Love

cropped-ocean.jpgWe are called to love one another. Jesus says this is how men will know we are His disciples.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

The two greatest commandments He says (paraphrasing) are to love God with everything and love everyone else as ourselves. No one does either. We disobey God showing we can’t love Him as He commands and hence we can’t truly love neighbor. But Jesus fulfilled this and by His love we can love.

Repent and believe the good news.

 

 

Truth! Do We Believe?

February 7th sermon at IBC
Sermon title: Truth! Do we believe?

I recently had the opportunity to preach my first sermon.  It was an honor to be asked by my good friend Pastor Luke Fraser at Island Baptist Church in Beach haven, NJ.  I wanted to share the video along with my written notes on this blog.  If you read and watch you will notice there are differences as I had to cut some things out and I might have gone on in other areas in the actual sermon.  In any case may the Lord bless this message.  May His voice be heard.

Introduction
I am a seminary student at Whitefield Theological Seminary. This seminary is named after George Whitefield. He was possibly one the greatest evangelists in church history. I will talk a little more about George Whitefield later.

I came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ August 24, 2012. I remember this because I was watching the movie “Fireproof”on a weekend that I wasn’t sure my wife was coming back home from a trip with her sister. This movie was given to me by a friend who I asked “when do you get divorced?” She told me you don’t and she gave me this movie. In the movie I heard the gospel for the first time. Maybe I heard it before, but I grew up Roman Catholic, and they do not preach the true gospel. (I may touch a bit of that later) I heard it clear in that movie.

Then I broke down on my floor and on my knees and cried to God. I cried He would change me. He did. He changed me to start to become a better husband, father, and man. But that was not the goal of His change. The goal and His purpose of change in me was to allow me to have a new heart to receive the gospel. To receive the message that I was a sinner who needed a savior and the only savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. I have never been the same since that day as God began to make me into the image of His Son.

I have since been in pursuit of knowing and loving God more.  I now have Christ as Lord and I have become the guy I used to make fun of. I picked on people who spoke to me about the Bible. I picked on people who posted Scripture on Facebook. And now I’m the guy who posts Scripture and talks of the Lord Jesus and His good news of salvation and the Kingdom.

I am in the Word daily. I watch sermons and read books about God. I can not help but speak of what I have experienced and learned in His Holy special revelation, His Word the Bible. I do not say this to boast in me but to boast of what God has done in me.

That is why I am pursuing more of Him in seminary. I have been given a heart, by the grace of God, to want to know Him more so I can share Him more. There is no other way to explain it then to say that salvation is truly of the Lord and I brought nothing to it but my sin.

God took a blind, deaf, in-prisoned to sin, wretch like me and gave me sight, hearing, and freedom in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. WHAT A GIFT! And if it wasn’t for His grace and His truth in His Word, that leads us to saving knowledge of His Son, there would be no anchor of hope of which we could hold, and it is actually what holds us.

As Warren Wiersbe says “it is the Word of God that does the work of God.” If it wasn’t for the gospel message in the movie “fireproof” I would probably be a lonely, bitter, divorced man. But by God’s sovereign grace, His Word was proclaimed in that film, and the Holy Spirit quickened my heart to receive the message. Now all I want is for others to hear and to be quickened by the Holy Spirit. And the only way that will happen is by God raising up more to be sent. And those being sent need to stand on the message that comes from the mouth of God in His Word.

We have this before us today as the Bible. That is what I want to preach today, and for that matter, everyday. The Truth of God’s Word found in the pages of the Bible.

It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about the world and everything in it, and out of it. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about who we are. It is only in the Bible that we find the truth about Who God is as He exists as the beautiful trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is only in the Bible that we find the Words that make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Bible is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient. As John MacArthur says “the Bible is the only source of divine truth.” The question is, as Christians, do we believe this? That brings me to the title of the sermon.

“Truth! Do we believe?”

What I pray you come away with is a firm answer of “absolutely yes!” What I pray you come away with is an answer to all who ask of the hope in you that starts with Christ as Lord found nowhere else but His Holy Word. What I pray you come away from this with, is more of a desire to know the God, who not only reveals Himself in all of creation so all are without excuse, but speaks to us in the pages of His Holy Scripture. I also pray, Lord do I pray, that if you do not have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit quickens your heart, opens your heart, to receive that knowledge as we expound on His Word and His gospel.

The text today I’d like to start with is
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

I know there is a lot in this Passage to cover, but I just can’t help it sometimes. I love the Word. Let’s set it up. The apostle Paul is writing to Timothy. Timothy is Paul’s young coworker in the faith. Paul calls him his child in the faith in 1 Timothy and here, in this epistle, his “beloved child.” This is obviously someone the apostle has spent much time with and has a fatherly affection for. This letter is written by the apostle Paul while he is in prison in Rome and Timothy is in Ephesus. This is the second of two letters we have of Paul writing Timothy. The first addresses false teaching and holy living brought about by the true gospel. This second letter focuses on persevering through suffering, while it still addresses false teaching. Paul focus on perseverance also attests to where he is at this point, awaiting death in prison. And the apostle focuses on the Word of God in the Scriptures to be sufficient for everything, especially knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So let’s read the Word.

The Word of God says:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Let’s dig into this text.

Vs 14 the apostle points out that Timothy has learned and believed, knowing he learned from Paul as well as probably his mother and grandmother, as pointed out in 1:5. This shows the importance of training our children up in the Word. Laying the foundation of truth is crucial in the development of a child and their faith. Next Paul points out the great importance of Scripture and the power there in. Paul makes a statement about the Scriptures “making one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus.” This is a pivotal point in this text. One that I hope you remember. It is not humans means that makes one wise for salvation. It is God’s Word and Holy Spirit.

Let’s see what the great bible commentator Matthew Henry has to say about this section. He makes 4 points.

1. It is a great happiness to know the certainty of the things wherein we have been instructed (Luke 1:4); not only to know what the truths are, but to know that they are of undoubted certainty. What we have learned we must labour to be more and more assured of, that, being grounded in the truth, we may be guarded against error, for certainty in religion is of great importance and advantage: Knowing, (1.) “That thou hast had good teachers. Consider of whom thou hast learned them; not of evil men and seducers, but good men, who had themselves experienced the power of the truths they taught thee, and been ready to suffer for them, and thereby would give the fullest evidence of their belief of these truths.” (2.) “Knowing especially the firm foundation upon which thou hast built, namely, that of the scripture (2 Tim. 3:15): That from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures.”

2. Those who would acquaint themselves with the things of God, and be assured of them, must know the holy scriptures, for these are the summary of divine revelation.

3. It is a great happiness to know the holy scriptures from our childhood; and children should betimes get the knowledge of the scriptures. The age of children is the learning age; and those who would get true learning must get it out of the scriptures.

4. The scriptures we are to know are the holy scriptures; they come from the holy God, were delivered by holy men, contain holy precepts, treat of holy things, and were designed to make us holy and to lead us in the way of holiness to happiness; being called the holy scriptures, they are by this distinguished from profane writings of all sorts, and from those that only teach morality, and common justice and honesty, but do not meddle with holiness. If we would know the holy scriptures, we must read and search them daily, as the noble Bereans did, Acts 17:11. They must not lie by us neglected, and seldom or never looked into.

Matthew Henry holds the word in such high esteem, even saying it is the way to get true learning. Basically, without learning the Scriptures and believing what they say, all other learning in futile. We can learn things but we have no basis to justify why we know them.

Vs 16 gives us the reason why we can rely upon the Word as the source of divine knowledge. God has breathed the Scriptures out, theopneustos in the Greek. Put your hand up to your face. Breath out. Can you can feel it? That is what is meant here. God literally breathed out His Word and men wrote it down as His pen. Peter puts it this way.

2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This is where Scripture comes from. God! And, as the rest of the vs says, it is good for teaching, reproof, correction and all training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete. It’s good for everything because it is the very Word of God. This makes it sufficient.

Let’s continue on. The end of chapter 3 tells us what Scripture does. Here now in chapter 4 the apostle Paul tells Timothy, and now us, how to apply this. With false teaching appearing in the church, then and now, it is important we hear the next words of the apostle breathed through him by God.

Vs 1 of chapter 4 is a serious charge to Timothy to “preach the Word!” He doesn’t just charge him personally. He charges him in the presence of God, Jesus, and the Kingdom. Paul sees all the false teaching and knows the only truth are the Scriptures and the only salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the Scripture. The gospel is the core meaning in all of Scripture.

Vs 2 he tells Timothy to be ready in and out of season. When is this? ALL THE TIME! Ready for what? To preach the Word as to Reprove, rebuke, exhort, and teach with patience. Theses are all the things he also lists in vs 3:16. This also reminds me of what the apostle Peter says here:

1 Peter 3:15 the Word of God says, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

It is interesting to note that here and the end of vs 2 it says with patience, and the apostle Peter says with gentleness and respect. This is because when we teach the Word of God to the believer and unbeliever it will reveal sin. To the unbeliever it crushes their world view, how they believe things to be. We must be patient, gentle, and respectful, sharing the truth with love. Or else they may go elsewhere no matter how much we are right.

But back to the text. Why must Timothy Preach the Word in Ephesus? Vs 3 false teachers were there and have also come today. I see them on tv all the time. Their “churches” are filled with people, and it breaks my heart because they are lead astray. Those people are having their ears tickled hearing that they can have their best life now. To quote John MacArthur again “this is your best life, if your next life is in hell”. This is what the apostle is warning Timothy of. Doctrine being taught that lead people to damnation. And the scary thing is these false teachers talk and look like true Christians. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have the same vocabulary. They hold bibles. But they don’t speak truth. That is why the apostle charges Timothy to preach truth and endure and continue to believe in faith the things of Christ he has learned and believed.

The apostle knows in vs 4 many will go away from the truth into myths. Coming from the Roman Catholic church I know more now about what they teach then I did attending the church. They teach myths. From Marian dogmas to the saints to the papal infallibility. They teach myths and do not teach the truth of Jesus Christ. They use the same terms, and yes teach grace, but not the sufficiency of grace as they add works to salvation. They do not teach what the Scriptures teach that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone according to the Scriptures alone, (but that is a sermon for another time.)

And in vs 5 The apostle Paul reminds Timothy to stay sober minded, to keep his mind focused in all times, to endure suffering. With holy living, and when you proclaim the truth in the holy name of the lord Jesus Christ, suffering will come. Then he tells him to do the work of an evangelist. He is saying be a herald of the good news of what he has learned through Scripture. Tell people the truth. Tell of the gospel. Not all of us are called to be evangelist in the sense that they are called to go out in the streets and publicly proclaim the good news, but we are all called to evangelize and tell people we know and meet that good news. Just like pastor Luke has preached, it is like talking about your favorite store, movie, or hair product, but even better because those things go away. The Lord Jesus Christ never will.

And the apostle Paul sums it up by saying fulfill your ministry. he’s telling Timothy to do what God has called him to do. He has the grounding in the Scriptures. He knows the Lord Jesus Christ. Now believe and obey. Go do it!

The apostle in this letter, and many others, emphasizes the importance of the Word of God in the believers life. At the end of chapter 4 in this epistle he requests his books and parchments. Even near death the apostle knew he needed to continue In the Word of truth. Here is an interesting side note. I was recently listening to a lecture on the formation of the canon of Scripture, that is how the Bible we have was put together, by Dr Michael Kruger. He said in 2 Timothy 4:13 when the apostle Paul requests his books and parchments, the greek word for books is “biblia” which would refer to the scrolls, but the greek word for parchments is “membranas”. These “membranas” would be either his notes and letters, or those of others. This is what the epistles and gospels have been found to be written on. It was the preferred method, and some theories have been speculated as to why, but what Dr Kruger and other scholars conclude is this is evidence the cannon and acceptable NT books were already forming at this time as on pair as Scripture. (I love it when the Bible proves the Bible.)

Ok so we have taken a look into what the apostle Paul says about the authority of the Word of God. Let’s take a look elsewhere in the Bible to see what it says about God’s Word.

Psalm 19:7-11 the Word of God says:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 119:105-107 this entire psalm is about God’s Word
The Word says:
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Let’s look at OT prophecy. Can they prove authoritative and God breathed?
Also in Psalms
Psalm 22:1-18
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

The opening v. is what Jesus said on the cross as He felt the wrath of God poured out on Him in replace of all who believe. But He also said this knowing that those around Him knew this Psalm. The next vs’s describe that scene. We know from the gospels that His hands, being His wrists that were considered part of the hand then, and feet were pierced as they nailed Him to the cross. We know water and blood came out of Him when the soldier speared Him. We know His bones were not broken as they did to the other two when they broke their legs. And we know they cast lots for His garments. Those around the lord Jesus, as He said My God my God, probably had this Psalm in their head and looked and saw it play out in front of them.

How about Isaiah 9:6 the popular Christmas vs the Word of God says
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

He has been born and given and He is alive ruling and reigning at the right hand of the Father now.

I can keep growing but let’s do one more. Back to Isaiah.
Isaiah 53 let’s turn there.
I saw a video of a Christian evangelist in Israel asking Jewish people to read this passage in the original Hebrew. They do not teach this passage in the Jewish synagogue. It is forbidden. They do not learn of a suffering messiah in their texts. It is 10 minute video I recommend it so look it up when you get home on One For Israel. It brought me to tears to see their reaction. But you can see why the harden hearts of the Rabbis don’t want them to learn this. It so clearly speaks of the lord Jesus Christ and what He would do hundreds of years later. It is the clear gospel in the Old Testament and the gospel is all over the Old Testament.

Here’s the video!

Let’s read from Isaiah

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53

So we have what The apostle Paul has said of the authority of Scripture. We have Old Testament prophecy that shows the authority of Scripture. What does the lord Jesus Christ say of Scripture?

Turn to Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11

The Lord Jesus Christ, being 100% man and 100% God, used the Word to drive away Satan. This is what Adam failed to do at the fall. Adam did not stand on the authority of what God said. The authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency was brought into question, as it has been ever since, and Adam failed to say “God said not to eat of it so we will not.” But the Lord Jesus Christ said “it is written” and He followed what is written because it is written by God. Many times in the gospels the Lord Jesus says “have you not heard?” Or “have you not read”. He points continually to the law and the prophets because the law and the prophets speak of Him.

Matthew 5:17 -18 Jesus says, do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Luke 21:33 Jesus says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Lord Jesus even taught directly from the scriptures in His home town in

Luke 4:16-17 The Word says, And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And he began to say “today this Scripture has been fulfilled in you hearing.”

And one more I will share with you is from John 17:17 that should ring in your ears because the Lord Jesus prayed this for us. Jesus prayed:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

If that doesn’t tell you what the Lord Jesus thinks of the Word of God I don’t know what will. If God is the ultimate authority for the believer, than His Word, the Bible is authoritative. If God is perfect, then His Word is perfect. And if God’s grace is sufficient so is His Word. Our lord and savior Jesus Christ, when asked, or not asked, says so.

So do we believe the real truth that can only be found in the Bible? If yes then how does a believer live to reflect this?

Let’s look at a believer named George Whitefield. This is the man who my seminary is named after. He was a preacher from the 18th century. He went to college at Oxford where he joined a group known as the ”Holy Club” of which John and Charles Wesley were members. When he started at the school, and in the club he was not a saved man. It was not until he read a book on regeneration, explaining that biblical doctrine, that he realized it is not by his holiness that God would accept him, but by the holiness that comes from being born again to believe in His Son. It was at age 21 that he was saved and he preached his first sermon at age 23. He preached to hundreds of thousands over his preaching life from England to the colonies. He preached to 80 thousand people at one time and this was way before amplification. People would flock to see him preach and this was before Facebook was used to advertise. He was a very devotional man and it is said he studied the Bible on his knees. He preached with his major point being “you must be born again.” Unless you are born again of water and spirit you will not see the kingdom of heaven. He preached even to the clergy that they must be born again. This got him kicked out of many churches by the clergy. He decided to go preach in the open field. It is said he went to a field outside a coal mine in England. As the coal miners would come out with black sooted faces they stood and listened. White streaks ran down many of their faces as they heard about the kingdom and the need to be born again. Whitefield is credited with being a huge part of the first great awakening in the colonies as well as reviving England.

Why am I telling you about George Whitefield? Because he preached the Word of God. He was born again to believe the Word, by the Word, and he knew that by the Word everyone must be born again. He was a 5 point Calvinist believing in sovereign election and he was probably the greatest evangelist outside of the apostle Paul. What was his secret? He preached Christ and Him crucified, and you must be born again. He read the Bible, believed what it says, and obeyed what it says.

This is all from the authority of Scripture. It can be found nowhere else. It is what makes a person wise for salvation. The Word will bring about awakening and revival when preached. The Word preached is the means by which the Lord Jesus will build the Church. It is not music, gimmicks, or any means of man. It is not our clever worldly wisdom when speaking to our lost friends. It is preaching and staying true to the Word. It is what the apostle Paul tells Timothy. “Preach the Word!”

Do we believe?

If not for the Word of the gospel in the movie “Fireproof” I’d still be unsaved. This Word is proven to be true. It is from God and by His Grace I believe. That Word I received that night was exactly what the bible says.

I am not a good person. No one is. The Bible says None are good. I thought I was. I thought my good outweighed my bad and I’d get heaven on that. But God says my good deeds are dirty rags. If I stand before Him and show Him my good deeds he says. I do not know you. This is bad news.

BUT GOD! sent His only Son, fully man and God, to live a perfect life of no sin. He died on the cross for my sin because the penalty for sin is death. That should be me on the cross because that’s what I deserve. Instead it was His life for mine. He takes my punishment and I get His righteousness. It doesn’t seem fair. But it is mercy because I don’t get what I deserve. I also get something more because it doesn’t end there. He rose after 3 days in the grave defeating sin and death. Now when we turn from our sin and to Jesus Christ we are forgiven. We are set free from sin. We are adopted as sons and daughters. We are now to follow Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. Jesus took the wrath of God for His people to bring them to Himself. To this I say amen. To this I say hallelujah.

The word of God says in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But to see this we must be born again. When you are born again you are made new. The old passes away. The old is put to death. The new creation will desire God and not sin. The new creation will desire His Word of truth and build their life on the rock. The new creation will have a hope that can be explained by more than experience. Repent and believe the gospel and be born again!

When asked, the believer can talk about lord Jesus Christ and say with full confidence “I know I am saved because God tells me I am in His Word the Bible and I believe the Bible.”

As the Word of God says in Romans 8:28-39

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things past nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ jesus our Lord.

Godsunrise

This is what the Bible says, and this is our source of truth. We must believe it, not only on Sunday, the Lord’s day, but everyday.

When you leave here today know that you have the answer. Know that the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God. To be an effective apologist, defender of why you believe, or evangelist, or even just live as a Christian, it is as simple as this. To quote the apologist Sye Ten-Bruggencate. “Read the Bible.. Believe what it says.” and obey!

If you are here today and you are not sure you are saved by the grace of God, if you are not sure you have been born again unto new life, do not leave until you are sure. Talk to Pastor Luke or one of the elders. Talk to me. I will give you my information on how to contact me. You can be sure. The Bible says so on the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us Pray!

What A “Good” Lie!

good

I have had more than a few conversations with people about destiny.  No, not what you think the future holds for you in a way of career and family, but what eternity holds.  What happens to you when you die?  Most people have told me they believe in heaven.  Then I ask the million dollar question…. How do you know that is where you are going?  Most common answer. “I am a good person”.

Is this how we get to heaven? Do we need to be “good people”?  How do we know what “good” is?  Do I use our own standard of “good”?  Do I use someone else’s standard of “good”?  Or do I use God’s standard of “good”?

Some will use their own standard of “good”.  I recently heard a Tim Keller sermon in which he made the point that if someone uses their own standard of good and took a tape recorder and put it around their neck, then at the end of the day played back everything they said, they could not even live up to their own standard of “good”.  I agree.  I know me and know I couldn’t do it.

So let’s look briefly at someone else’s standard.  If I can’t live up to mine how can I live up to theirs?  Unless theirs is so low that they allow me to live how I want.  This may be so they can live without the guilt of not living up to their own standard.

Now let’s look at God’s standard.  How do we know God’s standard for good?  We have His Word.  We have the bible.  We have in the bible the commandments given to Moses.  I will not list them but I will test myself against a few to see if I live up to the standards God’s wants me to live by.

Have I ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Have I used it as a curse? Yes! One commandment broken.

Have I ever dishonored my parents?  Yes!  Strike two!

Have I ever taken something that wasn’t mine?  Maybe even something small like a pencil?  Yes!  Strike three!

Have I ever been angry with someone and not forgiven them?  Yes!  Jesus says this is like committing murder in your heart. Strike four!

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  Matthew 5:21-22

Have I ever looked at a women with lust?  Yes!  Jesus says if you look at a women with lust you have committed adultery in your heart.  Strike five!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

Let’s stop at five.  I can keep going because I have broken them all.  There is no one who hasn’t.

as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; Romans 3:10

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

So what does this mean?  We can’t live up to our own standards.  We sure can’t live to God’s standards.  He will judge us.  If God is just, He will give us what we deserve.  He will not weigh the good we have done against the bad.  That would not be just.  That would be like if a person commits murder and goes to the judge and says “judge, look at all the good I did.  It must outweigh the bad.”  Would he be a just judge to let the murderer go? 

 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Here is the GOOD NEWS!!  Here is the GOSPEL!!!  We have someone who took our punishment for us.  God sees our sins and says “guilty”.  My punishment is death.  But, God came down and became a man in the form of Jesus.  He was fully man and fully God.  He lived that perfect life that God commands.  He was tempted as we are tempted.  He did not sin.  Then He took a sinners punishment being whipped with a cat of nine tales being lashed to the bone.  He was spit on and mocked made to wear a crown of thorns.  He took my cross up Cavalry and had nails driven into His wrists and His feet and before He died said “It is finished.”  He atoned for our sins.  Now we can repent and put our faith in Him for our forgiveness.  We no longer have to be slaves to sin.  We can be free as slaves to Jesus Christ.

but god

I do not write this to make you feel bad.  I do not write this to lift myself up in self righteousness. I struggle with sin everyday!  I am not perfect but I am being made perfect through Jesus Christ.  I am a wretched sinner in need of the Savior.  My hope is that you think about these things: “Am I good?  By what standard? Can I live up to God’s standard on my own?  Why did Jesus die?  Can I put my faith in Him for taking my punishment and repent?  Can I pick up my cross and follow Jesus? 

I know this is a popular Scripture but it is truth.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

My prayer is always that you are “whoever”.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, by God alone.

In Whom

i-believe

When I say I believe in Jesus Christ it is not a belief like when you’re a kid and you believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. When I say I believe it is like when someone says they believe in themselves to accomplish a goal. Or like when you tell someone you believe in them accomplishing their goals.  Better yet, when you believe in someone to provide for your well-being.  My belief in Jesus Christ isn’t about His existence.  I already know Jesus is real from Holy Scripture and personal experience. My belief is in what He has done and the promise of what it means.

I believe in Jesus Christ in His life.  He lived a perfect life that I can never live.  In this perfect life He was tempted in every way that I am.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

He lived as a human and did not fall as I do.  He was the perfect lamb.

I believe in Jesus Christ in His death and work on the cross.  He was beaten and humiliated.  He was nailed to a cross through His wrists and feet.  He was piecered through His side and was a bloody mess.  This is the death that I deserve.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I believe in Jesus Christ in His resurrection.  He was dead for three days then came back. Not just spirit, but His entire being, body and all was raised.  In this I have eternal life.  In this I have the promise of resurrection.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”  Luke 24:1-7

Jesus Christ is not a fictional character in whose existence I believe.  I already know He exists.  I believe in His life, death, and resurrection for my salvation.  C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  This is how I also believe. I see everything by Jesus Christ.  He has given me faith.  This faith is also not a blind faith.  It is faith in what is real.  It is faith in Who is real.  It is faith in what Holy Scripture says.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I put all my trust in Jesus Christ. He changed my heart. He opened my eyes. No more walking in darkness. His promise is true. Believe in Him and walk in the light of salvation.  Jesus Christ is all.  He is enough.

And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.  John 12:44-46

I encourage you to get a Bible.  Read these passages I have shared.  If you don’t have one I will send one to you.

My prayer is for Jesus Christ to work in your heart.  I pray for Him to open your eyes.

I am nobody special.  I am just a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God through the perfect life, bloody death, and amazing resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8

I pray He saves you.

morningsun

Be More

avictory

Have you ever loved someone so much you would do anything for them?  Have you loved someone so much you would risk getting hurt for them?  Have you loved someone so much that you would give it all for them?  Have you ever loved someone so much that you would go to battle and die just to win that battle for them?  Have you been willing to give everything you have because you believe the one you love is worth more than you are?

Many warriors fight for these reasons.  They go to war for their country, friends, family, and other loved ones.  They are willing to go into battle and risk their lives for loved ones.  Losing limbs or life is worth it to them.  Conquering the enemy to free loved ones says the loved ones more important than their own life.

When warriors come back home from war their entire family is victorious.  Even those who did not fight on the front lines share in the victory.  The mighty warriors defeated the enemy and now the family has them home.  While the warrior was fighting, the family may have been fighting battles at home.  Living while that loved one is away at war is tough.  Many challenges arise, but through the warriors bravery, the family battles on because they know how important they are to the warrior.  Sadly, sometimes that warrior doesn’t return.  He dies in battle while conquering.  He conquerors for them and the family is still victorious through the mighty warrior.

daddyhome

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  Romans 8:31-36

The warrior loves for the people he fights for.  He gives all of himself.  This is what God did for us.  He gave himself.  He took our place because He loves us. We conquer because He conquered.  Because Jesus overcame we overcome.  Because Jesus defeated death, we have eternal life.  But there is more to it than just a victory.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

We don’t just conquer because of Him.  We are more than conquerors.  We are seen by Him as more.  We are so loved by God that He became a man and was tempted as we are tempted. We are so loved by God that we are worth dying for.  We are so loved by God that we are worth suffering the worst torture and death in the history of the world.  We are so loved by God that He suffered all of this and still is the victor and our Savior.  We are so loved by God that, once we believe on Jesus Christ, nothing can take Him away.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

hand

When you are a warrior you fight not just for yourself, you fight for who you love. When you are a warrior you fight with passion for someone more than you.  You conquer for those who are more than conquerors.  Jesus conquered the grave for us because we are more than conquerors through Him.

Do you believe you are more than a conqueror?  Do you know Jesus?  Is He your Savior?

If He isn’t, He can be.  If you think there is more to this world than what we see, pray for Him to show you.  If you are asking, the Holy Spirit is already be at work in your heart.  He will show you.

If you feel you don’t deserve the love of someone who died for you, you don’t.   It is by grace Jesus forgives.  It is why He died.  He said “It is finished”.  He conquered not for the perfect, but for the broken.  He conquered for me, the biggest of all sinners.  And if he conquered for me, He definitely conquered for you.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

If you feel like you have done too much wrong to deserve forgiveness, you haven’t.  It is not about doing or deserving.  But we can turn to Him.  He died knowing what I have done.  He felt what I have done.   It was nailed with Him to the cross.  Now I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am free as a slave to Christ.  You can be too.  You can be “whoever”.  I pray you are.

For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

You can be more than a conqueror.

Getting to Know Him

“How do you know God?  Does He talk to you directly?  Have you even seen Him?  How do you know who He is?”

These are questions that are often asked of believers.  These are questions that some believers even ask.  These are questions I used to ask myself.

So, how do we know God?  I find it is the same way we know any person.  How do we know people?  We spend time with them.  When you meet someone for the first time you get to know a little about them.  You know as much as they reveal to you at that point in time.  Each time you meet there after you may learn a little more.  You see things they do and habits they may have. You get to know if they are trustworthy and other qualities they have.  You can know someone for years and still learn something new.  For example, I have been married to my wife for almost 10 years and the other day I just found out she doesn’t like cherry flavored things.  She likes cherries but not cherry flavored things like cherry pop-tarts or cherry coke.  This may seem small, but it is an example of no matter how long you have known someone, you can still learn more.

This is an example of how our relationship is with God.  We get to know Him through the Scriptures.  My experience so far in reading the Bible is I always learn more about who God is.  I can read the same passage a few different times and He reveals something new.  It is just like how we get to know other people.

God gave us Holy Scripture so we can know Him.  It is His letter or email to His people.  The Bible is not like any normal book.  It is not a book you read just once and you understand.  It is not “Twilight”, “Harry Potter”, and definitely not “50 Shades of Grey”, (although the book Song of Solomon in the Bible does get pretty steamy.)  He did not design it to be read as such.  It is the living and breathing Word of God.  The more you read and study it, the more you know who He is.  He will reveal more to you the more you pursue Him just as you pursue a person.  It is the only true way to know who He is and how He wants us to live as His sons and daughters.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Here is a problem some face when trying to know God.  Sometimes we conform to this world.  We listen more to what the world says instead of what God tells us through His Word.  This world distorts His Word and we are deceived by that distortion.  From this distortion, some think either there isn’t a God, or if there is, He either can’t be known or He is bad because the world is bad.If however, they read, study, and begin to understand His Word, they would see these things explained.  They would see the world for what it is and God for Who He is.  His Word reveals God to be Just, Loving, Truthful, and the Giver of hope in what is to come.  God is a healer.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is a creator and father.  He is merciful.  He is so much more and He reveals this in His Word.

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24

If you want to know who God is start with His Word.  The fact that you want to know who He is shows that the Holy Spirit may be at work in your heart.  Let Him keep working.  Pursue Him.  Read His Word.  It is a gift.  It has survived thousands of years.  Throughout history the evil one, through people, has tried to destroy, control, and distort God’s Word, but God made a way for it to come to all to read and know Him.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.  Isaiah 40:8

If you feel the Holy Spirit moving you to know God and read His Word, keep in mind the big picture.  The entire Bible points to One.  From Genesis to Revelation there is One.

The Savior.  The Sanctifier.  The Healer.  The Coming King.

Jesus Christ

It is very sad and humbling to see the tendency of… those who, if they do not reject the Bible altogether, will compromise its supremacy and question its infallible authority. The Bible is either everything or nothing. Like a chain which depends upon its weakest link, if God’s Word is not absolutely and completely true, it is too weak a cable to fix our anchorage and guarantee our eternal peace. Thank God, we have reason to accept it as the supernatural revelation of a supernatural God, the word not of man, but the Word of God that lives and abides forever.

A. B. Simpson Biography and Bibliography

Father

I am writing this to give thanks to my father.  He is my hero.  Anytime I need something he comes through.  He has always been there for my sister and I.

I haven’t been a perfect son. I remember things I have done and worries I have caused and he has stood by me through it all.

When I was a baby I had pyloric stenosis.  I don’t remember having it, but apparently, it is when your intestines are in a knot.  Having a little girl of my own, I can imagine how he and my mom must have felt when I was sick.  I know that I made it through that with him never giving up.There were other times growing up when I would fall down and he’d pick me up.  There were stupid kid things I did and he would love me through them, even when I caused damage to the house.  I remember this one time I was watching him fix something on the house.  He had his hammer and he was hitting nails into the wall.  So I grabbed my toy hammer and began to hit our plaster wall inside our house as I watched it crumble saying “look dad, I’m like you.”  How he or mom didn’t beat me I have no clue.

He granted me grace even when I damaged the house.  To this day I still mess up and I know he will always be there.

I know that God placed me in a house where I was loved.  I know my dad loves me.  Too many people don’t.  They have horror stories of their fathers. My heart breaks for them.  Coming from my situation is a big reason why I trust God.  You see, when we think of God as Father, Abba, most of us tend to think of our dads.  God as Father is a merciful, loving Father who gives us His grace through His Son Jesus.  Some people don’t know how to comprehend that if their image of God as Father is of their abusive father.  But Jesus is love, mercy, and grace.  He wants us to come to him as we are.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

My relationship with my father has made it easy to see my Heavenly Father as He truly is.  He is a loving God who loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son to die the most brutal death in th history of mankind.  He gave us Jesus not because we deserve Him to take our sins, but because He gives us grace because what we deserve is death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

When I put that hole in our wall some might say I deserved a beating.  Instead what I got was grace.  Thanks dad for showing me how to be a father and showing me the Grace of God.  I love you!

Happy Father’s Day!