My Sunday-night sermon.
My Sunday-night sermon.
Someone whom you may know as Angel made a keen observation: I haven’t been posting much, lately.
Well, there is a reason why that observation is correct… It’s no more complicated than the fact that I’ve been busy, busy, busy.
And when I’m not busy, I’m usually just too dang tired to get my brain into writing gear. But I’m sure it’s just a phase.
But one thing that hasn’t slacked off is the time I have spent in front of an iPhone camera. Literally, the only time I am not recording and uploading preaching or teaching content is on Saturday. But it’s twice on Sunday, so…
Therefore, even though I’ve not been doing a lot of writing, I have been speaking. And that’s OK! I love it! So, when you have the time, I would encourage you to check out the following two videos. They are the latest that I have edited and uploaded to YouTube (and that’s work, too).
Oh, and I’ve been walking every day and doing my best to lose weight, especially for my daughter Katie’s wedding in October.
Love you guys!
Would you take a moment and consider something?
When God created man, He didn’t create another God.
You might think that’s nothing new, but it is a very, very important truth – one that is rarely unpacked when discussing issues of sin and suffering.
There are people who wonder why God, if He exists and is so powerful and wise, created a free agent who could sin (break God’s law).
Others question why Scripture would suggest that Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20).
The answer to these questions and many more is that God did not create another God, only man.
God has certain characteristics that Man could never have simply because he was created. The most obvious are that he is not eternal, omnipotent, immutable, or omniscient. The most important is that Man, no matter how perfect he was at the moment of creation, was not holy as God is Holy.
If God were to create another like unto Himself, then God would not be God. If Man could be created, he couldn’t be eternal.
No matter what God created, His creation could never be Himself, and therefore not God.
God is eternally immutable, unchanging, therefore He cannot sin. On the other hand, Man is not eternal, nor immutable, so even from the beginning of creation, he had the potential, however remote, to sin. Therefore, even though God did not create sin, nor did He cause Adam to sin, sin was inevitable simply because God created a creature that was not Himself.
Why was it part of God’s plan that Jesus would be crucified, even before Adam even sinned? Because simply creating Man brought with it the inevitable possibility, the inevitable reality, that he would need to be redeemed – because he is Man, not God.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10 KJV
Simply put, the only way sin could have been avoided would have been for God to never create any being capable of freely communing with Him. If he had created a robot, a machine, then sin would not have been inevitable. But since Adam was given the freedom to choose, a will, and since he was not God, the inevitable required an Emmanuel.
Both broadcasts were uploaded to YouTube. The morning service was pre-recorded, uploaded to YouTube, scheduled as a premier, and shared to Facebook.
The evening Bible study in Acts 7 was first done live on Facebook, then saved, then uploaded to YouTube. Fortunately, the in-out focus that usually accompanies the live video (because of our area’s SLOW internet) was not there!
If you are blessed, encouraged, or convicted by either, I would love to hear from you!
Just this week I uploaded a daily devotional I do online to YouTube. Then, as I usually do, I posted it to our church’s Facebook page.
The subject of this video is that of accepting God’s forgiveness, even when we don’t feel forgivable.
I would love your feedback.
Sorry for the goofy-looking face 😉
When I am driving long distances, particularly when I’m alone (as far as I know), I sometimes sing aloud certain songs to keep me alert. Sometimes I sing songs I know well, and other times I make up lyrics to fill in the gaps for songs I know little of.
One particular song is “‘O Sole Mio,” or “It’s Now Or Never.” I will usually sing to myself and use the words interchangeably, adding in what I know of the chorus of “It’s Now Or Never,” then make up the rest from there. The whole idea is to sing loudly, operatically, in order to keep the blood and oxygen flowing, but sometimes my own lyrics crack me up, especially when I expand on the sexually predatory characteristics of Elvis’ version.
Actually, the older (1898) Neapolitan song has nothing to do with the English-language hit recorded by Elvis Presley in 1960. ‘O sole mio actually translates into “my sunshine,” while It’s now or never translates into: “I’m so turned on by your looks that we should have a one-night-stand…I’m outa here come daylight.”
So why am I telling you this? I’m glad you asked.
Sole is the Italian word for “sun.” Luce del sole is Italian for “sunlight.” So, by way of a totally unrelated personal story, I want to segue into something that should be important to us all… I want to shine some luce del sole on the Solas 🙂
“It’s now or never . . .” (Elvis)
Sola is the Latin word for “alone,” and for a practically 500 years non-Catholics (such as myself) have held five particular “solas” near and dear to our theological hearts.
1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”
What do they mean? Well, nothing Elvis Presley was singing about, that’s for sure. The following can be found on a great website whose link is already on my sidebar, GotQuestions.org.
Sola scriptura emphasizes the Bible alone as the source of authority for Christians. By saying, “Scripture alone,” the Reformers rejected both the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Pope and confidence in sacred tradition. Only the Bible was “inspired by God” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Anything taught by the Pope or in tradition that contradicted the Bible was to be rejected. Sola scriptura also fueled the translation of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages, and prompted Bible teaching in the common languages of the day, rather than in Latin.
Sola fide emphasizes salvation as a free gift. The Roman Catholic Church of the time emphasized the use of indulgences (donating money) to buy status with God. Good works, including baptism, were seen as required for salvation. Sola fide stated that salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith (John 3:16). Salvation is not based on human effort or good deeds (Ephesians 2:9).
Sola gratia emphasizes grace as the reason for our salvation. In other words, salvation comes from what God has done rather than what we do. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Solo Christo (sometimes listed as Solus Christus, “through Christ alone”) emphasizes the role of Jesus in salvation. The Roman Catholic tradition had placed church leaders such as priests in the role of intercessor between the laity and God. Reformers emphasized Jesus’ role as our “high priest” who intercedes on our behalf before the Father. Hebrews 4:15 teaches, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is the One who offers access to God, not a human spiritual leader.
Soli Deo gloria emphasizes the glory of God as the goal of life. Rather than striving to please church leaders, keep a list of rules, or guard our own interests, our goal is to glorify the Lord. The idea of soli Deo gloria is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The five solas of the Protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on Scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory. © Copyright 2002-2017 Got Questions Ministries
Never heard of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation before today? Well, I hope this shed some sunlight – luce del sole – on them for you 😉
Today is Good Friday. The following is the outline I shared this afternoon on Facebook Live. It is based on the song “In the Cross” by Fanny Crosby. The idea is to be a question: How near are we to the cross?
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
1. Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
What do you see when you are near the cross? To begin with, you’ll see BLOOD.
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: – 1 Peter 1:19
Christianity is a “bloody religion” because it takes sin seriously and sin requires a penalty – the death penalty.
Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Hebrews 10:18 – Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (It is finished! Hallelujah!)
2. Near the cross, a trembling soul, [fear, repentance, humility]
Love and mercy found me; [this is a testimony]
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me. (…I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. – Revelation 22:16)
“Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.”
― C.J. Mahaney
“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
― John R.W. Stott
3. Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
The Scenes: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19
The sheen of the golden pendent disguises horror of the mechanism.
More than a Shadow – It Must Be Carried
Matthew 16:24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
4. Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed (raptured) soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…- Galatians 6:14a
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. – Colossians 2:13-15
Can you see His outstretched arms? Can you see the blood flowing down? Can you see His eyes looking down? Does it affect you?
How near ARE you to the cross?
Last night I was blessed with the wonderful privilege of holding hands with an 8 year-old boy and his mother as he prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! It was awesome!
The “sinner’s prayer” was involved, though. Was this a problem?
Let me describe what happened, then let’s talk about it.
It was Wednesday night, and that’s when the youth meet downstairs and the adults meet in the main sanctuary for prayer and discussion of Scripture (we are currently going through the book of Proverbs a chapter each week). After I had already gotten started, the mother and her son came in and sat in the auditorium. Frankly, I thought it was odd that they both came in…maybe he got in trouble, or something?
Well, it was only after the meeting was finished that Cara and Jhett (Yeah, that’s his name. Cool, huh?), a young rodeo star in his own right (he’s a champion mutton rider!), walked up to me and wanted to talk.
“Jhett has something he wants to ask you,” his mother, Cara, said.
“Oh, really?” I responded. “What is it you want to talk about?”
Then, with a nervous voice, he looked up and said, “I want to be baptized.”
I said, “Oh! Well, let’s sit down and talk about it.”
I had to make sure what was going on, so we then sat down on the steps in front of the stage. I needed to know, first of all, if Jhett knew what baptism was and why it was important. I needed to know if he was even born again.
After some simple discussion, it became clear to me that Jhett had never actually become a Christian by repenting of his sin and giving his life to Jesus. If he had, he didn’t remember. However, it also became clear that he associated baptism with giving one’s life to Christ, so all I felt was needed was clarification and a little instruction.
Some people rightfully worry about false conversions when it comes to children. I’m one of them. The last thing I will ever do is preach a sermon to a bunch of children and make a blanket plea for “all who want to go to heaven come forward.”
Another thing I am very hesitant to do is ask a child to pray the “sinner’s prayer” with me.
Now, wait a minute! Haven’t I written a strong defense of the “sinner’s prayer”? Yes, I have! As a matter of fact, my dad led me through the prayer, helping me say what needed to be said, when I was only 6 years old (Sept. 27, 1973 – a Wednesday night). Why, then, would I be hesitant to lead another child through the “sinner’s prayer”?
Simple: I need to know that what they are doing is genuine and not coerced.
So, last night I explained to this wonderful young man what it meant to be a sinner, what sin was, and what God thought of it. I explained the first half of Romans 3:23, to which he responded with a look of shock. Then I told him about the “gift of God” and eternal life through faith in Jesus.
After first explaining everything in the most elementary way possible, then after asking if he understood, Jhett nodded in approval. He understood that he was NOT saved and WAS lost. He understood that he needed to be SAVED before being baptized. And when I asked if he wanted to pray to make Jesus “boss” of his life and trust Him with his soul forever, he said, “Yes.”
Why am I writing all of this? It’s important you see where I had to make an informed, wise decision where others may have either rescheduled with Jhett, or excitedly moved forward without any hesitation.
When it comes to adults, especially, I am a firm believer in: “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 10:9). If a person is unwilling to publicly profess his/her faith in Jesus, then I highly doubt their conversion.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 10:32-33
Therefore, I had to pause for a second after I initially prayed with the boy. The first time we prayed, I asked him to pray to God in his own words something similar to a prayer that I would say. It was a “sinner’s prayer.” But when I was done, and Cara asked him if/what he prayed, he looked a little embarrassed and shook his head. I could tell he was nervous.
His sisters had come in and were sitting on the front row, watching with expectation. That probably didn’t help.
I then asked him something like, “Why don’t you do this…why don’t you go ahead and talk to God, just like we’re talking now, and tell him you are a sinner, ask for His forgiveness, and ask Jesus to take control of your life?” He balked at the idea.
(His mom nicely and wisely asked the girls to leave the room for a few minutes.)
“Can you pray to Jesus, Jhett?” his mom asked. With a frown and a shake of his head, he replied, “I’m too nervous.”
These were questions that I had to consider at this point, and doing the wrong thing could be catastrophic.
I then asked, “Would you like for me to pray aloud and say the words so that you can follow along?” His eyes lifted.
“Would that be OK?” Cara asked. He nodded with a smile.
“Then let’s pray,” I said. “And let’s all hold hands.”
Why did I go forward with the “sinner’s prayer”? Because, as I discerned, I had not made an emotional, manipulative call for Jhett to come forward to accept Jesus – he came of his own free will. Even though his understanding of baptism was initially mistaken, the fact that he wanted to be saved, even though he was confused about the process, was evident and his desire was genuine, not coerced.
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using the “sinner’s prayer” as a tool to help someone who is already being drawn by the Holy Spirit unto Christ. I do think it’s important, however, that we use discretion when praying with children.
Now let’s go fill up that baptistery!
(My thanks to Cara and Jhett for letting me tell this story. Oh, and we may also have an up-and-coming “preacher” in the midst 🙂 )
“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” – Romans 15:33
Do you ever wonder how to tell if you have been born again, saved, or renewed by the Holy Spirit?
Well, I found the lists below in a John MacArthur study Bible a while back, and I thought I would share them with you.
Do a self-assessment (2 Cor. 13:5), if you’re concerned. If you’re NOT concerned, yet you fit more in the bottom half of the list, I’m concerned for you! It might be good for you to check out the tab “Eternal Life” at the top of this blog. Seriously!
Again, this is not original on my part, but I thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else it can shine some light on areas needing improvement.
Prepared to seek God. 2 Chr 19:3; Ezra 7:10; Ps 10:17
Fixed on God. Ps 57:7
Joyful in God. 1 Sam 2:1
Perfect with God. Ps 101:2
Upright. Ps 97:11
Clean. Ps 73:1
Pure. Matt. 5:8
Tender. 1 Sam 24:5
Single and sincere. Acts 2:46; Heb 10:22
Honest and good. Luke 8:15
Broken, contrite. Ps. 34:18; 51:17
Obedient. Ps 119:112; Rom 6:17
Filled with the law of God. Jer. 32:40
Meditative. Ps 4:4
Circumcised. Rom 2:29
Void of fear. Ps 27:3
Desirous of God. Ps 84:2
Enlarged. Ps 119:32; 2 Cor 6:11
Faithful to God. Neh 9:8
Confident in God. Ps 112:7
Sympathizing. Jer 4:19; Lam 3:51
Prayerful. 1 Sam 1:13; Ps 27:8
Inclined to obedience. Ps 119:112
Wholly devoted to God. Ps 9:1; 119:10,69,145
Zealous. 2 Chr 17:6; Jer 20:9
Wise. Prov 10:8; 14:33; 23:15
A treasury of good. Matt 12:35
Hateful to God. Prov 6:16, 18; 11:20
Full of evil. Ecc 9:3
Full of evil imaginations. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Prov 6:18
Full of evil thoughts. Jer 4:14
Fully set to do evil. Ecc 8:11
Desperately wicked. Jer 17:9
Far from God. Is 29:13; matt 15:8
Not perfect with God. I Kings 15:3; Acts 8:21; Prov 6:18
Not prepared to seek God. 2 Chron 12:14
A treasury of evil. Matt 12:35; Mark 7:21
Darkened. Rom 1:21
Prone to error. Ps 95:10
Prone to depart from God. Deut 29:18; Jer 17:5
Impenitent. Rom 2:5
Unbelieving. Heb 3:12
Blind. Eph 4:18
Uncircumcised. Lev 26:41; Acts 7:51
Of little worth. Prov 10:20
Deceitful. Jer 17:9
Deceived. Is 44:20; James 1:26
Divided. Hos 10:2
Double. 1 Chr 12:33; Ps 12:2
Hard. Mark 10:5; Rom 2:5
Haughty. Prov 18:12; Jer 48:29
Influenced by the devil. John 13:2
Carnal. Rom 8:7
Covetous. Jer 22:17; 2 Pet 2:14
Despiteful. Ezek 25:15
Ensnaring. Eccl 7:26
Foolish. Prov 12:23; 22:15
Deceitful. Prov 17:20
Fretful against the Lord. Prov 19:3
Idolatrous. Ezek 14:3,4
Mad. Eccl 9:3
Mischievious. Ps 28:3; 140:2
Proud. Ps 101:4; Prov 6:14
Stiff. Ezek 2:4
Stony. Ezek 11:19; 36:26
Arrogant. Isa 10:12
Stubborn. Isa 46:12
Elated by sensual indulgence. Hos 13:3
Elated by prosperity. 2 Chr 26:16; Dan 5:20
Studies destruction. Prov 24:2
Often judiciously stupefied. Is 6:10; Acts 28:26,27
Often judiciously hardened. Ex 4:21; Joshua 11:20
John MacArthur Study Bible, © 1997