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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Proclaiming the Gospel & Assurance - 3 Messages Worth Listening To

I have been listening to some really good messages lately that I would like to pass on to my blog readers who may have missed them.

1. Who did Christ die for?  Will God provide?  How assured of acquittal are believers?
Steve Lawson's Bible Study (from part of Romans 8)

2. The following message may have people thinking about their methods of evangelism and step on toes.
This will challenge people.  Austin was fired up.
Austin Duncan (Truth & Life conference TMU)

3. The day before Austin's message at TMU, John MacArthur gave a message to seminary students at TMS.  There was a connection in what was said.
Preaching the real Gospel and sacrificing freedom for the purpose of it.
John MacArthur at the TMS Chapel

Despite the difficulties happening to me and my family, I am so thankful for the online messages and prayers of friends. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

We Imitate Those We Love Most

Those we love most, we spend the most time with and tend to emulate.
I really enjoy listening to certain pastors and teachers and seeing what certain people I respect and like have to say - whether on social media or wherever.
It is true that we often start to copycat people and things we fill our minds with whether intentionally or unintentionally.
We even sometimes quote lines from a favorite movie that really has little value of lasting significance.

How much do we love and imitate our Lord?
Do we spend a lot of time getting to know Him?
Are we spending time in Scripture, and do we cultivate our relationship with God?
Do the people we listen to the most lead us to mirror Christ?
This isn't just about you.  It's about me.


Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 NASB


Message by Michael Reeves (from 1/6/2019) God's Transforming Glory

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Justification & Sanctification Revisited

I have been suffering with mental fog a lot lately, so I have not posted here for some time.
Having this issue is not new, but it does seem to have gotten worse.
Working through it can be very difficult, but there are short bits of time where I can have some clarity before it settles back (which has happened before I have even completed this post).
This means that this cannot be as thorough as I would like it to be.
It is difficult to endure life this way, so I'm grateful for Christians who do pray for me.

Today, I'm just scratching the surface of justification and sanctification.
Both are present when we believe, but sanctification is ongoing.
The following is what I have learned and believe due to its basis in Scripture.

JUSTIFICATION

Justification is monergistic. God alone justifies.
Nothing we do can add to the gift of His perfect righteousness imputed to those who are saved by grace through faith (which is a gift of God and not of works).
We can't add to what Christ did on the cross by our own good deeds or efforts at justice.
If you are justified by His blood, it's past tense...complete..finished.
We don't finish our justification by what we do, and no justified person will be kept out of Heaven.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” 
And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
John 19:30 NASB

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
Romans 8:33 NASB

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Romans 5:9 NASB


It doesn't have to be repeated.

For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 
Hebrews 11:26-27 NASB


SANCTIFICATION

Sanctification is described by many as synergistic, but God is still the first cause.
Believers will have fruit, because God is at work.  
If there has been no repentance or fruit, then the justifying faith isn't there to begin with.
Christ will lose none.

"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
John 6:39 NASB

The Spirit indwells every true believer, and so there will be some fruit in true believers.

We can't manufacture justification or sanctification by giving a false impression of it by doing a bunch of "good deeds."

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Galatians 3:3 NASB

God is the one who sanctifies, and believers are the sanctified.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB

For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Hebrews 2:11 NASB


Christ lives in His children, and we live in Him.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 2:20 NASB


Those who are already justified by Christ's blood are to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and are to obey and work as believers, and yet it is God working in us to desire & to work for His pleasure.
We are His workmanship, and He even prepares works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:15 NASB



So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13 NASB


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hard Determinism or Compatibilism - Say What???

I saw someone discussing hard determinism vs. compatibilism on social media which got me scrambling to see exactly what was meant by that, and soon after that I read about "Compatibilistic Theodicy" in the Biblical doctrine book.  
Actually, I'm pretty certain it was the very next time I read in the book.  
Timing
Side Note:
I was in chapter 3 (and finally finished it this week).  
I recommend it, although it occasionally boggles my mind.  
I don't know how well I'll remember the things I'm learning, but I hope that some of it will stick.

Thoughts:
Here is my thinking on hard determinism:
If hard determinism means that people are not held responsible / culpable for their sinful actions, then it would not be the same as compatibilism (soft determinism) which is more like what is what we see in Scripture. 
The Bible surely makes it clear that people are still held responsible for sin (Habakkuk 1:5-11) no matter that God superintends everything for His purposes.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Genesis 50:20 NASB

 
God warns people about sin and the judgment coming to sinners, but an unbeliever's freedom to choose is limited by their nature (unbelievers are slaves to sin and under the headship of Adam and are unable to obey God). 
God hardens hard hearts (Pharoah hardened his heart and God hardened Pharoah's heart, God gives people over to sin as a judgment in Romans 1, etc.), and God has stirred up kings to attack or take people as captives (1 Chronicles 5:26; Jeremiah 28:14), and He sent His people into exile as a judgment (I'm reading Jeremiah).
 
So, again, I can see that God can direct wills, and He governs all the circumstances and secondary causes (even the sins of people) in the universe to bring about His purposes.
We can see from history that God brings judgment, mercy & grace, and trials.
God will one day bring about the ultimate justice.
Those who are His are covered by His blood & righteousness, and those who are not will face eternal judgment (and Hell).

What about choosing God?

We are not responsible for our first or second birth (John 3) or for God's foreknowledge and drawing of those He's chosen.  
Our wills would never choose God apart from His changing our nature and His supernaturally regenerating us according to His predetermined plan.
We also can't keep ourselves saved by our choices either, but our salvation will be evident to others by our love & obedience and fruit which is evidence of His work in us.
God will complete the good work He started in His sheep, and He will not lose any of His true children.

For those who have not heard the Gospel, please follow THIS LINK.

The following is something I got from a Steve Lawson Bible study on foreknowledge:

Foreknowledge doesn't mean that God looks down the tunnel of time to see who would choose His Son and predestine on the basis of this.
Reasons why that idea is erroneous:
1. God has never looked into the future & learned anything.
2. If this was mere foresight, all God would see is that no one would choose Christ. There is a moral inability to exercise the will towards God, and the reason is..you don't want to. There is none who seeks for God...
3. This does not say what He foresaw...it says whom He foreknew. This is dealing with not event...but individuals. The true meaning of foreknowledge it to choose to love someone beforehand.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Romans 8:29 NASB

It's a mercy that God chooses to save people who would not be able to will toward God apart from God.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. Romans 9:16 NASB

Those of us who are Christians have Christ's righteousness imputed to us, but we still sin.  
We are to confess our sins to God, and He is faithful & just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our new nature frees us to be able to do what is right, and God works in us to give us the desire and ability to obey and to glorify Him.

for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 
Philippians 2:13 NASB
We as believers should be glad that God works all things for His glory & our ultimate good despite how things may look.  Our family has been having a number of trials, and sometimes it seems there is no ending in sight.  

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 NASB

I have a long ways to go in sanctification, and the more I suffer the more I see my sinfulness (rebelliousness, anxiety, doubts, etc.).
I pray God will cause me to grow and to better reflect God's glory like the moon reflects the sun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Remember the Prisoners

More than 100 people from a church in China were reportedly arrested a few days ago.  
I'm uncertain about their Theology in some respects, but Christians can pray for these people.

Those of us who are Christians know that Christ is the Head of His church, and no government has the authority to demand churches disobey Scripture.  
The Three Self organization is connected to the government and is not a church group and yet they can try to make decisions affecting churches.  
This means that they can try to bring liberalism into churches.  
It reportedly puts patriotism as its prime objective.

Churches in China struggle from a lack of sound Theological training.  
That is true in the U.S., but there they have a lack of good teaching and training as available as it can be in America.
I don't know the author of this article, but it is eye-opening about why it is more difficult for churches in China.

While it is very difficult to find a church that has sound Theology and practice in areas of the U.S., professing believers in China are under incredible pressure to compromise.
Their desire is to stand for what they do understand of Scripture (even if not fully informed), as the government is cracking down on them.

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Hebrews 13:3 NASB

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Streaming Christmas Concert 2018 & Other Christmas Related Things

Christmas Concert Live-Streaming
Grace Community Church's Christmas Concert is scheduled to be live-streamed on December 23, 2018 at 6 PM Pacific Time (9 PM Eastern).
James Phillipps, Jubilant Sykes, Grace Chung, Philip Webb (AKA Superman in our house), Christopher Parkening, etc,. are scheduled to sing, along with choirs & orchestra.
View the streaming at that time by going HERE.

Update:  Watch the full concert


Grace Community Church Christmas Concert 2018 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Articles of Note:


Christians & Christmas by John MacArthur

The Gospel According to Christmas Carols by Nathan Busenitz  

Gospel Tracts at Christmas

I'm not endorsing this particular site, but the following ideas for distributing tracts look good.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Prayer Requests & Encouragement & Christmas Music

Prayer Requests & Encouragement
A number of medical issues have come up with our family lately, and I know that others are also struggling.
So many people need prayer and comfort and endurance.  I see posts and hear about them and pray for them like many others are probably doing as well.
God often providentially has me hearing encouraging messages or songs during difficult times.
The recent one I shared - When the Healing Doesn't Come  was one, and then today I heard part of Steve Lawson's Bible Study on God causing all things to work together for good...
I'm also encouraged by people praying for requests when I ask...even when I don't specify. 
I don't always feel free to share too many details about others, but I have had something unusual going on with me as well, and I am waiting to see if I will need a surgical procedure next week to do further testing or not (which would require anesthesia ...again).

Music to Cheer
It's that time again!
For those of us who enjoy celebrating the Savior's birth, this congregational music is a good way to start things off.