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On Church Discipline

Quotes

Church discipline is not just “clearing the membership roll” as if the point were primarily accuracy in bookkeeping. Neither is church discipline designed to be a punishment, as if the church were saying,

“We don’t want your kind around here.”

Yes, the church speaks of this stage of discipline as the delivering of one to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5), but the very next phrase in the same verse reveals that such is done precisely for the purpose that “his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Thus, the goal in church discipline is that the one being put out of fellowship will hear the warning in the church’s action as Jesus’s own voice, saying to him,“I am handing you over to Satan,”and in response turn back in repentance and faith. If that happens, Scripture tells us, we will have “gained [a] brother” (Matthew 18:15).

The church disciplines in the hope that the one being disciplined will hear Jesus’s warning voice and return — as Jesus says of his flock, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you realize church discipline is for the benefit of our brother and the church?

Resources

Russell Moore, Acting the Miracle Together: Corporate Dynamics in Christian Sanctification

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Why do you do the things you do in the name of the Lord?

Worship God

Every week, I meet with a group of guys at IHOP for breakfast, coffee, and Bible study. For the last year, we have been working chapter by chapter through the Minor Prophets. It has been a fruitful study! We are currently in the book of Zechariah, so we are almost finished. When we came together this last week, we worked through chapter 7.

The Question

In the beginning of chapter 7, we learn that for seventy years, those in the Babylonian exile fasted during the fifth month as a way to mourn the destruction of the Temple. Now, that they have returned from exile, a group from Bethel comes to Jerusalem asking whether they should continue weeping and abstaining in the fifth month, or quit and celebrate the future restoration of the Temple with joy? (Zech. 7:1-3)

God’s Challenge

God, through the prophet Zechariah, doesn’t provide an immediate answer. Instead, He challenges their heart motivation for keeping the fast. Were they truly sorry? Did they fear the Lord? Or was it all for their own benefit?  (Zech. 7:4-6)

Examine Your Own Heart

Similarly, are the things we do in the name of the Lord for His benefit? Because we fear Him? As a way to worship Him? Or do we do them for our own benefit? Because they make us feel good? Or because we feel obligated? Why do we do the things we do in the name of the Lord? What a great question to ask of yourself and your church this week.

Question for Reflection?

  1. Why do we do the things we do in the name of the Lord?

Resource

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On Being Guilty but Forgiven Sinners

Quotes

As guilty but forgiven sinners, what the powers and principalities of this age say to us is true.

But we’ve already been accused; we’ve already been indicted; we’ve been arrested; we’ve been dressed in purple and beaten; we’ve been stapled to a Roman cross; we’ve had the wrath of God poured out upon us; we’ve been left in a tomb as a bloated, abandoned, cursed corpse; and on a Sunday morning in Jerusalem, we were resurrected.

So when the accusations of the Evil One come against us, what he hears in reply is the gospel truth that we can’t be re-executed. What we hear said of us from the Father is,

This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,

because we are in union with Christ, and what is true of him is now, by the grace of God, true of us. And that is precisely why

there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the implications of being buried with Jesus in the likeness of His death and raised with Him to walk in newness of life?

Resources

Russell Moore, Acting the Miracle Together: Corporate Dynamics in Christian Sanctification

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Trust God Will Use You

Work Construction

I just finished preaching a series over the Genesis 1-12. In the last chapter — Genesis 12 — we encountered Abram (Abraham). He is a great example of someone who had to trust that God would use him.

Abraham’s Hindrance

Remember the promise God made Abraham — to make him into a great nation. That is a great promise to hear and believe if you already have a large family of 10 kids.

However, consider Abraham, he is 75 years old and doesn’t have any children. In Genesis 11:30, the text tells us:

… Sarai was barren; she had no child.” (Gen. 11:30).

Sarai’s barrenness wasn’t for lack of trying. Abraham and Sarai weren’t late bloomers who married later in life, nor did they use birth control. In fact, according to Jewish custom, they probably had been married since they were 13 or 14, which means they had been trying to have kids for 60 years without any success.

So when God told Abraham that a great nation would come from Him, he had to really trust that the Lord would use he and his wife, because so far they hadn’t produce one child, let alone an entire nation.

Our Hindrances

In the same way we have to trust that the Lord will use us to advance His Kingdom. Trusting the Lord to use us sounds a lot easier than it really is. There are a lot things that have the potential to hinder us from believing God will use us to bring another to faith in Jesus.

(1) For some that might be your knowledge of God’s Word. Maybe you don’t believe you know enough to talk with someone else about the gospel, or you are concerned you won’t be able to answer their objections.

(2) For others that might be your past. Maybe your past was hard and difficult. You were known as a trouble maker. Maybe you even spent some time in jail. Now you can’t imagine that anyone would listen to you.

(3) Still for others it might be your ability to connect with others. Maybe you are different than those you live around and you can’t imagine how God could use you to speak into their lives.

These are the end-all-be-all of hindrances. There are many other things that may hinder us from believing God will use us to expand His kingdom.

Believing You Can’t Be Used is a Lie

However, believing you can’t be used by God to further His kingdom is a lie. Starting in 1 Corinthians 1:27 Paul writes,

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

You see, if God saves us, He will use us. No matter what abilities we possess, or what we have done. God will use us. So don’t doubt. Instead, trust that God will use you to further His kingdom.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you trust that God will use you to further His kingdom?

Resources

Post adapted from the sermon: God’s Reclamation Project

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On the Need to Preach the Whole Counsel of God’s Word

Quotes

The sad decline in the quality of Christian life and witness in our country is largely due to the fact that the evangelical church has for several generations been a huge nursery, not only for infant babes but, much worse, grown-up babes…thus laying them open to all the carnal excesses and sectarian and heretical influences around them.

This is largely because [they] regard the Bible as the book which contain the Gospel message. Although they generally hold the whole Bible to be the inspired Word of God, they far from draw upon the totality of its inspired writings. All their search is for the simple Gospel, and if they don’t find the simple Gospel in its pages then it is politely, even reverently set aside.

There is nothing so sorely needed in the world today as the Word of God hammered home to people’s minds, hearts, and wills [through a consistent diet of expository preaching, covering the breadth and depth of God’s Word.]

Question for Reflection

  1. Pastor, do you recognize the need to feed your people with a consistent diet of expository preaching that covers the full counsel of God’s Word?

Resources

William Still, The Work of the Pastor80-82, 89.

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Leave Everything and Go Wherever

Traveling Bone

Abraham is a prime example of someone whom God asked to leave everything and go wherever. In Genesis 12:1, we read,

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1b)

Leave Everything

God asks Abraham to leave behind all he has ever known – his idol worship, his family, his inheritance, his safety, and his culture. We may not see this as a big deal because we live in a transient society. A lot of us leave home and strike out on our own. But as one commentator says,

“To leave home and to break ancestral bonds was to expect of ancient men almost the impossible.” [1]

Go Wherever

On top of asking Abraham to leave everything behind, God also asks him to follow Him wherever He leads. It is one thing to leave behind what you have knowing something better awaits. Think about all those immigrating to the United States. Many of them leave behind everything they have ever known for what they believe to be a better life in the States.

Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes for a moment. Imagine God asking you to leave your home for a place you know nothing about. You don’t know what kind of life you will lead there, if it will be safe, or if you will have an opportunity to provide for your family. Thinking about it like that, we see just how tough of a decision Abraham had to make.

Jesus’ Disciples Should Leave Everything and Go Wherever

Abraham, however, isn’t the only one God asks to leave everything and go wherever. He also asks us – Jesus’ disciples – to do the same.

A couple of years ago my friend John (not his real name) and his wife left family, friends, and all that is familiar to them to move halfway across the world to live in Africa as missionaries. While they were willing to answer God’s call, they didn’t have a complete picture of what was in store for them. They didn’t know they would move several times, suffer several illnesses, or be robbed and extorted for money on multiple occasions, nor did they know the extent of the heartache they would experience. Even though they were in the dark about these things, they went anyways. As far as I know, they don’t regret answering God’s call, and they aren’t planning to come home.

While God certainly asks missionaries to pick up their life, leave everything, and go wherever, His call on His disciple’s lives doesn’t end there. In other words,

God doesn’t just ask missionaries to leave everything and go wherever, He asks us all to give up everything and go wherever He leads.

Sure, God may not ask most of us to move halfway around the world, but He does ask us to give up our life – our will, our desires, our wants, our safety, our family, all that is comfortable to us – and go wherever He leads.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you ready to answer God’s call to give up everything and go wherever He leads?

Resources

Post developed from the sermon: God’s Reclamation Project

[1] Von Rad, Genesis, 161 via Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Genesis, 151.

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4 Stumbling Blocks to Everyday Evangelism – Part 4

Stumbling Block

In my last post, I explored our idea of the evangelistic process and how we can naturally talk to others about Christ.

Today we continue exploring what keeps us from modeling Paul’s activity in Athens — reach out, build relationships with folks, and then engage them with the gospel where they are on a daily basis.

4 Stumbling Blocks to Everyday Evangelism and How to Remove Them

(4) Our Idea of Bringing People to Christ 

Often times we believe winning someone to Christ is something we have to do on our own in a one-off-full-on gospel presentation on foreign soil like someone’s front yard, the mall, or the movies. Thinking that way will often keep us from sharing the gospel because after all we don’t want to mess it up. We don’t want to lose the sale, or be the reason why someone didn’t come to Jesus.

But here is the thing:

Saving others is not our responsibility. It is God’s.

God is the One who changes people’s hearts, so that they desire a relationship with Jesus, not us. Our responsibility is only to share the message to the best of our ability.

Conclusion

So those are a few stumbling blocks to everyday evangelism and how we might remove them so that we can engage people everyday with the gospel.

All of them take a little effort and intentionality, but the effort is worth it, not only because it will change people’s lives, but it is something we are called to do. We are called to be disciples who are make disciples.

So let’s be that. Let’s be disciples who make disciples. Let’s all see it as our responsibility to daily reach out to those in the community with the purpose of building relationships and spreading the gospel. If we do that, then everyday evangelism will happen, and we will make an impact in our communities and cities for Christ.

Question for Reflection

  1. How does knowing that God is the One who saves free you up to share the gospel more often?

Resources

Post adapted from the sermon: Spread the Gospel – Growth Through Discipleship – Week 5

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