Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.
Category Archives: Jesus Christ
Last Wednesday I began a course offered in our local church for preaching. I am taking this course to be equipped for preaching and teaching prisoners, which is a ministry I am involved with. Through this course I will be studying expository preaching, which is preaching and teaching God’s word using a verse by verse format. I know there is more to it than that, and I will learn what it is. I plan to use this blog to post entries surrounding my equipping process. Lord willing I will be providing weekly posts. This course is being offered as part of the ongoing Institute for Biblical Studies (IBS) with my local church.
I have been part of a prison ministry for our local church, Omaha Bible Church, for two years now. The Lord has been directing me to me to not only look for family care opportunities with prisoner families but to go inside and participate in the monthly worship services our ministry does. As part of our ministry, we have a few men meeting regularly with prisoners who desire to be mentored and taught about Jesus Christ through God’s word. This is becoming a part of the ministry I desire to be a part of. God has been shaping my heart or desire for this after my first few visits for worship services inside the prison. I pray that God will use this course to strengthen me in proclaiming Jesus Christ through scriptures. As Paul wrote to Timothy:
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
I also pray that through this equipping, God will be sanctifying me for His service. I am already learning through my reading assignments what a weighty responsibility preachers and teachers have in teaching God’s word. Our first book is “Preaching: How To Preach Biblically” by John MacArthur and Master’s Seminary Faculty. I have a high respect for pastor John MacArthur and his knowledge for biblical preaching. I also have a high respect for our senior pastor Patrick Abendroth who is teaching us in the preaching class. Please pray for us all.
Soli Deo Gloria
The next point in my brief postings of the Five Points of Calvinism is called “unconditional election.” The doctrine of unconditional election is thoroughly based in scripture. It is a doctrine that in affect claims that before the earth was formed God chose who would come to salvation through His son Jesus Christ. There are many texts in scripture that affirm this doctrine of unconditional election. One of my favorites for God’s sovereignty and election is the whole context of Romans chapter 9. Charles H. Spurgeon states of Romans 9 in his sermon on Unconditional Election, September 2nd, 1855:
So long as that is written there, not the most violent contortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine of election from the Scriptures.
This was a doctrine fully accepted within the protestant church until to the late 19th century and the teachings of Charles Finney. I used to believe and teach this as well. But a few years ago I came to understand, through scripture and the gentle dialog of a dear brother in Christ, that the most illogical theology is one that would teach that God is sovereign in everything else except salvation. They would claim that everything else is under God’s sovereignty except when it comes to something as eternal as the soul of man and his salvation. It isn’t even debated that God chose His people, the Israelites, as stated in the whole of the bible. Why is there an exception for the salvation of men from their sins?
One of the best explanations of God’s unconditional election is provided by Dr. James White in the video below. In the video Dr. White mentions some song lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman. Those lyrics can be found here.
While studying through Romans chapter 3 in our Sunday morning sermon yesterday, Pastor Pat reminds us what justification is and is not. I think many of us who have been a teacher or learner through any evangelical church has heard the phrase definition offered for the justification believers receive at salvation. The phrase I am referring to is justification = just as if I had never sinned. But when we provide this definition we are in fact selling short, and I mean way short, the righteousness of Christ in our justification. You see, when we are saved by God’s grace, we are declared righteous by God. The only way a righteous and just God can declare the sinner righteous is by imputing the righteousness of Christ on the sinner. In other words, the sinless and righteous life Christ lived for us on this earth was imputed, or attached to the sinner when by God’s grace he believes. That, my friend, is the only justification that satisfies a righteous God. So when we say that justification means that it’s as if we hadn’t sinned, that only gives us a clean slate and short sells the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But when we look at the correct meaning for righteous justification we again are focused on Christ and his righteousness and what he accomplished on the cross. Amen?
Soli Deo Gloria!
Above is a Wordle I created with the text from Charles H. Spurgeon’s sermon “Secret Sins” Please click on the image to view the larger more detailed version. The word cloud or wordle is designed to make the words larger the more frequent they are used in the text. You will notice an anomaly with one word as it relates to the modern church and it’s use of the word today. That is the use of the word sin. In this word cloud it is one of the largest words in the abstract image. In the contemporary church you would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of churches in a metropolitan area that use the word sin on a regular basis. That needs to change. Believers of Jesus Christ are called to make disciples of Christ by using His gospel. If we don’t use the word sin then how do we fully explain the reason for salvation?
I remember listening to Ray Boltz when my wife and I first discovered Christian music many years ago. He sang some pretty moving songs like “Watch the Lamb” and “I Pledge Allegiance To the Lamb”. Thinking back I don’t recall how theologically sound the lyrics were, but he still had quite an impact on the Christian music world. Now he has “come out” as the homosexual society puts it, and says he is happy again. Oh how the heart can deceive us into believing what makes us happy is right. There is an informative and interesting article about Ray Boltz at The Washington Blade that sheds some light on this story.
How should we think about this? There is a simple illustration I can think of. I am unhappy about having to obey the traffic laws, especially when I am in a hurry to go somewhere. It would make me very happy if I could ignore those laws in those times that are not convenient to me. But the traffic laws have a reason, and that reason is to keep us all safe while we are driving. God has given us laws as well. Whether we like them or not they do exist. Unlike state laws, these laws from God are not negotiable or subject to legislative changes. I believe that some of His laws exist to keep us safe as well. Regardless of the reason they exist, God, the Creator, demands that we obey them. These laws have been revealed to us in his scriptures. As believers in Christ we can choose to obey them or not. But please don’t fool yourself into believing there will not be consequences or an accounting for the foolish decision to ignore them.
As for Ray Boltz, we should be praying for him and his family. We should also be praying for those who will stand up and not be passive while this kind of behavior continues to filter into the local churches. We should also pray that we would make this stand in love and for the ultimate repentance and restoration of those like Ray Boltz. This brings up a thought for consideration. Can you be a Christian and also be gay? Please consider reading 1 Corintians 6. In verses 9 and 10 of that chapter you will find:
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
The apostle Paul goes on to write to the Corinthians in verse 11:
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The scriptures make it clear that believers of Christ have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Christ. We should no longer practice those former things. That is great news. Only by trusting in the Christ, will you have the power to fight against those former sinful things. Amen?
Thanks first of all to the grace of God. The grace of God is freely given to those who believe and the righteousness of Christ is credited to him. We read in Romans 4:1-8:
1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.
Secondly, a big hat tip to Scott at Through The Veil for finding this incredible video that says it all.
Nearly forty-two years ago to the day, July 29th, 1966, the teeny bop magazine DATEbook published the excerpt of an earlier John Lennon interview where he stated that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” Although the remarks were really on the subject of Christianity and taken somewhat out of context, the outcry and response from the United States was loud and clear. “How dare you say something as bold as that.” It was as though Lennon made those statements of our country instead of Jesus. People flooded to the streets in protest by piling Beatles records up and burning them. Television stations broadcast public smashing of Beatles records. To this day it remains as one of the biggest pop music scandals in history.
Reading about this event in history prompted me to consider the question. Should Jesus be popular? In the context of the whole world I would not affirm this. There are passages in the bible that state otherwise concerning the popularity of Jesus. In Isaiah 53:2,3 of the Old Testament we read of Christ:
2 For He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
In 1 Corinthians of the New Testament Paul wrote that the “cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing” and “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles.” He also writes later in verse 28:
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
In the American church today we are trying our best to make Christianity popular. We are are watering down the gospel of Christ to make it more palatable and attractive. In doing so the true gospel is not being preached. For if it were, it would not be attractive and popular in the world’s eyes.
So in one sense an enthusiastic YES, Jesus Christ should be the most popular thing in the life of the believer. We should be living and breathing the gospel of Christ. Our whole being should point the lost to Jesus Christ. In another sense, it is a fool’s road you travel if your intention in ministry is to make Jesus popular in the eyes of the world.
For further reading please check out the reading links below.
Sunday morning Senior Pastor Patrick Abendroth delivered a profound sermon on the importance of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We were continuing in our verse by verse study of Matthew. Just how important is the substititionary death of Christ? We started by looking at 1 Corinthians 1:18:
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are persishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.
So how important is it to you? Is it the power of God, or is it just foolishness and unimportant? The perfect lamb of God met the righteouness of God at the moment in time. Pat went on preach about the two cries of Jesus on the cross that say it all about everything. The cries are found in Matthew 27:45-50. Please listen to the incredible sermon linked below and see if it isn’t just astounding to you as well.
I am currently reading through the book of John in the bible. Today as I completed chapter eight I came across this verse close to the end, verse 58 to be exact, where Jesus undeniably states that he is God. This takes place right after Jesus had truthfully defended the woman who had been caught in adultry and brought to Him. Throughout this chapter He has been more or less debating with the Jews about who He is. The Jewish leaders seem to believe their “ace in the hole” is the proclamation that their father is Abraham. It is then that Jesus turns up the heat on their pride and sin and proclaims:
Before Abraham was, I am
Now this proclamation not only offended the Jewish leaders but it also flys in the face of a couple of American religions of today. The Mormons claim that Jesus was a man who obtained deity. They believe that He is a created being and the brother of Adam and Lucifer. The Jehovah’s Witness believe much the same way. They also believe that Jesus is a created being and not God. They claim to be declaring the witness of God. But essetially what both of these religions are doing is denying the very witness that God reveals in the New Testament. That Jesus is who He claims to be. In John 10:30 Jesus again states:
I and the Father are one
And again the Jews were incredibly offended as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses would be today if you were to point that out to them. The New Testament declares throughout:
He is the brightness of the Father. He is the express image of God. He is literally the replica, the duplicate of the invisible God.
So as I read the scripture this morning, I couldn’t help but marvel at this truth revealed to us. The mystery of the invisible God revealed in Jesus Christ. He is who he claims to be. He is God.
For further reading about the Incarnation of Jesus Christ I would recommend the text from a sermon by Dr. John MacArthur called “The Inside Story of the Incarnation“.
Soli Deo Gloria