Boy Am I Blessed!

It is not hard to become a Christian. You hear the Gospel of Jesus and when you believe the Gospel, you have faith in Christ (Romans 10:14-17). Then when you have met the conditions (faith; Romans 10:9-10; repentance; Acts 2:38; confession: Romans 10:9-10, & baptism; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21), then you are saved, God has saved you because you have identified with Christ through his death (that’s what immersion is for, cf., Romans 6:1-6). That’s the easy part, knowing what to do, but, it can be more difficult for some people to come to the point of belief, or repentance. It can be difficult to let go of what we already know and keep ourselves living in the that way which the Bible describes as sinful and worldly and idolatry.

Once I am saved, when I have become a Christian, well things are new. The Bible even calls it a new life (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:16). I am not who I was. I have a brand new life, I start over. If I simply keep living the way I had before, then I am not different just a little older. But with salvation in Christ, with the Holy Spirit in my life, with God’s Word the Bible leading me, then I am being transformed, renewed (Rom. 12:2) into the likeness of Christ.

At least one time, when there was a huge crowd of people, Jesus taught them. In Matthew 5, he was on a mountain in Galilee and began to teach the crowds. He began with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-16).

Each “Beatitude” begins with “Blessed are…” meaning, “joyful are those who….”

This is what it is like to live in Christ, to be a Christian, to have life.

  • It is a joyful thing to realize you are poor in your spirit and you need God. It is joyful because God’s kingdom is in us; Mt. 5:3
  • It is a joyful thing to mourn that you are a sinner, because God’s salvation will bring you comfort; Mt. 5:4
  • It is a joyful thing to be meek. Gentle in character but firm in conviction; you will “inherit the earth,” fill it with joy; Mt. 5:5
  • It is a joyful thing to hunger and thirst for righteousness, because you will have; Mt. 5:6
  • It is a joyful thing to be merciful, you’ll get mercy back and from God; Mt. 5:7
  • It is a joyful thing to have a pure heart, you are going to get to see God because of it; Mt. 5:8
  • It is joyful when you are a peacemaker, that’s what the children of God do; Mt. 5:9
  • It is a joyful thing when people persecute you because of your righteousness, it means you are in the kingdom and people who hate God hate Christ in you and will try to insult and stop you; Mt. 5:10-13

This is spiritual of course. It plays out here in the material world with the sense that God’s kingdom is expressed in and through your life.

This is the character of those who are saved. Not one or another of the Beatitudes, but all of them together. It’s like the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It’s not one or two things, it’s all of them at once that make up the produce of your life.

Why am I blessed? I am blessed because I have salvation, I have God in my life and Christ is leading me by the means of his Spirit. I have heaven and a great reward, now and in the future (John 10:10, “life abundant”).

Boy am I blessed!

bloggingthechurch

Advertisements

What’s This Fruit About?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:19-23

The fruit of Spirit is about what takes place in a person’s life as God does his thing in you.

Paul notes the contrast between the ways of the world. The world is sinful. The ways of the world destroy souls, relationships, hope, even life. But the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, etc (see passage above or pic on the left) is the way of life (eternal life).

It’s about God enabling you to be separate from the world’s terrible way. Think of ancient Israel. God intended for Israel to be different. God told them when they entered the promised land to remain separate from the idolatrous people who lived there.

They were to run them out; they were destroy their sacred places, including the idols; they were his people representing God’s holy way. The 10 commandments and their explanation in Deuteronomy (starting about chapter 5) show their relationship with God and how his character is holy and those of  idolatrous people are unholy and do not accomplish the righteousness that God is and of those who are in a relationship with him.

I shared about the second commandment with some teens yesterday, do not have or worship idols (Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10). Some of them are Christian, there is a Jewish kid, a Mormon, and a handful of agnostics and an atheist or two, and some that aren’t anything. We talked about the principle of idolatry since we don’t see people worshiping idols like Israel witnesses with the Egyptians and those they would encounter worshiping the Baals and Ashtoreth and Moloch and the like in ancient Israel when they entered the land of Canaan. What are the modern idols that we might worship in America today?

  • Money
  • Celebrity
  • Relationships
  • Objects (cars, electronic devices, etc)

They mentioned several other items. Even the teens that aren’t Christian. They understood the difference. But being godly, living the life of the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit may be another thing for people.

When a person who is an immersed believer in Jesus Christ, they have God’s Spirit in them (Acts 2:38). If the Spirit is not there, there is no salvation. The Spirit however, as he works with our spirit, enables us to be godly, to produce the fruit of godliness. Being in this-worldly world, and yet living without the power of worldly influence controlling our lives.

If we were to try to picture this, it might be like the pic just to the left. God reaching down out of heaven and holding us up against the powerful influence of the world. It is because he loves us and chooses to save us from the hellish penalty of sinfulness (John 3:16).

Another way to envision this is to realize the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) and the complete teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. Read it and apply it and live it.

If the fruit of the Spirit is what your life is like than you are living the Sermon on the Mount.

bloggingthechurch

I’m Free! (Romans Pt 10)

Enjoy the freshness of the song than read the post.

In 2006 the song I Am Free was very popular with the teens at church camp. I know it was more about how the song rocked. I loved it for that reason to, but the simple theme of the song is the theme of Romans chapter 8.

Once I am freed from sin, I am no longer enslaved to sin. As Ricky Ricardo would say, “Let me ‘splain.” A perfect example is alcohol and drug addiction. When one becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, they are enslaved to them. The chemical dependency will cause them to come back again and again without lasting satisfaction. And people do stupid things, comical things, dangerous things, even criminal things while under the influence. And to keep their addiction alive they sacrifice many things to acquire the addictive choice. They may spend the money that pays the bills for the family and so creditors are calling all the time, or the food cupboard is pretty sparse or bare. They may steal and lie and anything to keep their habit going. They can’t get away from it no matter how hard they try.

Two things here. They can’t reform and recover alone and they can’t break the addiction and find healing until they admit their problem and want and seek help.

That’s where we were with sin. It had us enslaved and there is no way out until we want to get out and seek for a way and we cant’ do it without help, and God sent the only help that can free us from sin. Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

“1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 NASB.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. This takes me back to Acts 2:38. Peter was telling the crowd hearing the apostles preach about Jesus, when they responded to the message to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God putting his own Spirit in the life of the believer. God won’t put Him, the Spirit in the life of someone who has sin. When sin has been wiped out by God, through your faith and your activity of faith (belief, repentance, confession, and immersion), then he will put His Spirit in you because you are freed from sin.

The Spirit is a guarantee of eternal life, a provision for matching Godly wisdom and understanding with God’s word for living and application in your life, and the realization that you have been set free from sin and free to live with God, now and forever.

Listen to Jodie’s testimony.

“I stumbled down a road of despair; felt that my voice couldn’t be heard thru the layer of labels & paperwork that grew endlessly in my file each year. Files under the feelings and actions of depression, self-mutilation, drugs and even prostitution… What struggle are you facing? – You’re not alone, I’ve been there.

Can u relate in any way? Have u ever felt anger, fear, or hate?

I turned my back on society in a heart beat because I grew sick & tired of people. I decided no-one else was gonna have any control or say. You know how it is: you get a hurt a few times & put the walls up so high within, no one can see in… Yet they are up so high up you can’t see over them either.

I lost track of time as addictions took over, demons had me tripping up everywhere, running in circles from everything & everyone… that’s the game u begin to play, but I never knew- theres no way out, nothing to gain.

At 19 yrs old I woke up & realized I had a choice- Jesus was that choice. Jesus had died on the cross for my sins & in Him I could find peace… I gave God my life, asked Jesus for forgiveness and slowly but surely things in my life started to change. I got to reading the Bible, talking to Jesus thru out each day through prayer, and hope has filled my heart, love & compassion overflowing- freedom came.

What I can say today without question is that you need Jesus in your life today! ONLY He can set you free from your pain.” (Jodie’s and other testimonies can be found at http://shareyourstorynow.org/ )

I have been freed from sin now I can live free of what sin does to me as far as my relationship to sin. I am free to live in God’s world and share eternity with Him, which will be awesome. How about you?

bloggingthechurch

 

Comparing the Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is really a beautiful thing when it is found in the lives of the followers of Jesus Christ. It makes Jesus’ disciples a picture of Christ in this world still.

Jesus painted a picture of the life of his followers many years before Paul shared the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Christians in Galatia.

Before Paul wrote these two verses on the fruit of the Spirit, he notes the character and activity of sin, of living in the ways of the world.  This is not how a follower of Christ, a Christian lives, but, when he contains the fruit of the Spirit, these characteristics are how a Christian lives.

Jesus starts with the characteristics of his followers, those who belong to the kingdom of heaven.  The Beatitudes begin a long sermon showing these realities.  And both Jesus and Paul are showing us the truth and reality about the Law as well.

In our last post on May 13th, we suggested that there is a connection between the Beatitudes that Jesus gave in Matthew 5 and the fruit of

Matthew 5:3-12

the Spirit that Paul wrote about in Galatians 5.

Let’s see if we can see the connection between the Beatitudes and the fruit of the Spirit.

Those who are poor in spirit that will inherit the kingdom of heaven have the fruit of love.

Those who mourn and will be comforted have kindness.

Those who are meek and inherit the earth are gentle.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled have  faith.

Those who are merciful will receive mercy and have patience.

Those who are pure in heart will see God and have goodness.

Those who are peacemakers will be called sons of God and have peace.

Those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness have self-control.

Those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ have joy.

There is obvious overlap, but consider these comparisons and connections for now.

bloggingthechurch

The Beatitudes & the Fruit of the Spirit

Matthew 5:3-12

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most significant sermons ever given.  While Jesus addresses a person’s relationship to the law

Scripture Quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible

He gives the character of his disciples.  Jesus’ disciples will live in the ways he describes in Matthew 5, 6 & 7.

The first part of the sermon is called the “beatitudes.”  I used to believe that word meant, these sweet little quips in Matthew 5:3-12. Looking in a dictionary I learned that the word means “supreme blessedness, exalted happiness.”  The dictionary adds, “any of the declarations of blessedness pronounced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/beatitude).

A beatitude is a declaration of blessedness.  That’s cool.  “Blessed are…” is the beginning of each of Jesus declarations.  It has been translated as “happy are,” “joyful are” and I’m sure in a number of different ways. These are good things.

There are 9 beatitudes.  The first 4 have to do with one’s relationship to God and the next 4 have to do with one’s relationship with people and #9 expounds on #8.

But have you ever considered that there 9 aspects to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

22″But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

Surely this in no coincidence.  9 beatitudes and 9 parts to the fruit of the Spirit.

We will in future posts note the exact connections.  For now, note that this is about the righteousness that God attributes into the life of the Christian.

The character of Jesus’ followers is righteousness.  They are made righteous by God according to their faith in Christ.  They are to live in the ways of righteousness.  To do that, we need to know how.  Jesus is giving us the how and encouraging us to live in the way that God now views us in Christ Jesus.

Compare the 9 beatitudes to the 9 parts of the fruit of the Spirit and we’ll compare notes here real soon.

bloggingthechurch

Where to Draw the Line

Recently I read the book, The Future of Faith by author and Harvard theologian Harvey Cox (http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061755521).  I am curious for the sake of the kingdom of God what the future of faith is.  I mean, as a Christian, as I grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am reaching out to the lost souls of this world and I should be as Jesus said, shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.  You know, understanding and working within the mindset of the people I share Jesus with while be holy and undefiled like Jesus.

Mr. Cox makes some very interesting observations and as well as some disturbing interpretations of the future.

Click on this link to read a PBS interview of Mr. Cox about the  book;http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/september-25-2009/harvey-cox-extended-interview/4342/.

I have to admit, what he believes about the Bible and truth was somewhat unexpected.  For instance, he claims more than once that the creation account in Genesis is a creation myth as well as many other accounts in the Bible.

He believes that we are moving away from dogmatism into a time of faith, in an era he is calling the age of the Spirit.  There is a shift away from dogmatism and creeds.  Denominationalism is fairly dead.

It appears that the idea is a move away from the full understanding and teaching of scripture and a complete reliance on faith and the Spirit, regardless of truth and Biblical teaching.

One thing this denies is the connection of the Spirit and the Word.  They work hand-in-hand.  I will have faith.  I will be practical.  I will be Biblical.  But I will not give up the clear teaching that the Holy Spirit has given us, the Bible.

The answer, if this is the trend for the next couple of decades is what has been termed “Biblical-Theology.”  Let the Bible be the doctrine and creed, not this man-made crap such as Calvinism, Catholicism, Arminianism, etc.

Let the Bible be the Bible and the rule and guide of our faith, just like the concepts the Restoration Movement has touted for a couple  of centuries

bloggingthechurch

Challenged by the Bible

I am often challenged by scripture.  Challenged to learn and understand.  Challenged to live and prove.  Challenged to be who God would have me to be through his divine revelation, the Bible.

As I’ve stated before, I am a “biblio-theologian.”  The Bible speaks for itself.  I don’t follow a systematic theology (such as Calvinism, Arianism, Catholicism, etc.).  I let the Bible and God’s Spirit be the only rule in my life.

I might note that the Bible is the Holy Spirit’s tool.  He works hand-in-hand with what God has revealed to us and guides and directs us according to the truths and teachings of Scripture.

Here’s where the Bible has challenged me:

I am a sinner in need of salvation (Romans 3:10-18, 23)

God loves me and his greatest desire is to save me from sin and its penalty (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9)

God sent Jesus to pay for my sins, so that I don’t have too, he is my propitiation (John 3:16; Romans 3:24-26)

Through faith in Jesus being the risen Son of God, I receive salvation (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:1-2; Acts 4:12)

Faith involves believing in Jesus, confessing Jesus, repenting of my sin, being immersed in water, and living a life of holiness (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10;  1 Peter 3:21; 1 Peter 1:13-2:17)

But finding all this out and following through in faith is not all there is.  The Bible continues to challenge me.  Here’s how:

It challenges me to live in a holy, sin free manner (1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 12:1-2)

The Word of God is like a double-edged sword

It challenges me to know and love God more (Matthew 22:27)

It challenges me to make Jesus known to others (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:21)

It challenges me to serve others (Galatians 513; Ephesians 6:7)

It challenges me to love others (Matthew 22:29; John 13:24)

It challenges me know and understand it’s truths, the hopes it presents, the help it provides, the joy it instills.

The Bible will, in the heart of those who will let it, challenge and change them, perfecting them into the likeness of Christ, our hope and joy, our Savior and friend, our Lord and provider.

All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account”  Hebrews 4:12-13.

All scripture quotations are from Holman’s Christian Standard Bible

bloggingthechurch