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this old House
them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for
every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle,
showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once
foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures,
living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the
kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by
works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He
saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Spirit. (Titus 3:1-5)
Lord tells Nicodemus, Ye MUST be born again or from above (John 3:7).
The Lord, of course, is speaking of a spiritual birth, not of a natural
birth. Nicodemus didn't understand the Lord at first and neither do we.
But Paul seems to explain it fairly clearly to Titus. Paul tells Titus
to "remind them" which indicates to me that Titus and those he
ministered to were born again. But it is easy in this day and age to
forget that those who claim the title of Christian do not always
understand this concept which is so important.
who are "born again" do not always speak in tongues. We read
about Nicodemus who was told that he needed to be born again on three
occasions, but we never read of him speaking in tongues. We know that in
the new testament, those who were "born again" after the
events of Acts 2 where the church came into existence were baptized.
That is they were immersed in water to reflect their own identification
with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. But you can be
baptized and not be a Christian. The early Christians put the
"remembering of the Lord" in a preeminent place in their
worship. But going through the form or ritual of remembering the Lord
does not mean that a person is born again. A person can be very
Christ-like in their attitudes and life and yet not be born again. A
person who is born again has believed in or believed on or trusted in
the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation from the penalty that
their sins deserve. They have believed in their hearts that Christ died
for them and was raised from the dead which means that this becomes the
motivation and focus of their lives. This is not an academic believing
about the Lord, but an intelligent believing in Him that affects the
mind as well as the emotions. The person who is born again has a time
past in their lives when according to Paul they were foolish,
disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in
malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. The person who is born
again is being renewed or renovated by the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants
to take people that are broken and make something useable and beautiful
out of them.
reason we need to be reminded of the things that once characterized us
is because these are the qualities that by and large are exhibited by
unbelievers. These things are called sin. We live in a world that
practices these things, and it is easy to become like the people we are
constantly around. Notice the list: 1) foolish 2) disobedient 3)
deceived 4) slaves to lusts and pleasures 5) characterized by malice and
envy, hating one another. But while living right is not the definition
of the new birth, particularly if living right is a self-righteous way
of trying to appease God in order to go to heaven, a person who is born
again should be undergoing a "renovation". In Romans 12:2,
Paul writes about this saying, "And do not be conformed to this
world, but be transformed by the renewing (renovation) of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of
God (Romans 12:2)."
are certainly not sinless. If that were true passages like this would
not need to be written. But Christians should certainly sin less (than
they did before they were saved.) We should have a conscience about sin.
There are certain sins that most of us preach against and avoid like the
plague. However, I notice that there are some sins that we don't say too
much about, and since the rise of the internet and email we are actively
involved in it. It is this matter of speaking evil about people. Some
translations call it slander. Slander usually has to do with defaming a
person by telling something that is not true. But would this not include
defaming a person with something that we cannot prove is true? The old
testament requirement for truth in a court of law was for two or three
witnesses to attest to the truth. When we pass along "truth"
about others, we need to remember that we are often subjected to the
same standard that we set for others. That is why in Matthew 7:1-5, we
are not to judge in a way that we would not want to be judged.
also need to remember that the Lord is kind and loving. Notice that our
relationship with the Lord is based on the kindness and love of God our
Savior. To be kind and loving means that there are some things that we
should probably leave unsaid. The old adage that something should be
true, kind and necessary before we repeat it is a good principle to
is a moral evil, just like adultery, drunkenness, stealing, lying and
murder. The easiest way to avoid being involved in a sin that is so easy
to commit is to let the Lord renovate our minds. Then we need to
"think" before we speak. The Lord does indwell us, and He
wants to dwell in a renovated house.
for the week of November 4, 2012
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the
glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Word in this verse is the Lord. He is the way God has communicated to us
in these last days (Hebrews 1:1-2). He is not only the vehicle or the
words that convey a message, He is the message itself. There is power in
words. Ronald Reagan was the great communicator as President because he
knew how to use words when dealing with the public. During WWII, Winston
Churchill was able to keep England encouraged during a very difficult
period in the war by his speeches. What we say and the way we say it has
a great effect on the people to whom we speak. The Lord had a great
effect on His disciples, communicating to them a message of grace and
glory did the disciples see when they saw the Lord? Preachers used to
tell us that one of the principles of Bible interpretation is to assume
that the key to any question raised by the passage is always near the
door. In other words the context of the passage will usually tell us how
to interpret the passage. In this passage, I believe the word glory is
used to mean the beauties of the Lord. The beauties that were seen were
these two characteristics, grace and truth. They were seen in perfect
balance as the Lord communicated the essence of God to us in His life
here on earth.
testament prophets including John the Baptist were not usually
characterized by grace even though God was gracious in the old
testament. But the emphasis as I read the old testament is on the
consequences of sin. The nation of Israel turned their back on God and
they suffered for it. Jeremiah cries in Lamentations 1:12 saying,
"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see If there
is any sorrow like my sorrow, Which has been brought on me, Which the
LORD has inflicted In the day of His fierce anger." This experience
is often applied to the the Lord on the cross, but it is really the cry
of Jeremiah over a devastated Jerusalem. John the Baptist reminded the
nation of their sin and told them to repent (turn back to Jehovah) in
order to prepare for the coming of the Lord. However, in this passage,
the disciples have now seen the Lord; and while He maintains the truth,
He is also marked by grace.
is often defined as a gift. Grace is something that is not deserved or
earned. However grace is necessary when trying to maintain the truth. If
a car were used as an analogy, truth is the engine. Grace is the oil
that keeps the engine running smoothly. Without oil, the engine may run
for a while but fairly soon it will make a lot of noise and freeze up.
talk about children being full of mischief. Some people are full of
themselves. Others are full of evil. People are full of whatever
controls them. If we who are saved are being conformed to the image of
the Lord (Romans 8:29), then we ought to be more and more gracious while
not giving up any truth. We should be full of grace AND truth.
Lord tells us what the truth is and what the consequences are for not
believing the truth. The truth is that we are ALL sinners and that
Christ died for ALL. However, ALL do not receive this truth; and the
truth is that they will suffer eternally because of that. However, the
Lord does not force His truth on any one. He begs, He exhorts, He
reasons but He does not force people to believe in Him. I notice that
grace means that He died for us instead of asking us to die for Him as a
normal king would. Grace involves self-denial and self-sacrifice rather
than self-centeredness because grace is concerned about the welfare of
others. Grace is concerned with giving, not with getting.
is a wonderful thing, particularly when we are the recipients of it. But
if receiving grace is such a blessing, obviously we can bless others by
being gracious ourselves. Wouldn't it be nice if, when we left this
life, the sermon title for our funeral could honestly be, "He (or
she) was full of grace and truth."
for the week of November 11, 2012
Sometimes it is nice to Lose it!
they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD
hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before
him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
mom is now 95 years old. We visited her recently and I know she will not
remember that we were there. Her physical health is good. She seems to
enjoy having people come to see her, but she doesn't seem to know who we
are any more. While we who were raised by her grieve her loss of memory,
there are some things that she has forgotten that maybe are a good
thing. She likely no longer remembers the loss of a daughter that was
scalded in an accident. That accident brought her to saving faith in the
Lord. She likely no longer remembers the loss of a daughter that died
from whooping cough. But while she may have forgotten a lot of things,
the Lord has not forgotten her.
reminds us in 2 Timothy 2:19 that the foundation of God stands sure,
having this seal, the Lord knows them that are his. Many people will ask
you today if you know the Lord. That is a good question, and it is
really good when we can honestly say, "yes." The old testament
prophets tell us that God judged the nation of Israel so that they would
"know that I am the Lord." So we do need to know Him. But a
better question is, "Does the Lord know you?" If He does, that
is a foundation that is unshakeable. Even though my mom may forget how
to quote John 3:16 and even though she may forget the circumstances
associated with her coming to faith in the Lord, the Lord will never
forget her because she did trust Him as a young married mom and proved
it by her life when her mind was still active and sharp. The one thing
the Lord will forget is the sins that she committed in her lifetime.
When Christ died on the cross, He died so that all of our sins could be
forgiven. None of the sins of those living today had been committed yet
when the Lord died. They were all future. Yet, the blood of Christ was
shed in order that all of our sins could be forgiven. For those who
believe in Him and are confident that He did that for them, their sins
are completely forgotten by God. Sometimes we still remember them and
get depressed because of them, but the Lord is able to righteously
forget them. Men may not forget them, the church family that we meet
with may not forget them, our family and friends may not forget them and
we ourselves may not forget them; but the Lord forgets them. He does
nothing to memorialize our sins in order to bring them to remembrance.
then might ask, "Does that mean that there are no consequences
associated with sins committed after we are saved?" Of course there
are. Sin will rob us of health, of friends, of wealth and of fellowship
with the Lord. Our sins will never cost us our salvation, but they will
cost us fellowship with the Lord. No one wants to be around someone that
they have offended, particularly if they do not want to make things
right with that person. So most of us who sin against God, tend to quit
praying, we tend to quit reading His Word, we tend to quit associating
with His people. But even then, John reminds us that if we confess our
sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. This
reestablishes our fellowship with Him. He also reminds us that the blood
of Jesus Christ Gods Son cleanses us from all sin (See 1 John 1:7-9).
Once again, the Lord is not only able to wipe the slate clean with
regard to the sin itself, but He is able to overcome the righteous
consequences of those sins because of His love for us.
are things that we should remember and there are things that we should
forget. Paul forgot the things that motivated him before he was saved
(Philippians 3:13). We should have a changed attitude toward what is
important in life after we are saved. Paul's example makes it clear that
earthly ambitions should be forgotten and that heavenly eternal matters
should now be important. We should "remember the Lord" by
partaking of a loaf of bread and a cup of wine with others who love the
Lord. This memorializes Him and proclaims His death until He comes (See
1 Corinthians 11:17-34). But we should not memorialize the sins that God
has forgotten. We should do everything we can to no longer bring them to
remembrance even though Satan will do His best to make us remember them
by casting his fiery darts at us (Ephesians 6:16).
it be nice if we could remember what God remembers and forget what He
forgets? We tend to remember what we should forget and forget what we
should remember. But there is a day future when we who have trusted the
Lord will get this right.
for the week of November 18, 2012
Problem of False Warnings!
if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and
the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from
among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will
require at the watchman's hand. (Ezekiel 33:6)
last week was Thanksgiving in the United States. You might ask, just
what was I thankful for on Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving always reminds me
that the Lord graciously enlightened me as to the truth of his promise
that "whosoever believes in Him (the Lord Jesus) should not perish
(John 3:16)." This happened just before Thanksgiving in 1963.
President Kennedy had been assassinated and I was concerned about my
future. I knew I was not ready to die in a civil uprising which I
thought was a possibility because of the assassination. I was concerned
about "perishing" so I earnestly sought to get right with God
that weekend. I found out that God had provided for my salvation nearly
2000 years ago when Christ died at the cross. I rested on that truth and
realized that no matter what the result of the Kennedy assassination
was, I would be alright. Christ had promised me that He had died in my
place. My sins were forgiven and my place in heaven was secure. What a
relief! Yes that is something for which to be thankful.
who preach are much like the watchman that Ezekiel writes about. We are
required to be faithful about the warnings of Scripture. Much of our
Gospel preaching is associated with the truth that we either turn to the
Lord for eternal life or we will perish eternally. Perishing is more
than just dying. It is being separated from God in a place of eternal
torment for eternity. This is not popular preaching today but it is
still the truth of the Bible. Everyone who hears this message has to
decide for themselves whether the warnings of the Bible are true. The
problem is that the Bible is misused and misinterpreted by some
preachers, and their warnings are simply not true. As a result many
people think that perishing for eternity is just something that will
never happen to anyone.
am thankful that not all warnings that we get in this life are true. I
have a car that is very dependable. But it has a warning light that
comes on sometimes. It says in bright yellow, TPMS. I think that means
that the tire pressure measuring system may not be working so if a tire
is low, it will not alert me to that. I usually stop at some point (not
usually right away) and check my tire pressure and kick the tires. You
know the routine. Sometimes the light goes out and sometimes it doesn't.
But in any case, I have gotten so I ignore it. Unfortunately the same
thing has happened with the warnings associated with the Gospel. There
are three things that we usually warn people about. One is that death
could occur at any time. Even though the Bible is clear that the young
are more likely to believe God than the the old, when we are young it is
easy to believe that death is not imminent. We tend to believe that
death happens to others but not to us at that age, and we tend to ignore
the warning that we need to be saved now because death strikes all ages.
also try to warn people that the Lord is coming for His own after which
there will be a period of seven years when God will pour out His wrath
on an unbelieving world. The tribulations of that period will be so
severe that a person would not want anyone to go through it. However,
because some discount the warning by making these judgments allegorical
rather than literal, many think the warnings are not to be taken
seriously. Others have set dates for the beginnings of these judgments
which are not Biblically based. Since the dates have come and gone
without the Lord returning, many assume that His promise will never be
fulfilled. The Lord tells us that He will come when we least expect it.
Assuming that the warning is false is not wise because the Lord does
keep His promises.
also warn people that there is an opportune time to be saved. No one is
saved apart from the Holy Spirit drawing them to the Savior. Some
preachers would say that some people have so rejected the convicting
power of the Holy Spirit that they are beyond hope. I, however, believe
that anyone who is alive, still has the ability to respond to the clear
teaching of Scripture that Christ died for their sins. Until a person
dies, I assume that they can still be saved. But the opportune time to
be saved is now.
because there are times when I would like to put a piece of tape over
the warning light in my car so that it no longer bothers me, I hope that
people do not do that with the warnings of Scripture. Even though it has
been a long time since the warnings were given, and even though some
have gone beyond what the Scriptures teach with the regard to the
warnings, that does not mean that the warnings can be ignored. My car
gives false alarms and for that I am thankful when I am driving down the
road and do not want to get stopped. But the Lord does not give false
alarms. Death is coming. The Lord is coming. We need to be prepared.
for the week of November 25, 2012