“In my mind, the most significant problem facing evangelicalism today is that evangelicals are assuming the Gospel—and, because of this, I fear we are a generation away from discarding it altogether. The reasons for this are many: the legacy of the seeker-sensitive movement with its emphasis on pragmatism, the rise of postmodernism, theological preaching that lacks the evangelical priority, et al.
How should we respond to this? Christocentric preaching and teaching! Christocentric ministries! Christocentric ministries! We need to pray for a generation of pastors who will be: 1) courageous enough to disregard popular ministry methodologies that undermine the Gospel; and, 2) consumed enough with God’s glory to cease measuring success by the numerical size of a congregation.” Pastor Art Azurdia
For Posts Related to Pastor Art Azurdia:
Separating from Unbelievers, Part 2
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
by John MacArthur
(below is an extract from the sermon)
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, `I will dwell in them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord, `and do not touch what is unclean and I will welcome you and I will be a Father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Therefore having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Now as I pointed out last time, this passage identifies two opposing worlds. The terminology is clear. One of those worlds is marked by righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and the presence of God. The other is marked by lawlessness, darkness, Satan, unbelievers, and the presence of false gods. And these two worlds are utterly different and distinct, so much so that they are mutually exclusive. They cannot work together in common partnership, they cannot fellowship together, they are not in harmony with one another. One is old, the other is new. One is earthly, the other is heavenly. One is deadly, the other is life giving. One is wicked, the other holy. One is built on lies, the other is all truth. One perishes and the other lives eternally.
Paul then is making it clear that believers can’t live in both worlds. Certainly John said this in his first epistle, 1 John, when he clearly identified this disparity between the two worlds with these familiar words, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Mutually exclusive worlds. You can’t be in both at the same time.
Then in James we read in chapter 4 and verse 4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” And later in verse 8 he says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.” People trying to live in two different worlds.
In Romans chapter 12, of course that very, very familiar passage that begins the exhortation part of Romans, “I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to this world.” Make a clean break.
When a person becomes a believer they are transported out of one world into another. And shuttling back and forth is absolutely unacceptable. And that is precisely what the Corinthians were trying to do. Having named the name of Christ, identified with Him, come into the church, they were still hanging on to their own idolatry, their old pagan ways. They had come to Christ out of idolatry, as it says in 1 Thessalonians, they had come to serve the living and the true God from idols. But they didn’t make a clean break. They had been wooed back into the old idolatry, back into the old pagan culture because it was so pervasive, and so dominant and it was so on display and so woven into the fabric of their life, family life, social life, community life. Corinth was dominated above the city by an acropolis, a high mountain on top of which was the temple to the false deities which engaged itself in pagan ritual and worship and priest…priestess prostitution. This temple not only was the center of that religion, but from it disseminated its religious viewpoints and ideologies through the entire culture of Corinth. It was a part of everything in life…holidays, festivals, celebrations and so forth. And it was a constant pull to the Corinthians to fall back into those old patterns. And they did.
Additionally, the false teachers had come in and they had brought a quasi Christian syncretism and eclectic religion which took Christianity, a little bit of Jewish legalism, and some pagan religion and melted it all together and offered it as the truth. And that compromise had found its way into the Corinthian church and found an audience and some of them were listening and believing and accepting it.
You see, the false teachers wanted to make Christianity more popular, less demanding, less distinct, less narrow, less offensive, less different, less exclusive so they’d get more people in on it, so they could get more money, which is always what false teachers want. And so here is the Corinthian church new and fresh and being assaulted by pagan religion around it. You couldn’t separate the social life from the religion, you couldn’t separate the historical life of that village in terms of its patterns from the religion. That village that became a city bore all of the signs of the religion that moved in its growth. It was a full-blown pagan system down to the very core. And it was hard to sort it out. To be involved at all in the life of the culture was to be involved in the paganism, unless you made a very clean break. The Corinthians didn’t do it. And as I said, then add to that the confusion of the false teachers and you can understand why Paul says to them, “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”
It’s very much like modern Christianity today, by the way, that seeks to blend Christianity with popular culture, wants to make Christianity more popular, less different, more palatable, less offensive, less narrow, less exclusive. And the result of it is that true Christianity in the purity of God’s Word gets corrupted by compromise and the church can become useless and shameful and blasphemous in mocking the truth. For believers there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That’s the issue. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers,” that is he command that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that’s what it’s saying. The question is, what does it mean?
And as I said last time, it is essential to understand what it means but first of all what it does not mean. Paul is not saying, cut off all contact with non-Christians. He’s not saying that because we have to reach them with the gospel. That is not the issue. He’s not saying don’t evangelize the unconverted, don’t confront people in false religions. He’s not saying that. We must do that.
Secondly, he is not calling for complete isolation on the part of the church. We are not to become isolationists. We are not to be monastics. We are not to go hide somewhere and pull apart from the world. Quite the contrary. We are to find unbelievers and love them and be their friend and set a model of spiritual example for them.
Furthermore, he is not saying you are to divorce your unsaved partner, or to sever all unsaved contacts…all contacts, I should say, with unsaved people in your family. He is also not saying that you can’t work or play or do business or be engaged in common earthly enterprise with unbelievers. He’s not saying that, of course you can. What he is saying is you cannot link up with unbelievers in religious causes…or religious enterprises. You cannot go to their worship and become a part of it, you can’t make them a part of the Kingdom of God. You can’t engage them in anything that involves ministry, teaching, or worship. Where there is ministry, teaching and worship there has to be absolute separation.
So he’s referring in actuality to harnessing up believers and unbelievers in any common religious, spiritual enterprise. The two cannot be yoked together anymore than an ox and an ass can pull a straight furrow when under the same yoke, as Deuteronomy 22:10 forbids. But that is precisely what the Corinthians were doing. They were going to the feasts that were involved with the idols and they were trying to still befriend the people in the world and in their families and in their society by attending and being involved in idol festivals and such compromise is intolerable.
At the same time they had invited into the church forms of pagan religion and that was equally intolerable. There can be no harmony, no fellowship, no partnership, no participation between believers and unbelievers in any religious enterprise. That is the issue. Pagan religion, false teaching ruins those who listen to it. It leads to ungodliness. It spreads like gangrene and it upsets the faith of people. Paul directed all of that to Timothy and warned him to warn the church.
The issue then is religious cooperation, religious compromise with false teachers and with heresy and error. We can have nothing to do with the people involved in that when they are so involved. And we can allow them to have nothing to do with enterprises that involve the advancement of the Kingdom of God. And yet through the years the church has continued to do this. Sometimes it’s called cooperative evangelism where an evangelist will come into a city and bring together Christians and non-Christians, those who believe the Word of God and those liberals who would openly deny the Word of God in a common evangelistic enterprise. That is in direct violation of what this text is teaching.
It happens all the time in common efforts at evangelism. It happens in educational institutions where those institutions that would claim to be Christians would have on their faculty those who believe the Word of God, those who were born again, and those who are not. And they are illegitimate linked together in a common spiritual enterprise to the detriment of the church, to the debilitation of the believers and the false assurance of the unbelievers. True Christians have to separate from unbelievers in matters related to ministry, teaching and worship. And when I say teaching I’m talking about teaching that relates to God and His truth.
So Paul fixes that principle. And that, by the way, was a brief review of the first message. But in response to that initial principle he gives us five reasons, or five motives for following this mandate. And I want to approach those motives from a negative perspective…if I might. To be bound together with unbelievers in any spiritual effort is…number one…irrational, irrational. The point that Paul is making here is one of congruity. It is one of simple reason. And to make this point of the irrationality of such a common enterprise, he asks for rhetorical questions, each of which demands a negative answer.
Here they come, verse 14, “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or Satan? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” And the answer to those is negative. Righteousness and lawlessness have no partnership. Light and darkness have no fellowship. Christ and Satan have no harmony. And a believer and an unbeliever have nothing in the spiritual realm in common. That is axiomatic. An axiom is a self-evident truth that doesn’t need proof. And that is obvious. It is obvious that you can’t make opposites the same. And those are all opposites.
Copyright 2007, Grace to You.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
‘What is Worldliness?
Worldliness is departing from God. It is a man-centred way of thinking; it proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake’.
Worldliness is the mind-set of the unregenerate. It adopts idols and is at war with God. Because ‘the flesh’ still dwells in the Christian he is far from immune from being influenced by this dynamic.
It is of believers that it is said, ‘the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to another’ (Galatians 5:17). It is professing Christians who are asked, ‘Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?’ (James 4:4) and are commanded, ‘Do not love the world’, and ‘keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 2:15, 5:21).
Apostasy generally arises in the church just because this danger ceases to be observed. The consequence is that spiritual warfare gives way to spiritual pacifism, and, in the same spirit, the church devises ways to present the gospel which will neutralise any offence.
The antithesis between regenerate and unregenerate is passed over and it is supposed that the interests and ambitions of the unconverted can somehow be harnessed to win their approval for Christ. Then when this approach achieves ‘results’ – as it will – no more justification is thought to be needed. The rule of Scripture has given place to pragmatism.‘
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.
Words: Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707
The above video is a summary of the highlights of an Asian regional church conference organized in 2008 by a mega-church, based in Singapore, with churches network across many countries in Asia. The conference’s well known speakers came from US, Europe and Asia.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18 -19
‘You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.‘ James 4:4
‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.’ 1John 2:15-17
Below is an article (by Pastor John Macarthur) from Grace to You (Gty.com) which aptly summed up my thoughts on the sad state of on how evangelicals are playing “church” today and how they are marketing and positioning their image to sell to and draw the “consumers” within the world. The perverted and twisted philosophy can be summed up like this: to win the world to the church, the church becomes like the world.
The world is in “Church” today because the “Church” today did not leave it behind.
Why do evangelicals try so desperately to court the world’s favor? Churches plan their worship services to cater to the “unchurched.” Christian performers ape every worldly fad in music and entertainment. Preachers are terrified that the offense of the gospel might turn someone against them, so they deliberately omit the parts of the message the world might not approve of.
Evangelicalism seems to have been hijacked by legions of carnal spin-doctors, who are trying their best to convince the world that the church can be just as inclusive, pluralistic, and broad-minded as the most politically-correct worldling.
The quest for the world’s approval is nothing less than spiritual harlotry. In fact, that is precisely the imagery the apostle James used to describe it. He wrote: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
There is and always has been a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility between the church and the world. Christian thought is out of harmony with all the world’s philosophies. Genuine faith in Christ entails a denial of every worldly value. Biblical truth contradicts all the world’s religions. Christianity itself is therefore antithetical to virtually everything this world admires.
Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
Notice that our Lord considered it a given that the world would despise the church. Far from teaching His disciples to try to win the world’s favor by reinventing the gospel to suit worldly preferences, Jesus expressly warned that the quest for worldly accolades is a characteristic of false prophets: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
He further explained: “The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). In other words, the world’s contempt for Christianity stems from moral, not intellectual, motives: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20). That is why no matter how dramatically worldly opinion might vary, Christian truth will never be popular with the world.
Yet in virtually every era of church history there have been people in the church who are convinced that the best way to win the world is by catering to worldly tastes. Such an approach has always been to the detriment of the gospel message. The only times the church has made any significant impact on the world are when the people of God have stood firm, refused to compromise, and boldly proclaimed the truth despite the world’s hostility. When Christians have shrunk away from the task of confronting popular worldly delusions with unpopular biblical truths, the church has invariably lost influence and impotently blended into the world. Both Scripture and history attest to that fact.
And the Christian message simply cannot be twisted to conform to the vicissitudes of worldly opinion. Biblical truth is fixed and constant, not subject to change or adaptation. Worldly opinion, on the other hand, is in constant flux. The various fads and philosophies that dominate the world change radically and regularly from generation to generation. The only thing that remains constant is the world’s hatred of Christ and His gospel.
Adapted from John MacArthur’s book, Why One Way?
“The Church Versus the World” James 4:4, Luke 6:26, John 7:7, John 15:18-19 by John MacArthur
Churches today have adapted Christian faith for marketing to satisfy the felt needs of consumers shopping for a quick fix to meet their earthly needs and unfulfilled emptiness in their lives.
‘In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God.’ THE CAMBRIDGE DECLARATION of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, April 20, 1996
“As evangelical faith becomes secularized, its interests have been blurred with those of the culture. The result is a loss of absolute values, permissive individualism, and a substitution of wholeness for holiness, recovery for repentance, intuition for truth, feeling for belief, chance for providence, and immediate gratification for enduring hope. Christ and his cross have moved from the center of our vision.’ THE CAMBRIDGE DECLARATION of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, April 20, 1996
This video documented the interviews of both clergy and lay persons showing the sad state of where the Church is today: “Christianity” without Jesus Christ and devoid of the saving Gospel.
This next video is an except of a sermon by Dr Michael Horton speaking on the state of Church, he is one of the original signatories to the THE CAMBRIDGE DECLARATION and author of the book “Christless Christianity“.
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. …..I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1John 2:24,26-28
“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, …. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:22-24
Worship matters and it must be anchored entirely on God’s truth. The entire truth about God, which He has revealed about himself within His word, is the key for any worshiper in truly knowing God and worshiping God acceptably in spirit and in truth. It is a matter of infinite importance. Without getting or accepting the complete truth about God as revealed by the scriptures only mean a professed worshiper is not truly worshiping the God of the bible but a “god” of his or her own imagination. It is a matter of eternal consequence when people get worship wrong, as a result they do not worship God acceptably however well meaning they may be. Worship matters, it really does.
‘Worship is not an addendum to life, it is at life’s core. You see, the people who worship God acceptably enter into eternal life, but the people who do not worship God acceptably enter into eternal death. Worship, then, becomes the core. Time and eternity are determined by the nature of a person’s worship.’ True Worship by John MacArthur, Jr.
Quotes from Bob Kauflin’s book “Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God“:
Worship matters. It matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. That’s why it’s so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it. (Pg 19)
Because I want to make it clear from the start that worship isn’t primarily about music, techniques, liturgies, songs, or methodologies. It’s about our hearts. It’s about what and who we love more than anything. Here’s my sobering discovery. I learned that I could lead others in worshiping God and be worshiping something else in my own heart. But by the grace of God, I was beginning to understand what worship is all about. (Pg 25)
That’s why as worship leaders our primary concern can’t be song preparation, creative arrangements, or the latest cool gear. Our primary concern has to be the state of our hearts. The great hymn-writer Isaac Watts once wrote: The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord sees and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly for God. (Pg 26)
Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion Of God-Centered Worship
Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.
God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.
Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.
Quotes from Bob Kauflin’s book “Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God“:
“singing and preaching aren’t incompatible or opposed to each other in any way. Both are meant to exalt the glory of Christ in our hearts, minds, and wills. Then whole meeting is worship; the whole meeting should be filled with God’s Word. And the whole meeting should be characterized by the Spirit’s presence.” (Pg 89)
“Songs are de facto theology. They teach us who God is, what he’s like, and how to relate to him. ”We are what we sing,” one man said. That’s why we want to sing God’s Word.’ (Pg 92)
“Singing God’s Word can include more than reciting specific verses in song. If the Word of Christ is going to “dwell in [us] richly” (Colossians 3:16), we need songs that explain, clarify, and expound on what God’s word says. We need songs that have substantive, theologically rich, biblically faithful lyrics. A consistent diet of shallow, subjective worship songs tends to produce shallow, subjective Christians. (Pg 92)
…….Too often we can be tempted to choose songs because of the music rather than the theological content. We need to realize that when words are combined with music we can be deceived. Music can make shallow lyrics sound deep. A great rhythm section can make drivel sound profound and make you want to sing it again.” (Pg 93)
Bitterness, Comfort, Compassion, grace, hope, Job, Persecution, Prosperity, Prosperity Gospel, rejoice, Sanctification, sovereignty, Sufferings, Trials, Tribulations, trust, Values, Warren Wiersbe, Worldly
“Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to `count it all joy.’ If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better”
(Be Mature, [Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1978], p.23 by Warren Wiersbe).
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-4, 12
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:10-11
‘Worship is not an addendum to life, it is at life’s core. You see, the people who worship God acceptably enter into eternal life, but the people who do not worship God acceptably enter into eternal death. Worship, then, becomes the core. Time and eternity are determined by the nature of a person’s worship.
Now, there are only two kinds of worship that can be offered-acceptable or unacceptable worship. The majority of the world offers unacceptable worship, and God will not accept it. The Bible is explicit on this. There are people today who say that ultimately everybody is going to be saved, but that is not true. The Bible does not say that. But it does say that there are only two kinds of worship – acceptable or unacceptable worship.‘ True Worship by John MacArthur, Jr.
In this embedded sermon, Pastor John Macarthur explained what is unacceptable worship:
1. The worship of false gods of any kind
2. The worship of the true God in a wrong form
3. The worship of the true God in a self-styled way
4. The worship of the true God in a wrong attitude or heart
True worship that is acceptable to God must not be conformed to this world. It is a form of worship from a worshiper that is reflective of the heart of a believer that has been transformed by God’s power and from a mind that has been renewed.
‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Rom 12:1-12
There is a right way to worship God, it is the only kind of acceptable worship that God desires.
‘Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.’ Psalms 24:3-4
There is a place for corporate worship in the lives of believers. Believers to be found gathering to worship by honoring and praising God through Jesus Christ.
‘Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.’ Hebrews 13:15-16
‘Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.’ Heb 13:20-21
“In Christianity the Lord Jesus Christ is all and in all. “
“THE catacombs are full of Christ. It was to Him that the Christians of the age of persecution ever turned: it was on Him they rested – in gladness and in sorrow; in sickness and in health; in the days of danger – and these were sadly numerous in the first two centuries and a half – and in the hour of death. It was from His words they drew their strength. In the consciousness of His ever-presence in their midst, they gladly suffered for His sake. With His name on their lips they died fearlessly, joyfully passing into the Valley of the veiled Shadow. On the tablet of marble or plaster which closed up the narrow shelf in the catacomb corridor where their poor remains were reverently, lovingly laid, the dear name of Jesus was often painted or carved.”
“The catacombs are full of Christ,” the Dean of Gloucester repeats in the clause succeeding that above quoted from his book. He then goes on to tell that in those “first days” “the Good Shepherd” was “the favourite symbol of the Christian life and faith.” And he adds: “A great and eloquent writer (Dean Stanley) does not hesitate to speak of what he terms the popular religion of the first century as the religion of ‘the Good Shepherd.’ He says they looked on that figure, and it conveyed to them all they wanted. And then he adds sorrowfully that ‘as ages passed on, the image of the Good Shepherd faded away from the mind of the Christian world, and other emblems took the place of the once dearly loved figure.’” Yes, in those bright days the thought of the personal and living Christ “conveyed to them all they wanted.“
The Church is the flock, and Ministers are to be “ensamples to the flock” – the Lord’s own provision of shepherds until the Chief Shepherd shall appear. He is the Chief Shepherd with reference to the under-shepherds. He is the Good Shepherd, because He cares for the sheep, and gave His life for them. And as brought up again from the dead He is the Great Shepherd. The significance of the imagery of the Lord’s words in (John 10) was familiar to the Hebrew Christians of Palestine, but we are apt to miss it. Within the fold, sheep have no need of the shepherd’s care. But when he leads them out to pasture they look to him for guidance, and they run to him for safety whenever danger threatens. What intensity of meaning this must have had for those early saints in days of persecution! ” Sir Robert Anderson –Types in Hebrews – Chapter 14 – CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:7-9
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:25-30
It is a sad thing when a man is godly, and yet does not say, “I have enough.” The apostle does not say that contentment in itself is great gain, but he says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” 1 Tim 6:6; so that it is not the contentment without the godliness that is the gain; and, on the other hand, any form of godliness that does not bring contentment with it, should be gravely questioned. A godly man, who does not yield ready assent to all God’s will, ought to pray to be made a godlier man. …………..
When God’s will and our will are contrary to one another, we may be sure that there is something amiss with us. We are never right till God’s will becomes our will, and we can honestly say, “The will of the Lord be done.” Therefore it is a sad thing when a Christian man cannot say, “I have enough;” but it is a very sweet thing when he can truthfully say it. Then does he really enjoy life,-when he thanks God for what he is, and for what he is not,-when he thanks God for health, and also for sickness,-when he thanks God for gains, and also for losses,-when he sings a song in the night, as the nightingale does, as well as a song in the day, as the lark does. He proves then that he does not follow God for what he gets out of Him, as stray dogs will follow a man in the street who feeds them; but that he follows God out of sincere love to Him, because God is his Master, and he belongs to Him. It is true blessedness, a little heaven begun below, when the Christian, looking all round, can say of all temporal things, “I have enough.“
“I Have Enough” by C.H. Spurgeon SERMON TEXT: Gen 33:9,11 “Esau said, I have enough … Jacob said, I have enough.” – Gen 33:9,11.
Distortions and Denials of the Gospel’s Promises
Here anything can be a denial of the gospel if you put anything as the treasure that Christ died to bring you above God himself. Christ died to give you Christ, ultimately.
Not ultimately prosperity, health, wealth, self-esteem, family, successful church, reunion with deceased loved ones, lawful behavior, forgiveness of sins, removal of wrath, removal of guilt, escape from hell or anything else.
He died so that you might see and be everlastingly and increasingly satisfied in all that God is for us in Christ.
This is where we must take people. Anything short of this goal is falling short of the gospel, and the reason Christ died and rose again
“How I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels” by John Piper @ 2008 Resurgence Conference
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Joh 17:3
God is to be magnified by the offensive and “foolishness” nature of true Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is to be desired above ALL, Christ is to be desired above ALL. God chose the “foolish” Gospel of a despised and suffering Christ, His only begotten Son. God by sovereign grace draw and call sinners, men and women, to come to Christ by lifting the blindness and allowing sinners to see the glorious beauty of the Cross of Christ. God’s agape love, shown through His marvelous and amazing grace, brings ALL glory to HIM alone.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1Cor 1:18, 20.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to be preached for the conversion of sinful souls of men and women to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for their only hope for eternity to be with their Creator, we must be careful not to be found perverting it or to be found approving of anyone who does pervert it !
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19
Lean on the all sufficient Creator, we can always trust Him.
In poverty or in riches, God promises to supply our every need.
In sickness or in health, remember God is always good.
Lets thirst and hunger after the Giver, not his earthly gifts.
Lets our rejoicing be in the Giver, not His worldly gifts.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
How will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
In worshiping God, remember He is our greatest reward.
Mark was a former rapper of PKO. Mark, also known as Magic Mark was part of the underground rap scene awhile back. The Lord has saved His soul, and this is His testimony. Mark shared his salvation and transformation by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark shared about Jesus Christ, and the change that is only found in Him.
WHY does God, as the heavenly Father, wants to chasten His children?
“for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.“ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons.” Heb 12:5-9
The answer from the scriptures is simply that God wants to profit His children through pruning, trials and chastening so that our faith is tested and refined. Christ said that if we follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up OUR cross and follow Him. In all our ways, looking unto Jesus Christ, acknowledging that He is Lord. We abide in Christ, trust and lean completely on Him. We must always remember that our Heavenly Father is the Holy, Holy, Holy God. In our walk with God, we must cast aside every weight (the love of and cares for this world) and strive against the propensity to sin which could easily side-tracked us. Practically, it is to constantly immerse in His Word and submit to the Holy Spirit indwelling. In our walk with Him, lest we be weary and faint in our minds , God allows and sends chastening and does pruning so that we may bear more fruits of the Spirit (John 15:2).
God as Heavenly Father loves and scourges every son (and daughter) whom He receives. God wants His children to grow up into “trees of righteousness” (Isa 61:3) and not remained as babes. As God’s children, we must trust Him that “for whom the Lord loves He chastens”. We have to obey, submit, receive and endure God’s chastening as that is how God deals with His children.
God loves His children, here are the scriptural teachings on the purpose of His chastening and He has said it so clearly:
“Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.” Heb 12:1-2
For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Heb 12:3-4
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.“ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten? But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons. Heb 12:5-9
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For truly they chastened us for a few days according to their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Heb 12:9-10
Now chastening for the present does not seem to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised by it. Because of this, straighten up the hands which hang down and the enfeebled knees. And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed. Heb 12:11-13
Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure that it takes to crush the idols.
Chuck the pews and all the decorations too
Until the congregations few then have revival.
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
until you’re broken for your sins you can’t be social.
Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store
and know that great is your reward and just be hopeful
Cause you can sing all you want to.
Yes you can sing all you want to
you can sing all you want to
And don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.
Take a break from all the plans that you made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper.
Beg Him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister.
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open.
Then read the word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken.
Cause you can sing all you want to.
Yes you can sing all you want to
you can sing all you want to
And don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.
Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
Anything that I give all my love is an idol.
We must not worship something that’s not even worth it.
Clear the stage and make some space for the one who deserves it.
Cause I can sing all I want to.
Yes I can sing all I want to
I can sing all I want to
And still get it wrong, worship is more than a song.
And you can sing all you want to.
Yes you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
But don’t get me wrong, worship is more than a song.
We are now in a midst of a frightening global financial storm in a scale never seen before , billions of dollars disappear as the stock market continue to slide downward. Suddenly, no one has absolute confidence in their banks anymore. When you could not trust your bank anymore, you suddenly demand politicians you don’t trust to provide guarantee to your banks . As believers, God’s word is clear we do not pursue and long after worldly things (Matt 6:18-19). We should fixing our eyes upon Jesus (Heb 12:2) and knowing that God will take care of us and we should not lose faith that He is in control of our lives, as the storm rages on and on, many personal fortunes including my own savings from years of frugal living and prudent investment evaporated into thin air, we often think within ourselves: Does Jesus Care?
In the Gospels, we have an account of another storm raging in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus asked his disciples to get into the boat, they obeyed Him and set sail to cross the lake. Jesus, weary from the day activities, left the disciples to themselves and rested at the stern of the vessel. Just then, the weather turned adversely and quickly into a “windstorm”: very strong winds and raging seas. The boat was swallowing up water and tossed from side to side and was in real danger of sinking, the disciples were hanging on to their dear lives as they fought the risk of drowning in this storm.
“On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. And other boats were with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.”
At that point, they looked to their leader for direction and when they saw Jesus sound asleep, they woke and questioned Him: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mar 4: 38. RC Sproul commented, “Their question was not really a question. It was an accusation. The suggestion was thinly veiled. They were actually saying, “You don’t care if we drown”, they were charging the Son of God with a lack of compassion. This outrageous attack on Jesus is consistent with mankind’s customary attitude towards God. God has to listen to complaints like these from an ungrateful humanity every day. Heaven is bombarded with repeated charges of angry people. God is called “unloving” “cruel”, and “aloof”, as if He has not done enough to prove His compassion for us.” (page 51 – The Trauma of Holiness, The Holiness of God).
Was God not aware that the storm was raging and His disciples greatly feared for their lives ? Was God the Father also “aloof” and “unloving” thus did not ensure that His elect will be cushioned from the going through storm? “And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” We see our Lord Jesus woke up and merely told the wind: stop ! The “wind ceased” and the sea stopped raging and “there was a great calm” However Jesus appeared to be disappointed with the level of faith that His disciples had in Him: Where is your faith?
Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). It can be inferred that Jesus telling us through these verses : Do not look at the raging storm, have faith, turn and look at me ! I am in control. You are my sheep, I am the good Shepherd. I have already laid down my life for my sheep, I will take care of you. I am in control. Just let go and trust me fully.
Can we take comfort from Jesus’ miracle of calming the storm and His rebuke and heed His disciple , Peter’s exhortation: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. Does Jesus Care ?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.