No Gift Unless It’s Received – The Voice of John The Baptist and Me

[Text Below]

Video Version:

Audio Book Version:

As far as Gods people were concerned,

It had always been about “the Kingdom” – God’s rule here on earth. About God’s people living in and living out the fulfilled promise of the one and only true God. 

This reality hinged upon the promises of God being fulfilled in a man, a king, a ruler that would be the deliverer of Israel – Gods people – a son and descendant of the son of David from the tribe of Judah. This would be the King of the Jews! The king of the people known as the praisers of God – for that is what Judah means: “to praise.” 

The Jews were in fact to be the praisers and worshipers of God, and that is what the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised King would do, He would unite the people of God as worshipers of God and rulers with Him forever. 

That is the promise, and what good is a promise unless it is fulfilled?

That promise and its fulfillment is what the entire bible is about. 

Will God be true to His promise?

Will he fulfill His covenant with man?

And to us, the question is asked:

Will we accept His King? …even if it comes in the form of a 

helpless baby? … born of an unwed mother?… in a barn, atop 

a pile of hay, surrounded by animals?

Its easy to like the promise, but will we accept its fulfillment?

The Gift of a savior came… but it took some time.

Like most major changes throughout history, the gift of a savior king for Israel would not come without major opposition. 

People fear change… it makes us feel uncomfortable. 

It threatens our norm and moves us unwillingly a lot of times from our comfort zone. 

The birth of a savior had been rumored as wise men had followed a star from the east to Bethlehem where they believed that THE Messiah had been born.

Upon this discovery Herod, the King and ruler of Palestine, fearful that he would lose his power and maybe even his throne, decided to take his fate into his own hands and he acted in a most desperate and wicked way. 

He ordered that all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two were to be murdered. (Jer 31:15)

Joseph, as we know had been forwarded in a dream and had fled to Egypt to keep his son Jesus safe.

Imagine, a father, protecting (or saving) his son, who would later become his Savior.

Like Herod, people who would protect their own power over their own lives – their own will and comforts, have always had and always will have a hard time accepting their own need for a Savior. 

To acknowledge God, is to acknowledge that you are not superior in the universe.

If God exists, than He by default is more powerful than us, and 

if He is more powerful than us than He rules over us, and if 

He is Ruler, than He must have rules and If He has rules, than 

one day we must be accountable to them. 

And for most, that is simply unacceptable. 

To acknowledge God as ruler and king of our lives would require us to accept His ways and change ours.

It would require us to acknowledge our state of needing Him and His rescue if we were to find out that we were indeed not perfect like Him. 

If a holy God demanded that were unacceptable and unworthy of His kingdom in our imperfect and sinful, dirty state of being, than we would NEED a rescuer, an offering of forgiveness… a ransom. 

Herod could not accept a ruler over his life, threatening his kingdom, and so he refused to bow the knee and violently resisted the will of God and took matters into his own fleshly hands.

But the will of God can not be thwarted. 

God would fulfill His promises to usher in His Kingdom with the promised Messiah seated on the throne.

Truly, the clay is in the Hands of the Potter, and the Potter will have His way with His purposed vessels. 

Truly, the Kingdom of God was at hand and there was nothing man could do to stop it. 

The Messiah and Savior and King had been born and He was being raised as one like us – only without sin or imperfection.

The Kingdom of God was upon us all and God had sent a messenger to prepare the way….

He was not a normal man…

normal meant 9-5, vanity, well-groomed, 

respected, a home owner, a car payment, 

SHOES for goodness sake!

But not our messenger.

John was anything but normal.

He was a believer.

He was a disciple of God and a forerunner of the messiah.

He was truly willing to look a fool for the sake of setting the stage for the one who could save his own soul and the souls of those who would repent and believe.

It is in fact those who are weak and humble and willing to follow God, who prepare the way for others to meet their maker and Savior. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians about their calling 

 “26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 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; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Cor 1:26-31

God would use a man, clothed in camels fur and belted with cow skin and who lived in the dusty wilderness, eating grass hoppers and honey. 

Not a great looking celebrity or CEO or viral sensation.

Not a rich man or an impressive man, but a CALLED man.

A man whom God had selected. A Humble man. A man willing to do the will of God. A man willing to forsake worldly comforts to afford others the comforts of an eternity with God.

A man willing to speak the truth even if it cost him everything. 

A man willing to be laughed at and insulted and questioned and beheaded. 

John was not a man chasing riches or popularity. He was chasing God. Longing to follow Him and do His will. To make Him know, even if it cost Him everything.

Herod had feared that the messiah would live to conquer his throne, but it was Gods desire to conquer the hearts of men.

His victory was to overthrow the sin and rebellion that man had become accursed with. His Gift to us in His coming was the gift of repentance and the fruit of salvation. 

Changed hearts, leading to a changed mind that could finally worship God without needing the continuing sacrifice of an animal, but worshipers who could continually come before God forgiven by the blood of their savior and sin-conquering King.

The Kingdom of God was upon us. God’s promise was being fulfilled and John The Baptizer was preparing the way!

It was the beginning of the Good News, coming in the flesh:

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way,

3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

    make his paths straight,’

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1:2-4

John’s Message like a Truth Sword cuts through our armored skin and penetrates our souls.

His preaching and message was the truth from God, highlighting the chasm that sin had laid before us and the Father, that could only be bridged by the sacrifice of the son. Our sin kept us from the Kingdom of God and it was only through the Son could that bridge be repaired. 

Sin was the injury. Repentance was the healing balm.

Week 1

of our advent series we talked about our fall into the cursed life because of Sin and our desire for it. Joel highlighted our need for a Savior because of our being cut off from the righteousness that is needed to live in fellowship with a Holy God. That is what holiness is and what it does – it is cut off from fault and error and sin. You cannot live righteously and wrongly at the same time. In order for God to be right (holy), He must keep those who are wrong out of His Kingdom. 

But God’s purposes were not to keep us from Him forever, not even sin could separate us from the Love of God.

Week 2

Randy emphasized the Prophesies concerning the coming of our savior. God not only planned our salvation, but He verbally predicted it for us in written form before it would even take place. He told us that He would save His people, and He saved and is saving His people through the promised Messiah – the Christ – The Savior of Gods people, just as He had promised. Jesus Christ.

Week 3

Ryan reminded us that God’s ways are not our ways. Christ did not arrive with flashing light and a parade. He was born of humble means and circumstance. There was no room for Him in the inn. He was a baby. Helpless, needy, dependent upon His mothers milk and needing a blanket to keep warm. This was how God showed up in the flesh. Just as God had planned, sovereignly. The conqueror of Sin, born as a baby.

Week 4

Josh shed light on the reality that the light of the world has shone in our hearts and he highlighted the emphasis in scripture that the people of God would be the bride of Christ. That Jesus as light of the world would shine in our hearts and give us life. That God has promised salvation and He has delivered on that promise.

Now,

Week 5

What will you do with that promise?

Will you believe?

Will you Repent?

Belief itself is not without it’s evidence. Just as the proof is in the pudding, the evidence is in the fruit.

Salvation as a gift is to be received and the gift received leaves itself evidences.

The first being a repentant life.

Repentance is a deep inner change of the mind, heart and 

soul.

That doesn’t happen without showing its evidence.

You can know who God is and be an unbeliever – an unrepentant person or being.

Example: The Devil.

A Person who has heard the truth and received (i.e. believed) the truth has experienced a miracle. 

This is in fact, known as regeneration. 

The gift of God to us, in removing the blinders from our eyes and the snares from our feet so that we can believe and see Him in His glory and grace and be recipients of the Gift of God – Salvation. 

This Salvation is all of God alone.

Speaking of God’s Servants, Paul says to Timothy(2) (2:25-26) that

25 He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

-AMP

When I pray for my unbelieving friends and family members, I pray that God, in His great kindness and mercy would grant them repentance as a gift of His great grace.

What was Johns message in the wilderness?

It was that the Light was coming into the world and that it was now time to confess our deeds and repent, that we might receive new life.

His message was direct, and bold and to the point:

To the religious, he rebuked, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear Fruit in keeping with repentance… Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And to all:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3

The change God seeks is the change of the heart and mind. He takes evil men and replaces their calloused hearts with fleshy hearts. He takes a perverted mind and purifies its thoughts. He takes and old filthy garment and replaces it with a new clean and spotless one. He takes our unworthy sacrifices and becomes the pure spotless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

This was the coming Kingdom that John preached about. The Kingdom of God and Christ who would forgive the repentant sinner and make His kingdom in their hearts. 

But the Kingdom came to those who would believe and receive?

It is both.

Many knew Jesus, but did not receive Him for who He divinely Is. They know Him, heard him, ate with him and saw his miracles, and yet they did not receive the gift of God, but instead rejected it.  Even the demons believe, says the scriptures. Repentance was not a fruit of their lives but rather a hardness of heard. Rocky hearts do not grow on trees, fruit does. Those who are connected to the vine bear fruit and that fruit resembles Christ. Those who’s stony and prideful hearts keep them christ are not attached to the vine but remain on the ground, only observers but not partakers of the fruit. Though they may gather close to the branches, they are not part of the tree. 

This is why it is so important for us to speak the truth as John did. He was a witness to the truth, faithfully preaching a baptism unto repentance, why? So That many would believe and receive the gift of God in Christ – Salvation.

Who do we call to repentance? Who do we ask to believe? Who do we pray for, that repentance might be granted?

All.

We preach to all, we pray for all, and we love all.

“for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

“whoever believes”

Who is the “whoever”?

We don’t know…. And so we preach the good news to whoever we can, and we pray that GOD, who is rich in Mercy, would grant the same repentance to those hearers that he has granted to us, even though we were sinners.

Consider John 1-3 with an emphasis on the word receive.

If God’s good news of how He has loved you, and sent His Son Jesus to die for you has reached your ears and pierced your heart and has created the feeling of remorse for your sins for maybe the first time, than can I rejoice with you, that a miracle has taken place. That is a Gift from God for you.

Receive this Gift gladly. Accept this reality that God has allowed you to repent and turn from your sins and not only believe Him but to obey Him. 

This is the fruit of a life reborn – regenerated and made to come alive for the first time.

Its not Just about believing, it’s about being born again of God alone.

John said toward the end of John chapter three, that 

“He (speaking of Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease…whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true…whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life…”

John’s Gospel is the only gospel that does not mention John the Baptist’s death and his beheading at the hands of Herod. . .

It’s as if John the Baptist simply fades out of the picture just as he would have wished. 

John simply described himself as a Voice. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness. 

We all have a voice.

What will your voice give witness to?

John proclaimed the coming of his Savior and told people to believe and receive Gods Gifts of Grace: Repentance unto Salvation.

I cannot imagine a better way to be a voice, than to proclaim the Salvation that has come to us by God in Christ Jesus or Lord.

Amen.

[END]

Thoughts About Christmas 1 – Father and Son

 

Our Advent Series So Far at Calvary Reach in North Aurora Colorado.

www.calvaryreach.org

Week 1

of our advent series we talked about our fall into the cursed life because of Sin and our desire for it. Joel highlighted our need for a Savior because of our being cut off from the righteousness that is needed to live in fellowship with a Holy God. That is what holiness is and what it does – it is cut off from fault and error and sin. You cannot live righteously and wrongly at the same time. In order for God to be right (holy), He must keep those who are wrong out of His Kingdom. 

But God’s purposes were not to keep us from Him forever, not even sin could separate us from the Love of God.

Week 2

Randy emphasized the Prophesies concerning the coming of our savior. God not only planned our salvation, but He verbally predicted it for us in written form before it would even take place. He told us that He would save His people, and He saved and is saving His people through the promised Messiah – the Christ – The Savior of Gods people, just as He had promised. Jesus Christ.

Week 3

Ryan reminded us that God’s ways are not our ways. Christ did not arrive with flashing light and a parade. He was born of humble means and circumstance. There was no room for Him in the inn. He was a baby. Helpless, needy, dependent upon His mothers milk and needing a blanket to keep warm. This was how God showed up in the flesh. Just as God had planned, sovereignly. The conqueror of Sin, born as a baby.

Week 4

Josh shed light on the reality that the light of the world has shone in our hearts and he highlighted the emphasis in scripture that the people of God would be the bride of Christ. That Jesus as light of the world would shine in our hearts and give us life. That God has promised salvation and He has delivered on that promise.

Now,

Week 5

What will you do with that promise?

Will you believe?

Will you Repent?

Belief itself is not without it’s evidence. Just as the proof is in the pudding, the evidence is in the fruit.

Salvation as a gift is to be received and the gift received leaves itself evidences.

The first being a repentant life.

Repentance is a deep inner change of the mind, heart and 

soul.

That doesn’t happen without showing its evidence.

The Threat of The Death of Doctrine in The Church – Part 1 with Jeremiah Jasso

IMG_3673

J.N.Wheels talks with guest Jeremiah Jasso about the importance of keeping with sound doctrine in the the church for this generation and future generations. Should we be scared of Doctrine? Should we as christians embrace and teach doctrine? What is doctrine anyways? Find out on this episode of the 3M Podcast w/ J.N.Wheels.

To listen to the full episode click HERE and find the 3M Show on your favorite Podcast platform.

Simon The Magician and The Worship of Me

by Guest Contributor Josh Ragan

simonaics2

The Spirit and the salvation of God were not a trade craft of the apostles, purposed to entertain, as they journeyed from town to town.

Acts 8:9-25

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[a] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[b] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”

“But there was a certain man called Simon.”

Who was Simon the Magician?

The purpose of this study is to explore the life of Simon the magician. The book of Acts only gives account of his life in 15 verses.

Was there more to be accounted for after this biblical story concludes?

These questions will be the topic for research and conclusion on the life of Simon the Magician.

Was Simon the Magician just the local magician or did he have a higher status in the Samarian society?

“This “Simon” was a man who had once mystified the people of this Samaritan city. By his magic arts Simon had managed to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the Samaritans for years. He made claims of being someone great, but it seems that he allowed the people to come to their own conclusions, and their conclusion, skillfully suggested and orchestrated by Simon, was that he was “the Great Power of God.”2

The book of Acts gives credit to Simon as being considered a great man by the Samarian people. “And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.” 3 Simon fooled the people with magic to gain high stature within the Samarian society. This leadership gave him favorable control over the people and made him a man of great importance. “Such scholars have viewed magic ‘functionally’, as in some cases serving to relieve certain social stresses, but in other cases as being disruptive actions of deviant sorcerers.”4

He was able to mystify the masses with his powers, but they were man made and they had their limits. Simon would realize this later after a strong rebuke from Peter.

Philip was the first to come into contact with Simon the Magician.

As persecution in Jerusalem was rising, the followers of the “Way,” or Christians would begin to scatter throughout the world, taking the gospel with them. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”5

This would set Philip and Simon on a “world collision” as the multitudes hearing the truth in the sermons of Philip would also see real miracles performed (not simply magic). The local magician was being upstaged in his own territory – by an “out of towner”.

Simon, probably out of curiosity, would go to see this “out of towner” perform or speak. “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”6 Simon was one of these people who believed and was baptized after hearing the truth Philip spoke in Samaria.

Was there a hidden agenda behind the “salvation and baptism” of Simon? 

Simon as well as the multitudes where all amazed by the miracles that happened whenever and wherever Philip went. “Simon seems to have been more taken by the ministry and the power of Philip than with his message. Wherever Philip went, Simon tagged along, constantly amazed at the evidences of the hand of God in this man’s life and ministry. The power of Philip seems more fascinating to Simon than the person of Christ and the practical out workings of the gospel…” Though Simon claimed a new birth as evidenced by his being baptized, it would seem that… “the magician lived on, focusing on a bigger and better power, rather than on a whole new way of life.”7 This will become very obvious to all when Peter arrives from Jerusalem.

“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”8

The Holy Spirit was the one performing the miracles through Philip that the Samaritan people had seen. Was his power the reason Simon was always around Philip or was he truly committed to “the way (Jesus)?”

“Luke gave us more reason to question his commitment. There is no desired object given for his believing—no “kingdom of God,” no “name of Jesus Christ.” In fact, the only response connected with his baptism was his following Philip everywhere, totally entranced by his miraculous signs.

Could this have been Luke’s way of indicating that Simon’s commitment was lacking? That it may have been more based on Philip’s miracles than his preaching? More oriented toward the tricks of his own trade?”9

Peter being full of the Holy Spirit would see through Simon’s intentions especially as Simon asks to pay for the “power” that only comes by the Spirit of God. “Give me this power also,” said Simon, “that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”10 The power that is the Holy Spirit is what was promised to those who believe in Jesus. The Spirit and the salvation of God were not a trade craft of the apostles, purposed to entertain, as they journeyed from town to town. Peter sternly rebuked Simon saying, “your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!”11  Of this admonishing toward Simon, Peter would almost command him to repent, speaking to the heart condition that Simon was suffering from. “Simon Magus wanted a supernatural gift for his own personal glory not just for the glory of God.”12

This is where the biblical account of Simon the magician would end.

Is there a historical record of Simon the magician after the biblical account? 

In fact, Historically, there may be.

Simon unfortunately is considered to be the founder of the Gnostic movement – That movement which elevates self by worshiping self-sanctification, our own performance, special knowledge, and removes God from his exalted throne, making him simply a faulty God, who himself is needing of improvement.

“The church fathers of the second and third centuries are practically unanimous in attributing the origin of Gnosticism to Simon Magus. No subsequent discovery of Gnostic materials offered any evidence to deny this allegation. From Simon Magus the line is traced to a Samaritan named Menander, then to two teachers at Antioch named Saturninus and Cerinthus.”13 The gnostic movement mixed pagan rituals with some of Christianity and is considered by many to be heretical in the sense that it is not the doctrine that Jesus taught while on the earth and passed along to the apostles. “The Gnostic may add that secret revelation gives them this” hidden “insight, but there must still be a standard. How does the Gnostic know his private revelation is correct if there is no absolute truth to which to compare it? Gnostic doctrine isolates humans from God and creates spiritual elites who alone have the answer to human needs. Gnosticism is an unusual aberration in Christian history, but the doctrines of this religion were rejected by the church fathers and should be rejected today as well.”14

After the rebuke from Peter, history sheds light on this Simon the Magician, going back to what made him a leader in Samaria. He adopted some of the views the apostles brought with them to the region, but then mixed it with his belief in magic – once again pulling the wool over the people’s eyes, placing himself back in the spot light. Peter told Simon to “repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”15 But as the historical record shows, that unfortunately does not seem to occur in Simon’s life.

In Conclusion, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary sums up the life of Simon the magician, saying, he was, “A man who practiced sorcery in Samaria, often referred to as Simon Magus. The deacon/evangelist Philip encountered him in a town, probably Sebaste, the capital of the province. The magician himself became a convert, was baptized with many others, and was amazed at the miracles of Philip, which apparently surpassed his own. The externality of Simon’s faith seems indicated by his bold attempt to bribe the apostles into imparting their “power.” The name of Simon Magus occurs frequently in the early history of “Christian” Gnosticism.”16 

Simon the magician was given the truth and even a second chance to be forgiven by the apostles. Rather, it would seem that he chose the path of fame and fortune – even using a form of spirituality to deceive a multitude of people. Jesus would warn the disciples of false prophets and what would happen to those who try and enter His kingdom based upon a false doctrine or a twisting of the doctrine; “And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”17

The story of Simon the Magician is a story that comes with a warning to all who would seek to have their own glory and power, yet miss the opportunity to have a relationship with the person who gave His life for them.

[end]

Citations:

Bible, New King James Version

1 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:9a
2 Deffinbaugh, Bob. “Simon and Simon (Acts 8:1–25).” http://bible.org/seriespage/simon-and-simon-acts-81- 25.

3 Bible, New King James Version , Acts 8:11
4 Yamauchi, Edwin M. “Magic in the Biblical World.” Tyndale Bulletin 34 (1983): 169–200.

pastedGraphic.png pastedGraphic_1.png pastedGraphic_2.png

5 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:4-5
6 Bible, new King James Version, Acts 8:12
7 Deffinbaugh, Bob. “Simon and Simon (Acts 8:1–25).” http://bible.org/seriespage/simon-and-simon-acts-8:1-25

pastedGraphic.png pastedGraphic_3.png

8 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:14-15
9 Polhill, J. B. (1992). The New American Commentary: Acts Volume 26. B&H Publishing Group. 10 Bible, New King James Version Acts 8:19
11 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:20
12 Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Acts.” Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes. (2014). http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/acts.pdf.

pastedGraphic.png

13 Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers.

14 Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers. 15 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:22

Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers.

16 Tenney, D. a. (1987, 2011). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 17 Bible, New King James Version, Matthew 7:20

pastedGraphic.png

Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Acts.” Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes. (2014).

http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/acts.pdf.

Deffinbaugh, Bob. “Simon and Simon (Acts 8:1–25).” http://bible.org/seriespage/simon-and- simon-acts-8:1-25

Polhill, J. B. (1992). The New American Commentary: Acts Volume 26. B&H Publishing Group.

Yamauchi, Edwin M. “Magic in the Biblical World.” Tyndale Bulletin 34 (1983): 169–200

What Are The 5 Solas?

As a church we have been going through a beautiful and invaluable faith building study through the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation. As I mention this study to friends in conversation around town, I get the same response everywhere I go: “What are the five solas?” or “I’ve never heard of that before.” Yet everyone seems excited about the topic as soon as they learn more. Therefore, I thought I would put a very brief article out informing those who’s interest  seems to be peaking about the 5 Solas. Hope this helps a bit.

0665 Solas were 5 Latin phrases, popularized during the Protestant Reformation, making clear the distinctions that set the reformers and Protestant believers apart from the long standing Roman Catholic Church (or the Universal Church).

The 5 Solas are known as follows:

1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

2. Sola Fide: Faith Alone

3. Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

4. Solo Christo: Christ Alone

5. Soli Deo Gloria: To The Glory Of God Alone

The Solas are much more than a correction to the extra biblical practices of the Roman Catholic beliefs and teachings.

More importantly, they are essential biblical declarations of the Christian Faith, each one building upon another, a Gospel foundation, finding its apex in the Glory of God alone.

According to John Piper, These truths have clearly defined the Gospel for the church for five hundred years.

The Gospel, in the Solas, can be defined

“As revealed with final authority in

Scripture Alone,

the Gospel is the good news that

by faith alone

through

Grace alone

on the basis of

Christ alone

for the

glory of God alone

sinners have full and final joy in

God alone.”

VIDEO – Dying To Live – Mark 10 – Lessons From The Rich Young Ruler

 

What in Life do you prize the Most?

and

Download Jeremiah’s FREE Book Here:

FREE BOOK

Why I Love The Word of God – FULL and Updated Version!

Chapter

8.

Why I Love The Word Of God

The Word made flesh has given us His Word made text, and He simply asks us to read, hear and apply His heart and promises for us found in Scripture. So, in this chapter I want to briefly encourage your confidence and dependance upon the written Word of God. You will need this strength for ministry, and it cannot be found anywhere else but in the presence of God as you sit at His feet, receiving from His Word.

I feel it necessary to spend a good amount of time talking about the Bible itself. It is necessary as believers and as ministers in Jesus Christ’s ministry, that we understand the God whom we worship and that we come to know His heart toward us as best as possible. His heart, His direction, and His guidance for our lives and for the entire earth and universe are found in the Scriptures. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to our spiritual and physical lives that we think rightly about the God of the Word.

Do You Still Believe In The Bible?

If the reliability of the Scriptures are up for debate in your mind and heart, then so are all of its doctrines, precepts, directives, commandments, prophecies and promises. As ministers in the Lord we need to be confidant in who we are serving. If you cannot place faith in His written Word as a reliable source for knowing Jesus Christ who is Lord of the universe, then you are without knowledge of How you and others must be saved. If you don’t trust His Word, then you cannot trust your salvation – it is now up for debate along with every other doctrine that effects you now and in eternity, including doctrines like salvation, redemption, justification, the trinity, the love, justice, mercy, grace and judgment of God, worship, and how God wants to be worshiped. All of which and many more are very important doctrines to the health and well-being of the believer.

1 John 2:2 says, speaking of Christ, that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” If His Word is up for debate in your mind, then so is this – That Christ’s death pleased God in dying for your sins to save you from hell. If you don’t trust His word, than you cannot trust that this is true, therefore you either don’t care about your salvation and knowing God or you’re uncertain about your salvation. Pretty important right? The Word of God.

Duh! Were “Church” People!

I recognize that by this point some of you might be thinking, “why are you including this in a book on ministry? Of course we believe in the infallible Word of God, thats why we are in ministry!” I hope this is your response, but I feel that this chapter is necessary because many ministries and ministers are departing from the truth and are now teaching doctrines of demons, having abandoned all absolutes along with the promises of God. Many churches do not teach the Bible anymore. Therefore those assisting in these ministries no longer read, trust in or find their strength in His Word! We must not be these sort of ministers or ministries. We are men and women of God and we are men and women of the truth. His truth is found in the Bible – the Word of God.

 “So Why Do We Need The Word Of God? ”

Lets look at a few reasons.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 says,

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

KJV

First of all, the Scriptures, that is your Bible, are Holy because they are inspired by God. God is responsible for what is recorded and written in the Scriptures. They are His words, He has wrought them and He keeps and protects them. They are “hieros”, that is, sacred or holy. They are inspired by God.

Speaking of the scriptures and prophecy, Peter tells us that “…men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

God’s words are necessary and essential. In fact, of His own words, the Lord reveals to us through the psalmist:

“…You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2)

It has been said that no man is greater than his word. If you cannot trust what someone says, then you cannot trust that person. Simply put, if I make promises to you about myself that do not come true or are untrue then you really don’t know me and would actually be better off not knowing me because I would have revealed to you by my lies and broken promises, that I am not who I say I am and that I cannot be trusted. I have revealed to you that I am a liar by my inability to fulfill my word. I may be a liar but God is no liar. In fact, He cannot lie. The reliability of the scriptures testify to the reliability of our God. Our God has given and kept many great promises. To prove Himself, His faithfulness and just to simply bless us, He has written His promises down, as if to say, “you can take these to the bank! I am good and will be good to my word and all of my promises. You have seen it and will continue to see my promises fulfilled.”

The Word of God is a necessity, because it is Holy and divinely inspired by the God of the universe.

Now, I will take some time in presenting you with a bit of evidence, though I am not so interested in defending the Bible or Gods existence as God Himself does not seem very interested in this either. God exists whether anyone believes in Him or not. But, it can be helpful and encouraging to us all, so here we go…

Holy and Inspired

The word Bible comes from the Greek word ‘biblos’ meaning ‘book.’ It is The Book. In the Bible, we have the embodiment of a divine revelation. It is a written work of history centered around one man, Jesus Christ. Now, let me briefly present you with…

5 proofs that present the Bible as the very Word of God:

1. The Character of the Bible.

Written by 40 some authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, and one program of the ages. The Bible is in harmony with itself. It does not contradict itself but compliments itself.

2. The Indestructibility Of The Bible. Henry Clarence Thiessen says this about the indestructibility of the Bible: “When we recall that only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century, that a much smaller percentage last for a century, and that only a very small number live a thousand years, we at once realize that the Bible is a unique book.”

When looking at the history of the Bibles indestructibility, we must also look at the circumstances through which the Bible has survived. The Bible has been the most adored and praised book as well as the object of more persecution and opposition than any other book in History. For example, before Constantine, Rome, at one point, thought that they had exterminated the Christian religion. Diocletian, by a royal edict in 303 A.D. demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire. He killed so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles, sending Christians into hiding, that he actually thought that he had put an end to the Bible. He inscribed a medal that said, “the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the gods restored.” A few years later Constantine came to the throne, making Christianity the state religion. Man cannot thwart the purpose and plan of God, not even through evil or persecution. This is one example among many throughout history. Many stories of persecution and triumph are still being written among our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world today – in Asia, the middle east, and elsewhere.

Emperors Diocletion and Constantine

Know this, that God is still preserving His Word. We have hundreds of manuscript copies of the Bible that predate the birth of Christ. These including detailed prophesies about Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Among such manuscripts lies one of the greatest discoveries in modern times: We know them as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what happened and how God preserved His Word:

w.deadseascrolls-060213

In 1947, a young boy wandered into a cave in Qumran (north and west of the dead Sea in Israel). He was looking for some lost sheep, belonging to his father, but instead of finding sheep, the boy stumbled upon ancient coins and a series of pots filled with ancient scrolls; the old testament scriptures. These findings of Isaiah’s writings alone dated back to 100 B.C. The scrolls had been hidden in these caves 2000 years ago and amazingly, they represented every book of the old testament minus the book of Esther.

qumran-cave-of-the-first-dead-sea-scrolls-robin-coaker 2009 Bible Museum- Dead Sea Scrolls 004

Amazing!

History has made it obvious to us that God is able to watch over and preserve His word from corruption. This is a true to life miracle. But not surprising, as our God is a God of miracles!

3. The Influence Of The Bible.

Throughout history, the Bible has influenced the arts, literature, architecture, and music. The Bible has influenced the laws of the nations as well as influencing great social reforms and is constantly debated over, defended, or scrutinized in our courthouses to this day.

Thiessen says: “Where is there a book in all the world that even remotely compares with it in its beneficent influence upon mankind?” He called the Bible: “…The revelation of God to needy humanity.”

4. Fulfilled Prophesy. We read earlier in 2 Peter, that men who were “… moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There is no other viable explanation for the supernatural knowledge witnessed in Bible prophesy, given through man, recorded in the Bible. In it, we see many impressive and detailed prophesies concerning the nation of Israel. Prophesies concerning gentile nations were also fulfilled. God is declaring to us, through scripture, that He is all-knowing. He does not simply give us a record book of past events, but confidently declares to us things to come – future events; Bible prophesy – divine revelation.

5. The Claims Of The Bible Itself.

The Bible claims to be the only infallible revelation on earth in written form given to man. In it contains the only plan for the eternal salvation of man.

The Old Testament itself claims to be the Word of God, with its some 3,800 statement like: “thus says the Lord, now the

Lord spoke, He was commanded to write in a book what the Lord had told him, The Lord said, The Word which came to…, The Word of the Lord came expressly to…etc”

The New Testament writers declared the message of God. Paul makes statements in 1 Corinthians (14:37), 1 Thessalonians (2:13), and Galatians (1:8) declaring that the things he wrote were the commandments of God, that what he preached we were to receive as the very word of God, and that the salvation of men depended upon faith in the very doctrines which Paul taught. John taught in 1 John (5:10) that his testimony was Gods testimony. Peter taught that the commands of God were spoken through the holy prophets and through the apostles (2 Peter 3:2). And Christ revealed that if you have heard or seen Him than you have heard and seen God (1 John 1:2, John 14:9).

All of this, and we have not even scratched the surface of archeological discoveries supported by the Bible and in favor of the Bibles accuracy. No other religious text compares. We don’t have time to talk about the Bibles scientific accuracy – including it’s references to the sun, the shape of the earth, and the suspension of the earth and stars. We could talk about the countless martyrs for Christ, including the willingness of Jesus’ disciples to suffer, but for the sake of time, these 5 points will have to do.

So, our first point of why we need the Word of God according to our text in 2 Timothy was, because they are holy and inspired by God. We can see throughout our worlds history, that His hand is upon them, guiding, protecting, and inspiring them. ” Let me share some other Biblical reasons about why I love the Word of God and why it is needed in pastoral ministry, ministry in general and in our personal lives.

Because the words of God are profitable.

Profitable Words

I love the Bible because the words of God are profitable.

We gain from His Word! Ill say it again. We get to gain insight, wisdom, direction, encouragement and many more wonderful things for our life, and they are all delivered to us straight from the God who created the universe and the God who gave you life. That’s why the word of God is profitable for our whole lives! Because God knows best. He knows all of humanity and creation from the inside out – that is, things inside and outside, physical, emotional and psychological. He is in control of all things near or far – into the galaxies and universe. There is no area in your life that He is not in the position to touch, heal, change, or help. He is God, and His word is living, life giving and full of endless power!

Hebrews 4:12 says of the Word of God, that it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We are lost without Gods revelation of Himself to man!

But how do we profit from these words from God?

And what are they profitable for?

Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, Instruction In Righteousness

Well, our text says:

for doctrine [that is teaching],

for reproof [that is, conviction or testing],

for correction [that is, literally to restore to an upright state, to correct your life and character. To make you right.], ” for instruction in righteousness:” The Greek here for our word instruction is: paideia (pi-da-uh) meaning that the Word of God is everything for your growing up in life for the Lord. ”

You cannot and will not grow or mature in Christ if you are lacking the proper nutrition that comes to your soul only by the word of God – interpreted and given proper application by the Spirit of God. It corrects your mistakes and curbs your passions. It increases virtue. This is Paideia – instruction. And this is all for righteousness. That is, for right living before our God. For living a life that is pleasing to Him, for Him, and for His glory. ” Do you understand that the Word of God is essential to your right living for God in Christ? Willing obedience to Gods direction for your life and submission to His instruction will create in you a pure heart – making you a minister filled with personal character. Not just a Christ associated christian but a Christ experienced christian, leader, follower and servant.

Warning To The Phonies

But shame on the pastors, leaders and so-called servants of Jesus who are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Especially to those who are forsaking the Bible all-together! They are leading their congregations down the wrong path and have no clue how to live for God. They are simply and Biblically, bad pastors – ignorant of the power of God.

The Pastor who forsakes the Word of God has forsaken his calling and is no pastor at all but is a wayward – a prodigal, desperately needing to come home. ”

For these pastors and heretics we desperately pray:

“Lord, grab their hearts and set them aright with Your Word that their congregations would be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth!”

“God, help us as servants of You and as servants to Your bride, not to forsake Your promises, but to cling to Your words for our life, ministry, worldview, help, counsel and personal nourishment.”

As assistants in ministry, the Word is our guide. We give the bride of Christ the Words of Christ and nothing else. Your opinion doesn’t really matter in the end. Stick to the Word of God.

The Word of God is power to the believer. It is Spiritual. The Word of God is not a burdensome law. It is not legalism or rules. The Word of God is not a religion! It is safety. It is a glimpse into the very heart of God who rules the universe! It is for your heart, your life, your spirit, and for eternity.

The Word of God is life giving, life changing, miracle working, alive, and true – there is nothing false in it! It is perfect, empowering, encouraging, up-lifting, healing, it speaks to us, guides us, directs us, gives wisdom, judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. It is purity in an imperfect world. It is to be treasured. It is historically accurate, and it is just and right when everything else is wrong!

And do not forget, the Word of God is for you!

Treasure your Savior and treasure His promises. Don’t allow satan to keep you from your Bible. Open it up, be familiar with it, read it, write in it, memorize it – not because you have to, but because He loves you. Guard your time with Jesus. In doing this, you will be and become a spiritual leader to your fellow ministers and to the fathers precious bride of Christ – The Church.

Briefly, if you don’t read the Bible with your wife, then start today. You are to wash her in the Word. If you don’t read with your family, start today. It is your responsibility as a man of God to love and raise your kids in the Lord. Show your family what it is to be a man of God. I didn’t say to preach and pastor them, but to love, disciple and point them to Jesus always.

Take some time right now to pray for your life, family, and ministry.

OldRomanianBible

Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!

Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!