Tag Archives: bible study

Three Things About Barnabas

Preaching Through Acts

For several months I have been preaching through the Book of Acts again, both in our Wednesday-night Bible study and for Bible school classes at Covington Seminary. It’s always a blessing, to say the least.

The Book of Acts is Luke’s written record of the early Christian church. In it, he records for us key events and people through which God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, birthed, nurtured, and sent out those who would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Taking a few verses at a time, I have sought to deliver what it is God wants our little congregation to learn and apply in our context, especially at this time in which we are in.

Barnabas

One of the key personalities in Acts is a man by the name of Barnabas. He was a Levite from the country of Cyprus who became a follower of Christ. He was a generous man, a godly man, and one whose name fit his personality; he was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).

Barnabas was the type of guy that truly cared about people and wanted to see them succeed. He was more than just a team player; he was a motivator, the kind of man who would step down from the pedestal so that someone else could shine. As a matter of fact, it was Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul), the former persecutor of Christians, to the church at Jerusalem (talk about having someone’s back!).

But in preaching through chapter 11 of Acts, I came across a description of Barnabas that left me very convicted. The way Barnabas was described should be how we are described: good people, full of the Holy Ghost, and full of faith (11:24).

A Good Man

The first thing said about Barnabas was that he was “a good man.” Now, a lot of people think they are good people, but not all are. As a matter of fact, there’s no other place in Acts where Luke describes a person as “good.” Only Barnabas gets that distinction.

Being described as “good” meant that he was a man with whom no one could find fault. He must have been a man of strong character, a man who kept his word, and a man who would do anything for anybody, including give the last coin to one in need. He was the kind of man Jesus was talking about when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Barnabas was genuine, the “real deal.”

Full of the Holy Ghost

Barnabas was also “full of the Holy Ghost.” What does that mean? Well first off, let’s think about the description of “full.”

The Greek word translated as “full” is one that meant not only to be filled up but filled up to the point of overflowing. Barnabas was totally yielded and filled with the Spirit, so much so that His presence spilled over onto others. The “son of consolation” was an encourager, just like the Spirit controlling and empowering him.

Full of Faith

Barnabas was not only full of the Holy Ghost but also of faith. Simply put, Barnabas was fully convinced and persuaded with what he believed to be true. There was no doubting, no hesitation, no reluctance, no hiding, no timidity. Barnabas was sure in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is one reason he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see what was going on in Antioch of Syria.

The Result

Now, let’s look at what happened because of Barnabas’ character, his spiritual power, and his sure faith.

“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” – Acts 11:23-24 

First, because he was a good man, he was not jealous of the good things happening in Antioch; he rejoiced that the grace of God had been poured out on the believers there!

Second, because he was full of the Holy Ghost, what was in his heart (as Jesus described) had to be shared, so he “exhorted” them and encouraged them in their faith.

Third, because Barnabas knew what temptations and trials could come, especially with the persecution following Stephen’s death fresh on his mind, he encouraged the new believers to be pro-active in their devotion to the Christ. He knew that the only way to have a strong faith is to purposefully “cleave unto the Lord.”

Fourth, many people were added unto the Lord! Because of the spirituality and faith and character of godly Barnabas, not only were new believers in Antioch strengthened, but many more people came to know Christ!

The Challenge

Here’s the thing. Why aren’t more people coming to a saving faith in Jesus? Why aren’t more of our churches encouraged? Why aren’t more Christians spiritually maturing in their faith? It’s because we don’t have enough men and women like Barnabas.

Be a good person! Seriously, be the type of man or woman that people can trust and rely on. Be the type of person that people can tell you care. Be generous, compassionate, trustworthy, and consistent. Be people of honor and character.

Be filled with the Spirit! Do you know what it means to be completely filled with the Holy Ghost of God? It means there are no little rooms, closets, or boxes in your heart where there is written a note to God which says, “Private! Hands off!” Every are of your life – every secret part – should be yielded to and controlled by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, you are self-controlled and rebellious, and thereby powerless.

Be full of faith! Grow your faith. Study God’s Word. Know why you believe what you believe. Don’t be a coward! If you are shy or feel intimidated to share your faith with others, ask yourself why that’s so!

Would you be afraid to warn your neighbor a murderer was crawling through his bedroom window? Would you be afraid to yell “fire!” if flames were engulfing the rooms of a hotel where people were sleeping? It’s only because you are NOT full of faith that you are not bold; you have doubts the fire is real and the murderer really means to harm.

You and I need to be more like Barnabas.

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Filed under Bible Study, Faith, Preaching

Arguments for Eternal Security

My Outline

bibleBecause I just commented on a post by a fellow blogger who believes one can lose his salvation, I am re-posting this sermon outline.

The following is an outline I used a couple of years ago. It starts off with some arguments against the “once-saved-always-saved” position. The next part lists six basic arguments in favor of the eternal security of the believer.

Of course, this is only an outline, not the sermon. However, you can click below for a link to the audio.

“Eternal Security” 

Arguments Against “Once Saved, Always Saved”

  1. Observational – How people live that believe it.
  2. Free Will – We are created with a will; we’re not slaves.
  3. Scriptural (Hebrews 6; 1 John 3:9; 5:18)

Arguments FOR “Eternal Security”

  1. Creational Argument: We are New Creations (2 Cor. 5:17)
    1. It took a supernatural act to change us
    2. We can’t act supernaturally to change us back
  2. New Birth Argument: We are Born Again (John 3:7,16)
    1. By the Spirit – Jn 3:6
    2. By the Word of God – 1 Peter 1:23
    3. We are not God, so we must remain “born again”
  3. Children of God Argument
    1. Born that way – 1 John 5:1; 1 Peter 1:23
    2. Adopted – Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5
    3. Abba – Gal. 4:1-7
  4. The Possession Argument – We belong to Christ
    1. Purchased – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23 (Bought with a Price)
    2. Given by the Father – Jn. 6:37-40; 10:28-30
    3. Will never be separated – Rom. 8:35-39
    4. Romans 14:8 – For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
    5. He can keep what is His – 2 Tim. 1:12 “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” See also: 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
  5. The Marriage Argument
    1. Ephesians 5:25-28, 31-32 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    2. He is faithful, even when we are not.
      1. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “…if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful…”
      2. He is God, not man! – Hosea 11:7-9
  6. It’s a Gift
    1. 2:8-9 Gift of God, by grace
    2. Romans 11:29 KJV – For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance (irrevocable)

Click on the link below to listen to the audio. As you might be able to tell by the opening remarks, I believe it was a sermon we needed, but the devil was opposing. Nevertheless, hearts were encouraged.

https://riversidesermons.sermon.net/main/main/20657994

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Our Proverbial Future

The Other Blog

Many of you may know that I have another blog, and some of you may take advantage of it on a daily basis.

The other blog is ProverbialThought.com, and it has been a daily/semi-daily part of our lives for several years, bringing to us the wisdom of Proverbs – with a twist.

But here’s the thing… we are coming to an end to another rotation, and I’m wondering what to do next.

The Future of “Proverbial Thought”

If you haven’t yet gone to my other blog – one that has been co-written by some wonderful people – go there now and see what you think.

Where should we go from here?

Start over – again? With a fresh group of contributors?

What about listing all of the past posts in pages, just like I started doing with the first two chapters?

I would love to know what you guys – you other bloggers and readers, you Bible students – think.

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Manipulating the Manna

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in America, I have been studying Exodus 16 and Numbers 11:6-8 for this Sunday morning’s sermon. Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned.

When you have a spare moment, please read these passages (Exodus 15:22-23; Exodus 16; and Numbers 11, particularly verses 6-8) in order to become more familiar with the text from which I am gathering my thoughts.


Manna

After the children of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt, it took only three days for some of them to start complaining. After only six weeks of freedom from bondage, the whole Israelite camp was “murmuring” against Moses – actually, against God.

Even after all God had accomplished for them, the Israelites were somehow afraid that the One who kept them from all the plagues that befell their slavemasters, the One who had just parted the Red Sea, could not take care of them in the wilderness. Right from the beginning, they began to complain, up until the point where they began wishing they were back in bondage eating the food of slaves.

As you can read in the text, even though God had already done so much, and even though His people were faithless and idolatrous (because covetousness is the same as idolatry – see Ephesians 5:5), the Lord God was faithful to keep His own covenant and miraculously provided food from heaven – manna.

Nevertheless, even though what God provided them was sufficient to meet their needs, over time they once again began to remember with fondness the foods of Egypt. Therefore, as they became weary of the manna – as miraculous as it was – they sought ways to change it, to manipulate it, and to shape it into something akin to what they missed from the years of their captivity.

Manipulating the Gospel

Do we not do the same thing today with the simple, yet wholly-sufficient gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it not sweet and pleasant enough?

When we are forgetful (forgetful of God’s mercy and grace); when we allow discontent to develop in our hearts; when we take our eyes off God; when we doubt His promises and provision; when we selectively remember the variety of lustful pleasures in Egypt that have tainted our palate; the simple, pure, wholesome things of God lose their appeal, leading us to mix and mash the “manna” with things that suit our particular tastes.

Unfortunately, all we end up with is something no one will find palatable or satisfying.

 


In my next post, I will share with you some actual statistics I uncovered regarding the miracle of the manna in the wilderness. Hint: You’ll need a “boxcar” to walk away with it.

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Jesus Paid It All and You Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way (Part 5)

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Let’s get serious for a few moments now. Based on the standard of the law, we are all guilty of breaking it. I am; you are, every single one of us is. Someday we will all stand before God and the only possible verdict is a resounding GUILTY! This however, is not armed robbery, and the penalty is not simply imprisonment. What, then is the penalty? God’s Word tells us the answer to that question:

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………

That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today.

Death also means spiritual death.  Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity.  So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment we call Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.

The penalty is due; we all owe it, for we have all sinned and transgressed God’s law.  And each and everyone of us can pay that penalty ourselves if we want to. We each owe it, and we can each pay it. I could have payed for my own sin; you can pay for yours if you wish. But that’s the point of this article. We don’t really want to pay our own way; we don’t want to suffer eternal death in a place called Hell.

Although we can certainly pay our own way, we do not have to. The title of this article is Jesus Paid it All, and He did. The Good News of the Gospel is that even though a penalty is was due and payable, it has already been paid! We need to go back to Romans 6:23 and look at the rest of that verse, as we only showed part of it earlier:   

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He have us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.

John 3:16 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.

It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it.  All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It’s simple really. We have to confess Him. Basically we have to agree with Him that our sin is wrong and understand we should have paid for it. We agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn away from it. We call that repentance. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the price we should have paid ourselves, and to trust Him as our Savior and Lord.  And finally, we do have to call on Him. Romans 10:13 teaches that. The gift is available, and it is free; however God will not force it on anybody. He does require that we call on Him and ask for that gift.

Jesus paid it all. Four words full of meaning.  We all have a choice. We can pay our own way or we can accept that Jesus has already paid our way, if only we repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Christianity, God, Guest Posts, salvation

Can You Start Anywhere? 

How well do you know your Bible?

I know it sounds like a loaded or trick question, but it’s not.

I’m not asking if you can name all 66 books, the 12 disciples, or all of the 10 commandments. It’s certainly not as complicated as asking you to define Biblical inerrancy, the offices of Christ, or the perseverance of the Saints.

My question is simply this: Do you know your Bible well enough to lead someone to Jesus – starting at any place in the Bible?

As I was teaching through the book of Acts the other day, one particular verse jumped out at me, practically taking me out behind the woodshed for an old-fashioned tail whipping.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. – Acts 8:35 

You see, there was this Ethiopian official, a eunuch from the court of the queen, who was sitting in a chariot while reading from the book of Isaiah. God sent Philip into the desert to meet up with him, and when he did he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Unlike the average atheist who’s read the Old Testament so many times he’s come to the conclusion there’s no God, much less the God of Christianity, the Ethiopian eunuch replied to Philip, “How can I, except someone guide me?” Then he invited Philip to come sit with him in the chariot for an impromptu desert Bible study.

But the thing that stood out this time as I read through the verse was that when given the opportunity, Philip didn’t ask the eunuch to flip over to another passage; he began right there in Isaiah 53 and began to share Jesus.

So, what’s my point? How well do you know your Bible? Could you, if someone was just sitting on the tail gate of his Ford truck reading from the Old Testament, begin at whatever passage he was reading and take him to Jesus?

Isaiah 53 is an easy one, frankly. What about Psalm 23 or 22? What about Genesis 1 or John 1? Better yet, could you lead someone to Jesus if you had to begin at Nehemiah 6 or 1 Chronicles 3?

Is it that we only think the New Testament speaks of Jesus? Are you so stuck on the “Roman’s Road” that you can’t take a detour through Ruth? Jesus said ALL the scriptures testify of him (John 5:39), not just the gospels.

As a matter of fact, the standard was set by Jesus himself when he met two men on the road to a place called Emmaus. It was while talking to them, Jesus, “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets…expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

In other words, Jesus went from Genesis to Malachi showing how all of Scripture taught that the Christ must suffer, so it shouldn’t have been a shock or surprise to anyone. He said:

O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? – Luke 24:25-26

So, I will ask again, how well do you know your Bible?

I’d bet we all need to do a little more study.

 

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Your Cursed Curses Are Useless

Proverbs 26:2

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (KJV)

“Like a flitting sparrow or a fluttering swallow, an undeserved curse goes nowhere.” (HCSB)

Curses!

I recently watched a funny scene from the movie Despicable Me. Vector, the really bad guy, had stolen a stolen shrink ray and was playing with it in his bathroom (lavatory), and that’s when he purposely shrunk his toilet. He then proceeded to mock the toilet like it was a defeated enemy. When the shrunken toilet popped off the water line, Vector yelled, “Curse you, tiny toilet!”

Curses are as old as mankind, I suppose. They have been around long before Vector, Scooby Doo, Endora (Samantha’s mother), or the literal witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7). The first curses recorded in the Bible can be found all the way back in the book of Genesis. There God cursed the serpent (Gen. 3:14), the ground (Gen. 3:17), Cain (Gen. 4:11), and even the anger of Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7). So, it would seem that the earliest curses came not from witches, but from God.

However, when God pronounces a curse, it is usually a denunciation of sin (Nu. 5:21, 23; Dt. 29:19–20), His judgment on sin (Nu. 5:22, 24, 27; Is. 24:6), and the person who is suffering the consequences of sin by the judgment of God is called a curse (Nu. 5:21, 27; Je. 29:18).[1]  On the other hand, men use curses as tools to bring something about. However, the difference between a curse from God and a curse from man is capacity: man’s is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Capacity

Those who spew out curses typically have no ability to see them come to fruition. In Eccl. 8:4 we read: “Where the word of the king is, there is power.” In other words, a king can pronounce a curse on his subject’s land or life and have the ability to make it happen. But for most people, “damning” someone is pretty useless.

I once made a video depicting a monkey puppet making fun of evolution. The video asked the question: “What do you get when cross a monkey with time?” The answer was, “A man? No, just a monkey.” Immediately I received hate mail and curses from atheists around the globe.

Click the picture to watch the video for yourself.

On other occasions I have written about my views on marriage, which have brought even more hateful language, and even threats. The curses came by the boat load and generally read like this: “I hope you get sick and die!…go to hell!…damn you!” But therein lies the point of today’s proverb – cursed curses are useless.

Causeless

Solomon said, “the curse causeless shall not come.” Therefore, we should not fear the curses of fools, for they do not have the capacity bring about the end result. They presume upon a Power beyond their own to bring about the judgment they declare, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Let the witch doctor cast spells; let the voodoo doll be stuck with pins; let the curses come from Hell itself; they will fly by me like sparrows on the wind, for they are as powerless as the cursed fools who send them.


[1] J. A. Motyer, “Curse,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 248.

The above post was copied from my other blog, ProverbialThought.com., and adapted for this site.

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