Tag Archives: free will

The Christmas Story Begins at Creation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

I want you to think about The Christmas Story in the way that it was planned well before the time we normally discuss Christ’s birth and His time on earth.  It was God’s plan long before that time that mankind would need a Redeemer.

Note that we, as humans, always note that good and evil have existed from the very beginning.  Scripture, however, challenges this thought.  There was a beginning to sin, and in Revelation 21 and 22 it will also come to an end.  A new heaven and a new earth will be created where sin will no longer have a foothold on us, God’s creation.  Even before God made Adam, there had to be something that took place.

Genesis 1:1-2

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

First, note that God already existed before He created the earth that we reside upon.  We don’t exist to support Him or make Him comfortable.  For our existence, we desperately need Him.  He does not need us.

Job 26:7

He stretches the northern skies over empty space;

He hangs the earth on nothing.

 

God has the ability to exist in nothingness.  He is the great I AM.  No one can change who He is.

Exodus 3:14

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

Revelation 22:13

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

 

Next, God created us out of love but with free will.  He knew that we would need a Redeemer because, on our own and without God’s provision, we would destroy ourselves.  We often don’t look at God’s instruction as beneficial to us, but it is absolutely true that His Word and His commands are for our good.

Acts 17:23b-31

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. 25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. 26 From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Being God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.

30 “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

John 8:54-58

54 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing. My Father—you say about Him, ‘He is our God’—He is the One who glorifies Me. 55 You’ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.”

57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”

 

Jesus was present at the time before Abraham was born, before Adam was born, and even before the world was created.  He is the “I AM” who is eternal.

God created us in order that, according to His will, we would rely upon Him for our existence.  God’s plan is to help humanity and prevent our own destruction.  Jesus Christ is the Redeemer who was sent to take away our pain and our difficulty, yet many reject Him.  Sin is what creates the conflict between God’s creation and Satan, and between believers and non-believers.

Genesis 3:15

I will put hostility between you and the woman,

and between your seed and her seed.

He will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.

(also see Revelation 12:4-6)

God is putting the plan in action back in Genesis 3:15 for a Savior to be brought before the people.   This was planned before the world was ever created.  He is an awesome God!

Revelation 13:8

All those who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.

1 Peter 1:20

He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you

Galatians 4:4

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.

 

God gives the sign—a virgin will be with child.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6

For a child will be born for us,

a son will be given to us,

and the government will be on His shoulders.

He will be named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

 

Satan’s work has been to hide Christ from the world, especially during the Christmas season.  After all of the gifts and presents and greetings of “Happy Holidays,” it is still about Jesus Christ.

So, your greeting or salutation to others is not “Happy Holidays” — it is “Merry Christmas!”

Christmas is not about a time to give a bunch of gifts–it is about sharing the greatest gift of all–Jesus Christ.

It is not about just showing love to everyone during Christmas but sharing that God revealed His love to each of us through Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-17

16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

 

Christmas is about the world’s need for a Savior.  It is about the love of God and the presence of a Savior in Jesus Christ.  God saw the greatest need for mankind was the need for a Savior even before the world was created.  He loves us more than we can imagine.

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God’s Presence in His Kingdom: Today’s Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
God intends for the Kingdom of God to be present through all believers. Each day there is a demonstration of how man, in failure to submit to authority, will destroy himself. Man has always rebelled against God. God gave man free will to do this. We can choose to be saved and love God or choose not to follow Him. When man fails to recognize His Kingdom, it does not change or have an effect on it. God has already numbered our days, and His Kingdom is still at work today. He rules over all that has happened on earth.

From the fall of man through the time when Jesus Christ rules on earth, God’s Kingdom has been present.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25
24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.

What is the relationship between the church and the kingdom? There is a distinction:

kingdom — Greek word Basileia
church — Greek word Ekklesia

The word ‘kingdom’ is used many times in the gospel while ‘church’ is only used three times. There is a change that takes place in the book of Acts where the church becomes the primary focus. The kingdom is secondary until the book of Revelation, where the kingdom becomes primary once more. Most New Testament letters are addressed to the churches–not the kingdom.

The kingdom of God in Scripture is the all embracing program of God’s divine salvation in history. All ages, people, the saving activities are related to the program of the kingdom.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

The Christians carry out the will of God in the midst of Satan’s domain. God’s kingdom will come to earth and will be headed by Jesus Christ.

A kingdom is defined as the sovereign reign over a territory where a king exercises his rule.

Hebrews 1:2
…by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.

There is, ultimately, one kingdom it signifies God’s universal eternal rule over all creation.

Psalm 103:19
The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 24:1
The earth and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants,
belong to the LORD.

God is in control over Satan. No one places limits on God. He places the limits…he rules.

Job 1:10-12
10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12 “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.

Satan has hindered us from carrying out what God would have us to do for Him.

1 Thessalonians 2:18
So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.

God will accomplish His will in His appointed time. Since God is reigning, believers can appeal to God to restrain Satan in order to serve God for His kingdom. The Holy Spirit’s presence is what convicts the hearts and minds of men and women. Believers are not of this world…we are of His Kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 3:11
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5-8
5 Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this? 6 And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.

The kingdom of God is advancing.

Matthew 11:12
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.

The gospel of the kingdom is being carried out by the church. The church is the vehicle that carries out the message of the kingdom.

Luke 16:16
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it.

Stages of the kingdom:
1. God’s covenant promises with Abraham
2. God’s rule over Israel (Exodus 40:33-34)
3. The appearance of Jesus

  • The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21).
  • The kingdom of God has come to you (Luke 11:20).
  • Jesus is seen as the glory of God (John 1:14; Luke 9:29-32).

The church is not the kingdom, yet it carries out the work of the kingdom. The kingdom is presently working through the church to equip and educate for the purposes of advancing the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world according to the mysteries described by Jesus in His teaching.

Matthew 13:11
He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.

Matthew 20:1
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.”

Matthew 22:2
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.”

The message of the church is the message of the kingdom.

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Acts 28:31
…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.

Matthew 24:14
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world[a] as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

The relationship of the church and kingdom:

Philippians 3:20
…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:13
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

2 Corinthians 5:20
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Sunday School Today: Free Will and Sin

MAN’S FREE WILL

There are other beings in the universe, which God has created. These are angels or spirits. They do not have human bodies or souls. They are mightier than we are. They were also created to serve God, but like man, they have a free will.  Some of them fell into the sin of disobedience. Isaiah 14:12-15.

God could have made a number of machines to do His will mechanically. Instead He chose to create beings who could, if they wished, serve Him voluntarily and love Him freely. We cannot quite understand why He would desire to have it so, but the evidence clearly abounds throughout history. Man makes his choices, and God delivers the consequences.

MAN’S SIN

When God created free beings, able to do His will or refuse to do so, He must have known that some would choose the wrong way. And so it turned out. A great angel called Lucifer, now known as Satan, decided to set his will in opposition to God’s. The first sin was not committed on earth but rather in heaven. He was immediately cast out of heaven. Many other angels joined Satan and were cast out with him. From that time on, Satan has sought to hinder the plans of God in every possible way. When man was created with a free will, Satan immediately planned to tempt him from the path of obedience. God had warned man, but Satan succeeded only too well in drawing him into sin as well. The well-known story is found in Genesis 3.

Now God, as the moral Governor of the universe, cannot tolerate in His presence any being who deliberately disobeys His commands. This is why Satan was cast out of heaven when he defied God’s will. The same treatment was necessary for man, and so Adam was driven from the physical presence of God. Genesis 3:23-24.

Sin had entered the human race, and Adam’s nature has been passed on to every member of the human race. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.Romans 5:12. We are all born with a tendency to sin. This nature responds to temptation from without and so we yield and grievously sin against a holy God.

Content courtesy of BBN International.