Tag Archives: correction

The Church and Salvation:  Learning to Receive Criticism and Instruction

Today’s message summary of December 31, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There are periods when Jesus spent time with his apostles to train them for what was to come after He turned over His ministry to them.

How much do you like criticism?  Many of us don’t, but there are times when criticism is necessary.  For those of us at the forefront of ministry, this criticism is indeed constructive and beneficial.  The apostles had to receive instruction in this way in order to make sure that (1) they were living in the right way, and (2) to demonstrate before others a life of service in Jesus Christ.

We are to respect those who criticize us, because they are ultimately watching us.  It is the act of analysis or of the qualities as an evaluation in comparison to others.  There may be a finding of fault or even disapproval of what is being done, but it is in the spirit of correction.  (We are often not as critical of ourselves as we should be.)

Being a Christian is not easy.  It starts with obedience to Him, and it involves a surrendering to the Holy Spirit, who is developing you into the person that will serve Jesus.  This is how you can experience success–in spite of the flesh.

If you were to pick twelve people to do a task, and only one of the twelve failed, how would you grade yourself?  This was the result of Jesus’ training of his apostles.

There is a historical contrast between Jesus, the Jewish leaders, and John the Baptist.

The Jewish teachers and John the Baptist didn’t choose their disciples.  Their disciples chose them.  Jesus, in contrast, hand picked each of His disciples in order that they would become His apostles.

They were not self-made.  They had to stay chose to Jesus in order to continue to develop, learn and grow.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

Mark 3:13-15

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.

This was a change from what was the religious norm of the time (instead of what happened with John and the Jewish leaders).  Jesus wanted the apostles and appointed them.  He wanted them to be with Him.  He would sent them out to preach, and gave them authority to drive out demons.

The real wonder of the apostles lies in the making and development of the men for their ministry.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

The real wonder of a Christian is their growth and development.  Jesus wants to not just give salvation, but He wants to be with the believer to help him grow.  Where the old has left, the new has come.

The apostles reveal what is going to happen in the life of those who will accept Jesus as Savior.  The old has gone, and the new has come.

They had to learn to take criticism from other religious people.  There were many (Jews and Pharisees) who were watching them.

Mark 7:1-13

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with uncleanthat is, unwashedhands. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, Why dont your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?

He answered them, Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me.

They worship me in vain,

teaching as doctrines human commands.

Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition. He also said to them, You have a fine way of invalidating Gods command in order to set up your tradition!  For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’” (that is, an offering devoted to God), you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.

 

“Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” (from Mark 7:5)

Jesus reminded the critics of the words of Scripture in defense of the disciples and noted that those who professed to follow the Lord had hearts that were not following Him.  He teaches the critics with the words of Isaiah.

Isaiah 29:13-19

The Lord said:

These people approach me with their speeches

to honor me with lip-service

yet their hearts are far from me,

and human rules direct their worship of me.

Therefore, I will again confound these people

with wonder after wonder.

The wisdom of their wise will vanish,

and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden.

 

Woe to those who go to great lengths

to hide their plans from the Lord.

They do their works in the dark,

and say, Who sees us? Who knows us?

You have turned things around,

as if the potter were the same as the clay.

How can what is made say about its maker,

He didnt make me?

How can what is formed

say about the one who formed it,

He doesnt understand what hes doing?

 

Isnt it true that in just a little while

Lebanon will become an orchard,

and the orchard will seem like a forest?

On that day the deaf will hear

the words of a document,

and out of a deep darkness

the eyes of the blind will see.

The humble will have joy

after joy in the Lord,

and the poor people will rejoice

in the Holy One of Israel.

 

The disciples were observant of the dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees, but they were observing and learning from the exchange.

They learned how to move from answering their question to stating a fact about the accusers (Mark 7:9-13).

Now Jesus takes the question from the Pharisees to the multitude of people and His disciples–a much larger group.  He turns the question into a teachable moment for all who are listening.

Mark 7:14-19

Summoning the crowd again, he told them, Listen to me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.

When he went into the house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, Are you also as lacking in understanding? Dont you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? For it doesnt go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated (thus he declared all foods clean).

Remember that his disciples–soon to be apostles–were raised in Jewish tradition.  They had to see how these traditions were not nearly as important as the heart of the person.  The heart is to lead all of the actions for the glory of God.  Are things being done out of tradition, or are they being done out of a love and obedience for God?

Mark 7:20-23

And he said, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of peoples hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.

Jesus brings all of the observers into the discussion and shares this important truth.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should always be mindful of where their hearts are and remain obedient to the Lord–and not grieve the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is the Bible the True Word of God?

Original post May 31, 2009; Edited for re-post January 19, 2015

When one uses the phrase “God’s Word” or “The Word of God,” what is the meaning behind it? Man uses words to communicate with the idea of conveying a thought or a purpose. He can do it with sincerity, but at times it is done for our own selfish purposes or reasoning. God’s Word, on the other hand, is the revealing of God’s will for all people. He provides His Word for a purpose and it has the ability to “speak to us” and reach us in ways that normal communication cannot emulate. We have received His Word because it is inspired by God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Scripture was given to us because it has a benefit for us, provided that we receive and respond to its teaching. While man’s words do not by themselves have power and authority, God’s Word ALWAYS operates in divine power (1 Thessalonians 1:5) and with divine authority (Luke 4:32, 36).

Many people will not read the Bible because the Word has the ability to convict those who read it of their sinful nature. It is the power and authority of God’s Word that challenge one’s mind and consciousness and that brings change in our lives. It will either bring one to Jesus Christ or it will condemn one to eternal separation. This is all in the choice that we make. God wants us to preach the Word and speak to others (2 Timothy 4:2). It is to be presented with encouragement and yet do so with the authority to correct those who are in sin with patience (2 Timothy 4:3).

It takes God’s time (and not our timing) for God’s Word to work in the lives of others. You need to allow God to work in His sovereignty and according to His purpose. Our call, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to be ready to share with others about our lives (1 Peter 3:15-16) and how God has changed us for the better.

It is God’s desire to impart His wisdom and knowledge to those interested in heeding His Word and to become more mature in their way of thinking about Christ (Colossians 1:28). The presence of the Holy Spirit is to guide men to God’s desires for our lives (Psalm 37:4; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit gives us the ability to understand God’s power and authority in His Word (Titus 3:5; Nahum 1:3; Philippians 2:13; Proverbs 21:1-3).

We should always be mindful that we derive our righteousness not in our own actions, but in His righteousness because of Jesus Christ making the eternal sacrifice for us all. The choice for us is to receive His Word in its entirety or reject it altogether. After all is said and done, God’s Word is the inspired authority and it operates with power and truth (2 Peter 1:21; Jeremiah 30:2). God is always in control…God’s Word is true…God’s will be done.


Church Discipline (Part 2)

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
When you hear the words “church discipline,” is your response “I don’t want the church in my business!” If it is, consider that church discipline is not intended to embarrass a person–in reality, it is a necessary part of maintaining order within the church and a recognition of authority of Jesus Christ. As Christ is the head of the church and the head of the body of Christ, there is a structure within the church that requires recognizing the need for correction when necessary, but it also requires that you care about the spiritual well-being of the person who is being corrected (1 Corinthians 12:25; Galatians 6:1; Psalm 142:4). Even pastors are subject to church discipline. Church discipline, in its proper use, prevents a person or persons from getting puffed up.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

We need to understand that discipline is necessary to not allow sin to be permissible through the body because its ongoing presence is destructive not just to one, but to the entire body of Christ. It is important to be cautious of any sin in our midst, for it will spread if it is not checked.

Through grace, God has joined Himself to us. He comes in holiness and demands the reflection of His character within His church (Psalm 93:5; 1 Peter 1:16). Discipline is a tool that God uses to train us to move in the right direction.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Discipline is commanded by Jesus.

Matthew 18:17-18
17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. 18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.

The church should always be involved in discipline as it shares with the person who is being counseled what Scripture has to say about the issue. Jesus Christ is always part of the process. The church is an assembly of the body of Christ, and Jesus is in the midst of the group. Everyone present is to seek wisdom from God in prayer.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5
When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.

Titus 3:10-11
10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

Heresy (a heretic) manifests itself in three different ways:
1. An unbeliever who has his or her own opinion.
2. The professional, “Sunday morning” believer.
3. The practical disbeliever…insincere and has own perception of life and spirituality.

All are divisive persons who cause division and disagreement within the church. A body of believers, after prayer, consideration of the fellowship, and counsel with the offender, can conclude that it is best for the heretic to depart from the church to avoid any further disruption if there is no reconciliation.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you; 8 we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and struggled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. 10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food. 13 Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Discipline is also important in the life of the believer. Do not live according to the teaching of those who are moving in the wrong direction. Staying busy in your work or vocation keeps you put of trouble. In all of this, the most important lesson is to never get tired of doing what is right.

Discipline is to always be carried out in love and humility. God still deals with all of His people with love and grace and seeks to heal and to restore them (2 Samuel 12; Jonah 1:17; 2 Timothy 3:16). The purpose of all discipline is to win back the person in sin (Galatians 6:1).

The Holy Spirit will manifest the fruit of the Spirit…with love, long-suffering, and gentleness (2 Corinthians 2:4-8).

The church congregation is to express this love and to stand firm in its conviction (1 Corinthians 2:9, 5:4).

The discipline on on the individual is to gain a brother or a sister (2 Thessalonians 3:15) and that spirits can be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5).

1 Timothy 1:20
Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

2 Timothy 2:25
…instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

Disciplines effect upon the church: sin is dealt with in an appropriate manner in order that others may know it.

Joshua 7:19-25
19 So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.”

20 Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent, and there was the cloak, concealed in his tent, with the money underneath. 23 They took the things from inside the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out in the Lord’s presence.

24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, and sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the Lord will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them.

Romans 2:24
For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

1 Timothy 6:1
All who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters to be worthy of all respect, so that God’s name and His teaching will not be blasphemed.

1 Timothy 5:20
Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.

Discipline is necessary in that it is not about causing anyone embarrassment; instead, the result is that justice is done.

2 Corinthians 7:11
For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter.


Church Discipline

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Discipline is not enjoyable under any circumstance, but it is necessary. A very important area where discipline should be is in the church. There is a misconception that there should not be any discipline because everyone in the church is covered under grace. The fact is that there should be church discipline is lacking today because of selfish motivations. If we are in the body of Christ and truly “a family,” we should see the evidence of care for one another. We are mistaken if we take the approach that what we do is no one else’s business. Our responsibility is to make sure that each of us is growing and progressing as believers in Jesus Christ.

When something goes wrong, we should be able to correct a person who is in sin and out of fellowship. The simple reason is that sin destroys fellowship with God and with the church. It weakens us spiritually as a body. It is not to embarrass someone, but is intended to get a person back on the right track.

The church is to be the authority in the lives of its believers and attendees. Anything less than that is chaotic.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

This is more than just turning a blind eye to sin. When there is no higher authority in your life, it is a mistake. When you only believe that you are righteous in your own behavior, it is also a mistake.

The basis of church discipline is that God disciplines His people. It is never to be made light of, nor is it meant to discourage those who are being disciplined. It is an act of love. It means that God, and the people of the church, cares about the one who is being disciplined. It is performed with God’s long-suffering intent to correct and give direction to the person to turn from sin.

Hebrews 12:5-6
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or faint when you are reproved by Him,
6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son He receives.

Parents discipline their children because they love them. It is an act of love and patience, and it is not to be done to break the child’s will and not his or her spirit. In the same way, God disciplines us with love and patience because He knows each of us and cares for us.

The church uses discipline to care for the person’s spiritual well-being.

1 Corinthians 12:25
…so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.

Here is what we don’t want to occur within the body of Christ:

Psalm 142:4
Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.

Discipline is also for our own spiritual wellness.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

1. We have to be careful of sin that will spread among us.
2. Through grace God has joined Himself to us.
3. He comes in holiness and demands the reflection of His character within our lives and within His church. His presence is in the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and within the body of Christ.

Psalm 93:5
Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable;
holiness is the beauty of Your house
for all the days to come.

1 Peter 1:16
…for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

4. It matters to God how the world sees us, as His people; therefore, discipline is a training tool.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


A Mother’s Day Message

Being a mother in today’s world is certainly not easy. There are some circumstances when a mother and a grandmother have a mutually important role of raising the children in the family. The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” comes to mind. Unfortunately, today we have parents who are often confronted by their children or who may even be abused by their children. There may be a complete absence of control or discipline in the household where the children have little or no regard for their parents. This is contrary to what Scripture declares, for motherhood is part of God’s plan and purpose. Many of us can attribute our successes and triumphs we experience in the strength and encouragement of our mothers. A mother has to rely upon knowledge, wisdom and the proper motivation to teach and instruct their children. All of this requires time, which is often precious and while there needs to be prioritization, the mother recognizes the importance in making time for the benefit of their children.

God sees motherhood as an important role in the family that benefits the children, and God honors the mother in the fulfillment of her role. There is a similar honor for all of us, as well, in how well we treat our father and mother. “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). It is not a choice for the child of a mother to honor and respect her–it is God’s command. When you disrespect your mother or curse her, you’re not honoring her.

Historically, the father was outside of the home to fulfill the responsibilities of the country and also the household, including fighting in battles, searching for food, and, in more modern times, working to earn money to care for the entire family. The mother had the more traditional role in the home shaping and molding the children with wisdom and instruction. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8). Young ladies, especially, need a mother’s instruction to know how to grow up to be successful young women. When a child comes to a place where they are not listening to their mother’s instruction, they enter into a very dangerous area and can bring destruction upon themselves, for they are not operating within God’s will, plan and purpose by their actions. “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish one despises his mother” (Proverbs 15:20).

What is the extent of the love that a mother can have for her children? Consider the example of Rizpah in the book of 2 Samuel 21, where, even in her sons’ tragic death, she was so devoted to her children that she literally protected their bodies from the birds and animals from April (harvest time) until October. This was the only reference in Scripture about Rizpah and her children, but if this is how she cared for and nurtured her children after their death, just imagine how she treated them and cared for them during their lifetime! Her love and devotion is admirable, and shows that mothers have a special God-given ability to care for and nurture their children.

Mothers need to know that they really do matter to their children. Mothers should never think that they are too old to give their children advice on life. While it is to be given in respect of the child who has grown into adulthood, the role remains the same in that the mother still has a positive influence and effect on their children.

Loving mothers should represent good things when it comes to their children. God wants them to give good gifts of instruction and wisdom to their children, which builds up their faith and good character. It is not just words, but also the example of living a godly life before your children (Matthew 7:9-11). Timothy most likely witnessed, and therefore, experienced the living faith of his mother and grandmother as he was being raised by them (2 Timothy 1:5-7). This faith was passed down from generation to generation–first from the grandmother, and then to his mother, and then to Timothy. When you find a woman who knows the Lord Jesus Christ, you have found a woman who will invest in the life, health, and well-being of their children.

A mother has great ambitions for their children. Their desire is for their children to see that same desire that they have and to take hold of it. What is the gift or ambition that you have given to your children? Do you instill confidence and encouragement to give the child the desire to do well and look beyond the obvious? You know what they are capable of; therefore, dream big dreams for your children. While others may say it can’t be done, your words can help them achieve and succeed beyond their expectations. Mothers have to instruct, push, correct, and guide their children in order to see to it that they realize success, especially in your demonstration of a life of faith and love in Jesus Christ (Proverbs 22:6, 23:13).

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and grandmothers! We love you and appreciate all that you have done for us!