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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

True Worship Part 1: What & Why

Christian Worship is the response of born again believers to the revelation of God. It is based upon the work, the worth, and the word of God. It is achieved through the activity of God. It is directed to God. True worship is to ascribe worth to the one true God, to reflect upon the value, beauty, and character of God, who is truly there and who is truly worthy. It is expressed by the heart in humility, by the mind in captivity, by the lips in praise, and by the life in service. The thing we have to be careful about when “doing” theology or worship is that we can love thinking about God more than we actually love God, or that we can love loving God more than we actually do love God. True worship is concerned with doctrine, devotion, and demonstration. It is worshipping the right God, in the right way, and with the right heart. It is a lifetime pursuit and an eternal destiny.

False worship is to attribute worth to something which is not real, or to something which is not worthy, be they false gods or things not necessarily associated with god, but are idolatry nonetheless, such as worship of self, or money, and on and on we could go. Aberrant or deviant worship is to worship the right God but in the wrong way, or to worship the right God in the right way but with the wrong heart. Sincerity in worship is not necessarily the same thing as worship in spirit and truth, which God is looking for (John 4:23-24).

We should search the Scriptures on the subject of worship because worship is important to God, and because of the consequences of false worship. Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by God because it was false worship (Genesis 4:3-5). 3000 people died in one day because of the false worship of the golden calf fashioned by Aaron (Exodus 32). Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, were destroyed because any worship God doesn’t prescribe is detestable in His sight (Leviticus 10:1-3). The kingdom of Israel was divided because of the idolatry of the nation (1 Kings 11:31-33, 12:26-33). Israel made an idol out of something that God himself had instituted for their deliverance (Numbers 21:4-9 / 2 Kings 18:4). The fall of Jerusalem was directly attributable to apostasy and false worship (Jeremiah 16:11-13). Paul wrote that God was justified in condemning man because he worshiped in error (Romans 1:25). Satan fell from heaven because he sought worship for himself, and seeks those who will worship him (cf. Matthew 4:9).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, October 18, 2010

What is the Gospel? Part 5: What are we saved from?

Colossians 1:13-14

Looking at Romans from 1:18-3:23 we see that salvation is from the wrath of God (cf. Isaiah 53:10-12 / Galatians 3:13 / 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus Christ is the answer to sin, and His death appeases the wrath of God. Many other things presented as “gospel” do not require God to become incarnate, live a sinless life, die on a cross and rise again. Is it necessary for Christ to have been crucified? That is one good criterion for understanding if a message is about the true gospel. Some add Christ into the mix but their messages are just like they would be without Him, motivational talks, moral exhortations, feel good seminars. If you took out the biblical references or even added them it wouldn’t make any difference to the content of the teaching.

What kind of savior do we really need? The bible defines that need. We are saved from God by God. The Law had to be fulfilled by humanity. Only God could save us; only a human being should save us. God can’t die, so the Son of God entered into humanity so that He could die and pay for our sins. Until that broken Law was fulfilled by humanity we were still dead in our sins. We needed a new federal head, a second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45 / Romans 5:12-19). To redeem a people He had to be fully God, so as to give the atonement an infinite value, and He had to be fully man to perfectly satisfy the requirements of God’s Law, thus becoming an acceptable substitute for sinners (1 Timothy 2:5 – the man Christ Jesus) . It is not how many bad things you have done, not how many sins you have committed, but actually how bad sin itself really is. God’s glory was demonstrated at the cross by showing that God’s Law really did require a penalty for transgressions against it (Romans 3:25-26).

The missing ingredient in many gospels or gospel presentations is the fact that we are bound by sin, dead in sin, and slaves to sin. Salvation is from sin and to the Savior. The great problem of humanity is sin, not a lack of knowledge, not a lack of power, but a lack of purity. No amount of power and no amount of knowledge can erase that. Only the blood of Christ can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus can make me whole again. The only way we can have peace with God is if our sins are forgiven, and in Christ they are (Romans 5:1).

Some use the world’s methods of marketing to “sell” the gospel, being more concerned with numbers than with presenting the true gospel. Some water it down so there is no call for repentance from sin. This may produce large numbers of “converts,” but very few genuine believers. The message isn’t healing, helping needs or even simply that Jesus is the Messiah; it is the cross and the resurrection. We do not change it, modify it, grow it, shrink it or do anything to make it better. Our task is simply to take it the way it has been given to us and to believe in its power to affect lives. The fact that so many try to make the gospel into something else shows the nature of it as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:18-24, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, October 11, 2010

What is the Gospel? Part 4: What is justification?

Luke 18:9-14

It is being declared righteous before God based on the merits of Christ. Often overlooked is the fact that when the Pharisee prayed he was thanking God. He was not saying how great he was by himself. He knew he was not able to do good works on his own, but felt that this infused righteousness he worked with justified him. God does indeed develop righteousness in everyone to whom He imputes righteousness, but we never achieve perfection in this life (Philippians 3:4-19). Works are the fruit, not the root of justification (Ephesians 2:10). This is the great danger, the teaching that the imparted righteousness whereby we can indeed do good works is the grounds of our justification, instead of the imputed righteousness of Christ to our account.

For some to justify means to make righteous rather than to declare righteous (cf. our sermon A Nail Pierces the Darkness). The Roman Catholic Church talks of grace and being saved by the merits of Christ alone. However, they teach that we receive the grace of God, and the merits of Christ, and are made righteous based on our participating in the sacraments of the church. Yet the Bible is clear that the gospel which saves the soul (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) does not include sacraments such as water baptism (1 Corinthians 1:17).

Also the Roman Catholic version of Communion (Eucharist) is turned into a righteous act on the part of the participant in which they maintain or continue their saving relationship with God. They believe that the real physical presence of Jesus is in the bread and wine and that it is the continuing sacrifice of Christ over and over to assist the participant in the continued removal of personal sin. The Bible is clear that this cannot be the case (Hebrews 9:24-28). The Bible clearly teaches that we receive the grace of God by faith alone, and not faith in any work, including a sacrament (John 5:24 / Romans 3:20-24 / Galatians 2:16 / Ephesians 2:8-9).

The difference is the difference between a saving faith that relies on an external atonement for sin and a misplaced faith that relies in an internal abatement of sin. We should be thankful that we have been given a measure of freedom from the power of sin in this life, but we must be careful to never equate this with our righteous standing before God.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, October 04, 2010

What is the Gospel? Part 3: Why do both Jesus’ Life and Death matter?

Matthew 3:13-15

In order for sinful human beings to have eternal life, the guilt and penalty of sin must be removed. Jesus does this not only by dying the death we justly deserve but by living the life we should have lived. If Jesus simply needed to impute the righteousness of God from His essence, there would have been no need for him to live for 33 years. However, in order to become a perfect high priest and lamb without blemish, Jesus not only had to die for us but He had to live for us. It is clear that the Scriptures speak of God’s people not only being justified by His death (Romans 3:25, 4:25, 5:9) but also as being saved by His life or obedience (Romans 5:10, 19). On the cross, God treated Jesus as if He lived your life so He could treat you as if you lived His life. That’s the Gospel.

Hebrews 4:14-15, 5:7-10 – this does not mean that Jesus was merely sinless in His essence as the second Person in the Trinity, but that He overcame temptations as a man. He revered and obeyed God. It says He was made perfect. Now if only His essence were needed for our righteousness there would be no need for Jesus to be made perfect since He already was. What this is speaking of is the same thing Jesus meant when speaking to John the Baptist. He was made perfect as a man (fulfilling all righteousness) so that He could become the source of salvation. Jesus was not lacking in any godly quality, but in the full experience of having lived a perfect human life. Jesus obeyed the Father in everything without sin (John 8:29). The lifelong perfect obedience of Jesus (Hebrews 5:8, 7:26-28) provides the basis for eternal salvation (Hebrews 2:10-18, 10:14).

Matthew 5:17 – Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Jesus does for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Romans 3:20). Romans 8:3-4 – the problem is not with the Law, but that it was weakened by the flesh and therefore could not do what it intended (i.e. do this and live, Deuteronomy 8:1, etc.). Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin but without that weakness so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be met (fulfilled) in us.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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