Posts Tagged With: Christ

Our Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous

Christ-Advocate560

Dear Christians, prepare for the accusations!  I do not mean the accusations from others, for they will come.  Who knows what fuels the hearts of others, but we are either fueled by self or by the Spirit!  But accusations will come, and they should not surprise us.

Yet, we see from Revelation 12:9-10 and Satan himself is the accuser of the saints.  Satan makes us aware of our sin, our shortcomings, our weaknesses, and our failures—and these will come as well, no matter your best attempts. 

But we have an advocate, dear Christian: Jesus Christ the righteous!

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

Note, if you will, that Christ will not only be an advocate for those who are righteous, but He will be an advocate for those who’ve surrendered to His righteousness in their weakness.  As the “propitiation for our sins,” the guilt and wrath for our sins that were ours were put on Christ, who in turn imputes His righteousness to His own and from those from every people group in the world.  (The “world” does not imply every person, but the ‘nations’ as opposed to only the Jews.) 

Accusations will come and go (and I know some of you have been the recipients of accusations, both false and true).  Our sin and shortcomings are ever present, and are a violation of the holiness of God.  Weaknesses will come to the fore, becoming more clear the longer you are around others (there’s only so long you can hide them).  Failures will happen, for we are not holy and are not God! 

Yet, God has defeated the ultimate accuser of the saints!  He’s living on borrowed time.  Take courage that God will not simply justify you in your righteousness (for we have none in and of ourselves) but will justify you in His righteousness and in spite of yours and in spite of mine. 

You have a choice.  You can spend time defending yourself and justifying yourself out of insecurity in self, or you can remain silent and let God be the one to sort out matters.  When you feel tempted to pursue revenge, remember that numerous times in Scriptures, we see how God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19).  Here’s the entire passage:

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).

I know some of you now are struggling with accusations and half-truths being thrown your way.  Leave it to God, all the while praying that God give you His strength, His discernment, His hope based on the righteousness of His Son! 

Our advocate.  Jesus Christ, the righteous!  Rest in this, dear friends!  Live with the end in mind.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Ways God Changes Our Hearts to His Vision

As you read through Nehemiah, you do not see much organizational or even spiritual drift. God planted a vision in him, and the intentionality by which he come, connected, and contributed to that vision kept him on course. A lack of intentionality and enthusiasm toward accomplishing God’s vision for His people will subtly shift the hearts of the people, and bring on the not-so-subtle drift of the organization.

ARBC, from the pastors to the leaders to the team members to the members of the church must be decidedly intention with Christ and His purpose. God raises up leaders with a special call, who bid others to come, connect, and contribute.  What ways and means does God use to change our hearts to His vision?

First, we must have our eyes open to reality of the situation.

Go to Nehemiah 1:1-2:

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem.

What happened with Nehemiah? God providentially brought Hanani his brother across his path. The key phrase is, “Now it happened.” Nehemiah could simply have been conveying an actual event. Yet, he could also be saying that this happened by chance. We shall see that nothing about this was by chance, and as Nehemiah went on, he recognized how God’s good hand was upon him.

Nehemiah had two issues of concern: the Jews who escaped, and Jerusalem itself. He has a passion for His people and he has a passion for the land God promised to His people centuries ago. It was no secret among that generation of Jews that they lived in Babylon/Persia because of God’s judgment. Deuteronomy 28 lays it out clearly. Obedience brings blessings in family and land. Disobedience brings curses to family and land.

He had his head firmly grounded in reality. He knew their predicament.  Are churches willing to examine theirs?  Is ARBC willing to examine ours?

Second, we must have our eyes open to the quandary of the congregation.

And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).

The wall of Jerusalem, as it was with all other cities, protected the cities from enemies and allowed those on the inside to flourish in peace. All through their history, they had shown how Yahweh had protected His people—and they let all others know that God is the God and their God.

But where was their God now? Do you see how the walls being down was not simply a structural issue or a political issue? This presented to the world that this God was (1) not able to protect after all (wrong), or (2) this God brought this blight on them in judgment (rightly so).

Nehemiah’s vision blossomed in helping to see the beauty and strength of the living God.  And that must be the aim of our church.  Churches and Christ are connected, but the church has been so inept in moving forward in a Christ-centered, gospel-driven vision, that they begin to disconnect Christ from His church.  So churches begin to see this quandary, resolve to partner with Christ as His bride so she will be spotless to Him and to a watching world.

Thirdly, we must have our eyes open to the sovereignty of our God.

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:4).

The bigger our God, the bigger our prayers should be. Keep in mind, God’s greatness and majesty is never based on our views of Him. Our views of Him are deduced from His Word.

Ed Welch wrote a wonderful book entitled, “When People are Big and God is Small,” and set the course when he said:

Regarding other people, our problem is that we need them (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God.).  The task God sets for us is to need them less and love them more.[1]

Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:16).  He will build His church His way.  He will add whom He adds, He will remove those whom He will.

And He uses us.  Yes, He ordains the ends, but He also ordains the means in using His church and the gifts therein to accomplish His will.

May God change our hearts to His vision.


[1]Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small (Phillipsburg, PA: P & R Publishing, 1997), 19.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Colorado Pastor’s Office View—Hope-filled and Heartbreaking

2013-05-31 15.12.40

The picture to my right is a view from my office looking toward Arapahoe Road.  How appropriate since the church I pastor bears the name (Arapahoe Road Baptist Church).  As I look out this window, I see a number of things:

  1. A parking lot:  On Sunday these spaces will be mostly filled.  Christians, seekers, skeptics from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and spiritual journeys will come.  This fuels my prayer and fires up my study in the Word—they are hungry for the Word (whether they know it or not) and need to be nourished on the Bread of Life.  Some will come out of hunger, some out of habit, some out of heartbreak, all out of hope!  May the Spirit show up and bring all of us who are far from God near through Christ.
  2. Arapahoe Road:  Many travellers drive on this major thoroughfare of Centennial.  Where have they been?  Where are they going?  From work to home?  From store 1 to store 2?  Are they going to pick up their children?  Whatever their earthly journey, without Christ, they are destined for judgment and hell because their sin is still held against them.  Christ came to put His righteousness to their account by taking their sin.  We do not know where they are going in an earthly sense—but pray that God would put someone in their path to send them on the right path for eternity’s sake.
  3. Residences:  Within a mile radius of our church is 13,000 people—85-90% of whom do not know Christ nor go to a church.  As John Knox aptly replied:  “Give us this or we die!”  We are at 780 E. Arapahoe Road in Centennial, CO for a reason.  God, help us to pour into their lives the love and hope of Christ in a dark and dying world.
  4. The sky:  This is not the end and this is not all.  Past the atmosphere (the first heaven) and outer space (the second heaven) is the abode of God—HEAVEN (the third heaven—see 2 Corinthians 12).  Christ will return for His church.  Are we ready?  Are we getting others ready—desperately telling them the Good News of Christ?  As we see this clear sky, may we also see the clear mandate to GO (Matthew 28:18-20).

Look out your window!

 

What do you see?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Say Jesus Never Ministered in Denver—I Beg to Differ

Some say, “Jesus only ministered in a tiny territory in Israel—and the disciples were the one to carry on His name to the ends of the earth.”  In one sense that is true, but in another sense Jesus has ministered all over the world—even in my new home and beloved city of Denver, Colorado.  You didn’t get the memo that He made it?  Think again!

Have you ever been around someone that you’ve taught and taught and taught, and you think they should have it by now—but they just don’t? Maybe your children, whom you’ve told not to do something every day of your life—but they still do it?

Jesus spent time teaching them much, but many of the same truths kept coming to the fore. John MacArthur put it so well: “He is not merely a manifestation of God; He is God manifested. That truth, a constant theme in John’s gospel, is the watershed that divides true from false views of Christ.”

Jesus continues to comfort the disciples—even as he chides them. You had to work hard to seek after the Father. You had to keep the Law of Moses in every point. You had to offer the sacrifices for the forgiveness of the sins of the flesh. Keeping the Law of Moses left many frustrated. They had a significant ladder to climb in order to make it to heaven—and the ladder (the Law of Moses) they kept breaking.

So Jesus pressed the point. Only by me can you get to the Father. Philip ignorantly said, “Show us. That’s all you need to do.” Keep in mind, they had heard his teachings, seen miracles accomplished. Remember what Steven preached on last Sunday?

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:2-4).

Jesus repeatedly connected Himself with His Father. In fact, John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the ony Son from the Father full of grace and truth.” The whole intent of Christ coming was make the Father known, and in return for the Father to glorify His Son (John 17). How?

By words and by works. His teaching and His doing. His doing validated His teaching. This is nothing new to them:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[a] does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel (John 5:19-20).

So Christ says that He is the only way to the Father. He also says that, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. The Father sent Christ to bring heaven down to earth.

Christ returns to heaven for us to do heavenly works here on earth (John 14:12-14).

The disciples wondered what they would do in the here and now. Jesus is going, but will return at some point. They would be without him. They followed him for 3 ½ years, seeing the works and the words that seemed to either change or harden hearts. He worked with such power. Such purpose! Can you see another layer of trouble needed? This isn’t getting much better. They get that Jesus will be leaving and preparing something great for them in the hereafter—but what about now?

Ever felt unqualified for a job? One time when I was first getting into serious piano playing in college, I tried out for a play that the drama department was doing called No, No, Nanette. If you’re familiar with the song Tea for Two, that’s the musical from which it came.

My job was to be a keyboard player who would provide improvisation and extra filler to help round out the pit band. Kristen Conn was the main piano player—one of the most incredible pianists I’ve ever heard. She was always there to keep it all together—she could look at an orchestral score that had lines for all the instruments and be able to play them all at once and provide all the music from all the parts for rehearsal. Unreal!

One day, she couldn’t make it. So Chuck asked if I could fill in. I played the good sport but at the time, I was way over my head. I tried to help—it hadn’t clicked in yet. Needless to say, we had an incredibly short rehearsal that night.

Jesus had been the foundation for the disciples. His works, His words, His influence—it was amazing to be a part of that ministry and to even be of use. But he would leave—now what? Jesus gives them the answer!

12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Again, Jesus says he is going to the Father (v. 12). And because of this, they will do the works that He does—and even greater! Did you catch that? We will do His works! We will do greater works. In what way? We will do what He does in greater scope.

Where did Jesus minister? In a small piece of territory in Israel, with an excursion or two into Samaria. He didn’t journey far. But where did the disciples go? The book of Acts shows that they made it all the way from Israel, through modern day Syria and Turkey, even to Rome. Historians say that Paul could have made it all the way to Spain. Philip influenced and led an Ethiopian to faith. Thomas went to India. Andrew went into the western part of the former Soviet Union and even into modern day Bulgaria. Bartholemew went to India. Jude went into Mesopotamia, near modern-day Iraq and Iran before his execution. John died on the isle of Patmos.

The disciples passed the baton down through the ages. And we have taken that baton. We are in Denver, Colorado. We are doing the works of Him—greater even! How? Jesus never made it physically to Denver! He never made it to our part of the world.

Isn’t that exciting? We will be presenting soon some great things to do for the cause of Christ. Do we realize the greater works He’s called us to? He has called us physical presence with a spiritual purpose.  While Jesus has never been to Denver—Jesus has and is in Denver through His body, the church.  He has not left us alone, but through the Spirit He is still with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  Whose works are we doing? The one in whom we believe. The only one worth believing!

So would Jesus leave them? Yes! But that’s a good thing! Because Jesus said He would send the Spirit who would teach us all things. Comfort us. Convicting us! But also connecting us to the Father and the Son. So Jesus was leaving them, but he wasn’t leaving them. And He was as close as the mention of his name (v. 14).

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7-11).

Those who deny that Jesus is the only way believe it will be about their works. But we understand it’s about His exclusive, unique atoning work.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maturing in Christ: Grow in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus

Grace and knowledge are very much intertwined. John MacArthur rightly says, “Because of His grace, God forgives the sins of His children. They in turn feed on Scripture and commune with Christ, thereby increasing their knowledge of him.”[1]

But knowledge, you may say? We cannot understand God’s grace without having a knowledge of what He has revealed in His Word. In fact, we can go deeper and say that we understand God’s grace when we understand his Law. Why do this? Aren’t we as Christians, as that old hymn says:

Free from the law, O happy condition,

Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;

Cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall,

Grace hath redeemed us once and for all.[2]

Again, keep in mind the context: false teachers were coming along. They were questioning whether the Lord would return—and thus afflicting the minds and hearts of the followers. He tells them, “You should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.” He reminds them of how through His Word, he created all things and that judgment will come to the ungodly—once with water as in the days of Noah, but them one day through fire. They overlooked that fact, and thus we must not overlook the fact that God will preserve His people, bringing all the elect to salvation and will come as a thief in the night.

Why do I bring this up? Because if we are to grow in knowledge, and Peter is continually alluding to ‘facts,’ where does this knowledge and these ‘facts’ come from that we are supposed to grow in? Scripture! The false teachers came to twist the Scripture to mean what they wish it to say, and thus we need to know what God has said in His Scripture and to rightly divide this Word so we aren’t taken away by falsehood!

What is the law? The law is the moral law given to man by God, as summed up in the Ten Commandments, but fleshed out in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). While the ceremonial, civil, and dietary laws were fulfilled in Christ and no longer apply, the moral law does apply to all! It sets up the boundaries that God reveals to us.

So where does this knowledge come in, in regards to the Law? For one, the Law cannot save. That was never its intention. God’s revealing of His law was such that it showed how fallen we are. We do not have the spiritual equipment to keep God’s law. Our righteousness is, as Isaiah tells us, filthy rags.

So, Romans 3:20 tells us that “through the law comes knowledge of sin.” What’s the purpose of law? The purpose is to expose our inability to keep God’s law (the epitome of sin). The law exposes our sinful hearts! So there’s a disconnect between a perfectly righteous God who demands righteousness from people who wish to be right and have forgiveness and eternal life. But none of us are perfectly righteous and sin free. Yet, he commands us to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He also commands us to “be holy, as he is holy” (1 Peter 1:17).

One cursory view of God’s Word makes it clear that perfection and holiness are impossible for even five seconds. And we also see numerous times in Scripture when God shows up—people feared for their lives, lest they be consumed. The holiness, glory, and majesty of God can be a terrifying thing to behold!

So if we cannot even stand in his presence, if we cannot be righteous or holy, if we have no hope in this manner—what can we do? We trust in the one whose righteousness on which we can rely—Jesus Christ!


[1]John MacArthur, 2 Peter and Jude: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press), .

[2]Philip P. Bliss, Free from the Law, O Happy Condition. Public Domain.

Categories: sermons | Tags: , | Leave a comment

What Does It Mean to Magnify Christ?

When I was a child, magnifying glasses fascinated me. With the naked eye, you could see an ant crawling across our deck and think, “Yes, that’s an ant.” But when you take the magnifying glass and put it up near that ant, you noticed that what you thought was a little bug without much to it suddenly turned into a magnificent creature with very detailed features. You see the antennae, the eyes, the head, the thorax, the abdomen, the legs—you become amazed at what this little bug is truly like. And I remember running and telling my mom to come look! I had to show her what I had seen.

Before anything of consequence may happen in a local church or in the life of the Christian for that matter must flow from a Christian’s magnification of Christ alone. Before a church can look inward, outward, or move forward, she must look upward. Notice how the beginning of Scripture begins: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Before we address the nuts and bolts of creation and history and all the warts and wrinkles therein, Scripture directs us upward first. This understanding is critical to everything that our lives entail.

In a culture from the academic elite to the water cooler who hold to the notion that our lives are random with no design, direction, nor purpose behind it all, Scripture begins with the very first verse by saying in essence, “Everything you see? God made it, designed it, purposed it, is directing it. From the molecular to the galactic level, the chance element is absent. And the world craves for this reality, whether they realize it or not.

Our view of God affects everything that we do, everything we say, everything we think. Richard Lints tells us the importance of our theological vision in regards to life and church:

A theological vision allows [people] to see their culture in a way different that they had ever been able to see it before . . . Those who are empowered by the theological vision do not simply stand against the mainstream impulses of the culture but take the initiative both to understand and speak to that culture from the framework of the Scriptures . . . The modern theological vision must seek to bring the entire counsel of God into the world of its time in order that its time might be transformed.[1]

When it comes to our worship times, I think of two verses out of the Psalms. The first is this from Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” This deals with our attitude! For the Christian, an enthusiasm exists in coming before the Lord and before His people. And when we come into this kingdom outpost to worship, much of what we get out of it depends on what we put into it! It is here that we exalt Christ, we encourage others in Christ to exalt Christ in their lives. Here, we learn about the Word of God by the Spirit of God. Everything that takes place in the live of the church does so to make much of the crucified and risen Son! We have His word, His Spirit, His called leaders in the church, His people—and an empty cross and tomb to anchor it all!

Another verse out of the Psalms is that of Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Unity in what? Some say it’s simply unity in fellowship—in other words, you simply like being around this group of people, and this is the extent of unity. Yet, there is nothing distinctive about this. You can find that type of fellowship at a bar. You can find that at a ball game, where 80,000 people are cheering for a Broncos win! You can find that at a rally of a common cause. But there is more to it: we are unified in the truth! Unified in Christ and what He has revealed in His Word.

Yet, just because we come to a church function or even to our worship gathering here, does not mean we are worshiping! You can be here, but not be here all at the same time. Our body may be occupying space in one of the benches, but our minds and hearts can in a galaxy far, far away.

Psalm 34:3 says:

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,

And let us exalt his name together!

Literally, the Psalmist is saying, “Let’s make the Lord’s name grow and expand in our midst and in the world.” God desired for this attitude and expectation to pervade His people, but His desires did not always manifest themselves—in fact, most of the time they were absent!

The fundamental activity and attitude of the believer and, also, churches is to magnify Christ. Magnifying Christ is to make him bigger in our eyes, to know him better, and to show him more brilliantly to others who need to see him.


[1]Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 316-17. Quoted in Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 18.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Christ is the Blessed Man in Psalm 1

 

On Sundays at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, CO (where I serve as pastor), we are going through a new series entitled “Jesus Is ________” in which we will begin exploring the Gospel of John.  On Sunday Nights, we will look at “How Do You Measure Success?” from the book of Ecclesiastes.

To build on Sunday mornings, I started a series on Wednesday nights called “That Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation:  Jesus in the Psalms.”  Below are the notes I handed out on Psalm 1.

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish (ESV).

We tend to look at this exclusively from a moralistic standpoint:  “If you want to be blessed, then do this.”  But in reality, none of us can do this.  This is a description of the true Blessed Man, Jesus Christ. 

Before we start, we must ask, “How do we define ‘blessed’?”

  • One way that many have defined and translated this word is the word, ‘happy’ –but this is not what is intended when originally inspired.
  • R.C. Sproul: “It involves God’s favor, His willingness to come near and dwell among His people. This is the chief meaning of the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:22–27. The hope of Israel was that God would shine His face on the people, that there would be close, intimate fellowship between the Creator and His creatures. The New Testament expands on this, revealing that our ultimate hope is the Beatific Vision — face-to-face communion with God and His glory in eternity” (1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2).”

The Psalmist lays two paths before us: the path of the righteous and the path of the wicked.

First, the path of the wicked:

1.  The path of wickedness is a downhill path.

  • C.H. Spurgeon noted: “When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God—the evil is rather practical than habitual—but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who willfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed.”

 

2.  The path of wickedness is a fruitless path.

      • Psalmist uses the illustration of chaff, which is blown away, while the heavier and true grain remains.
      • John the Baptist warned of what would happen to the ‘chaff’ in Matthew 3:11-12; as did Jesus with the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30.
      • Martin Luther warns the church on how to treat the tares: “"From this observe what raging and furious people we have been these many years, in that we desired to force others to believe; the Turks with the sword, heretics with fire, the Jews with death, and thus outroot the tares by our own power, as if we were the ones who could reign over hearts and spirits, and make them pious and right, which God’s Word alone must do. But by murder we separate the people from the Word, so that it cannot possibly work upon them and we bring thus, with one stroke a double murder upon ourselves, as far as it lies in our power, namely, in that we murder the body for time and the soul for eternity, and afterwards say we did God a service by our actions, and wish to merit something special in heaven. . . . He concluded that "although the tares hinder the wheat, yet they make it the more beautiful to behold.”

      3.  The path of wickedness is a destructive path (v. 6).

        • Whereas they stand and sit in the way of the wicked on earth willingly, they will not stand in judgment.
        • Whereas they are in the congregation of the wicked on earth, they will not be in the congregation of the righteous in heaven.

The Path of Righteousness

1. The path of the righteous is filled with those who love God’s Word (2).

  • There is a delight in learning about God’s character.
  • John Stott notes that this delight “is an indication of the new birth.” Romans 8:7 says that the sinful mind is “hostile toward God.”

2. The path of righteousness is filled with those who yield God’s fruit (3-4).

  • Remember John 17:17-19: God’s Word is a sanctifying Word that helps us grow, mature, and bear fruit.
  • John 15:1-11: Those not abiding in the vine of Christ will not bear fruit and will be thrown into the fire. Only those in the vine of Christ will bear fruit.

3. The path of righteousness is filled with those whose way is known by God (v. 6).

  • Jesus Christ is that way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
  • Jesus Christ is that blessed Man! Beware of turning this Psalm into a moral platitude. This is a description of the Only One who could fulfill this Psalm!

The Following Week’s Study of Christ in the Psalms

April 25: Jesus is the Lord’s Anointed (Psalm 2)

May 2: Jesus is the Majestic One (Psalm 8)

May 9: Jesus is the Incorruptible One (Psalm 16)

May 16: Jesus is the Forsaken One (Psalm 22)

May 23: Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23)

May 30: Jesus is the Forever Priest (Psalm 110)

Categories: sermons | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sermon Series for December 2011 at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church: Christmas is All About. . .

clip_image002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2011 starts my ministry at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, Colorado.  With that comes the question that arises in the minds of all new pastors: what should I preach on when I first arrive?  With ARBC, not only will we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ (Christ taking on human form) but also have our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.  So with this, I am starting a series entitled, “Christmas is All About … .”  Below is the description on the flyer at ARBC.

==========

Winter wonderlands. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose! And don’t forget about bells jingling, halls being decked, and Santa watching every move you make! This is what Christmas is all about—at least that’s what most of the songs say! We know that Christmas is ultimately not about weather, terrific traffic, or presents under the tree. It’s about Christ coming on a rescue mission to save His people from their sins!

Sunday, December 4: Christmas is About a Rescue Mission by Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25)

Wednesday, December 7: Christmas is About Exposing Rebellion against Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12)

Sunday, December 11: Christmas is About a Relationship with Jesus (Galatians 3:23-4:7)

Wednesday, December 14: Christmas is About Recognizing Christ’s Work (Luke 1:5-38)

Sunday, December 18: Christmas is About Rejoicing in Christ (Luke 2:1-20)

Sunday, December 18 (PM): Christmas is About Receiving Christ (John 1:1-18)

Invite your FRANs (friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors) so they will know what Christmas is all about—it’s all about Jesus!

You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:21-23, ESV).

Categories: Christ, Christmas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: Panel Discussion from The Gospel Coalition 2011

Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Bryan Chapell discuss a wonderful topic on preaching Christ-centered sermons from the Old Testament.

Categories: preaching | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches (A.W. Tozer)

HERE IS THE BURDEN of my heart; and while I claim for myself no special inspiration I yet feel that this is also the burden of the Spirit.

If I know my own heart it is love alone that moves me to write this. What I write here is not the sour ferment of a mind agitated by contentions with my fellow Christians. There have been no such contentions. I have not been abused, mistreated or attacked by anyone. Nor have these observations grown out of any unpleasant experiences that I have had in my association with others. My relations with my own church as well as with Christians of other denominations have been friendly, courteous and pleasant. My grief is simply the result of a condition which I believe to be almost universally prevalent among the churches. I think also that I should acknowledge that I am myself very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession included himself among the wrongdoers, so do I. “0 my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” Any hard word spoken here against others must in simple honesty return upon my own head. I too have been guilty. This is written with the hope that we all may turn unto the Lord our God and sin no more against Him.

Let me state the cause of my burden. It is this: Jesus Christ has today almost no authority at all among the groups that call themselves by His name. By these I mean not the Roman Catholics nor the liberals, nor the various quasi-Christian cults. I do mean Protestant churches generally, and I include those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and His apostles, namely, the evangelicals.

It is a basic doctrine of the New Testament that after His resurrection the Man Jesus was declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, and that He was invested by the Father with absolute Lordship over the church which is His Body. All authority is His in heaven and in earth. In His own proper time He will exert it to the full, but during this period in history He allows this authority to be challenged or ignored. And just now it is being challenged by the world and ignored by the church.

The present position of Christ in the gospel churches may be likened to that of a king in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king (sometimes depersonalized by the term “the Crown”) is in such a country no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded, feted and supported, but his real authority is small.

Nominally he is head over all, but in every crisis someone else makes the decisions. On formal occasions he appears in his royal attire to deliver the tame, colorless speech put into his mouth by the real rulers of the country. The whole thing may be no more than good-natured make-believe, but it is rooted in antiquity, it is a lot of fun and no one wants to give it up.

Among the gospel churches Christ is now in fact little more than a beloved symbol. “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions.

Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” or “Let not your heart be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them. Because of long and meticulous organization it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ has.

Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing. A fair parallel would be the influence of Abraham Lincoln over the American people. Honest Abe is still the idol of the country. The likeness of his kind, rugged face, so homely that it is beautiful, appears everywhere. It is easy to grow misty-eyed over him. Children are brought up on stories of his love, his honesty and his humility.

But after we have gotten control over our tender emotions what have we left? No more than a good example which, as it recedes into the past, becomes more and more unreal and exercises less and less real influence. Every scoundrel is ready to wrap Lincoln’s long black coat around him. In the cold light of political facts in the United States the constant appeal to Lincoln by the politicians is a cynical joke.

The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion. Or if it is taught as a theory in the classroom it is rarely applied to practical living. The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all of its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.

To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. Casuistry is not the possession of Roman Catholic theologians alone. We evangelicals also know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.

Yet Christ is consulted by increasing numbers of persons with “problems” and sought after by those who long for peace of mind. He is widely recommended as a kind of spiritual psychiatrist with remarkable powers to straighten people out. He is able to deliver them from their guilt complexes and to help them to avoid serious psychic traumas by making a smooth and easy adjustment to society and to their own ids. Of course this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people.

But I suppose I should offer some concrete proof to support my charge that Christ has little or no authority today among the churches. Well, let me put a few questions and let the answers be the evidence.

What church board consults our Lord’s words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or “a season of prayer”; after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it. I for one will be glad to hear it.

What Sunday school committee goes to the Word for directions? Do not the members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and that their only problem is to find effective means to get it done? Plans, rules, “operations” and new methodological techniques absorb all their time and attention. The prayer before the meeting is for divine help to carry out their plans. Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never so much as enters their heads.

Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table with him for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yes. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second.

What foreign mission board actually seeks to follow the guidance of the Lord as provided by His Word and His Spirit? They all think they do, but what they do in fact is to assume the scripturalness of their ends and then ask for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night for God to give success to their enterprises, but Christ is desired as their helper, not as their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These harden into policy, and thereafter the Lord doesn’t even have a vote.
In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.

What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?

What theological school, from the lowly Bible institute up, could continue to operate if it were to make Christ Lord of its every policy? There may be some, and I hope there are, but I believe I am right when I say that most such schools” to stay in business are forced to adopt procedures which find no justification in the Bible they profess to teach. So we have this strange anomaly: the authority of Christ is ignored in order to maintain a school to teach among other things the authority of Christ.

The causes back of the decline in our Lord’s authority are many. I name only two.

One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. These like gravitation affect every particle of religious practice within the group, exerting a steady and constant pressure in one direction. Of course that direction is toward conformity to the status quo. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation. And the same thing has passed over (possibly to a slightly lesser degree) into the other groups such as the full gospel tabernacles, the holiness churches, the pentecostal and fundamental churches and the many independent and undenominational churches found everywhere throughout the North American continent.

The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned. Because of it good men who ought to know better are being put in the position of collaborating with the enemy. I’ll explain.

Our evangelical faith (which I believe to be the true faith of Christ and His apostles) is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.

He speaks in the sacred jargon of the schools, and many of our half-educated evangelicals run to fawn on him. He tosses academic degrees to the scrambling sons of the prophets as Rockefeller used to toss dimes to the children of the peasants. The evangelicals who, with some justification, have been accused of lacking true scholarship, now grab for these status symbols with shining eyes, and when they get them they are scarcely able to believe their eyes. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighborhood church choir might were she to be invited to sing at La Scala.

For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others? All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.

What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.

Either the first or the second will but confirm the wrong. The third if carried out to its conclusion can remove the curse. The decision lies with us.

=============

This article appeared in The Alliance Witness May 15, 1963, just two days after the death of Dr. Tozer. In a sense it was his valedictory, for it expressed the concern of his heart.

Categories: Christ, christian life, church, church growth, Church Life | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment