Whoever believes or whoever does?

25 02 2010

I’d like to go back to 1 John again and look at 1 John 2:17:

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever”

I thought the second half of the verse was pretty interesting as it says “whoever does the will of God abides forever.”  What if this was the only verse we had from the whole bible!?  On the surface we may believe that we would have to “do stuff” in order to get into heaven…

But let’s look at the verse in light of John 3:16.  Here we have a verse written by the same author, inspired by the same Spirit and He says there “whoever believes….[will] have eternal life.”

Here in Scripture it may almost seem like a contradiction.  What must we do to inherit eternal life? Must we just believe? Or must we do? Or must we believe then do, or do then believe? I want to make the case that these two phrases should be seen as (for lack of a better term) “synonyms”.  I should clarify: There must be a point in every believer’s life where he confesses Christ as His Lord and Savior (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). However, this “confession” is synonymous with doing the will of God for the remainder of our lives here on earth!

Do you understand what the Word of God is saying? There is no “i was saved 5, 10, 20, 50, 80 years ago, but don’t do the will of God” salvation in the Bible! To trust in Christ as our Savior is to do the will of the Father! Practically, what does this mean in our lives? Does it mean that if you struggle with sin you aren’t saved? No, not necessarily…. But it does mean that as believers, we do the will of God.  In other words, we take the very Word of God and apply it to our lives.  For some this is difficult considering they do not read the Word of God!

You see the point is that our salvation is precious! In  1 John 2:15, as discussed in my last blog, John commands us to not love the world.  So many people who profess a belief in Christ, separate that belief from action as they also in love with the world.  Sure, Jesus is precious, but so are big screen tvs, fancy cars, houses, etc. I just heard an awesome message by David Platt (which you can watch below) where he challenged Christians with the question: Is Jesus enough?  Can we look past our wealth and ourselves and really say “Christ is sufficient.”?

The whole point of this post today is to get you examining your faith to see whether or not it is an action.  Is it living? Is it working? To John, James, Peter, and even Paul, etc. a belief in Christ that did not result in action by doing the will of God would have been impossible.

My challenge to you this weekend is to show the world that there is a Way… Show the world that we do not serve a middle class American Jesus, but that we serve the God of the Universe. That doesn’t just mean we need to rearrange our time, money, talents, etc. to follow Christ.  It means we must crucify our entire lives! We must take up the Cross and follow the King of Kings!

There is so much we could go into in application: Love Christ? Join and participate in a local church (actively)! Love Christ? Forgive that person who’s wronged you. Love Christ? Tip the waiter (even if they’ve been bad). Love Christ? Follow Phil. 2:3-4…. etc. etc. etc. The Word of God reveals the truth about God and what He desires for our lives. You want to know what doing the will of God looks like? Get into the Word. God bless…

The following message by Dr. David Platt was preached in Alumni Chapel at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY on February 25, 2010.

http://www.sbts.edu/resources/chapel/chapel-spring-2010/needs-a-title/?play=true

Advertisements




The love of the Father is not in him

18 02 2010

1 John 2:15-

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

 

Most every translation I’ve looked in translates “the love of the Father” the same way.  In the Greek the word “Father” is in the genetive case.  What that means is by this construciton we can take this phrase as most likely meaning on of two things.

First of all it may mean the “Father’s love.”  This would imply that those who love the world do not have the Father’s love in their hearts.  I think you could get a new range of meaning from this phrase – meaning  that the Father’s love for those redeemed is different than the Father’s love for those who reject Him.  At first this may seem harsh and even unbiblical but remember “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated” (Malachi 1:3).

The second way this phrase may be interpreted is the same way one would interpret: “the love of the game”.  This doesn’t mean the “game’s love” but rather the love one has for the game.  In this sense the text would say “the love for the Father is not in him.” This would mean that those who love the world, don’t love the Father.  In other words there is a direct contradiction here: One cannot love the world and be loving the Father at the same time.

What do I think it means? When you look at 1 John and even the Gospel of John and realize that there are things that intentionally have double meaning (for instance: the “I AM” statements in John) I think you would conclude that this passage also serves as meaning two things.  Therefore, those that love the world do not have the Father’s love w/in them and they do not possess love for the Father.

In 1 John 2:17, John goes on to say that the world is passing away.  Why  would a Christian be concerned with “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” (v.16) when the world is soon to pass away? As Christians we are to focus on the eternal things, and not be in love with the things of this world.  We have so many “gods” that we serve in this world: money, sports, sex, jobs, traditions etc.  1 John is clear that those who love those things are not saved. Obviously none of those things are “sins” in and of themselves, BUT when we love those things instead of loving God it does become sin.

Anyway, the Bible is very telling of the hearts of people.  Those who continue to put the priorities of the world above the priorities of the Kingdom aren’t struggling with “priority” issues.  They are struggling with a heart issue and more specifically may even be struggling with a salavation issue.

I hope that it is easy for you to make God #1 in your life.  I hope that if you’ve been struggling lately with missing church, quiet times, family devotions, etc. that you would turn those things over to the Lord and ask Him to help you serve Him alone. But….

If serving the world has got you wrapped up, then it doesn’t matter how many aisles you’ve walked or prayers you’ve prayed. It may be that the love of the Father is not in you.  I hope that if you find yourself in this situation that you would turn from your sin and self even now, and trust Christ alone…

As always please contact me or comment if you have questions or insight on more discussion. God bless!





Church Covenant?

16 02 2010

In most Southern Baptist Churches in some corner of the building or posted on the fellowship hall is the Church Covenant. 

In order to keep this blog fairly short and readable I don’t have time or space to go into all the details of a church covenant other than to say this: I do think it’s biblical for people to write out what they believe and hold one another accountable for their actions.  Obviously a covenant should be based solely on the Bible. To read more about covenants in detail please CLICK HERE.

The main thing I wanted to write about today was this: Did you even realize that your church has a covenant? Do you even know what it says? You see a covenant helps us to keep one another accountable by expressing what it is that a church believes and how a church expects it’s members to live.  It’s not a “legalistic” tool, but rather it is to be used for the type of discipline Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18. CLICK HERE for what a typical SBC Church Covenant says.

When we join a local body of believers shouldn’t we know what it believes? Don’t get a Covenant and a Constitution confused (see one of the links above).  Pastors and other ministers: Are you helping your congregation know what the church expects from them? Of course we should say: “Read the Bible”. But a Covenant helps us write out what the Bible says about our conduct in a shorter, “easier to remember” statement.  There are many SBC churches in the Reformed movement that have covenants that the church recites together before the Lord’s Supper.  In this way, each member can be reminded of what the church expects from them.

Another important reason for a church covenant, as alluded to above, is for use in church discipline.  If you want to bring discipline (for the purpose of reconciliation) against a member who is always gossiping, it is much easier if he or she has already signed a church covenant agreeing to keep certain standards in their walk.

Anyway, please email or comment below for more discussion.  I am interested in other people’s take on this issue… Also, please visit the 9Marks site (the first link above) because they write much better than I do and it will give you some more insight to the history and biblical basis for church covenants…





How we do family worship

9 02 2010

This blog is not about ‘why’ we do family worship in our home, but how.  I hope that everyone reading this understands the biblical foundation for family worship found in Scripture. As mentioned in previous blogs, Deut. 6:5-7 clearly states that parents are responsible for teaching their children about the Lord and His commands.

First of all, I want to say that we do not have the perfect model; nor are we perfect in our current framework of family worship.  There are still things that we’d like to imporve on, but what we’ve started is a foundation for family worship in the home that we plan on lasting the rest of our lives.

We do our worship in the evenings right after supper.  This usually happens about 4-5 days out of the week, but sometimes can be only a few if we have to be gone several nights.  I want to take a side note here and say that families need to get back to eating supper together.  Make it goal in the near future to eat together at least 3 nights out of the week for starters.  I know families are busier and busier but the dinner table is a place we can laugh, cry, and bond together as a family.  Some of us don’t understand the value of family dinners because we didn’t grow up eating supper as a family.  If this describes you, I highly recomend that you start encouraging your family to eat supper together on a regular basis.  The time shared is truly invaluable!  This doesn’t mean you have to do family worship right after supper… This just happens to be the best time for us because we are all together (and we aren’t what you would call “morning people”!).  Also, even if you don’t do family worship after dinner, still make it a priority to cut out some of the extracurricular activities that are preventing your family from eating supper together.

Ok so, right after dinner we’ll clean off the table and then I’ll read a passage of Scripture.  We were reading through Bradyn’s Children’s Bible, but we haven’t been the last several weeks.  If you have smaller children a children’s illustrated Bible really does come in handy!  Lately, I’ve just been reading passages of Scripture that God has laid on my heart.  I try to balance Old Testament and New Testament readings.  Honestly, a reading plan would be better, and we are going to try and work on that in the future!

After I read the Bible I’ll aske a couple of simple questions.  Bradyn’s only 2 and Caleb is 4 months, so I know they aren’t technically “learning” but it does help build a foundation for how we will do things in the future.  Occasionally, Steph and I will discuss things from the reading on an adult level with each other.  After the reading and questions, we’ll sing.  We have an older Baptist Hymnal, but don’t use it every time.  I have a guitar, but we don’t use it every time either.  For about a year we’ve been really wearing out Jesus Loves Me! But it is important to sing different songs and I would encourage you to get a hymnal or other song book to help you sing with your family.

The last thing we do after 1-2 (sometimes 3-5!) songs is pray.  We don’t just pray a generic “bless our family” prayer.  Instead we try to pray according to the passage of Scripture that we just read.  For example, 2 Peter 1:21 was in our reading the other night, and we thanked God for His inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

This whole process takes about 10-15 minutes! I think so many people don’t do family worship because they are worried about time frame… In the future we may plan on taking longer as we introduce more “involved” questions and even Catechism (similar to the Westminster Catechism) but still the whole thing doesn’t have to last longer than 15-20 minutes at the most.  Obviously don’t be looking at the clock ready to shut it down if kids are asking questions, but also don’t feel you have to give up your whole evening either.

So that’s basically it… The whole process of the Nelson Family Worship time.  My challenge to you is to just start.  Even if you can only plan on doing it 1 day every week right now, that’s fine.  Just begin.  If your kids are older it may take some getting used to, but still we must adhere to the biblical model of family discipleship.  Maybe you don’t have kids yet or they’ve already left home. In that case I would still challenge you to have a similar form of worship time in your home.  If you dont’ have kids yet, this is a great way to lay a foundation for one of the ways you will help raise godly children.  Think about this:

If we can’t worship in the home, how can we worship during church services?





Let Your Leaders Lead

8 02 2010

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”   – Hebrews 13:17

We live in a culture that rejects authority.  Our children naturally reject the authority of their parents.  Parents and other adults naturally reject the authority of others in their life (i.e. government positions, etc.)  What’s alarming today is that this rejection of authority also carries over into the church.

Many people may not realize that God has actually established authority within the church.  In  1 Timothy and Titus (as well as in a few other places) Paul uses the Greek word “episkopos” to refer to what we call a “Pastor”.  This word is usually translated as “overseer” and carries the general connotation of one who is in charge.

Time and again I hear people say things like “That pastor is just trying to run things around here.”  They mean this in a negative way, but really according to Scripture, that’s what the pastor is supposed to be doing!  I obviously don’t mean that the pastor is to be overbearing, or use his authority negatively, but the word of God says that pastors “will have to give an account” for their actions because they have been called by God to keep “watch over your souls.”  I honestly believe that many churches would be in better shape if they trusted their pastor more.  This is not to take away from the pastor’s responsibility to listen to and love his flock.  The pastor will also be wise to take counsel from some of the members of the church regarding certain matters.  But, honestly, how many flocks of sheep have you seen controlling their shepherd? So many churches have it backwards and actually feel like the pastor is under their authority, when in fact, he is under the authority of God.

Remember too that this verse is a direct command.  In fact it contains two imperatives: Obey and submit.  It’s not just suggested that church members obey and submit to leadership in the church, it’s actually commanded in Scripture. 

So to keep this short there is twofold application.  #1 church members must remember that pastors have been appointed over them by God to equip them for the work of the ministry and to keep watch over their souls.  This applies by not running down the pastor to other members of the church and especially outsiders.  This applies by listening to the pastor instead of just discrediting him because he is too young or too old or too black or too white, or too whatever.  This applies by serving God, by serving alongside your pastor in work for the Kingdom.  This applies by church members acknowledging that to not submit and disobey is a sin (obviously if the pastor is saying something against the Word, this command is lifted).  And finally, this applies by church members acknowledging that they were not put into the church just so they could critique the preacher!  God will critique your pastor and work on His heart to make the changes needed…#2 Leaders should remember to serve with joy and not groaning.  This applies by not running down your church.  This applies by understanding the privilege and responsibility you have as a leader and using it for the honor and glory of God. This applies by leading in such a way that your followers can follow you!

God’s church is a beautiful establishment.  He has set it up in a perfect way (even if it is filled with imperfect people!).  Let’s get back to a biblical model for ecclesiology, which begins by letting God’s leaders lead us.





A Cure for Boring Sermons

5 02 2010

A complaint I hear from youth and adults about sermons today (yes, sometimes even my own sermons!) is that they are just “boring”.

Did you know the Word of God prescribes a cure for boring sermons? The cure is in the listener! Now, a preacher has the responsibility of being faithful to the meaning of the text and helping the congregation apply the meaning to their lives.  I don’t desire to be a “boring” preacher at all and I don’t encourage other pastors to be boring. The word of God is not BORING and shame on any preacher who presents it in such a way as to actually make people think that it is.

However, the cure for boring sermons can be found in the listener.  The word of God says to “long for” the Word (cf. 1 Peter 2:2)!  The work of making a sermon interesting rests on the listener.  As the preacher is preaching, are you listening to what he is saying and evaluating his message based on the word of God? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work through God’s Word to convict your heart and bring about the intended change that He (God) desires?  The question really isn’t “How entertaining is the preacher?”  The question is “How much do I really long for God’s Word?”  As long as a preacher is preaching God’s word faithfully, I promise you can get something out of it!

Now, just as in any task, sometimes you will have to work harder to make a sermon interesting.  Some preachers will naturally appeal to your style more than others.  However, my encouragement for you, if you are beginning to find sermons “boring”, is to work harder at listening!  Maybe this Sunday you need to take a note pad to help you take notes. Or for some, it starts with simply bringing a Bible to church so they can pay attention better to what the preacher is saying.

Last night I had to make a run to the Dollar Store to pick up a can of Refried Beans and a gallon of milk.  A weird combination I know, so when I got to the cashier I joked “this’ll make a great supper!” She laughed and said “I guess anything’s good if you’re hungry enough.” Hmmm…

How hungry are you for the Word of God?