Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Many years ago someone told me about a popular book titled Desiring God by John Piper. That was a little over 11 years ago. That book was a too deep for me at the time as a young Christian but after some time in the word I have a great appreciation for its content. Since then I have gone on to read many of John Pipers books, articles, and even have listened to many of his sermons thanks to the wonderful world of iPods. His overall ministry to the Church is one that many preachers will never experience. I say ministry because in the past decade Desiring God Ministries has continually grown. It is a place on the web where you can find biblically sound teaching through articles and grow in your faith in greater ways. On this website you will also find many of his books that you can bring up on a PDF format and print out. I don’t know of many ministries or writers who will let you do something like that. Perhaps that says a lot about who Piper is and his desire to see Christians grow in their faith. If you don’t know who John Piper is I invite you to look him up on CBD (ChristianBooks.com) and order one of his books. If you want to go deeper in your faith and like to be challenged this is a guy you want to read.

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PaulPaul the Missionary by Eckhard J. Schnabel is one of the best treatments on the Apostle Paul to come out in recent years. This book is slow through the first 120 pages because it deals with background material. With that said I do think that most Christians wanting to go deeper and understand background material should give this book their time. After the background material Schnabel takes us into the message and methodology of the Apostle. In a day when the Church is filled with programming over the basics of method and message we need to learn to simplify our task of what ministry truly is. We do live in a much different world than the Apostle lived, but the message and how God works is still the same. We forget that aspect a lot of the time. If you want to be challenged on a different level and are tired of the basics this book is for you.

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Let the Wise hear and understand.

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Church FathersHave you ever considered that it matters what is being taught at the Church you attend? I was once a person who thought as long as we proclaimed Jesus it really didn’t matter beyond that. Over time my view of what is being taught has changed. My change came through my study of the New Testament and experience as a Pastor. When people don’t understand basic tenets of the faith they cannot interact with God as He has intended. Lack of doctrinal understanding leads the Church also down the dangerous path of heresy. A Church that is not unified in what it believes will never be able to move forward as God desires. Basic Doctrine is foundational for all Christians who need to have an understanding of what the Bible is proclaiming . The Apostles and early Church fathers all thought this was important.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

Galatians 1:6

The first thing you should know as a Christian is what does you Church believe in concerning the gospel. The Bible is clear that we enter into a relationship with Jesus by faith alone. Romans 3-5 states that we are justified by faith and nothing we can do helps us merit the grace of God. Ephesians 2:1-10 also helps to clarify this matter as well. There are Churches out here that are teaching falsely that you have to do something such as be baptized before God will accept you. That thinking is not biblical and is not found in scripture. Where does your Church stand on this matter?

What does your Church also believe about God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus as the only way, Scriptures being inerrant, and how to function as a body of believers. If you can’t answer any of those questions its time to talk to your Pastor or other Church leaders. If they cannot or will not answer those questions for you its time to consider worshipping somewhere else. Our relationship with God should matter more than anything else in this life. If God didn’t care what we believed we would not have the Bible to guide and direct us. Start asking questions and stay in the Word. It really does matter.

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Set Apart

glacierI remember many years ago when the talk of holiness dominated our small group discussions. It seemed like many of us wanted to get everything out of our lives that didn’t please God so that we could experience Him in greater ways. When people talk of holiness today they can quickly be labeled as being legalistic or fanatics by those who attend the Church regularly. Lately I have been focusing on holiness and realize that to experience God in fresh ways I need to always be adjusting my life to better match up with His Word. I think that is the best view of holiness that I can have. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says;

Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

This verse is only one place where we are told to focus on living holy lives. It means living in a separate way from the rest of the world. It means having different standards in our lives. For me one of the things that I need to separate myself from to some degree is different forms of media. Certain TV shows and movies infect my mind and do not enhance my relationship with God. I want to know the presence of God in greater ways and experience His power for ministry and Christian living. To get to where I want to go requires that I modify my life in all areas. God deserves people wanting to live lives set apart. When you think of what our freedom cost Jesus it is worth the effort.

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Salvation…Faith Vs. Legalism

early-lightDoes is matter to you what your Church believes? For me I am not that concerned about different denominations and our sometimes slight differences. I am however always concerned over the issue of salvation. The Bible clearly teaches us that we are Justified or Saved by grace alone. You might look at that statement and be in complete agreement, but is that what your Church believes as well? The best summation of how to obtain salvation is found in Romans 10:9-13;

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This is simple to understand, but hard to accept by some. God saves us because of His grace. The only condition he has is the placing our faith or trust in Jesus as Lord. That step is a difficult one for many because they want to remain lord of their own lives. I write this article today in light of a tradition that claims you are not saved until you are baptized. This tradition is the Independent Christian Church known as the Restoration Movement. Their presentation of the Gospel revolves around baptism and not around Jesus who is always to be at the center of our salvation. Ask your Church what they believe about how a person is saved. If they do not agree with saved by grace through faith alone you will find yourself in a legalistic situation that God never intended.

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When someone becomes a Christian they are considered righteous in the sight of God based on the finished work of the Cross of Christ. We call this being justified in the sight of God. We attain this standing by the work that Jesus accomplished on the Cross once we place our faith in Him. Placing our faith in Christ is not just some mental ascent, but a giving of oneself over to God with an understanding that we are completely sinful (repentant heart) and need to be saved from our sins. When someone gives themself over to Christ they are agreeing that He is the Savior of the world and the only true way in which they can be saved. They are accepting Jesus for who He truly is by faith alone. At the moment of placing our faith in Christ we are taken from a life of darkness and put into a life that is now illumined by the Holy Spirit of God. The moment you placed your faith in Christ you were justified by God. This is a legal declaration that we do not always take seriously in the Church today. You now have a right standing before a Holy God who sees you as completely righteous before Him. In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul draws all of this out clearly in Chapters 3-5.

So why talk about justification and salvation by faith alone? Because there have been and will always be those who want to add to the Gospel of Jesus things that God has never intended. Because the Gospel must be proclaimed for what it is. It is a free gift of grace from the hand of the Creator of the heavens and earth. In our land today there are those who will say that you are not saved until you have been baptized, but that is not what the book of Romans teaches us. It clearly and simply teaches us that it is by grace through faith that we are saved with nothing else added to the equation. Placing our faith in Christ is a complete and total trust in the work of the Cross and who Jesus really is. He is the Son of God and came as God in the flesh. If you go to a Church and do not understand what they believe and teach about salvation then you need to ask. Make sure you are a part of a Church that teaches and proclaims salvation by grace through faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.     (Romans 5:1-2)

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