Category Archives: Apologetics

AN URGENT WARNING TO HEAVEN’S CITIZENS


an-urgent-warning-001

A person becomes an automatic citizen of a country by birth. Our first child born in Africa was Austin.  He was born in the Kalalushi Mine Hospital.  After Austin was born the hospital gave us a hospital report of birth.  We took that report to the Office of Births and Deaths in Lusaka and received a Zambian Certificate of Birth.  Those documents then went to the US Embassy in Lusaka were we were issued a Report of Consular Birth Abroad and a US Passport with Austin’s picture and details.  Austin was born in Zambia yet he possessed all the rights and responsibilities of a United States citizen even though for the first four years of his life, he did not step foot in that country.

This is an illustration of what Paul is writing about in our text in Philippians 3:17-21.  Philippi was a strategic Roman colony located in northern Greece along the land route to Asia Minor. Though far from Rome, this colony enjoyed all the rights and privileges of Rome.

Paul is making that case that this is true of us as Christians!  We are born-again abroad! But we are citizens of heaven – right now!  We are living as visitors, aliens in a foreign land because our citizenship is in heaven.

This being true, it is very important how we conduct ourselves!  We all look at people we know from other countries and take into account who they are, how they live, and what they do to give us a point of reference – right or wrong – to identify that country.

Citizens of heaven are responsible to live lives equal to their privilege and position. (Eph 2:4-6). Citizens of heaven are to live holy lives because of who they are and because of what they hope to be!

Paul here issues three instructions that carry with them a degree of warning for all Citizens of Heaven:

IDENTIFY THE DISCIPLES (17)

To identify disciples, you must identify the right pattern of living!   Paul instructs them to watch him life and example and then find others who believe and live like he does:

  • Paul was not trusting Inherited privileges or personal achievements rather than Christ (4-7).
  • Paul was not a proselyte from paganism,  he was circumcised on the 8th day – an 8-dayer. Paul was an insider by birth.
  • Paul was racially a pureblood of the People of Israel. He was of theTribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” which simply meant he would have received the best education he spoke Hebrew and Aramaic.
  • Paul was a Pharisee, a separated one who voluntarily committed himself to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Paul was zealous! He led a terror campaign against the church, hunting down those he viewed as heretics, arresting them and seeing many of them executed.
  • Paul was blameless, he led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

Paul was not trusting in His own righteousness (8-11).  He was not trying to make himself acceptable to God by the keeping of the law.  Rather he was trusting in the imputed righteousness that Jesus Christ gives.

Paul was passionately grasping after Christ (12-14). This speaks of an intentional straining toward the goal, a reaching out to grasp the thing that Christ grasped me for… (Ill: 4×100 relay). When we lean on His power (10), learn from His pain (10) and rest on His plan (12) we grow closer to Christ.

Watch for others who walk in the same way!

A call for discernment – note those who walk like Paul in relation to the gospel. Discernment – to tell the difference between two things. The sound judgment that takes possible the distinguishing of good from evil and the recognition of god’s right way for His people. (1 Ti.4:2)

  • Word – speech, how you used your tongue
  • Conduct – how you conduct yourself in your daily affairs – in your home, with your children, at work.
  • Love – selfless love that reflects the nature of God.
  • Spirit – the internal motivating force that controls the inner man.
  • Faith – how you respond to God in the midst of trials
  • Purity – holiness, living lives separate from the world.

Follow their teaching and example!  This is a call to fellowship – “join in following” and a call for evaluation – following my example.

So let’s apply what we have looked at so far:

  • Is your obsession Christ?
  • Are your friends those who are obsessed with Christ?
  • Have you discarded the rubbish in your life – desire for position, confidence in achievements, so that you can really know HIM? People who hug garbage are not considered normal by citizens.

IDENTIFY THE ENEMIES (18-19)

To get the full weight of what Paul is saying here we must understanding the severity of the term used:

  • He didn’t say they were nice guys, just confused theologically. He didn’t call them brothers in sin. He termed them enemies!
  • They are inwardly and overtly hostile to the cross – what the cross means, what it accomplished!
  • The word is directly associated with war!
  • Their hostilities are directed toward the very essence of all Christ is and what He accomplished! These people are at war with the cross! (1 Co 1:18 thus the power that brings us salvation, Gal 6:14 the power that gives us victory over the world, flesh and the devil.)

The warning is to be taken seriously!

They are many! The danger is so serious that the warning is repeated often!

Jesus

Mt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Mt.24;11 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Paul

2 Ti.2:16-18 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Phil. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Peter

2 Pt. 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

John

1Jn.4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

I Jn.2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Jude

4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Identifying the enemies of the cross

Let’s consider them in reverse order: Paul begins with their end and moves down toward the root cause of them being enemies of the cross:

  1. Their mind is rooted in earthly things – all of their thoughts, desires, dreams, priorities and ambitions are earthly, fleshly. (19c)
  2. Because of this they glory in the things that they ought to be ashamed about (19b) – specifically sensual excesses especially sexual ones. They return to the immoral pagan practices of the their former life. (Rom. 1:32, Jude 18)
  3. Their god is their belly – bodily desires and sensual delights push out the Divine and takes his place as the god that they serve. The pursuit of comforts instead of pursuing Christ. Beware of any pleasure that stands in the way of your passionate pursuit of Christ!
  4. They end in destruction – the war that they wage will be lost, the cross will prevail and these will be eternally damned in the lake of fire, separated from God throughout all eternity – No wonder Paul’s throat got tight and tears welled up in His eyes! Weep my friends, weep! (Jude 14-15)

Their walk indicates that they are enemies of the cross. Their lifestyles deny the claim they once made as children of God. They view as foolish the passionate pursuit of Christ and cross-centered suffering. How can you say you love someone and not warn them?

Now note the CONTRAST between these enemies and the true citizens: “BUT”

LIVE LIKE CITIZENS (20-21)

Remember where your citizenship is located!

You belong to a place with a different ruler – serve a different master. The place where Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  You belong to a place with different laws, you are expected to live a different way. Defines the expectations of how we are to live. A place with different rights and privileges – The place where you enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the homeland.

Remember you Savior Jesus Christ is coming for you! (1 Cor. 15:52)

We live in eager anticipation of the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming at any moment – imminent return of Christ. The dead will go first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet him in the clouds. (I Cor. 15:51)

Remember that your earthly body will be transformed into a glorious one!

His work on that day to transform our fallen, sin-prone bodies into glorious bodies like His!  No more sin, no more pain, no more death, no more temptation, no more crying, not more weakness, no more decay! We will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is!

I can’t wait for Jesus to come! O come Lord Jesus is the deep cry of my heart! The only reason why I would hesitate to plead for Him to come back today is that some of you are not yet citizens of heaven! When He comes it will be too late for you, and I love you and so much want you to be in heaven with me!

A final exhortation:

  • Beware of false teachers who afflict the church today!
  • Don’t be tempted to trust in some earthly or fleshly achievement for your salvation! This is a false hope and a false gospel!
  • Live like a citizen of heaven! Are you setting an example that others can follow?

Today Marks Two Years Of Ministry For Kitwe Church!


Website Cover-01

Kitwe Church exists to glorify God by making gospel-centered, reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our identification as Christians is not national, ethnic or cultural, our identification is that we are children of the King. The church is the place where the world can see in microcosm what the Kingdom of God looks like.  People from every “tribe, tongue and nation” together in gospel unity for the purpose of bringing glory to God!

There are people in Kitwe and its environs who are not being targeted by any existing church. Some are Zambians who have been turned off by “the church” and have nothing to do with it. There are also people living in our city who are from Chinese, Indian, South American and European backgrounds who are effectively unreached by an intentional gospel witness.

Kitwe Church sprang from a burden to reach out to all of these groups with the gospel. In 2014 Philip Hunt family and the Nathan Washer family banded together with the blessings of Faith Baptist Church of Riverside to begin an evangelistic Bible study outreach. Kitwe Bible Study Fellowship held the first meeting on February 23, 2014 at the Polo Club next to the Agricultural Showgrounds in Kitwe. A small handful of unchurched people attended that first Bible study.

For the first three months an apologetics approach was taken that answered questions and arguments about Christianity. The remainder of the year was Bible studies from the Gospel of John explaining the deity of Christ and the need to submit to Him for salvation. During this same period the children were being taught a survey of the Bible using the various stories from Creation to the return of Christ.

A variety of people began to attend the study, and began to invite their friends and acquaintances. Visitors came to the study from Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira and Chiliabombwe. Attendance grew during the first year from a handful to between 40-50 people each week.

In December 2014, the executive committee from the M.O.T.H.S Club in Parklands reached out and invited our Bible Study Fellowship to use their hall at no charge. The change in venue coincided with a spike in weekly attendance.

Jamie & Mandy Smith joined the leadership team in December 2014 and plans were made to transition the ministry from a Bible Study Fellowship to a church plant that would be known as Kitwe Church (www.kitwechurch.com). In early 2015 the Bible study transitioned from an informal Bible study to a more structured service format. A music team was organized and congregational singing was incorporated. Attendance continued to grow through the year with a high attendance in 2015 of 135 attendees. By the middle of 2015 Kitwe Church opened a bank account, began to collect offerings, instituted Small Group Bible Studies and began a monthly teen activity and Bible study.

Several people have professed faith in Jesus Christ, and in December 2015 the first baptism service was held with 9 persons following Christ in believer’s baptism. A series of messages were presented the second half of 2015 that dealt with all aspects of local church membership, structure and duties. During the last quarter of 2015 the Elders completed work on a doctrinal statement and adopted a Church Covenant, Mission Statement, Core Values and a Church Constitution.

The first Membership Orientation will be held the first three Sundays of March 2016 followed by a Chartering Service scheduled for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

We are thankful for what God has done over the past two years and eagerly anticipate what He will continue to do in the years to come!  Our goal is to Know Truth, Love God & Serve Others! If you reside in the Kitwe area and do not have a church you call “home” please join us this Sunday!

Mud & Miracles


mud and miracles_wide_t

I hate Zesco – power cuts. It is evening, the sun has set and you have plans for the evening. Suddenly you hear that dreaded sound: “thunk!” Everything goes dark.  What is your immediate response?  You run for the light – a candle, a torch, or switch on an inverter.  Around our house when Zesco cuts our smaller children are in some other room of the house yelling that they can’t see anything – they have been trapped by the darkness.

There is comfort from just the smallest light! Light is something that we often take for granted – until we lose it.

The setting for our text is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins the 15th day of the 7th month and lasts for seven days (Lev 23:34). During the feast four large torches where lit in the temple area.  The holy men and elders of Israel danced the night away in the light of the flames. The end of the Feast is drawing near.  It is Sabbath.  Just before those caring for the temple extinguish the torches, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (8:12).

What a dramatic visualization of the difference between light and darkness! Jesus walks through those who were picking up stones in order to stone him for his claim to be God (8:58).  He walks out of the Temple – the light is gone!

In chapter 9 the them of light continues… Jesus passes by and departs Temple Mount. The light goes out into the world those who are in darkness can see.  As Jesus goes out he meets a man who is blind – one who has never seen light.

Jesus stops when he sees the blind man.  He approaches him and ultimately brings him into the light physically by restoring his sight and more importantly into the light spiritually!

How often we hold to our traditions and upbringing instead of embracing the truth that is staring us in the face.  Everyone of us is either like the blind man who receives light or we are like the Pharisees who claimed to have light and continued to live in darkness.

THEIR WRONG ASSUMPTION (1-12)

The disciples assumed that this man’s blindness was a direct punishment for sin (1-2).

Every one of us live by presuppositions and assumptions. These assumptions are based upon our background, life experiences and what we have learned (been taught). The cultural understanding of the disciples was that someone sinned for this man to be born blind. His blindness was just punishment for that sin. It had to be that either the man had sinned while still in the womb, or his parents had sinned thus bringing about his condition.

Because of blindness this man was a beggar, a social outcast.

It was thought that he deserved to suffer for this past sin.

This is the basic idea of some Eastern religions today. There is a lack compassion for the underprivileged (low-caste) because the person suffering is only getting what they deserve in payment from a past life and previous wrong decisions.  If someone dies and has been bad they are reincarnated as a lower caste or if they are really bad they come back as part of the animal kingdom.

Even among Christian people this same idea can be found.  I remember after my motorcycle accident in 1983 being in the hospital with a hundred stitches in my face.  A well-meaning Christian leader in my church came to the hospital to visit.  He asked if there was some sin in my life that was the root cause of my accident.

He was a family embarrassment and burden

If it was because of sin that he was born blind then every time this family was seen in public with him, the question was always being asked, “Who sinned, was it him or his parents?”

The Lord destroys this assumption (3-12)

Jesus corrected their wrong thinking (3).

Some view God as an all-powerful vindictive God who cannot give us too much good, so he zaps us rather frequently to be sure that we keep our place. It is true that all pain, suffering and death is a result of the fall and in that sense it is a result of sin, but affliction is not punishment for a particular sin.

Why is there pain and suffering?

Principle of sowing/reaping: You may be reaping the fruit of what you have sown, but this is not God’s punishment.  For instance a former alcoholic may be suffering with a destroyed liver, this is not a punishment for his sin, it is reaping the effects of sinful choices. Suffering may also be because of the wrong decisions of others.  If a mother is a drug addict, her baby is born with drug dependency and withdrawals.

Punishment is future – God will either mete your eternal punishment upon His Son for your sake or if you refuse that offer, he will lay just punishment upon you.

God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that as a adult he could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and so that others might see and turn to Christ.  If we exist for the pleasure of God for the glory of God then it follows that whatever situation we find ourselves in ultimately is so that God will be exalted among men & angels & devils.

Jesus clarifies his purpose for coming into the world (4-5).

Jesus came to into the world to bring light.  It is for this reason that He must do the works of God while He has the opportunity.

Jesus compassionately gives the blind man his sight (6-12)

This was compassion because he was helpless to help himself. He had never seen the red and gold and orange hues of an African sunset. He had never seen what his mother looked like, he had felt her kisses and her tears, he had felt the lines of her face, but he had never seen her! He had never been able to move about freely – always had to be led by others or poke his way carefully with a cane.

Jesus used a most interesting means to bring light to this blind man: Spit, mud, and a command to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”  Jesus chose to heal this man at a distance to not draw more attention to Himself.  He would also use this event to confront the Jews with a situation they could not deny.

This was compassion because as he washed the mud out of his eyes the light poured in! He saw green trees and brown skin and blue water – and he was filled with joy! Light and joy flooded over him at the same time! He rushed home to tell everyone and show them what had happened. Imagine the excitement he felt!

When you have experienced pain or suffering there is often greater joy!

Helen Keller was orn June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months old she became ill and lost her sight and hearing.  Ann Sullivan a 20 year old teacher was assigned to help Helen.  She taught Keller to read and write and became a mentor and friend. Keller went on to write 12 books and became an advocate for the handicapped.  Helen Keller wrote this of her situation,

“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who set my spirit free.”

That is what Jesus did for this blind man!

THE CONTROVERSY (13-34)

Blinded by their traditions (13-24)

The Pharisees were blinded by their own self-righteous system!  Making clay on the Sabbath day was sin because it was considered work.  Washing your eyes to remove the mud was also considered work.  This man could not be from God if he both worked and told someone else to work, thus breaking the Sabbath rules set by the Rabbi. (13-17)

They would not believe this man was born blind, so they called his parents. Knowing that they refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah and would take action against anyone making the claim the parents kept their distance from their son (22). The Pharisees demonstrated the classic case of: “my mind’s made up don’t confuse me with the facts.”(18-23)

Again they interrogate the man! “Give glory to God” = admit that you are lying that Jesus healed you (24).  Instead of taking the easy way out, the former blind man brilliantly articulated the obvious, “I was blind, now I see!”

Blinded to the obvious (25-34)

The Pharisees rejected the man’s testimony (25-29). His changed life and seeing eyes were irrefutable argumentation that Jesus is God. Blind eyes seeing was a loud and clear testimony to the Pharisees that Christ is the “I AM” that he claimed to be (8:58).

They rejected his logic – they didn’t require more evidence – neither do you! They only needed to accept what was very clear. (30-34)

They rejected him – the outcast seeing blind man was cast out of the temple that he had never been allowed to enter because of his infirmity. (34)

THE RESPONSE (35-41)

Some will receive the light – spiritual light (35-38)

He responded in faith! He accepted Jesus as His Messiah! (35-37)

True faith results in worship (38) The blind man had light come to his eyes and now broke on his heart. Belief and worship go together. Worship is acts of reverence, praise, adoration and reverence for God. Literally it means: to serve.

Jesus accepted his worship! This would be a direct violation of the 10 commandments. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Lk.4:8

If Jesus is not God He is either a lunatic for actually believing He was God or the biggest hypocritical liar and fraud ever hoisted upon humanity, or He is actually who He claimed to be the Son of God!

Others will reject the light – spiritual blindness (39-41)

  • They will be judged because they refused the light.
  • They refuse to admit their need.
  • They are in denial, I don’t have a problem, I’m a good person. It will all work out…The issue is seeing your need.
  • They reject spiritual sight (41a).  Some people claim to already “see truth” and reject the light that God is providing. These Jews were religious, they had the OT law and prophets and though there they were seeing things clearly while rejecting the true light sent from God.
  • They are sealing their doom (41b). To remain in your sin is a terrible decision!

There are lessons in this story for each of us:

We all need the miracle that the blind man in chapter 9 received!

  • We, like this man, were all born spiritual blind.
  • Jesus takes the initiative to come to us and to heal us of that blindness.
  • His work is one of Creation, not reformation. Blind eyes don’t need designer sunglasses, they need to be recreated so that they can see!
  • He calls us to be obedient to His commands.

Have you seen the light?

Recognize your need and you will come to the light and be changed by it! Your life changes, your path is clear, your future is bright, your end is certain.  Believe and receive Him!

—————-

Download pdf version of Mud & Miracles

Recovering From Grief


Recovering From Grief.001

The human capacity for grief is at times overwhelming! Time and again this year I have been face to face with people who are suffering deep grief.  In the past ten months I am aware of at least 10 ladies who husbands have passed away. Others have suffered the loss a son or daughter or parent.  Many are asking the question, “Will this ever get better?”

Recently I read an article written by June Hunt entitled, “Grief Recovery, Living At Peace With Loss.”  I share a portion of it here in hopes that it if you are grieving the loss of someone you loved, that you will find hope and comfort:

“Who has not questioned the reason for pain and suffering in the world? Certainly some people have become hardened by their losses, while others have become softened—God used their grief to cultivate in them tender, understanding hearts. Only days before His own death, Jesus traveled to the grave of Lazarus to comfort his two sisters in their loss. Jesus was not only deeply moved in His Spirit, but He was also weeping with Mary and Martha. It may seem paradoxical that Jesus—the Son of God, the one who turned water into wine, the one who multiplied the loaves and the fishes, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead—could not avoid grief in His own life. But the prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ, the coming Messiah, would be a man who would understand grief well for, indeed, He was … “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

What Is Grief?

  • Grief is the painful emotion of sorrow caused by the loss or impending loss of anyone or anything that has deep meaning to you. “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9)
  • Grief begins in your heart as a natural response to a significant, unwanted loss.
  • Grief is a God-given emotion that increases with knowledge about the sorrows of life. The wiser you are about the grief that people experience, the more you yourself will grieve. “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
  • In the New Testament, the Greek word lupe means “pain of body or mind. ”When Jesus told His disciples He would soon be betrayed and killed, they were filled with grief. The disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)

What Is Mourning?

  • Mourning is the process of working through the pain of sorrow that follows a significant loss. “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.” (Lamentations 5:15)
  • Mourning (also called grieving), is a normal, healthy process that lasts for a period of time. God uses mourning in order to produce the ultimate healing of deep distress and sorrow. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
  • Mourning evokes compassion and expressions of comfort from others. When Lazarus died, Jesus and many others came to comfort Mary and Martha. “Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.” (John 11:19)
  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word abal means “to mourn or lament. ”Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers told their father, Jacob, that his favored son had been killed by a ferocious animal, Jacob went into deep mourning for days … and ultimately years.
    “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.” (Genesis 37:34)

What Are the Stages of Healthy Grieving?

Emotional complications occur when we block the natural process of grieving. Have you ever told yourself, I need to get my act together. I’ve got to snap out of it. I should be handling this better!

These self-incriminating thoughts reveal unrealistic expectations about grieving and a failure to understand the grief process and the slow journey of restoration. While “stages” of grief do exist, they are not “stair-step” stages that you walk through in a specific order. In truth, people do not go through all the stages in a predictable fashion. People are unique in their individual grieving. Some stages may be experienced with varying degrees of intensity, some may be missed, and some stages may be repeated.

Give yourself permission to experience the inconsistent stages of grieving … trusting God to bring new life again. “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

Crisis Stage

… can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you are mechanically going through daily activities. You will experience many of the following characteristics:

  • anxiety/fear
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • concentration limited
  • confusion
  • crying uncontrollably
  • denial
  • disturbing dreams
  • exhaustion
  • feeling trapped
  • shock/numbness
    “My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief.” (Lamentations 3:49)

Crucible Stage

… can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. This time of sorrow will be accompanied by many of the following characteristics:

  • anger/resentment
  • anguish
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • bargaining with God
  • depression/sadness
  • guilt/false guilt
  • helplessness/lethargy
  • judgment impaired
  • loneliness/isolation
  • low self-worth
  • self-pity/victim mentality
  • intense yearning
    “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)

Contentment Stage

… accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope. As this time approaches, the following characteristics will become more and more apparent.

  • experiencing greater compassion toward others
  • experiencing greater acceptance of others
  • experiencing greater appreciation of others
  • experiencing greater humility before others
  • experiencing greater dependence on the Lord
  • experiencing new ability to leave the loss behind
  • experiencing new patterns for living
  • experiencing new purpose in life
  • experiencing new hope for the future
  • experiencing new contentment in all circumstances
     “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 3:13; 4:11)

—–

If you are suffering through the stages of grief take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!  God understands your grief, He loves you and will walk this path together with you.

If you are in the Kitwe area and you would like to discuss what you are facing right now, please get in touch with me on 0976153466 or email me at philhunt66@gmail.com.  I would be happy to meet with you.

Blessings, Phil Hunt

Whose Sons & Daughters Are You?


Sons & Daughters.jpg.001

The Setting (37)

Jesus’ public ministry was marked by increasing levels of conflict and opposition from the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees.

It was ultimately this conflict which God used to bring to pass his plan eternal plan for Christ—that he would suffer a violent death as the penalty for sin and become the substitute to anyone who comes to him in faith.

The Point of Conflict (38)

“I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (John 8:38)

Jesus is drawing a connection between his actions and his father and between the actions of the Jews and their father.

What does Jesus mean by this?

In Jesus’ time and culture, it was common describe a characteristic of a person by referring to them as the “son of…” someone or something.  Some examples: Judas (the disciple who will later betray Jesus, his master) is called the “son of destruction” (John 17:12).  Joseph (a Christian in the early church) is was nicknamed Barnabas “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

By using this same idea, Jesus is challenging the stubborn unbelief of the Jews who were refusing to joyfully accept him as their Messiah.

The Spiritual Blindness of the Jews

They were foolishly trusting that their very ancestry made them right before God. “They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” (John 8:39a)

Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. More importantly, God had made a special covenant to Abraham (symbolized by circumcision), that his descendants would become a great nation and would inherit the land of Israel.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1–3; see also 15:1–20)

However, God had made this promise to Abraham when he and his wife, Sarah, were childless and beyond child-bearing years. Yet God miraculously allowed Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac, the child of promise. God later tested Abraham’s faith in him again by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise. Yet God intervened when it was clear Abraham was going to obey God. As a result of all of this, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation was a hero and was held up as an example of belief in God and faith in his promises.

The Jews in our passage are thinking of all of this and are confident that they have a high standing before God because of their connection to Abraham and their membership in God’s covenant.

Jesus exposes the problem in their heart. He tells them that if they were really children of Abraham, they would be marked by the same faith and belief in God. “Jesus said to them,

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.” (John 8:39–40).

Why is their negative response to Jesus so significant? Because Jesus clearly demonstrated to them that he was the promised Messiah—the one who would come from Abraham’s descendants and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. John the Baptist had earlier warned Israel of the same error:

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:8–9).

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:7–9)

He warns that the God is not their heavenly Father since they are rejecting him whom he sent.

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:42–43)

He shows them that the Devil (Satan) is their real spiritual father because they are doing exactly the same things that Satan does.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43–44)

The Jews’ Wrong Perspective of Jesus

They instead imply that Jesus himself was an illegitimate child (8:41) and the accuse him of being possessed by a demon (48).

They refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus makes a number of unmistakable claims to possess the same nature and power as God:

That God the Father is seeking to glorify him “I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50) “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54)

That he has the power to give eternal life “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51)

That he is the fulfillment of Abraham’s messianic hopes “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

That he is eternally self-existent, even from before the time of Abraham (who had been dead for two millennia). “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews fully understand what he is claiming and unsuccessfully try to stone him (John 8:59).

Our own response to Jesus

Consider your own actions; they testify as to who your spiritual father is.

Turn to God who is able to give you a spiritual new birth by the gospel through the same kind of faith which Abraham had in the promises of God.

———————-

Download the .pdf of Whose Son or Daughter Are You?

The Attack Continues…


truth how do you know_wide_t_nv

The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

Why does John keep talking about the opposition to Christ?

By the time you get to Chapter 8 this continued attacks on Jesus seems monotonous until you realize what the Pharisees are doing.

When a guilty party (Pharisees) wants to remove the influence of a witness (Christ) against them, there are three options they can resort to discredit him:

  1. They can kill the witness. (Attempted in chapter 7)
  2. They can discredit the witness. (Attempted in chapter 8:1-11)
  3. They can have the witness thrown out on a technicality. This is their plan in today’s text.

So what were the Pharisees referring to when they claimed Christ’s witness of Himself was invalid?

They were referring to Deuteronomy 19:15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

This law was specifically designed for cases where one person had something against another.  Over the years however, this law had been interpreted by the Jews to mean that no testimony anywhere could be trusted unless two or three people agreed to it.

Many times people discount Christ’s statement that He is God because it does not line up with their way of thinking.

The methods  the world uses to evaluates truth, truth can never be known.  They have no basis for making a decision. Many end up becoming agnostic. An Agnostic concludes that if there is a God He is unknown and unknowable.

Christ’s answer for the source of His authority is vitally important for all of us. Christ answers in three ways:

Christ’s testimony is authoritative. (14)

John 8:14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

Only God can testify of Himself, no man is an authority on God. We can know nothing about God that we are not told in the Word (Heb. 1:1).
Christ has revealed enough for us to believe Him in faith. What we need to know in heaven will be revealed there. But we will never know all as God does.

Christ’s testimony is impartial. (15-16)

John 8:15–16 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

The Pharisees based their decisions on the flesh, the things that make a man – reason, intellect, logic.

  • These are often flawed.
  • These are often sinful.

Christ’s judgments are based on something much higher
His judgements are always right. They are always sinless.

Christ’s testimony was verified (17-18)

God the Father gives the following witnesses:

  • John the Baptist (5:33-34)
  • Christ’s signs (5:36)
  • OT Scriptures (5:39-47)

Christ changes the wording of the law from “witnesses” (Deut. 19:15) to “man” (17) emphasizing again God’s eternal viewpoint vs. man’s earthly view.

No one has the knowledge to challenge the testimony of Christ. He speaks what He knows!  We must either trust and follow Him or distrust and try and figure it out with our own limited knowledge.

So what does all this mean to us?

We cannot trust our own judgement of spiritual things. We don’t know enough. We can’t attempt to compare our finite minds to His infinite mind.

Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Consider what these verses are saying to us:

  • Lean – rest, depend
  • own understanding – what we would trust if not Christ
  • all your ways – everything now has a new purpose
  • acknowledge Him – He is in control
  • direct your paths – note it begins with trust, then direction (it cannot work the other way around).

Trust Christ’s word completely – for who He says He is. There will be things we don’t understand. There will be things we may not agree with. There may be things we wish we could change, but if Christ is God, He is the One who knows what is best.

2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

If His word is true, we must acknowledge our own sinfulness, accept the salvation He offers, and follow Him as Lord.

R.A. Torrey once challenged an agnostic (a person who does not know if God exists) to make an honest search to see if Jesus was the Son of God.  If confirmed Torrey challenged the man to accept Him. Torrey told him he would need to pray and ask God to help him find the truth (in case God did exist). In addition, because Jn. 20:31 said there was proof that Christ was God, this man needed to read the proof from John as part of his search. The man agreed, but was confident that he would now be convinced. When Torrey came back from traveling a few weeks later, the man had been convinced and wondered how he had ever believed anything different. (Boice)

Where are you? Are you caught in the middle of a decision about Christ?

Are you wondering if God exists? Do you really want to know?

Honestly pray and ask to be shown. Read and understand John’s account. This can be your story if you will honestly examine the evidence.

Christ is God


Believe.001

In John chapter 7 John submits evidence again that Christ is God by showing the connection between Christ and God’s plan, God’s message, God’s work, and God’s answer to man’s need.

Our stage for the scene recorded in John 7 is Jerusalem. Six months have passed since Jesus multiplied the little boy’s lunch and fed the 5000. It is the Feast of Tabernacles, a celebration that all Jewish males were required to keep.

As we read this chapter it is clear that a major theme is the efforts of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus.  They were not successful at this time and I believe that one reason John records these events in chapter seven is to show that when Christ did enter Jerusalem to die in chapter 12, it was an intentional act on Christ’s part.

Christ followed God’s plan. (3-8)

God’s ways are not our ways.

It made logical sense to the brothers to encourage Christ to get more exposure. They thought Christ was trying to expand His influence, though they did not believe His message. They missed Christ’s overall purpose: to redeem man from sin.

  • It was not time for Christ to die by publicly entering Jerusalem.
  • He obeyed the Mosaic law and went, but without the publicity.
  • The world hates Christ because He reveals where they are wrong.

Only when a person accepts that Christ is God do they acknowledge that He has the right to tell them what is wrong with the way they live. Either people acknowledge Christ is God or they deny Him. People either they admit He has the right to say what is right and wrong about life, or they reject his right to make this decision.

It is not Christ’s actions that stop belief, it is rejection of who He is.
The use of Christ’s “time,” referring to the time of His death, is used 5 times in John (cf. 2:4; 8:20, 59; 10:39; 12:36). Christ had an appointed time to die, the timing of the deaths of everyone else is not restricted like Christ’s was. Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

No matter what the world said, no matter what family said, Christ put God and His plan above all of that. We must do the same.

Christ spoke God’s message (11-19)

The Jewish leaders were waiting to arrest Christ but could not find Him. The people reacted as they believed, though they feared the leaders (11-12).

Christ openly taught in the temple (14-16). Fear did not control Christ’s agenda.  One might think that Christ was afraid of the Jews because He did not travel with His family. His reason for not traveling with His family was that He was following God’s plan not conforming to the expectations of others.

Desire determines understanding, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine” (17).

Jewish doctrine was careful to make sure that no one used their own authority. Though Christ could have used His own authority, being God, He pointed back to His Father that the people claimed to believe in.

Self-seeking discredits the message (18-19).  The Jews were silent at this rebuke, in fact they do not speak to Christ again in this chapter.

Christ did God’s Work (20-36)

Ignorance of the situation (20-24)

He speaks to the people to remind them of why the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him: the healing of the lame man in chapter 5.

He clarifies the issue for people who are afraid of the Jewish leaders – vs. 13

The people confused the truth with tradition. The tradition was that the Messiah would appear and no one would know where He came from. The truth in the Scriptures was much different.

He declared again He was coming on behalf of God.  We don’t know what it looked like when people tried to take Him and could not, but the people could not touch Him because He was in control – He is God.

Some believe because they saw the significance of the signs. Finally someone is thinking and realize that the signs point to the origin of the power.

When the Jews sent people to arrest Jesus, He responds to those attempting to take Him (33-34),  Christ was to die about six months later, but this was not God’s time.  There is an indication from John that there will be a time when those who refused to believe will be looking for him but they won’t be able to find Him, they cannot get to Him.

The same is true today!  “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)

Christ is God’s Answer (37-44)

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (John 7:37)

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1)

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” (John 7:38-40 )

Some had come to the wrong conclusion (40)

Some had embraced the truth (41)

Some were distracted from the truth by wrong information (41)

Which one of these categories do you fall into?

Christ is God (45-53)

Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”  Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived?  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:45-49)

Even Christ’s enemies knew He was God (45-46)

The pride of the Pharisees kept them from believing (47-49)

Anyone speaking the truth was also rejected (50-53)

Christ works out God’s plan, He speaks God’s message, He does God’s work, He is God’s Answer, all because Jesus Christ is God! Believing in Him gives eternal life. (Jn. 20:31)

Download pdf notes for Christ is God