Friday, July 09, 2010

The 5G Network of the Bible: God, Guilt, Grace, Gratitude, Glory

Hello I'm back... I hope.
I have had a crazy year and it is still crazy but I am feeling much better these days and I am hopeful to be staying the course as God continues to carry me and it has always been the Gospel that has brought me comfort through the toughest times.

I wanted to touch up my last posting before I start writing more and adding more posts here. I have also started writing for the Examiner for Wichita. The link is on the top right corner of my blog.

I am still a member of an Independent Christian Church and have recently been Received and joined an Episcopal Church. Talk about from one extreme to the other.
I have thoroughly enjoy the depth of the tradition and liturgy and the young priest is doing a very good job of preaching the text given in the Book of Common Prayer.
For some reason God has brought me to this denomination and more specifically this congregation and to be able to meet with the priest to discuss the hope to bring this denomination to be a gospel centered Episcopal Church. The liturgy is very good and Gospel centered. So, if the preacher really blows it on the sermon the liturgy will present the Gospel throughout the other aspects of the service. Such as the Eucharist / Holy Communion, scripture readings, absolution, etc.

Below is my version of the Heidleberg Catechism, but I have added 2 more Gs to make it the 5G Network like AT&T and Vorizon have the 4G... but we have the 5G network.

When I think of the Bible as a whole and when I want to talk to someone about it.

The following words come to mind as I scan across the bible from Genesis to Revelation. I see it in this way: God, Guilt, Grace, Gratitude, Glory

God: It all begins from a Holy Creator in a Holy way and its state or status is Holy, Pure, and "Very Good" as it is described in Genesis. Isaiah 6 is a great picture God's Holiness and how a man who was a prophet of God and considered a righteous man, would tremble in fear at the vision he had seen. God is called Holy, Holy, Holy.

Guilt: Adam and Eve are amongst and living in absolute pure conditions, and they have perfect reason, and perfect conditions. The only thing is a command to not eat of the Tree. The only odd thing is there is a talking serpent. I'm not certain talking snakes was the norm there either. So, the guilt that enters is really Satan himself and the questioning of what God had said and what God would do, if they ate of the Tree. So, at this moment Adam and Eve had the ability to not sin, but they gave in to the temptations and did sin, even before touching the tree.

Grace: God was not surprised by these events at all. This was all part of the plan. God wants to show the extent of His love for His Son and the Son for His Father. They decided that when they created man in their image, they knew that they were going to fall into sin. And that Jesus out of an expression of His love for the Father He would go and fulfill all the laws and prophecies and statutes that were established by God. As a propitiation or sacrifice by His life and by His death... and by His Resurrection. Some people may ask, "why did God have to allow sin to happen?"
And the only thing I can think of is, if He didn't allow sin to occur then we wouldn't know this kind of Love. We wouldn't know Grace, Mercy, Sacrifice, salvation, savior, redemption. And when Jesus said the following:

John 15:12-14 (New International Version) 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Again, we wouldn't know that kind of love if sin wasn't allowed to happen.

: Jesus did in the desert in the worst conditions what Adam and Eve could not do in perfect conditions. Adam and Eve had a tree that was a temptation to eat from. Jesus had a tree the was a temptation to flee from. The temptations that Satan had for Jesus were ultimately the temptation to avoid the cross and to not do the Father's will.
Since we are this gift from the Father to the Son and the Son comes to redeem us back and by raising from the dead he makes it possible for us to be raised as well. His life becomes our life and his death / sacrifice became all of our sacrifices. He is the High Priest and He sat down by the Father, because that is the end of all sacrifices. When Jesus died on the cross He was treated as if he lived our lives, and he takes our sin upon himself. Then we are treated as if we lived His life and receive His sacrifice as our sacrifice for Sin. Propitiation is the turning away of God's wrath and taking it upon Himself. I think that was probably the most painful part of the crucifixion. Jesus enduring the wrath of God, which some people say it is God turning away from His son. I think it is the only possible reaction God can have against sin, it is just annihilated in the burning purification of His Holiness.
So, I say all of that to show how we are like the Tax Collector in Jesus' parable where he is in the temple and doesn't even lift his eyes to heaven, but cries out, "have mercy on me a sinner". Grace is so marvelous, if we also are "poor in spirit" like this tax collector. Then our next response would be to live a life out of Gratitude for what Jesus has done for us and for the Father.

Glory: Ultimately, all of the Bible is about beginning with Holiness, and ultimately it's about ending with Holiness, or Holiness Restored. So, God is making a way for the Jesus to express His love to the Father and for the Father. As well as express His love for the gift which the Father has Given to Jesus. Jesus goes to redeem the gift and has the Father and the Holy Spirit care for us while He prepares a place for us. And when He returns for His Bride, He comes back to call them to His home and we as adopted children get to be with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit in Glory for all eternity.

So, it is more about God than it is about us. It is more about the person and works of Jesus Christ than it is about us. It is more about the Gospel than it is about us.
It is imperative to see that if you only go to the Bible and only come away with a personal application and don't see a hint of these things, then you most likely have missed the main point. And the main point comes from the Gospel which is the Person and Works of Jesus Christ.

All of this is DONE by God for God. Saved by God from God. Brought to Glory to God by God.

Soli Deo Gloria: All the Glory to God Alone

Greace = Grace and Peace
Coram Deo!!! (Before the Face of God)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grace and the Gospel

Below is a wonderful message about the Gospel, and specifically Grace. This is one of the best messages I've heard coming from the Christian Church in a very long time. Except for the use of "The Message" translation / paraphrase / slang version.... I like to call "The Massage" translation.

Anyhow, this is a really good message and needs to be heard by anyone at any stage in their walk.

Grace and Peace = Greace,
Coram Deo!!!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello Reform-Shire friends,

I'm sure you have been missing my postings these past couple of weeks. I've been in a lot of conversations over the past few weeks about the church and the pastor search. Asking questions of the interviewing pastor and attending a Sunday School Class called "Gospel in Life - Grace Changes Everything" by Tim Keller.

There were a couple of articles by Tim Keller that I shared with the church leadership about being Gospel Centered in the the Church.

This has been a really really good class so far.

This week I've been thinking about the Sovereignty of God. And more specifically the providence of God.

There are a so many characters in the Bible to choose from but 2 that I like to think about are
Joseph in Genesis and Zacchaeus in Luke.

1)Joseph and that colorful coat.

RC Sproul did a wonderful series on the "Life of Joseph"
My favorite part is when RC Sproul discusses how much happened because of one lousy multi-colored coat. But, through all of that it was really God's providence that brought about the ultimate good in spite of the evil things that happened to Joseph. Not just in Joseph's life where he says you have meant it for evil but God has meant it for good.
We can see throughout scripture how God was working even allowing sin to take place to bring about the ultimate good. And God's providence works through all the aspects of the Human free will. For example, if you look at Jacob prior to the incident of Joseph and giving him this coat of many colors. Look at what kind of person Jacob has become. Look at what has happened in his own life. See how God worked even in that situation. See how Romans 9 interprets how God had chosen Jacob over Esau. So, all these things God was active and not just observing. He was involved in orchestrating the people while allowing them to maintain their freedom while at the same time maintaining His providence and His sovereignty over whatever comes to pass.
God not only determines the ends, but also the means by which everything comes to pass. But, this does not assign any evil to God, it still assigns the evil to man. And God either allows or does not allow the evil to take place.

So, Joseph's story is very big and very significant. And ultimately these things had to take place in order to bring about a savior in the person and works of Jesus Christ. Which happens way off into the distant future from the events or life of Joseph.

Now lets look into the
New Testament at a smaller example but God's providence is often overlooked. Let's look at Zacchaeus

2) Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus.

Luke 19:3-5 (New International Version)

3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."

Now in American churches Zacchaeus is given praise for being determined and having the wisdom to climb that tree because somehow Zacchaeus all of a sudden decided that he was curious about this man Jesus was about to come along. We have a tendancy to put a lot of emphasis on the example of Zacchaeus tha we can apply to our every day lives. But, in reality, this is "Me-ism" or Narcissism. Below I will make a case for more praise to God's Providence and less praise for this man Zacchaeus.

So, Just like in Joseph's story, God was involved in this small little situation as well. The encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus. Jesus was not surprised by this event that was unfolding. God made Zacchaeus and allowed him to become the kind of man that he is in this story. God caused Zacchaeus to be short, or at least short enough to need to climb the tree to see over the crowd. God also provided the tree to be planted and to grow so that Zacchaeus would be able to have a way to see over the crowd. And Jesus was to walk by at the precise time that Zaccheus would have the desire (created by the
Holy Spirit) to see Jesus Christ and feel the compulsion to get a better look by climbing that tree. God also allowed Zacchaeus to become a tax collector and even a cheating tax collector, that would be despised by all the Jews. So, it wasn't part of Zacchaeus life to be anticipating the coming of the Messiah, it was his anticipation to make a little money off the excess that he would charge as he collected the taxes.
So, somehow, someway, while Zacchaeus was still in his free will to choose to have nothing to do with God, God changed Zacchaeus will, awakened him from spiritual darkness and brought him to the light in the meeting with Jesus. Zacchaeus response to the Grace of God was to do something out of Gratitude for the realization of his guilt before a Holy God. He wanted to give back more than what he had taken which is like the Grace that is given to us in our salvation or our adoption as sons of the Most High King, Jesus Christ.

So, in little ways and in big ways God is working to bring about His ultimate will to His Glory and to His Honor.

Romans 8:28-39
More Than Conquerors
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[j] who[k] have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."[l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you,
Greace = Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Southern Baptist Girl

Hello Reform-Shire Friends!

It has been a crazy week or 2 at work.

However, I would like to introduce to you a blog that I recently have linked to. This is a great discerning blog called "Southern Baptist Girl"

She has been doing some reviews of the famous "Beth Moore" studies. If you would like some chapter by chapter reviews of Beth Moore's teachings, then I suggest you go visit Southern Baptist Girl's Blog. Tell her I sent you.

The current book is called "So Long Insecurities" by Beth Moore

It seems there has been a lot of twisting of scripture to fit the specific topic or theme that Beth Moore has in mind. But, the biggest problem is that there is a whole lot of law in her teachings and very little (if at all) Gospel being presented. Where does the person and works of Jesus Christ fit in to "insecurities"?

Greace = Grace and Peace

Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mentoring Brothers; The Cross & Resurrection

Below I'm making this part of our Mentoring Brothers weekly challenge.  Please read below.
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Mentoring Brothers; The Cross & Resurrection

Hello Gentlemen!

What an amazing weekend and then a funeral of a wonderful woman Janice Cryer.  Such an inspiring family and faith.  We heard yesterday the testimony of Janice' sister.  She said that in 2001 she had been a Jehovah's Witness for several years and she was going to Wichita to convert her sister Janice.  After 3 days of debating back and forth.  The JW was converted.  The text that grabbed her and woke her from the grasp of the deceiver, was: John 1:1

John 1

The Word Became Flesh
 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

Is there any other concept or teaching so strong that it would break through all the finely tuned complex teaching of a cult such as the JW?

And it is the Word (Jesus Christ) that brings someone to faith in the Word (Jesus Christ) through the preached Word(Jesus Christ) because it is all about the Word(Jesus Christ)

If you have not listened to any of the recommended programs that I have passed along.  You MUST listen to this weeks program on the White Horse Inn.  It is absolutely critical to grasp this, and it needs to be shared with all believers so that they know what they believe and why they believe it.  Rev. Ken Jones tells a story about a man who thought he didn't need Christianity because everything was going just fine for him.
Listen to that story.  The Gospel is practical for those tough situations that we cannot handle.  We have to see the eternal good away from any temporal bad or temporal "good".

Please let me know that you have listened to it... Make the time to... Please, it is very, very important. 

Greace = Grace and Peace

Coram Deo!!!

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Christopher Allen <>
To: Reform-Shire CalvinNo5 <>
Sent: Mon, April 5, 2010 4:03:55 PM
Subject: The Cross & Resurrection

The Cross & Resurrection


Jesus Christ, according to the apostle Paul, was crucified for our sins and was raised for our justification. The resurrection isn't simply an amazing miracle to which we yield our assent, it is the watershed of history, the day of our salvation. So the gospel isn't what happens inside of us, which varies from person to person and from week to week, but the news of a mission accomplished by God that can't be diminished, altered, improved, or completed by us-it can only be received. The main thing for generic religion has always been universal, timeless principles; even in popular culture a figure like Santa Claus is an important icon at Christmas because the mythology surrounding him teaches a good lesson. If we could only give back some of the love that we are given on a regular basis there would be peace on earth-that is what the Christmas cards say. Santa, Jesus, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa can be used to make the same point.
Click here to read the rest of this week's commentary

Listen Now: "The Cross & Resurrection"

Listen by Real Audio Player Listen by Windows Media Player Download MP3
Coram Deo!!!

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Cross & Resurrection

The Cross & Resurrection


Jesus Christ, according to the apostle Paul, was crucified for our sins and was raised for our justification. The resurrection isn't simply an amazing miracle to which we yield our assent, it is the watershed of history, the day of our salvation. So the gospel isn't what happens inside of us, which varies from person to person and from week to week, but the news of a mission accomplished by God that can't be diminished, altered, improved, or completed by us-it can only be received. The main thing for generic religion has always been universal, timeless principles; even in popular culture a figure like Santa Claus is an important icon at Christmas because the mythology surrounding him teaches a good lesson. If we could only give back some of the love that we are given on a regular basis there would be peace on earth-that is what the Christmas cards say. Santa, Jesus, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa can be used to make the same point.
Click here to read the rest of this week's commentary

Listen Now: "The Cross & Resurrection"

Listen by Real Audio Player Listen by Windows Media Player Download MP3
Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Jesus Fulfilled the Law—Moral and Judicial

March 30 - How Jesus Fulfilled the Law—Moral and Judicial

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. - Matthew 5:17

The moral law was God's foundational code. Jesus fulfilled that law by His perfect righteousness. He obeyed every commandment, met every requirement, and lived up to every standard.

But most important, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament by being its fulfillment. He did not simply teach it fully and exemplify it fully—He was it fully. He did not come simply to teach righteousness and to model righteousness; He came as divine righteousness. What He said and what He did reflected who He is.

God's judicial law was given to provide unique identity for Israel as a nation that belonged to Jehovah. The laws relating to agriculture, settlement of disputes, diet, cleanliness, dress, and such things were special standards by which His chosen people were to live before the Lord and apart from the world. This judicial law Jesus fulfilled on the cross.

Jesus' crucifixion marked Israel's ultimate apostasy in the final rejection of her Messiah and the interruption of God's dealing with that people as a nation. With that, the judicial law passed away because Israel no longer served as His chosen nation.

Praise God, He will someday redeem and restore Israel (Rom. 9–11), but in the meanwhile the church is His chosen body of people on earth (1 Peter 2:9–10). All the redeemed—those who receive the work of the cross—are His chosen ones.

Ask Yourself

There is no way, of course, for us to duplicate the perfect performance of Jesus, but by surrendering in daily, ongoing ways to His Holy Spirit, we can see Christ's character exuding from us in steady practice. Have your own failures and experiences caused you to deny this truth? Submit to Him afresh today.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610,

Additional Resources
Coram Deo!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mentoring a Brother 3

Hello Reform-Shire Friends,
Here is this weeks Mentoring a Brother 3 (below)
From this point on it will now transition to hopefully some more weightier interaction and I'll try to promote the discussion by posting some statements or questions that have to do with the Gospel or the Doctrines of Grace.  We'll just see where it goes from there.
Greace (Grace and Peace)

Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Mentoring a Brother 3

If you get a chance to listen to Alistair Begg today (03-09-10), you'll come away with a real appreciation for your fathers and at the same time understand how much we as fathers rely on God our Heavenly Father to guide us and direct us with our families.

Last week we talked about God's Holiness and our absolute depravity as fallen man.  And we talked about the Beatitudes of someone responding to the touch of the Holy Spirit to awaken someone (Ephesians 2:1,5) in that state of depravity or dead in sin.

So, here is the question?  In light of this condition we are awaken from, how do we respond?
What is the only way anyone will respond?  So, we would say that this Grace is irresistible as described in (John 6:37-40).  This does not mean the person cannot at first resist and I would suppose that a person can resist for a time.  But, ultimately, there is no resisting God through the Holy Spirit.

Later on in that chapter it says:
43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. 44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

I'll just leave it at that, and I hope you will have questions or comments or challenges.

Greace = Grace and Peace

Coram Deo!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blessed Are The Peacemakers Matthew 5:9

Oh such a timely reminder of how God provides everlasting peace to those who were his very enemies.  I'm truly grateful for the sovereignty and the providence of the Almighty God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. - Matthew 5:9

One of the most obvious facts of world history is that peace does not characterize man's earthly existence. Yet two thousand years ago Jesus instructed God's people to be peacemakers. He gave us a special mission to help restore the peace lost at the Fall.

The peace of which Christ speaks is unlike anything the world knows or strives for. His peace is not concerned with resolving conflict between governments and nations, with righting the wrongs of human oppression. His peace is the inner, personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man, a peace that only His children can emulate.

What makes Jesus' kind of peace different? Instead of focusing on the absence of conflict and strife, Jesus' peace produces righteousness, for only righteousness can bring two antagonistic parties together. It is what brings the unsaved person to God. It is God who reconciles a person to Himself, imputes Christ's righteousness to him, and makes peace with him or her.

Only righteousness can usher in harmony and true well-being. James confirms the nature of God's peace when he writes, "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. "Righteousness and peace have kissed each other" is the beautiful expression of Psalm 85:10. Where there is true peace, there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. May those things characterize you as you strive to be a peacemaker.

Ask Yourself

What situations in your own life are in desperate need of peace and restoration? How do you think God wants to use you as a peacemaker in the midst of it? You've surely tried. You've wanted to see righteousness and justice returned. Pray that the Lord would show you how to exhibit His brand of peace in fresh, new ways.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610,

Additional Resources
Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mentoring a Brother #2

Subject: Mentoring a Brother #2

Hello again,

This week on the White Horse Inn they talk to two authors about the use of catechism in the church. 
Basically catechism are a system of Questions and Answers that teach the basic doctrines of the Bible.  And they were geared for children to use as part of their memorization.  Unfortunately, many evangelical churches like ours have turned their backs on the use of catechism to teach children doctrine to children.  I would venture to say that mostly because it can be boring.  But, it really isn't once you realize what it is you are learning.  The ironic thing is that the Christian church has usually stood firm in not having creeds, confessions, and catechism in their churches.  But then they allow AWANA programs in which is just a kinder, more fun version of catechism, and I don't think they are aware to this fact. 

If you would like to look at a catechism.  The Heildelberg Catechism is really good and it follows the pattern I mentioned last week about Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude. I wouldn't expect you to memorize it but it would be good to review and I can paste one at the bottom of the email.

Since we are starting with the Holiness of God and when looking at Isaiah 6 we see a sense of that Holiness and RC Sproul does a wonderful job of teaching that from so many different angles...

We see that consistently the reaction to even a hint of God's Holiness is a sense of fear, woe is me, and fainting, falling on the face, etc.  You see with Isaiah in this passage (Isaiah 6), you see it with Peter when Jesus has him cast his nets on the other side of the boat and BOOM a "boat load" of fish.  Peter falls to his knees and says ""Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5)

So, the only thing that we have to offer is guilt.  Sometimes you will hear people say...  But God looks at the heart"  But, all God sees there is filth, sin, and death.  Nothing of any kind of redeeming value whatsoever.
Sometimes you hear people say, well at least we have free will.  The only problem with that is.. that isn't good news.  Because if we were left to ourselves the only free choice that we could possibly make is away from God (Romans 3).    Once you can get a better understanding of God's Holiness, it helps to make clear and gives a better understanding of our depravity.  Which also is part of what is called the doctrines of Grace.  Because this is what helps us to understand how marvelous Grace really is.  And I think, at least for me, that song "Amazing Grace" by John Newton will become a new song to you and will make a whole lot more sense.  I would also recommend watching the movie titled "Amazing Grace" as it tells about the life of William Wilberforce and his friend John Newton.  It helps to show how the Gospel can do its work by being preached by faithful pastors, meanwhile William Wilberforce in turn is impacted by that Gospel message and it has an affect on him as a citizen of a country that was heavily steeped in slavery.  Many people will see that and have commented about what a great man Wilberforce was... and that is true.  But, what isn't in the limelight is the faithful preaching of the gospel that was going on simultaneously as Wilberforce challenged parliament all those years.

When I think of this process of God's Holiness, our Guilt, and then receiving Grace.  I think of Jesus teaching on the Beatitudes.  (Matt 5)  It is often preached that these are things or attitudes that Jesus is saying for people to do or have as Christians.  But, in fact, I have found out that these are in the "indicative sense" which means "statement of fact" so these aren't things that you strive to do as obeying a command.  But, rather, Jesus is describing what happens to a person that goes through this process. 

Blessed are the poor in Spirit:  Lets just look at this.  The Pharisees and the ones who thought they were righteous would never be "poor in spirit" nor would that Rich Young Ruler that asked about entering the kingdom of heaven.  And the only way that someone will realize they are "poor in spirit.  Is when they have been awaken from spiritual darkness or death by God and get a glimpse of His Holiness.  They will all of a sudden see how beggarly poor they really are in spiritual terms.  Then like all those in scripture that caught this glimpse. They will cry out to God.  "Have mercy on me a sinner!"  Then the rest of the beatitudes is just the process of that person being transformed by this new birth of regeneration and it is accomplished by hearing the Gospel.  And you can see the pattern of Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude in the change that happens below.

The Beatitudes
 1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted.
 5Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth.
 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled.
 7Blessed are the merciful,
      for they will be shown mercy.
 8Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God.
 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God.
 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Well, I think that is enough to chew on for now...  And here is the first part of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Remember, this was taught to children about 1st grade to 12th grade and beyond... And it was used when literacy was non-existent a lot of times since books were not as readily available so the 'oral tradition' was used quite a bit in the passing down of the faith. 

Lord's Day 1

Q & A 1

Q. What is your only comfort
   in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,^1
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—^2
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.^3

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,^4
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.^5
He also watches over me in such a way^6
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:^7
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.^8

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life^9
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.^10

^1 1 Cor. 6:19-20
^2 Rom. 14:7-9
^3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14
^4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2
^5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11
^6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5
^7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18
^8 Rom. 8:28
^9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14
^10 Rom. 8:1-17

Q & A 2

Q. What must you know
   to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things:
first, how great my sin and misery are;^1
second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;^2
third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.^3

^1 Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10
^2 John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43
^3 Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10

Grace and Peace (I've created a new word) Greace = Grace and Peace together make Greace.  Shall I submit it as a word for the dictionary?  Just kidding!

Coram Deo!!!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Mentoring a Brother: 1

Hello Reform-Shire Friends,

I'm working on a mentoring program with a friend.  If you would like to join along on here, I'll try to post what we are discussing (that isn't personal) on here.  Please send me a note if you are following along and I'll make sure I post on a more timely basis or at least let you know what is going on. 

Coram Deo!!!

Since we are focusing on the Gospel.  I guess we need to know exactly what the Gospel is and what I really mean specifically by the Gospel. 

Gospel means good news...  I think we may have all heard that before.  It comes from a Greek word Euangelion
When you break it down you've got Eu (Good)  angel (messenger) ion ...  I don't remember what the "ion" part is...

The prefix to the word Gospel has Eu which we find at the beginning of words like
euphemism = a good word for a bad thing. 
eulogy = a good statement at a funeral
euphonious = good music or good sound

The second part of the word is Angel and the chief function of an angel is to be a messenger

So, that translates into Good message or Good News or Gospel.  Don't worry I learned this from RC Sproul.

Anyhow... The good news that we are always talking about is in light of bad news.

So, what exactly is the bad news????

God is Holy. 

That's it...  And the fact that we are not Holy..

I know that may sound strange at first blush...  But that is the main problem.  In fact I would be bold enough to say that...  This is what the whole Bible is basically about.

The whole Bible is about how God is Holy.  We are not Holy.  And God reveals in scripture how He is going to fix that problem and it was no suprise to God it was part of His Sovereign plan. 

God and His son love each other and they create this humanity in their image.  And they are going to fall into sin.  They are going to need a redeemer and a savior.  God wants to give His son a gift of humanity, but Jesus has to go and redeem them and save them from their sin, which is ultimately saving us from the wrath of God.  And ultimately because He loves His Father and because he loves this gift the Father has given to Him.

So, in a nutshell.  We are saved by God... from God.  I'm not too sure everyone follows it to that conclusion when they talk about salvation.  But, that is really what it is about.  It really all points us to the person and works of Jesus Christ.

So...  Here is how I try to remember this and how I try to share the gospel in a simple way, and it is a good way too look at the Bible as you are reading and studying it.   

So we start with God and His Holiness and we can look at the bible through that lens and see Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude.
I would challenge you to read these passages below and eventually get the RC Sproul book or DVD series on the "Holiness of God' that is a tremendous study.

1. God is Holy (Isaiah 6)
2. Guilt (Romans 3) We are all guilty and we are totally without a way to approach a Holy God (Bad News)
3. Grace (Ephesians 2) Unmerited Favor - God somehow awakens us from death and brings us to life eventhough we are sinners) (Good News was preached and God enabled us to finally hear it)
4. Gratitude - (Romans 12) We now want to live our lives out of Gratitude for what Christ has done for us.
This is how I describe it..

In light of a Holy God, we realize He is so far from us and that we are all fallen with Guilt and we have no hope and nothing to offer for ourselves.  No excuses, no good works, nothing. 
So God by His Grace provides a savior and He also awakens us from our spiritual darkness and brings us into the light of His holiness and makes us alive.  So, as we see all that God did for us and we contributed nothing.  We now live a life out of Gratitude for what God has already done for us. 

So, now a book like Galatians will show you the "Freedom" that we have in Christ and show how we are no longer under the curse of the law.  And we don't go and continue to sin and live it up since God loves to forgive and I love to sin...(what a great relationship)... but we just don't even want to sin because of our longing to please Him and to obey him.  We then can delight in His laws and commands and actually have a chance at growing and following Him and His teachings.  This is called Sanctification and it begins at salvation and contnues as we grow.  Yes we are going to sin but now we have the freedom and the gratitude to hopefully not sin and strive for holiness.... a humbled holiness.

The word that comes to mind is Justification.  Some people refer to that as a "churchy" word.  Or they may complain that now we are talking about doctrine and getting away from the practical.  But, the doctrine of Justification is at the very heart of the Gospel.

If you were to ask a hundred people in church "what is Justification?" you would be suprised that many people don't know how to answer that.  And the people that do answer or at least heard the word may say something like.  "Just as if I had never sinned"  But, no that isn't what the Bible means by Justification. (that is actually a Roman Catholic answer I think)  It is more like a declaration at a trial by a judge.  The judge says you may go because you have been declared righteous because someone else has justified you.

Jesus has done 2 things.

1. Jesus is treated as if He lived the life that you did to satisy God's wrath against sin. (Propitiation, Atonement)
2. We are treated as if we lived the life that Jesus did so we can be declared as righteous by receiving Jesus Righteousness to our account.

Luther called this the "great exchange"

Grace and Peace,

Coram Deo!!! (Before the Face of God)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Truth Project - Session 12 Community and Involvement - God Cares, Do I?

Subject: Truth Project - Session 12 Community and Involvement - God Cares, Do I?


Here are some thoughts about the passages used for this session.

First the Matthew 22:34-40 about Jesus being asked "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Matthew 22:34-40 (New International Version)

The Greatest Commandment
 34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

  1. Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
  2. Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18
Notice that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments...

Now lets look at the other passage referenced:

Luke 10: 25- 29
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
 25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

 27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[d]"

 28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

 30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

 36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

 37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
      Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Now this question asks: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  And that is the question Jesus was answering and also answering the question "who is my neighbor?"  The ironic thing about Jesus parable was that he used a Levite as an example of not being a neighbor and the guy who asked the question was most likely a Levite since he was an "expert in the Law."  And it is correct that he probably wanted a checklist to add to his other laws as suggested by the "Truth Project"... or he wanted to see how Jesus would answer the question and if Jesus would answer correctly.

Now to the point Jesus is making in the parable.  He is saying that the two that pass by the injured man are Jews who should have had compassion but contrary to the Levite and the Priest the "sinner" or "low-life" Samaritan would be the one who is showing mercy. And these Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans.  So, this goes against their whole idea of a neighbor and flips it on its head. And the only person to ever show that kind of mercy and to do it perfectly was Jesus Christ himself.  He was showing that NOBODY can justify themselves.  The Law is only a schoolmaster and a curse to all who try to do them but can never do them perfectly. Only one can do them perfectly and again that is Jesus Christ Himself.

So, nobody ever loves the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, or strength and nor do they love their neighbor as themselves.  Jesus says in His sermon on the mount that He has come to fulfill all the Laws and the Prophets. 
Matthew 5: 17
The Fulfillment of the Law
 17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18

Later he says "be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect"  so, I think that pretty much makes it impossible to do.
 So, this passage can be used to talk about 'community' as was presented on the "Truth Project" but that isn't the main point of the passage, and it seems that it is common to miss it.

Also, Jesus points out that everyone is needy.   The "Truth Project" only listed people in comparison to each other as "Needy"(poor, orphans, widows, sick, prisoners, outcasts, etc.) It is just a matter of comparison to each other vs. comparison to salvation.  So, if you compare to the earthly needs you can use this passage as it was in the Truth Project or if you are looking to the heavenly, eternal need.  You would find the needs that would apply to everyone not just those he listed under "needy"

Now lets look at the passage about Jesus washing the disciples feet.

John 13

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
 1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.[a]

 2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

 7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

 8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
      Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

 9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

 10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

 12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This passage is usually referred to as Jesus setting the example of being a servant.  That is there indeed.  But, there is more to this than being a servant and humbleness.  It is primarily about forgiveness and being humble enough to ask for forgiveness from each other and also to humble oneself and forgive the one needing forgiveness.  That is what is meant by washing the feet and why the whole person doesn't need to be washed.  It is only the feet as we walk in this life and travel.  We are brought to salvation and forgiven completely (completely washed) but it is only our feet that get dirty because we are still sinners.  Just like when our children sin or disobey us.  They don't cease to be our children they just get sent to their room or some other kind of punishment.  Then they will often draw a picture or come back out very humbly and say "I'm sorry Daddy" and we will reach out (I hope) and embrace them (washing feet).  And Jesus told Peter that he was already washed and only needed his feet washed and Jesus also told Peter that he is going to deny Jesus 3 times.  This is what Jesus was pointing to when he told Peter in vs. 7:

7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

Later on after Jesus is resurrected He approaches Peter and asks Peter 3 times "do you love me?" and Peter answers 3 times "you know I love you"  Jesus says... then feed my sheep.  This was the washing of Peter's feet again which is a way of repairing and restoring the relationship between Jesus and Peter.  And then Peter can be bold and preach in the book of Acts and have so many respond.

Now lets look at the Matthew 11:28-29 passage.

Matthew 11:28-29 (New International Version)

 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

This passage is about the burden of the Law.  Jesus is showing that He has taken the burden of the Law upon Himself and He has fulfilled it perfectly.  Now the Law becomes a delight to a believer in Christ because he is trusting in Jesus as Savior and is justified by the person and works of Christ.

I think the book of Galatians pretty much sums up the whole discussion, but here is some specific passages where Paul really goes after the Church in Galatia:  I would especially read all of Galatians 3 but this segment pertains to the previous, especially in regards to the Commandments or Law.

Galatians 3

Faith or Observance of the Law
 1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

 6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."[c] 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."[d] 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."[e]13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."[f] 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

As you know I'm completely compelled by the Gospel and the power of the specific message of the Gospel being preached from the pulpit and being ingrained in the followers of Christ.  When, I read Paul's charge to preach the word and that the Gospel is of "first importance".  Then I think we should be preaching Christ from all of scripture and we should always see how a passage is ultimately about the person and works of Christ.  This is the message that has always transformed societies and cultures.  And it will always be the message, especially in a post-modern age.  When really it isn't that much different from the times in Rome in Paul's day.

So, I would challenge any pastor to be very, very strong on the Gospel doctrine and continue to preach that Gospel when it is "in season or out of season".  When it is popular and not popular.  The Gospel message helps to make all things clear even marriage problems, family issues, the loss of a loved one, and even the culture issues like abortion.  This is the only message that can make a real impact in believers and non-believers.  The Gospel is for everyone no matter what stage they are in life.  As a child physically or as a child spiritually.  And even an elder or a pastor.  We all need to be fed this meal that Peter was charged to feed.  We are just supposed to put it on the table the meal that has already been prepared by the Good Shepherd.

Well, I guess that is about enough for now.  Sorry if I tend to go overboard.

Grace and Peace,

Coram Deo!!!