Category Archives: Salvation

WORKING OUT YOUR SALVATION


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When light comes in, darkness scurries away. Light and darkness are mortal enemies, they cannot stay together in one place. Just as east is opposite of west, so light and darkness are mutually exclusive.

Darkness is nothingness. Darkness is the absence of light.

You once lived in darkness… maybe you still do. You lived in darkness and feared the light, though it had a strange attraction to you at times. You loved darkness instead of light, because your works were evil. You ran from light because you did not want those evil activities, thoughts, intentions, motives to be revealed to others, but especially you did not want them revealed to God. We were all like cockroaches that scurried madly for the darkness when the light was flipped on.

All of that changed when you were rescued! As you were sinking in the thick slime of sin, lost in absolute darkness, unable to escape, terrified the Rescuer came looking for you! He searched for you in the darkness by shining a light and He found you. He lifted you up, and He set your feet on the rock, and he cleaned you, and he clothed you with His righteousness, and he gave you a new heart instead of the dead one, and he opened your blind eyes! He saved you, rescued you from destruction and suddenly you could see the beauty of your Rescuer!  You had passed from death to life, from darkness to light!

Now what?

Paul is going to answer that question in our text today.

“Therefore”(12) – in light of the exaltation of Christ as LORD to whom every knee will bow and every tongue admit/confess that He is Sovereign Lord… In light of His example of humility and exaltation, there is something that you must do! There is a response that is required from everyone who sees the exalted Christ! What is that response? Obedience!

What Paul is about to share with them is based upon His relationship with them, and their relationship to truth (12).

  • Relationship of love – “Beloved.” (12) Paul’s instructions and exhortation are based upon his genuine care for them. He wants them to experience God’s best!
  • Relationship of obedience – “obeyed.” They had always obeyed when Paul was around, now the call is to continue to obey though Paul is not around!

Application: How often do you obey only when someone is looking? Are you the same Monday as you are Sunday morning? Were you the same this past Friday night at 9pm as you are right now?  Consistent obedience to Christ and the gospel is a mark of spiritual life and spiritual growth.

This is hard! It is a battle everyday against the lusts of my flesh, the lust of my eyes, and the pride of life! Through the power of the Holy Spirit I must put to death the deeds of my sinful nature (Ro.8:13)

THE ABILITY TO WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REGENERATION

God’s work in you is all grace!

He saves us by grace – For it is by grace that you have been saved by faith… (Eph.2:8) We were slaves of sin, now we are set free to be slaves of Christ. (Ro.6:19-22)

He sanctifies us by grace! Sanctification is the process of making something holy. In the life of a Christian it is the work of the Spirit to make us holy, like Jesus Christ. (Ro.15:16, I Co.6:11, 1Pt.1:2)  The work of the Spirit using the Word of God as a tool to shape us to be like Christ. (2Thes.2;13)

God’s work in you produces three outcomes (13)

  1. To want to do His will – your desire to know and do God’s will is proof that God is working in you!
  2. To have the ability to do His will – desire and ability are not the same thing! It is God who imparts supernatural power in you do actually do it! (1Thes.4:1-7)
  3. To have the right motive and attitude in doing His will – His good pleasure! Our pride wants to do the will of God and get the glory for it! We exist for His will, for His pleasure! Remember the “bow and tongue confess that He is LORD” bit? (Lk.17:7-10)

THE ATTITUDE AS WE WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REVERENCE

Attitude of fear

Who among us would not be in awe if we met Queen Elizabeth of England? Reverence and awe in the presence of deity. (Rev.1:10-17)

Attitude of trembling

To shake with fear – He is King! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! Don’t mess with Aslan, he is not a tame lion! We work out our salvation with a healthy understanding of who it is we are obeying! This is a reaction born from deep respect and love.

THE ACTION IN WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION – REJECT

Reject a complaining spirit

Stop it! Whatever you are facing, whatever you are going through, stop complaining! Grumbling dissatisfaction at disappointed expectations. Grumbling about whatever – this is the opposite of thankfulness. ILL: Often those who have the most, grumble the loudest.

Reject disputing

Disputing means to argue,  to have an argumentative spirit. Some of you like a fight! You argue with your husband or you argue with your wife – Stop it!

Application: Some of you have long-standing arguments with others and it continues because you know you are right and the are wrong!… and the fact that you are not humble!

CONCLUSION:

What are the outcomes of this process?

You become like Christ (15a)

  • Blameless children – if others say something about you, it cannot stick to you because there is nothing there for it to adhere to. (1Ti.3:2,10; 5:7; 6:14)
  • Harmless children – no ability to retaliate.
  • Faultless children – without blemish! Without reproach.

You shine as lights (15b)

  • Context – This is taking place in an environment that is darkness, where men who love evil deeds hate light, and you break in as a light shining brightly.
  • Contrast – it is a crooked environment – they don’t do anything straight. It is a perverse environment – morally, ethically.

You experience great joy (16-18)

  • Paul’s joy – the bottom line evaluation of ministry is, are people living out their calling? It is not the profession (lips) it is the living it out (life).
  • Their joy! There is deep lasting abiding joy in being God’s child!

You might be a Christian here this morning asking the question: How does all this happen for me this week?

Hold fast the word of God! (16a) Make God’s word your authority. Determine that you will humble yourself and obey whatever He tells you in His word! In every and any situation that you may face – you will obey Him!

You cannot become like Jesus Christ apart from the Word of God. Cling to the Word as though your life depends upon it… because it does!

This is what it means to work out your salvation!  Working out of salvation is something worth giving your life for! Paul was being “poured out as a drink offering” on the alter of their faith and obedience. (17a) Are you giving your life in this way? Are you living in such a way that you are working out the salvation that God put within you in the context of this body of believers?

You can listen or download free audio of the sermon preached at Kitwe Church here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=918161054141

The Missing Illustration


Yesterday we looked at “Are You A Christian, Evaluating Your Claim To Christianity” at Kitwe Church.  In Mark 4 Jesus answers the question why so many professing Christians “fall away” and never bear fruit.  Here is the “missing illustration” that for sake of time was dropped from that sermon, but is so helpful to our understanding of sharing the gospel message.  It comes directly from the book, Hells Best Kept Secret, written by Ray Comfort.

The way we present the gospel determines the kind of response the sinner makes. Let me illustrate.

Two men are seated in a plane. A stewardess gives the first man a parachute and instructs him to put it on because it will “improve his flight.”

Not understanding how a parachute could possibly improve his flight, the first passenger is a little skeptical. Finally he decides to see if the claim is true. After strapping on the parachute, he notices its burdensome weight, and he has difficulty sitting upright. Consoling himself with the promise of a better flight, our first passenger decides to give it a little time.

Because he’s the only one wearing a parachute, some of the other passengers begin smirking at him, which only adds to his humiliation. Unable to stand it any longer, our friend slumps in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart because as far as he is concerned, he was told a lie.

Another stewardess gives the second man a parachute, but listen to her instructions. She tells him to put it on because at any moment he will be jumping out of the plane at 25,000 feet.

Our second passenger gratefully straps the parachute on. He doesn’t notice its weight upon his shoulders nor that he can’t sit up upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without it. When other passengers laugh at him, he thinks, “You won’t be laughing when you’re falling to the ground!”

Inoculated Backsliders

Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience.

The first man’s motive for putting on the parachute was solely to improve his flight. As a result, he was humiliated by the passengers, disillusioned by an unkept promise, and embittered against the stewardess who gave it to him. As far as he is concerned, he will never put one of those things on his back again.

The second man put the parachute on to escape the danger of the coming jump. Because he knew what would happen to him without it, he had a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart. Knowing he was saved from certain death gave him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude toward the stewardess who gave him the parachute was one of heartfelt gratitude.

Now listen to what the contemporary gospel says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ; He will give you love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.” In other words, He will improve your flight. In an experimental fashion, the sinner puts the Savior to see if these claims are so.

What does he get? Temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock his decision. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he is offended for the Word’s sake; he is disillusioned and embittered, and quite rightly so.

He was promised peace, joy, fulfillment, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed at those who gave him the “good news.” His latter end is worse than the first – another inoculated, bitter backslider!

When the sinner sees the awful consequences of breaking the Law of God – that he cannot escape the certainty of judgment – he will see his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach future punishment by the Law, the sinner comes to Christ solely to flee from “the wrath to come.”

Instead of preaching that Jesus “improves the flight,” we must warn men about the inevitable jump. Everyone must pass through the door of death.

It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27.

But doesn’t Christianity offer the abundant life? You bet it does! Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of the Spirit. But we do sinners an injustice by enticing them with only the benefits of salvation. Our misguided efforts only result in sinners coming to Christ with an impure motive void of repentance.

Remember why the second passenger had joy and peace? Because he knew what that parachute was going to save him from. In the same way, the true convert has joy and peace in believing because he knows that the righteousness of Christ will deliver him from the wrath that is to come. “The kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Why is righteousness coupled with peace and joy? Because “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Proverbs 11:4).

Man-Centered Preaching.

Now let’s take a look at an unfortunate incident on board the plane. During some unexpected turbulence, the stewardess accidentally drops a cup of hot coffee onto the lap of our second passenger.

What is his reaction? Does he cry out in pain, then rip the parachute off his back in anger?

No! He didn’t strap it on for any other reason than the jump. In fact, he doesn’t even relate the incident to his parachute. Instead, it only makes him cling more tightly to his hope of salvation and even look forward to the jump!

If we put on Christ to flee the wrath to come, when tribulation strikes we wont get angry at God. Why should we? We didn’t come for a better lifestyle. Trials drive us closer to the Lord, and we cling more tightly to Him. Like the apostle Paul, we only stay around to encourage other passengers to put on the parachute. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Sadly, multitudes of professing Christians lose their joy when the flight gets bumpy. They are the product of “man-centered” preaching.

Before and After Salvation, God’s Way


Before & After Salvation.001 There was a lady who was walking along the road early one morning. She was carrying a large load of potatoes on her head to sell in the market that morning. A friend of hers drove by in a truck and stopped to pick her up. She was very grateful to him and thanked him over and over. She got up into the seat but still held her potatoes in her lap. Her friend looked over at her and said, “Why don’t you put the potatoes down here on the floor? There is plenty of room.” She looked over at him and said, “Oh no sir, you have been so kind to give me a ride, I could not ask you to carry my potatoes too.” How many times do we do the same thing? We place our total trust in Christ for our eternal life, but we struggle to trust Him with our day to day life. Trusting in God does not stop when we are saved. The trust must be extended to daily life!

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

When helplessness defines our life and hope is properly placed, Christ is the answer for the sinner and the saint.

John 5:1–9 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.

Helplessness defines our life v5 

The man with an infirmity had been in that situation for 38 years, he knew he was helpless. The man with an infirmity was in that condition because of sin. v. 14 Before Salvation – We were helpless to save ourselves, we were helpless and we had to know this to be saved.

    1. Ephesians 2:8–9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    2. Using our own strength will only cause God to fight against us. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
    3. We had to come in desperation knowing that Christ was the only answer.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

The same attitude, dependency, and faith we have toward Christ for our salvation is the same attitude, dependency, and faith we must have toward Christ for our daily life. After Salvation – We are helpless to live a life that glorifies God – we have to know this daily.

    1. John 15:5 for without me ye can do nothing.
    2. Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
    3. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; And we all do fade as a leaf; And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
    4. Do we have the same daily desperation for Christ that we did for salvation?

When helplessness defines our life and hope is properly placed, Christ is the answer for the sinner and the saint. 

Helplessness defines our life and Hope must be properly placed

Why did Christ ask the man with the infirmity, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Let us see what this question might have done for the lame man.

  • It turned his attention from the water to Christ. Imagine his life of complete attention to the water. His red eyes from not blinking enough. His weary face from long hours awake. His discouragement knowing that even if the water did move, no one was going to help him in time.
  • It let him realize his total helplessness. He had to ask someone else and it would be too late. vs. 7
  • It opened his heart to the hope of a cure.

Up until then this man watched the pool of water every day, trying to be the first one into the water so he could be healed. All his hope was in that pool of water. He did not realize that that his hope should have been on the Creator of the universe who was talking to him. Before Salvation – Salvation is not in ourselves or anything cursed by the fall

      1. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
      2. Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

After Salvation – Glorifying God does not come from our flesh or in anything cursed by the fall.

      • We are created to glorify God

Colossians 1:16–17 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

        • We fall short of our purpose of creation. Rom. 3:23 For all have sinned…
      • We have a different focus for our hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

      • We cannot glorify God by our own effort.

Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

When helplessness defines our life and hope is properly placed, Christ is the answer for the sinner and the saint. 

Helplessness defines our life, Hope must be properly placed, and Help only comes from Christ

The man with the infirmity looked to Christ suggesting that he knew his faith and dependence may have been in the wrong place. v. 9 Maybe there was something more in which to hope. Maybe there was another solution. What about us? So we think we have it all worked out? Do we think that we know all the options and we understand all there is? God will bring life to a place where we lose hope in anything that is not God. Only then will we consider there may be another Hope. Before Salvation – Our salvation can only come from Christ, though many desperately search for other means

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

After Salvation – We can glorify God only through Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall strengthen your heart. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

      •   Substitutes – Idols, things we depend on in place of God
        1. Health
        2. Money
        3. People

How do you know if you are trusting in any of the above? Well, what happens when you lose them? Do you fail to glorify God? Do you get discouraged? Do you lose your hope?

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Rejoice when God shows you your weaknesses. When you are too tired to face a new day, when circumstances and people pile up against you, then the field is set for God to work.

When helplessness defines our life and hope is properly placed, Christ is the answer for the sinner and the saint. 

Conclusion: Is Christ saying to you “Wilt thou be made whole?”  Have you been struggling for 38 years in your own weakness with your hope fixed on something affected by the curse of sin? It is time to take a good look at reality. You can’t do it, you are helpless without Christ’s daily help. You need to get your eyes off of whatever it is that you have been trusting. Christ is trying to get your attention. Hope is only found in Him. Let’s not be guilty of trusting God for our eternity and doubting Him with our days.

Questions & Answers: Can You Lose Your Salvation?


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No! A child of God cannot ever lose their salvation!

Our salvation once received is “eternal” (John 3:16, 5:24, 6:37).  We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and we are secure in Him.

Jesus said this,

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

When God saves us by His grace He keeps us securely in His hand.  No one can take you out of the hand of God.  You cannot take yourself out of the hand of God.

This does not mean that once a person has been saved by faith that he or she can go and live in wickedness.  When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior we become a new creation, old things pass away and everything become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Before we were saved our spiritual default was sin, after we are saved and receive the life of Christ our spiritual default is righteousness.  A child of God desires to live righteously even though they do not achieve that perfectly.

The Need For The Cross


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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

Responding to Perfect Love


Responding To Perfect Love.001

Last week we began a new series on the theme of love.

The need for love is a powerful thing isn’t it? I mean everyone needs love. Even the toughest of men who act as if they don’t need anything or anyone still crave to be loved by someone. That is why every action film ever made always has a subplot of romantic love woven between all the scenes of martial arts, bullets, and bombs. We can’t turn on the television, computer, or radio without being bombarded with the world’s messages of love. Therapists even include it as one of man’s basic needs. But you know, we don’t need to site all the movies, music, and academic studies to prove man’s need of love. We all know it, because it is inside of us. We feel it. There is no doubt that we all need and crave love. That is why this series is so important. There is an old song entitled, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” I think that is how most people feel. So where do we find love – perfect love? It will be found in the Bible – God’s love letter to us – his most precious creation.

Last Sunday’s message was entitled “finding perfect love.” Phil took us to I John 4 where we saw three important truths. (1) the Person of love – God is love. (2) the purpose of love – so we can know & abide in Christ and so we can have confidence on the day of judgment (3) the power of love – it frees us from phobias, frees us from torment, and frees us from doubt..

Today’s message is entitled “Responding to Perfect Love.

Last week Phil started us off with a question. He asked, “Do you love God?” This morning, I want to start us off with another question: “Does God love you?”

You say, of course he does. Phil said so last week. Okay, but we need this head knowledge to transfer to our hearts as well. This is a truly fundamental question. It is one thing to say, “God so loved the world.” That is a theological truth of John 3:16 and yes we are part of the world. But we need to make it very personal. Do you feel, do you sense, do you believe with absolute certainty that God loves you?

This week I asked my son Warrick, “Do you know that I love you?” He said, “Yeah, but not all the time. Sometime you are angry when I disobey and I think you hate me.” I responded, “Yes, it makes me sad and angry when you disobey, but I will always love you no matter what. I will never, ever hate you.” He smiled and went to bed with peace in his little heart.

Maybe when it comes to your relationship with God you feel a lot like Warrick. “Yeah, I know you say you love me God, but there are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t obey and sometimes when bad things happen to me I feel like you hate me.” Have you ever felt that way? I think we all have. So the question today is, “Does God love you?” This question is of the highest importance because if we don’t believe that God loves us then we will never allow ourselves to receive his perfect love.

If you have been to this Bible study for any length of time, you have heard us speak about this perfect love of God. When we are presented with a message we then have to respond to it. Our goal and prayer is that each person who attends this Bible study will research the claim that God loves you and that each person will eventually come to the point where you choose to accept this love – to receive it – to make it your own. But people do not receive things that they think are fake. They may tolerate it. They may refuse it, but they don’t receive it. So, today’s question is very important for you.

Last week Phil closed our time by looking at 1 John 4: 19 “We love him because he first loved us. “ There is a cause and an effect. God’s love for us causes us to love him. That takes us back to last week’s question: Do you love God? I mean do you adore him. Does your heart crave him? Do you invest time in building a relationship with him? If not, it is likely that you do not fully grasp how much he loves you.

So many people have a misconception about Christianity. They think of it primarily as a religion – a list of do’s and don’ts to gain the favor of a harsh, but all-powerful God. That is not what Christianity is all about! Christianity is primarily a relationship – a relationship between God and man. It is a relationship of love.

By the end of today I hope that you will be totally convinced that God LOVES you! I mean, that he is totally crazy about you! And I hope that by the end of the message today your heart will cry out – I want to love Him too! I hope you will come running to him saying, “This love that you offer me is the love I have looked for all of my life and nothing, absolutely NOTHING will keep me from this love.”

First, let’s be reminded of God’s Perfect Love for us, but let’s make this personal. God love’s you! How do I know this? More importantly, how can you believe this? Because God demonstrated his perfect love for you (VIDEO: “Sacrifice” from Bluefishtv.com)

God demonstrated his perfect love for you!

Romans 5:6-8 “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

From this passage we see some amazing truths about God’s love for you.

God pursued you when you were unlovely! Vs. 6-8a

None of us are naturally godly. None of us are naturally lovely. We are sinners who are difficult to love because of our own selfishness, and yet God loves us anyway.

God sacrificed for you! Vs. 8b

Jesus left the comforts and joy of heaven to come to the harshness of life on earth.  Jesus left the praise of angels to endure the accusations and mockery of those he came to save. Jesus did the messy work that no one else could do.

What do I mean by that? Perfect love is not clean & sterile. That is romance. That is a pleasant emotion. It is a kind of love. It is pleasant and it is fun. But it is not perfect love. Perfect love is “Agape love,” which Phil spoke of last week. Agape is one of 4 Greek words for our 1 English word “love.” The essence of agape love is self- sacrifice. Agape love is not a feeling; it’s a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject. Agape is a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. This is perfect love!

When Mandy and I were teenagers there was a man named Joshua Harris who wrote several excellent books on love. Here is what he said about perfect love: “The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love.’”

Have any of you seen the movie, “The Passion of the Christ?” Well, that movie has put the price of God’s love on display. Perfect love is messy! I am going to show you 2 photos on the next slide, but be warned. It is not pretty. If you can’t handle the sight of blood you might want to close your eyes for just a second. You see, perfect love is bloody. Perfect love is spoken of in beautiful words but demonstrated by painful sacrifice. This is the price of loving me. This is the price of loving you. It is the price that Jesus willingly paid to demonstrate the love of God – WHILE we were still sinners. This is perfect love.

Well, now that we’ve clearly seen the demonstration of God’s love – I hope you are becoming more convinced that God loves you. But now…

You must recognize the barriers preventing perfect love.

As Nathan said last week during our worship time. Each of us was created with a void – a hole that only God could fill. He created us to crave a relationship with Him that no human being could ever satisfy. We have just seen the great lengths to which he went to prove his love. So the question we must ask is, “Why wouldn’t a person respond by accepting it? Love is being offered! Why would you refuse it?

Well, back in August 1996, a new family with 2 teenage girls came to visit the church I attended. I new how intimidating it could be to visit for the first time so I always went and greeted all visitors to try to help them feel welcome & fit in. One of those girls was Mandy, who is obviously now my wife. Now I have already asked her permission to share this information with you today, so don’t worry. We won’t have marital problems after this message. On that day when we first met I tried to be loving by welcoming her, but it was very obvious she didn’t want anything to do with me…or anyone else at this church. The next day was the first day of our school year. As it turned out, she attended my school. Again, I wanted to help her feel welcome in a very large school. I tried being loving, but she made it very clear that she didn’t want anything to do with me at church or at school. Well the weeks turned into months and the more we saw each other the more she could see that I was sincere and we became friends. Love had triumphed! It was during that time that I discovered she wanted to be a missionary to Africa, just as I did. Suddenly a new kind of love started working in my heart – I developed a romantic interest in her, but again it was obvious she wanted nothing to do with me in that way. I figured that our “friendship love” was as far as things would ever go. Still, I would occasionally test the waters to see if she might be interested. Time after time I was rejected and my suggestions of dating were shot down. It took about 18 months before she became open to that idea. Then we ended up going off to separate colleges. Our potential “romantic love” would have to wait another 12 months. Well, since we are married now, I think you know how the story goes from there. The point of that story is that there were many barriers that I had to overcome as I pursued a loving relationship with Mandy.

So too, there are many obstacles that Christ faces in each of our hearts as he pursues a loving relationship with us.

Fear in our hearts.

Disbelief that such love exists/fear of disappointment. Perhaps others have let us down. Perhaps we’ve seen bad examples in our families of people who professed love, but didn’t live it out. Now this has caused us to be skeptical of God’s love as well.

Disbelief because of painful experiences in life. You want to believe that God is loving, but you wonder how can it be when there is suffering in your life. You ask, “If God loves me then why did he allow my husband to get cancer?” “If he loves me then why did he allow the thieves to come through and attack us before taking our things?”

Fear of rejection – Perhaps you believe such love exists, but you do not view yourself as worthy to receive it. You think you are too bad, that you have sinned too much for him to love you. These fears are a major hindrance to receiving God’s love. But, there is another type of barrier.

Pride in our hearts

Don’t want to be seen as “needing this love.” Someone who feels this way might say things like…

Christianity is a crutch. I am self-sufficient. To receive God’s love by putting faith in Jesus will be admitting I need someone other than myself.

I don’t want someone to save me. I want to save myself. I am a good person. I don’t need to be “forgiven.” I’m insulted that he thinks I need forgiveness. If I become a Christian it first means I must admit I am not the good person I have always thought of myself as being. It means I admit I am a sinner who has offended a holy God and I need to apologize. I need to ask forgiveness and I need to repent of (turn away from) the sins I enjoy.

Don’t want love from this person -“Jesus”. I admit I need love.  I admit I am a sinner. But I don’t want Jesus. I don’t want “this God.” I want one that is more fashionable. I want one that serves me. I want one that let’s love be a one-way street. He loves me. He serves me. He exists for my happiness and therefore will not require any love in return. Here’s the problem with that. You are describing a slave, a servant, a genie in a bottle – but you are not describing God. By very definition, God is the all-powerful creator worthy of worship. He has every right to demand love and service from us. We don’t have the right to demand it of him. He could make it a one-way street flowing from us to him, but in his love and mercy and grace he has made it a two way street.

To really drive this point home, let’s read Romans 5:6-8 again, but this time make it personal by replacing the word “we” with our own names.

“6 For while “Jamie” was still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly “Jamie”. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for “Jamie” in that while “Jamie” was still a sinner, Christ died for “Jamie”.”

Did you insert your name there? It is true. His expression of love is that personal and that real.

We have now, seen these are the barriers that hinder us from experiencing the love we crave. Each of us face barriers to God’s love. Before we move on, I want you to identify which one is the one that is a hindrance to your relationship with God. Now, let’s quickly address the solutions:

  • Fear

1 John 4:18 “Perfect love casts out fear.”

  • Pride

James 4:8-9 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God and he will draw near to you.”

Now, with our barriers being identified let’s be reminded that God has demonstrated his love for us. He continues to demonstrate it in a millions ways from the moment of our birth. Everyday he shows kindness. Every day he gives us blessings we don’t deserve. Everyday he patiently, kindly waits for us to look past all the negative experiences of life to see just how much he loves us. He started his pursuit of you the very day Adam & Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for committing the first sin. He intensified that pursuit the day he was born as the baby in Bethlehem. He then demonstrated it in the clearest way possible as he hung on the cross. He now keeps exposing you to his daily love and kindness waiting for you to respond to his love. He is offering you a relationship of love with Him – the creator of the world – but he will not force it upon you. It has to be your choice. He knows all the love he wants to pour out on you. He has paid your debt. He has made his proposal. Now he awaits your response.

You Must Respond to God’s Perfect Love for you.

Acts 17:30-34 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

In that passage we see the three possible responses we can give God today.

  • Refuse him – vs. 32a
  • Research him more vs. 32b
  • Receive him – vs. 34

Earlier we said that God has been pursuing you because he wants a relationship with you. Some of you may have chosen to refuse Christ earlier in your life, but God has continued to gently lovingly pursue you. He knew that moving too far too fast ends up pushing you away, but he has been pursuing you and maybe you are reconsidering his offer. Some of you have been coming here to the Bible study for a long time. You had bad experiences before maybe at another church that reduced Christianity to a list of do’s and don’ts. But you have been researching Jesus more and you are convinced he is all he claims to be. You have heard of his offer of salvation from Phil, from Nathan, and from Dave. Now you are ready, but you wonder if the offer of entering a relationship with him still stands of if you have waited too long. The answer is no. It is available to you today. Perhaps you are ready to receive him.

Earlier I told you about how I pursued Mandy because I desired a relationship with her. Well, when I was absolutely convinced she was the right one and I believed she felt the same way I took the biggest risk of my life. I asked her if she would marry me. It was in June of 2000 and it happened right here in Zambia at Victoria Falls. That day I confessed again my love for her and then asked her to make a decision. Would she spend the rest of her life with me letting me love her, care for her, provide for and protect her. Thankfully she said yes. Today, Jesus is asking you that same question. Will you spend the rest of your life in a relationship with him – letting him love you, care for you, provide for you, and protect you. Well, here is how you respond if you want to receive him as your Savior.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

As we come to a close today, I would like to do something just a bit different. I want to give you some time before leaving here to think through what you have just heard. I want to give you an opportunity before leaving here to respond to God’s perfect love. I am going to play a song as background music while you take this opportunity to reflect on what you have heard today and spend some time talking to God in prayer. Perhaps this is your opportunity to respond to God and accept his perfect love. Perhaps you need to keep researching him and his claims. Perhaps you are already a Christian but you want to thank him for his great love that we have been reminded of today. Whatever your response, let’s spend some time talking to him before we dismiss.

Jamie Smith

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