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Category Archives: salvation

The Church’s Two Gospels

Now before I get some flack from my few readers let me explain the title. The title stems from the two major points in a recent sermon from Omaha Bible Church senior pastor Patrick Abendroth. The points made should also be the two main priorities of the church. The two points are related and sequential. You cannot have the one without the two. These two gospels are found in the book of Ephesians chapters 2 and 4, and these are the texts where the sermon was anchored. Let me try to explain further.

The Gospel of Salvation

The book of Ephesians addresses two gospels. The gospel of salvation and the gospel of sanctification. The gospel of salvation most assuredly comes first so it is handled first. This is the gospel many of us know about. This gospel tells us who we are or were before a holy and righteous God. As the apostle Paul explains in his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV

Paul is addressing believers here. He is reminding them of who they once were. We were once condemned before a holy God for our rebellion towards him. Basically the walking dead. But then comes the gospel part or good news. Again, as mentioned in an earlier post, I love the “But God”.

Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV

This is the Gospel of Salvation. God did it all. Even though we were dead in our trespasses, and rebellious to God (Romans 1) He had mercy on us and raised us up through his son. God makes us alive. We are no longer the walking dead. We are walking alive in Christ. This salvation is all of God’s grace. Without it we remain the walking dead in our sins.

The Gospel of Sanctification

This gospel is also written about in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Our chapter 4. These verses encourage the believer to get out of their spiritual “pampers” and grow up. Paul encourage us to grow in Christian maturity. We are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling writes Paul:

Ephesians 4:1-16 ESV

We are urged to get out of our spiritual diapers. We used to walk being led around by our noses, following the course of the this world. Now, believers are to walk in our freedom found in Christ. Part of growing up is using humility, gentleness, and patience toward one another. Paul is teaching us how to walk and behave as one body in Christ. We are held together into one body with Christ as the head. We were all given gifts in order to build up the body of Christ. We are to be equipped, get along, get out of our spiritual diapers,  for when each part of the body is working properly it makes the whole body grow. Church growth means maturity, not numbers.

Lest we forget the primary focus of the church. We as believers are members of this church. We should never forget the condition we were in prior to God’s grace and merciful intervention. We should be striving daily to grow as into mature believers. These passages in Ephesians 2 and 4 emphasize this quite well.

What’s the Point Anyway?

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Are we in rescue mode?

After watching some of the news footage of theRescue helmet Minneapolis bridge collapse I couldn’t keep from writing about one of the video stories I saw. The one that impacted me the most was one done by a reporter who had been on the scene since moments after the collapse. He was interviewing two teenage boys who had been helping a family member move when they witnessed the collapse. In order to help the victims and the arriving rescue workers they climbed down what looked like a huge cliff. Only a handful of rescue workers had arrived and they were seeking the help and support of the few civilians who had also arrived to help. These boys did not consider themselves to be heroes, they just did what had to be done. In an effort to get to those that needed help, they unselfishly put themselves in harms way to help another.

What a testament to the human good nature right? Wrong, although many folks would say the opposite. I do not know the spiritual condition of those teenage boys but if they are not believers in Christ then even their seemingly selfless acts are not good. The bible states that no one outside of their faith in Christ does good. The human heart is deceitful. Anyway on to the story.

What this story also causes me to consider is this: Are we as believers in Christ in rescue mode? Are we willing, like those teenage boys to put ourselves in harms way to preach and teach the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ. If you understand the doctrines of grace then you also understand that God is the rescuer and we are only vessels of the good news. But are we making ourselves available? Shouldn’t we be selflessly approaching our neighbors with this life saving news? I am reminded of Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I am once again convicted by this verse and by the seemingly selfless act of the teenagers above. I pray that God would give me the desire to always put on the hat of a rescuer.

Here is the Fox News video story I refer to above.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2007 in Minneapolis bridge, salvation, The gospel

 

One, two, three, I’m saved!

This weekend, my town of Omaha, Nebraska hosted a Luis Palau Festival. Much hasLuis Palau in O been written about it in the blogosphere. Interviews were done about the stance our local church took by refraining from partnering with those involved with the event. Specifically the first time the Luis Palau ministry partnering with the Roman Catholic Church. As a personal wrap up I wanted to just see what all was written about it the local newspaper. I found an article in the Omaha World Herald published Saturday, July 14th, entitled “Palau Heartland Festival takes off with a roar.” The article describes many things like the numbers in attendance, the different performances present, and several positive interviews about the event. The one part of the article that stuck right out for me was the approach used to get folks to commit to Christ.

Palau went on to preach that salvation is a gift and that people can claim it through faith. He asked people in the crowd to signal their commitment to Christ by raising a hand on his count of three and then say, “I believe.” Hundreds did so.

Now I have been a member of a church that did very much the same thing by stirring up the crowd to make a commitment they may or may not keep. What the article did not say is if these folks were followed up on? Did anyone give them the true gospel? Because I know people who hang onto that “raising of a hand” or saying a sinners prayer, or walking an invitation aisle and have no fruit to show for that “commitment”.

Professing a faith is not a saving faith. Matthew 7:21-23 says:

21 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23 And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

When a watered down gospel is presented to folks, much like this one was, people are deceived or deceive themselves into believing in a human work and not the sovereign work of God that saved them. It is my prayer that the Spirit of God did illuminate the hearts of those who made a profession. Because it is only God who can save. It is not a work of man. Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

Love, love, love

As the title might indicate this is not a posting about the The good Samaritanpopular Beatles song. It is about the word love as it is used in the scriptures. Last night at OBC we were lead by Mike Holloway (a former elder to OBC) in a study about the word love, especially as it is used in Galatians 5:22. We are doing a 9 part series about the fruit of the Spirit on Sunday evenings throughout the summer.

Mike first established the definition of the word love as it is used in our culture today and as it is used in the New Testament. As you might suspect there are some contrasts. First of all the word love as we use it today is the Greek word eros, which is used to indicate romantic love. This form of the word love is not used in the New Testament.  Another form of the word love is the Greek word philia. The city of Philadelphia derives its name from this form, meaning brotherly love. This form of the word love is rarely used in the New Testament. It is often used in the context of friendship. The last form of the word love used in the New Testament in the Greek word agape’. This form is used over 250 times in the New Testament. It is mostly used in the context of charity or love with grace. I would content this form of the word is impossible to do without the Spirit of God. This form of the word is used in Galatians 5:14.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Without the spirit of God within you this form of love in the verb since is impossible to do. You may love out of what you perceive as unselfish motives but without God it is not a work in the purist sense, as used in 1 Corinthians 13.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

   

As Mike summed it up by challenging us to do a self-examination of sorts. How are we as believers in Christ doing in this form of love, agape’ love which we are to walk in. Are we loving our neighbors as ourselves? Are we loving the ugly, the repugnant, the undesirable, the unworthy and unattractive? This same love we have experienced from Christ when we were ugly, undesirable, unworthy and enemies of God. He loved us enough to send His son to die on a cross for us. Below is the link to the audio of Mike Holloway’s sermon on the fruit of the spirit which is love.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

This is something for us to consider daily. It is a challenge for me to be sure.

 

Grafted in

What do I mean by the title? First let’s look at the wordgrafting a grape vine grafted or grafting. Grafting is basically a process used in horticulture to fuse together part of one plant, much like a branch, and affix it to the tissues of another. The basis for deciding to do this is for plant propagation.  

I have been reading through the book of Romans and in chapter 11 the apostle Paul uses this term to describe to the readers how they, the Gentiles, have come to share in the rich root of Christ.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in. 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith.

By God’s grace I, who am a Gentile, have been grafted in to the root system of Christ. Paul is saying that God’s chosen, the Jews, have been broken off. They represent the branches that were broken off. They rejected Christ and thus have been broken off. In horticulture, the plant to be selected to sustain the branches to be grafted in is selected because of its rich root system. The other plant or branch to be grafted in is selected for its stem, leaves, or fruit. Paul is using this analogy which would be understood by those in the Roman church. They would understand these terms because many of the members would have been farmers or wine makers.

Praise our Lord for choosing us to be grafted in to the root system of Christ. He alone sustains us, and He has promised to produce fruit through us.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2007 in grace, grafting, Romans, salvation