Sermon notes from 10/15/17 – “Snatch Them Out of the Fire!”

“SNATCH THEM OUT OF THE FIRE!”        Jude

INTRO – FIRE – Good or bad. Helpful or harmful. Delightful or destructive.

  • Sit around campfire or firepit
  • Or see your home or business go up in flames – California wildfires
  • Warmth that is pleasant. Or heat that is painful.

Pretty obvious here that the writer Jude is not talking about the pleasant experience of sitting around a crackling campfire, but is referring to a terrible fire that no one would want to go through. He’s talking about the fires of hell – a VERY REAL PLACE WHERE LOST PEOPLE GO WHEN THEY DIE! Rev. 20:15 – “…if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” If you need to be saved, call out to the Lord RIGHT NOW before it’s too late!

In this little letter, Jude is issuing a warning to the church to keep their eyes open for the infiltration of false teachers & enemies into the church. In other words, they were apostates, or those who once gave some indication that they knew Christ, but have since abandoned their faith, which means that they never really had any faith in the first place. The definition of “apostasy” is “a falling away from key and true doctrines of the Bible into heretical teachings that proclaim to be “the real” Christian doctrine.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/apostasy.html) John Stott: “The essence of apostasy is changing sides from that of the crucified to that of the crucifier.” There was & is great danger lurking around in our world from all sorts of folks who are perverting the truth of God’s Word. There are actually apostate preachers who do not believe in God or in the basic foundational truths of the Bible, &, yet, they are still serving Christian churches in our nation. We need to be aware of this danger & be ready to stand against it.

God takes apostasy very seriously, so much so that every NT book w/ the exception of Philemon warns about false teachers & teachings. So how do we deal w/ such rampant apostasy & rejection of the Christian faith? Here are some principles for us to follow:

 

Contend for the faith – v. 3

  • Greek word: agonizomai – “agony”
  • Struggle for
  • Fight for

Jude originally wanted to write a pleasant, encouraging pastor letter to the church – “I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation.” But he wasn’t able to do that due to the “certain people” who had “crept in unnoticed” (v. 4). His letter of comfort to the people of God turned into a call to battle for the people of God. They had to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

What is this “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”?

When Jude said “THE faith,” he’s talking about the known & received body of truth about Jesus Christ & the salvation that comes only through Him as the Perfect Son of God. He’s talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has been preached & taught from the Day of Pentecost up to this very moment.

  • It’s a delivered faith – In other words, it’s not something that we manufactured or came up w/ on our own. It’s been passed on from generation to generation.
  • It’s a defined faith – It is unchangeable, definitely & eternally defined by the unchanging center of our faith; & that center is Jesus Christ who came into the world & lived & died & rose again to bring salvation to all men.
  • It’s a done faith – It’s complete. It’s finished. Nothing can be added or subtracted from our God, & nothing should be added or subtracted from our faith.
  • It’s a defended faith – This is why Jude was writing. The church MUST defend the faith, which leads to next point……

 

Defend against the enemies – v. 4-16 – Listen to how Jude describes these enemies of the faith:

  • Condemned
  • Ungodly
  • Pervert the grace of God
  • Deny Jesus
  • Sexually immoral (v. 8 – “defile the flesh”)
  • Reject authority
  • Blasphemers
  • They’re like animals
  • Greedy
  • Dangerous & deadly
  • Hypocritical
  • Selfish & uncaring
  • Deceitful liars
  • Misleading
  • Shameful
  • Doomed
  • Ungodly
  • Grumblers
  • Never satisfied
  • Loud-mouthed boasters
  • Showing favoritism
  • Divisive
  • Worldly
  • Devoid of the Spirit of God

Does that description sound like the kind of person against whom we need to defend our church, our faith, & ourselves? ABSOLUTELY! So how do we do that?

 

Depend on the Lord – v. 20-21 – 4 verbs (action words) that Jude gives us to help us defend our faith. And the only way to do that is to live in total dependence upon the Lord as a Christ-follower:

  • Building – Making a foundation for a building; strengthening; to make more able – Build your life on the TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL!
  • Praying – There it is again! I wonder if I’ve ever preached a message here that didn’t have something to do w/ prayer!
  • Keeping – Has to do w/ guarding, & obeying, & heeding – His love motivates us.
  • Waiting – to welcome, to wait for, to anticipate a future event – Waiting for the return of Christ.

What an awesome way for us to live for the Lord as we depend on Him every moment of every day of our lives!

 

Extend mercy & hope to as many as possible – v. 22-23 – And as we depend upon the Lord & live for Him, we must never forget the importance of looking outside of ourselves & reaching outside of ourselves.

  • Reach up to the One on Whom you can depend
  • Reach out to those who are doubting
  • Reach down to those who are dying

 

Send your praise to God – v. 24-25 – One of most beautiful doxologies in Bible.

WHAT HE IS ABLE TO DO.

“Keep you from falling.” You do not have to fail. It’s only when you try to go it alone.

“Present you faultless.” But I have so many faults. WE ALL DO! I will be presented in His righteousness.

“Before the presence of His glory.” Standing there before the throne of God. In the brightness of His glory that reveals all things, nothing is hid. I will stand pure, faultless. I will be whispering to myself, “Thank you, Jesus.”

“With exceeding joy.” Joy, such as you have never experienced, or could ever experience on this earth.

“And when before the throne I stand in him complete
Jesus died my soul to save, my lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow
He washed it white as snow”

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Sermon notes from 10/8/17 – “An Encouragement to a Dear Friend”

“AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO A DEAR FRIEND”     3 John

INTRO – Folks, it’s time for some GOOD NEWS! Can I get an “Amen”? I’m tired of the constant barrage of bad news that has been happening in recent days. And while we can’t stop some of the bad things from happening, & we definitely need to be praying for those affected by some of the tragic events that have impacted our nation & world over the last few months, it’s simply time for some GOOD NEWS, & we, of all people, have the GREATEST Good News that anyone can know. And that Good News is this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

One of our church members sent me a text Thu. after she & talked Wed. night at Refresh when she shared w/ me that she was in the middle of a fast to seek the Lord in a greater way (it’s ok to tell others you are fasting as long as you aren’t bragging & boasting about it). This is what she texted to me on Thu.:

 

“Just wanted to share about my fast w/ you. I’m so excited! I am in 43 hours & will complete it tomorrow at 5PM. During my prayer time, I had been asking the Lord to please put me in the path of someone who needed to hear about His love & mercy, just one person. Today on my lunch break, I took my Bible outside & was reading. A young lady came out & was sitting, eating her lunch. I noticed she kept watching me. I know who she is, but don’t really know her. I finally said, “Hey, it’s a really nice day to be sitting out here.” She said, “Yeah, just wanted to take in some quiet time.” Well, she sat there a few more minutes, then started to talk to me about reading my Bible, & then about my faith bracelet…As we talked, she started tearing up, so then I started to tear up, & I’m so excited that she accepted Christ sitting outside sitting on a picnic bench! So thankful for answered prayers for her salvation, & that I still have 29 more hours! What an awesome day!”

 

I want to invite anyone in this place who needs to be saved today to call out to the Lord right now & give your life to Him!

PRAYER FOR SALVATION

Let’s look at 3 John & talk about how awesome our faith in Jesus is today, whether you just accepted Him into your heart, or whether you did that 40 years ago! It’s such a wonderful thing to know Jesus as your Savior & Lord! It’s such a wonderful thing to be connected to His Body, His FAMILY, the Church. Our faith is an “EACH OTHER” faith. It’s a PERSONAL faith, AND it’s an “EACH OTHER” faith. Here are 7 “each other” statements about our faith:

 

We Love Each Other – “Beloved” – v. 1, 2, 5 – John said that about his friend, Gaius: “whom I love in the truth.” In other words, “I truly love you, Gaius!” This is the foundation of it all. It all starts w/ our love for God & our love for each other. Greek word for “beloved” is agapetos – “very dear, a dear friend, a loved one.”

We Pray for Each Other – v. 2 – Look at what a dear Christian friend does when he truly loves the way God wants him to love: He prays for his dear friend. He prays for:

  • Physical health – “…that you may be in good health…” – See James 5:13-16
  • Spiritual health – “…as it goes well w/ your soul.” – I think about what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:15 – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”

So, how IS your prayer life? What do you do to stay consistent? Let me give you these suggestions:

  • Renew your commitment to prayer
  • Write down the names of those you need to pray for – high tech or low tech – doesn’t matter – just do something to help you be more consistent & faithful in praying for each other.
  • Realize that it doesn’t matter how much you do or don’t know about a person’s situation – just pray for them (sometimes just their name)
  • Respond immediately when someone needs prayer – Stop & pray for them right then, if possible (lady in convenience store in Columbia)
  • Remember that this is one of the most important things you can do, so don’t stop.

 

We Rejoice w/ Each Other – v. 3-4 – Listen, Church, we need to be rejoicing w/ each other as we see each other growing in our love for the Lord, in our passion for the Lord, in our service to the Lord! That’s why I got so excited about the text message that I got Thu from that church member! I rejoiced w/ her that God had used her in such a wonderful way, that she had placed herself in a spiritual position to hear from Him & respond in obedience! I rejoiced w/ Blake!

Too many times we let the enemy infect our hearts w/ jealousy & envy & pride. Those things slam the door on our ability to rejoice w/ someone else when God is at work in their lives.

We Support Each Other – v. 5-8 – John is encouraging Gaius to support the work of itinerant Christian workers, missionaries who were traveling around, sharing the Gospel.

Certainly, we need to do the same thing. In fact, we are doing that RIGHT NOW w/ our team that is in New Orleans helping Matthew Delaughter. We support him & other missionaries who are faithfully sharing the Gospel all over the world. That’s why YOUR tithes & offerings are SO important!

But we also need to support each other in other ways, as well.

We Correct Each Other – v. 9-10 – Sometimes, there are times when we have to lovingly confront each other when we’ve wandered away from the Lord, as, apparently, Diotrephes had done.

How sad it is when we just let our brothers & sisters drift away from the Lord into the enemy’s territory, & we do nothing about it! Our correction must not be heavy-handed, judgmental, & condemnatory, but it must happen. Many times that’s why we shy away from any type of correction in the life of another brother or sister in Christ. “That’s none of my business.” “They’ll think I’m judging them.” “I might hurt their feelings.” So, we just let them go. And their lives come apart at the seams, which affects all of us. So sad. What would you think about a soldier who knew where an enemy minefield was, & just let one of his buddies just wander off into that minefield w/out saying anything to him or trying to stop him? We often do that very thing in the Church.

We Encourage Each Other – v. 11-12 – Reminds me of what the writer of Hebrews said in Heb. 10:24-25 – “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds…”

We Want to Be w/ Each Other – v. 13-15 – Last Sunday, talked about going on mission trips. Love going, love serving, love telling folks about Jesus. But one of my favorite things is coming off the plane when we’ve arrived back home, walking down the corridor, headed toward my waiting family. Love that moment when I catch the first glimpse of Vicki, or one of my kids or grandkids! Never gets old! Always brings a tear to my eye & a lump in my throat! Why? B/c I want to be w/ them b/c I love them so much!

There’s just something extra special about the relationships & the connection that we have w/ each other in the Body of Christ. John couldn’t wait to see his friend, Gaius, & the others in the church. He wanted to be w/ them. And, if you & I are in right relationship w/ God & w/ each other, we will want to be w/ each other, too!

 

CONCLUSION – So, there you have 7 “each other” statements about our faith. How are you doing in the “each other” aspect of your faith?

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Sermon notes from 10/1/17 – “A Warning to a Dear Lady”

“A WARNING TO A DEAR LADY”               2 John

 INTRO – All sorts of warnings around us all the time.

  • Warning labels on medicines
  • Warning signs on roads & highways
  • Weather warnings when severe conditions are present
  • Warning sirens & lights on emergency vehicles

All of these are designed to alert us that there is a potentially dangerous & harmful situation occurring or that one could occur. The dictionary definition for “warning” says: 1) a statement or event that indicates a possible or impending danger, problem, or other unpleasant situation. 2) cautionary advice.

The Apostle John is doing that in this short, concise letter. He’s giving this dear lady & the folks in this church a heads-up about the dangers & problems & “unpleasant situation” that could be lurking close by due to the false teachers that are at work. And he’s giving this church some valuable cautionary advice about how to deal w/ these false teachers & what to do.

There are many false teachers & false teachings in our world today that masquerade as orthodox Christian teachings. Just the other day, I passed a banner that was attached to a fence beside a church in the Jackson area. It was encouraging folks to pray for our nation, which is, of course, a good thing. The first part of one of the sentences said this: “As human efforts fail to solve America’s key problems, we turn to God…” – so far, so good – “through His holy mother”not good! It is a completely unbiblical heresy to say that Mary is the mother of God. She was the earthly mother of Jesus, but Jesus has always from eternity past been the Son of Go d. God has no beginning & no end, & has no mother. And there’s absolutely no biblical support for anyone praying to her or any human being who has died.

And we don’t pray through her or anyone else other than Jesus Christ. It does absolutely NOTHING to pray to Mary, or through Mary, or to ask Mary to do anything. She can’t do anything about what is going on in the USA. She was an ordinary human being just like you & me. She is not in heaven praying for you or anyone else. There is only one Advocate before the Father, only one Intercessor before the Father, & His name is Jesus. Mary can’t pray for you. No other person who has died can pray for you. My daddy, as godly a man as he was, is not in heaven praying for me. When Billy Graham dies, he won’t be in heaven interceding for us.

As Christ-followers, we must heed the warnings to be on the lookout for those who oppose the Bible & who spread unbiblical teachings. Let me give you 4 words that need to be in our vocabulary to warn us of false teachings:

 

GUARD – v. 7 – Since coming to CWBC, been on more mission trips than ever in my life. One of the things I noticed in the trips to Nicaragua & Honduras is the large number of armed guards everywhere – every store, bank, business has a uniformed armed guard standing outside. Most of them holding a shotgun. You can tell they mean business.

Why are they there? Obviously, to prevent the bad guys from coming in & robbing the business &/or causing harm to those who work there & do business there.

John continues to warn his readers of the “bad guys” who want to come into the church & do their damage w/ their false teachings. These “antichrists” that he’s warning about were undermining the truth about who Jesus Christ truly is, & hurting the Church by corrupting the Gospel w/ their wrong theology. They were “deceivers”, liars who weren’t just espousing an aberrant gospel – they were striving to lead people astray, keeping them from hearing the truth of the Gospel & being saved. That’s serious business!

Just as the guards in Nicaragua & Honduras don’t play, we, in the Church, don’t play either when it comes to guarding the Church from those who are leading people astray w/ false teachings & a false gospel. We may not meet them at the door w/a shotgun, but we are going to meet them w/ the guns of the Gospel of Jesus Christ blasting away. We aren’t going to kill them physically, but we are going to destroy their false teachings w/ the truth of the Gospel!

 

WATCH – v. 8 – John continues his warning to this dear, Godly lady by challenging her & the church to “watch yourselves.” He’s telling her to look out, to beware, to take heed b/c, as convincing as the false teachers may be, they will take away any spiritual progress that had been made. They will promise growth, but will only deliver deterioration. They will promise that you’ll move forward, but they will deliver stagnation. Giving in to their teachings will lead to a tragic loss of rewards promised to those who live a faithful life of obedience to the Lord.

It’s so easy for any of us to fall prey to an easy believism, a gimmicky plan for quick spiritual growth. But true spiritual growth happens over the course of a lifetime that is dedicated to the ongoing pursuit of the truths that are taught in the Bible. And a strong NT church will help its member to stay on track, moving forward in their walk w/ God, growing in spiritual maturity. That growth happens in 2 primary ways:

  1. A growing knowledge of the Word of God.
  2. A growing application of the Word of God.

 

It’s what John emphasized over & over in 1 John: If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments. We’ve got to KNOW the Bible, & we’ve got to LIVE the Bible. The Christian life is not a life of continual study of the Word but w/ no outward result; it’s a life of continual consumption of the Word that leads to life-changing application. R.C. Sproul: “Without right doctrine, right living is impossible. We have not really understood Scripture if we are not changed as a result of our study.”

 

ABIDE – v. 9 – In April of 1521, Martin Luther, a lowly German priest whose work altered history & started the Great Reformation, stood before the emperor, who asked him to recant his stance on the Gospel. Risking his life, Luther declared, “Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”

John’s challenge here is for us to “abide,” to STAND, to REMAIN IN PLACE, to ENDURE, to CONTINUE & stay strong in our faith, no matter what it costs us.

  • It may cost you a relationship when your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to have sex, or move in together in an unbiblical relationship that doesn’t honor God.
  • It may cost you a job promotion, or a business relationship when you take a stand against some unbiblical business decision your boss makes.
  • It may cost you a grade in school when you write a paper in your college class that stands on biblical principles & your professor doesn’t like it; or a place on a sports team when you decide that your child is not going to play ball on Sundays throughout the year.
  • It may even cost you your life.

 

As a faithful Christ-follower, we must make a lifelong commitment to abide in the teaching of Christ that is found ONLY in THIS book – the one, true, living Word of God! That commitment will bring life, joy, peace, fulfillment, direction, purpose, meaning, & strength to your life & to the Church. It will encourage others to do the same. Younger believers will draw strength from your commitment to abide. So stay there! Stay in the Word! Stand on the Word! Strengthen yourself & others through the Word! Never back away from it or back down from it! Preach it! Proclaim it! Love it! Live it! Bask in it! Be bold in it! Shout it! Share it! Just keep abiding in it!

 

REJECT – v. 10-11 – John is telling this lady to outright reject these false teachers. Paul told the Romans to do the same thing in Rom. 16:17 – “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions & create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; AVOID THEM.” Sometimes, it’s hard for us to say that we ought to reject someone, as John tells this woman in v. 10-11 to not even receive the false teacher into her house (that’s where the church would be meeting. So he’s telling her to not let them in the church). But there’s good reason for this. Here it is:

The protection of the Body of Christ supersedes the personal feelings of any individual.

If someone is trying to bring a false teaching into the church & they get their feelings hurt when we toss them out, too bad, so sad! If someone has left the church & is now trying to lead others away through their false teaching & wrong thinking, & they get upset b/c we don’t want to have anything to do w/ them, that’s their problem, not ours. The purity of the Gospel & the protection of the members of the Church is priority. We can pray for those who are wrong in their doctrine – & we should – but we are not going to accept them into the fellowship due to the potential danger they bring & the potential damage they could do. It’s as simple as that.

CONCLUSION: John warned this dear lady, & today, you & I have been warned. We’ve got to guard, watch, abide, & reject. Will we heed the warnings today?

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Sermon notes from 9/24/17 – “Keep Yourselves from Idols”

“KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS”                        1 John 5:20-21

INTRO – Interesting way for Apostle John to end this letter. Almost seems out of place. After all that John has taught in this letter, he ends w/ this almost abrupt command. REVIEW 1 JOHN. Almost feels like an afterthought. But, of course, IT’S NOT! IT’S IN THERE B/C GOD WANTED IT IN THERE!

John’s audience most likely in city of Ephesus. Temple of Diana there. Filled w/ idols. The making & selling of idols was big business. Lots of money to be made. Christians there were surrounded by idolatry. The temptation to give in, to conform would have been tremendous.

But even more applicable is the truth that the Holy Spirit of God inspired & led John to write this final exhortation in his letter b/c the Spirit knew that, in 2017, the temptation to be led astray by idols would be as powerful as ever, & that we today would need to hear this challenge & heed it.

Augustine: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, & using anything that ought to be worshiped.”

John Piper: “What is an idol? Well, it is the thing. It is the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following or a sport or your immaculate yard.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-idolatry)

So prevalent in our day! Idolatry is everywhere.

Not many of us bow down to little statues on their fireplace mantle. But how many of us bow down to other things that move God out of His rightful place in our lives?

  • What is it that consumes so much of your time that you don’t have time to read your Bible, or pray, or come to church regularly? There’s your idol!
  • What is it that gets you more fired up than you are about a personal relationship w/ Jesus? There’s your idol!
  • What is it that is in your life that has caused your zeal & passion for the Lord to decrease, & your fire for the Lord to cool? There’s your idol!
  • What is it that occupies the majority of your mind’s attention & your heart’s affection? There’s your idol!

The Foolishness of Worshiping Idols

Hideyoshi, a Japanese warlord who ruled over Japan in the late 1500s, commissioned a colossal statue of Buddha for a shrine in Kyoto. It took 50,000 men five years to build, but the work had scarcely been completed when the earthquake of 1596 brought the roof of the shrine crashing down and wrecked the statue. In a rage Hideyoshi shot an arrow at the fallen colossus. “I put you here at great expense,” he shouted, “and you can’t even look after your own temple.”

Look at v. 20: Another “we KNOW” verse (word “know” used about 35 times in this letter) – It’s a one-verse summation of the Gospel.

  • Jesus came
  • Jesus gave
  • We know Him
  • We are in Him

 

Jesus is TRUE!

Jesus is REAL!

Jesus is ALIVE!

 

To even TRY to compare any false god to Jesus is so foolish! And yet we see people doing it every day everywhere. They are living their lives bowing down to dead idols & false gods.

  • False gods that appeal to our fleshly desires
  • False gods that seem to promise happiness & fulfillment
  • False gods that feel like they’re smarter & stronger than the real God.
    • This is one of the reasons that so many people – even Christians – are living together these days.
    • They’ve given into the false teaching of the world that appeals to their flesh (need to make sure you’re compatible; can have sex any time you want)
    • They’re obeying a false god that promises them happiness & fulfillment – And they may experience it TEMPORARILY. But the pleasure of sin lasts only a short time, & is always followed by pain & death.
    • They’re listening to a false god that seems to make more sense to them than the God who demands that we obey His teachings & commands in His Word. (“That stuff is so outdated!” “Things are different now.” “This is just the way everyone lives now.” “It’s not that big a deal.”)

 

The False Security of Worshiping Idols

  • It’s a control issue – G.I. Joes when I was a kid – I controlled everything about him. He didn’t do anything on his own. I did everything for him. I decided the rules about how we were going to play. I was in complete control.
    • Same way w/ idols. I call the shots, instead of God calling the shots. I want to be in control of my life, instead of submitting myself to the control of God over my life.
    • Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
  • It’s a confidence issue – In the Christian life, we are required to walk by faith & not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). It’s the very foundation of our lives as Christ-followers – Prov. 3:5-6.
    • And, yet, many times we don’t want to trust a God we can’t see. We want to take these into our own hands. We think we know better how to run our lives than He does.
    • People of Ephesus – Why trust in an unseen God when you can run down to the temple & get an immediate audience w/ a god you can see & touch & feel? So many others are doing that, so there must be some validity to it.
  • It’s a convenience issue – Handy Pantry/Pic a Bit – convenience stores in Cleveland when I was a kid. We called them “curb markets.” The big grocery stores had the same things, but more convenient to run in one of these stores. Willing to pay more for a gallon of milk or loaf of bread. Don’t want to take the time to walk up & down aisles of big stores when there’s the convenience store on the corner. We don’t want to WAIT for anything, & we don’t want to WORK for anything.
    • Building a relationship w/ the one, true God takes time. Takes work. Takes effort on our part. Takes faith. Takes patience. It’s SO worth it, but it’s a lifelong process of starts & stops, mountaintops & valleys, sacrifice, discipline.

 

The Frightening Consequences of Worshiping Idols – 2 frightening consequences:

  • What we become: We become like that which we worship
    • Psalm 115:1-8
    • Psalm 135:15-18
    • 115:8 & 135:18 BOTH say, “Those who make them become like them, so do ALL who trust in them.”
  • What is coming: Colossians 3:5-6 – “…the wrath of God is coming.” Idolatry is so dangerous b/c God has promised to pour out His wrath on those who bow down to idols.
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Sermon notes from 9/3/17 – “Do You Have Life?”

“DO YOU HAVE LIFE?”                  1 John 5:6-12

 INTRO – Title of sermon: “Do You Have Life?” Hate to start this sermon w/ some depressing information, but this shocked me to my core when I read it.

  • Iceland – recent news report revealed that nearly 100% of babies diagnosed w/ Down’s Syndrome were aborted once the mothers found out about the infant’s condition through prenatal genetic screening. Tragic! And the USA is not far behind w/ 67% of babies diagnosed w/ that same condition between 1995-2001.

We live in a world & in a nation where life is not valued, unless, of course, you are already born. Then, by golly, nobody better mess w/ YOUR life! Hear folks say, “This is MY life & I will live it anyway I want to live it, which includes killing my unborn child if I want to.” The only Baptist pastor in capital of Iceland had this to say in an article in Christianity Today: “Ultimately abortions are antithetical to the gospel message the church proclaims, as we marvel over the fact that Jesus says to undeserving sinners: ‘I will lay my life down for my sheep,’ and so he did, taking on our sin and shame, and the debt that stood against us and nailing it to the cross. Abortion instead demands of an innocent life, ‘You will lay your life down for me.’” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/august-web-only/icelands-only-baptist-pastor-down-syndrome-abortion.html?start=2)

 

Our God is a God of life! His promises to us are all about the life that we can have in His Son, Jesus Christ.

  • It is REAL life!
  • It is ABUNDANT life!
  • It is ETERNAL life!

 

As John begins to wrap up this letter, he returns to his ongoing battle against the confusion that the false teachers of his day were bringing into the church. These false teachers were promoting a secret knowledge of Jesus, which contradicted the apostolic truth of who Jesus truly is. John wanted his readers to know & experience the AUTHENTIC Christianity that comes only through knowing & trusting Christ alone. He didn’t want them to give in to some esoteric baloney that the Gnostic teachers were propagating.

Quick lesson on beliefs of Gnosticism: One of most dangerous heresies in the 1st century. In a nutshell, Gnostics believed that they had some mystical knowledge that was higher than the Scriptures, & that matter was inherently evil & spirit was good. B/c of this belief, they denied the full humanity of Jesus, even though they attributed some form of deity to Him (remember definition of a heresy: Every heresy is either the overemphasis or the perversion of some great biblical truth).

John MacArthur: “Such heretical views destroy not only the true humanity of Jesus, but also the atonement, for Jesus must not only have been truly God, but also the truly human (and physically real) man who actually suffered and died upon the cross in order to be the acceptable substitutionary sacrifice for sin… The biblical view of Jesus affirms His complete humanity as well as His full deity.” (https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB62/first-john)

The junk that the Gnostics were spreading was full of death, just like the junk that the abortion providers in Iceland are spreading. The Iceland lies destroy physical life, & the Gnostic lies destroy spiritual life. Both are dangerous – both are evil – & both must be resisted by standing on the truth of the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

Let’s look at the 3 testimonies found in this passage:

 

THE TESTIMONY THAT PROVES – v. 6-10 – In a court of law, the weight of the testimonies of the witnesses can make or break a case. The attorneys try to make sure that they are putting the most credible witnesses on the stand w/ the most convincing evidence that they can find.

John gives the most convincing evidence he can give to prove the credibility & authenticity of who Jesus is – that He was & is 100% man & 100% God. He establishes this proof using the ironclad testimony of 3 witnesses:

  • The water – Jesus “came by water & blood” (v. 6). The water refers to His baptism in the River Jordan, when the Father spoke from heaven & proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). At the same time that God the Father was making that proclamation, God the Spirit was descending on God the Son like a dove. What a powerful testimony as to the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ was provided by the “water” of Jesus’ baptism! Charles Spurgeon: “…with His other Self, His Only Begotten, in every condition and in every case, from every point of view, He is well pleased and perfectly satisfied—and well He may be, for Christ is worthy of His Father’s satisfaction and delight.” (http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols40-42/chs2409.pdf)
  • The blood – The 2nd witness that takes the stand to testify & prove who Jesus truly is is “the blood.” This is a reference to His sacrificial, substitutionary death on the cross in payment for our sins. Once again, in that pivotal moment in His life as He hung on that old rugged cross, His perfect, life-giving blood pouring from His body, the Father thundered His testimony forth from heaven, darkening the sky, shaking the earth, resurrecting dead people from their graves, & ripping the Temple veil in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:45-54). The blood pouring from Jesus’ body on the cross gave further proof to His humanity & deity.
  • The Spirit – The Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Trinity, was given to bear witness to Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” Warren Wiersbe: “We can trust the Spirit’s witness because ‘the Spirit is truth.’ We were not present at the baptism of Christ or at His death, but the Holy Spirit was present. The Holy Spirit is the only Person active on earth today who was present when Christ was ministering here. The witness of the Father is past history, but the witness of the Spirit is present experience. The first is external, the second is internal—and both agree.[1]

These 3 – the water, the blood, & the Spirit – are in complete, perfect agreement w/ one another in proving who Jesus is. Why is their testimony complete & perfect? B/c it is “the testimony of God” (v. 9). Just as He is complete & perfect, so is His testimony about His only begotten Son complete & perfect. His is the testimony that proves!

 

THE TESTIMONY THAT GIVES – v. 11 – We move to the testimony in v. 11 that clearly establishes the life-giving truth that God gave us eternal life, & this life is in His Son. What an incredible truth to rejoice in today!

God GIVES us eternal life! Did you hear that? He GIVES it to us! It’s FREE! We don’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. We can’t buy it. We can’t work out way up to it. He gives it to us! It’s a free gift! Charles Stanley – “The salvation that has been given to us is His loving, sacrificial gift to us – we can do nothing to earn it.” Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John Piper preaching on Rom. 6:23 – “…consider how these two masters pay their slaves. ‘The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ The slave master, sin, pays wages, and the slave master, God, gives gifts. One master pays. The other master gives.

What’s the difference between a wage and a gift? A wage is something you earn. A gift is something you don’t earn, and can’t earn. A wage is a matter of debt and justice. A free gift is a matter of beneficence and grace. You can take somebody to court for not paying you your wages; but you can’t take anyone to court for not giving you a free gift. You deserve your wages. You don’t deserve a free gift. Otherwise it wouldn’t be free.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-free-gift-of-god-is-eternal-life-part-1)

During the Spanish War, Teddy Roosevelt, then a colonel, commanded a regiment of rough-riders in Cuba. He became much attached to his men and was greatly concerned when a number of them fell sick. Yellow fever was decimating the troops.

Clara Barton (was a nurse who started American Red Cross) had received supplies & food for the sick soldiers under her care. Roosevelt asked her to see some of them to him for his sick men. She refused. The Colonel was very troubled; he cared for his men and was willing to pay for supplies out of his own pocket.

`How can I get these things?’ he asked. ‘I must have proper food for my sick men.’

`Just ask for them, Colonel.’

`Oh!’ said Roosevelt, his face breaking into a smile, ‘that’s the way, is it? Then I do ask for them.’ And he got them at once.

All we have to do is ASK to receive the free gift of eternal life!

The testimony that gives is the testimony that God GIVES the free gift of eternal life to anyone who places their faith & trust in Christ alone.

THE TESTIMONY THAT MATTERS – v. 12 – John puts it plainly & succinctly, probably as a final exclamation point in his case against the false teachers: If you have Jesus, you have life. If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have life. You’re either saved or lost, alive or dead, headed to heaven or headed to hell.

So, friends, this is what truly matters. Do you have Jesus?

  • Doesn’t matter if you have a lot of money
  • …a lot of friends
  • …a lot of influence
  • …a lot of success
  • …a lot of intelligence

The testimony that truly matters is that you have Jesus. Everything else pales in comparison to this.

CONCLUSION: TV commercial: “What’s in YOUR wallet?”

So, what’s in YOUR testimony?

  • “I have Jesus.”
  • “I don’t have Jesus.”

If your testimony is that you DO have Jesus, then:

  • Rejoice
  • Renew & Recommit
  • Reach out

If your testimony is that you DON’T have Jesus, then:

  • Turn away from your sin
  • Turn to Jesus
  • Trust Him alone

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 527). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Sermon notes from 8/27/17 – “How To Be an Overcomer”

“HOW TO BE AN OVERCOMER”  1 John 5:1-5

 INTRO – “Overcomer” video – Mandisa

Parable of an overcomer: The parable is told of an old dog that fell into a farmer’s well. After assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the dog but decided that neither the dog nor the well were worth the trouble of saving. Instead he planned to bury the old dog in the well and put him out of his misery.

When the farmer began shoveling, initially the old dog was hysterical. But as the farmer continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back he should shake it off and step up. This he did blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.

No matter how painful the blows or how distressing the situation seemed, the old dog fought panic and just kept shaking it off and stepping up! It was not long before the dog, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What seemed as though it would bury him actually benefited him—all because of the way he handled his adversity. (http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1999/november/12070.html)

This morning, we are going to talk about what it takes to be an overcomer. All of us will face situations in our lives that will require us to reach down deep inside & find the faith that we need to be an overcomer. Some of us are facing those situations right now. So let’s jump in & look at 5 discoveries of overcomers:

 

THE TARGET OF OVERCOMERS – “the world” – What is it that you & I must overcome? There may be something that is pressing in on us in a big way right now:

  • Medical/health situation
  • Family situation/friend situation
  • Financial situation
  • Work/school situation
  • Besetting sin/Addiction situation

 

All of these things are situations that have come into our lives in some way or another due to the fact that we live in a sinful, broken world. Look over at v. 19. Right now, we are living in a world that “lies in the power of the evil one.” Yes, God is God & He is ultimately sovereign over all creation. But Satan – “the evil one” – is the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). There’s only one King & His name is Jesus. But Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons. (https://www.gotquestions.org/prince-power-air.html) And you & I live in this world where Satan is influencing people, rulers, governments, corporations, educators, professors, celebrities, our neighbors, even some of our family members. John MacArthur: “…the whole world—its politics, economics, education, entertainment, and, above all, its religion—lies in the power of the evil one. The evil world system is hostile to God and believers… as John noted earlier in this epistle. It takes its cue from its ruler, Satan…the archenemy of God and His people. Because the world is completely under Satan’s influence, believers must avoid being contaminated by it.” (MacArthur NT Commentary) This world is the target of our overcoming. No matter what specific situation, circumstance, or problem we are facing, it has, in some way, been touched, impacted, & influenced by the world.

 

THE TEST OF OVERCOMERS – Have you been “born of God?” This question will make or break you as an overcomer. Your answer will determine whether or not you will truly be an overcomer. Sure, there are ways that you can make it through some of the difficulties of life, even if you’re not born of God.

  • Modern medical advances can help w/ your illnesses
  • Savvy financial experts can assist w/ money problems
  • Intelligent educators can help answer some questions
  • Powerful political maneuvering & posturing can change laws
  • Highly trained counselors can assist w/ your problems

All of these can assist folks in overcoming specific problems or difficulties in this life, your earthly life.

But, ultimately, none of them can give you what you need to be an overcomer in that which really matters – your eternal life! Only those who have been “born of God” will overcome death, hell, & an eternity of suffering, misery, & torment. If you’re not born of God, YOU ARE NOT AN OVERCOMER!

What does it mean to be “born of God”? It means to believe that Jesus is the Christ (v. 1). Jesus said in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” When you are one of God’s children who has been born of Him, who truly believes that Jesus is the Only Way to heaven & eternal life, that there is no other Savior other than Jesus, then you immediately become an overcomer in that moment of belief & trust. The Lord Jesus gives you everything you need to overcome in this life, & guarantees that you will overcome death & the grave & live w/ Him for all eternity! Have you been “born of God”???

 

THE TRUTH OF OVERCOMERS – “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”

Where is your faith today? Is your faith in your abilities, your successes, your earthly victories in the business world, in your family relationships, in your educational achievements, in your financial & material wealth, your physical fitness & health? All of those things can be taken away in an instant. One unexpected doctor’s report, one bad financial decision, one moment of moral compromise, & it’s all gone. Just ask Jason Morrow how quickly life can change. He is burying his 4 yr-old daughter this afternoon after she dies suddenly following a seizure this past week.

To be an overcomer, we have to build our lives on the truth of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, & what Jesus is doing & will do in our lives, no matter what happens. It’s the parable of the builders in Matt. 7:24-27.

“Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armor & artillery by which we overcome” (Matthew Henry).

 

THE TEAM OF OVERCOMERS – “EVERYONE who believes…OUR faith” –

Your trust in the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior, your belief in Him as the Christ is YOUR faith. No one can do that for you. You don’t get to heaven on anyone else’s faith other than your own faith. Not your parents’ faith, not your spouse’s faith, not your church’s faith or your denomination’s faith. It’s YOUR faith, YOUR trust in Christ alone for your salvation that saves you & makes you an overcomer.

But, your faith places you smack dab in the middle of a whole bunch of other folks who are overcomers – THE CHURCH. You’re w/ “everyone who believes!” YOUR faith is “OUR faith!” Everyone who believes becomes your TEAM, or, as we like to emphasize here at CWBC, your FAMILY! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Friday night, some boys down in Brookhaven at Vicki’s alma mater, BA, took the field to play a football game. Came into the game w/ a 24-game losing streak. Ended the game w/ a 1-point victory. One player couldn’t do that. It took the entire team to overcome the adversity they faced.

My brothers & sisters in Christ, we are a TEAM, a FAMILY! I know that you can’t overcome my struggles for me, & I can’t overcome yours for you. But what great comfort it is to know that there are others around us who are encouraging us, helping us, holding us up, walking w/ us!

 

THE TRIUMPH OF OVERCOMERS – We WILL overcome! The Greek word for “overcome” means “triumph.” It means that we will prevail, as we’ve already seen in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world!” For the Christ-follower, we can confidently & boldly proclaim, “WE WIN!” Why? B/c Christ has already won for us! The One who has won the victory over Satan is the One who lives in us! WE WIN b/c CHRIST HAS WON!

CONCLUSION: John Henry Yates – born in Batavia, NY in 1847. Had some scary moments as a child:

  • Fell down stone steps of a hotel into cellar, fracturing skull. Unconscious for several days.
  • Family traveling on a ship. Storm struck. Hurled young John across deck, broke his leg.
  • Age 16, accidentally fell on a double-edged knife in a school play & punctured right lung. Hung on for his life for 3 weeks.

Survived childhood. Began writing poetry & hymns. Started working for a newspaper. Got married. Lay preacher. Shared Christ in churches all over western NY state.

Feb. 1878, lost wife & 2 sons in span of one week during an outbreak of diphtheria.

His most famous hymn says this: “Faith is the victory, faith is the victory. Oh, glorious victory that overcomes the world.” Died in 1900 w/ those words carved into his tombstone.

“victory” – Greek word – nike’ – Let’s “Just do it!” Let’s commit our lives to Christ today & be the overcomer that He has called us to be!

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Sermon notes from 8/20/17 – “It’s All About Love”

“IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!”          1 John 4:7-21

 INTRO – WOW. This has been a crazy week in our nation & in our world. From Charlottesville to Barcelona to Fortification Street, we continue to see the ongoing fruit of evil & sin proliferating across the world. And there are 2 words that we are hearing a lot these days: love & hate. Who would have thought last year when I was praying & thinking about what I needed to preach on at this time in this year that our nation would be in the turmoil that it’s in right now. God is sovereign & omniscient – meaning He knows everything. He knew then that we would need to focus now on His love more than ever. I told you a couple of weeks ago when I preached from 1 John 3:11-24 with the sermon entitled, “Love Requires Action,” that we would be revisiting the subject of love again, & here we are again. We just didn’t know even 2 weeks ago that this would be exactly what we need to focus on once again in our lives as Christ-followers. While people of every color, every political party, & every cultural viewpoint in our society vomit out their venom & scream at each other in anger, hatred, bitterness, & hostility, the Church MUST clearly, confidently, & committedly speak love into this melee & live love in front of a watching world. We simply do not have a choice as to whether or not we are going to do this. It is a clear command from the Lord, & to not do it shows that we do not truly know Christ. When the confrontations come to us – & they are going to come, whether on the street, at work, at school, or on social media – our response as Christians is clearly mandated for us in the Word of God, guidebook for life: LOVE ONE ANOTHER – PERIOD. The Church – the people of God – must stand against racism in every way, shape, & form. We have to lead the way & loving all people, regardless of anything in their lives that is different from us, or that we find offensive. For the committed Christ-follower, it’s not a matter of statues, monuments, flags, protests, marches, & in-your-face screaming. It’s a matter of Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting, Christ-imitating love.

As we look at this passage, we find that the word “love” is used 27 times! IT IS SO IMPORTANT! Can’t overemphasize it enough! So, using this passage & 2 others, we find these 4 elements of love:

 

THE DESCRIPTION OF LOVE – 1 Cor. 13:4-7 – There’s no better place in Scripture to get a perfect description of love than Paul’s hymn of love in 1 Cor. 13. In this well-known, well-loved passage, he gives some wonderful words to help us understand what agape love is all about.

  • agape – God’s love. Only comes from him. Can’t be shown & practiced by a human unless we’ve first experienced it through His transformative work in our lives. Only as He is in us & works through us can we know & practice agape love.

There are 3 other Greek words that are used to describe different types of love:

  • phileo – Only other type of love mentioned in Bible. Brotherly love. Shown in close friendships. Jonathan & David – great example of this kind of love. 1 Sam. 18:1, 3 – “…Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . . . And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
  • eros – not mentioned in Bible – sexual love. Wonderful when expressed within marriage relationship between a man & a woman. Distorted & sinful when expressed outside of marriage.
  • storge – natural love shown among families – parent to a child.

Back to 1 Cor. 13. Verses 4-7 give a great description of what agape love should look like in the life of a Christ-follower. EVERY Christ-follower should strive to live their lives in such a way that the word “love” could be replaced w/ your name & it would be a true statement about you. Then & only then could it be said of you that you were living a life of Christlike love. The description of love would then be a description of YOU, & God would be pleased & glorified.

 

The Deterioration of Love – 2 Tim. 3 – When we look around us & we see violence & all sorts of different forms of sexual immorality & racism & prejudice & abuse & on & on the list goes – we begin to realize that we may be in the last days that Paul was talking about in 2 Tim. 3. Billy Graham has…said he believes there are Biblical signs of the end times visible in the world today. Nearly 10 years ago, he wrote, “We see the storm clouds gathering and events taking place that herald the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

Of all the things that Paul listed in 2 Tim. 3, the thing that is most disturbing, alarming, & telling is the deterioration of love. Oh, love is still around & evident in these days. It’s just that that love is directed toward so many other things other than toward God.

  • “lovers of self” – philautos
  • “lovers of money” – philargyros
  • “lovers of
    ” – “not lovers of good” – aphilagathos
  • “lovers of pleasure” – philedonos

As we look at each of those words, we see something in common. The root of each of those is connected back to one of the 2 biblical words for “love” – phileo – the word for brotherly love, or the love between close friends.

  • We’ve become best friends w/ our “self” & what we want & desire rather than what God wants & desires for our lives.
  • We’ve become best friends w/ our money & our material possessions & the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. Instead of thinking about how to use our financial resources to further the work of God, we are consumed w/ how to use our money to further our fun & our selfish pursuits.
  • We’ve become best friends w/ the wrong stuff, & enemies of the good stuff.
  • We’ve become best friends w/ pleasure. Root word is the word from which we get “hedonism” – the belief that the pursuit of pleasure is the purpose of life.

Our world & even some Christians are consumed w/ loving so many other things other than loving God. The agape love that John is teaching about in 1 John 4 has been replaced by the different loves that Paul warns us about here. We see it everywhere!

  • We love our skin color more than we love God.
  • We love our way of life more than we love God.
  • We love our heritage more than we love God.
  • We love our human heroes more than we love God.

While the love for the things of the world accelerates, our love for God deteriorates.

Friends, we’ve got to stop this deterioration in our lives. Can’t do anything about the world. But we can & we MUST do something about the deterioration of love w/in the Body of Christ. We need to get back to the foundation & realize the depth of God’s love & how that translates into the duties of God’s love in our lives. Let’s finish by looking at those 2 elements of love:

 

THE DEPTH OF LOVE – v. 9-10 – C.R.A. – Cleveland Recreation Association – swimming pool. Had separate baby pools. Then 2 ft., 3 ft., 4 ft., then a wall (remember peering over that wall – “One day…”). Go around the wall – 5 ft., 6 ft., then a rope. Past the rope 10 ft. to 12 ft. Progress from baby pool all the way to the 12 ft. Finally able to climb the high dive & bail off into the deep end. What a rush!

Great picture of the Christian life! Baby pool – swimming lessons – steady progression into deeper & deeper water. Spiritually speaking, there are way too many folks who are stuck in the baby pool or the 2 ft. & are missing out on the joy & the rush of getting into the depths of God’s love! He sent His Son into the world that we might “live through Him!”

 

The Duties of Love – v. 7-8, 11-12 – Out of the depths of love flow our duties of love – to love others & show others what God’s love looks like.

It our everyday perspective – v. 7a

…changes our eternal destination – v. 7b

…our expressions of worship – v. 13 – Spirit is in us

…our explanation of why we do what we do – v. 14 – Jesus is our Savior.

…our established confession of faith – v 15-16 – our doctrine flows out of God’s agape

…our exhibition of courage – v. 18 – We don’t have to be afraid of God’s wrath & judgment

…our essential foundation of our lives – v. 19 – His love forms the foundation for everything we do in our lives.

…our experiences in human relationships w/ people who are like us & those who are not like us – v. 20-21 – To hate someone means that we simply have not had our lives transformed by the love of God.

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