Faith in God

July 11, 2018 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In Christian ministry we try to balance correction with encouragement. We definitely want to make sure that, as Christians, we are not provoking God to anger by the hardness of our hearts, which is Bible terminology for a willful and obstinate refusal to obey Him. On the flip side, we should be jumping at opportunities to please God in any way we can, after all He has done for us. Well, if you are someone has trouble with the concept of faith, there is no real nice way to say this: If we want to please God, there is absolutely no way to do it without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22

It is one thing to believe that God exists. It’s a whole other thing to believe that He will do what He says He will do. Christians must believe that He is real; that He can do what He says; and that He will keep the promises He gives to those who obey Him.

In everyday English, if I say, “I really believe in my wife,” you would not take me to mean only that I believe that there is an existential entity named Laura Hampton. No, you would take me to mean that I have faith in her character. I believe she is going to do what she ought to do in a given situation.

Jesus knew God better than anyone knows God. When He told the Disciples, “Have faith in God,” He was telling them that God can and will do what He has said He will do. Vance Havner used to talk about the seemingly contradictory, but actually miraculous, power of faith, by saying that real faith believes the incredible, sees the invisible, and does the impossible. The miraculous is only the miraculous from our point of view. From God’s point of view there is no “miraculous,” because He can do all things (Mark 10:27). From God’s point of view nothing is invisible, because He sees everything (Matthew 6:4). From God’s point of view nothing that He says is “incredible,” because, as the only One Who can not lie, He is completely credible (Hebrews 6:18). As Christians, we must learn to “believe in God.”

Faith Illustrated

April 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 11 is often called “The Faith Chapter” of the Bible, or the “Hall of Faith,” or the “Hall of Fame of Faith” because it lists several “heroes” of the Old Testament, and what they were able to accomplish through their faith in God. However, it also teaches that faith is more than just a feeling and more than mental assent to a Biblical doctrine. Nor is Biblical faith totally totally separate from empirical and rational evidence.

One of the chief reasons we use the Word of God in evangelism is that there is power in the Word. Faith actually comes FROM hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For Christians, the idea of “having faith” should never be separated from “living by faith.” Just as love – for Christians – is more of an action than a feeling, so faith – “saving” faith – is a faith that has the power to work. As we draw near to Christ by faith, we get sent out by faith, and empowered by faith.

We increase our faith by obedience and action, and it is also helpful to spend time with faithful people – to observe and to emulate faithful people. The pages of the Bible are full of people who pleased God through faith, and people who failed God by unbelief. Hebrews Chapter 11 records the success stories.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Hebrews 11:4

Abel gave gifts to God by faith, and was martyred for his faith, but his actions still speak today. He was the first in a long line of God’s people who died for the faith.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Matthew 23:29-35

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

Enoch was a man who grew closer and closer to God, until one day God drew him all the way to Himself in Heaven!

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Hebrews 11:7

Noah guided his family by faith, guided those who were faithful, and condemned the unfaithful world.

The line of faithful men continued with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, who, by faith, kept going toward a city that could only be seen by faith. The visible world they walked through each day was not – they knew – their real home.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Hebrews 11:24-25

Moses forsook a life of ease and pleasure, believing by faith that, no matter how scary the wilderness looked and how long it lasted (40 years), following God was safer than hiding from God.

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Hebrews 11:31

Rahab, a condemned heathen harlot, was grafted into the ancestral line of Christ as an illustration of faith. After reading the Old Testament, we might be surprised at some of the other “heroes of the faith:” Gideon, the frightened farmer; Samson, the macho strongman, whose greatest service to God may have been in his death; Jephthah, impatient and illegitimate, who was used by God even though he wound up sacrificing his own daughter.

There is today a false doctrine out there called the “Word Faith” movement, led by wealthy preachers who say foolish things like, “If it’s in your mouth it’s in your future” and “Don’t keep praying – it shows a lack of faith; if you must pray, just express thanks that it’s already been done, instead of repeating and making supplication.” These false teachers say that the presence of real faith excludes the possibility of suffering. It is an error easily refuted by the Bible:

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:36-38

Not only the Old Testament patriarchs, but New Testament martyrs as well, have suffered faithfully, without earthly deliverance. I hope you don’t believe that some television preacher with a Lear jet, six Rolls Royces, a tanning bed, and a beauty salon for his wife’s pet poodle has more faith than these wanderers in deserts and caves. These faithful martyrs named eternally in the everlasting page’s of God’s holy Word do not teach us that faith is “speaking forth blessings,” “pleading the blood” over our finances, or “naming and claiming it.” They teach us that faith is believing God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your saving grace. Thank You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You, and make us more like You today than we were yesterday. Amen.

Catechism Question 2

February 26, 2014 at 11:21 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 6 Comments
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Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Prove it.

Genesis 1:27

Question 2: Who made everything else?
Answer: God made everything.
Prove it.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:11

This is a good place to teach children that the “days” are literal days, and not “eras” or “epochs” or “ages” or million-year-long periods of time. It is also a good opportunity to remind them that God “rested,” not because He was tired, but in order to demonstrate the completion of the work of ex nihilo creation, and to establish a principle of spiritual rest and a pattern of physical rest for believers.

Other verses to consider:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Psalm 33:6-9

This would answer a question a child might have: “If God made everything, how did He do it?” Answer: “He did it by His Word.”

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

Preparing to Hear from God: Responsive

February 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The first two principles we noted in preparing to hear from God were R.eady and R.eceptive. We also need to be:

R.esponsive

Prepare to hear from God by pre-determining you are going to do what He says. Be responsive to God in two ways:

1. Be reactive.

Obey Him.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

A response is a reaction. It’s changing your behavior to line up with what God says, or taking some new action – even if you don’t feel like you want to do it – because God said to do it.

2. Be realistic.

You can hear from God and not understand it completely the first time. What do you do when you honestly wanted to hear from God and you think He was speaking to you, but you are confused? You keep asking and listening.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

Be realistic. Don’t pretend that you have understood God when you haven’t, and don’t let somebody tell you that this is what God told me to tell you without checking it out for yourself.

This is how important hearing from God is:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

If you say that you believe you are going to Heaven one day, could you open a Bible and show how you know that? People get saved by grace through faith – and that faith comes from hearing God’s Word.

How God Prepares Leaders

July 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Exodus, Hebrews | 9 Comments
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The Old Testament of the Bible contains true historical accounts, and it is accurate, but it also contains numerous types and shadows of what God would do in Christ to save His people. Joseph is one example. He was used to rescue God’s people from famine, and they wound up in Egypt in the Land of Goshen. Joseph became second in command in Egypt, answering only to Pharaoh. But eventually Joseph died, and that particular pharaoh died. Other pharaohs came along that didn’t remember Joseph, and God’s people wound up as slaves. God, through Moses, subsequently delivered them out of bondage, parting the Red Sea and giving them His law. We may discern from this true historical account the following types and foreshadowing:

Deliverance from Egypt = salvation
Red Sea = baptism
Leviticus and Deuteronomy = sanctification

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Exodus 2:23-25 (emphasis added)

They were sighing, crying, and groaning – maybe in their prayers to God – maybe just because of the oppression they were experiencing.

And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

Exodus 3:7-9

God hears the cries of the oppressed. He delivers the oppressed and He deals with the oppressors. When we feel oppressed we have a tendency to think of ourselves, but we need to remember that God is orchestrating circumstances. He has not left us nor forsaken us.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

Hebrews 11:23-24

Moses chose to side with the slaves rather than the oppressors.

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Hebrews 11:25-26

Moses did not have all the information about Christ that New Testament Christians have had since the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but he did look forward by faith to the promise of a coming Redeemer, and he had a much different value system than the Egyptians among whom he lived.

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Hebrews 11:27

He feared Pharaoh, but he feared God more, and he endured in the desert by faith. Real faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and does the impossible.

Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Hebrews 11:28-29

God uses times of separation – times of loneliness and soul-searching – to prepare leaders. He is not looking for the mightiest of the worldly. He is looking for outcasts who have gotten to know God. We can be thankful that God does not require us to be strong first before He uses us. He prepares us for victory in times of distress.

Thomas Watson Says S.W.I.M. by Faith

September 17, 2012 at 9:08 am | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim.

Thomas Watson, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Deuteronomy 6:4

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Home Is Where Your Lord Is

March 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Hebrews | 11 Comments
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Abraham “kept the faith” by tent-and-altar living – staying on the move and following God – not sitting still and summoning God to come to him.

Abraham also kept the faith by remembering what kind of traveler he was.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Lot was happy with the city which had foundations built by men, but Abraham believed for something better – a different kind of city. In the meantime, he was content to live in tabernacles (tents) and be a sojourner. “Sojourn” means to reside temporarily. Most of the people who check into hotels do not intend to “live” there – at least not permanently. They intend to “sojourn” there for a little while. The idea of “sojourning” also has a connotation of having needs provided on a day by day basis. Each day the sojourner receives just enough to get by on (a “per diem“). True Christian sojourners have to stay focused on the Provider. The incident with Elijah and the lady at Zarephath is a good illustration of this principle.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13-16

Abraham was a sojourner, a stranger, and a pilgrim. He was not a vagabond. A sojourner is one who has a temporary home. A stranger is one who is away from home. A vagabond is one who does not have a home. But a pilgrim is one who is on his way home.

Abraham kept the faith by remembering what kind of traveler he was, and Abraham kept the faith by remembering where his home was.

Of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:38-40 (emphasis added)

As New Covenant Christians, what “better thing” has God provided for us? The privilege of living on this side of the Cross. Old Testament saints looked forward by faith to the coming of the promised Messiah and Redeemer, but we have the proof of the fulfillment!

I don’t consider “my” house to really be mine. It is actually the Lord’s house (and arguably the mortgage company’s too!) that He’s allowing me live in. And I do like living in a house. But it’s not my permanent home. My permanent home is with the Lord Jesus in Heaven. One day I’ll go there and be with Him for ever and ever. Christians ought to always be a little uncomfortable in our daily lives – like people who are ready to go home. That’s one of the reasons we should so look forward to going to church each week. We have a biological family, but we find special comfort with our “true” family – our spiritual family in the Lord. We don’t “live” at church, but, each time, before we go back out, we need to remember that we are tent-dwellers who are at the beck and call of our Lord. One day my earthly home will be tried by fire. That’s why my sojourning here ought to be in fear – not fear of the world, but fear of God.

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

I Peter 1:17

If you are an observer of our political system, our court system, or our “pop” culture, you may wonder why the world acts so foolishly. I believe that it is partly due to a lack of fear of the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

The primary responsibility of Christians is not political activism. Politicians respond out of fear of man.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

When Christians stop acting like strangers in this world, and start acting like citizens of this world, we begin to pick up the customs of this world. When we forget to be pilgrims, and make ourselves at home, our flesh goes to war against the Holy Spirit.

When comedians impersonate the famous actor, John Wayne, they almost always drawl the word “pilgrim” as part of their routine. It’s my understanding that he actually only used the term in a couple of his many films, but he had a way of speaking to people as though he was superior to them. In the few western films of his I’ve seen, the characters he played were portrayed as superior – but he also seemed envious in a way of the people he was speaking down to. The one I remember best was called “The Searchers,” and in that movie all the characters either had a home or were headed home – except for Wayne’s character. He is portrayed at the beginning of the film as looking into the doorway of the home of a family he intends to help, and at the end, he looks through the doorway again, turns, and walks away into the distance.

http://theseventhart.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/the-searchers.jpg

It’s like the other characters were all going to a home he could never go to. I doubt the filmmakers were intending to convey anything spiritual, but it is a reminder to me that it is foolish to invest too much into a home in this world – where it won’t last. I’m looking for a city in Heaven, and a home where the foundation can’t be cracked, the walls can’t be shaken down, and the roof can’t be burned up. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of placing way too much emphasis on our material comfort. We pray for material or financial blessings, and God is saying, “No way, that’ll just make you comfortable, make you lazy.” When we feel like strangers and pilgrims, we don’t get too attached to this world, and we can devote ourselves totally to going where the Lord wants us to go, and to doing what the Lord wants us to do.

If Abraham had been given some type of institutional form to fill out with a section that said “Residency:,” I don’t think he would have checked the box that said “Ur of the Chaldees.” I think he would have written in: “My home is with the Lord.”

Abraham kept the faith by:
1. Staying on the move, following God
2. Remembering what kind of a traveler he was
3. Remembering where his home was

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 45 Comments
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I. Why does the world oppose Christians?

A. The world opposes Christians because the world opposed Christ.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:18-19

B. The world opposes Christians because Christians are supposed to live for Christ.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

C. The world opposes Christians because there are two spiritual families that are at war with each other.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:29

D. The world opposes Christians because the world’s system is opposed to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

II. How does the world oppose Christians?

A. By using those closest to Christians.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35-36

B. By cooperating with Satan in using unredeemed sinners against Christians.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

III. How can a Christian get the victory over the world?

A. By showing love, kindness, meekness, and gentleness to others.

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

Proverbs 15:1

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

B. By pleasing the Lord.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

C. By faith in God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5

D. By returning good for evil.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

E. By choosing our friends wisely.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

F. By renewing our minds every day in the Word of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

IV. How should the world view Christians?

A. As sincere, by our actions even more than our words.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

B. As set apart and different.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9

B. As open and honest.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

II Corinthians 8:21

C. As people who love unbelievers, but know what we ourselves believe.

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

Colossians 4:6

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

V. How should Christians view the world?

A. The way a pilgrim views a strange land.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

B. From the viewpoint of a citizen of Heaven.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:6

C. As a mission field.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

VI. Questions

A. What three institutions has God ordained for man in this world?

The family, the government, the church.

B. Where is a Christian’s home?

In Heaven.

C. What is the principle of “separation” for a Christian?

To be in the world, but not of the world. Not to touch the unclean thing.

VII. Memory Verses

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:15-16

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

Warning Sign #8: Regularly Scheduled Miracles

March 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 15 Comments
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If your pastor is in the transitional phase of crossing over into the “word of faith” or “prosperity gospel” movements, you may want to consider getting him a notebook for his birthday or pastor appreciation day. I know that does not sound like a very special gift, but it can come in really handy. Just make sure it is fairly thick. He’s going need it to be able to write down and keep up with all his different “anointings.”

He will want to write down the dates and times he first received his “preachin’ anointing,” his “speaking-in-tongues anointing,” his “harvest anointing,” his “anointing of increase,” his “anointing of favor,” his “financial anointing,” his “binding and loosing anointing,” his “dreams and visions anointing,” any musical or singing “anointings” he might have received, and many many more. These usually happen during a “vision retreat” where he abandons his family and flock for a few days so he can go somewhere secluded and hear God speak to him audibly in a place where no one else is around to verify it.

Of course, these “lesser anointings” will decrease in importance as he grows in faith. He is really just biding his time until he receives his “healing anointing” and his “miracle-working anointing.” That’s where the real money and fame is, after all. You don’t get much more “anointed” than being able to do a miracle, heal someone from a a disease or injury, or even raise the dead.

When your pastor gets to that level of anointedness, look out. It’s time for him to start regularly scheduling the miracles! If you think I’m exaggerating, think again. Even the Apostle Paul and the 1st Century Christians weren’t this anointed. Oh, sure, they did miracles by the power of God. But even they couldn’t make a “miracle reservation” and invite everybody to come “receive their healing” at an appointed time of their own choosing. Look at what Paul told Timothy:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

I Timothy 5:23

Too bad Benny Hinn wasn’t around back then. (If you type “regularly scheduled miracles” into Google, he is the first name that pops up.) Benny could have pushed Timothy over onstage in front of thousands of spectators and instantly healed his stomach problems without that pesky wine. (Of course, Timothy would have had to pay to park, wait in a long line at a big event center, dodge the numerous offering baskets, and sit through two-plus hours of droning repetitive trance-inducing “praise and worship music.”)

Or how about these poor believers, who suffered not because they didn’t speak the right “words of faith,” but because they did speak faithfully:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

Hebrews 11:37

Too bad they couldn’t have held on a little longer until the next “weekend of miracles” so a greedy “anointed” faith healer could lay hands on them and convince them that there is guaranteed physical healing in the Atonement.

Does God work miracles today? Without a doubt. Is he doing them at regularly scheduled pre-planned events calculated to bring glory and riches to men? Not likely. If your pastor is getting into this sort of thing, lovingly offer him a ride to the nearest critical care unit, pediatric cancer ward, or severe burn treatment center, so he can really put his “anointing” to use free of charge. Or better yet, take him to the morgue. If he can slap your Aunt Boo-Boo upside the head and heal her ingrown toenail, surely it’s only a difference in degree between that “miracle” and raising the dead. Right?

Discipleship Lesson 4: The Bible

December 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 102 Comments
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We have the revealed WORD OF GOD. Therefore, as Christians, we must let its principles guide our lives.

I. What does the Bible do for a lost person?

It is active in his salvation.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I Peter 1:23

The Word of God is active in bringing about the new birth.

For by grace are ye saved through faith…

Ephesians 2:8

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21

There is an emphasis on the Word of God in the Gospel:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:1-4, emphasis added

Believing what the Bible says about the Gospel is necessary for salvation.

II. What does the Bible do for a saved person?

A. It is the Owner’s manual. If we don’t follow the Owner’s and the Manufacturer’s plans, we won’t “work” – we won’t be successful Christians.

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

B. It equips us for service.

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

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

C. It sustains us.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Job 23:12

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

I Peter 2:2

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Proverbs 7:2

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:4

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

D. It cleans us.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:9-11

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 15:3

E. It makes us pleasing to God.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

III. Is the Bible ever wrong?

No, it is a “more sure word,” even than the audible voice of God.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:16-21

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Psalm 138:2

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Psalm 12:6-7

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

IV. What is the best way to study the Bible?

Compare Scripture with Scripture – not our own intellect or experiences.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

John 16:13-15

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. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:9-16

V. Questions

A. Was the Bible created by men or by God?

It was created by God. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. God used over 40 human instruments in writing it, but it fits together perfectly because the Holy Spirit is the real Author. It was written over a time span of 2000 years. It is totally accurate in history, prophecy, and life application. It contains no contradictions.

B. Is the Bible too hard for a Christian to understand?

No, it is not. However, there are difficult passages, and one of the key things for a Christian to remember is to live what you do understand, and God will reveal to you in His time what you do not yet understand.

C. Is there any value in memorizing Scriptures?

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

VI. Memory Verses

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:21

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16

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