Tag Archives: doctrine

Be Filled (Part 5) – A Spirit-Filled Church

Today’s message of August 21, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

If you consider church planting, there are several things that can be considered.  Some leadership teams in this effort focus on only outreach to the unsaved.  Another church model is the teaching model, which focuses on doctrine.  Another model is that of discipleship.  All of these are good, but a better church model as derived from the text in Acts Chapter 2, which would be the model for a Spirit-filled church.

There are at least eight markers of a Spirit-filled church:

Preaching of the gospel
Devotion to God’s Word
Intentional fellowship
Prayer
Godly fear
Commonality
Corporate worship
Praising God

Acts 2:37-47 ESV

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The preaching of the gospel is the most important marker for any church plant or any church ministry.  A Spirit-filled church must go to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Everything rests upon the gospel.  A church that is not preaching the gospel is an apostate church.

Galatians 1:6-9 ESV

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— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
How do you identify the church that preaches the gospel?  By the preaching of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther and John Calvin challenged the Catholic Church on the doctrine of faith and grace.  It is faith and grace that saves, and not works.  Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, and not the pope.  The reformers fought the Catholic Church with their very lives, because they deemed it to be paramount over everything.

Acts 2:16-25

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[b] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

The reformers noted what Peter was preaching, and that his audiences were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit and needed to reckon with the judgment of God.  Only the power of the gospel can do this.

Five Solas:
Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)
Sola Fide (faith alone)
Sola Gratia (grace alone)
Sola Christus (Christ alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)

The gospel not only convicts but helps people take personal responsibility by placing trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Living a lifestyle of repentance is the result.

The gospel message is simple, and all that is required is belief by faith in Jesus Christ.

Being devoted to God’s Word (Acts 2:42)

The explicit meaning is for the desire of all who hear the gospel to study His Word.  The implicit meaning of v. 42 was the result of 3,000 people coming to know Jesus Christ.

The gospel is preached–people hear it and accept Christ–then make disciples within the group.

Acts 17:10-12

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Psalm 119:1-7

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous rules.

“There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled Christian who neglects the study of the Word of God.  There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled church that does not give itself continually and steadfastly to the study of sacred Scripture. The first sign of a Spirit-filled church is one in which the Spirit-filled people do not flee from Scripture and seek a substitute for it but are driven to it to have their spiritual lives rooted and grounded in the Word of God.”  –R C Sproul

Intentional fellowship uplifts the group of believers.  Church fellowship is good, but intentional fellowship is encouraged throughout the week.  It is necessary to encourage and admonish one another.

Prayer, the fourth marker of a Spirt-filled church, is very important.  We are to pray for one another.

Colossians 4:2-6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Prayer reveals the ways in which the gospel can go forth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Godly fear (Acts 2:43)

Acts 5:1-11

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
The word “awe” means “fear.”  The young church witnessed many miraculous things through the apostles, and they would revere God even more.  A church that is not fearing God is in a dangerous place.  There must be a reverence of God in order for people to remain obedient to Him.

Acts 5:12-13

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
The people understood what they had seen, and they had great reverence for God and His Word.

Commonality (v. 44)

The Word of God tells the Spirit-filled church to be of one mind and one accord.  The Holy Spirit showed the people what they were to do and did so accordingly.

This is important because (1) the church should be its own financial institution (not the government), and (2) it is to provide for the poor and less fortunate–their own members and members of the community.

Many who were widows and were poor and destitute, and it created the opportunity for a number of leaders within the church to serve those needed meals (one of these leaders over the food ministry in the early church was Stephen).

The opposite of commonality is that where there is separation:

Galatians 2:11-14

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Corporate worship (Acts 2:46-47)

Public worship is collectively being together in one place.  Paul planted a church and allowed leaders to be the governing board, and the process is repeated for every plant.  A multi-site church fulfills this requirement.

Praising God is an act of a Spirit-filled church

Acts 2:42

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

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Discovering Your Gifts

A message summary of March 20, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Ephesians 4:8, 11-12

For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners to captivity; He gave gifts to people.

And he personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.

We, as a church, based upon the command of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), need to advance the gospel. If we fail to do so, we will decline in the body of Christ. We are called to advance the gospel. It is our main focus…to reach lost people, locally and globally.

In Ephesians 4:8, 10-11, we see what amounts to be the five pillars of the gospel.

Christ needed to ascend in order for His people to receive gifts. Without His ascension, the church’s call to advance the gospel would have been incomplete. Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him was because He had not ascended yet. His work was not totally complete. While His work on the cross was finished through His crucifixion, His ascension gave the church the tools that it needed to be effective in proclaiming the gospel.

When Christ defeated all of the enemies of God, He received the rewards that were passed on to the church. He conquered those who conquered us, including Satan, sin and death. He had all authority to defeat His enemies and dispense His gifts to the people.

These five pillars of the gospels (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are the highest gifts to be desired because these are the people that keep the gospel message going forward. All five of these gifts are distinct in their functionality, and they are synonymous with each other in that they are present to achieve the same goal.

Apostle: One who is sent for.

Jesus chose these individuals to be messengers of the gospel. Paul was later chosen as an apostle (Acts 2 and Acts 13). These individuals were chosen by Jesus to spread the gospel. Their primary responsibilities involved being an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Each of these apostles experienced the presence of Jesus Christ.

We know that the apostle Paul went on at least three missionary journeys (Rome, Corinth and Philippi) and started churches. He spread the good news. He was a church planter. He also allowed other leaders to take hold as pastors of these churches (Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Corinth, etc.). If we are ambassadors here at our church, we are to continue this same process of planting churches and leaders.

By the way, there are no apostles today. You must have been trained by Jesus and even witnessed His resurrection. Even though there are no apostles, the work of these ambassadors for Christ is still present in today’s church. What we have today was built on the foundation of what the apostles accomplished.

Prophets are different from apostles. They are gifted to tell people what is to come. John the Baptist was the last prophet that emerged from the Old Testament, but the emergence of the church brought forth many more of them.

While you may not be a prophet, there is wisdom in looking to God’s Word for guidance as to what is coming in the future.

The church sends evangelists. It is totally different from that of the pastor and teachers. An evangelist does not necessarily have to tend to the flock of the church. Evangelists today are missionaries. As you contribute to the Great Commission Fund, you are contributing to the church evangelistic process.

It is our hope that we can, one day at our church, have a full-time evangelist on our staff. Are we evangelizing in the same way that Paul speaks of here?

If you did not have a pastor or a teacher here in the church, who would perform the duty?

A pastor needs to know how to teach. He is also the shepherd of the flock. He is to care for the members of the congregation.

Being a pastor can be rather frustrating, and heavy, at times.

Numbers 11:12-14

Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers? Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me.

While the burden may be heavy at times, it is still what God calls them to do; furthermore, it is not the pastor’s burden alone.

Hebrews 13:20

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus–the great Shepherd of the sheep–with the blood of the everlasting covenant.

1 Peter 2:25

For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Pastors should always make the effort to live more like Christ and less like themselves.

The teacher gives sound doctrine to the flock. They present sound wisdom that declares what is right or wrong according to God’s Word.

Ephesians 4:13-14

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Gods Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christs fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.

Do you know what your gifts are?

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

to one is given a message of wisdom

through the Spirit,

to another, a message of knowledge

by the same Spirit,

to another, faith by the same Spirit,

to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

to another, the performing of miracles,

to another, prophecy,

to another, distinguishing between spirits,

to another, different kinds of languages,

to another, interpretation of languages.

But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.

The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to people for the purpose of the members of the body to be empowered to proclaim the gospel. While we are not all teachers, pastors or prophets, each one of us has a gift to proclaim the gospel message and build up the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has placed these in the church:

first apostles, second prophets,

third teachers, next miracles,

then gifts of healing, helping,

managing, various kinds of languages.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets?

Are all teachers? Do all do miracles?

Do all have gifts of healing?

Do all speak in other languages?

Do all interpret?

But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.

The purpose of knowing your gift is to fulfill your purpose in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we apply what Paul said about people being ambassadors for Christ, can we say that we are prepared to do these things?

We are looking forward to the future to build up the church to the place where we will bring forth ambassadors, evangelists and those who are compelled by God to move in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.


Your Future…Is Jesus a Part of It?

Today’s message summary of January 4, 2015 from Pastor Gus Brown:

How many of you truly believe that Jesus Christ is going to return? Are you prepared for it? Are you praying to see His return?

If you indeed are anticipating His return, you should be aware of the different views that have been taken from Scripture and be able to meditate over these views. We will not know which one is correct until the day of His return. We should always be thinking about His return, in contrast to being concerned about life as we live it, as it relates to how we can continue to develop our relationship with Jesus Christ. We can fall into a trap where we will look to the future may hold while leaving God out of it. God challenges us to think wisely over this and to include Him in your view of what is to come.

If we are thinking about Jesus Christ in comparison to this world, we know that the world is getting worse before it is getting better. Are we praying for a revival of the people?

Psalm 100:5

For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

 

Psalm 117:2

For His faithful love to us is great; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Hallelujah!

 

God promises His people that He will be faithful to them, no matter what is happening around them. His Word is true.

Psalm 119:160

The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.

 

Revelation 3:10

Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

 

Matthew 24:36

Now concerning that day and hour no one knows–neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son–except the Father only.

 

Matthew 24:31

He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

 

A lot of people may see the words written here as little more than mythology. Those persons may want to think differently.

Matthew 24:37-40

As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left.

 

Luke 17:26-33

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

Noah entered the ark because he believed God. No one else outside of Noah’s family heeded his message. Are you the type of person who hears from God and believes Him? It was Noah’s faith that allowed him to believe in God. He believed that there was going to be a flood without at first seeing it.

The Scriptures prepare us to be ready. Are you ready? Or do you believe that there is nothing to be concerned about and can go about life as it occurs?

Luke 18:8

I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?

 

Will He find any faith on earth? Consider the world’s condition and the absence of faith in countries in Europe, or even among people today. Will you remain faithful to Him before His return? The faith we are referring to is a saving faith from a belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you believe and trust in Him?

People today are looking for some sort of spirituality, but their looking in the places that do not involve Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:3-4

First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

 

People will try to make light of the event of Christ’s return. Keep in mind that this will occur because there is a refusal to believe in His deity. To believe that Christ is coming back, along with the occurrence of the rapture and the coming of the tribulation is to believe that Jesus is true and that He keeps His word. It sanctifies the believer.

John 17:17

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.

 

Keep watch on Israel. The Lord has made promises about the nation of Israel, and it bears watching how they fare in today’s world.

2 Timothy 3:1-7

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people! For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

Here’s an important fact: God through the Holy Spirit cannot sanctify you unless you have the knowledge and wisdom that comes from God’s Word. Satan will give a person the impression that they are succeeding in something and make it appear to be a blessing, when in reality it is a person who fails to accept the truth, wisdom and knowledge that comes from a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ.

Is there a faith out there today? Is there a genuine belief in Jesus Christ?

Is there true instruction of God’s Word today, and do you know where to find it?

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

 

Jude 1:17-18

But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.”

 

Have you observed the world’s behaviors and if they have intensified? Are people becoming more and more ungodly? Is our nation more and more ungodly?

Luke 21:28

“But when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near!”

 

Look to Jesus Christ, who keeps all of His promises, and He will give you what you need. He will show you truth and wisdom if you merely trust in Him. God will keep you no matter what the storm brings. Make sure that you are anchored in Jesus Christ.


The Benefits of a Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
I pray that God will bring understanding of His truth to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we read and hear His Word, allow the Spirit to speak to you and provide insight and direction as we trust in Him, and let Him minister to you.

How many of us know the real reason that we go to church? Only you can answer this question for yourself. Are you going to show your fashions or simply out of duty? Are you going to seek the Lord with all your heart?

Is coming to church beneficial to you? Do you understand its value and importance? Do you see how God is working in your life and in those around you? There really is something to gain in your participation. What are its benefits?

1. A church will teach you how to conduct yourself in life.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Do you see your relationship with God as joyful and all-inclusive in your life? A child of God is a member of His family, and you know how to behave and conduct yourself.

Philippians 1:27
Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel.

In church, you surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. In comparison, the world does not care about you nearly as much. In your obedience, you see the presence, power and glory of God working through the church. God renews your mind and changes your heart to become Christlike in your actions.

Psalm 63:2-5
2 So I gaze on You in the sanctuary
to see Your strength and Your glory.
3 My lips will glorify You
because Your faithful love is better than life.
4 So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
5 You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

2. In church you will gain understanding about life.

Do you know who you are in Jesus Christ? Have you asked about the advantages of being a Christian as opposed to living life as a sinner?

Psalm 73
God’s Ways Vindicated

A psalm of Asaph.

1 God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.
3 For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have an easy time until they die,
and their bodies are well fed.
5 They are not in trouble like others;
they are not afflicted like most people.
6 Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness;
the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
8 They mock, and they speak maliciously;
they arrogantly threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues strut across the earth.
10 Therefore His people turn to them
and drink in their overflowing words.
11 The wicked say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High know everything?”
12 Look at them—the wicked!
They are always at ease,
and they increase their wealth.
13 Did I purify my heart
and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
14 For I am afflicted all day long
and punished every morning.
15 If I had decided to say these things aloud,
I would have betrayed Your people.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.
18 Indeed, You put them in slippery places;
You make them fall into ruin.
19 How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
20 Like one waking from a dream,
Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.
21 When I became embittered
and my innermost being was wounded,
22 I was stupid and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.
23 Yet I am always with You;
You hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will take me up in glory.
25 Who do I have in heaven but You?
And I desire nothing on earth but You.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.
27 Those far from You will certainly perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

When you look at life for what it is, the blessing is more about doing the right thing as opposed to doing what your flesh desires to do. There is often hardship in following Christ, including persecution. You will find yourself making choices that will separate yourself from some friends and acquaintances, and it won’t be easy to do. There may even be some envy or jealousy over what others may do, but your love for God and your desire to please Him keeps you from sinning against Him and seeking righteous living. Please know and remember that there is are good consequences of faithful living and there are dire consequences of unrighteous living. The love of Christ strengthens you and builds you up, while ongoing sin only corrupts the mind and the heart of the perpetrator. In church, you learn about this and the clear distinctions between the two.

3. In church you learn reverence for God.

Psalm 5:7
But I enter Your house
by the abundance of Your faithful love;
I bow down toward Your holy temple
in reverential awe of You.


1 John 2: The True Christian vs. the Antichrist

Truth will either push you away from the church or draw you to it. After all is said and done, it is God’s Word that declares the truth. John (in 1 John 2) declares that Jesus is the true Messiah–the Son of God. The Spirit of God is working in the lives of those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ. That is what the church needs and what its members should be seeking. He also notes that there is a spirit of the Antichrist–the father of false teaching. There were many false teachers prevalent at the time of John’s writings (as there are today). To overcome this, John will teach us the essentials of faith that a believer in Jesus Christ needs to live by. There comes a point where the words of God should match your actions and your behavior–to mature and grow spiritually as you live a Christlike existence. Spiritual maturity means growth in Christ, in spite of the apparent obstacles.

1 John 2:18-29

Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, ‘Antichrist is coming,’ even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? He is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.  What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life.  I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.  So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.

John points to the times he lived in as being “the last hour.” This declares a sense of urgency that Jesus was real and that He was returning soon (Revelation 22:20). Time is not relevant to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8-9), and no one knows the time when Jesus will return except for the Father (Mark 13:32). While Jesus is coming back soon, John is clear that the Antichrist is present, and there are many antichrists that are present now (1 John 2:18). The prefix “anti-” means to be against something or in opposition to something. To be an antichrist is to be in opposition to Christ and what He stands for (Satan vs. God; Antichrist vs. Jesus Christ; false prophets vs. the Holy Spirit). Antichrists distort God’s Word for their own benefits and profitability. The spirit of the Antichrist promotes lawlessness and a lack of peace, including rebellion against God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

False prophets are prominent today and are out to deceive many (Mark 13:22; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1-3). There is a prevailing thought that many, who appear to be Christians, within the body of Christ, that are, in actuality, in opposition of Christ. They challenge God’s authority and can cause others to lose sight of who Jesus Christ is and finding things that take the place of Him in their lives (John 2:18-22; Matthew 12:30; Philippians 3:19; Colossians 1:18). God is One that confirms truth in our lives through the Holy Spirit, and promotes unity within the body of Christ. John declares that the false prophets and false teachers were not of us (1 John 2:19). Their declarations and their deeds just didn’t line up with truth (John 8:21-23, 44-47). By one’s deeds, we can learn that many are not truly followers of Christ and that there was never a true movement from the old ways (of the world) to the new ways of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). A true follower of Jesus Christ must embrace the reality that living for Christ is an all or nothing lifestyle. He or she does not allow for compromise in their faith. It takes a desire to work at building the kingdom of God in your lifetime. It is throughout your waking hours that you are to yield to the Holy Spirit and be a living witness for Jesus Christ. It does require discipline and an ongoing focus, but this is the requirement of living a consistent, Christlike existence.

The true Christian is not moved from the truth (1 John 2:19-20; John 10:19). They are truly anointed by Christ through the Holy Spirit living within them. While man may teach or speak God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will confirm it as truth.

The antichrist (one who opposes Christ):

  • Does not know the truth
  • Lies and believes the lie
  • Does not allow the truth to remain in himself
  • Leads others away from Christ
  • May have the Word of God but not the anointing of God
  • Has a spirit of lawlessness, disorder, and hostility (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

No man can confirm truth, but the Holy Spirit confirms truth to us and promotes God’s Word with its instruction. God promotes order and peace in the life of a believer (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The anointed (those who have the Holy Spirit) have a love for Jesus Christ. They do not depart from Christ or the fellowship of believers. They know the truth (God’s Word), and acknowledge God, the Father, and Jesus Christ. They are not deceived by falsehoods that try to draw them away from God as they have spiritual discernment (1 John 2:26; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; John 14:26, 16:13). We are to live in Christ with confidence (1 John 2:28-29), because He gives us confidence as we have faith and trust in Him. We are not to be ashamed of living the Christian life. His righteousness declares that the true believer has been born of Him and remains in His hand, no matter what the Adversary says or does.


1 John: The Message and Our Fellowship

Today there are many people that are struggling with their salvation. They do not know, in these times of uncertainty, if their salvation is true. This was also the case in the time where John was in combat with the false teaching of the day. Where the Gnostics were proclaiming that you could not know God, John said that you certainly can know Him through Jesus Christ. It is our salvation through Jesus Christ that allows us to have fellowship with God, the Father (1 John 1:3), and that, through this, one could have fellowship with other believers (1:7). The fellowship with God is possible because of the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin, which separates us from God (1:7).

The purpose of fellowship here today is to help us to learn about what it will be to fellowship with Jesus Christ when we depart from here. Fellowship comes from understanding truth (1:3). The message is that Jesus Christ is the word of life and eternal life through God the Father (1:1-2). All of this, however, is based upon the acceptance of this truth. If you reject the message, you reject the Father and Jesus Christ, and the fellowship. John made the statement that what was seen and heard was true for the purpose of all of us having fellowship with Christ. Knowing the message of Jesus Christ is the basis of our fellowship. The purpose of Jesus Christ’s coming to earth to live, die for our sins, and rise again was for us to have fellowship with the Father and with one another. “‘I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me‘” (John 17:20-21). It is our fellowship that joins us together in body, belief, knowledge, goals, and destination. Our fellowship…our closeness in church helps to check us and become grounded in our belief in Christ. It brings us knowledge and understanding of what we believe. We can see, in this fellowship, how God operates in our lives, and we can help one another, pray for one another, and we can strive towards the same destination, which is fellowship with Christ.

Fellowship takes place only in the light (1 John 1:5). You must decide if you want to be in the light (John 3:19-20). The darkness is where our flesh wants us to be, but there is no darkness in the Lord. God reveals to us who we are and what we stand for, and He does it openly. Everyone who does evil hates the light. We need the fellowship to counter the influence of sin and iniquity. When one comes to God, we enter the light, which helps to keep us in focus with truth in Christ. Our walk with Christ shows others our sincerity and desire to be in the light and in the truth. Light and truth go together. If you claim to walk in truth and light, yet walk in darkness, you are lying (1 John 1:6). We lie when our lifestyle does not match our message about Christ. Without the message of the Word of God, the truth of God is unknown. Without the message, the Christian life is unknown. Without the fellowship, God is unknown. The result of all of this is a false Christian lifestyle; therefore, a lie is being lived out. If there is no fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the saints, there is no Christian life. One has to come to a place where you are in love with the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the saints in order to truly know and follow Jesus Christ.

Our walk demonstrates our daily lifestyle. It is how we are to live each moment of the day. “Then Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12). “‘Aren’t there 12 hours in a day?’ Jesus answered. ‘If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. If anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him‘” (John 11:9-10). “Jesus answered, ‘The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going‘” (John 12:35). To continually exhibit a life of darkness makes it impossible to say that you are in fellowship with God. The wrong lifestyle says we are false in our words and our deeds.

Fellowship with God and with one another brings about change (1 John 1:7). Christ’s blood purifies us from all sin and the change comes from learning the righteousness of God, and separates you from those things that caused us to sin…our daily life that was not pleasing to God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Son purifies us from all sin (John 7:7). We are in the process of being cleansed daily from our old life. As one fellowships with God, there comes an agreement that there needs to be a repentance from the old sin and lifestyle…the old ways where we once lived, and we are cleansed in His righteousness (Philippians 1:6). It doesn’t often happen overnight, and while the thoughts of sin may still be present, thankfully, the cleansing comes through the truth and fellowship with God, who loves us dearly. He helps us to bring these thoughts under control. The message of Christ deals with your conscience, making you aware of sin (Hebrews 9:14). In our confession of sin, our cleansing and in our understanding of God’s Word, we learn how to live for Him (1 John 1:8-9). By walking in the light, you bring forth your own identity through Christ. All we need to do is be honest about who we are. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, ‘We have not sinned,’ we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10).


Sunday School Today: Bible Doctrine on Man

If we want to know the truth about man, we must turn to the Bible. “Truth is what God says about something.” The Bible tells us about man’s creation, nature, and relation to other beings. Man is the focal point of creation. All the earth is subject to him.  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). However, to really know man we must obtain God’s perspective, not man’s ideas.

I. MAN’S ORIGIN

It is only natural that man should be curious about his origin. Philosophers have put various theories forward at different times throughout history. The most modern is the theory of evolution, which asserts that man’s ancestors are the lower animals. There is no evidence that primitive man is any different from modern man. The fact that human blood is one blood throughout the world proves that it is not a process of evolution. Acts 17:26. Animal blood will not sustain life for man. We cannot mix our blood with animal blood. From fish to fowls to animals to man, God created each one after their own kind. Genesis 1:24-25.

Man is distinctively different in that he was created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27. God created the first man from the dust of the ground. Genesis 2:7. However, throughout history God created human beings in one of the following ways: (A) By conception with man and woman. (B) Without the aid of a woman, as Eve. (C) Without a man or woman, as Adam. (D) Without the aid of a man, by a woman, as Christ. This is another evidence of God’s power over life.

God says concerning His creature man, “Everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7. So the question is “What is the chief end of man?” Properly answered, “The chief end of man is to glorify God.”

II. MAN’S NATURE

Anyone who has witnessed a person dying understands vividly that man has a physical body and also a soul or spirit. At one moment the person is alive … the next he is gone. Yet his body is still there. But the life principle has departed; a dead body remains. The Bible teaches us that man is a threefold being: body, soul and spirit.  1 Thessalonians 5:23. While it is hard for us to distinguish between soul and spirit, since both are in contrast with the physical body, the Bible shows that there is a difference. A plant is a body without soul or spirit. An animal has a body and soul but no spirit. Man is body, soul and spirit. The soul distinguishes a living being from a dead one, but the spirit distinguishes a man from an animal. The spirit of man makes it possible for him to have communion or fellowship with God.

Man is the only created being that prays. Prayer is a universal practice. From the most pagan people to the most enlightened people—we pray. Why? Have you ever seen a monkey thank God for his bananas? Also, man is the only created being with a conscience. Have you ever seen a monkey that felt guilty for stealing another monkey’s coconuts or for committing adultery? The writings of history are filled with the testimonies of human beings who were struck with conviction that they had done wrong.  Romans 1:18-32.  Animals make decisions through instinct.  Only man can make decisions by reasoning.

When fallen man becomes a Christian, he receives the indwelling Holy Spirit. We received the old nature through the fall of Satan, which he brought into the human race through the fall of Adam. If we will come to Him in faith, receiving Him as our personal Savior, He literally, in the person of the Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our lives. At that point we receive a new nature, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  The soul is the seat of the emotions and passions. The term spirit includes our ability to know and reason. Man is responsible to God and it is his greatest duty to find out what God wants him to do, and then do it.  These two natures, the flesh and the Spirit, are an internal warfare that we as Christians battle throughout life.

Content courtesy of BBN International.