Spiritual Discipline: Transformation




Spiritual Discipline: Transformation

Today’s message focuses on killing sin and putting on Christ. In it we will look at the spiritual discipline of taking off the old man and putting on the new man:

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!  - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24

Paul ties this passage to the one prior that used the word “walk.” Note verses 1 and 17:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

As we move though this chapter, Paul links today’s subject with the purpose of gifts in the first 16 verses. So, Paul wants us to walk worthy of our calling, and he does not want us to walk like a Gentile. The biggest obstacle to using our gifts in the body is sin. Since every spiritual gift given to the church is packaged inside a sinner, the topic this morning is relevant to everyone who desires to use the gift(s) God has given them.

Spiritual Disciplines: Using Your Gifts




Spiritual Disciplines: Using Your Gifts

Last week Karl challenged us to be consistent students of the Word and to be diligent before God as we discipline ourselves in the work of our sanctification – the process of becoming like Christ. Today I would like to build on the foundation Karl laid, looking at the fourth chapter of Ephesians to discuss the argument Paul makes for being worthy of your calling in Christ.

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

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.  Ephesians 4:1-16

Paul states God’s purpose for gifts in verse 13, then restates it in 14 and restates it again in verses 15 and 16.

1.       Positive: v13 - until all of us attain the unity of the faith

2.      Negative: v14 - until all of us are no longer undisciplined children following every new doctrine or scheme

3.       Positive: v15-16 - until all of us respond like Christ, building up the body until everything works as it should

Spiritual Discipline




Spiritual Discipline

Good morning. Welcome to church. I am excited to be able to do what I love this morning and proclaim the truth of God’s word. Nothing on earth has the ability to give me more joy than to read scripture and be challenged to live for Christ. Today, we will be looking at a passage that should change our lives if we take it seriously. It’s my desire that the Holy Spirit would do a tremendous work in us and sanctify us even more.

 The word sanctify comes from the Greek word hagiazo. This word has a meaning of being “set apart” or “separated.” Nobody was more set apart from the world than Christ himself. In other words, if we are to be sanctified the end goal is to become the image of Jesus. Sanctification does not come at salvation, but comes through a process of conforming ourselves to the image of Christ after we have been redeemed.

 If we are to conform ourselves to the image of Christ, then we must know Christ. We have a level of responsibility to be disciplined in our spiritual lives. Discipline is something that we have to learn. The most disciplined people in our lives had to learn how to be disciplined. A baby is not born with discipline.

Advent Week 3: Longing For Christ




Advent Week 3: Longing For Christ

Already but not yet is a theme that rings throughout the New Testament church and history. Christ has come; Christ has defeated sin and the grave; Christ has won the final victory. Yet we still longingly await His second coming. We still wait for the end of sin and death and heartache and destruction. The full storyline of the Bible has already been written, but is awaiting completion. Trevin Wax explains this storyline as follows:

 Creation: One Hebrew word sums up the picture of Genesis 1 and 2: shalom. Peace. Earth was full of God's shalom, the kind of peace in which everything works according to God's intention. The world was made for human flourishing; there we could live in joy in the presence of our Maker, worshiping God by loving Him and one another forever.

 Fall: Adam and Eve rejected God's rule over them. We refer to their rebellious choice as "the fall," and because they represented all of humanity, their action affects us too. We have -- through our attitudes and actions -- declared ourselves to be God's enemies. This rebellion results in physical and spiritual death.

 Redemption: Thankfully the loving Creator who rightly shows Himself to be wrathful toward our sin is determined to turn the evil and suffering we have caused into good that will be to His ultimate glory. So the next movement shows God implementing a master plan for redeeming His world and rescuing fallen sinners. In the Person of Jesus Christ, God Himself comes to renew the world and restore His people. The grand narrative of Scripture climaxes with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 Restoration: The story doesn't end with redemption. God has promised to renew the whole world, and the Bible gives us a peek into this glorious future. The restoration of all things will take place in two ways. Christ will return to judge sin and evil, and He will usher in righteousness and peace. God will purge this world of evil once and for all.[1]

 Beaux Williams gave us an excellent explanation of how the fall brought a curse upon man, woman, the serpent, and all of creation:

 ·         alienation and condemnation before God

·         alienation between each other

·         death (Physical and Spiritual)

·         the ruin of all humanity

  • hostility between the serpent and the woman

  • hostility between the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman[2]


[1]Ed Stetzer, The Big Story of Scripture, ChristianityToday.com, November 28, 2012, accessed December 12, 2018, https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/november/big-story-of-scripture-creation-fall-redemption.html

[2]Beaux Williams, Looking Forward to Christmas, Sermon, Calvary Baptist Church, Holland, MI, December 2, 2018.

Advent Week 1: Longing For Christ




Advent Week 1: Longing For Christ

I would like to invite you to join me in recognition and celebration of the Advent Season. It may be you have faithfully observed Advent every year from your childhood. Perhaps this is the tradition you learned from your parents or the church you grew up in. Or it may be you are completely unaware of the meaning of the Advent Season. Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, the season of Advent is a time in which we look with eager anticipation towards the revelation of our Savior Jesus Christ. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” “Advent looks back in celebration at the hope fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s coming, while at the same time looking forward in hopeful and eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when He returns for his people” (Outreach.com). In a time of busyness and distraction, it is an opportunity for us to reflect and remember God’s great redemptive work of sending his Son, Immanuel, God With Us.

This We Believe: Last Things



This We Believe: Last Things

As a kid, I remember hearing mother talk about reading The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. They made the book into a movie narrated by Orson Welles. I watched the movie and felt terror at the idea that the world as we know it was going to end. The view presented by Lindsey was classic dispensationalism and historic pre-millennialism. Later Tim LaHaye continued this view writing his series Left Behind. Both works are fictional, but based upon theological viewpoints I would contend the culture at large assumes they represent the only Christian view of the end times.  

Over the past two months, we have examined our beliefs and basic doctrines in preparation for approving an updated Statement of Faith. The last portion of doctrine to be included is our doctrine of Last Things, or end times. There are many doctrines we believe and hold dear which are clearly and easily defined or described in the Scriptures. What we believe about Jesus Christ from the virgin birth to His death and resurrection are unmistakably plain and evident to the reader. The doctrines of the Holy Spirit, God the Father, the Trinity, the Scriptures, the church, the ordinances, humanity, the atonement, salvation, and resurrection are plain and generally agreed upon among Bible-believing churches. The doctrine of Last Things offers the biggest challenge in understanding what truly is to come. Today we will examine our position, which includes the common truths accepted across a broad spectrum of Christian belief, and we will also look at the varying positions which have been predominant in the church.    

My hope is our study of Last Things will not give you all the information you need to debate a position, but will stir the longing in your soul for Christ’s return. I hope that stirring will drive you to the Word and to prayer. I am not going to give you a specific timeline of events because no one truly knows. We will briefly mention various historically held views of end times, but this will certainly not be comprehensive.

Historically the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation view has been taught at Calvary. This view may in fact be completely accurate. However, as one digs deeply into the text of Scripture, a clear timeline of End Times events cannot be plainly established. We have reworded our doctrinal statement in a manner which does not exclude this particular view, but is also gracious to other views which have just as much Scriptural grounding and historical support. We have included only those ideas where the Scriptures leave no doubt.

This We Believe: The Church and The Ordinances




This We Believe: The Church and The Ordinances

Today we continue our overview of doctrine with the topic of the church and its ordinances.  When it comes to these doctrines, we are different than many denominations. There are some who don’t believe that the rite of baptism is important and don’t practice it and others believe who baptism is required for salvation. Still others agree with us that baptism is symbolic of what Christ has done, but their mode is different (sprinkle water vs immersion).

This We Believe: Humanity And Atonement




This We Believe: Humanity And Atonement

We believe humans were created by God in His own image as perfect, holy, and upright, able to keep God’s law, yet liable to fall. As the representative of the human race, Adam freely chose to disobey God, thereby plunging humanity into the death of sin, thus all men are now sinners by nature and practice, deserving eternal condemnation and unable to rescue themselves apart from God’s free and sovereign grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe God created humans as male and female and ordained marriage to be a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 

It is a very good thing that God created us after His image; it would seem that God places a great deal of importance on us because He created us after His likeness. He created us in a manner that is different than that of animals and that of the angels. While we don’t have a scriptural definition of what God means when He says that He created man in His image, there are some things that we can point out as possibilities

This We Believe: The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit



This We Believe: The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Last Sunday we began our study with the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us. The big story of the Bible is Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Restoration. The entire story is written, superintended and sustained by a sovereign God.

 

As we continue This We Believe, we need to remember that just because we do not understand something does not make it untrue. The questions before us today are “Who is God?” and “How has He revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures?”

This We Believe: The Bible



This We Believe: The Bible

In an age where truth is continually assaulted, it is more important than ever for the church to know and embrace what she believes. Our doctrinal statement does not contain every detail of our beliefs, but it is intended to communicate the core truths which bind us together as the Body of Christ.

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in the original manuscripts, though written by human authors, were breathed out by God, and are therefore authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient, containing all things necessary to be known and believed for salvation, life, and godliness. 2 Peter 1:19–21 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Living as the Church: Prayer for Ministry



Living as the Church: Prayer in Ministry

As we continue in our study of this letter by Paul to Thessalonica, we come to Chapter 3 where Paul starts by saying “Finally.” What this teaches us is that when a preacher says that word, and they continue on for quite a while, it’s biblical! Our text for today is the first five verses, where we find the following:

1.    Prayer request of Paul

2.    Faithless fellows who fight against the faithful

3.    The faithfulness of God

4.    The protection of God

5.    Obedient believers’ blessings

 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, time does not allow the opportunity to address each of these topics fully. As you can imagine, both The Faithfulness of God and The Protection of God could be their own series. But from this text I want to unpack:

1.    The verses that address prayer for the Apostle Paul

2.    The distinct differences between the Apostle Paul and those who are NOT of faith. 

The Apostle Paul was not shy about asking for prayer. Paul often asked other Christians to pray for him.