Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallowed Eve - Revisited

Matthew 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?
I posted this a couple years ago, but I think about it every year at this time, so let's revisit it. 
Today, we celebrate Halloween. Dressing up in costumes, going to parties, playing games and “trick or treating” for the little kids. But when I ask people what is the significance of the day and what exactly are we celebrating on this “second most popular” holiday in the United States of America?, the answer always seems to be the same: “I don’t know.”

I’ve listened to a couple Pastors this week explain that there is a confluence of three streams that flow together to form this modern celebration. The first goes back to the Druids, who were the pagan inhabitance of pre-Christian Ireland & Scotland. The Druid or Celtic year began on November 1, which was called “Samhain”. This was their New Year’s day, and consequently, October 31 was “New Year’s Eve”. It was also a combination of a “Harvest Festival” and thought of as a “Festival of the Dead”, for it was said that it was this night that the Earth came to its closest contact with the unseen and spiritual world. Consequently, ghosts, goblins and witches terrified the populous, supposedly destroying crops, killing babies, stealing farm animals, upsetting garbage cans and reeking all sorts of havoc on the people. Bon fires were set upon the hills, either to keep the ghosts away, or perhaps to guide the spirits of the dead back to their homes, where it was believed that the spirits of the deceased on the eve of Samhain find warmth and good cheer in the home of their kinfolk before the onslaught of winter. Therefore, we see a lot of the folk custom of Halloween has come from this Druid celebration.

Another one of them is the custom of “Trick or Treat”. It originated when the people of Ireland went around to homes asking for various treats for the celebration which was to follow later in the evening. Then, when the belief in the reality of goblins and ghosts began to decline, and it was no longer believed that they were really doing these mischievous things, the children decided to help out. So they dressed up in various costumes and put on masks, then went house to house asking for treats, but adding a little something extra … threatening also tricks if they failed to be generous. And so, there were garbage cans upset, gate posts found in trees, and all sorts of pandemonium that took place on that night, supposedly attributed to the ghosts and goblins, but, of course, wrought by the dressed up children.

Deuteronomy 18:9-11 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”
The second stream that flows into the modern celebration of Halloween comes from Central Europe, when the Christian church made its attack upon the pagan bastions, destroying the temples of the various heathen gods and goddesses. But it was never able to completely eradicate the pagan worship which reappeared in the “Dark Ages” in the form of witchcraft. One of the important aspects of witchcraft are a number of celebrations each year, which are called “Witch’s Sabbaths”. One of the highest witch’s Sabbaths, the “Black Sabbath” of witches, occurred on October 31. This was a night of feasting and revelry, and imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, black cats, bats, mythical monsters and other related Halloween paraphernalia. The source of much of our Halloween folklore today stems from the high witch’s Black Sabbath of October 31 celebrated in Central Europe in the Middle Ages.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

The third stream that completes the modern concept of Halloween comes from the Roman Catholic Church. The church was engaged had been engaged in appointing certain days to honor and reverence certain Saints that the church had appointed or declared. There had become so many of these days that it became impossible to have a specific day for each Saint, so they decided to have one day in which they would remember all of the Saints, called “All Saints Day”. In the 700’s A.D., Pope Gregory III changed the date if “All Saints Day” to November 1, and in the year 834 A.D., Pope Gregory IV extended this celebration to the entire Roman Catholic Church. There was a celebration associated with this, on the evening before called “All-Hallows-Mas” or “All-Hallows-Even” on October 31 and it is from these two words that we have the contraction “Halloween”.

Here you see the three-fold origin of the celebration of Halloween. Are you still excited to celebrate it? Well, unrelated, on October 31, 1517 @ noon in Wittenberg, Germany, a young professor of Theology by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the University door that sprung into existence the Protestant Reformation and churches. So October 31 is the birthday of Protestantism and the Evangelical faith. Saved by grace alone, saved by Christ alone, and saved by faith alone. Now that’s no trick, but the greatest treat of all.

In Christ, Brian

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

As it is in Heaven


Matthew 6:8-10 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

During our first session of Day 2 of our Church Conference, CEO Willie Nolte presented a motivating message on being “uncommon disciples” in today society; not as the lost secular world thinks and moves and has its being, but as it is in Heaven. Despite the Fall of man, we can and must change the road that we are on, from destruction to glory. Do we see the big picture, know the gospel story and live according to it?  

Acts 17:26-28From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.

Common people may decide what they believe is common based upon their personal beliefs and feelings, but they may not be consistent with Sovereign God’s kingdom, and we are seeing much that is contrary to the Word and Will of Creator God today. A sense of uncommon community is being uncommon in a “’blinded by sin” (John 3:3), egocentric culture, but common in the Kingdom community. What is it in us that is common in our lives, but not common in God’s kingdom and economy – tied to God’s glory and holiness activity in the world; that we can work on to improve ourselves also. We know from Revelation 21:4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”, that there are no hungry for truth, broken or lost people in Heaven, but do we pray and live for it today. Life is not a bitch and then you die, as a popular quote says, but this world will be the closest that some will get to Heaven and this world will be the closest that some will get to Hell. There are two roads, but this life is not Hell and the common road to Hell is not the focus; the uncommon road to Heaven is.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

God’s people refuse to accept that which is common in this contrary to God world system because of what is common in God’s kingdom – the King’s commands, decrees and statues reign and rule as the higher order. Shall we give up on God and the Upper Story? Back in the Garden of Eden, we were “as it was in Heaven”, but since the Fall of Adam, we have been in a declining line in Sin – the common wide road that leads to destruction. But, we are not hopeless because God breaks in with a different line, called “the uncommon narrow road that leads to life in the kingdom of Heaven” through the gospel of Jesus Christ, that intersects that descending line. Commissioned by Jesus, Christ’s church is the primary way that God has decided to show this uncommon kingdom to those on that “line of decline” in sin and unbelief, and fulfill God’s plan - the salvation and restoration of lives by turning the common life into the uncommon life ... as it is in Heaven.


 In Christ, Brian  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Upper Story


Isaiah 55:6, 8-9 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

During our third and final Session of our Church Conference in Downey, California, the Keynote Speaker Pastor Randy Frazee of Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, Texas gave an inspirational story about how he grew up in a non-Christian family and his Grandmother giving him a Bible at an early age. He knew that there was something in that book that he really needed to know. But when he took it off the shelf and read it, he couldn't figure it out. And he was not alone. When church members were surveyed about what they wanted most at church, the number one was: to understand the Bible - a critical key to knowing what you believe and being able to live it out. The gospel is Genesis to Revelation and the point of the story of creation was that God wants to be with you and I. Pastors and teachers have to let people see God’s upper story in the lower story of our lives and to know that the story isn't over.

Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

We lived in the decision of Adam until God sent the second Adam for our restoration and since that story has not reach the final chapter, we are all characters in God’s story. Our sin nature keeps us out of the Garden and no sinful man could get us back, for their sin keeps them out. We need a Savior and God demonstrates His power as Jesus is the way to restoration. Realize that there are two stories going on in the Bible and in life. The lower (antagonist) story works within the upper story (protagonist) story and God works with it all. God is colliding our stories and is making something good out of them.

Genesis 50:20 You intended evil, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

The question is: What kind of character are you going to be in that story? Are you and I in concert with God’s bigger plan? If you and I want to guarantee that our life means something “good” in the lower story of our daily lives, then disciples need to align ourselves with God’s upper story. Aligned, something good will come out of it, in the unfolding of God’s story. Isaiah had it right: the biggest idea we can have is too small for God. Our job is to make sure that everyone understands “The Upper Story” that they are loved (John 3:16-18). There are opportunities to do big things, but also opportunities to do small things that make a difference in people’s life. Do not under-estimate the part that God has called you to play in His upper story and look to Him for direction.

Let’s see ourselves as characters in God’s story and align our lower story to His upper story.


In Christ, Brian

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There's a New Kid in Town


Welcome Kaleb Austin Todd, our first Grandchild. What a blessing!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Tree is Known by its Fruit


Luke 6:43-44 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.

During the Second session of our churches denominational conference, keynote speaker Pastor Randy Frazee from Oak Hills church in San Antonio. Texas told us how study have shown that on average, each American household owns four Bibles, but the same survey found that the large majority of these families don’t read it and don’t put the teachings of the Holy Scriptures into practice, creating a Biblical illiteracy challenge in our country today. There is a complete difference between those who do believe, read their Bible and practice Christianity, because a tree is known by its fruit. Fruit is the external product that can be seen and tasted.

Galatians 5:22-25 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

If we say that we believe, but do not live out our faith in thought, word and action, then we cannot produce “good” fruit. Our identity is in Christ and our internal belief and worth is not based upon our external performance. Our fundamental belief is in our humanity, where the inward attitude of gentleness is not putting ourself above others, because except by the grace of God, there walk I. Except by the fruit of the Spirit, what else will distinguish us from all others? Walking in the Spirit and crucifying the sinful desires and passions of the flesh creates a holy discrimination from it, because our Just God judges what is just. This has caused a crisis in America today as anti-discrimination in the form of politic correctness has postured itself for what the Christian church is against and not what the Christian church is for. In doing so, they have postured themselves against their very Creator.

Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Christian love vertically first, then horizontally, and the Cross is a wonderful symbol of that truth. Uncommon disciples are those who live out what the Bible teaches and what Jesus taught, politically correct or not. The Word of God says something very different than the world. We cannot believe that Christ is the “right” answer, but do not act upon it. We need to move the church out of the building and into the environment as salt and light with a unified idea of where they are going. Through the indwelling empowerment of the Holy Spirit, encircle our community with the presence of God, in Christ, with love, that they may desire what Christians have inwardly that is revealed by their fruit. Instead of “trying hard”, we need to “yield hard” to the leading of the Holy Spirit and trust the Lord always with everything.
In living out our faith, our discipleship is evangelism.

For every tree is known by its own fruit. What are we bearing?

In Christ, Brian

Monday, October 21, 2013

30 Big Ideas


During our Opening Session of our Church Conference in Downey, California, the Keynote Speaker Pastor Randy Frazee of Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, Texas gave us a list of 30 Big Ideas. Focusing on the Jesus Revolution wheel, under the three area titles of “Thinking based on Beliefs of belonging”, “Acting upon by practicing for growth”, and “Being virtuous in serving the Lord” with God presence at the core, there are ten ideas to think about and take to heart for application in our lives in our daily walk with the Spirit. Here they are for your consideration today.

Beliefs

  1. Trinity: I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God – Father Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. Salvation by Grace: I believe a person comes into a right relationship with God by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.
  3. Authority of the Bible: I believe the Bible is the Word of Goad and has the right to command my belief and actions.
  4. Personal God: I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life.
  5. Identity in Christ: I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.
  6. Church: I believe the church is God’s primary way to accomplish His purposes on earth today.
  7. Humanity: I believe all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  8. Compassion: I believe God calls all Christians to show compassion to those in need.
  9. Eternity: I believe there is a heaven and a hell, and that Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth and to establish His eternal kingdom.
  10. Stewardship: I believe everything I am and own belongs to God.

Practices

  1. Worship: I worship God for who He is and what He has done for me.
  2. Prayer: I pray to God to know Him, to lay my requests before Him, and to find direction for my daily life.
  3. Bible Study: I study the Bible to know God, the truth, and to find direction in my daily life.
  4. Single-mindedness: I focus on God and His priorities for my life.
  5. Biblical Community: I fellowship with other Christians to accomplish God’s purposes in my life, other’s life, and in the world.
  6. Spiritual Gifts: I know and use my spiritual gifts to accomplish God’s purposes.
  7. Giving Away My Time: I give away my time to fulfill God’s purposes.
  8. Giving Away My Money: I give away my money to fulfill God’s purposes.
  9. Giving Away My Faith: I give away my faith to fulfill God’s purposes.
  10. Giving Away My Life: I give away my life to fulfill God’s purposes.

Virtues

  1. Love: I unconditionally and sacrificially love and forgive others.
  2. Joy: I have inner contentment and purpose in spite of my circumstances.
  3. Peace: I am free from anxiety because things are right between God, others, and myself.
  4. Patience: I take a long time to overheat and endure patiently under the unavoidable pressures of life.
  5. Kindness/Goodness: I choose to do the right things in my relationships with others.
  6. Faithfulness: I have established a good name with God and with others based on my long-term loyalty to those relationships.
  7. Gentleness: I am thoughtful, considerate, and calm in dealing with others.
  8. Self-Control: I have the power, through Christ, to control myself.
  9. Hope: I can cope with the hardships of life and with death because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ.
  10. Humility: I choose to esteem others above myself.
Thirty big ideas that go beyond beliefs, to a way of life as who we are in Christ.


Blessings, Brian

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Jesus Revolution


Ephesians 5:1-2"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

At the request of our Pastor, I've spent the last couple days at a Church Conference in Downey, California with four other members of our Congregation and heard a motivating message by the Keynote Speaker Pastor Randy Frazee of Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, Texas. In the study for a book about the rise of Christianity, author Rodney Stark found that in the first few centuries following the ascension of Christ into Heaven, two main factors fueled the growth of “the Way” in the world. First, that women had a devalued position and status in society, but with Christianity valuing women properly, women flocked to the faith, converted their husbands to faith and raised their children in the faith. Secondly, two major out-breaks of diseases (1) Small Pox in 125 A.D. & (2) Measles in 250 A.D. killed approximately ¼ to 1/3 of the population each. As the symptoms appeared on family members, they were put out of the house to not infect the rest of the family, but the Christians wouldn't put their family out and would take in the non-Christians outcasts to care for them despite the risk. Not only did people seeing this act of love start flocking to Christianity, but it was discovered that people being cared for with love had a 33% better chance of recovery from the disease. So the ultimate factor in the rise of Christianity was their doctrine and beliefs taking on flesh in action. God’s presence was central in their lives and that truth moved from their heads to their hearts. There was something different about those Christians. They believed that there were no second class citizens and they lived this out daily because God loved them. They believed it and acted upon it.

Matthew 16:15-18 He (Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Like them, we need to take on the Jesus Revolution. Imagine a wheel with the words “Like Jesus” in the middle. At the outer top is the word “think”. Rotating right, one-third around the outside edge is the word “act”. Then rotating right, another one-third of the way around the parameter of this tire is the word “be”. Thinking is the beliefs, acting is the practice of those beliefs, and being is the natural virtues thereof. To complete a revolution of the wheel, we start with “Think like Jesus” and move to “Act like Jesus”, then to “Be like Jesus”. Our Christian beliefs are actively put into practice and these become our virtues lived out daily as we “do life together”. It goes beyond beliefs to a way of life for the students and followers of Jesus Christ (called disciples). And this Jesus Revolution equates to “Belonging” and rotates around to “Growing” then to “Serving” as the indwelling Holy Spirit fuels the revolutionary process going round, in loving God and loving our neighbors with the presence of the Lord. Don't just bring the message, but "be the message" by living out the gospel by faith. This is the “Jesus Revolution”. Join it and get rolling!

Matthew 18:20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Hoshaiah, Jehovah God has saved,
In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pick-Pocketed by the Past


2 Corinthians 5:16-18 “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so nom longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Is it enough to live in a world that is trying to convince everyone into something else that the God of the Bible? We also are being short-changed and pick-pocketed of our love, joy and peace in Christ by our past. Pastor JJ continued in his Sunday sermon series on: “Identity Theft” with the concept that with becoming a creation “in Christ”, that included, we receive and take on a new identity also. Outside of Christ, we are under condemnation and slaves to sin, but “in Christ” the spirit is regenerated, so that the old is put away and we put on the new. Our identity is now in Christ and this is a completely new identity.

John 10:9-11I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The evil one, Satan, comes to kill, steal and destroy us with tempting lies, and the God-rejecting world chips away at faith to steal our joy in the Lord. What you believe or not believe, the relationships that you build or resist, what you do or what you decide not to do, and who you follow, along with who you chose to avoid, shows our identity that molds and shapes us, so must be given to the Lord. We can live in the fear and guilt of past sins before God, but the questions would have to be asked: Did we lose Christ the Redeemer? Do we identify with the sins of the world (the old) rather than the forgiveness and salvation “in Christ” (the new)?

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
 Psalm 103:12He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

What’s going on? Do we feel no longer welcome because we cannot forgive ourselves or forget what we did in the past, even after coming to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ? Or have a healthy fear of not wanting to disappoint Father God, hurt others or hurt ourselves, so give the past to the Lord and walk in the Spirit, obedience to the Word of God with an eternal perspective. That is our I.D. card – “in Christ”! Christ the Lord paid the price for all sin by His atoning, sacrificial death on the cross in our place in order to give us that new identity. God is faithful and just, so drop that burden of past sin that we carry and give them to God because they no long identify us. Don’t ever forget who God is and who you are “in Christ”.

Romans 8:1-6Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Our I.D. does not have to be confirmed by the devil, nor the world with our position and possessions within the world, because our identity is defined and confirmed by our Creator, Lord and Savior God. “In Christ” we are a child of the King of the kingdom of Heaven and this is where we get our identification from. Santa will not stop trying to get us to question our relationship with God and our I.D. “in Christ” and the God-rejecting world will be relentless with pressure of doubt in living the Christian life by bringing up one hurt after another from the past, but do not be short-changed of your forgiveness in Christ and new identity. Go back to that which gives you strength … the Word, Will and Way of God. Reject distractions that tempt us to look at others, and other things, rather than God. Do you believe that our Creator Father God can change your past from guilty to “not guilty” and make you into a new creation? Do you truly believe who you truly are “in Christ”, or are we pick pocketed by our past? Hear the voice of the Lord that we are set free from sin and have spiritual guidance, godly direction and heavenly purpose “in Christ”.

 John 8:32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


In Christ, Brian

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Green Eyed Monster


Proverbs 27:4 “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

Our Friday night small group Bible study that meets at our house continues is the topical series, “Conquering Destructive Temptations and Distractions with the green-eyed monster of “ jealousy”. We've all heard the term “green-eyed monster”, but do you know where it originated? O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss, who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger: But O, what damn├Ęd minutes tells he o'er who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves! Shakespeare’s Othello Act 3, scene 3, 165–171Choosing to be satisfied with what God gives us and where He’s placed us isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Romans 13:13-14 “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Jealousy is defined as the demand for exclusive affection or attention characterized by anxiety, envy, distrust and suspicion. Signs of envy include feeling discontent over the success of another and taking delight in another person’s failures. As believers, how can we resist the temptation to jealousy or defeat envy when it creeps into our thoughts? By realizing your own worth in God’s eyes, and appreciate others. Learning to let go of jealous feelings is a process of looking at our lives from God’s perspective. God has chosen us and we are His workmanship, saved by His grace through faith. He loves each of us with an everlasting love and has a plan for our live. Our role is to be patient and wait for God, believing that He is working out His purpose in our lives for our ultimate good and His glory, then the green-eyed monster will lose its power.

Titus 3:3-5 “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.


In Christ, Brian

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Salvation - Soteriology - Part 2


Genesis 49:18 “I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!”

In our Wednesday night teaching series on “Systematic Theology”, Pastor JJ has been explaining the foundational truths of Christianity that we may build upon “good word” of the Bible in every aspect of our faith and life. Week seven brings us to the heart of the gospel: “Salvation”. We are saved from eternal damnation in Hell to eternal glory in Heaven. Why and how? What is the necessity of salvation?

2 Samuel 22:3 & 47 “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence. The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!”

One of the barriers of our understanding is realizing the fact that God is Holy, Just, and Righteous. We have a tendency to try to bring infinite God down to our finite, tangible level, but it is mankind that must elevate in holiness towards God. God is merciful and loving, gracious and kind. From His goodness, He must punish sin, or else He is not good and could not be God because He would give up His Holiness. Sin contrasts His holiness and must be dealt with. The sin of mankind misses God’s mark and all of us are guilty. Natural man is on the side of sin and not on the side of God’s blessings. The wages of which is spiritual death and eternal separation from God, because God can have nothing to do with sin. The result of sin is total depravity. There is no way to merit salvation and no option to pay. By our willful disobedience in sin, we deserve God’s justice. But God is merciful.

1 Chronicles 16:23Sing to the Lord, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.”

Though salvation cannot earned, is not deserved, and cannot be purchased by us, loving God demonstrates His grace in reconciliation by removing the separating barriers of sin through restoration. God - “the Father’ is the source, God - “the Son” is the agent and the substitution death of the sinless Redeemer Jesus on the cross is the instrument of that reconciliation by paying the price of our sin in our place. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.


Acts 4:11-12 “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The Blood of Christ was expiate in atonement to remove our sins horizontally (as far as the east is from the west), and a propitiation to God as a suitable sacrifice in our behalf vertically to satisfy His wrath. Redemption comes by faith in the finished work of the blessed Savior because our sin is imputed to the Lord and His perfect righteousness of the “Lamb without blemish” is credited to us in substitution, for those who believe. Not mere intellectual assent, nor mere temporal faith, but trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. Regeneration of the spirit that died from Adam’s original sin upon all mankind, that those who were spiritually dead are made alive.

Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

We receive justification, which is the subtraction of our sins, declared not guilty, and freed from the penalty of sin, being found just as if we had never sinned. By the grace of God, we receive by faith the unmerited favor of God by getting what we do not deserve … riches at Christ’s expense. We didn’t deserve it then, and we don’t deserve it now, but by His grace we have it when we place our full trust in the Savior of the world – Lord Jesus.

Ephesians 1:13-14And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

The ABC’s to Salvation are: (a) Admit that you are a Sinner. (unless you are perfect, but nobody’s perfect), (b) Believe in Jesus (our sins were paid for in full on the cross and it is finished), and (c) Confess that Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to heaven , is seated on the right hand of the Father interceding for us, and that Christ is our Lord. This side of Heaven, we have eternal security of where we are going to go when we, the child of God, dies. We receive initial Sanctification in our new position before God as holy and blameless, then start the process of sanctification, where we grow, improve and mature into the likeness of Christ on our journey to the Promised Land – the kingdom of Heaven as our eternal perspective.

1 Peter 1:6-9In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

With salvation, Justification is a one time act, while sanctification is a day to day process. Justification is the reality of an eternal position with Christ, while sanctification is a temporal position of shaped us for today and preparing us for glory to come. Justification exempts us from the great white throne judgment, while sanctification prepares us for the rewards of the Bema Seat Judgment. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin, while sanctification removes the growth and power of sin in our life. Justification is possible because Jesus died for sin’s penalty, conquering sin and death, that our sanctification removes sin’s power.

Revelation 7:10 “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It was once said that once was accept the free gift of salvation by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross in our place and receive the gift of eternal life, all the rest of our life is simply a P.S. to that day, saying, “Thank you Lord for what You gave to me.” Salvation.


In Christ, Brian

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Soteriology – Part One / A Word Study on “Salvation” in Psalms


Psalm 3:8Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people.”

Psalm 13:5-6 I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Psalm 18:1-3 “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.”

 

Psalm 25:4-5Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.”

 

Psalm 27:1The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 35:9 “My soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.”

Psalm 51:10-13Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
Psalm 62:5-8My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” 

 

Psalm 67:1-3God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.”

Psalm 71:14-16I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”

Psalm 79:9Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake!”

 

Psalm 95:1-3Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.

 

Psalm 98:1-3Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

Glory be to God.
In Christ, Brian

Monday, October 7, 2013

Who We Are


Romans 12:2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This last Sunday, Pastor JJ started a new Sermon series titled “Identity Thief”. The search for “Who I am?” is a basic investigate that all of us partake sometime, in the desire to define who we are and find purpose in our life. The problem happens when we create an image of ourselves by conforming to others and their thinking rather than knowing the One who can and does answer the question: “Who am I?”

There is a danger that we take a humanistic approach and focus on “self” and miss our worth and purpose in life … what our Creator created us for. Though us and our life, God is glorified in His purposes and plans in the redemption and salvation of the world and we are invited to share it His glory. But the one thing to remember is that redemption always has a price and God’s price for you and I cost Him dearly because Christ’s redemption was paid by His precious atoning blood on the cross for the sins of the world (1 Peter 1:18-19). Everyone belonged to God originally, but separated by sin, God is in the process of redeeming all those who shall trust and believe by faith in Jesus Christ. Satan is doing whatever he can to keep everyone possible from that redemption and restoration.

Ephesians 2:1-8 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

The gospel truth will set us free to focus on what God would have us to do and off of the distractions of the flesh, the God-rejecting world and the devil. We are a new creation of infinite worth. As a child of the King of the kingdom of Heaven, we don’t look to this world for our worth and purpose. We are deeply loved by our Heavenly Father. God came down to have relationship with us, not because we are worthless. Far from it! Worth is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for an item. God sent His Son and Jesus paid the ultimate price of His life for us … that’s how much we are worth to God and He is delighted in who we are. It was His sacrifice, by His grace. Until the possibility of having something ripped away and taken from us, we don’t realize just how much it meant to us. When we know the depth of our redemption, complete forgiveness and salvation by the blood of Jesus, we offer ourselves willfully in gratitude and appreciation. We need to remember the truth of God’s promises and put our full trust in Him and His Word. Embrace the truth of God, not the lies of this world. Our worth is not determined by others, but by God’s acceptance. We are fully pleasing and totally accepted by God. And we are absolutely complete in Christ. That’s who we are!

1 Peter 2:10 “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”


In Christ, Brian