Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Need For The Cross


The Need for the Cross.001

Palm Sunday is typically remember for the triumphant entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. From the Jew’s point of view in that day, this was the highlight of His ministry. And yet by Friday He was hanging on the cross, dying the tortured death of a criminal. What went wrong in five days to fall from the most popular Jew in Israel to the depths of the same people calling for His crucifixion?

From a human perspective, this was a tragic end to a good man’s life. Yet when we look at what God has to say about it, there is a much bigger plan being worked out.

We will look at the “need for the Cross” and then finish with the “Cross meets the need.”  Here are the unmistakable gospel truths found in Scripture:

Everyone that is conceived will live forever … somewhere.

Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

There are just two choices. What makes the difference in where we spend eternity? • Everything we do will be judged.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. We will all stand before God one day. What will make the difference in where we spend eternity?

By ourself, our good works are filthy when compared to the holiness of heaven.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

If the best works I have are not good enough, what makes the difference in where we will spend eternity?

Good men are condemned.

Matthew 23:33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

Spoken to men who were convinced that their good works earned them favor with God. If the best men of the day were not able to escape hell, what will make the difference for me?

This is hard to accept, but we must correctly diagnose our problem if we are going to be able to find the solution. To ignore the diagnosis, is to live in denial and ultimately to die in denial.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I can’t identify the problem, I will never have access to the solution.

The sad news

I want to say this in all kindness for each of us sitting here. I am not passing judgment on any of our loved ones who are no longer with us, God knows their heart. I am saying this for us here to look at our own hearts. The sad news is that there are a lot of good men and women who are going to hell because good works will never replace the death penalty for sin.

Is this fair? If God was fair, the death penalty would already have been given and God would still be loving, merciful, and good. God is not fair, thankfully.

God is just.  The death penalty for our sin must and will be carried out or else God would not be holy or trustworthy. The death penalty cannot be canceled; it must happen. 

The good news is that God is also a God of love.

There is a solution to the diagnosis of sin.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The solution is that Someone had to die for your sin and mine.

The wages of sin will always be death.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He took our death penalty.

Remember Matt 25:46? There are two destinations.  God made the way, God did the work, we are left to believe this was for us or deny it.

This satisfies the death penalty for all our sins we have committed, are committing, and will ever commit in the future.

So why not get saved and then live however we want to? God did not save us from the pit latrine of sin only to have us jump back in and play. We underestimate the filthiness of sin and undervalue the gift of salvation if we do this. Christ’s death was to save us from the penalty of sin and from slavery to sin.

Romans 6:1–2 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?

Romans 6:16–18 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

So let’s take a look at this death that was given for me. The suffering began in the garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

An angel had to come and strengthen Christ. This sorrow is the curse of sin (Gen. 3) that was placed on the world. He took our guilt on Himself (Isa. 53).

The pain of omniscience and anticipation

Luke 22:41–44 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Hematidrosis – bleeding from the sweat glands. This is a documented physical situation brought on by extreme stress and anguish. The first six documented cases went on to die of the same stress.

The pain of betrayal and abandonment

Co-workers – Matthew 26:47-48 – Judas betrays Him

Close Friends – Matthew 26:56b Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. 

Christ understands loneliness and betrayal.

The pain of mocking the truth of His Godhood

By the soldiers – mocked Him by saying “Hail, King of the Jews,” put a purple robe on Him, bowed to Him, and “worshiped” Him. By the Jews when on the cross – “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” Mk. 15:31

The pain of physical abuse and assault

  • Whipped – Mark 15:15 – this ripped and tore
  • Crown of Thorns – put on His head and hit with a reed or a staff
  • The Cross – Nails in the wrist severed the ulnar nerve. Nails, likely in the heel, fixed Him to the Cross Suffocation was the typical cause of death.

“Until we see the cross as that which was done by us, we will never fully appreciate that it was done for us” – John Stott

The pain of sin to holiness

Trinity rent – we don’t understand the Trinity as it is, but somehow the Trinity was severed as the Father turned His back on Christ as He bore my sins.

Who killed Christ?

The Jews?

The Romans?

Us?

God?

No one, He gave Himself willingly for you and me. He did not suffocate, He gave up His spirit.

John 10:15 … and I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. This is the demonstration of love.

Romans 8:31–32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

So what will you do with the cross?  Will you believe in Jesus and receive His work on the cross to be bridge that brings you to God?

Repent and believe in Jesus today!

Download a pdf version of The Cross.

Our Source of Power for Salvation and Godliness


Power of God.001

Life is tough. How can God expect us to live like He asks us to live? Too many of us have a testimony of frustration over our own inability to live life the way God asks.

Peter instructs us that God does in fact expect us to live righteously in this world.  (Therefore, beloved, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. 3:14). BUT — HE DOES NOT STOP THERE! HE ACTUALLY TELLS US HOW THIS IS POSSIBLE – BY MEANS OF GOD’S POWER!

Living righteously in a wicked world (in any age) is only possible through a power that is greater than that of the world — God’s Power and this is the subject of our text in 1 Peter 1:3.

So let’s learn about this power.

The Truth Regarding His Power 1:3 (It Delivers and Enables Men)

as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

The Source and Nature of this Power

“As His divine power”

Source — God (specifically Christ).  The power is God’s and He has made it available to us. We can live righteously in a world as wicked as this one because the power comes from none other than Jesus Christ, the Creator.

We see His power best in the account of His Ministry:

  • Man with leprosy covering his body was healed
  • Blind Man was healed
  • Widow’s son was raised
  • Lazarus was raised

Nature — Divine (out of his power)

Not just the power of a good example, instruction, or mandate. It is real power —that comes right out of His divine nature. This power — out of His divine power — has given us everything we need to live righteously.

As we grow up, we are well aware of Satan and his power. Sometimes our respect and fear of Satan is greater that our respect and fear of God. On the level of power, who is the opposite of Satan?Many would say “God,” but we must realize that Satan is a created being, his closest opposite is likely Michael the archangel.

The Reason For and the Amount of this Power

All things that pertain to life and godliness

What is this power for? — life and godliness

Life — a reference to eternal life Jn. 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

It is having a relationship with Christ.

His power gave… (Jn 3:16).

For one to be saved, there must be a deep realization that the situation they are in is dangerous and that they need help.

If someone comes up to you and begins treating you as thought you are choking when you are not, you will probably punch them in the nose. If, however, you really are choking, you will be extremely grateful to anyone who will reach out and help you.

We are all “choking” to death in sin. Only when we realize our problem, will we desire and be grateful for Christ’s dying in our place to save us.

Isa 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

When we understand the distance between our sin and God’s holiness, it makes His work on the cross a greater act.

His power loved

Rom 5:8 God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Once we are aware of our desperate condition, we can start looking for something or someone to rescue us.

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jn 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.

“Jesus Christ” – “Promised Savior”

His blood on the cross satisfied the required punishment for our sin. The power of God has provided everything you need to be saved.

Godliness — word for godliness or piety — means living in such a way that pleases God (makes God’s smile). The overall idea when the two words are joined together is a Christian Life that pleases God — a godly, holy life.

The power of God has also provided everything we need to live a godly life anywhere He places us in this world.

How much power has He given? — all things that pertain

God has given us everything that is necessary for living a life that pleases him. So, in practical terms, we have everything we need to have godly families, marriages, lives, and churches!

The Availability and Accessibility of this Power

Through the knowledge of Him that called us by glory and virtue. Availability — has given to us. In the perfect tense — this is a permanent gift (salvation and godliness). Lavish gift — the word here is unusual. Not just the word for a gift but the term one would use to describe a royal grant or imperial gift.

God has made a very lavish gift available — all things that pertain to salvation and living a godly life. It will never run out. This gift is out of His divine power — it is able and sufficient and it is permanently available to any believer no matter how wicked the world is around him!

Accessibility — through the knowledge of him.  There is just one catch — there is only one way to access this power — through Jesus Christ. That is through a personal relationship with Christ, a relationship that is more than just head knowledge and information but a daily growing relationship with Christ! It begins with knowing Him personally as the one who saved you. How do you think of God when you think of Him?

If I show you a picture of my wife Rachel, you will be able to point her out in a crowd and say, “I know who she is.” This is informational knowledge. However, you don’t “know” her like I do. I know what makes her happy; I know what makes her sad. I know what kind of flowers she likes and what kind of holiday she enjoys. I know when her mouth is set a certain way that we will need to have a “discussion” later on. I KNOW Rachel.

“Know” in this verse is not informational, it is relational. This is the word we are talking about that is the means of this power. How did I get to know Rachel so well? It take time spent with the person to get this kind of knowledge. To get to know Jesus Christ, we must spend time in the Word of God. This is how we get this power to live the way He wants, knowing Him. What makes Him happy? What makes Him sad?

Without this relationship don’t be surprised if you can’t win against sin. Your leaf fades if you are not daily building your relationship with God.

So let’s draw this to a conclusion: God has given us everything we need to live a righteous life in a wicked world. That provision is powerful — backed by His divine power — and it is our permanent possession (perfect tense.)

It is also sufficient — everything we need! But it is only available if you come to a place where you know that you need a Savior. A time when you have repented or turned your back on your normal way of life and you want Christ to save you from it.

But it is only available as we grow in our personal daily relationship with Jesus Christ.
The strength of God’s power to live a godly life is equal to the strength of our relationship with Jesus Christ. So, if we are not growing in our daily relationship with Christ, we should not be surprised when the world and wickedness overpowers our lives.

Notes adapted from Dr. Sam Horn’s class on II Peter in Zambia 2006

Download: Power of God

The Church is a Field: The Goal is Quantity


Church is a field.001

We have all seen the signs along the road saying, “Have you eaten today? Thank a farmer.” There is a lot of truth to that sign. We all need food to survive, to stay healthy, and to grow. As a boy, I grew up on a family farm. I remember the year my Dad told me to clear out an overgrown plot of land in order for us to plant a family garden. There was a lot of work to accomplish this. First we cleared the thick undergrowth. We then cut down some large trees to open up the land to the light of the sun. We had to dig out the roots and stumps. Next we had my uncle plow the ground, which revealed all the rocks we had to remove. Finally, the day arrived when we could plant the seeds in the ground. Before long we saw the desired plants grow, but along with them came weeds that needed to be removed on a regular basis. Just about the time we started to see produce reaching maturity the raccoons would come and eat it. They were as destructive and aggressive and Monkey’s can be here. So, I had to catch these animals to keep the vegetables safe. After all, the goal of a garden is produce – fruitfulness.

A plot of ground is full of potential. God created it with the capacity to grow an abundance of plants that we can eat. However, to turn a vacant field into a lush garden requires man to work at two things: (1) removing hindrances to fruitful production and (2) cultivating the ground to provide the best environment for production to occur. Well, this picture of a fruitful field is what the Apostle Paul uses to teach truths about what God intends for His church.

Two weeks ago Phil started a new series entitled “Pictures of the Church.” The first message was from 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 which shared the picture that “The Church is a Family.” In that message we saw that the goal is maturity. Today we continue this series and we will pick up where we left off in 1 Corinthians 3.

Big Idea: As a result of today’s message we will see that the church is a field and the goal is quantity. The goal is fruitfulness.

As we examine this picture of the church we must remember some things that Phil shared with us in our two-week introduction to defining what a church is. We must remember what the word church means. It comes from the Greek word, Ekklesia – which means called out ones. We still use it in our English language. The word eclectic comes from this Greek word. The church is an eclectic group of people that God has called out of the darkness of this sinful world to be separated for His special use. If you have turned to Jesus Christ in repentance of sin and faith in His work on the cross then you are part of the church. When you become a Christian you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. To be a Christian is to be part of the church.

With that information in mind, let’s now think of today’s big idea again. The church is a field and the goal is quantity. As God’s field he wants to produce fruitful faith in each of us. So, by the end of today I hope each of us will leave here with specific things in mind that we can do to bear more spiritual fruit in our lives.

Let’s now turn to 1 Corinthians 3 and we will start by reading the passage that Phil preached on 2 weeks ago and then move on into the next section. As we read through these verses we see three things about this picture of the church as a field. Let me say up front, that the first point will consume most of our time together this morning. The last two points go by fairly quickly as our text does not have as much to say about them.

There are many roles involved with farming the field v. 5-6

We each have various roles when farming this field called the church. This image should come naturally from the typical farming methods in Zambia. I have a friend in Choma named Mike Beckett who owns Muumba Farms. He helped me see that in Zambia, the key to a productive farm is a large workforce that is broken into teams to accomplish different purposes. This is very different from farming in America where large farms can be worked by only a few men with lots of machinery. In the day Paul wrote to the Corinthians farming would have been very similar to what we still do in Zambia. There is one “farmer” with many employees. Each one has a job to do and their jobs differ from one another.

Some Plant

There is a lot of work involved in the planting (clearing, plowing, putting seed in ground). The human heart is the soil for spiritual growth. Think of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13:3-9. There were many kinds of soil (hard soil, rocky soil, thorny soil, good soil). To get the first three soils to be productive there is work to be done. The hard soil could represent those of us who have become hardened to spiritual things because of how those who should be tending the soil are actually trampling it under foot. Some of you may have hard hearts in response to the hypocrisy you have seen from so-called Christians. Some of you may have hearts of rocky soil. There are stones of stubbornness that must be removed. When you hear the truth of God’s Word and it clashes with your worldview you don’t want to remove those boulders. You want to try to produce spiritual fruit, but your heart is too stony for the things of God to really take root. Some of you may be like the thorny soil. You genuinely want to grow, but there are worldly ideas that are choking out your growth. You are trying to cultivate spiritual things and worldly things at the same time. You are compromising to accommodate both views, but this will never lead to fruitfulness because the worldly weeds are stealing nutrients from the spiritual fruit. What needs to be done is some serious plowing, removing of stones, and plucking out of weeds by the very roots. This is work – hard work!

So, we have seen that in both a physical field and a spiritual field much work is necessary to increase productivity. A field is full of potential; but for that potential to be realized – to be actualized there is much work to be done. Yet, we must remember that despite all there is to be done; we do not accomplish the production. Our work in planting is to remove the obstacles and barriers to production and apply the truth of God’s Word – the seed. By removing the barriers it allows space and nutrients for the spiritual fruit to grow.

Some Water

Some other workers have a different focus than cultivating the soil, removing the weeds, and other barriers. Rather, they add the nutrients needed that were lacking in order to produce fruit, speed up production, and increase the yield. In a physical field these would be things like water and fertilizer. In the spiritual field we water by applying prayer and the Word of God for continued spiritual growth. This doesn’t always mean preaching a sermon or teaching a Bible Study. It can be much more informal than that. Adding the water of God’s Word could be speaking words of encouragement and accountability in our everyday conversations with those in the church and those that we are trying to bring to the Lord for salvation. So, we have seen that some plant and some water. Then, once we do that, it seems that nature takes its course. In a physical field, it is at this point that the natural process of germination and growth takes over. In the spiritual field, the Holy Spirit of God takes over to produce spiritual growth. We can be confident that once we do our part of applying the truth of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit will make good use of it. In Isaiah 55:11 God says, “My word will not return void, but will accomplish that which I sent it.”

Now, here is an important truth we cannot miss from this passage. If the church is a field and every Christian is part of the church then we are all both the soil and the laborers. We plant and water into the lives of others and let them do the same to us. Once the obstacles to spiritual growth are removed and the essential nutrients applied we get out of the way because God Himself produces the spiritual fruit.

God Produces the Growth

The Process We don’t do the production; God does. If someone puts his faith in Jesus after I share the gospel with that person I am not that one that saved him. Jesus saved him; I just cultivated the soil. Our work, our role is to optimize and maximize the fruitfulness by applying the nutrients that speed of growth and production. Yet, none of that work would accomplish anything if God had not already built in the mechanism for productivity. God has placed eternity in man’s hearts Ecclesiastes 3:11. Everyone knows that there is something more out there than just this life. God has placed eternity in man’s heart so we will know that after death there is something more. The question is, where will we spend eternity. To help man see the need for righteousness and forgiveness of sin God has given us a conscience (Romans 2:15). This is place of the knowledge of right and wrong. This is the natural contact point God has given to us all. Now, if we will just apply the truth of God’s Word and prayers of intercession to the conscience we will see a wondrous thing take place. We will see spiritual fruit sprout from what was once the dry, infertile soil of man’s heart. We will see the Holy Spirit bring to life what was once barren and useless soil overrun with the weeds and bush of sin. So, we have seen the process. Now let’s look at the products.

The Products – Fruitfulness First, let’s examine the fruit in our own lives. The Bible refers to this as the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-24). If God is really on the throne of our lives then the Holy Spirit will be free to control us and produce in us these 9 spiritual fruits. 1. Love 2. Joy 3. Peace 4. Patience 5. Kindness 6. Goodness 7. Faithfulness 8. Gentleness 9. Self-control Now, we know that the opposite of these 9 fruit are addressed in Galatians 5 also where a list of sins are recorded as the works of the flesh. We obviously know that we should avoid these and that if they are present in our lives that it is evidence of a serious problem. However, Satan is so clever that he has deceived many of us into thinking we have the fruit of the spirit when we really only have counterfeit fruit. It looks like real fruit but without the substance. Rather than a bowl of assorted fruit it is a bowl of wax fruit. It looks good, but tastes bad. These offer no real nourishment.

Sadly, many of us have settled for counterfeit spiritual fruit in our lives.

  • Authentic Fruit – Counterfeit Fruit:
  • Love – Selfish affection
  • Joy – Selfish elation – “I get blessed”
  • Peace – Indifference
  • Patience – Cynicism – “This is too small to be bothered about.”
  • Kindness – Selfish manipulation
  • Goodness (integrity) – Truth without love (I’m just being myself)
  • Faithfulness – Love without truth (being loyal when you should confront)
  • Gentleness (humility) – Inferiority
  • Self-Control – Will power from pride

We must be just as alert regarding the counterfeit fruit as we are the works of the flesh. Second, God will produce from our labors fruit in the lives of others. When we serve him, we will be the sowers planting the seed in others that brings about the salvation of more souls (Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 11:30). Of course, once there are new believers God uses our labors to help these young Christians experience spiritual Growth/Discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Peter 3:18).

So, we have examined the produce God intends to develop in our lives. Now we must examine our lives to see if the fruit is there. Do you see these fruits being produced from your life? What is lacking? Have you identified it on your list? Great!

Then what do you do to see more fruit? It depends on your condition:

If you are not a born again Christian then you can’t become a productive field. You are not part of the field until you have repented of your sin and put your faith in Christ. Perhaps that is what some of you need to do today. Perhaps some of you need to become the property of the Ultimate Farmer – Jesus Christ. He can turn your life into a highly productive field, but he won’t do that until you belong to him.

Second, if you have already put your faith in Christ for salvation then what you need to go through is the process called sanctification. Salvation is an event that happens in a moment in time.

Sanctification is a process that continues throughout the lifetime of a Christian. Sanctification is being set apart for special use to God. This is the process every believer goes through. Some go through it more quickly than others depending on the cultivation that they allow in their lives.

  • Cultivate the soil by repenting of known sin in your life. Pull it out like you would pull a weed out of the garden. Pull it out by the roots or it will grow right back.
  • Enhance the soil of your soul by adding nutrients that are lacking. Develop the habit of spending time with God every day. Apply the water of God’s Word to your life. Add fertilizer by coming to every Bible study you can make it to. Add sunshine by spending time in prayer every day all throughout the day.
  • Lastly, every day you must die to your selfish sin nature. Submit your will to God’s will. That truth brings me to our second point.

There is only one reputation that really matters v. 7

On my friends farms there are many workers – usually 300 or more. None of them own the farm, but all of them work on the farm. Mike Beckett treats his employees well. He is firm, but fair. His employees respect him and want the reputation of the farm to be good, not for their own glory, but for the good of the farm owner and the good of the farm. They view working on Muumba Farm as a privilege.

There is a lot we can learn from that example. Too many of us are wanting to make a name for ourselves. Too many of us want to be seen as being essential to the farmer as if he could not succeed without us. Too many of us are concerned about our own reputations when we are nobodies. We tell people how great our God is and then quickly draw attention to ourselves for serving him well and when we do that we are saying, “See how great I am.” This will not lead to a healthy productive field. You will never convince people that God is great when you are spending so much time trying to convince others that you are great. Forget your reputation. It’s not about you. It is about God. It is about Jesus Christ. He isn’t fortunate to have us as workers. We are blessed to be working in his field! We are privileged. Our lives and our labors must be consumed with spreading the fame of His name!

There is a reward for faithful laborers in God’s field – the Church v. 8

This passage does not specify what the rewards are for faithful laborers, but I would like to close by providing you with a list of rewards based on other passages of scripture.

  • Reward of Personal Spiritual Growth • Reward of praise – “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21,23)
  • Reward of Crowns in Heaven But, these rewards are proportional to the labor you invest. Remember, we are a field. Do not expect to reap where you did not sow. Do not expect to reap where sin has overgrown and choked the life out of the spiritual fruit. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us be motivated to cultivate our spiritual lives to maximize our fruitfulness.

Conclusion: v. 9 We are God’s fellow laborers. You are God’s field!

The very purpose of a field is to produce crops. Every farmer wants a fruitful field. Every farmer wants an abundant field – a high quantity of fruit. As the master farmer, that is what God desires to see in his church. That is what He desires to see at Kitwe Church.

Each one of you is like a zone within a large field. How productive do you want your zone to be? Are you willing to do the work of cultivating godliness in your life so you can see the fruit of the spirit growing more and more?

Imagine what would happen if each of us dedicated ourselves to being a fruitful Christian. If we worked together we would see the field expand to more and more people. As elders Phil, Nathan, and I are excited to see the attendance grow because each person is a soul with the potential of bearing fruit. As we move into the future as Kitwe Church will this picture that Paul presented in 1 Cor. 3:5-9 be true of us? Will we be a field whose goal is fruitfulness?

Download: The Church as a Field

Worship


Worship.001

Every person is a worshipper. We were created that way. The question is not whether you will worship or not, the question is, who are you worshiping?

Here at Kitwe Church we gather each week to “worship” God but in reality we are to worship him every day of the week!

I hope you these thoughts on worship will stimulate self-evaluation this week. Of the thee kinds of worship the writer mentions, only the third is pleasing to God!

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4, “Those who worship (God) must worship Him in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”  I want to be a real worshipper, one who worships God from the heart and according to the truth of His self-revelation in His Word!

Building Great Leaders

Worship could be defined as the response of my mind, will, and emotion prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit to the person of God and the precepts of God as revealed in the inspired word of God. It is both structured and spontaneous, congregational and personal, resulting in adoration, agreement, and action. Worship is done out of love for God and for the glory of God. True worship is always consistent with the exaltation of God. God is spirit and our spirit responds inwardly to God Himself; the truth of the word reveals to us the Father and our hearts respond in adoration and praise. The Father is seeking those who worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

A man working on his doctorate had chosen the topic of worship for his thesis and was conducting interviews with Christian college presidents. He began our interview with the question…

View original post 500 more words

The Church Is A Family


Church is Family.jpg.001

Nothing brings more joy than the birth of a child.  The goal a family has for a child is not just that a child is born, but it is to see the child grow to maturity and to live a productive life. There is great joy in watching the early development of a baby – the first smile, crawl, standing, walking, or their first word.

There is great sorrow when a baby doesn’t grow normally.  What is cute about a newborn is a cause for concern and sorrow if after a year the child has not developed past the newborn stage.  And that is how Paul feel in our text today.  At a time when these spiritual children should have shown signs of growth and maturity, he was concerned that they could not eat solid spiritual food.  They were still immature and required the milk of the word.

Babies have strong desires, they want whatever they want, and they want it now.  Babies serve their own desires with no thought of the consequences or the future.  This is why they require constant care!

As we continue in our series on Discovering The Church, today we look at the first of three Pictures of the Church.  In our text today, the church is pictured as a family and the goal is maturity. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

In our series thus far we have defined the church as “a called out assembly of believers.”  Today we want enlarge on that definition just a bit.

The church is a community of faithful believers, of whom Christ Jesus is the head, called out of the world and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness of His grace and glory.

The church is first mentioned by Christ in Matthew 16:18… “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

  • I – Person = Jesus Christ Himself takes responsibility for the building of the church.
  • Will – Promise = Jesus Christ makes a promise concerning the church that cannot be denied, a promise that will not fail.
  • Build – Process = Jesus Christ will build the church, it is based upon the foundation of Jesus Christ himself, built up with every person who puts faith in Christ for salvation.
  • My – Possession = It is His church! He is the owner of the church, He is the founder of the church.  The church is not owned by a pastor, or a denomination or a body of people… he is the owner of the church!
  • Church – Product = This is what Christ is building, a church in which His Spirit will dwell.
  • The gates of hell will not prevail – Power = Religions can march against it, Satan can throw his forces at it, but the church will be triumphant. Even the gates of hell cannot withstand the advance of the church.

The reason the church exists is to reflect God’s glory in the world and before the angels, and to bear witness of Him among the nations.

God’s glory is reflected through God’s children who have grown to spiritual maturity in their walk with Christ.  It is clear in our text that it is possible to remain a spiritual infant, so how can we grow to maturity in our spiritual life?

THE CONDITION OF SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY (1)

Babies are immature in their development (1b).

Newborn babies are expected to be immature, but they are constantly moving toward maturity. Babies demand constant attention from their parents.  You speak to babies simply and authoritatively.

A true pastor must have a servant’s heart. It is his responsibility to feed the spiritual children. But the goal is there should come a time in maturity that they feed themselves and begin to feed others.

Acts 20:28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Babies are unable to discern (1a).

Babies put everything into their mouth (2:14). At this point the saved and the unsaved can look a lot alike.  Paul could not speak to them as to spiritual people – They had been saved, some of them for several years yet were still babies spiritually.  Spiritually immature Christians cannot easily discern truth, what is good or bad for them.  That was certainly the case in this church!  They were filled with pride in their ignorance (4:18), There was immorality in the church (Ch. 5); They were misusing and misunderstanding the purpose of spiritual gifts (Ch. 12-14) and the had embraced a false teaching concerning the resurrection (Ch.15).

Babies are unable to digest meat (2a)

Word of God is our spiritual food.  Consider the word pictures for the Word of God in Scripture:

Milk –  I Pt 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby

Bread – Mt. 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

Meat – Heb. 5:11-14 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Honey – Ps. 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Deformity affects our diet.  To drink spiritual milk is to focus on the simple things, the stories of Scripture. To eat meat is to partake of doctrines, focuses on the truths.

An immature believer knows the facts but not the truths, He lives on Bible stories, not Bible doctrines.

THE CAUSES OF SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY (1-3a)

The two enemies of spiritual growth:

The first enemy of spiritual growth is the World.

“Worldliness is having our heart and mind shaped by the values of the world so that we engage in its sinful pleasures and pursue earthly treasures” – Doran.

Worldliness is much more than bad habits (drinking, disco), it is a way of thinking and believing.  Worldliness is looking to the world for our standards, attitudes, and meaning in life. Worldliness is accepting the world’s definitions, measuring sticks and goals.

The second enemy of spiritual growth is the Flesh.

Someone who is carnal or fleshly is one who serves their selfish human nature. They were controlled by their own sinful desires.  They were influenced by the world.

Sit two babies on the floor together surrounded by a multitude of toys and it won’t be long before they are screaming and crying because one baby is grabbing the toy that another baby is holding.  This is a great illustration of our selfish human nature!

Selfishness is the best word to describe our flesh. Sin of Adam, like that of Satan, centered upon setting his own will and desires against God’s.  Sins of the world and of the flesh are interrelated. The Corinthians had spurned the solid food because they were worldly.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY (3b-4)

Jealousy is the attitude

Jealousy is a severe form of selfishness.  It is begrudging someone else what we wish were ours i.e. Possessions, position – honor, power – authority. ILL: Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard. (I Kn. 21). Selfishness is one of the most obvious characteristics of babyhood. Jealousy and strife are always found in an immature church

A mature Christian practices selflessness.

Ro. 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Strife is the action

When our heart is full of jealousy it will always exhibit itself in strife.

Ro. 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Strife is the outward expression of selfishness. What is in the heart will come out the mouth.

Mt. 12:33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

3. A mature Christian practices love!

I Jn. 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Division is the end

Division can only occur when there is selfishness. Immaturity focuses on the teacher instead of the teaching (4) and is willing to divide and argue over the teacher rather than the truth.

James 4:1-2 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

When immature Christians, w/o spiritual discernment, get into places of leadership in the church the result is disastrous. Age is no guarantee of spiritual maturity

Mature Christian practices unity! (Ps. 133:1; Eph. 4:3)

THE CURE FOR SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY

Good food (Lk. 4:14; I Tim. 4:6-8)

Hear the Word and respond in obedience to that Word.  Following Jesus happens one step at a time.  You will grow no further than your last “no.”

Ps. 119:105 Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path!

Healthy exercise (Gal. 5:16-24)

Study the Word, spend time every day in prayer and meditation on what God is showing you in His Word. Practice what you are learning.  In other words it is not enough just to attend a service and hear a message, or to read the Bible and then go on about your life.  Spiritual exercise involves intentionally putting what you have learned into practice.

Regular rest

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The development of children illustrates the way we are to grow spiritually. From Newborn > Child > Man > Mature > Equipped.

2 Tim. 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

How much influence do your desires have over your life? The Corinthians had not grown in faith because they were influenced by their own desires and acting like the world around them.  Paul lamented, “Are you not carnal, behaving like mere men?” (3c)

God has a higher expectation for us. We are to mature into the likeness of Christ!

Ephesians 4:12-13 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

The church is a family!  The goal in this family is spiritual maturity!  Where are you in your growth?

Maybe you have been on the sidelines listening and evaluating what is being taught week after week.  Your next step is to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and believe in Him.  This is called the new birth… this is where spiritual life begins!  Won’t you come to Jesus today for forgiveness and salvation?

Once you have been born into God’s family through faith in Jesus God’s goal for you as His child is maturity!  It’s time to go on with Christ, it’s time to grow in Christ!

Download Church Is A Family, here.

A Model Church For A Modern World


Model Church Modern World.016

A Christian is someone who “has been reconciled to God in Christ. A Christian is someone who by virtue of his reconciliation with God, has been reconciled to God’s people.  This is where the great commandment comes in.  A lawyer asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment out of over 600 commands in the Old Testament.   Without hesitation Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:34-40)

A church is not a building with a steeple, a church is people.  These are people who have responded to God’s call to be reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus.  A church is a gathering of Christians for the purpose of displaying God’s glory by becoming increasingly like Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:10-11).

“The church is God’s missile of salt and light hurled into the world to proclaim the triumphant message of sins forgiven and lives transformed.” – R. Kent Hughes, Acts

The world craves what God has provided for in the church and offers people a substitute to meet their need.  Each of us crave fellowship and acceptance, so the world offers us the Pub.  We see the mess around us in the world and we long to make a difference so the world offers us the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to address these social problems.  People crave spiritual connections so the wold offers the Masonic Lodge or Transcendental Meditation or the Horoscope and occult.

In our previous study we saw the first of three truths for our modern world gleaned from the first church at Jerusalem: The Characteristics of a Model Church.

  • The people who make up the church are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (36-41)
  • The people who make up the church are committed to Scripture (42b)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to fellowship (42c)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to being Christ-centered (42d)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to prayer (42e)

In today’s study we want to look at two other truths we glean from this model church in Acts 2:44-47.

THE ATTITUDES OF A MODEL CHURCH (44-47A)

In my younger days I was fascinated with flying and spent a couple years working on attaining a private pilots license.  One of the first things a pilot learns is about how important the attitude of the aircraft is to executing a safe and successful flight.  Attitude simply means the direction you are pointing. In the cockpit there is an instrument called an “attitude indicator” that allows the pilot to see the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the ground.

So what were the attitudes of this model church that allowed them to successfully witness to Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth? (Acts 1:8)

In their relationship with each other they demonstrated LOVE (44-45)

They were unified – They shared the same love, focus and desires with the others in the assembly.

Eph 4.1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

They were selfless – they had all in common, through love they served one another by putting the news of others before their own (Gal. 5:13).

They were giving – Selling personal property to meet genuine needs demonstrated their love toward one another.  We clearly see in verse 46a that they still owned homes 46a, yet they were willing to give up extra in order to meet the needs of those suffering. Day by day demonstrated hospitality to one another. They willing gave to the work of God and the needs of others.

1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

In their relationship with God they demonstrated WORSHIP (46a)

What Is Worship?

“Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. “ – A. W. Tozer

“Worship is the believers’ response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, and body – to what God is and says and does… Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.” – W. Weirs

These Christians lived lives of worship. Day by day they met formally in the temple and informally from house to house. Worship for them was not an event that happened once a week for an hour.  They lived in an attitude of worship.

In their relationship with their daily circumstances they demonstrated JOY. (46b-47a)

Remember that it was not a popular thing in that day to be a Christian.  The events of Acts 2 are taking place in Jerusalem just a few short weeks after Pilate and the Chief Priests had crucified Jesus Christ!  To publicly step out and identify with this condemned man was not an easy thing.  Remember that soon after this event a great persecution against Christians broke out across the Empire.  In Roman cities people wishing to do business would be required to have a trading license and to obtain it they must declare Ceasar as their god.  To refuse to do so would mean you were unable to do business and you might arrested and used in the gladiatorial games in the colosseum.

Gladness of heart means to rejoice from a sincere heart.  Sincere here can mean “free from rocks,” in other words there were no stones of selfishness in their heart.

Praising God produces joy. Those who fellowship together to exalt the Lord will have true happiness, while those who seek to glorify themselves  will not have lasting joy (Phil. 2.1-2).

IMPACT OF A MODEL CHURCH (43, 47b)

It was an awe-inspiring church (43)

The fear mentioned here is a holy fear,a reverence that controls you because you know God is near. When Jesus visited the region of Gadara and cast the legion of demons from the possessed man the  people of Gadara feared Jesus and begged him to leave their coasts (Lk. 8.37).

This first church was an awe-inspiring church. They took the church seriously because they recognized God was there! (See Acts 5:13).

The people in Jerusalem were not in awe of their facilities, equipment, sound system, choir or church program, but they were in awe of the supernatural character of the life of this church.

Signs and wonders were designed to draw attention to spiritual truth. (Acts 3.6-9). The ability to perform miracles was not given to all but to the Apostles and their closest associates (Acts. 8.13, Heb 2.3-4). Miracles confirmed Apostles as God’s messengers. Today we determine who speaks for God by comparing their teaching with God’s revelation of Scripture.  To the church in Galatia Paul writes,

Galatians 1.8 … if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel… let him be accursed!

It was an attractive church (47b)

Their duties and their character granted them favor with the people (Gal. 5.22-23).  They were open about their faith so all could see and experience their transformed lives.

Mt 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

They evidenced a Spirit-filled life in their character and personal relationships that was extremely attractive.

It was a growing church (47c)

They were engaged in every-day evangelism. Evangelism flows from the life of a healthy church. People were continually being saved as they observed the daily conduct of these believers.

A Greek Philosopher by the name of Aristides wrote the following report to the King about fifty years or so after the events in the Book of Acts.  It is no wonder that the early church made a powerful impact in their world!

Now the Christians, O King, by going about and seeking have found the truth. For they know and trust in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who has no fellow. From him they received those commandments which they have engraved on their minds, and which they observe in the hope of the world to come.

For this reason they do not commit adultery or immorality; they do not bear false witness, or embezzle, nor do they covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother, and do good to those who are their neighbors. Whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols made in the image of man. Whatever they do not wish that others should do to them, they in turn do not do; and they do not eat the food sacrificed to idols.

Those who oppress them they exhort and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies. Their wives, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from all unlawful sexual contact and from impurity, in the hope of recompense that is to come in another world.

As for their bondmen and bondwomen, and their children, if there are any, they persuade them to become Christians; and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction.
They refuse to worship strange gods; and they go their way in all humility and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them. They love one another; the widow’s needs are not ignored, and they rescue the orphaned from the person who does him violence. He who has give to him who has not, ungrudgingly and without boasting. When the Christians find a stranger, they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as a true brother. They do not call brothers those who are bound by blood ties alone, but those who are brethren after the Spirit and in God.

When one of their poor passes away from the world, each provides for his burial according to his ability. If they hear of any of their number who are imprisoned or oppressed for the name of the Messiah, they all provide for his needs, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free.
If they find poverty in their midst, and they do not have spare food, they fast two or three days in order that the needy might be supplied with the necessities. They observe scrupulously the commandments of their Messiah, living honestly and soberly as the Lord their God ordered them. Every morning and every hour they praise and thank God for his goodness to them; and for their food and drink they offer thanksgiving.

Such, O King, is the commandment given to the Christians, and such is their conduct.

(Apology of Aristides, Translated by Rendel Harris, 1893)

Are you a Christian? Does Christ live in you?  If Christ lives in you then you are part of the church! He is producing the fruit of His character in you.

If you have been convinced by the Holy Spirit that you need to become a Christian, you can become one right now!  Like these people in Jerusalem you may be saying, “what shall we do?” (37b)

Repent of your sin, and receive Jesus Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior! (38,36)  A person is not saved by praying a prayer, but often the decision to receive Christ is expressed in prayer.  Cry out to Jesus right now, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”

Download pdf of A Model Church for a Modern World