Tag Archives: nature

The Church and Salvation: The Teaching of God’s People

Today’s message summary of October 22, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

After the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, there was a period of 400 years where there was no prophet from God on the scene, and man was left to himself as to how he would practice his faith.  During this 400 years, you would see different things occur, but the pursuit of religion was left to man’s own accord.

The Sadducees relied upon natural law and not upon any teachings or writings.  Even today, the issue is the lack of good, sound teaching of God’s Word.  We are in a society that receives very little education, especially in reasoning and understanding.

The church originally started schools for the purpose of teaching people how to read and write.  It was to help people be able to read and understand what they were reading, and it was to be able to gain something from God’s Word.

Hosea 4:6 KJV

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

How well are we being taught?  Do we believe what we are being taught?

Teaching should not be just a repetition of what the teacher has said, but to go further into seeking the information that has been presented.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Many people will sit in church and hear the Word, but if it is not taught and the people decide it is not to be believed or understood, then it is just a waste of time.

One of the obvious things that one can observe in a believer’s life is a lack of progression.  It is from a lack of faith.  It comes down to trusting God more than just trusting yourself.  The Word of God is to be taught to help to develop you more into the type of person that God wants you to be.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

Why would one go to a doctor for advice and leave without taking it?  Paul was not holding back in any way his knowledge of God.  It is important that the people of God may grow and mature with the proper instruction of God’s Word.

What happened during those 400 years?  There were groups that emerged:

The Essenes followed Greek philosophies that existed two centuries before Christ emerged.  They were a Jewish sect.  Note that their belief in how souls were transported was void of God’s teaching.

The Scribes emerged as a continuation of the group that existed during David and Solomon’s time.  They were known for recording words and also for accounting.  They set forth and maintain order when it came to how things were to be accomplished, and yet there was no prophet that provided additional inspiration.

The Sadducees did not believe in death and resurrection of the dead, nor angels or spirits.  They only believed in the present life they were living.  (Much like those who lack belief are today.  There are many who believe that there is nothing after this life.)

Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

The Pharisees are believed to have emerged from the Maccabeans, and they kept up with the writings of Moses, but they also infused a number of new rules within their way of living that ultimately became much more important than that of God’s Word.

Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

Luke 11:42

“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:52

“Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge! You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”

God desires for sincere worship and praise before Him.

There is something wrong with the number of churches that are existence today in that there is hardly any teaching.  Even worse, we are teaching the precepts of man rather than those from God.

The ministry of Jesus began with teaching.  Questions and answers follow this instruction.  There is learning that is taking place.

Luke 2:46

After three days, they found Him (Jesus at age 12) in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Matthew 4:17

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”

Luke 4:14-15

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone.

A good teacher must also be a good listener.  He or she will always listen to the students in order to know what needs to be imparted.

Note that there was a 400-year gap before Jesus was teaching the people.  Many people were hungry for His words of instruction.

The church, as a whole, must return to teaching.  Teaching will either draw your nearer to Jesus, or it will chase you away.  Either way, the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word must be shared.

Our churches should be overflowing–not because of preachers who entertain, but because God’s Word is being proclaimed.

If a person comes to church to do anything other than hear God’s Word, it becomes idolatry.

The Spirit must be present in order that the teacher can be used to advance the will of the Father.  A teacher must recognize the evidence of God’s presence in order to teach well.  Jesus’s own ministry was not independent of the Father and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16-17

After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!

John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

John 5:19-20

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works that these so that you will be amazed.

2 John 1:9

Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

God is a teacher.  It is the very character and nature of God.

Deuteronomy 4:12-14

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets. At that time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to follow in the land you are about to cross into and possess.

Isaiah 48:17

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Jeremiah 32:33

They have turned their backs to Me and not their faces. Though I taught them time and time again, they do not listen and receive discipline.

The instruction that we receive is to help us in obedience and to follow and live according to His will.  That, ultimately, is what is best for us.

Jesus’s teaching is to help us to see something far greater from His instruction than just mere words.

John 7:46

The police answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”

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Why the Millennium? (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 14, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

These messages about the end times are for the benefit of sharing with those who want to know more about the Lord and to be aware of the signs that are present and yet to come.

Hosea 4:6a

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Whose fault is it for the Millennium?  The Millennium is set up to show how mankind has been evil, and this period is to represent what it originally was like in the Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve).

Do we, as Christians, perform good works, or not?  Throughout history, people have tried every means possible to make the world a better place to live.

Some Christians think that this is the wrong thing to do.

Please understand that everything that Christians do should be with the purpose of presenting Jesus, in order that it brings people to encounter the presence of Jesus Christ.

People are to remember that we are the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13).  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.  Christians are to be the seasoning and preservers of humanity.  We are in place to witness and work on His behalf to bring as many people as possible to Christ.

Even the best efforts of people to bring others to Jesus Christ have been unsuccessful.  A sinful nature creates an imperfect environment, but it does not mean that we do not continue to work for the best.

Ephesians 6:12-13

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

What people have never been able to do, Jesus does in the Millennium by setting forth a perfect environment for people.

The Millennium is the last event that will take place on the old earth if you have the last battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium.  Everything from this point will take place in heaven.  The White Throne Judgment will be in heaven and follows the destruction of the old earth.

Important events of the Millennium:

  1. Jesus will be on earth in bodily form. He will, from that point, never leave His people again.
  2. Satan is bound. His activities will be restricted (Genesis 3:13).
  3. The people will live in the environment of Adam.
  4. People will have the free choice to worship and obey Jesus. (The same free will that Adam and Eve had.)
  5. One thousand years will not change the heart of Satan.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

People work to try to improve their old nature, but the old nature cannot be improved.  It can only die.  Your old nature must die to self.  God has to create a new nature in you.

People that go through the Millennium will…

  1. Obey without knowing Jesus as Savior. Why? (You are in a disastrous place without Jesus Christ being at the head of your life.)

Isaiah 11:3-9

His delight will be in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge

by what He sees with His eyes,

He will not execute justice

by what He hears with His ears,

but He will judge the poor righteously

and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.

He will strike the land

with discipline from His mouth,

and He will kill the wicked

with a command from His lips.

Righteousness will be a belt around His loins;

faithfulness will be a belt around His waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

and the leopard will lie down with the goat.

The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together,

and a child will lead them.

The cow and the bear will graze,

their young ones will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

An infant will play beside the cobras pit,

and a toddler will put his hand into a snakes den.

None will harm or destroy another

on My entire holy mountain,

for the land will be as full

of the knowledge of the Lord

as the sea is filled with water.

Like the church, there can be an outward conformity without an inward reality of Jesus.  The heart of the person must change to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

 

  1. There will be no war.

Micah 4:2-4

and many nations will come and say,

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us about His ways

so we may walk in His paths.

For instruction will go out of Zion

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will settle disputes among many peoples

and provide arbitration for strong nations

that are far away.

They will beat their swords into plows,

and their spears into pruning knives.

Nation will not take up the sword against nation,

and they will never again train for war.

But each man will sit under his grapevine

and under his fig tree

with no one to frighten him.

For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts

has promised this.

 

  1. There will be no killing of people by other people.
  1. People will live a long life.

Isaiah 65:20-22

In her, a nursing infant will no longer live

only a few days, or an old man not live out his days.

Indeed, the youth will die at a hundred years,

and the one who misses a hundred years will be cursed.

People will build houses and live in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They will not build and others live in them;

they will not plant and others eat.

For My peoples lives will be

like the lifetime of a tree.

My chosen ones will fully enjoy

the work of their hands.

 

  1. There will be no divorce, physical problems (no disease), drunkenness, or addiction. There will not be any poor, and there will not be any hunger.

It only makes you wonder how people can experience all of this and yet walk away from Him.

Who rules with Jesus, and why?

He will set up a ruling class of righteous people, and will give authority to those who are faithful in service to Him.

Revelation 20:4

Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of Gods word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.

Why do they get to rule with Jesus and not the present saints?

They all come with a supernatural body, while others do not have such a thing.

1 Corinthians 15:40-57

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

sown in dishonor, raised in glory;

sown in weakness, raised in power;

sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

The first man was from the earth

and made of dust;

the second man is from heaven.

Like the man made of dust,

so are those who are made of dust;

like the heavenly man,

so are those who are heavenly.

And just as we have borne

the image of the man made of dust,

we will also bear

the image of the heavenly man.

Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery:

We will not all fall asleep,

but we will all be changed,

in a moment, in the blink of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound,

and the dead will be raised incorruptible,

and we will be changed.

For this corruptible must be clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal must be clothed

with immortality.

When this corruptible is clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal is clothed

with immortality,

then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?

Now the sting of death is sin,

and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Difference between a perishable and imperishable body
  2. There is a body of dishonor and a body raised in glory
  3. Weakness versus power
  4. Natural body and a spiritual body (one for earth and one for heaven)

There must be a change in the body of a person from corruptible to incorruptible…in other words, to be more like Jesus.

Romans 8:28-30

We know that all things work together[a] for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

1 John 3:2

Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

The rest of the dead that are not reigning with Christ because they will be the unbelievers:

Revelation 20:5-6

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.


Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Worship in Spirit and Truth

Today’s message summary of February 15, 2015 from Bro. Travis Jackson:

When I was a teenager I remember a church that my family was attending. Many of the members attend this church today. It was a service with hyper-Pentecostalism with cogent doctrinal beliefs. You can imagine how their style of worship would have an effect on me. As a teenager, after being in a church from 11 am to 2 pm, I was ready to go home. Their style of worship was frightening to me, and honestly because it was unspiritual according to James 3:15, but this was the way that they worshiped.

James 3:15

Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

 

In the mid-18th Century there was a Christian sect known as the Shakers. Part of their belief was that they could shake the impurities out of their bodies. That was their form of worship. Their style was similar to how I was raised with the dancing, jumping and gyrating that took place.

My wife, Crystal, and I are very particular about how we worship and how we view worship. While my wife enjoys getting involved with the music, I am much more intellectually involved in worship. In either case, worship is what sets the stage for how God is to speak to those who attend the church.

A church worships God within its cultural context or setting as long as the worship is biblical and based upon biblical truths. It can either be one or the other.

John 4:23

But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.

 

It is important to remain dedicated to worshiping God within the church service.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

 

In Romans, Paul is declaring what is proper in worship and what is not. The theme of Romans is justification and the saving righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christians were not only to believe in Jesus Christ, but to live according to His Word, as well. There needed to be a distinction between how Christians lived and how the non-Christians (the pagan worshipers) lived. Paul was capturing the culture of the day in how Romans were worshiping, yet he made the distinction that holy worship of God is distinct from their worship of the gods.

Idolatry is not only worshiping false gods, but it is also worshiping God in a false or insincere way.

Matthew 15:8

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

 

In order for us to worship God in a holy and acceptable manner, we need to understand the nature of holiness. If we are not holy, we cannot present ourselves as a living sacrifice before Him. He will not accept it.

To be holy is to be placed aside and be pure.

Ephesians 5:27

He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

 

Paul uses this same example of holiness in Romans 12:1-2 in the Ephesians passage to show that Jesus wants to present us, the church, which is the universal body of believers to God as holy and blameless. This means that, for each of us, we are holy and blameless in Jesus Christ. Note, however, that if you choose to live a life of sin, you cannot be offered as holy before God. You have to decide to be holy as He is holy.

Paul defines how you are to present yourself as a living sacrifice as a matter of holy worship.

Romans 8:13

…for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

Will your worship of God be hampered by those things that can get into its way? Worldly possessions? Money? Time? All of these things can get into the way of your complete worship of God.

Paul implores each of us to put ourselves on the altar in order to be a living, sanctified testimony for Jesus Christ.

As part of worship, God provided instruction to the Israelites different offerings as a method of preparation and prayer; the burnt offering, the grain offering and the peace offering, the sin offering (purification) and the guilt offering (atonement of committed sin).

Christ is the atonement for our sin. We worship God with prayers and praises today. We do not need to make any offerings as noted above under the New Covenant because we are in Christ and in fellowship with Him.

While we are under the New Covenant, Paul emphatically informed anyone who was in sin to not go to the Lord’s table because of the worship that it represents.

God said to His own Son, “This is my beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:17) His words reflect the nature as to how we are to worship Jesus Christ. He allowed His Son to be our perfect example as to how we are to worship and praise Him.

Worship involves the renewal of your mind. Renewal of your mind is to be mindful of what we watch, or what we take in. God has given you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the ability to discern what is good and pleasing to Him, and that includes what you should allow or not allow in your life.

We have discussed what it is to partake in holy worship, being a living sacrifice, and allowing yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. These are all of the important elements of worshiping Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth.

Worship is also any activity that takes place outside of church, as well. How you live in everything that you do are acts of worship, for you are a steward of what God has provided you.

If you are reading and studying God’s Word, He will provide answers to questions that you have about worship and being obedient to Him. It begins with the knowledge of His Word and being sensitive to His will for you.


Understanding Sin and its Effect

Today’s message from Pastor Gus Brown:

We will be discussing over the next couple of weeks how to understand sin. Can we understand or grasp the recent events of today, such as the mass shooting of children or even the gunman killing his own mother? These events are hard to explain or understand. What we want to explore is what sin really does to us.

Men has done everything he can to try to lessen or minimize the effects of sin. We can’t really understand or grasp what sin is because it is illogical. It is difficult to understand, but it does give us a greater understanding of our need for Jesus Christ. It will also help us to see that there is only one name under heaven and earth that can save us. Please note that we have people who may have said Jesus’ name or confessed that they know Him, but they may not believe that He is Lord and Savior.

Sin robs us from reaching our full potential. It always causes one to be disobedient to God. It can rob us of our integrity, even our shame. We may become insensitive to its embarrassment or guilt.

Romans 7:15
For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.

Sin never shows us its destructive tendencies. It is deceptive to us. Satan wants us to believe that sin is not destructive and that it is not that big of a deal, when in fact it really is. Satan becomes your master when you believe the lie that sin is harmless to you.

Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.

Satan puts us on a road that seems harmless, but it eventually leads to a problem for us. We may think we are in control in the midst of our sin, but it brings us to a place where we are not in control of anything, including our destruction.

Romans 7:24-25
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Paul recognizes that God through Jesus Christ is the only one that can rescue us from sin. He sees that Jesus is the One who tells the truth, while Satan only lies (John 8:44). The question is whether or not we will allow Jesus to guide us away from sin.

John 8:44
You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.

Sin is the opposite of righteousness. When God declares matters as sin, He did not make any mistakes. Man tries to rationalize unrighteous acts and still declares himself to be righteous. There is no ambiguity in God’s message about obedience and sin.

Sin is the transgression of God’s divine will for your life. Sin interrupts and prevents us from carrying out God’s will for us.

Sin is always unjust. If someone commits an act of sin against us, we will try to justify our actions against the other person as righteous or necessary. This is another deception from Satan. Sin is never justifiable.

What defines the person who is spiritually dead? There are different ways to define death from a physical realm, but spiritual death is much different.

The effects of sin:
1. Failure to walk in the ways prescribed by Jesus Christ. There is only one way, and the path is narrow, and few will find it.
2. Rebellion against any authority, which is lawlessness.
3. It involves internal and external attitudes and behaviors. Sometimes the attitude is discovered in facial expressions or body language (which is internal), and then manifests itself in behaviors (which are external).

Romans 1:29-31
29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

The verses above do not describe a person who is truly following Jesus Christ.

4. It makes slaves of the person involved in it.

Romans 6:16-18
16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?
17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

5. It suppresses the truth and distorts it. Satan will give you half-truths and it keeps out godly truths. Truth sets one free from the deception of Satan. A person who is a Christian who does not believe in truth will suffer from guilt and oppression and fail to live an abundant life.

Romans 1:18-19
18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.

We are to recognize sin for what it is. Sinful behavior is often justified because of cultural norms. The truth will overcome sin.

6. It disagrees with the person of God as described in Scripture. People who try to justify behaviors are attributing issues to God when it fails to acknowledge God’s Word and who He is. God has revealed Himself to us, but we fail to recognize who He is because of our lack of understanding; therefore we try to make Him a different God.

Romans 1:25
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

Do you know that sin did not originate with mankind? Mankind was drawn into sin. Remember that the angels, who were created by God, also had free will. They must have had free will in order to decide whether to follow God or not.

1 John 3:8
The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.

Understanding sin recognizes the need for Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One who helps us to overcome sin.

Luke 10:18
He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash.

Look at this verse as an illustration as to how quickly he will deal with sin. Be thankful that He is long-suffering, but the moment that you sin, you incur consequences for that sin even in repentance.

Isaiah 14:12-15
12 Shining morning star,
how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations,
you have been cut down to the ground.
13 You said to yourself:
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne
above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly,
in the remotest parts of the North.
14 I will ascend above the highest clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you will be brought down to Sheol
into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Sin begins within the heart of the person committing it, and it declares that the person is in charge of his or her own life. That’s exactly what Lucifer (Satan) did himself before he was expelled by God from heaven. Satan knew that he could not be God or above God, but he readily acknowledged his desire to be like Him. This is what we do when we are caught up in sin. We deny that we want to be in the presence of God, but our actions are such that we are in defiance of Him.

Every person was created for the purpose of worshiping God and His authority. Sin declares that we deny His worship and declare selfishly that we are more important. The deception is that it is natural to do so because of our fleshly nature. Sin is when man tries to live on his own in violation of God’s law. He makes his own law in the course of his sin. He sets his own rules and regulations that contradict what God’s Word says.

People are often deceived by a mere consciousness of God. It is not enough to say “I believe in God.” You need to do more than believe in Him. You need to acknowledge His presence in your life by following Him and living for Him. Just believing in Him does not mean you acknowledge and trust Him as Lord and Savior.

Failure to live for God is a rejection of what Scripture declares about the nature and characteristics of who God is. When God’s Word is revealed to us, we learn that He is unchangeable. God is not going to change to satisfy our personal whims and desires. Sin corrupts our thinking of how God sees us and how we see Him. It also corrupts our views on how we make choices as to what is good and what is evil. Note that the more you are educated does not mean that one can sin less or not at all. The other flaw is that there are areas of influence that causes one to sin, such as television, video games or other media. Sin, in reality, begins in the heart of the person who commits it.

Some people believe, erroneously, that you can accept Jesus in your heart to go to heaven but that you don’t have to be obedient to Him. You cannot accept Jesus just to go to heaven and not fulfill the responsibilities that come with being a believer. Many people accept Jesus not to follow Him but to escape punishment after death. You cannot accept Jesus under your own conditions. He is either The Lord of your life or He isn’t. The deception of the enemy distorts our thinking about who Jesus really is.

Matthew 5:17
17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.”

Jesus understood that without the law, there is lawlessness. He stated that He is the fulfillment of the law. If Jesus Christ lives within you, it gives you the ability to live as He would have you to live. It is your desire to live for Him and please Him in your obedience to Him and His Word.

Matthew 5:19-20
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Just saying that you know Jesus will not grant you entry into heaven. It is most important to hear what God has to say about salvation and live according to what is declared.

Luke 11:28
He said, “Even more, those who hear the word of God and keep it are blessed!”

Psalm 119:11
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You.

James 1:19-26
19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.

22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself.

A true love for Jesus Christ is an acknowledgment that His Word is in the person’s heart, and then one’s mind. The heart of a person who is in sin is far from God. As we learn more about the effects of sin, we will see how we truly need Jesus Christ. His presence brings joy to a person’s life with the realization that His truth overcomes sin and our sinful nature.


Sunday School Today: Triumph Over Temptation

Note: There was a technical difficulty with the upload of today’s sermon summary.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Triumph Over Temptation

How does a Christian resist sinful temptations? Whenever a person is saved, a great struggle begins. He still has the old nature; the sinful nature of Adam, which will try to drag him into sin all the time. But he also has the new nature, the life of God, which hates sin and wants to do what is right. The two natures fight against each other continually. The question is which will win. The answer is, “the one you feed.”

Galatians 5:16-17

 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

Romans 8:5-8

5 For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God.

The old nature is incurably bad. It cannot be improved, and it will not be removed until the Christian goes home to heaven. God condemned it when Christ died on the Cross, and He wants Christians to treat it as if it were dead. Don’t encourage it! Don’t feed it! Don’t give it a chance!

Romans 13:14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

The new nature inspires the Christian to behave well and to be good. It should be encouraged and fed. This, then, is how the Christian resists temptation—by saying “No” to the world, the flesh and the devil. At the same time he must nourish the new life that is within. Here is a practical suggestion as to how this may be done:

Read the Bible–study, memorize, meditate and obey God’s Word.

Psalm 119:9-11

 9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By keeping Your word.

    10 I have sought You with all my heart; 
    don’t let me wander from Your commands.

    11 I have treasured Your word in my heart 
    so that I may not sin against You.

The Word of God helps to keep us from sinning. Be sure, therefore, that you set aside a definite time each day for the reading of God’s Word.

Colossians 3:16

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.


Expert Living For Christ

The following is the text of a sermon presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on October 12, 2008.

In our society, people who claim to be very knowledgeable in the handling of certain tasks and abilities are all around us.  We have skilled laborers who can build massive structures, bridges, and roads.  We know that there are talented carpenters and tradesmen, and there are people who are experts with white-collar jobs and responsibilities, including doctors and lawyers.  These are all descriptive of some form of expertise that is a valued part of our society and that allows it to function and perform at a high level.  We rely upon experts to perform jobs and tasks in our society because of the output or quality of the work that is expected when the experts are involved.

Whether or not we realize it, we are also experts, but perhaps not in the way you might realize.  This has little to do with the level of your education or your chosen profession, if none at all.  In order to become an expert at something, it involves regular practice and repetition.  Please keep this in mind, as we will be exploring where are expertise is, and where we all should have a desire to be if we are truly following God’s heart and will for our lives.

We discussed recently how life can move along as expected, and in many ways predictably, but then a sudden, unexpected event would take place that has an effect on us.  The event now turns what was routine into a time of our lives where we are thrown off a little and somewhat knocked off balance.  We realize that these events are part of life and are not really unusual.  We are given guidelines from God’s Word on how to deal with both the routine and the unusual events of our lives.  God calls for us to remain consistent in our approach and to always focus on Him in all circumstances.  Proverbs Chapter 3 has a select group of verses that we often refer to, but let’s look at the first part of Proverbs in its entirety for an even clearer picture of where our focus will be:

Proverbs 3:1-7

My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.  Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.  Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

First, we are encouraged to remember His teaching, which is the instruction that comes from reading, hiding it in our hearts and meditating on it as well as instruction that we receive in Bible study and other settings where God’s Word is being shared.  To keep His commands is to read what is stated, note them and follow them.  With this learning, we are called to remember his teaching.  To remember something is to bring to the forefront of our minds and act upon the information.  Our minds have the capacity to take in a tremendous amount of information, and we sometimes may remember something from months or years ago because of a stimulus that we experience.  On the other hand, it is also natural for us to forget, or fail to remember something.  We can get annoyed with ourselves because we can get up and go to another room and then forget what we were getting up to get in the first place, or we may remember something that is complex in nature but another simple thing just slips our mind!  It is also natural for us as human beings to forget, or not remember to think about the things of the Lord under normal circumstances.  In fact, it is easy to conclude that, as we are human beings that live in a fallen world, sometimes the things of God are the furthest things from our minds.  While we know that we should follow Christ in all that we do, as the Scripture states, and that we may even have the desire to do so, it is not a natural act for us to do so.  This is not a trivial matter.  The mind is very powerful, and Jesus knows the carnal tendencies of the human mind and addresses it in Matthew 5:27-28:

Matthew 5:27-28

You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.”  But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

James 1:14-15

But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

We can fall into sin very easily and quickly, because, to be succinct, we are experts in the practice and execution of sin.  Our expertise comes from our being born in sin and from the regular and consistent practice of sin in our lives.  This is not meant to be anything other than a declaration of truth that God already knows about us.  We do what comes naturally to us, and in many ways without giving it a conscious thought.  Our acts of sin in our lives have been developed from childhood.  Listen to how Paul expresses frustration over how he struggles with sin even as a mature adult:

Romans 7:18-19, 22-25

For I know that nothing good lives in me, but there is no ability to do it.  For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.  For in my inner self I joyfully disagree with God’s law.  But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

What is Paul saying here?  It is very easy to commit sin, but we all have to look to Christ as our Savior, who not only died on the cross in our place to take upon our lifelong sin and to forgive us for our sins and our sinful nature, but ask for Jesus Christ to renew our minds and give us the desire to want to learn more about Him and about how to truly hide His Word in our hearts.

Ephesians 4:22-24

…you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

In Proverbs 3, it is the focus on God’s Word that preserves us with a long, happy and fruitful life.  A life of sin, on the other hand, can be both physically and mentally debilitating.  The verse that summarizes the consequences of sin after making choices to follow your own desires rather than what God desires:

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In addition to seeking God and His Word in the process of developing expertise in following Jesus Christ and overcoming our expert dealings with sin in our lives, God wants us to practice living in such a way that Proverbs 3 states very eloquently in verses 3 and 4:

Proverbs 3:3-4

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.

For all of the discussion about faith, we must never discount the effect that we, as believers of Jesus Christ, in our ministry, have a profound effect on those around us by our actions in Jesus Christ.  We can become experts for Christ in how to show others how to live for Christ and to show ourselves as different, in fact, strangely different, in a world where sin is commonplace.  The act of showing loyalty and faithfulness is that where we are loyal, or consistent, with our commitment to Christ, and that we are faithful to Him.  In doing so, you will express these same qualities in your dealings with others.  They will be visible because of your commitment to Christ.  They will be “tied around your neck” figuratively, because everyone will see your actions.  You will have the thoughts of God “written on the tablet of your heart,” and others will see that in your behavior.   Your actions will reflect your attitude and your service for Christ.  Will you measure up?

James 2:14-15

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?  In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

Note that these actions are all part of the greatest commandments of God’s Word!  God wants you to love the Lord with all of your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37-40).  In doing so, you will lay the foundation in your growing expertise of following Christ.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.