Empty House

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I live in an empty house in many ways…  I desire my house to be emptied.  What is it about my house that I really don’t care for?  I guess it’s the body of death that I wander around in that I’m referring to.  This temple, or as Paul said this tent.  We all live in them and the Christian hopefully has a better understanding of it than the average person.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

I want my earthly home to be destroyed because it’s not a very good one.  In fact it’s a mess and the closer I draw to Christ and see His amazing goodness the more I’m overwhelmed by my wretchedness.  I desire a better place.  A cleaner place, a place that glorifies and honors Him instead of bringing Him the shame I so often consider in my fleshly life.  I see that my desires continue to shift in that I really hate my sin.  I really hate that I try to overcome certain things and the going is very slow.

Lest I sound too gloomy there is hope…  But shouldn’t we sometimes just stay in this place?  Shouldn’t we just bathe in our own filth for a while?  Not that Christ hasn’t overcome because He has but I mean for me?  And for you?  Shouldn’t this help us understand what it took to accomplish our redemption?  Really give us a glimpse of the misery we are in?

2 Corinthians 5:4-5

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Here is the good news!

For believer’s we have a guarantee.  We have a guarantee of salvation because the Spirit has been given to us.  The word means a guarantee, earnest money, a down payment and the full amount to be paid subsequently.  It’s a sure thing.

We see two truths existing side by side in the way that God so often shows us things that are sometimes hard to understand.  The fact that we need to detest ourselves yet in that have the utmost of all hope.  We hate our sin, but we love our Savior.  We detest our flesh but seek the Spirit.   There is this bizarre thing going on that is almost too much for the human mind to make sense of.  It’s like a puzzle that makes no sense on the surface but as we stand back and gaze upon it later on it all comes clear.

God is that way in so many of the things He does.  We don’t understand how sorrow and mourning produce repentance and faith.  We don’t get that persecution brings joy.  We don’t get it because we can’t see it the way God sees it.  We only see the short term, the temporary state of our being.

We don’t always recognize that God is producing in us something that is far more valuable than what we want for ourselves.  Perhaps we want something that seems good but maybe God says you are not ready yet.  And so we wish for things but God says, “No, not yet, or maybe ‘No, never’ because I have something different for you.”

It’s hard to understand sometimes and I must admit in my flesh I don’t like it and I want this earthly tent to be gone.  I want to be in glory with Christ where the struggles of the world are done.  But then again, He says “No, I’m not done with you yet…”

And sometimes it’s just great to say it all out loud and cry out to Him for help.  “Lord, cleanse me….  Lord forgive me for I am  in a sad state of affairs… “

In all of it I find if we don’t know what to do  then we can only trust and we can only do our best to obey.  It seems obedience is a recipe for success if you will.  There is a time when just laying down our arms and giving in to that which we know is true is the best way to go.  But yet so often we fight against it.  And I don’t want to do that but yet when I do, when I receive the chastening, it produces a peaceable fruit of righteousness and I know I’m a son that has been trained for it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

The day is coming friends when we will appear before the judgment seat.  All I have to offer the Lord is my obedience and that is not enough so my hope must be in the Lord Jesus Christ and that is enough.  My focus and my desire needs to be Him and all the rest falls into place.  That is my desire.  I hope it is also yours.

 

Kevin

Evangelism and the Church – Part 1

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For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1:17

How will the modern church fulfill the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to go into the world and preach the gospel?  That’s almost too obvious of a verse to post initially, and most know this verse from memory, yet I just wonder how churches today do it?  Well, I think I know how they do it, but I wonder what they think about how they are doing it…

Evangelism is possibly one of the most intimidating and overwhelming things to do for any believer, especially if they weren’t saved in a somewhat radical fashion.  I’ve known many that were saved and you couldn’t stop them from talking about Christ to everyone they encountered, but let’s be honest, that’s not most of us.  I want to look at a few things that I hope will be helpful if you have honest intentions and desires to actually evangelize those around you.

What exactly is evangelism?

I think most of us have thoughts when we hear the word evangelism, it might bring up images of some lunatic on a box yelling at people. Perhaps that is a form of evangelism depending on the accuracy of the message .but the simplicity of the word is actually quite interesting.  It simply means “good news”.  εὐαγγέλιον euangélion – a good message, i.e. the gospel.

Matthew 4:23 And He went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 

Here we see a good description of the gospel.  Jesus taught in the synagogues and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom.  We see this as a normal pattern of the Lord’s ministry.  Going into a town, engaging the Jews in the synagogue, preaching on the streets and then healing the people.

And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. – Luke 9:6 [1]

We see this pattern established again and again throughout the New Testament. We see it from John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles.  This is the primary pattern employed for spreading the gospel.  There is no way around this if you are to read the Biblical accounts with honesty.

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”  And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. – Acts 5:20-21

Why the gospel?  What is the significance of the gospel?

Paul tells us something pretty significant about the gospel in his opening remarks in Romans.  He tells us that there really is no other message than the gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17

One thing we see is that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  I guess that’s a good enough reason, but yet we also see that it reveals the righteousness of God.  A clear and concise gospel presentation needs to present the righteousness of God.  If that is lacking the message is not complete.  Paul gives us a very long discourse on the sinfulness of man, letting us know that all will give account and all are without excuse.

What are we to conclude about all of this?  God, in His wisdom, has chosen a very “foolish” way to save people.  He counseled within Himself before time began that it was the plan to draw a people to Himself through the preaching of the gospel to save those who believe.  This is what God has ordained and we need to pay attention.  Primarily, we need to be obedient.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  – 1 Corinthians 1:18

Any Christian that is honest about the topic can see the simple way in which the gospel was spread. They may ask if this is the way we should do it today.  Should we seek a different, more pragmatic approach to what God has already ordained?

If this methodology is true and biblical what do we do about it?  If we realize this to be the model that Christ has shown I believe we are only left with one question…  when will you go?

I admit there is fear…

I admit there are questions…

I admit there is much trepidation…

I admit there is the unknown…

But how can it be avoided?  Brothers and sister, we must “Go”…  it is a command.

Next time I’ll outline some biblical methods of evangelism and hope that it helps us overcome our fear and love of self and we can be used by God in the building of His kingdom.

 

Kevin

[1] The gift of healing was to establish the divinity of Christ and to affirm the message of the Apostles to the world.  The narrative is not a prescriptive for us today and if it were we would have people doing as Jesus did and going and healing every disease and affliction among the people as the Matthew 4:23 verse states.

 

Depart From Me…

Antinomianism is alive and well in the professing church today.   It won’t take you long, or many Facebook conversations, to find out the reality of this statement. Many people desire to “be blessed”, many people desire a savior, and I’ve not met that many people that say they are unconcerned about an eternity in hell. But…they don’t mind going out and living like the devil.

So what is this word “Antinomianism”? And why is it such a big deal.

“Antinomianism teaches that “the believer was completely free from all obligation to the Law and any concession to legal duty was an infringement of free grace.” Roman Catholicism attacked Protestantism for allegedly granting a license to sin through its doctrine of justification by faith alone.   The council of Trent, in its decree on justification (1547) implicitly accused the Reformers of abolishing the law for the Christian.

In their view of the law, the Reformers spoke of three distinct “uses” or applications of the law.

  1. Civil – guide the civil magistrate in rewarding good and punishing evil (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Tim 2:1-2) Luther wrote – “The first understanding of the use of the Law is to restrain the wicked…This civic restraint is extremely necessary and was instituted by God, both for the sake of public peace and for the sake of preserving everything, but especially to prevent the course of the Gospel from being hindered by tumults and seditions of wild men.”
  2. Evangelical – drives sinners away from their own righteousness to trust in Christ alone. (Galatians 3:10, 24, Gal 2:17) Calvin said the law warns, informs, convicts and lastly condemns, every man of his own righteousness…
  3. Directive or normative – it serves as a didactic “rule of life” to guide believers in ways that are pleasing to their God and Savior. The law drives sinners to Christ through whom they “become doers of the law”. – James 1:22” [1] – From A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke & Mark Jones

 

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

What is Paul referring back to when he says “therefore”?   We must look back at what Paul just said. He supports his upcoming argument with his previous statement, and as is the manner of Paul he consistently uses the Word of God, just as we should when we argue for the truth.

2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore

“Come out from among them

And be separate, says the LORD.

Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you.”

What we will consistently see is an argument against the Bible to support man’s sinful desires, and often we will see the twisting of the Scriptures to get them to say what we want them to say.   This is most often done in church going people, or people that want to hold onto their sin.   Thus Antinomianism, which means “against law”. Antinomians love to argue against the law. They want to be free from the guilt of obeying the law, but yet their conscience continues to bear witness against them and so they suppress the truth in their unrighteousness.

So what are we to understand about God’s law as New Testament believers? Are we under the obligation to keep the law? Can we keep the law?

One thing all must do, and all are responsible to do, is to understand God’s Word in full context. The best way to interpret Scripture is with Scripture. If you see something that doesn’t seem to make sense, use other Scripture to help you interpret.

Psalm 119:1-2 Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!

Psalm 119:11-12 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You, Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes.

I won’t have the space to highlight all of Psalm 119 and the heart of a true believer, but it’s unmistakable, that there must be a heart transformation, and a burning desire to follow God’s law, IF, you are truly saved.

Paul knew this so well and he continued to drive home this point.

Romans 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…even so we also should walk in newness of life.

The whole message of Scripture is a newness of life. It’s unmistakable, and those that want to continue in their sin are deceived. This does not mean sinless perfection. It means gaining ground on sin consistently. It means we will grow in holiness, because without holiness we will not see God.

This is the life of a Christian, or you’re not a Christian. This must be stressed, because it causes self-examination. It causes lamenting and mourning when we fall back into sin. It’s a constant desire to repent and turn from our sin. The stakes could not be higher. Don’t be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin and risk that you will someday stand before the righteous Judge and hear these words.

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:23

 

Kevin