Sunday, October 14, 2018

Getting Stamped

From Romans - Finding the Faith

Romans 6:17-18

17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

That form of teaching to which you were committed

The word “form” here translates the Greek word tupos which is where we get the English word “type”.  The picture that it conveys is a sort of stamp that would be set on something and then struck to make the same impression every time.  This form of teaching to which we were committed is the teaching of salvation by Grace through faith.  As we have seen already in Romans 6:1-14, that Grace is not just our “get out of Hell free” card, it is to be our operating principle of existence for all things thereafter.  We began in faith in what Christ has done in the cross, we continue in faith in what God did in resurrecting Him from the dead.  At the end of all things we will see that everything that was good or worthwhile in our lives was what we allowed Him to do in and through us, and anytime we tried to get in the way we goofed everything up.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Getting Results

From 1-3 John - Life in Fellowship
1 John 2:28

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

Once again, it is the uniform message of scripture, that our choice to abide in Him or to abide in our sin nature carries with it consequences.  In the discussion of 1 John 2:3-11 (and again in verse 29) we see the result of abiding in the flesh can be the loss of assurance of salvation.  When a person abides in the Spirit he sees the love and life of Christ flowing forth from him and knows that this is not of Himself, but it is the Spirit of God.  Conversely, the person who abides in their flesh (though they are saved) loses the assurance of being able to say, “I see the work of the Spirit in my life right here and now” which impedes his spiritual growth.

Another result of resting in the Spirit has to do with Christ’s coming.  This is the first clear reference in this epistle to the return of Christ for His church (the Rapture).  We know from John 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and other key passages that the believer is to be looking to Jesus Christ and His return for believers which could happen at any moment.  The way a person relates to that coming of the Lord for His church reveals a great deal about his or her understanding of Scripture, as well as their fellowship with the Lord.  Many talk about this time with great fear and trepidation because they are not in fellowship with Him.  Whether from bad theology, or lack of walking in the Spirit (both are sin problems) they think of the Lord’s coming back in terms of something to be frightened of.

It is much like children who have been left to watch over themselves for a few hours while the parents are away.  If they are doing things that their parents would approve of then the return of their parents is something that they would be pleased to see. They want their parents to come back sooner.  However, if they have occupied themselves with activities of which their parents would not approve then they will be ashamed when their parents come home.  It is not a matter of whether their parents will still be their parents when they arrive, but a matter of whether they will be happy to see them or ashamed.  As we walk by the means of the Spirit we will be overjoyed at the thought of Christ’s return as we are meant to be!  For the believer walking in the Spirit they look at the imminent return of Christ as a great comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

The confidence of the believer at His return is found in His life, His work, His grace exercised upon us.  This is not a matter of what we are doing so much as where our focus is placed.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Putting the Enemy to Shame

From Titus - Life in the Church

Titus 2:6-8
6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible;  in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,  8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

put to shame

By our good actions and our good words and deeds the enemies of the faith will be put to shame.  In our sound teaching and our constant application of that doctrine, the people who write books and make their living opposing the Christian faith will be ashamed by our words and deeds.  Imagine how powerful the witness of love is in the sight of even the most gross and disgusting accusation.  This is the power of every believer who rests in Christ.  As we walk in the Spirit the fruit of the Spirit will grow.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Not this...THAT!

From Romans - Finding the Faith

Romans 6:19

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Not this…THAT!

Next, we get a clarification of the analogy with another clear, “Don’t do this anymore…do that instead.”  Paul is setting up the dichotomy very clearly.  There are certain cases where two things are possible (like walking and chewing gum) and other situations where two things cannot be done simultaneously (like being in Denver and in Fort Collins at the same time).  Paul is saying that presenting our members to Sin and presenting our members to God cannot happen at the same time.  Here again, the exhortation of Scripture is not simply to “not sin” but rather telling us to put our focus (present our members) toward God rather than the Sin Nature.  The two are opposites and we cannot continue to offer ourselves in obedience to the Sin nature and Offer ourselves in Obedience to God through Jesus Christ.  It is a one or the other, moment by moment, act of our will.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Faith is the Victory

From 1-3 John - Life in Fellowship

1 John 5:3-5

3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

What was that victory again?

John repeats it again and again, as the old hymn declares: “Faith is the victory!”  The literal rendering of the Greek would read “the faith of us.”  This is not talking about the quality of our belief.  Rather when the word “the” is found in the Greek text before the word “faith” the specific things that are believed are what are in view.  It is not a matter of more faith or less faith – the power is in what it is that is believed.  Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed and Christ is the only valid option for our trust.  Trust in ourselves, in a system, in a government or anything else will always come up far short of the victory that we long for: Christ has done it!  We need only keep our eyes fixed upon Him.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

To be Lovers of Children

From: Titus - Life in the Church

Titus 2:3-5
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,  4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

love their children

This word is similar to the word before it.  However, this combines the words phileo (love) and teknon (Children), so the older women are to encourage the younger women to be lovers of their children.  It is very natural for mothers to have agape love for their children.  This is a deep flowing natural love.  This also insinuates a love that cares for the children and puts the children before herself.  This does take encouragement.  This is not the love that comes easily and naturally, this is a love that endures faithfully and cares for the needs of her children.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Suffering Considered

From Romans - Finding the Faith

Romans 8:18-22 (NASB)

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Ah! Suffering!
Paul is dealing with one of the major issues that believers have to deal with.  What is our relationship to suffering?  Why do we suffer?  How should we view suffering?  It is easy to get caught thinking about suffering in overly simplistic terms.  Many of us hide many wrong thoughts about suffering such as:
·                     Legalistic - “All suffering happens because I did something wrong.”
·                     Atheistic/Agnostic – “Suffering is proof that God doesn’t care, exist, or isn’t able.”
·                     Victim – “It is always someone else’s fault.”

More unbiblical attitudes about suffering could surely be added to this but Paul doesn’t waste time with that.  Rather, the Holy Spirit gives us a clear understanding of where trials come from, what purpose they are serving and how the believer is to respond to them.