#10: Loving One Another[Sermon]

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in 1 John

#10: Loving One Another[Sermon]

This is sermon #10 in the 1 John series. In this sermon on 1 John 3:11-18 I preach on love, serving one another and living out the gospel.

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Living in Light of the Ten Commandments

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Living in Light of the Ten Commandments

Old Bibles 1 300x199 Living in Light of the Ten CommandmentsIn this article, I intend to explore and answer the question, “How can Christian live in light of the Ten Commandments?” by exploring the purpose of the law within the larger story of redemption in the Bible. Christians are no longer under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14). We have been released from the law (Romans 7:6) and its tutelage (Gal. 3). Christ didn’t come to abolish the law but to uphold it (Matthew 5:17), since He is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4). This explains why Christians are freed from the curse of the law through the finished work of Jesus.

The Ten Commandments provide a roadmap for how Christians ought to live. During Jesus’ ministry He repeatedly talked about the Ten Commandments and their importance for ethical living. One example of this is in Mark 10:17-22, where He repeated the second table of the law to the rich young man. Other examples include the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:8-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11. In addition to this in Romans 7:12 Paul taught that the commandments, even under the new covenant are holy, righteous and good. Jesus also taught that He is the fulfillment of all of Scripture (Matthew 5:17-20, Luke 24). Dr. Jim Hamilton helpfully comments, “In this declaration of his name, Yahweh announces his mercy and his justice: this is his glory, and this glory of Yahweh is reflected all throughout the Old and New Testaments.”[i]

Living in light of the Ten Commandment requires seeing that the whole Bible is about the person and work of Jesus. Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53 and other texts indicate that Jesus came and died in the place of sinners and for their sins. Jesus is coming again to rule and reign over a new heaven and a new earth from the throne of King David. In the Old Testament the people disobeyed God and treated His commandments as if they were just another perfunctory religious activity. As Christians, we can do the same if we don’t understand that we are saved from sin and to the Lord Jesus. What I’ve been describing shows up especially among some Christians who think that because they’ve been saved by sovereign grace, they can live however they want. The Apostle Paul counters this idea in Romans 6:1 by stating, “May it never be.”

There are three points I want you to consider pertaining to the purpose of the law. First, Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfill its demands. Through His sinless life and death on the cross, He fulfilled the civil, ceremonial and moral laws. Christians, today can obey the moral law by the grace of God. The only way for anyone to obey God is to be born again.

Second, Christians through the Holy Spirit are empowered to live by the truth of the Word of God. Jesus, the God-Man not only lived a sinless life by dying in the place of sinners and for their sins, but also perfectly obeyed the Law, performed miracles and gave His people the power to obey Him through the Holy Spirit. Through Him Christians can resist sin and put it to death by understanding how He resisted sin in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:1) and prayed in the power of the Spirit (Luke 10:21). The Holy Spirit convicts God’s people of their sin and points them to the finished work of Jesus. Jesus is now our High Priest and Intercessor before the Father. In this role, He functions as our advocate (1 John 2:1-2) while praying for us to stand strong in His grace.

Finally, seeing Jesus in all of the Scriptures helps us to understand not only the nature of the law, but its purpose or design. The Holy Spirit empowers God’s people to proclaim the sinfulness of man (Romans 1-3) in order that they might make known to sinners how they can be declared not guilty through Jesus who transfers sinners from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Through Jesus’ finished work, He makes a people who were once not His people, His people by giving them a new identity (Romans 6) through which they can fight indwelling sin (Romans 7) by realizing they will ultimately one day, as they grow in Him, become like Him (Romans 8). The only way believers are able to live in obedience to the Ten Commandments is because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection since He is the fulfillment, goal, and end of the law.

This post first appeared at The Gospel Project as part of their series on the Ten Commandments.

[i] James Hamilton, God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment A Biblical Theology (Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway, 2010), 104.

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The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Book Reviews, Christian Living, Featured

The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship

Real friends are hard to come by. By that I mean friends who will hold you accountable, tell you the truth about yourself and speak the truth in love to you. These are the types of friendships that take a long time to develop but are a great blessing. The longest friendship I have is twelve years. We’ve been there through thick and thin in each other’s lives. This particular friend is one you want in your corner. A friend like this is one you can call up at any hour of the night if needed and they will be there for you. While I’ve had many friends come and go, the type of friend I’ve described in my experience is rare. In his helpful new book The Company We Keep In Search Of Biblical Friendship author and pastor Jonathan Holmes writes to help us understand the difference between Christian fellowship, biblical friendship, the marks of friendship, forging real friends and the purpose of friendship.

The author explains that “biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue him and his kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for” (27).

Reading The Company We Keep was like a splash of cool water on my face in the morning. This book was deeply refreshing, honest but pulled no punches. Real friendship as the author states several times throughout his book is difficult, costly but worthwhile. As the author lays out a vision of friendship in action, the author weaves biblical teaching with sanctified common sense with the result that the reader will gain a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for friendship.

We live in an increasingly isolated culture where we live our lives in our apartments or homes. We go to and from work but interact very little with each other. If ever there was a time when people needed to understand why they need one another—it is in our own time. This is why as I read The Company We Keep I became convinced of the message of the book. Each one of us needs friends who will listen, care and help us through life’s difficulty. Picking the right friends is half the challenge. Picking the wrong friends with bad character can lead to a lot of issues in one’s life, a lesson I learned in my early twenties. Godly friends who minister to you are a precious treasure and gift from the Lord. The author nails it when he states, “Truly biblical friendship is embodied in the Trinity, empowered by Jesus Christ, and intended as a spiritual discipline among God’s people for the purpose of glorifying Him” (42).

I agree with the author when he states that we should not seek biblical friendship “with every person you meet” (109). There are only so many hours in the day but there are other reasons to add to his discussion as well. For example, at your local church you will likely connect with several people and may even become good friends with some of them. You may connect with others almost immediately and forge a quick friendship. You may be involved in ministry with some people but find out later that they aren’t trustworthy. As Christians we need to be careful about who we get to know and guard our hearts with all due diligence. When a friend hurts us those wounds hurt. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be open and transparent with people but we need to be careful about how much we open ourselves as well. There is a tension in biblical friendship—between having boundaries and being to open and honest. To be fair I don’t have this balance figured out. I tend to lean towards the side of being to open and honest with people rather than being guarded. Nevertheless, I appreciate what the author states that you cannot seek biblical friendship with everyone but you should seek out godly friends.

All in all, The Company We Keep is an excellent book. As I’ve noted already we live in a society that is increasingly isolated. We need books like The Company We Keep to help us think through what biblical friendship is and to provide helpful guidance to us on this vital subject. Whether you are a new or mature Christian, The Company We Keep will help you to not only understand Christian friendship but to grow deeper and more meaningful Christian friendships with God’s people.

Title: The Company We Keep In Search Of Biblical Friendship

Author: Jonathan Holmes

Publisher: Cruciform Press (2014)

I received this book for free from Cruciform Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Four Ways to Fight Against Grumbling

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Four Ways to Fight Against Grumbling

One of the lessons I’m slowly learning right now is to not grumble, but to be thankful. In all fairness you and I have a lot to be thankful for. In my case, both of my parents are still living, I get to serve in a fantastic ministry and work with great people. I have a godly wife who loves me. I graduated with my bachelors and masters degrees with high honors. By all indications I would appear to be a success. What do I have to grumble about you say? The flesh always wants more. Our flesh lusts after it, and the best way to kill a grumbling spirit is to thank God for what He has given you.

Find Godly Accountability

There are four ways I’ve found to do fight against grumbling. First, if you’re a man find some other godly men, or if you’re a woman find some other godly women, and share openly about what God is doing in your life. I have several people in my life that I share openly with, in addition to friends around the country. I encourage you, men, to look for other men in your church who you can learn from and grow in your walk with God. Likewise, women, I encourage you to look for godly older women who can encourage you and pray for you.

By putting yourself in relationships where you are held accountable for how you behave and face trials, you are putting yourself in contact with God’s grace. For example, I regularly meet with an older gentleman who teaches Sunday school at the church my wife and I are members of. While our meetings are mutually encouraging, and we discuss theology at length, we also share with each other about our respective lives. We encourage each other in our marriages and pray for one another. We speak the truth into each other’s lives. This is one reason why everyone needs a godly saint in his/her life, not only to help him/her grow, but also to see how this godly person has grown in his/her walk with the Lord over the years.

Regularly Read Your Bible

Second, cultivate the practice of regularly reading and meditating upon the Word. There is a reason why Paul talks about thankfulness to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Paul said that he knew what it was like to live with much and to live with little in Philippians 4:11-12. He experienced a great deal of suffering and hardship, and yet he was thankful. Look at Jesus: He experienced a great deal of heart break, betrayal by his own disciples, and died in our place for our sin. Jesus is not only our example, He is our Lord, King, and High Priest. He calls us to put our sin to death, including our grumbling and complaining.

When we are satisfied in Him our hearts will resound with thankfulness to our Savior. When we aren’t satisfied in God, we will seek after other lovers/idols and pursue them until we are full of their pleasures, whatever those are. This is exactly why regularly opening your Bible and meditating on it will help you. Going through large sections of Scripture at once can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to stop and meditate on texts that seem to be speaking directly to situations that you are dealing with. Remember, the Word of God isn’t a book of fairytales, but the living and active Word that convicts us and points us to Jesus.

Grow in the Gospel

Third, fight grumbling and complaining not only with thankfulness, but by growing in the gospel. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus died in our place for our sin so that we would put sin to death. He is the ultimate reason why we seek a superior pleasure and delight in God. When we grumble and complain, we are saying that God is not enough for us. We are saying when we grumble that we will not delight in or be satisfied by the living water that Jesus provides to us. We are saying that we will not be satisfied by the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

If you’re truly a Christian you should feel the weightiness of what you’re actually saying when you grumble and complain about your trials and circumstances. I not only want you to see that it’s sinful and wrong, but to recognize that the cure to grumbling and complaining is to be satisfied in Jesus. When we focus only on the problem but never get to the cure, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but also to others around us. This is one reason why many Christians get discouraged. By having the right perspective on this issue, we will see ourselves clearer as we are in Christ, and thus be able grow through our grumbling and complaining.

Submit to the teaching of Scripture

Finally, I know that grumbling and complaining are hard habits to overcome, but remembering the Word of God can help. As I wrote this article, for example, I was grumbling, complaining, and very unhappy because my laptop wasn’t working. While I knew my wife, who works in the IT industry, could fix the issue (and she did fix the problem with my laptop), I still doubted and worried. I still longed to vent my frustration, complain, and grumble. Maybe that’s where you are today—frustrated, angry, and/or complaining. My encouragement to you is the same words I have to repeat to myself: stop beating myself up about issues I can’t control, to take a walk, spend some time praying, and preaching the gospel to myself rather than berating myself again and again. We have a Savior who understands what we are going through. We can not only look to Him but because of Him we can be thankful. We can praise Him not only through the storms, but also in the midst of the storm, because He walks alongside and ahead of us. Our God is faithful and mighty to save; He is our rock and our fortress. Next time you find yourself grumbling and complaining, I encourage you to run to Jesus. Cling to Him and abide in Him; He is all you need.

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Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Dave: Today, I have the honor of interviewing my friend, Greg Gibson, the lead editor of Manual, the men’s channel at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Greg also serves as an elder and family ministries Pastor at Foothills Church in Maryville, Tennessee.

Dave, “What do you see as the biggest issues in contemporary approaches to men’s ministry?”

Greg: The biggest problem I see is the segregation of men and women in the first place.  Many churches have men’s ministries and women’s ministries that exist separately from one another, which fosters the husband and the wife learning in different contexts.  I think this is okay, to an extent.  However, I think the healthiest thing is to blow up contemporary men’s and women’s ministries all together and focus directly on biblical community, as we see it in Scripture (e.g., Acts 2:42-47).  Call them missional communities, small groups, Sunday school classes, or what-have-you, but I think when the local church goes away from the traditional model of segregating the genders and provides men and women, husbands and wives, twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings, all the opportunity to do life together, then we will see a more robust and flourishing manhood and womanhood.  In this model, Titus 2 discipleship happens naturally, younger men observe and learn how manhood is practiced by older men, and younger families can be mentored by older families. ”

What is more, most men’s ministries I’ve seen are just explanations for having social time with “the guys.”

Dave, “How should pastors and ministry leaders speak to these issues?”

Greg: First, I think multi-generational discipleship should be engrained in the DNA and mission statement of the church.  Therefore, when church members approach church leaders about starting these “segregated ministries,” then every new thing that begins can be filtered through the churches mission statement.

Second, I think lead pastors and those in preaching positions should constantly speak into manhood and womanhood issues from the pulpit.  As pastors preach through books in Scripture, there is ample opportunity to speak into and champion gospel-centered human flourishing.

Dave,What is biblical manhood?”

Greg: My working definition (which I write in my book, Reformational Manhood) is this:

A biblical man, marked with courage, is a leader, provider, and protector.  He pursues his family, serves his church, shares and defends truth, makes quick and good decisions for the benefit of others, and redeems his time.  And then teaches other men to do the same.

Dave, “How can pastors and ministry leaders provide a vision for biblical manhood in their local churches?”

Greg:

  1.  Model it.  Model it.  Model it.  As you model a different type of manhood, people notice.  Men notice.  Your family notices.  Your neighbors notice.  Your community notices.
  1.  Preach it from the pulpit.
  1.  Disciple men intentionally (like Jesus did) to then go and disciple others.  But this type of discipleship doesn’t have to be a programmed thing in your church.  Do it relationally, incarnationally, and as you do life together.

Dave: Thank you for your time today Greg.

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