August 2012

Monthly Archive

A Prisoner to My Feelings

Posted by on 30 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Faith, Jerry Bridges

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!

Psalm 43:5 NLT

“Luke, trust your feelings!” says the omnipresent Obi-Wan Kenobi in the ever popular movie, Star Wars. Though Obi-Wan was referring to the Force, the ubiquitous presence that supposedly holds all things together, many have interpreted Obi-Wan’s admonition to live by their feelings as wise and dependable advice.

However, our feelings can be very deceptive, our feelings will tell us that God has forgotten us and abandoned us in the hour of our greatest need. However at the very moment when we feel furtherest from the Lord, Scripture says he is closest. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isa. 41:10 NLT).

Our feelings do not dictate God’s nearness, he promises that no way ever will he leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). We need to be believers of God’s promises not prisoners to our feelings.

For many years in my own pilgrimage of seeking to come to a place of trusting God at all times, I am still far from the end of the journey, I was a prisoner to my feelings. I mistakenly thought I could not trust God unless I felt like trusting Him (which I almost never did in times of adversity). Now I am learning that trusting God is first of all a matter of the will and is not dependent on my feelings. I choose to trust God, and my feelings eventually follow.

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts (p. 211), Kindle Edition.

Begotten Not Made

Posted by on 24 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, Trinity

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 1:18 NASB

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 NASB

Begotten means that Jesus is the unique one and only son, not created, eternally existent with the Father. With the word, “begotten,” the Nicene Creed was countering Arius’ error that Jesus was at one time created, “There was a time when the Son was not.” Begotten does mean uniqueness, but also is a way of saying that Jesus, God’s Son, was not created. Jesus was eternally existent with the Father, there was not a before and after “begotten” moment. These quotes from Wayne Grudem, Fred Sanders, and B.B. Warfield explain:

As for the texts that say that Christ was God’s “only begotten Son,” the early church felt so strongly the force of many other texts showing that Christ was fully and completely God, that it concluded that, whatever “only begotten” meant, it did not mean “created.” Therefore the Nicene Creed in 325 affirmed that Christ was “begotten, not made”:

‘We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father….’

This same phrase was reaffirmed at the Council of Constantinople in 381. In addition, the phrase “before all ages” was added after “begotten of the Father,” to show that this “begetting” was eternal. It never began to happen, but is something that has been eternally true of the relationship between the Father and the Son. However, the nature of that “begetting” has never been defined very clearly, other than to say that it has to do with the relationship between the Father and the Son, and that in some sense the Father has eternally had a primacy in that relationship.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, pg. 244 (original edition).

If we call it eternal begetting or eternal generation, we are only guarding ourselves against possible misunderstandings. It is not that once upon a time the Father begat the Son, having previously not begotten the Son. No, the eternal Father and the eternal Son have always existed together, the Son always standing in this relationship of from-ness or begottenness from the Father.”

Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (pp. 91-92). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Warfield notes that “only begotten” stands without the article, which points up the idea of quality rather than individuality. He reminds us further that “only begotten” does not convey the idea of subordination or derivation but of uniqueness and consubstantiality: “Jesus is all that God is, and He alone is this.”

Fred G. Zaspel, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Kindle Locations 5460-5463). Crossway.

The Grip of Fear

Posted by on 22 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Faith, Oswald Chambers

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4

Fear is overwhelming anxiety and worry which immobilizes our spirits into believing that our circumstances are bigger than God’s provision.  The sin of fear fails to trust God: fear declares that God is not adequate to met our daily needs. Fear causes us to freeze in our tracks preventing us from going on with God. The resurrected Jesus can and will overcome our greatest difficulties. He is greater than our fears.

Fearful feelings is not the same thing as the sin of unbelief. One may feel extremely afraid, yet choose to stand on God’s promises. Rather than sink into the pit of despair, we can reach out in faith believing that God will be faithful.  Focusing on the power of the resurrected Christ gives us the confidence and certainty that the things we dread are not bigger than God’s almighty strength and faithful promises.

Fear resides in the heart. Take it physically, if you take a deep breath, you cause your heart to pump the blood faster through your veins, and physical fear goes; and it is the same with the spirit. God expels the old fear by putting in a new Spirit and a new concern. What is that concern? The fear lest we grieve Him.

Oswald Chambers, Biblical Psychology: A Treasure Chest for Christian Counselors (London: Simpkin Marshall, 1996).

What is Abiding in Christ?

Posted by on 17 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Abiding in Christ, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5-6 ESV

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacies keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have outcomes that will last for eternity.

To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness from it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne.

C. H. Spurgeon, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Daily Readings (Geanies House, Tain, Ross-Shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1996), 54.

When our Lord says: ‘Abide in me, and I in you,’ He points to something analogous to this. ‘Abide in me’: that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gives, a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: ‘I in you,’ God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.

Andrew Murray, The True Vine (Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.), 35.

It’s About a Person!

Posted by on 11 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Charles Spurgeon, Jesus Christ

 

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

1 Cor. 1:30-31 NKJV

Duh, Christianity is a person–that is obvious! Or is it? How often we forget that Christianity is about a love relationship with Jesus. We get involved in every discussion of liturgy, theology, and ethics, but we forget that Christianity is about being in love with Jesus. Liturgy, theology, and ethics are valuable in their own right, but they cannot be a substitute for an experiential love relationship with Jesus.

Our faith is a person; the gospel that we have to preach is a person; and go wherever we may, we have something solid and tangible to preach, for our gospel is a person. If you had asked the twelve Apostles in their day, ‘What do you believe in?’ they would not have stopped to go round about with a long sermon, but they would have pointed to their Master and they would have said, ‘We believe him.’ ‘

But what are your doctrines?’ ‘There they stand incarnate.’ ‘But what is your practice?’ ‘There stands our practice. He is our example.’ ‘What then do you believe?’ Hear the glorious answer of the Apostle Paul, ‘We preach Christ crucified.’ Our creed, our body of divinity, our whole theology is summed up in the person of Christ Jesus.

C. H. Spurgeon, “De Propaganda Fide,” in Lectures Delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Association in Exeter Hall 1858-1859, pages 159-160.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

Immersed in the Holy Spirit

Posted by on 09 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Charles G. Finney, Holy Spirit

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 4:31 (NIV)

The baptism (in, with, or by) of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s presence, power, and purity: a total submergence within the person of the Holy Spirit. This individual experience is instantaneous and may be reoccurring. The baptism refers to the initial work of the Spirit in uniting believers to Christ as well as on-going encounters with the Spirit bringing refreshment and strengthening in the Christian life. The baptism of the Holy Spirit brings intimacy with God, illumination of the Word of God, power for ministry, and hunger for holiness.

Question: The same day as your conversion you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Answer: Yes, it happened like this: After dinner we were moving books and furniture to another law office. The thought took possession of my mind that as soon as I was alone in the new office, I would try to pray again.

Later, I made up a good fire in an open fireplace and accompanied Squire W. to the door. As I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out, and the utterance of my heart was, I want to pour our my whole soul out to God. The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray.

There was no fire there and no light; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary, it seemed to me that I saw Him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at His feet.

I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind, for it seemed to me a reality that He stood right before me, and I feel down at His feet and poured out my soul to Him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears, and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched Him, that I recollect.

Charles G. Finney, Evangelist. Popular books: Lectures on Revival, Autobiography, and Systematic Theology.

Leona Frances Choy, Powerlines: What Great Evangelicals Believed About the Holy Spirit 1850-1930 (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1990), 79.

Body Life Church and Ministry

Posted by on 04 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Christian Ministry, Church

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

1 Cor. 14:26 ESV

Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Eph. 5:18–19 NLT

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Col. 3:16 NLT

[emphasis mine]

A Body Life Church is a fellowship of believers who seek to minister to each other by calling everyone to faith in God, love of Christ, and service to others. Body Life is about relationships: a growing, deepening love affair with God and mutual concern for one another. This mutual concern is reflected in a quick response to spiritual and physical needs, frank and open discussions, and forgiving and selfless attitudes.

Body Life is about coming to the primary Sunday worship service ready to minister whether one is the pastor, a worship team member, or a parishioner. Body Life is coming to church services prepared to give life as well as receive it. Body Life is not sitting passively sitting in the pew, but outwardly looking for opportunities to bless others.

True Christian ministry is the overflow of the Life of God in us. Ministry is not a position, but a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. We spend time with Christ, Christ reveals himself afresh to us. The overflow of that experience is life, that life encourages and blesses others. Ministry is not a title, but the release of our love of Christ for others. When all of us engage in true ministry as overflow to one another, we are walking in Body Life.

Body Life ministry begins with each parishioner attending services ready to bless, encourage, and exhort others to greater trust in Christ. Body Life ministry is a celebration of spiritual gifts; all members of the body are encouraged to discover and trust the Holy Spirit with the use of their giftings. Body Life says that every member is valuable, every member is is a conduit for God’s grace, every member can be used by God to bless others.

Body Life ministry is a recognition that all believers are ministers, not just the clergy. The purpose of the ministerial priesthood is to build up and equip the entire body of believers to be ministers in the church and for the world. Body Life ministry is a pervasive spirit of love and unity, resulting in an attractive, persuasive evangelistic witness to the world (Eph. 4:11-12; John 13:35).

Every Sunday at Lamb of God: A Three Streams Church, we take time in our worship service to minister to one another in the Spirit of Christ (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16) We come prepared to share a word of prophecy, release a word of knowledge, explain a scripture text, or share a devotional thought during an allotted ministry time. We pray that each week God graces us with his Holy Spirit that we might do the words and perform the works of Jesus.

In Colossians, the Apostle Paul includes Body Life as a true mark of Christian worship and devotion (Col. 3:15-17). In Ephesians, fullness of the Spirit is linked to encouragement, inspired singing, and thankfulness (Eph. 5:18-20). In First Corinthians, mutual ministry is encouraged for the building up of the church. Peter encourages us to maintain an urgency in our worship relying on Christ to empower us to minister to one another because the second coming of Christ is imminent (1 Peter 4:7-11).

The church is a living organism. In the physical body, the hand moves when the brain says to. So too the members of Jesus’ spiritual body takes direction from Him as our Head. Jesus gives each member gifts and talents, making himself alive within his church. He equips his people to love one another, and to serve in unity his kingdom. This is Body Life.

Ray Stedman, Body Life

The Holy Spirit on a Person

Posted by on 03 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: Holy Spirit, Preaching, Watchman Nee

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22

As a pastor, I rarely feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit when preaching to my own congregation. I trust that the Spirit is working irrespective of my mood, the listening audience’s engagement, or the excitement level of the listeners. The prophet Isaiah said that God’s Word never returns void (Isa. 55:11), thus I trust that the Holy Spirit is affecting hearts as I preach. The Holy Spirit is upon the audience encouraging them to trust God entirely, love Christ throughly, and hunger for holiness completely.

I always believe that the Holy Spirit is upon a person when I preach to that person. I do not mean that the Spirit is within the hearts of unbelievers, but that He is outside. What is He doing? He is waiting, waiting to bring Christ into their hearts. He is like the light. Open the window-shutters even a little, and it will flood in and illuminate the interior. Let there be a cry from the heart to God, and at that moment the Spirit will enter and begin His transforming work of conviction and repentance and faith.

Watchman Nee, What Shall This Man Do?