  if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity;leading, with diligence;showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

In His Parable of the Talents, Jesus taught that we must use our gifts wisely. A talent was a very large sum of money, about 80 pounds (36 kg) of silver. Before leaving on a journey, a wealthy man entrusted his fortune to his servants for the time he would be away. Two of the servants used the money wisely to earn income for their master. However, the third servant did not put the money to good use, and the master was very displeased. Here is the parable:

Matthew 25:14-(HCSB)14 “For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents;[c] to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately 16 the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. 17 In the same way the man with two earned two more. 18 But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’

21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

22 “Then the man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. Look, I’ve earned two more talents.’

23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’

24 “Then the man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy slave! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, 27 then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest.

28 “‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 30 And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The master represents God in this parable, and the servants represent us. The English word talent, meaning our natural abilities, is derived from this parable. That is fitting because the lesson of the parable is that we must use our talents and abilities, as well as our wealth, in God’s service. If we do not use our gifts wisely, God will consider us to be wicked and lazy like the third man in the parable.

It would seem that the more we give to others, the poorer we become, but just the opposite is true! Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions and self-centered pursuits can never match. As Jesus said,Luke 6:38(HCSB)38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Treasure – are putting our treasure in advancing the kingdom of God or our own Kingdom?
Matthew 6:21(HCSB)21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 25:31-46(HCSB)31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35
For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 

I was naked and you clothed Me;

I was sick and you took care of Me;

I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

42 

For I was hungry

and you gave Me nothing to eat;

I was thirsty

and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43 

I was a stranger

and you didn’t take Me in;

I was naked

and you didn’t clothe Me,

sick and in prison

and you didn’t take care of Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Proverbs 3:9(HCSB)Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; 10  then your barns will be completely filled,and your vats will overflow with new wine.

God does not condemn anyone for having riches. Riches come to people from many sources, but He gives grave warnings to those who seek after them more than they seek after God and trust in them more than in God. His greatest desire is for us to set our hearts on things above and not on things on this earth.

Luke 12:42-48(HCSB)42 The Lord said: “Who then is the faithful and sensible manager his master will put in charge of his household servants to give them their allotted food at the proper time? 43 That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded. 44 I tell you the truth: He will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and starts to beat the male and female slaves, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 that slave’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and didn’t prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten. 48 But the one who did not know and did things deserving of blows will be beaten lightly. Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.

Trials in the Wilderness

Why  did  God  make wilderness  places  anyway? Certainly, without them it would be difficult for us to appreciate trees and green pastures. God also knew that the wilderness is an ideal place to test his people and to help them learn  faith and endurance.

We don’t do a good job as Christian believers telling unbelievers that sometimes, even with Jesus, life is hard. We like to tell them, “Life is hard. Give your life to Jesus. Everything will be better, then you go to heaven.” We forget to tell them about the middle called life. Life is hard. You meet Jesus and it gets harder, and then it gets better when you see Him after death or when He comes back which ever comes first. The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more opposition you receive, just as Jesus received opposition.

Since the wilderness is a common experience of our faith, we need to learn about it and especially we need to learn the rules of spiritual survival in this wilderness. We might ask the question, when are we most likely to  experience the wilderness? Strangely, these experiences often come on the heels of great spiritual breakthroughs.The children of Israel were just miraculously delivered through the sea as they escaped from Pharaoh and Egypt. They had also just received the law and had experienced the very presence of the Living God in smoke and fire. Very soon after their mountain-top experience they had to wander in the wilderness. Many centuries later, after Jesus was baptized and after He heard the voice of God speaking to Him from  heaven He was led into the desert to be tempted by the devil forty days and forty nights. Mark 1:9-12(HCSB)In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You! 12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.

What can the wilderness do for us?  It can make us rugged, tough, and strong in faith. It can cause us to develop endurance and to acquire maturity.

James 1:2-4(HCSB)2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Joshua and Caleb were survivors  of  the forty-year wilderness journey. In Joshua 14, Joshua had the strength and maturity to lead Israel into the land and to gain victory over a numerous and well-armed nation of people. Caleb, at age 85, was able to take the mountain of Hebron and drive out the giants who had lived there for centuries. There were many other examples in Israel’s history of wilderness experiences.  David was a man that spent many years in the wilderness in caves and hide-outs. Much of the Book of Psalms was written as a result of his sufferings in the wilderness. Elijah was another person who spent time in the wilderness right after the epic showdown between himself and the prophets of Baal,

1 Kings 19:1-5(HCSB)Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!”

3 Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, 4 but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.”, and so was  John  the Baptist who was referred to as “…a voice of one calling in the wilderness…
 Matthew 3:3(HCSB)3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!

Then there was Jesus, coming  directly out of the wilderness to begin his ministry in Galilee.  Not only does the wilderness breed character; it also breeds humility.  When Moses lived in Egypt the was a man mighty in word and deed. Acts 7:22(HCSB)22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his speech and actions.

However, when God finished with him with many years in the wilderness, Moses was unable to talk and had to have Aaron go along as his spokesman.
Exodus 4:13-16(HCSB)13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.” 14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and He said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help[g] both you and him to speak and will teach you both what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him.

God humbled him and he became the meekest man on earth.

Numbers 12:3(HCSB)3 Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth. Therefore, God  was able to do mighty things through him. God desires to break down our self-indulged life in exactly this way so that He can get the glory.

The  wilderness can be a lonely place. Many of us try to escape the wilderness and God’s plan of testing for our lives. The challenge of the wilderness is that we don’t control it. We can throw a hissy fit and it will not go away. In fact, the wilderness feels like it will last forever… as though God really has forsaken us. The reality of the wilderness from Job to Joseph to Jesus to Paul is that it does not last forever. It is a season, quite often a short one. The healthiest response is to receive the wilderness as part of our assignment from Jesus and allow it to have its effect on our character and faith. The wilderness deepens our hearts in maturity in a way that success cannot.

The wilderness can feel like it will last forever. The greatest danger of going through a season in the wilderness is building a thought process that suggests it’s normal, permanent and hopeless. The wilderness is a season, not a way of life. It produces a fruit and serves a purpose and then comes to an end. It is only the devil who would like to convince us that the wilderness is permanent.

The wilderness with all its testing is precious 1 Peter 1:6-7(HCSB)6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. When we think back over all those trials, it often brings  tears to our eyes. It softens our hearts. It is such a vital part  of the salvation experience, and it deeply affects the way we relate to and minister to others.

3 THINGS GOD DOES SAY ABOUT TRIALS

James 1:2-4(HCSB)2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. What he does say is that life is sometimes hard. “Consider it all joy.” “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you experience various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

1. YOU ARE GOING TO GET TRIALS

Three things he says. “Whenever you experience various trials” He doesn’t say “if.” You’re going to get trials. A hundred percent. New Christians, don’t be shocked by this. “Oh my gosh, a trial came. Christianity isn’t working.” No, it’s working. James starts there. Welcome to Christianity 101. It’s going to hurt when trials come.

So, point number one, when trials come, don’t say, “God, how come, where, why? I don’t understand. What? I had no idea. Had I known this, I would have—what, what?” God says, “No, I told you they’re coming.” Some of you are in them right now. Some of you see the clouds on the horizon.

2. KNOW THIS: IT’S A TEST AND AN OPPORTUNITY

“When the trials come, know this.” It’s very strong. “Know this.” Don’t forget this. Hold this truth in your hand. Cling to it. Here’s your life vest, right? Like, keep it close. Know this: when a trial comes, it’s a test. A test can be a good or a bad thing. It depends on how good you are at taking the test. If you pass the test, it’s actually really encouraging. How many of you have taken a test, maybe even in school? You’re like, “I took the test. It was a little stressful. I got a good grade. That was pretty awesome.” Life is filled with tests, spiritual tests. A trial is a test.

Here’s what it means: it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to prove who you are in Christ, to see who you’re becoming in Christ. When it first hits, a trial feels like an attack. And he says, “I want you to know this. It’s a test.” and whether you fail the test or pass the test you will learn something from it. Sometimes we learn when we pass it and sometimes we learn after we fail it to never do that again.

3. YOU WILL GET TRIALS OF VARIOUS KINDS

The trials are of various kinds. Financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, relational, marital, vocational. Various. He says, “experience various trials.” You know what this means? You don’t know where it’s coming from next. It could be coming from anywhere. Any aspect of your whole life, a trial could come from there. And they don’t always come one at a time.

How many of you have noticed that? Ouch, ouch, ouch, hey! various trials. And sometimes what happens is, you get through a trial in one area of your life, you’re like, “Glad that’s over,” and then there’s a trial in another area of life. I got my finances in order, and then my relationship fell apart. Now I’m in another trial.

The thing about trials is that it is supposed to produce, pain. Many of us do not like pain,I say that because some may and y’all are freaks. Pain is God’s way of telling us there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. But we humans do not like pain so we try to numb the pain instead of fixing it and thats where addictions come into play.

DON’T COMPARE TRIALS

Do not compare your trials with other people’s. See, some of you, you have great wisdom and experience in some areas and other people have other wisdom and experience in other areas. So, some of you, let’s say, financially, you’ve got a lot of experience and wisdom. If a financial trial comes into your life, you have some wisdom on what to do with that.

Some of you are like, “I don’t know, finances So, when it comes to balancing a budget and setting my finances, I feel very overwhelmed very quickly.” Well, it’s not fair for this person to say, “That’s not a big deal. That’s just a little trial.” It’s a very big deal to them.

On the other hand, this person might have an enormous emotional capacity and a large capacity for relationships, trauma, and drama, and this other person might have a spoonful. Well, it’s not fair for this person to say, “Well, hey, come on, just roll with it. You need to be, you know, more emotionally present and compassionate.” They’re like, I like numbers, not people.”

We’re all different. We get various kinds of trials. And God doesn’t cause evil to come upon us, but he’ll use evil for our good and his glory. And sometimes God allows a trial to come in in our area of weakness. And so what’s hard for you is easy for someone else, and the same is true on the other hand.

STEADFASTNESS & MATURITY

So, he’s telling us that trials will come. We need to know that they are a test and that we shouldn’t compare our trials to others. And ultimately if we’ll avail ourselves to them, it could produce two things: steadfastness and maturity.

Steadfastness is this perseverance, this fortitude. The Bible uses the language elsewhere of, “Stand firm.” It’s like a command to a soldier, “Hold your post.” Steadfastness. You endure, you persevere, you weather the storm, you make it through, you don’t give up, you don’t give in. And he says, “If you will receive it as a trial, a test, and an opportunity, and produce steadfastness, then it’ll result in maturity.”

What this means is you’ll become more godly, you’ll become more like Jesus. The trial will be used to transform you. OK, how many of you want to be more like Jesus? How many of you want a trial? OK? Just so you know, they’re the same question. Right, it’s like, “I want to be buff without working out. I want to learn a lot without reading books.” It doesn’t work that way. Cause, effect; reap, sow. Steadfastness produces maturity.

The reason why some of you are immature is because you have no steadfast.

But if you have a hard relationship and quit, and have another hard relationship and quit, and have a hard job and quit, and have another hard job and quit, and go to a church and have a conflict and quit, and go to another church and have a conflict and quit, you know what you don’t do? Mature, because you don’t have endurance. Paul says it this way: “Endurance produces”—what? Character. Romans 5:2-4(HCSB)2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
James is saying the same thing. Endurance produces maturity. What that means is your godliness is not in spite of your problem or around your problem, it’s what God will do in and through you through your problem. And he says, “I need you to know this so that when you’re in the middle of it, you receive it as an opportunity from God and not an obstacle.”

Maybe what’s happening to you isn’t good, but God is. That’s James’ next point. So, his first point is that life is sometimes hard. And then he says, “But God is always good.” And this is foundational. James 1:5-8(HCSB)5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways., “If any of you lacks wisdom.” OK, let’s just stop right there. Raise your hand if you lack wisdom, OK? Anyone who didn’t raise their hand really lacks wisdom.

God’s asking, “Does anybody need help?” “Ask God, who gives generously to all.” That includes you and me. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. “Without reproach, and it will be given to him.” There’s a promise. Tie your joy to that.

But let him ask in faith, without doubting, for the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord; An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” He says, “When a trial comes, it’s like a storm.”

So all of a sudden, he wants our imagination to set sail out on the sea. He says, “Now think of a storm, like the one that Jesus and his disciples were in out on the lake.” What happens in a storm is the clouds roll in, it gets dark, you can’t see land. You don’t know where safety is because it’s not near. All of a sudden, everything becomes very unpredictable and violent, things become unstable and uncertain, and you feel unsafe. And now it feels like forces that are far beyond your control are in control of you, which means you feel out of control. It’s anxious; it’s stressful.

He says, “When those storms come”—how many of you are in a storm? Not just normal life storm. How many of you came through one not too long ago? How many of you are fearful because you see one on the horizon? He says, “When that happens, you need wisdom.”

There’s a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is not bad, but knowledge is not enough. Knowledge is knowing the truth, wisdom is knowing what to do with it. Knowledge is theoretical; wisdom is practical. Knowledge fills your mind; wisdom guides your life. Knowledge is truthful; wisdom is useful. Knowledge provides information, wisdom provides transformation. Knowledge tells you what to believe, and wisdom tells you how to behave. You can have knowledge without wisdom, but you can’t have wisdom without knowledge. That’s why wisdom has very little to do with your IQ. There are smart people who make dumb decisions.

Don’t make a dumb decision today, use wisdom today and repent. There is salvation for you, there is the complete forgiveness of sin, but you need to make a pathway through the wilderness of your heart, a pathway of true repentance and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation can’t come from man.  If we’re ever to be delivered from sin, if there’s ever to be comfort for anybody, any sinner, the Lord has to bring it Isaiah said, the Lord is coming.  But tell them this before He comes, there will be a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”  Before the Lord comes there’ll come a prophet pointing to Him and that’s John.  John’s the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3-4(HCSB)3 A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. 4  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain.

 

And what did John say?  He came along and preached forgiveness of sin. According to Matthew 3:1-3(HCSB)In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!, he said there’s forgiveness. Your sins can be forgiven. Your sins have been paid for. Your warfare is over.  I’m telling you there is forgiveness.  But if you want that forgiveness it calls for repentance, it calls for repentance that’s deep. You say, “What’s that all about?”  Well look back at verse 3. It was written in the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 40, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” we know that’s John, he’s telling people make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight, get His path ready.  And Isaiah and here, of course, in John’s case and Luke, they’re using an analogy.  If a king is going to come to a town or a village, he would send a herald or a forerunner ahead a few months and say you’ve got to get ready, the king is coming, you’ve got to make the road ready so he can come with ease and dignity into your city.  That’s what John did.  He said the King is coming, Messiah’s coming, you’ve got to get ready and ready means you can…you need to have your sins forgiven and that calls for repentance and a deep repentance that even acknowledges you’re outside the covenant. But John is saying to them, look, if you want to be ready to receive the King as a nation, it starts with individual repentance..  And repentance is described in the analogy.

 

How do you make ready the way of the Lord?  How do you make His paths straight so He has access?  How do you do that?  Well, you take the low places, the ravines, you bring them up.  You take the high places, you bring them down.  You take the crooked places, you just straighten them out.  You take the rough places, you smooth them over.

 

What’s he talking about?  Well let’s just make it simple.  The wilderness here is your heart. The voice is crying in the wilderness, “Get the pathway through the wilderness ready.”  The wilderness is really the heart.  It’s the sinful heart, the sinful mind through which a path must be made.  And that path is the path of repentance.  And this is a magnificent analogy of what repentance is like.  Here’s where it starts.  Every ravine shall be filled up.  What’s that?  Low places, comparable to the low, dark, hidden things of the heart.

 

See, repentance involves an honest dealing with the depths of wickedness in your heart and mine.  You’ve got to go down deep into the ugly muck of your sinful life and bring it up.  And then he says, “Every mountain and hill shall be brought low.”  You know, we are not only good at hiding the filth down low, but we are really good at elevating themselves in self-righteous ways.  You’ve got to… You’ve got to knock down the proud, haughty, self-righteous attitudes.

And then you’ve got to take the crooked places and straighten them out.  That’s the word skolios, from which we get scoliosis, which is a curvature, the devious, the deceitful, the lying, the perverse.

 

So you’ve got to dig deep into the filth of the hidden things.  You’ve got to go high and pull down your pride and self-righteousness.  Then you’ve got to deal with all the perverse, devious, deceptions of the heart.The wilderness shows us where  the low and the highs are.

And then he says, “And the rough roads smooth.” What’s that?  I’ll tell you. Anything that…anything that’s laying out there on the road of repentance.  Could be self-love, could be love of money, could be love of the world, could be lust of the flesh, could be indifference, could be apathy, could be unbelief, any of that.

 

You want to get the path ready through the wilderness of your heart?  Then repent and that means deal with the deep, base, hidden, secret, dark, low things.  That means deal with the pride of your life; bring it all down to where it needs to be.  Deal with the deception, the perversity, the wickedness, the devious elements and everything else, all the junk laying out there in your life that needs to be wiped clean.

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.

Revival Life Church 102815 Apologetics Catholicism & Mardi Gras Pt 2

The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions, yes, the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman Empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the Roman world for centuries. However, another result was the most dominant form of Christianity apostatizing from the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the true proclamation of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 4:3–4(ESV) declares, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Purpose of the Church pt 3

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

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

1. Teach Biblical Doctrine

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

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

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

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

3. The 2 Ordinances (Baptism and Communion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does Baptism Save???

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

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

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

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

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

We don’t believe that baptism saves.

Here’s what Paul says in

Ephesians 2:8–10(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. and it’s all about salvation, forgiveness of sins, relationship with God, eternal life with God. “For you are saved by grace by grace—” How are we saved? By grace from Jesus, the Jesus who’s God, the Jesus who lived without sin, the Jesus who died for our sin, the Jesus who was buried, the Jesus who rose from the grave, the Jesus that we’re remembering in baptism. That Jesus. Grace from him. Undeserved gift, unmerited favor, unexplainable love. That’s our Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repent & Be Baptized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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