God’s Word is our source of truth, Jesus Christ Himself is the Truth; and we are to exercise the Discipline of Truth: knowing and defending His truth. That led us to ask: What are our Biblical Convictions (those based upon God’s Truth)—as Citizens of Heaven, while living on Earth? If we were to apply the truths or doctrines of the Scriptures as far as they relate to the current issues in human society, I would say that revealed in His Word:
GOD is Pro-Life—God is opposed to Abortion and Euthanasia. He is the Creator of Life, the One who grants conception.
GOD is Pro-Marriage—God is opposed to Gay Unions, as well as divorce, adultery, fornication, pornography, and any other form of immorality.
GOD is Pro-Justice—God is opposed to murder, violence, discrimination, prejudice, and abuse of the weak, poor, and unborn; He invented capital punishment, and commands societies to have a just legal system.
GOD is Pro-Work—God is against indolence, sloth, entitlements, oppression of the poor by the rich, and every form of false hope produced by gambling and lotteries.
Each of us here today became Christ’s disciple the moment of our salvation. Disciples are Christ’s sheep, who hear His voice, and follow Him. Followers are disciples, disciples are believers, and believers are Christians, and Christians have been born again at the moment they were saved. So we gather as God’s family, saved by grace, through faith, the moment we called upon the Name of the Lord.
Communion is when we gather as Christ’s Body, to declare that Christ is the center of our lives, and we are His disciples. We celebrate by reaffirming: Christ’s death in our place, His burial with our sins, and His resurrection for our endless life, is the heart of our life here on Earth each day.
When we were born again, we become citizens of Heaven. Salvation was when we entered and began to live in the Kingdom of God, while still living here on Earth. That tension between our citizenship in Heaven, and our stay here on Earth is what so much of the New Testament is written about.
There are three truths that will transform how we look at our calling here on Earth as believers. These three truths we all need to know if we are to master the discipline of disciple-making. Here are those truths:
1. Jesus Taught that Salvation was Coming Under God’s Kingdom & Rule
2. The Apostles Taught that Salvation was Coming Under God’s Kingdom & Rule
3. Disciple-makers Understand that Salvation was Coming Under God’s Kingdom & Rule
Today, each of us believers gathered here, represent what God began at Pentecost. We are the local, visible gathering of the Church that Christ Jesus is building.
Following Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension the most amazing event of all of human history began at Pentecost.
The Church was born in Acts 2, as the Holy Spirit began to apply the sacrifice of Christ Jesus to doomed earthlings, making them sons and daughters of God.
As we open to Ephesian 5:18, we are learning what it means to Get Full, Stay Full & Live Full of God’s Spirit. This may be one of the most vital topics, in the Bible, for any believer.
Sometimes, when we study a topic as massive as the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we need to remind ourselves why this study matters. For a moment think of the record we find in Acts.
Today we are looking at Christmas through the lens of the Holy Spirit. We see another way God teaches us about the Spirit’s work, using the lives of everyday people surrounding Christ’s birth.
First we saw Simeon Illustrating Spirit-Guided Living.
Then, we saw Mary illustrating Un-Common Living Prompted by the Spirit.
Now we come to Zacharias & Elizabeth where we find them illustrating that Living a Spirit-Filled Life, Useful to God: is Not Easy.
Before us this morning is an astounding section of Scripture. As we open to Luke 1, we are opening to the third Gospel. Like each of the other Gospels, Luke has a unique perspective on Christ.
Have you ever noticed how clearly God personally communicated with the characters of Christmas? God explains things to them, shows them when and where to go, warns them of dangers, and arranges amazing meetings for them. What a wonderful way to live with God communicating so clearly & powerfully.
Last week we began our opening series of the year: an examination of the Spiritual Exercises Paul was inspired to write to Timothy in 1st Timothy 4.
As we turn there, think about the magnitude of what we are about to do. We are downstream twenty centuries from the first giving of these exercises, but they still work. These were the disciplines or training patterns that were invented by God to deepen and strengthen His hold upon my life. These are:
TIMELESS & POWERFUL DISCIPLINES
As we each stand at the doorway of a New Year, it is always a time of reflection, resolutions, and thoughts about what we really want to focus upon in the days ahead. This feeling is not new, it almost seems that God built into the seasons of both the Earth and of human life this element of pause, reflection, and renewal.
Just as the burst of life in Spring, and the flourishing of Summer into the harvest of Autumn, leads into the quietness and slowness of Winter to prepare and reflect upon the burst of Spring. So each New Year we pause to think about how to focus on what really matters. That is what this series is about:
LEARNING WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO GOD
We have been examining the Discipline of Truth: that God is the source of truth, and that we are to know and defend His truth. So that leads us to ask: What are the Biblical Convictions—of a Citizen of Heaven, while living on Earth?
If I were to apply the truths or doctrines of the Scriptures as far as they relate to the current climate in human society, I would say that God has revealed Himself in His Word as:
GOD is Pro-Life—God is opposed to Abortion and Euthanasia. He is the Creator of Life, the One who grants conception.
GOD is Pro-Marriag
One of the greatest dangers we face each day as believers is slowly allowing God’s influence over our lives to wane. This condition makes God weightless in our lives. He no longer weighs upon every thought, every choice, and every action of our day.
I wonder how many of us this morning really think that this message is for us. Before we dive in, perhaps we should do a little test for what may be called:
THE GREAT DISCONNECT
Everything in the Universe needs recharging except God; only God is self-existent. Of all creatures, we are most fragile, and most need to be renewed by God.
Today we come to the second exercise Paul assigns to Timothy. We first saw that Paul’s hope for the future growth and health of Christ’s church rested with individuals who could guard against false doctrines and false teachers.
Do troubles and trials push you toward God – or away?
Today, look back over your week. How is your spiritual health? Has it been a week with any trials, troubles, and struggles? Did pressures increase at work, at home, in your health or finances? And then what happens inside of you? Did you cry out to the Lord, fall upon His grace, turn from any wicked way? Or did you seethe in anger, wallow in self-pity, or worst of all harden your heart to spiritual things?
The test of pruning (which is affirmative) and chastening (which is disciplinary) is in our response.
That is one of the simplest ways to test what is going on in your life.
Pruning always draws us closer, chastening initially can push us away.
Today God wants to know how serious we are about following Him, as we open to 1 Timothy 4:7-10. God’s Word is explaining to us that we have an appointment for a workout in the gym. God Himself wants to train us in how to live, walk, and grow in Christ. The Discipline of Integrity means we choose to do what God’s Word says we are supposed to do.
As Paul continues to relay God’s message to each of us, we remember from last time Paul used the highest level of emphasis that is possible to convey in the Greek language. Remember those bright colored words that stand for the emphasis God placed on them grammatically?
Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost; and that is what it says as we open to Luke 19:10. Jesus spent three plus years talking to groups, and individuals, pointing them to salvation. Then He died for sinners, commending God’s love towards us, as Paul said. That is the heart of our Savior. That is the love of Christ. Jesus is still seeking and saving the lost, every day, all over the world; and He will keep doing that until the last moments of human life on Earth before the end.
God’s Word teaches us a doctrine called “believer’s baptism” which means that: God has only designed baptism to be applied to believers. Believer’s Baptism started when Jesus Christ said that the way that people were to declare God’s ownership of their lives after they were saved, was when they were baptized in His Name. Jesus included this baptism of believers into the plan for the church.
The Eternal, Infinite God of the Universe is a Savior, and offers to anyone who will call upon His Name some amazing, supernatural transformations within. That is what the Gospel has been doing from the start: changing humans from the inside out. That is what Paul watched happen across the pagan world of the Roman province of Asia.
SALVATION: THE MIRACLE FROM GOD
Salvation is also the most amazing miracle that we get to see up close throughout our lives as believers. That we were even saved is in itself is a miracle of God’s grace; and those around us who are saved are also part of a constant stream of miracle we get to see and touch personally through life. Getting to disciple a miraculously saved individual is such an encouragement for our faith and walk.
From God’s perspective all humans are born into this world infected with a blinding, crippling virus that left alone: leads to eternal death in darkness and endless pain. So as God looks down He sees us all sitting blindly in the dark on the edge of a deadly chasm. Salvation is when He opens our eyes and turns us from sinful darkness lovers: to God loving and following saints.
Of the millions and millions and millions of people that lived before and during the time period of 15 centuries when God’s Word was written, the vast majority are nameless. People were born, lived, and died without most of the rest of humanity before or after them even knowing their names. The Washington DC think tank called the Population Reference Bureau calculates that by the time of the first century over 40 billion humans had lived and died.
Have you ever been discipled? By that I mean, have you ever sat and learned about the basics of following Christ from someone, one-on-one, where you could pause them and ask questions?
God has given us an amazing picture of salvation in Acts. Salvation has only one Door (Christ), but has many descriptions (these accounts). Every one of us who comes to Christ, finds that He does what these accounts describe when He enters our lives.
God wants to use people. He provides everything needed. All God wants is willingness mixed with humility. When He finds that mix there is no limit to what God can do.
GOD WANTS TO USE US
Paul is an example of the limitless ways God can, did, and continues to use Paul. As God already told us in 1 Chronicles 16:9, His eyes are searching today, as they have always been, looking for those who will seek Him wholeheartedly. God found a whole-hearted servant in Paul. Just the fact that we are reading this account is quite a testimony to what God can do if we invite Him to control our lives.
In Romans 15, Paul who had never been to Rome was writing to the church there and commending them on their living out the truth of Christ. He describes many elements of their lives that were what he noted as good, healthy, and part of a normal life of one supernaturally saved.
Mature, normal, healthy believers display compassion for believers who differ with their convictions (Romans 15:1-3).
As we open to John 10 this morning, we look at the very foundation of Christianity.
Whose birth do we celebrate as God with us, Immanuel? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Who lived the only perfect human life ever lived? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Who dies a substitutionary, atoning death on the Cross of Calvary? Jesus Christ the Lord.
We are to go through life as the Great Commission says, leading people to follow Who? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Discipleship is Explaining What God Has Said
Discipleship is all about explaining what God’s Word says about God’s desires for our lives as believers. Every generation needs those who will explain God’s Word to the next generation. Not just the facts, but also the application. As the Great Commission puts it: “teaching them to observe all things”.
We are looking one-by-one at the Spiritual Living Lessons that new believers need to have personally taught to them by older believers.
Saved: We have seen salvation as portrayed across the pages of Acts by those early Apostles & disciples.
Scripture-Fed: Then we examined the Scriptures and the link between salvation through the Word and spiritual nurture by daily feeding upon the Word.
How Can We Avoid Grieving the Holy Spirit?
We can choose to keep God’s commandments and to lead a disciplined life. There are so many verses, let me just show you a couple. Turn to Romans 8—this is probably the best part of the Bible to mine out truth about the Holy Spirit. And this is what I want on your heart as we commune at the Lord’s Supper this morning. When we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit it immediately impacts the key areas of our Spiritual life. Romans 8:2 says this: When we sin, we must confess the sin immediately and repent of it, changing our minds and our behavior to conform to God’s statutes.
We are studying what it means to walk through life in step with the Spirit of God. There is nothing complicated about life as a believer, it is just staying under the direction & control of the Spirit. When we do so we can live the most amazing life possible, the life God desires us to live. This morning as we look at Mary there is one truth we need to notice:
As we look at a brand new year right in front of us, what would be the best way to use the most precious commodity: our time we have to live? Perhaps no verse is better situated in the Bible to help us answer that questions that the one we turn to in Romans 12.
Have you ever wondered how people in the Bible shared the Gospel, and did evangelism way back then? Last week we looked at our Discipline of Discipleship and saw that we have the very same Gospel, the very same Mission, and the very same power source of the Spirit of God. This week we need to go onward to examine exactly how they communicated that Gospel.
The only trustworthy, reliable, authoritative explanation of God is right here in our hands: it is God’s Word the Bible.
The Bible is the only real key to unlock truth about God, thus it is: the only sure doorway into His salvation, the only official map that leads to God, the only trustworthy reference book that defines and reveals God, the only verified classification guide to explain what God does, and the only navigational chart that leads us to the True & Living God.
1. Each scene in Acts seems more amazing as we walk through these salvation messages. But of all the presentation of the Gospel, this is by all measures the best, most important, and the deepest impact. Paul shares the story of how Jesus Christ met him on the road to Damascus. In Acts 9, the details are sparse, but here the fullest and clearest account comes to us.
Jesus constantly discipled His disciples; and Palm Sunday was no exception.
Welcome to our ongoing study of Biblical exercises for spiritual health & fitness in 2014. Paul told Timothy, and all the generations of believers to come, stay close to Christ: command and teach the church to be all Christ taught us to be. That is what we have before us in the New Testament. We are to command in the sense that “God says this”, and we are to follow up with teaching them “how to” observe what Christ wants from us who please Him by our lives.
Today, if asked, most of us would describe ourselves as “Christians”, some maybe as “Born-again”, others that we are “Saved”. Those are all good, valid, and proper terms; but, what is amazing is how far we have moved from what the New Testament called those who were saints and headed to Heaven.
If you just read and note the descriptions as you proceed through the books of the New Testament, you would assemble a list of the:
NEW TESTAMENT NAMES OF CHRISTIANS
As we come to the Discipline of Disciple-Making, we come to our very own personal Job Description, left by Christ as the reason He saved us and left us here to serve Him through life. A question that should frame each day of our lives is: “Am I Doing What Christ Left Me to Do?”
God has always desired to be glorified by reaching this world with His message of love, His forgiveness of sin, and His offer of reconciliation leading to eternal life. God is not willing that any should perish, so He has always desired that the world to hear His message and repent, so that they may be saved. Because:
GOD IS A SAVIOR
Salvation is a person, but eternal salvation is ONLY through the RIGHT person: named the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Creator of Everything, who is the Savior God the Son who died as the true Lamb of God, and who is the Final Judge of all humans.
More than anything else: knowing, believing, following, and trusting the REAL Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY hope of salvation. In 1 Timothy 4, as we study the Discipline of Truth: note the words of the very strong warning Paul gives: 1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
BEWARE OF DOCTRINES FROM DEMONS