Why Not Get Divorced?

March 29, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: I know I’m a Christian, but I’m completely unhappy in this marriage. I don’t love my spouse anymore, and I don’t think my spouse really loves me. I’m miserable, and I deserve to be happy. I just want to get out and start over. Can you give me one good reason not to get divorced?

Answer: I can give several reasons, but I’ll give you three right off the top of my head.

1. God designed your marriage to be an illustration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing in the universe. If you take the gift of marriage which God gave you, and you choose to mar the illustration or to portray it inaccurately and misrepresent what it means by getting divorced, then you are telling the world that Jesus does not love His bride, the Church (Christians), with an everlasting, forgiving, unbreakable love. The reality is, in your own life, you have hurt Christ more than your spouse has hurt you, and Christ has been through far worse for you than anything you’ve had to endure in your marriage, yet He loves you eternally. You would be dishonoring the Savior Who died for you if you choose divorce. See Ephesians 5:22-32.

2. You will be breaking a solemn vow that you made before God. Unless you had some sort of whacky pagan wedding ceremony, you and your spouse promised each other that you would stay together until death, and the name of God was invoked. It is a dangerous and foolish thing to break a vow made before the holy God. See Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 and Numbers 30:2.

3. Your children. Children do not benefit from divorce. In most cases they either witness conflict or become a part of it, but, even in cases where the divorcing parents get along relatively well for the sake of the kids, it still sends a message that the two people they love most in the world did not love them enough to stay married, and it will affect them later on if not now.

There are many, many more reasons not to get divorced, including the fact that God hates it, and the choice to do it effectively places your happiness in a place of exaltation above God’s revealed will and the belief that He can overcome temporary unhappiness and misery with eternal joy when we patiently wait, obey, and trust Him.

Finally, I strongly recommend that you meet with someone for serious counseling who knows and understands what the Bible teaches about marriage before you go through with this. Once you announce your intention to be divorced or state that your marriage is making you miserable, you will attract a certain group of people that you love and trust, and who genuinely think they have your best interest at heart, and many if not most will encourage you to get divorced, and tell you that it’s not that bad. You owe it to yourself to speak with someone who will stand up for Christ and present His point of view to you, even if it’s not necessarily what you want to hear, or even if it comes from someone who doesn’t have as close a relationship with you as those who are telling you to go through with it.

In Whose Name Do You Pray?

March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: When I pray I usually end my prayer by saying something like, “in Jesus’s name,” but other people say, “In ‘Your’ name we pray.” Which one is right?

Answer: I’m not sure there’s a “right” or “wrong” to this one. I think it may depend on to Whom you are praying. Jesus, in His model prayer, taught us to pray to God the Father directly (Matthew 6:9). Of course, we only have access to the Father through the Son, Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. However, you can also speak directly to Jesus in prayer. If you are praying privately, then you do not need to be concerned about formalities, but, on those occasions in which you may be called on to pray publicly, in my opinion it’s best to clarify which member(s) of the Trinity (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) to Whom you are praying, and to pray in the name of Jesus (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17), rather than just ending in an ambiguous, “in ‘Your’ name.” I wouldn’t be dogmatic on it, though. Certainly there is room for disagreement.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

November 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The well-known Incarnation celebration hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” was first written by Charles Wesley, and later changed by George Whitefield, who changed the first line from, “Hark, how all the welkin ring,” to “Hark, the herald angels sing.” This changed the emphasis from the regeneration of the natural world, including inanimate creation, to the regeneration of mankind, God’s image-bearing creation.

The word “hark” does not appear in the Bible, but it is a shortened form of “hearken,” which does appear in 150 verses. For example,

Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Isaiah 42:23

Hearken means to listen closely, to listen with intensity and purpose, and with the intention of responding to what is heard. It is a great word to use in connection with the Annunciation: the announcement of the birth of Christ. Only those with “ears to hear” had been listening to the prophecies in the Word of God for centuries and centuries. Now was the time to hearken with joy, for faith to become sight AND to become audible.

The angels are called “herald” angels, and they were announcing good news. Before the internet, television, or even newspapers, the “town herald” heralded good news. The word “angel” means “the deliverer of news,” and, in the case of the EvANGELion, the greatest news of all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalm 103:20 (emphasis added)

The angels who announced the good news (“good tidings“) of “great joy” were angels which had hearkened, and which must be hearkened unto.

“Hark, the herald angels SING.” Singing, in the Bible, is often a sign of joy.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:19

New Testament singing is a gift of encouragement. The angels weren’t content to make a simple spoken announcement. This was an event worthy of sublime poetry in beautiful song.

“GLORY to the newborn King.”

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:14

Glory” is the weight of God’s attributes. It also speaks of His renown. It is His greatness showing forth – being revealed and made known. It is extreme. We like knowing that He is a powerful, transcendent, glorious God, but His glory also makes us “sore afraid.”

The phrase, “glory to the newborn King,” is a striking paradox, for this King was God, but how could the eternal God be “newborn?” This was a proclamation that God had become man – still God, but now adding humanity to Himself in order to accomplish the redemption of His fallen creatures, now His kinsmen: His own “race.”

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Acts 17:6-7

It took people a while to realize the full meaning of the announcement that the King had arrived as a newborn baby, but, once it was understood, the Apostles and the early Christians turned the world upside down with this message: The true King had died, risen, and ascended to sit down at the throne of God.

The message of the Incarnation of the Son of God (which this world calls Christmas) is a history lesson, but it is also a prophecy, a promise, and a sure prediction that will be fulfilled in a greater way yet to come. We must hearken back, and, every time we hear the familiar song, or think about Christ in any circumstance, to hearken forward as well.

A One-Question Quiz for Boys

April 28, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

It’s one of the greatest Q-and-A’s of all time, packed into one clear and vital verse.

Q. How will a young man clean up his act and live right?
A. By purposefully and vigilantly moving through life with the Bible as his guide.

The psalmist asks and then answers his own question without hesitation, but are you and I convinced of this solution? I hope we are, because a wrong response has dire consequences: Psalm 34:16; Ephesians 5:3-6.

We sometimes use the colloquialism, “young men,” when we refer to boys – even those who are fairly far from the age (or maturity) of true manhood, and the Bible does the same thing here, translating it from the Hebrew na’ar. Boys do not come into this world with clean hearts, and they do not start their journeys through life on clean paths. No, they start off with dirty, sinful, corrupt, and foolish hearts, bent toward heeding the world’s beckoning call to travel down its own dark, dangerous, deceitful, and disobedient alleys. Thus, the question in the first part of the verse presupposes that a young man’s “way” has need of purification (cleansing).

Thankfully, the Lord God Who reigns over this sin-sick world has provided a ready-made and easily-obtainable means for such cleansing. This antidote is not, however, a one-time vaccination or smoothly coated pill, quickly ingested and then forgotten. No, it is a remedy that requires young men to “take heed” – to look and listen carefully.

The Word of God is to be kept ever before their eyes. It is to be ingested through reading, and through attendance on teaching and preaching by trained and ordained men of God. Its principles and precepts are to be applied thoughtfully and rigorously as sign posts, warning lights, fuel for the journey, and dutiful directions at every twist and turn, every high-speed straightaway, and every providential detour along life’s course.

Family Responsibilities

December 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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Last time we discussed how you get into the family of faith. Now we will see that being a part of the family, while bestowing great blessings and benefits, also carries serious responsibilities.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In an earthly family, family members are expected to do household chores. In God’s spiritual family, we are to do good whenever an opportunity arises. For a Christian, an opportunity is God’s providence masquerading as chance or fortune. Let’s say a fellow church member has a need and you find out about it. Go ahead and assume that God wanted you to find out about it. In your local church family are you not presently seeing any needs? Just keep obediently performing the chores assigned to you, believing by faith that God will use them to meet a need or bless a brother or sister.

That’s how it works in an earthly family or household, right? You see a mess on the floor, and hopefully you recognize it as an opportunity to serve your family by cleaning it up. Maybe you think, “But I didn’t make it; it’s not my mess.” Then you remember, “No, it’s the family’s mess, and I am part of the family.” Somebody forgot to take out the trash? It’s a great opportunity to serve. Somebody offended someone else in your church assembly? Help “take out” the hurt feelings and encourage apology, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.

The responsibility of “opportunity” in Galatians 6:10 goes even further. The Greek word kairos has a connotation of “timing” – of actively looking for opportunities. It is used in Ephesians 5:16 like this:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

If you show up at church when you are expected, if you demonstrate you are trustworthy, if you have a heart to help, there are always chores – we call them ministry opportunities – that need to be done. Perhaps you have some spiritual gift or God-given talent that will eventually come in handy if you are willing and available.

The other kinds of household chores are things that you are assigned to do, and everyone knows that’s your chore. These are not “surprise” opportunities. They are planned, but they are opportunities nonetheless. Find something that needs to be done at church – or ask a church leader what needs to be done – and sign up to do it. And be faithful about it. Be consistent and trustworthy.

If you are responsible for an earthly family (especially dads), you know that (aside from a precious infant) you do not want somebody living in your earthly home who’s just a sponge – somebody who just soaks up the blessings, but brings no benefits. You don’t want a responsibility-shirking family member who produces burdens, but bears no burdens himself. You wouldn’t stand for it. I’m not sure God’s going to stand for it very long either.

When and How to Speak Up

October 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Knowing when to be quiet is an underappreciated Christian virtue. Teaching, preaching, counseling, audible prayer, even verbal praise – and especially evangelism – are the topics of frequent and numerous exhortations from the pulpit and from the Scriptures. However, the art of being quiet – perhaps even dividing our speech by as much as 50% from our accustomed habit – or at least making sure that our ears are working twice as hard as our tongue – is something that probably needs to be stressed more.

Still, this does does not mean that appropriate speaking is not also vitally important. So, in this lesson, I would like to identify some Bible principles that will help us know when – and how – to speak up.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-35

Philip, not expecting this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, could have been too surprised to speak. He could have held his peace and just assumed that, since the Holy Spirit had worked it out so that the Ethiopian was reading a scroll of Isaiah already, he would figure it out on his own. But he didn’t. He opened his mouth. He opened his mouth and preached. He opened his mouth and preached JESUS.

This leads us to the first principle about identifying the right time and way to speak up:

WHEN: When there is an opportunity
HOW: Christologically (about Jesus)

Isaiah Chapter 53 is about penal substitutionary atonement. You don’t need to know the words “penal substitionary atonement” to speak about the concept, but you definitely need to know the truths for which they stand. Speak up for Jesus. Speak up about Jesus. Speak up on the Person and work of Jesus.

Here is another occasion to speak up:

WHEN: When grace is needed
HOW: Seasoned with salt

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Grace is needed wherever sin, failure, fault, pain, frustration, or hopelessness abound, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). However, for grace to be heard as grace (because it is being heard in a place of sin, frustration, hopelessness, or pain), it must first be seasoned, and it must be seasoned with salt.

Salt stings, but it cleanses. Salt flavors and it preserves. Salt creates thirst. Too little salt and your attempt at grace will be bland. Too much salt and your attempt at grace will taste terrible.

A third opportunity to properly speak up is:

WHEN: When it’s time to grow up
HOW: In love

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:14

We have an obligation as part of a family of faith to help each other to grow spiritually. Only truth will help true growth. When my oldest daughter was about to enter junior high school, she decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. We had enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler, but, because she spent most of the classes practicing her speed-talking rather than her cartwheels, we decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. I love her dearly, but as she progressed through childhood, it became clear that physical agility and athleticism were not her strong points. To put it kindly, when she attempted any sort of athletic or rhythmic movement, she had the dexterity of a drunken hobo trying to serve tea in a rocking rowboat. So, as her parents, her mother and I had to speak the truth to her about her prospects of making the cheerleading team (not to mention the probability of embarrassment and injury). Hopefully, though, we did it in love.

As Christians, when it’s time to speak up in disagreement, we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeABLE. Love – true Christian love – must be without dissimulation, anyway (Romans 12:9).

Another time to speak up:

WHEN: When anger is warranted
HOW: Softly, after listening carefully

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

“Be slow to speak” is not the same as not speaking. Unrighteous anger can not always be ignored. At times it must be confronted, but fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire. When we have to confront anger with our speech, we need to try to defuse the bomb, not set it off.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Be quick to listen, and, when responding, use temperance: control your own temper.

Another instance of speaking up correctly:

WHEN: When people ask what you believe about God (and when people don’t ask)
HOW: With joy, enthusiasm, meekness, and fear

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

Psalm 107:2

Before you became a Christian, you were a prisoner. You were in bondage to sin, Satan, and death, and you had no hope of escape in or of yourself. Created by God to be His servant, you had been taken captive. However, there was a way that you could be set free – “redeemed” – bought back. You may have heard of the practice of “prisoner exchange.” One king or government will sometimes release many prisoners (or one very important prisoner) for the exchange of another king’s or government’s captive citizens. How many servants were you worth? Normally, if the king himself is taken captive, he is ransomed for a great price. But in your case the King Himself ransomed the unworthy servant, and He redeemed you with His own blood! He became your ransom! “He gave Himself a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How can we NOT speak about this?

There is really never a wrong time to declare your redemption, but it is an especially good time when someone makes an inquiry.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

Then you do it with joy and enthusiasm (because you can’t help it), and you do it with meekness and fear (beause it is not really “your” message). Remember, when someone asks you why you believe what you believe about Jesus, you are trying to win that person, not win an argument.

WHEN: When teaching or admonishment is needed
HOW: Wisely, spiritually, and with the Word of God

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The “Word of Christ” is more than just the red letters in your Bible. It is all of Scripture. We are supposed to allow it to “dwell” in us. Not just visit with us occasionally, but remain constantly. It needs to take up residence in our souls. It is impossible to have a high view of the supremacy of Christ and a low view of Scripture at the same time.

The Word of Christ is supposed to dwell in us richly, the way that rich food – filling food – nourishes us and satisfies us, but also “richly” in the sense of us mining the depths of the riches found in Scripture. We are to seek out the deepest meanings and principles in the Bible, and not be content with a “verse of the day” calendar entry.

Then we are to teach and admonish one another. Teaching is instruction and admonishing is correction when wrongdoing occurs. Because the family of God is diverse, we have different experiences and backgrounds from which we can learn from one another. Because the family of God is unified, we have a shared set of precepts and principles from which we can correct each other in love.

WHEN: When you want to do God’s will
HOW: Thankfully and submissively

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:17-21

We want to know and to do God’s will in the general structure of our lives, and in dealing with specific questions concerning what God would have us to do when faced with problems or decisions. His Spirit does not lead us to act drunk. Drunks are loud, arrogant, and foolish. Spirit-led Christians are controlled, wise, and temperate.

All Christians should want to do God’s will. God’s will is worked in us in a general way as we teach and admonish one another. God’s specific will is worked in us as we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, so we speak to one another when we see needs or opportunities for teaching or admonishing each other, but we speak to ourselves continually to make sure we are remembering to give thanks to the Lord and to submit to the Lord. In other words, we need to be speaking – really, preaching – the Gospel to our own souls. Our fear of the Lord is a natural reminder to submit ourselves to Him, and to keep ourselves submitted. Gratitude is naturally humbling and humility is naturally submissive. Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness for the person who is not saved, but, for the Christian, speaking to yourself is communicating with the Holy Spirit Who fills us.

One more:

WHEN: As a regular part of everyday life
HOW: Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Communicating the truth of the Word of God from generation to generation requires both regularity and intentionality. Don’t compartmentalize your Christianity. There is no sacred/secular distinction in the Kingdom of God

In conclusion, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. We should use our tongue sparingly and judiciously, but there are times when, if we are to be faithful to Him Who called us, then use it we must.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

betrayal through silence

John Piper: S.W.I.M. to be Married

May 19, 2016 at 10:15 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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Marriage is an unfathomable ocean of God-given meaning, not a backyard swimming pool for lounging in as long as we feel like it.

John Piper

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

God’s Specific Will for You

November 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in I Peter, Where There's a Way There's a Will | 5 Comments
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If you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for you:

1. Respond to suffering.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

God may allow you to suffer for sin or mistakes, or He may allow You to suffer despite your obedience. Our job as Christians is to accept suffering as coming from God – either in allowing or causing it – and to seek to do what is right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:6-10

2. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:20

3. Obey the earthly God-ordained authorities when doing so would not violate God’s commandments.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

I Peter 2:13-15

4. Be holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

I Thessalonians 4:3-7

5. Use your time wisely.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

What will help me accomplish God’s will in my life?

1. His Spirit

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-10

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Bible and gives us wisdom through prayer.

2. His Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

3. His Body

Specifically, it is God’s will that we be involved in the local church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Beware Forensic Filth

March 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Salvation, The Fives | 1 Comment
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If you’ve attended an evangelical church long enough or often enough, you’ve probably heard this well-worn challenge from the pulpit: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

forensic-evidence

The Bible teaches that true Christians are those who have been born again to new life in Christ by the grace of God through faith. This “new life” is eternal life, which means that, once a person repents, believes the Gospel, and calls upon Christ alone to save him, then his sins are completely forgiven and judicially set apart from him at a distance that is as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

So why, then, would a preacher, Bible teacher, or spiritual counselor go to the trouble of inquiring into the “evidence” of your life as part of the inquiry into whether or not you are destined for Heaven? There are multiple reasons, but one of them is that this is the same type of inquiry that the Holy Spirit commands us to consider:

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:5

Perhaps at some point in your life you were told that, in order to go to Heaven (and to escape eternal damnation) you had to call upon and/or trust Jesus with all your heart. And, perhaps, this sounded like a safe bet at worst, or an exceedingly good deal at best. After all, you couldn’t deny the guilt of your sins, could you? So you prayed a prayer. Or you made a decision. Or you got baptized. Or you joined a church – which, by the way, are all good things to do.

So, what’s the potential problem? The potential problem is that you are not saved by trusting your heart. You are saved (if you are to be saved at all) by trusting Christ Jesus Himself. And when you are truly saved by Christ Jesus Himself, there is an expectation that you will begin to love Jesus, walk with Jesus, talk to Jesus, serve Jesus, live for Jesus, trust Jesus more and more, read about Jesus in the Bible, and, perhaps slowly, perhaps fitfully, perhaps with much labor and back-and-forthing and stumbling and searching – but still nonetheless realistically – you will become more like Jesus. Jesus was sinless, both inwardly and outwardly.

Therefore, if the pattern of your life since the time when you say you trusted Christ unto salvation is marked by the types of sexual immorality, idolatry, selfish lust, and general uncleanness that you see described in Ephesians 5:5, it is definitely worth your time (and the time of those who love you enough to tell you the truth) to inquire into exactly why or how your heart may or may not have been deceiving you when you felt like you believed the Gospel and trusted Christ. Jesus is too magnificent, His Gospel is too glorious, eternity is too long, and the stakes are too high, to simply rely upon feelings and ignore the evidence.

Put It On and Pack It On

December 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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When you think of the Apostles who comes to mind? Paul? Peter? James? John? Which one of these was the “greatest” Apostle?

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

I Corinthians 15:9

We sometimes think of Paul as the greatest of the Apostles, but he thought of himself as the least. He didn’t even think he deserved the name “Apostle.” Before Jesus saved him, he had been a relentless bounty hunter of Christians.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I Corinthians 15:10

God intervened in his life, and this intervention was what made the difference. Paul, on his own, would never have turned to Christ. He attributed his changed life solely to the grace of God, even though he sounds a little like Popeye the Sailor when we read, “I am what I am.” He recognized that he owed everything to God, and that he was no more and no less than what God had made him. God’s grace motivated Paul to outwork all the other Apostles, but God got all the credit and glory for it.

Becoming a Christian is not a pass to get out of hard work. Christian men, especially, ought to be the hardest workers in the world. God created men to work, and work is not sinful. It was sin that brought a curse upon work.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Sin took the joy out of hard work, but in the Gospel we find redemption, and we remember that God made us to work hard, so we can work hard and find joy and fulfillment in it once again because we are in Christ – we have been made right with God.

I want to look at a few principles that remind us – as Christian men – how we are supposed to think about work:

I. Put It On

When a man goes into battle, what should he wear? Armor.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:10

Don’t be a spiritual wimp. Get in the battle.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

The armor of spiritual warfare is God’s armor – that He’s provided for us. Our enemy is not an army of Godless sinners. He is not the person who has wronged you, and he is certainly not the person you were close to when he let you down. No, this is a spiritual war, and our spiritual enemy is Satan.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (emphasis added)

“Take unto you” the armor. Put it on. Get in the battle and give it everything you’ve got.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:14-17

The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation are all defensive weapons. We need to think about the Gospel and our salvation every day. But the sword of the spirit is an offensive weapon. Here is where we get our “payback” against the devil for attacking us, but we had better be reading the Bible and doing what it says more than once or twice a week. We had better be practicing with our swords and not going around without them.

II. Pack It On

As men, we can never have too much spiritual ammunition, and we must not whine and say it’s too heavy or too hard to carry.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15

As a Christian man I am called to be a workman that will not get outworked. I am called to force some Bible knowledge into my head – to “pack it on.”

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

I must not be lazy, packing on a bunch of indulgent, childish junk. I must not be “packing it on” with with video games and gadgets and a bunch of time-sucking hobbies. I need to be emptying the garbage out of my life so that I can pack on the Holy Spirit – so that I can be filled with Him. I can’t be filled with garbage or vanity and the Spirit at the same time. A real man isn’t afraid to say no childishness, nor to say yes to the Lord.

Next time we will learn to “pass it on” and “pour it on.”

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