What I’ve Learned From 9/11

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11, about every blogger has written something in relationship it. Many churches had special services, or special portions of their services devoted to memorializing those who died 10 years ago. Most sporting events over the weekend had special moments to honor that horrible event in 2001. Memorial events were taking place all over the nation and especially in New York where the planes destroyed the World Trade Center. What more can I add to all that has been said?

I was horrified, angered, and frightened went our country was attacked. I felt the same things most Americans did. What in the world happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen? What are we going to do now? Are we safe here like we have always believed we were?

I have learned that we are all vulnerable. That statement may seem obvious, but I mean a lot more than the obvious. It is not just America that is vulnerable, the whole world is vulnerable. We lost our innocence and no matter where in the world you live, you are susceptible to danger. The danger may not be Al Qaeda, but it may be some other enemy. Our whole planet is in danger of attack.

But I mean even more than that.

It is curious to me that my sermon yesterday, planned for months without realizing it would fall on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, was about how sin took over the world on three different occasions. The title of the message was, “Sin: Taking Over the World” from Genesis 3-10.

After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and eating the fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” sin spread quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel, as Hebrews 11:4 tells us, it was because he was evil. It wasn’t long until we learn in Genesis 6 that the whole world had become corrupt. Violence had completely taken over the earth and God regretted creating humans. Humanity had completely ignored God and whatever other evils they were committing, they had become overtly violent. Hating, harming, injuring, murdering one another. That’s when he flooded the earth, in order to restart and restore without evil ruling the earth.

But it didn’t take long for evil to raise up and spread as if there was no restraint. Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father asleep and naked in his tent and he brought disrespect to his father when belittled Noah to his brothers, Shem and Japheth. But it wasn’t long until pretty much the whole world resisted God’s command to spread out and occupy the world. Humanism became the rule and they decided to build a tower to human ingenuity, ability, and strength, called the Tower of Babel.

It was then that God mixed up their languages. The world spoke one language in that day, but now there were many and it created confusion and stopped their evil.

That third time that the Bible tells about sin and evil taking over the world is in the last days. Of course the New Testament teaching about the last days is that since Jesus Christ died and raised, we are in the last days. The last days will continue from Jesus’ death and resurrection until his return.

2 Timothy 3:1-5: 1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (English Standard Version)

Sin is permeating our world at a level we haven’t seen since the events in the first 10 chapters of Genesis. The Barna research group just recently published its state of the church, examining the religious and spiritual trends of the past 20 years (1991-2011). The report is eye-opening. It is apparent from the report that sin is taking over America, we are becoming more and more worldly; http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011.

We are vulnerable to sin and evil. The world is full of it. Satan is attacking us. He intends not to just injure us but to destroy us. The attack by Al Qaeda 10 years ago is a physical and tragic symbol of how unsafe and susceptible we are to Satan’s attack and that attack was one of the tools of Satan.

Yet . . . we can be protected. There is hope. First it is in Christ. If you are born again into Jesus Christ (read John 3), you have salvation, but you better be aware and active in your faith. Paul writes these words to us about our spiritual Al Qaeda; 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)

May you be blessed by God and be safe within his love and hope and eternity.

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Why Grace?

“Why did there have to be a covenant of grace? Because people rebelled and could not come to God in their own goodness. They were under the judgment of God with true moral guilt. So God had to give the covenant of grace at the terrible cost of Christ’s death because people were justly under God’s condemnation and judgment without it.”

Francis A. Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, page 76

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Where Grace is Sitting

We’ve had several discussions about sin and grace in the book of Romans. Following are links progressively through our discussion.

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/grace-rests-easily-where-sin-once-sat/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/the-uncomfortable-truth/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/no-room-for-sin/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/a-convenient-truth/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/god-gets-amnesia/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/dreaming-that-im-free/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/not-disappointed-romans-pt-7/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/gettin-wet-in-gods-grace-romans-pt-8/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/am-i-really-like-this-romans-pt-9/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/im-free-romans-pt-10/

We will be continuing with the later half of Romans chapter 8.

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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?

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Am I Really Like This? (Romans Pt. 9)

A few years after I accepted Christ and was baptized, I began to experience a sense of guilt. I got my dad alone and told him I thought I needed to be baptized again.

I have to tell you that my dad was an elder at our church then and my dad was and is a man of wisdom. He studies God’s word. He learns and grows in understanding. I was 13 or 14 and he gave me some of the best advice and understanding I’ve ever received. Dad knew that there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6) and that I had been baptized for the forgiveness of my sins and salvation (Acts 2:38, and 1 Peter 3:21 ). He was there when I asked what I needed to do to be saved. He was there when I was baptized and shared in the prayer my preacher gave right after I was immersed. Dad knew the correct answer to my dilemma.

I needed to repent. I didn’t need to be baptized again (some call it rebaptism – it’s unheard of in the Bible). I just needed to repent. To determine to change and to live out the change into holiness.

Listen to Paul’s explanation of what we often title this section, “The Conflict of the Two Natures” . . . Romans 7:14-25

“14For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin,” NASB (Check out the New Living Translation; http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%207:14-25&version=NLT ).

Here’s the problem. We are human beings living in the material (fleshly) world. There are sinful, worldly, “fleshly” forces that tempt us and work on our knowledge of what sin is. It’s kind of like this. You walk by a park bench that’s just been painted and there is a sign that says, “Stay off. Wet Paint!’ What is your first inclination? Either you want to touch it to see if it is wet, or you want to touch it because it says, “Stay off!.” Being a little rebellious and disobedient.

We do the things we know we’re not supposed to do and we don’t do the things we know we ought to do. There is a struggle. We are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). We have the Holy Spirit of God in us (Acts 2:38). But we are still living in this imperfect, sinful world until Jesus comes back. We are going to struggle. It will be difficult to keep from returning to the way of sin. Even Paul, who I thought when I was a teen was able to totally keep from sinning, struggled with doing what is right and not doing what is wrong.

Click on picture to enlarge

We’re supposed to be __________________. You can fill in the blank with words like, holy, righteous, perfected, etc.

If we have to struggle with what we were losing at in the first place because of sin, how is it possible to become what God wants me to become?

This is where you read Romans 8 and learn that God is at work in you and that is how you overcome the power of temptation and sin. Follow this link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans%208&version=NASB

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Gettin’ Wet in God’s Grace (Romans Pt. 8)

Ephesians 2:4-9 relates to our discussion

All the way through this discussion in Romans on grace, I’ve stated that grace sits easily where sin once occupied. Sin’s place in our life has become to familiar. We’re conformed with sin, brought down by sin, immersed in sin and it only takes a single sin to break our relationship with God and that can happen before we even know about God and the relationship he wishes to share with us.

Since we are lost in sin and nothing we do on our part can get us out of it, God has made a way. We can’t pay our way out of sin, God doesn’t accept cash. We can’t work our way out. We’re never good enough for that to take place. We can’t be good enough or do enough good deeds for God to think well of us. We’re sunk, except for God’s grace that he will give you if you have faith in his Son who died on the cross for you.

Faith in Christ takes a new meaning when we realize that faith is more than just “I believe this about Jesus.” Faith is belief in the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). But faith is trust. Trust in the fact of Jesus’ being God’s son and raising from the dead and trust in God and Christ for everything it means to be a follower of Christ. Faith is also obeying. It makes very little sense to say we have faith but not follow the things of God. It’s illogical. God has given us the ways of Christ through his life and the teaching of the New Testament in order that we might follow in obedient faith.

But, I still have to receive this grace. When someone hands me a present for my birthday or Christmas or for some special occasion, I have to open it for the gift benefit me. I can set the present on my coffee table and talk about how great a gift it is and nice the wrapping is. When someone asks me what it is, the only response I can give is, “It’s a gift. Isn’t it nice?” If I haven’t opened it, the only thing it does for me is make me aware that the person who gave it to me thought enough of me to give me a gift.

If I hear that God wants to give me grace, but do nothing to receive it, I have received nothing. “God loves me. Isn’t that great.” just like an unopened gift, knowing about grace and not doing what is necessary to receive it is like an unopened gift.

Jesus died for you and me. Our sin sent Jesus to the cross. His death paid for my sins, but to receive God’s grace I have to experience Christ’s death and resurrection.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:1-14, NIV

Baptism puts us in contact with Jesus’ death and resurrection. God applies grace and salvation to us in baptism. Sin is removed, washed away during baptism. God’s grace is applied to my life and sin is no longer a part of me since I have been baptized. As Paul wrote, we are dead to sin.

When someone dies, we bury them. When someone dies they don’t have anything to do with the material world any longer. When we die to sin, we no longer have anything to do with sin, so why would we go on sinning. Grace is our way of life. It has replaced sin. It takes it’s place. In fact, it shoved sin out of the seat it occupied in our lives and sits easily in the same spot because grace makes Jesus the King of our life and he sits in that seat, the throne of our life.

I got wet on January 1st, 1967 because I wanted to be saved from my sins. I submitted myself to baptism (the word means immersion) to accept Jesus and let God put grace in my life. And now sin does not rule me, Christ leads me.

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This is What it Means to be Saved

You and I can talk all day about the conditions that lead to salvation and eternal life. It does need to be discussed. It IS important to know what must happen in your life and mine for us to gain salvation from God through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). We’ve dealt with these conditions before here (click on Salvation Stuff in the menu to the left).

What has got to happen in my life, what are the conditions that make it possible for God to save me?

I believe in Jesus. John 3:16; Romans 10:10&11). I believe that God sent Jesus and that he is the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead. This is the beginning of discipleship. Every person that has ever been saved were saved because they believed that Jesus is the Christ. They have faith in God and in Christ and in the things of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. BELIEF, that’s one.

I have to repent of my sin, Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30. If God is going to change me, because I am letting him, belief is opening the door and repentance is letting God in to clean out the mess that sin is. Repentance is as Gareth Reese says [“New Testament History, Acts,” College Press Publishing, Joplin, MO, 1976, page 145-147], “individual, inclusive, and indispensable.” Repentance is done by and found in individuals, and it is for everyone (inclusive) and salvation cannot happen without repentance (indispensable). It involves my intellect, knowledge of sin, a change in my emotions, I must feel the sense of guilt that I possess and be sorrowful for it, and it involves a change of my will, letting God take over my messed up life to make things right in my life. REPENTANCE is another.

I must confess Christ, Romans 10:10-11. If I have let change come into my life, it’s got to show. I have to say it. I have to let it out that I believe in Jesus and that I have made him my Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), that I belong to him, I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. This is a continual thing. It doesn’t happen only once, it is constant. I belong to Christ, I declare that I am his by my lifestyle and my message of faith. CONFESSION, that’s a third one.

I must be baptized, Acts 2:38; Romans 6:16; 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism is immersion. That is what the word actually means and it is the only form that the church practiced with the apostles. I must submit myself in humility to baptism in order that God will forgive me of my sins and give me salvation. It all happens when we come in contact with Jesus’ death and resurrection by our own death and resurrection. We are buried in baptism and raised from the water with new life. Pretty cool concept. A new life, a fresh start that propels me on my way to heaven. BAPTIZED, that a fourth one.

But is that what it means to be saved? Those are the conditions that make it possible for God to save us, but what it means to be saved is to be different. Not different for the sake of being different, but different as in changed and being formed into the likeness of Christ.

You were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). Sin distorted that image (it’s in your soul). Sin corrupted the goodness that is in you, it robbed you of innocence as God is good and innocence, you have no righteousness, but Jesus brings the change that will restore you to God’s good graces. He is God come to earth (Matthew 1:23; Colossians 1:15–16). And when we are saved through Christ, we are renewed. He refreshes that original image of God that we possess.

That means how we live, think, and act is totally different from the ways of the world. We possess the goodness and righteousness of God and do right and good and kindness in this world. We live holy as God is holy, without sin, with the power of God. We are saved and eternal life with God the Father is our home. We get to be with God because when we have met the conditions in our lives, where our heart, mind, and soul are prepared to accept Christ, then God saves us.

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