Archive for the ‘ Church ’ Category

VerseD: Philippians 1:3

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
Philippians 1:3, ESV

Do you love and pray for the Church? We may not always agree on everything, but it is our family. We should pray for each other with thanksgiving everyday.

The Church: What isn’t it?

Is the Church full of hypocrites or only for perfect people?

First, we should deal with something the Church does that kind of refutes what many are fighting for in our culture.

The Social Justice Movement is horribly flawed in one major way: they are demanding the government take care of everyone on the most basic levels. But the government is not meant to do this.

Romans 13:1-7 – The government is for giving out justice … to wrongdoers. It is not the government’s job to meet all of the needs of the people.

The Church is meant to help people. We are the ones who should be helping the widows, orphans, and poor. It is supposed to come from a grateful, loving, and generous heart, not compulsion, which is what taxing people to take care of others is.

The Church is not the government. It is the Body of Christ, separate from the government (but can and should influence the government), serving the lost and hurting.

Which leads to the main point:

Is the Church full of hypocrites or perfect people?

Matthew 9:9-13 and Mark 2:13-17 tell the way Jesus called Matthew/Levi to follow Him. “Why does He eat with sinners and tax collectors?” “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick. . . . learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What this tells us is that Jesus expects to find people in His Church who are able to admit they are not perfect, that they need help. (No one is perfect. All people need God’s help!)

Firstly, this means we have to deal with hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is telling people to do something and not applying that to yourself. Does this mean we find hypocrites in the Church? Absolutely! That is one of many reasons we need God’s grace and supernatural help to truly repent (change our thinking and behavior)! But this also leads to the second part of imperfect people being in our churches.

This means that you should not wait to come to church until you have “everything together and figured out.” The Church is supposed to help guide you through your troubles, problems, and imperfections. Only God can truly help you.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:1-7, ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14, ESV

So … what isn’t the Church?

It is not for perfect, flawless people.

It is a spiritual hospital – a place for hurt, broken, messed up people who can admit that they need help, to trust God to help them … to trust other hurt, broken, messed up (even hypocritical) people. Flaws and all.

And we should help each other turn to God and to get through this life.

What are your thoughts? Comment. E-mail us. (Together@asimplemanofgod.com)

The Church: What is it?

“I do not need a church. I can worship on my own.”

So, say … many people. But what is the Church? 

There does seem to be some confusion about what church is. Whether we feel like we do not need to attend a church (because we are each the temple of the Holy Spirit of God – which is true) or that the church should be meeting our needs (which, to a point is true) or that we have been wronged by the Church (read the two letters to the Corinthians as well as Galatians. Paul understands!), there are many grievances people have about the Church. 

However, these come from misunderstandings about the Church.  

Likewise, some people assume the Church should be making all the calls about society. While this is technically true, we have plenty of historical evidence to show how this should not be done. (Look at much of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to see how the Roman Catholic Church and other church-led states messed that up.) Yet, people still think the Church should simply lead government. The US was built on seeing how governments led by religion can mess up societies and religions. Hence the separation of Church and State (to be discussed in greater detail another time!) 

This is a good time to address the other issue: that religion/the Church only made things worse. Again, these are largely based on misunderstandings. 

So, what does the Bible say the Church is? (This will not be an exhaustive survey!)

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:16-18, ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20, ESV

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Ephesians 3:1-12, ESV

These explain pointedly that the Church is to spread the truth of Christ.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:15-20, ESV (as well as much of 1 Corinthians, especially chs. 5-6 (5:12-6:11))

The Church is meant to rout sin and hold each other accountable; that we judge each other within the Church based on God’s Word, and lovingly call each other to account and uphold justice. Why?

1 Corinthians 3 tells us we are individually and collectively the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. Not a building, per se. And as Hebrews 10:19-25 reminds us, we meet together to ensure we remain strong in the faith, we have the true gospel, and can encourage each other through troubles and into good works. Such that …

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

James 5:12-20, ESV

The Church is for confession, prayer, and anointing – the calling of sinners to repentance, praying for healing and repentance, and anointing for healing and ministry. 

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 2:10, 6:9-10

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27

The Church is to take care of the poor, widows, and orphans. First within the Church, so world may see how we care for family, then in the world, so they may see we love all people.

In summary: 

The Church is the temple of God – the people – who spread the Gospel, encourage each other through teachings, rebukes, confessions, prayer, and good works, and do good things for each other and the world. 

Nowhere in there does it say the Church is for making us feel good or giving us all that we desire in this life. (In fact, 2 Timothy says that these teachings are a sign of the End!) Instead, Philippians 2 reminds us to look to meeting others’ needs before our own, to share the same love Christ shared through the Cross. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think I should have mentioned something else? Comment below (or at the video) or e-mail us at Together@asimplemanofgod.com.

VerseD: Ephesians 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10, NASB

If we call on the Name of Christ, we have work to do. Do not forsake your calling of sharing the gospel and loving on people.

Different Teams: Two Fathers

On Sunday, February 10, 2019, I preached my first sermon for our little church. Other than weddings, it was first time I have preached since 2014. That was the year I finished my homiletics classes at seminary which in turn helped me get through speaking at my mom’s “Celebration of Life” service.

It felt nice to be actively researching and writing like that again!

Anywhat, I thought I would share the outline with you. (Even some of the stuff that was adlibbed, and a few sentences were left out.) Unfortunately, I do not think it was recorded, so you have to miss my dramatic pauses (and awkward pauses) and other small things.

As a brief introduction, during the third of four prepared songs, the fire alarm in the school we meet in sounded off. The band played an extra song, and then I was able to get started. A friend pointed out that I missed the opportunity to say that much of what passes as Christian teaching today should set off a fire alarm of warning!

-Daniel


Sunday, February 10, 2019
Different Teams: Two Fathers  —  John 8:37-59

When a new pastor preaches, we pull out all the bells and whistles! It’s always scary when someone not Scott preaches. Even the building got scared and cried!

INTRO:

Caitlin and I have wanted kids of our own. I have wanted my own since I was almost four years old, telling my parents “I want to do better than you!” I meant it as a compliment, meaning I wanted to build on what they had been doing for my brother, sister, and me. Maybe someday I’ll learn to actually say what I mean (apart from sermons and teachings, of course!)

Today, we do not have our own kids. Almost four years ago, my Sis-in-law gave birth to Maxwell, our first nephew, and on November 1, 2017, our niece Rosalie came along. Needless to say, we have been ecstatic to visit and spend time with them, even doing the nitty-gritty dirty stuff that comes with babies. Just this past February first, my brother and his wife welcomed our nephew Dominic! We are so excited to eventually meet him.

In the mean time, as you’ve heard, Bill and Kendra welcomed Jovie on January 30, and we live in their home currently. That little girl is going to be so loved, because she has two parents who have waited for her and an “auntie and uncle” who are unable to be with our niece and nephews as much as we’d like.

Now, it would be horrible if little Jovie were to grow up thinking I was her father. I love her to death, even knowing her less than two weeks, but I will probably never love her more than Bill. Should anything (God forbid) happen to her parents, and we had to take over that responsibility, you had better believe we would do our darndest. Regardless, we are going to make sure she knows who her parents are and how much she is loved by them.

Could you imagine, though, if she lived like I were her father – as great as I am *wink* – and came to treat her father like a stranger?

As Pastor Scott has been leading us through John, we have been hearing about a similar situation as Jesus confronts the Jewish leadership. We are in John chapter eight, and last week we heard how we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness and how the truth can set us free to righteousness.

Today, we will look closer at Jesus’ comparison in John 8:37-59 of the two households these two “slaves” represent.

MESSAGE:

Remember that Jesus is speaking to the leadership, the Pharisees and teachers, when beginning in verse 37 He responds:

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus acknowledges that they are biologically related to Abraham. They know that Jesus claiming to be God’s Son essentially equates Himself with God, which, for any other person in history, would be blasphemy, a sin punishable by death in Judaism. But we continue in verse 39:

“They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”

If you are in any way like me, you might think, “The works Abraham did? Like telling his wife to tell a lie (of omission) to other people (saying she was his sister, which is true, instead of his wife), going to war with people, and laugh at God’s promises? Or maybe have an affair my spouse suggested? Those works of Abraham?”

Instead, Jesus is probably referring to Abraham believing through doubt. His “lying with Hagar” to produce Ishmael was an act of faith, but very misguided. This is the act of one who is still a slave to sin. No, Abraham had doubts, until the actual son of promise came: Isaac. Then, when God said to sacrifice this son, Abraham had no hesitation to follow God in faith. Isaac’s birth was probably that defining moment when Abraham went from slave to sin to slave to righteousness. God had proven Himself faithful, so, somehow, God could make a great nation out of this son, even if Abraham did not understand. He heard the truth of God, and he believed.

But perhaps the Jews also got stuck with Jesus’ words, thinking He might be referring to Hagar and Ishmael, as we see back in verse 41:

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

Do not be confused by Jesus’ words here. This is Trinitarian talk. What is the Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Son willingly submits to the Father. Jesus is not saying He had no desire to come live amongst us, merely that His Father sent Him and He willingly obeyed. It is like two best friends and/or a husband and wife: “What do you want for dinner?” “Whatever you want.” “How about our usual?” “Yeah, that sounds good.” (Because we are slaves to our stomach, sometimes, am I right?) Obviously, though, we are talking about something much more serious.

But if we are not listening for what God is actually saying, we can easily misunderstand, as Jesus explains picking up in verse 43:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Do you see it? As a people, the human race, we want our own truth. We want to hear what we think is right, what we think we know. We are slaves to our own desires, which are often sinful. He is talking to the Pharisees, but here Jesus is telling all of us that this is a sign that we think we may be sons of God, but we are the offspring of the Great Deceiver, Satan.

Just look at the world today:
We are told truth is what we make it … as long as you follow the crowd.
People are basically good … unless they disagree with me, then they are evil incarnate.
Everyone’s truth is true for them … unless you say there is only one truth (which is in and of itself a singular truth claim).

This could be like me saying “I raised Jovie.” Sure, I have held her a few times, maybe even changed a few diapers and helped feed her, but it is not exactly true that I raised her. But what if she got older and believed it? She would say Bill is her daddy, but she spends all of her time with me. Or Bill says, “Hi, Jovie! It’s daddy!” and she slaps him in the face and then holds my hand.

How would Bill feel? (Probably quite angry, and mostly at me!) Probably heartbroken.

I would be a father of lies for Jovie, but she would be treating me with love. Bill would be shunned, even if she told people that Bill is her parent.

This is what Israel has largely done. This is what all of humanity as largely done. We refuse to believe the truth, and instead we shun and full-on rage against God, basically slapping Him in the face with the way we live. The scary thing is that this can even be found in churches, people who say they are Christians but live completely contrary to Christ’s teachings.

This can be seen by the way we villainize people of other churches or who are a part of another political party or voted for certain politicians. This can be seen by the way we tell others what the Bible says, and it is either completely out of context (because we have not been reading it) or we unrepentantly, unapologetically do the same thing as others. This can be seen by the way we refuse to forgive each other, get angry at others, and come up with excuses for why we keep sinning.

This can be seen by quoting a certain serpent, and asking “Did Jesus really say … ?” Or even responding as the Jewish leadership did, back in verse 48:

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Samaritans notoriously only followed the Torah, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is like some teachers today saying we don’t need the Old Testament, because Jesus is only in the New Testament.

Both this and saying Jesus has a demon is like those teachers who say “Jesus and biblical authors lived in a different time. They wouldn’t understand the world today.” (I agree!) Or that the miracles may or may not have happened. Or that most of these teachings were only for people at that time and place.

It is also saying that Jesus is intentionally deceiving people. But how does He respond? In verse 49 Jesus responds:

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Basically, those who believe and follow Jesus will not taste death, meaning we will inherit eternal life through Him. The Father wants to glorify His Son, and it is denying Jesus’ Sonship that keeps us under judgment and heading toward the flames of punishment.

But watch how the Jews responded in verse 52:

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

There is a bit to unpack here, but why did the Jews want to kill him? When Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am”, he said in Greek, “Ego eimi”, very litearlly “I am.” I am sure you wall remember back in Exodus when God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I am has sent you.” In the Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament) it says “Ego eimi”, and in Hebrew “Hyah.”

(So, if someone tells you to “Leggo my ego,” you just say, “Hyah! He’s got me!”)

Jesus was literally calling Himself the I Am – God.

This is a lot to process for anybody: Jesus, who was a man, claimed to be God incarnate. How would you respond to someone telling you they are God?

RESPONSE:

That is crux of this whole chapter: How do we respond to Jesus?

Do you believe He is the Son of God – God Himself?

Jesus sets the standard here: Either you believe His words and are an adopted son of God, or you don’t believe and are a child of the Devil. That’s it. No other options.

BIG IDEA: You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan.

TRANS:

So what do we do with this? Here are some closing thoughts to take home.

APPLICATION:

I personally love apologetics – giving answers for the questions and attacks against Christianity. The thing is, we are all expected to be ready, as Peter tells us in his first letter, chapter 3, verse 15: but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (Gr: apologia, where we get the word apologetics) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

We are dealing with a fallen world, with people whose thinking is tainted by sin. We are gentle and respectful, because they may be completely unaware how hostile they are being and “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “Treat others how you want to be treated,” and all that. They are still slaves to their sin, not slaves to righteousness.

But also remember that we are not responsible for convincing others. We must be able to point them to the Word of God. Remember Jesus’ testimony: that Moses and the Prophets testified of Him, and His miracles signs and wonders prove His message.

But what is His greatest miracle that removes all doubt? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Now, I know, it can be intimidating, even scary, perhaps even frustrating to have someone challenge your beliefs and God’s Word. Your pastors and elders are here to help you, of course, but this is why it is so important to read and know Scripture for yourself. We cannot always be there to help.

Besides, what was Pastor Scott’s message about last week? Focused on verse 32, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How can you know – really know – the truth if you do not make it your own?

You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. If you have no desire to study Scripture, you are in danger of proving which team you are on. If you are ashamed to tell people the truth of Christ, you are telling the world you may be on the other team.

This is not to say this automatically means you are not a Christian. If you are newer to the faith, you may still be learning what it means. Sometimes being challenged in our beliefs can be scary and intimidating, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of church. But this is why we continue meeting together: to encourage each other to grow, to find the answers, and to be spurred on to reading and sharing the gospel.

CONCLUSION

Don’t be like hypothetical me and Jovie, knowing her biological father is Bill but living like we are father and daughter. That is just like those who claim to be Christian but never read the Bible, are ashamed to share the gospel, and treat other people without love, respect, or kindness. You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. The best way to know is to fall madly, deeply in love with the Son of God, learn from and about Him, and share that truth with others.

VerseD: Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:20, ESV

The context is church discipline, calling out sin in hopes of repentance from a wayward brother or sister.

Is that not also why we share the gospel?

VerseD: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9‭-‬10, NASB

God calls individuals for the sake of community. There is an individual element, but the communal is the focus.
How do we overcome? How are we strengthened and motivated?
Together: with the Church and by the Lord.