Elders are Gospel Men Titus 1:5-9

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Featured, Titus

Elders are Gospel Men Titus 1:5-9

titusheader2Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk through the book of Titus and learn what the Lord would have to teach us through this great book.

Earlier this year I was having a conversation with a friend who’s an elder at a local church in my area. During this conversation, I made the comment that the only reason he was able to meet the qualifications for an elder and keep remaining qualified as an elder is because of the gospel. Elders exist on account of the gospel. Paul instructs Titus to “appoint elders in every town” (v.5) The final culminating mark of an elder is that he is someone who cherishes “the trustworthy word as taught”—that is, the gospel, with all the “Sound doctrine” (v.9) that unpacks the gospel. Elders are gospel, men.

Titus 1:5, “ This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— “

In order that congregational life in the various cities of Crete may flourish, well-qualified elders must be appointed, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you”.

Evidently, on a certain journey by sea Paul and Titus had been together in Crete. The gospel had been proclaimed, little groups of disciples had been gathered, meeting places had been arranged, but no official organization had been effected, or, if anything worthy of this name had been initiated, it had been left far from finished.

After a lengthy absence from his friends the apostle was anxious to see the old familiar faces and to revisit the churches previously established. He loved his Lord and longed to promote the good cause in every possible way. Moreover, he had made what might be considered promises of early visits (Philemon 22; Phil. 1:25-26). Accordingly, for Paul himself, a lengthy delay in Crete was out of the question. Nevertheless, in Crete the business of organization the various churches was far from finished, and undue haste in appointing men to office was contrary to Paul’s principles (1 Tim. 3:6; 5:22).

The solution was: Paul must be on his way, and Titus must be left behind (II Tim. 4:13, 20) on the island to straighten out the things that remained to be done, to establish presbyteries. The apostle, who likes to stress the fact that God does not leave his work of grace unfinished (Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23), is a true imitator of God also in this respect; for Paul, too, abhors unfinished business (I Tim. 1:3 and 1 Thess. 3:10). And with respect to Titus one could almost say that for him no task was too difficult to be attempted and no challenge too formidable to be met, in dependence on divine strength and wisdom.

The text implies that the apostle had given directions as to just how elders must be appointed. This refers to the requirements for the office which must be considered in appointing men to office. Since the verses which follow refer only to elders, it is clear from 1 Timothy 3 that it was Paul’s conviction that a church would also need deacons, we may assume the apostle means that when the work to be done became too heavy for the elders, deacons should be appointed similarly (Acts 6:1-6).

Accordingly, the directions as to the requirements for the office of presbyter or elder are here re-stated. They had been given orally while Paul and Titus were still together in Crete, and they are now repeated in written form: “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you”.

Titus 1:6-9, “if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[a] and his children are believers[b] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer,[c] as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[d] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

The list of requirements for elders or presbyters is introduced by the words “If anyone is”. We have here another instance of abbreviated discourse. Here as in 1 Timothy 6:10 it is not difficult to fill in the implied words. The meaning as required by the preceding context, is, “If anyone is blameless, etc…, he can be appointed, or a person can be appointed if he is, etc.

The requirements listed here fall into three groups:

The person who is going to occupy such an important post must be of deservedly high reputation and of marriage (which will generally be the case) a good family man (verse 6). He must not be the type of person who in his desire to please himself has lost interest in other people and who, if embroiled in a quarrel, is ever ready with his fists. A list of negative characteristics is given: qualities which the overseer must not have (verse 7). All his actions must give evidence to the fact that both in deed and in doctrine he wishes to be a blessing to others. A list of positive characteristic is given: qualities which the overseer must have (verses 8 and 9).

The three groups of requirements pertain to people who as to their age and dignity are called elders, and as to their task are called overseers. Though it is true that the text has the singular “the overseer,” this “the” is generic, one member representing the entire class from the point of view of a definite characteristic. One might paraphrase the meaning as follows, “For any overseer, by reason of the very fact that he should live up to his name of overseer and should manage God’s own house, (being God’s steward), must be blameless,” etc. That for the author of the Pastorals the term elder and overseer indicate the same person also follows from the fact that essentially the same requirements for an elder are given here in Titus 1:5-6—that he be blameless, one wife’s husband, and have well-behaved children—are listed with reference to the overseer in 1 Timothy 3:2, 4.

“Blameless” means to be called to account (particularly with respect to the points to be mentioned in Titus 1:6-9). In 1 Timothy 3:2 has the same meaning with the word above approach referring to elders/overseers and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:10. “One wife’s husband” means faithful in the marriage relationship. 1 Timothy 3:2 also refers to one’s wife husband when speaking of elders/overseers, and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:12.

“His children are believers” means having children who share the Christian faith of their fathers and who adorn that faith with godly conduct. A man whose children are still pagans or behave as pagans must not be appointed elder (Ephesians 5:18). A married man who doesn’t have children is not disqualified from being an elder because of his lack of children. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 refers to managing well his own household, with true dignity keeping his children in subjection. A deacon must manage well his children and his household (1 Timothy 3:12). The elder must not be arrogant towards others (1 Timothy 3:2; II Peter 2:10).

Elders must not be “quick-tempered” meaning given to outbursts of wrath, and not given to blows, nor contentious (1 Timothy 3:3). “A drunkard” means who is not addicted to alcohol. “Violent” means not eager to use his fists, not bellicose, not spitfire. “Greedy for gain” means not an embezzler, pilferer, not fond of money (Titus 1:11; 1 Timothy 3:3;1 Peter 5:12), “Hospitable” here means ready to befriend and to lodge the destitute, traveling, or persecuted believers (1 Peter 4:9; 1 Timothy 3:2). “A lover of good” means to love, goodness, virtue, and ready to do what is beneficial to others. “Self-controlled” means being of a sound mind, discreet, sane (Titus 2:2, 5); 1 Timothy 3:2). “Holy” has in mind performing one’s duty before God. “Upright” speaks to performing one’s duty toward man. “Disciplined” means possessing the moral strength to curb or master one’s sinful drives and impulses (Genesis 39:7-9; 50:15-21).

“Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught” means clinging to and applying himself to the sacred tradition which is in harmony with the sound doctrine, that is, with the doctrine which, in turn, is based on Scripture. “so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” speaks to the end that every overseer may be able by means of his sound teaching to incline will and heart to the joyful service of God, and to expose the errors of those who rebel; that is, to withstand these opponents, if at all possible bringing them to an acknowledgement of their error and to repentance; at least, convincing believers that these adversaries are wrong. Not all the overseers or elders are actually called upon to perform this task (1 Timothy 5:17), but all must be able to perform it (1 Timothy 3:2).

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40 Questions About Creation & Evolution by Kenneth Keathley & Mark F. Rooker

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Apologetics, Featured

40 Questions About Creation & Evolution by Kenneth Keathley & Mark F. Rooker

index“No issue has less unanimity among evangelicals than the matter of discerning the best way to relate the doctrine of creation to the scientific theory of evolution.” (23) Thus begins a survey of the various views in 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution by Kenneth D. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker(Kregel, 2015).

While debates about soteriology and eschatology draw a lot of heat and division, it is perhaps the multi-faceted discussion on the origins of man and nature that bring much more heat than light. From the academy to the church pew, there are so many view points and varieties of view points that it can be hard to keep them straight. What is important to one is not to the other and what is clear to the other is not to the one. Add to that the vast body of knowledge and information that one needs to be familiar with in order just to carry an informed discussion.

With all of the views and books supporting those views it is easy to get lost in it all. This is where 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution comes in so handy. Though the authors are theologians and not scientists (which might be the only downfall to the book), they do an excellent job of presenting the various views with reasoned critiques of every position, including their own (Rooker is young-earth and Keathley is old-earth).

Perhaps the main thing that causes so much more heat than light in the discussion is that people don’t know how to keep the main thing the main thing and the rest of it in proper perspective to that. The authors model how to do this well by stating, “We must know what to hold firmly and what must be open to revision. Our commitment to doctrine must be strong, but we hold to any particular apologetic approach much more loosely” (17). If you can read this book with a humble and open mind it will help you see that, no matter your view, no view/theory can put together everything we know satisfactorily.

It is the confusion and conflation of doctrine and apologetic approach that is the problem. It is more important to believe that God created the universe and everything in it than how He created it, though what you believe about how He created it has importance as well. It is more important to believe that God created everything than the time frame within which He created it. There is value in ‘iron sharpening iron’ in the discussion of secondary and tertiary issues but they are counterproductive if we allow them to destroy our unity over the fact that it was all done by the Triune God, even if we cannot understand the how of it all.

40 Questions About Creation and Evolution is a thoughtful survey of the historical, exegetical, scientific, cultural, and worldview issues related to the debate on creation and evolution. While this book might best benefit those who are new to the study, it is a book for everyone who cares about the issues.

I received this book for free from Kregel 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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Song of Songs (Focus on the Bible) by James M. Hamilton Jr.

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Featured, Theology

Song of Songs (Focus on the Bible) by James M. Hamilton Jr.

41DaQjXtjuL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_Second, maybe, to the book of Revelation, Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs as some put it) provides some of the most challenging issues when it comes to the interpretation, teaching, preaching, and application of the book. Though the book is part of the 66 inspired canonical books of the Bible, there are many who have never read it, and will never preach or teach from the book.

Thoughts on how to understand Song of Solomon are usually divided between those who view it strictly as a picture of human love between a man and a woman, between Christ and the (NT) church or between Christ and His covenant people (Israel). Rarely do you see those who will try to wed these interpretations together.

But that is exactly what James Hamilton Jr. does in his recent Focus on the Bible commentary Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation (Christian Focus, 2015). Hamilton, mostly convincingly I believe, argues that Song of Solomon can be interpreted and seen through more than one lens at once. It can tell us of human love between a man and woman, divine love of God for His people, all the while providing a Christ-focused future-vision for the book.

Hamilton believes that the book functions at three levels:

(T)he Song functions at three levels: 1) the Song of Songs depicts human love between a man and a woman; 2) the man in the song typifies the coming Messiah; and 3) the canonical context of the Song points to a deeper, symbolic understanding of marriage as a kind of allegory of the love between God and His people.  (28)

The primary level that most people will have the hardest time with is the allegorical. Hamilton acknowledges as much when he points out on pg. 28 n. 14 that the allegorical interpretation is disfavored by the vast majority of those in the academic community.

So how does Hamilton overcome the long history of disapproval for the allegorical interpretation? He points to none other than Scripture itself. In the preface Hamilton states that

Gradually I came to the view that if Moses can treat the covenant between Yahweh and Israel as a marriage, and if Hosea can write a prophecy in which he himself represents Yahweh and his wife Gomer represents Israel, Solomon could have done the same. (12)

Further, Paul does the same thing in Galatians 4:21-31 and with the marriage between a man and a woman as compared to Christ and the church in Ephesians 5 (29, 31). Hamilton wants us to see all three of these lenses in harmony together rather than disharmony.

We do not have to deny that the Song pertains to human live of we suggest that there is also a sense in which Solomon typifies Christ, nor do these two, the human-love interpretation and the Solomon-typifies-Christ reading, exclude the view that marriage is a picture of the covenant Between God and His people. (31)

As Hamilton shows, Song of Songs is a poetical masterpiece through which God communicates so many great truths about human love, God’s love for His people, and how the David-like figure points to Christ. The second paragraph of chapter two encapsulates the entirety of how to view the Song:

The Song of Songs is about human love, but the hero of the Song is no common man. He’s the kid of Israel, the son of David, and he is a Shepherd-King who has cultivated a garden-city, even as he overcomes the alienation and hostility between himself and his Bride to renew an Eden-like intimacy between them. The Song is abut human love, and the son of David who is the King of the Song is a type of the one who is to come. (35)

As for the commentary itself, Hamilton does a great job of consistently applying his three-level hermeneutic of Song of Songs. It is theologically rich, practical for both sexes, and Hamilton even makes application to singles (whether they are looking to get married or not).

Song of Songs by Hamilton is a must read for any Christian and a definite must have for all teachers and pastors. Hamilton helps Christians read the Song the way God and Solomon intended it to be read.

I received this book for free from Christian Focus 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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Introduction to Titus Series

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Featured, Titus

Introduction to Titus Series

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk through the book of Titus and learn what the Lord would have to teach us through this great book.

  • Today Dave opens the series on Titus by looking at the first four verses.

titusheader2Titus 1:1, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,”

These are the opening words of a lengthy salutation. In Paul’s epistles only two are longer. The present salutation in Titus 1:1-4 resembles that of Romans more than it does any other. Here as in Romans Paul calls himself both servant and apostle, and speaks about a promise now fulfilled. Also, as in Romans and in several other epistles, he traces grace and peace, though the wording varies.

Here as elsewhere (especially in the lengthy salutations) the salutation is in line with the character and purpose of the epistle. Thus, it comes as no surprise that in Titus, which stresses the idea that sound doctrine goes hand in hand with the life of sanctification and the doing of good works, the very salutation already mentions godliness (“the truth which accords with godliness,”), and over against the mendacious character of the Cretans (Titus 1:12) makes mention of the never-lying God.

Paul is God’s servant and has received his authoritative commission directly from Jesus Christ, being therefore His apostle.

The service and apostleship are exercised “for the sake of God’s elect” that is, they are carried out in order to further or promote the reliance of God’s chosen one’s upon him, and their glad recognition or confession of the redemptive truth which centers in Him; a truth which in sharp contrast with the vagaries of false teachers accords with godliness, the life of Christian virtue, and the spirit of true consecration.

Titus 1:2, “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began “

Paul’s service and apostleship are in the interest of the faith of God’s elect and their acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness—rests on the hope of eternal life, on God, who never lives, promised before the ages began. This hope is earnest, yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting for “life everlasting” salvation in its fullest development. It was this salvation which the God who cannot lie “promised before the ages began.”

Just as God’s grace was given to us in Christ Jesus “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” (II Timothy 1:9), so also everlasting life was promised “before the ages began.” Before the ages began to roll alone in their never-ending course, grace was given and the life was promised. When God decides to call into being a people for His own possession, the fulfillment of this decree is so certain that the grace which they will receive can be spoken of as having been already given, just as the life is described as having been already promised. The context implies that it is for the benefit of the elect out of Jews and Gentiles that this promise is made. That is in the covenant of redemption from eternity such a promise (of the Father to the Son in the interest of all the elect) was actually made is clearly implied in the fact that believers are viewed as “given” to Christ by the Father, in order that they may inherit life everlasting in its most glorious manifestation.

Titus 1:3, “and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;”

From eternity God promised life everlasting and at the proper time revealed it. It was not life everlasting itself in its glorious heavenly phase that was revealed to earthly-dwellers, but the Word of God with respect to it. Hence the change from “life everlasting” in verse 2 to “his word” in verse 3. In the form of (or by the means of) the good news which Paul proclaimed and which by order of “God our Savior” had been entrusted to him, this word of God with respect to Christ and His gracious gift that has now been made manifest.

This statement is in complete harmony with Paul’s teaching throughout. That teaching may be summarized as follows:

Full salvation in Christ for both Jew and Gentile, considered as equals, a salvation viewed as based solely upon Christ’s merits appropriated by faith, was:

  1. Objectively given and promised from eternity (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4; II Thess. 2:13; II. 1:9; Titus 1:2);
  2. Hidden—i.e., the message with reference to it was hidden— in preceding ages and from the eyes of former generation (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:5, 6, 9; Col. 1:26); hidden, namely in the sense that it was not fully proclaimed, nor fully realized, nor fully understand by men of previous ages, though it had been foreshadowed (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Gal. 3:8; Is. 60; 61; Joel 2:28-29; Amos 9:11-12; Micah 4:12; Mal 1:11; Psalm 72:8-11, 17; 87).
  3. Now fully manifested—i.e., the message with reference to it was fully manifested—by means of universal gospel-proclamation (Rom. 16:26; Eph. 3:3-9; Col. 1:26-29).
  4. The glorious fact that the proclamation of the good news concerning life everlasting had actually been entrusted to one so unworthy as Paul, a fact which caused the heart of the apostle to overflow with gratitude, accounts for this interruption in the steady flow of the sentence.

Titus 1:4, “To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”

The words of address slowly resemble those in II Timothy 1:2 and even more closely those in I Timothy 1:2. Notice here how apostolic authority and tender love are beautifully blended.

Titus was Paul’s child because it was to the apostle as a means in God’s hand that he owed his spiritual life, though the time, place, and circumstances of his conversion have not been revealed.

Paul considers himself the father of Titus, not in the physical sense but “in a common faith” that is with respect to the faith common to Paul and Titus. It is best to take faith, as here used, in the subjective sense, a true knowledge of God and of His promises revealed in the gospel and a hearty confidence in Him and in his redemptive Christ-centered love.

Upon this genuine child the apostle now pronounces grace and peace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor in operation in the heart of his child. It is his Christ-centered pardoning and strengthening love. Peace is that child’s consciousness of having been reconciled with God through Christ. Grace is the fountain, and peace is the stream which issues from this fountain (Romans 5:1).

This grace and peace have their origin in God the Father, and have been merited for the believer in Christ Jesus. These two are the one source of grace and peace. But though in all the other Pauline salutations (Romans 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; III Cor. 1:2; etc., including all the Pastorals) Christ is called Lord, He is here called “our Savior”. For the meaning of this word Savior, which occurs as often in Titus as in all the other Pauline epistles put together (six times: Titus 1:3-4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6), and in this letter is used both with reference to “God” and to “Christ,” see 1 Timothy 4:10. Here in Titus 1:4 the term is used in its full, redemptive meaning. Christ Jesus is the One who rescues from the greatest evil and bestows upon the rescued ones the greatest good.

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Grounded on the Rock

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Grounded on the Rock

gospelMatthew 7:24-27, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. and everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat agains that house, and it fell, and great was the all of it.”

Have you ever experienced vertigo? I am fearful of heights, so I expect to feel some sort of disorientation whenever confronted with this fear. On several occasions, I’ve lost my bearings and felt dizzy and didn’t know why. It came out of nowhere. It’s a weird feeling—you lose all sense of control, oftentimes wanting to lay down, but even then solace cannot be found. Sometimes people with vertigo live in a perpetual state of dizziness and motion sickness. I’m married to one. It’s not fun. Even my wife’s own driving can make her feel sick at times.

Sin is like vertigo: it disorients your life in such a way that you lose your sense of grounding. When the foundation of our lives move away from the Word of God—idols and false identities take its place. We begin to lose control (and even that makes us frustrated). Our perception of people and the world around us begins to shift, thus causing us to misjudge and make assumptions. We fail to see things clearly. Sin is not just a transgression of God’s Law, it’s a redefining of it. Sin flips our world upside down.

Staying Grounded

In the Book of Matthew, these themes of rocks, buildings, and foundations develop underneath the plot. Back in chapter four, Jesus stayed firm on the rock of God’s Word when put to the test by Satan. Instead of caving to Satan’s wishes and circumventing the will of God, Jesus remained steadfast in His commitment to the Father. Here in Matthew 7, Jesus shares a story, contrasting what life is like when you are anchored in him, and what life is like when you’re a fool. The difference isn’t the house, but rather the foundation underneath it. Either the house will be built on a foundation that can withstand the onslaught of storms, or it will be built on sand which shifts around making things unstable, leading to an inevitable disaster.

What many tend to forget is that this theme of “rock” returns in chapter sixteen when Peter makes a profound confession as to the identity of Jesus. While others continue to perpetuate misunderstanding by failing to see Jesus for who he really is, Peter gets it right. Rocky, which was Peter’s nickname, confesses that there is a solid foundation, and his name is Jesus.

While many different expositors argue over what this “rock” is—is it Jesus? Peter? His confession?—I tend to believe the answer is, “Yes” to all of these. It is Peter and his apostles in a sense (Eph. 2:20), and it has everything to do with Peter’s confession (because what basic truth is more foundational than the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God?). But it also has everything to do with Jesus Himself who is, in fact, the cornerstone (Matt. 21:42; 1 Pt. 2:1-8), which is what “Rocky” confesses.

Exegetical debate and arguments aside, the fact remains: The Word of God, which gives testimony to the truth of Jesus’ identity, is the foundation that holds the Church in place. The Temple was built with large rocks on a large mountain in Jerusalem. And yet here is the true Temple, the fullness of God dwelling with man, walking among a people whose lives are built on sand. Jesus came to change the foundation so we could stay grounded.

What does it look like to be grounded?

If we as disciples who make disciple-making disciples wish to continue the ministry of being grounded in Christ—anchored deep within the gospel—we must commit ourselves to communion with God through various means. Here are some of those means:

The Word of God and Prayer — This commitment is nothing new. It’s the tried and true practice that the apostles taught was of utmost importance (Acts 6:4). The question we must wrestle with is not, “Will you build a foundation?” but rather, “Which foundation will you build?” All men everywhere have a foundation, and either it is built upon the Word of God and prayer, or it is built on something else. To be grounded in Christ—to build one’s house upon the rock—is to commune with God through these two things. When we commit to the Word of God, we are committed to storing up God’s Word in our hearts so we refrain from sin (Ps. 119:11). When we spend time in prayer, we are utilizing the Spirit’s means to communing with God. These two things go together to form a heavy anchor that can keep you grounded when the storm comes.

The Local Assembly — Solo Christianity is no way to build your house, nor is it a way to be an active part of The House (the Church). In fact, it is impossible. There is no such thing as solo Christianity. Which also means that one of the largest idols in America—independence—must be shattered and laid waste. Is it hard? Yes. Is it messy? You bet. Is it necessary? Absolutely. To be grounded in Christ, anchored deep within the gospel, is to be a part of His family. After all, your adoption wasn’t just to salvation—it was to the Church! And the Church welcomes you with open arms. The local assembly is non-negotiable. I was told recently by someone whose been gone all summer camping (welcome to Michigan), “We’re having marriage issues, maybe it’s because we’ve not been in church much.” Bingo. Truthfully, that’s not the reason—there are plenty of them! But this could be one of them. When severed from the body, the hand doesn’t last long. Commune with God by communing with His people.

Confession — To be grounded in Christ is to make constant confession. Peter gave his confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God and that confession, though admittedly still fuzzy to some degree, mattered most. We are confessional. What I mean is, in order to be a Christian, you have to make this same confession that Peter made.

Romans 10:9-11, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

The key is knowing that this confession is perpetual in nature. We are always confessing this. We are always wanting to commune with God. How do we do it? How do we keep that foundation healthy? Confess. Often.

Gospel-Centrality —Gospel-centrality is not a fad, nor is it a cute tagline. After all, the gospel is of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). That’s what we mean by “centrality”—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of God’s story climaxing in the person and work of Jesus, is first. It must be the It is never, “Will something be central in your life,” but rather, “What will be central?” For the person who wishes to stay grounded and commune with God in a real, passionate way, the gospel must be central.

Back to vertigo. The reason our lives get out of whack and we fall into disorientation is because we aren’t grounded in the gospel. Like a boat tossed about without an anchor to be found, so is the man whose life has no anchor in Christ. Show me a person who is committed to these four aforementioned things, and I’ll show you a person whose life is built on the rock of Christ. There simply is no greater foundation for your house.

The next time you are feeling out of whack (e.g., you are impatient, you lack compassion, you can’t seem to forgive, or you struggle with bitterness and a sharp tongue), remember that your disorientation is a sure sign that the foundation is weak. This type of life is utter foolishness. The wind will come and destroy your house and nothing will be left. But to the person who commits his way to God (Prov. 3:5-6), your life will be sustained, not because you are clever and wise in and of yourself, but because you have communed with God in Christ, the Rock of our salvation.

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Jesus, Continued…. Why The Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in Christian Living, Featured

Jesus, Continued…. Why The Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You

jesuscontinued_tab_905It’s been said by many theologians that the Holy Spirit is the neglected Person in the Trinity. Critical to understanding the Holy Spirit is knowing how the Holy Spirit empowers Christians to live on mission for God in order to spread the gospel to the nations through making, maturing, and multiplying disciples in and through the local church. This is why when I read Jesus, Continued… Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You by J.D. Greear, I was reminded once again about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave His disciples the promise that the Holy Spirit He would send to live inside of them would be even better than if He Himself remained beside them. In this excellent new book, Greear helps Christians consider their connection to the Holy Spirit. He helps us learn how the Holy Spirit indwells in us and empowers us to shine the light of Christ. This book has three parts. In part one, Greear outlines how we need to understand the Holy Spirit. In part two, he moves from his biblical-theological framework on the Holy Spirit to focus on experiencing the Holy Spirit through in the gospel, in the Word of God, in our gifts, in the church, in our spirit, and in our circumstances. This entire section answers well a number of issues Christians struggle with such as knowing the will of God, focusing too much on our circumstances, making life’s major decisions, and more. In the final section, the author writes about seeking the Holy Spirit. Here he helps us focus more on God, revival, prayer, and serving the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is a divine person, eternal, underived, possessing all the attributes of personality and deity, including intellect (1 Cor. 2:10-13), emotions (Eph. 4:30), will (1 Cor. 12:11), eternality (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), omniscience (Is. 40:13, 14), omnipotence (Rom. 15:13), and truthfulness (John 16:13). In all the divine attributes, He is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3, 4; 28:25, 26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; and Jer. 31:31-34 with Heb. 10:15-17). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to execute the divine will with relation to all mankind. We recognize His sovereign activity in creation (Gen. 1:2), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18), the written revelation (2 Pet. 1:20, 21), and the work of salvation (John 3:5-7). A unique work of the Holy Spirit in this period of redemptive history began at Pentecost when He came from the Father as promised by Christ (John 14:16, 17; 15:26) to initiate and complete the building of the Body of Christ. His activity includes convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and transforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 2:22).

The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts of sin, glorifies the person of Jesus, and transforms believers into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin and points them towards Jesus in order that they may with confidence “draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The person, work and receiving of the Holy Spirit, who acts sovereignly to gives life, indwells and teaches the elect in order deepen their understanding of the work of Jesus and then sends them out to testify about the glory of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is One who longs to breathe new life into those who come to Jesus and to sanctify the Beloved by washing them with the sanctifying power of the Word of God.

Jesus Continued… is an excellent and helpful book that will help every Christian to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend this book and believe that reading it will help Christians who struggle knowing the will of God, how the Spirit has empowered them to be on mission in the world, and to live consistent godly lives.  Whether you’re a Sunday school teacher, pastor, lay leader, or a new Christian, I encourage you to pick up this readable and practical guide on the Holy Spirit.

I received this book for free from Zondervan 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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