Favourite Passages in the Bible – 2

Ephesians 2:8-10

‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’

These verses, to me, sum up the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  It starts of by talking about ‘grace’.  This God’s mercy to us, despite our rebellion against Him.  So, He is offering ‘salvation’ to us, for which we must respond to gain the ‘benefits’ – a whole new life, full of the Holy Spirit.  He is offering to save us from God’s own ‘wrath’ (See earlier verses in Ephesians).  It is also saying that we cannot earn our ‘salvation’, for God gave it to us as undeserved gift.  All this is possible because God came down to Earth and through the virgin birth, became a perfect human being, who died on the Cross for all our wrongdoings, and then was resurrected on the third day.  After appearing to a large number of people, He left a final instruction to us to go and make disciples, instructing those who had not yet believed, on how to live out His Teachings, and then He ascended to Heaven.  This is the ‘good works’ the author of these verses is talking about; God has a unique ‘mission’ for you – nobody else can carry it out – God made you anew for this particular ministry – which could be in the home, neighbourhood or workplace, or somewhere among a people in another part of the world.  It is not just about sharing the faith, or helping people in Bible Study and prayer, but it is about applying Jesus’ teaching to every area of your life, the Church and Society, in an attitude of love, humility and service.

So the first part of these verses is relating to you accepting Jesus as Saviour and then the later ones to obedience to Jesus as your Lord.  One without the other is non-negotiable.  It is all or nothing.

For more information:

www.fletchergreg.wordpress.com

https://christianity.org.uk/index.php/

Advertisements

Gospel – 6

LORDSHIP SALVATION

The doctrine of lordship salvation teaches that submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Saviour. Lordship salvation is the opposite of what is sometimes called easy-believism or the teaching that salvation comes through an acknowledgement of a certain set of facts.

John MacArthur, whose book The Gospel According to Jesus lays out the case for lordship salvation, summarizes the teaching this way: “The gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority.” In other words, a sinner who refuses to repent is not saved, for he cannot cling to his sin and the Saviour at the same time. And a sinner who rejects Christ’s authority in his life does not have saving faith, for true faith encompasses a surrender to God. Thus, the gospel requires more than making an intellectual decision or mouthing a prayer; the gospel message is a call to discipleship. The sheep will follow their Shepherd in submissive obedience.

Advocates of lordship salvation point to Jesus’ repeated warnings to the religious hypocrites of His day as proof that simply agreeing to spiritual facts does not save a person. There must be a heart change. Jesus emphasized the high cost of discipleship: “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), and “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (verse 32). In the same passage, Jesus speaks of counting the cost; elsewhere, He stresses total commitment: “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that eternal life is a narrow path found by “only a few” (Matthew 7:14); in contrast, easy-believism seeks to broaden the path so that anyone who has a profession of faith can enter. Jesus says that “every good tree bears good fruit” (verse 17); in contrast, easy-believism says that a tree can still be good and bear nothing but bad fruit. Jesus says that many who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the kingdom (verses 21–23); in contrast, easy-believism teaches that saying “Lord, Lord” is good enough.

Lordship salvation teaches that a true profession of faith will be backed up by evidence of faith. If a person is truly following the Lord, then he or she will obey the Lord’s instructions. A person who is living in wilful, unrepentant sin has obviously not chosen to follow Christ, because Christ calls us out of sin and into righteousness. Indeed, the Bible clearly teaches that faith in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22–23; James 2:14–26).

Lordship salvation is not a salvation-by-works doctrine. Advocates of lordship salvation are careful to say that salvation is by grace alone, that believers are saved before their faith ever produces any good works, and that Christians can and do sin. However, true salvation will inevitably lead to a changed life. The saved will be dedicated to their Saviour. A true Christian will not feel comfortable living in unconfessed, unforsaken sin.

Here are nine teachings that set lordship salvation apart from easy-believism:

1) Repentance is not a simple synonym for faith. Scripture teaches that sinners must exercise faith in conjunction with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Peter 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47), and even this is a gift of God (2 Timothy 2:25). Genuine repentance, which comes when a person submits to the lordship of Christ, cannot help but result in a change of behaviour (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18–20).

2) A Christian is a new creation and cannot just “stop believing” and lose salvation. Faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:1–5, 8), and real faith endures forever (Philippians 1:6). Salvation is all God’s work, not man’s. Those who believe in Christ as Lord are saved apart from any effort of their own (Titus 3:5).

3) The object of faith is Christ Himself, not a promise, a prayer, or a creed (John 3:16). Faith must involve a personal commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). It is more than being convinced of the truth of the gospel; it is a forsaking of this world and a following of the Master. The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

4) True faith always produces a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). The inner person is transformed by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20), and the Christian has new nature (Romans 6:6). Those with genuine faith—those who are submitted to the lordship of Christ—follow Jesus (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matthew 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Ephesians 2:10), and continue in the faith (Colossians 1:21–23; Hebrews 3:14). Salvation is not adding Jesus to the pantheon of one’s idols; it is a wholesale destruction of the idols with Jesus reigning supreme.

5) God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3; cf. Romans 8:32). Salvation, then, is not just a ticket to heaven. It is the means by which we are sanctified (practically) in this life and by which we grow in grace.

6) Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all. Christ demands unconditional surrender to His will (Romans 6:17–18; 10:9–10). Those who live in rebellion to God’s will do not have eternal life, for “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble” (James 4:6).

7) Those who truly believe in Christ will love Him (1 Peter 1:8–9; Romans 8:28–30; 1 Corinthians 16:22). And those we love we long to please (John 14:15, 23).

8) Scripture teaches that behaviour is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is genuine (1 John 2:3). If a person remains unwilling to obey Christ, he provides evidence that his “faith” is in name only (1 John 2:4). A person may claim Jesus as Saviour and pretend to obey for a while, but, if there is no heart change, his true nature will eventually manifest itself. This was the case for Judas Iscariot.

9) Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:8). This was the case for Simon Peter. A “believer” who completely turns away from the Lord plainly shows that he was never born again to begin with (1 John 2:19).

A person who has been delivered from sin by faith in Christ should not desire to remain in a life of sin (Romans 6:2). Of course, spiritual growth can occur quickly or slowly, depending on the person and his circumstances. And the changes may not be evident to everyone at first. Ultimately, God knows who are His sheep, and He will mature each of us according to His perfect time table.

Is it possible to be a Christian and live in lifelong carnality, enjoying the pleasures of sin, and never seeking to glorify the Lord who bought him? Can a sinner spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Saviour? Can someone pray a “sinner’s prayer” and go about his life as if nothing had happened and still call himself a “Christian”? Lordship salvation says “no.” Let us not give unrepentant sinners false hope; rather, let us declare the whole counsel of God: “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

http://www.gotquestions.org/lordship-salvation.html

Gospel – 5

Towards an integrated faith.

KINGDOM PURPOSES – MENTORING

DISCIPLING

Discipling is the process of taking someone with little or no faith and helping them become a mature and reproducing Christian. Although the person being discipled could be at any of the stages below, the aim is still to see that person become a discipler as well.

  1. Ploughing – this is the stage where the discipler is dealing with possible objections to Christianity and is living out their faith before the interested person.
  2. Sowing – this is the stage where the discipler, as a result of living out an authentic biblical lifestyle, has earned the right to tell the interested person about the person of Jesus.
  3. Watering – this is the stage where the discipler begins to challenge the interested person about their need to make a commitment, explaining the cost involved and the choices the person needs to make.
  4. Reaping – this is the stage when the interested person being discipled, makes a commitment to follow Jesus, through repentance and faith in Him, having realised the costs involved.
  5. Keeping – this is the stage where the discipler lays the foundation in helping the new believer to be grounded in Scripture, applying it to all areas of their life, thus helping them to allow Jesus to be their Lord, and thus becoming less dependent on the discipler.
  6. Reproducing – this is the stage where the new believer starts the process they have been through with the discipler, discipling another to become a mature and reproducing Christian.

PRAYER

By ‘prayer’, I don’t just mean talking to God during one’s ‘quiet time’. Prayer is more than that; it is all about our personal and corporate worship of, and relationship with, our Creator God.

  1. Preparation – preparing oneself in coming before God – confession, repentance and waiting on Him.
  2. Praise – focusing on God, and not oneself, but on His characteristics and personality, simply enjoying His presence.
  3. Thanksgiving – giving thanks to God for what He has done, is doing and is going to do as well as goodness in His provision.
  4. Intercession – seeking God’s will to be fulfilled in people, places and events.
  5. Petition – asking God to draw you closer to Him and deal with personal issues.
  6. Fasting – spending quality time with God (eg avoiding eating food for a limited period) expecting to see spiritual breakthroughs in people, places and events.

COMMUNITY

When God created us, He made us desire to be community with others. He also did it in such a way that individually we cannot live a fulfilled life unless we are part of a community. But community means far more than just meeting each other and doing a few things together. As the following shows, such community needs to be in small groups.

  1. Parity – seeking to achieve an equality of power amongst its members, so that each sees the other as God sees the other.
  2. Proximity – breaking down barriers which prevent physical access to each other, so that socialising and pastoral care can take place naturally.
  3. Multiplicity – seeing each other in a variety of settings on a regular basis during the week, thus getting to know the real person.
  4. Directness – learning to be open with each other in a loving and sensitive way, seeking to help each other grow as a person in all areas of life.
  5. Commonality – identifying shared interests and areas of life and participating in them, thus deepening the friendships between each other.
  6. Continuity – spending quality time with each other over a lengthy period of time, as friendships take time to develop.

KINGDOM PURPOSES – MINISTRY

PASSION

When God made us, He gave us a vocation to follow, ie what our main focus in life is all about. For many, it is not realised properly until they become a Christian, but God would still have been working in you preparing you for that moment of commitment.

  1. The Workplace – the place where you spend most of your day, whether it be paid or voluntary, seeking to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’.
  2. The Neighbourhood – the local community where you live, being an active participant in its life, bringing Christian values to the way things are done.
  3. The Family – the basic cohesive unit of society, you are concerned about one or more issues surrounding it, seeking to help people ‘belong’ – this also includes the ‘church’ family.
  4. The Ethno-cultural People Group – the importance of seeing whole peoples throughout the whole world embracing the whole teaching and practice of the Kingdom of God.
  5. The Socio-Economic Group – seeing the need to reach out to disaffected groups in society, seeking to empower them, and show them the love of Jesus in practical ways.
  6. The Interest Group – you have a passion about an issue or a sport or a hobby to which you could bring Kingdom values.

ISSUES

All of our lives are intertwined, and are affected by all sorts of issues. We need to see them in an integrated way so as to not only make sense of them, but also see ways of bringing change towards Kingdom values, attitudes and practices.

  1. Pro-life – seeking to uphold life in all situations – abortion, infanticide, war, suicide, euthanasia, capital punishment.
  2. Active Compassion – showing practical concern for those in need, whether the person concerned lives next door or far away.
  3. Social Justice – campaigning to bring equality to all peoples of the world in the areas of shelter, clothing, food, education, employment, human rights and responsibilities, and health, treating each person as a whole.
  4. Reconciliation – bringing people together to listen to each other, repent of wrongdoings, so that they can live, work, and play together.
  5. Empowerment – helping each other to become responsible citizens who are recognised as such and therefore are given dignity and self-worth, regardless of their beliefs, gender or ability.
  6. Wise Stewardship – learning to use our physical resources (environment, monetary), human resources (skills, relationships), time, etc wisely so that not only are they put to their optimum use but also are cared for, so that they last.

TOOLS

God made each of us in a unique way, such that there are no two people the same. Though we can be influenced in a number of ways, such as the culture we are in, our family’s values, etc, we need to look at everything through the biblical ‘lens’ to see what is good and what is not of God, so as to make sure we use the tools God has given us to their full potential.

  1. Spiritual Gifts – those special attributes God gives us through the Holy Spirit to do extraordinary acts.
  2. Lifeskills – God gives everyone unique skills that can be developed in ways that bring out the best in us, especially when we use them to bring joy to others
  3. Fruits of the Spirit – the basic qualities that every Christian needs to practice, through dependence on His Spirit, to demonstrate God’s characteristics to others
  4. Working Style – recognising that each of us is made differently, the same applies to the way we do things, if we are to be at our most effective
  5. Learning Style – as we need to continue to learn throughout our lives (otherwise we stagnate), God has endowed us with different ways of doing so
  6. Woridview – whatever we do, we do based on our worldview, which is sourced from many different places, thus making a wonderful mosaic of approaches to life – we need to understand it, check it out against Scripture, amending it where appropriate.

KINGDOM PURPOSES – MISSION

THE MESSAGE – PART ONE

As Christians, we all have a mission in life, and that is to bring people into the Church. As part of that we need to tell people the whole story of Jesus.

  1. Jesus the Great Teacher – He taught with great authority and passion
  2. Jesus the Powerful Prophet – He performed many miracles which were signs of what was to come
  3. Jesus the Messiah – He was the fulfilment of the many prophecies in the Old Testament
  4. Jesus the Son of David – His royal lineage stretched all the way back to King David
  5. Jesus the Son of Man – God became human to identify Himself with Man, through a virgin birth
  6. Jesus the Son of God – Jesus is God’s only son who came to earth to reconcile Man with God through His physical death on the Cross and His bodily resurrection on the third day

THE MESSAGE – PART TWO

As Christians, we all have a mission in life, and that is to bring people into the Kingdom of God. Also part of that is explaining the process of becoming a Christian.

The Call – God calls us back to a relationship with Him, because of His love for us.

The Choice – we are either for Him (the God of love) or against Him (the God of justice).

The Cost – realising that it will not be easy following Jesus Christ, it involves much sacrifice, but the rewards are great.

Believe – accept that Jesus physically died on the Cross and bodily arose from the dead on the third day so as to make it possible for Man to be reconciled with God. This was made possible because God became human and was born sinless through the virgin birth and did no wrong throughout His life here on Earth.

Confess – the need to acknowledge our rebellion against God and all our wrongdoings.

Repent – being completely and utterly sorry for not seeking Him and His ways.

Turn – to no longer want to follow the old ways, but to serve God with all our heart, mind and soul, and to love others as God loves them.

Forgiveness – to accept and receive God’s forgiveness and healing of the past

Holy Spirit – to let God dwell in you through the Holy Spirit to empower you to do His will.

Adoption – you are now part of God’s family, co-heir with Jesus Christ, symbolised through the waters of baptism.

Obedience – deciding to follow Jesus and live out His teachings in an attitude of love.

Reproduce – seeking to draw others into a relationship with Jesus.

THE MOTIVE

As Christians, we all have a mission in life, and that is to bring people into the Church. But, we must have the right motives for doing so.

The Great Commandment – the importance of loving God with all your heart, mind and soul as well as loving others as you love yourself.

The Great Commission – seeking to see others discipled, baptised and obeying God’s commandments.

The Scriptures – believing in its final authority, seeking to interpret them faithfully, whilst applying its truths to every aspect of our lives.

Values – the foundational beliefs that govern our worldview.

Attitudes – our reactions to events around us based on our value system.

Behaviours – what we actually do in reality, showing what is really important to us.

THE METHOD

As Christians, we all have a mission in life, and that is to bring people into the Kingdom of God. But there are many ways of doing this as is evidenced in the Scriptures.

Confrontational – the ‘Evangelism Explosion’ approach, ie challenging people about their need to make a commitment

Intellectual – the ‘Apologetics’ approach, ie helping people see the historical and philosophical basis for making a commitment

Service – the Integral Mission’ approach, ie showing God’s love in practical ways that lead people to ask ‘why?’

Testimonial – the ‘Your Story’ approach, ie demonstrating the difference being a Christian makes to one’s life

Invitional – the ‘Special Events’ approach, ie the putting on events that are low key that help people to start thinking about Christianity

Interpersonal – ‘ the Alpha Course’ approach, ie taking people through the basics of the Christian faith and allowing them to raise questions in a non-threatening environment

THE FIVE-STAGE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

To give focus to your life, it is good to create a personal mission statement which guides you in all you do. An example of this is my own Mission Statement:

“To facilitate the process by which Christians can bring others into the Kingdom, be mentored within a small group and empowered to serve God through ministry to others”

Then it is helpful to use the following five stages to implement it and to fulfil the Kingdom Purposes, as listed elsewhere.

AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

The Lifestyle stage – living out the Christian faith on a day to day basis

EXPOUNDERS OF GRACE TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

The Speaking Out stage – challenging the status quo, seeking to see biblical values practised in all areas of life

PROCLAIMERS OF THE GOSPEL TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

The Sharing of the Gospel Stage – taking all the opportunities God gives one to tell others about Jesus, doing it in the power of the Holy Spirit, seeking to see people to come to faith

CONNECTORS OF RELATIONSHIPS TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

The Spiritual Growth Stage – helping those who have come to faith to become part of a biblical community, laying the foundations of faith which will lead to a reproducing discipling life

EQUIPPERS OF THE SAINTS TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

The Equipping Stage – helping Christians become effective in their mentoring of others, ministry to the world, and fulfilling their part in the mission of God

Favourite Passages from the Bible – 1

Ephesians 2:8-10 – ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, but it is a gift from God; not by works, should one boast.  For we have been created by God in Jesus Christ to do good works previously prepared by God for which we should walk.’

These two verses are two sides of the same coin.  On one side, it is telling us that our salvation is only possible by faith, not by works, and that we need to be saved.  And yet, on the other side, once we are saved, God has called us to a whole-life of service to the world according to Yahweh’s will.  Each one of us has a unique role to play in the world, that no-one else can fulfil.  And yet, this ministry is part of the jigsaw that is the Church.

Saved – ‘Sozo’ – deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety). It also has the meaning of healing and being made whole ie being in a right relationship with Yahweh.

Grace – ‘Charis’ – a gift from Yahweh – He does not have to give us salvation – He could allow us to live incomplete lives and be condemned, but because of His love for His creation, He sent Jesus Christ to take upon Himself all our sins and rebellion and die on a Cross (the consequence of sin) and through His resurrection, made it possible for or sins to be washed away and for reconciliation with Yahweh Himself.  The gift is freely given despite our rebellion.

Works – ‘Ergon’ – many people feel we need to earn our salvation, especially those who follow other religions like Hinduism and Islam.  But, with Christianity, it has nothing to do with us, it is Yahweh’s action, His gift that allows us to be saved.  All we have to do is accept it willingly and agree to give our lives over to Him, so as to lead a fulfilled and complete life.  That does not mean we are necessarily healed of physical ailments, but more it is about our relationship with Yahweh and the life that flows from it.  Hence the importance of being willing to do what works, Yahweh has already prepared for us – in our homes, work, neighbourhood and church and in the world.  The Greek word ‘ergon’ is the root of the word ‘ergonomics, the study of doing things efficiently.  Hence, the importance of seeking to be in tune with Yahweh, so that our ‘yoke’ is easy.

So, in conclusion, these two verses summarise the importance of Jesus as Saviour and Jesus as Lord of our lives.

 

The Gospel – 4

Repentance – what does that mean to you?

When we look at society and the church, there is much wrong, all of which saddens God.  It probably, in fact, makes Him angry.  When one reads Jeremiah, God is very angry with the Jews, for they have gone down a road of idol worship and moral bankruptcy.  This leads to them being beaten in war and taken off into captivity.  There are many other occasions when this happens to them.

Idol worship is not just about worshipping ‘physical’ or ‘imaginary’ gods, it is also about who do you turn to in times of trouble, and where are your priorities in life.  Because of the easy availability of credit, the UK has been a society of debt.  As individuals we owe more than the debt of that of the Two-Thirds World!  The gap between the rich and the poor gets wider. Then, there is the obsession of 24/7 entertainment and lowering moral standards.  The list goes on.

But this list of woes is not just happening in society around us, it is also happening within the Church.  What can we do about it?  First, as individuals we need to recognise afresh that we are sinners, but at the same time, that God can forgive, if we repent as well as forgive others.  God calls us to be perfect, so that we can be salt and light to those around us.  We need to show that the Biblical version of loving God, each other in community, and others unconditionally as well as ourselves, works.

Secondly, we need to be serious about repentance, on a national scale, through going through a period of preparation and ending with a national day of repentance called by the leaders of all the churches in this country.  We also need for it to lead to ‘fruit’, especially in the relationships between church groups, and in our lifestyles, to make God first in our priorities and not to be ashamed of Him.

Will anyone hear?