Bible Studies

Notes from Bible Studies

Being Saved, Staying Saved, and Seeing Others Saved

Men’s Fellowship Bible Study

> Jim Bailey

Being Saved, Staying Saved, and Seeing Others Saved

I didn’t want to make another Bible study on what we should be doing, or what we think we’re doing, but I wanted to make a Bible study on what we are doing.

We seek to make friends, not being religious, but having a compassion for the lost world. We seek to bring the compassion that this world doesn’t offer. We all have goals in our occupations, but that isn’t our main objective.

John 3:16
  1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

So, we’re believing in him, and we’re trusting that we’re not going to perish. We know that when we get to the other side, there will be no sickness, death, or suffering. We know that at the end of this life, we’ll see our reward in heaven.

The psalms from 113 to 118 were sung by the families of Israel at the beginning of the Passover.

Psalms 118:24
  1. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

When I wake up in the morning, I will rejoice in that day that God has given me. That’s part of staying saved.

Proverbs chapter three is focused on kindness, truth, honoring God with our substance, prosperity, and virtue.

Proverbs 3:5-7
  1. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
  2. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
  3. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Note that it says “paths”, meaning more than one. Our lives take different directions. But no matter which path we take, the idea is to depart from evil.

Ecclesiastes 9:10
  1. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Am I being a good steward with what God has given me? I am going apply this principle to my whole life. And as we do this, we can see the change in our own lives and in the lives of our friends and family.

So what are we fighting for? Making it to the other side, and trying to bring more people with us.

Matthew 6:24-34
  1. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
  2. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
  3. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
  4. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
  5. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
  6. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  7. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
  8. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  9. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  10. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
  11. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

So what do we gain from that text? What do we see there? For me personally, I see a comforting spirit, a God who will take care of us and bring us through it all. We’ve just got to lean on him, and keep track of his will. That’s part of staying saved: seeing God’s will maintained in our lives.

So what are we doing to stay on track with God? Are we trying to keep up with the Joneses?

So let’s be for real: what is our mission?

> Be saved, stay saved, and see others saved.

We’re all in one mind and one accord with that, aren’t we? But I find that I’m not doing all that I can in that respect. We don’t know how we can affect another person’s life by our speech and our actions. We need to question our motivation; we can’t just continue on auto-pilot.

Joshua 24:1-21
  1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
  2. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
  3. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
  4. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
  5. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
  6. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
  7. And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
  8. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
  9. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
  10. But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
  11. And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
  12. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
  13. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
  14. Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
  15. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
  16. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
  17. For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
  18. And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
  19. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
  20. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
  21. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

So Joshua reviewed with them the benefits of serving God, and renewed the covenant between them and God. Does that sound familiar? Isn’t that what we do on Sunday? We serve him in sincerity, right? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We can’t back away from that.

Isaiah 51:1
  1. Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

“Listen to me, ye that follow after righteousness:” Isn’t that us? “Ye that seek the LORD:” How do we do that? We look back at where God has brought us from.

Matthew 11:25-30
  1. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
  2. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
  3. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
  4. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  5. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
  6. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We feel blessed that Jesus has revealed himself to us, right? And what is our labor unto him? Do we remember the way we were heavy-laden with sin? We are yoked with him in what way? Have we found rest for our souls? Did you find that your burden was lifted when you got baptized? Are we looking for that more excellent way? (1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 John 4:4)

We are definitely homeless. This world is not our home. So as we continue on our journey, who are we going to listen to? Sometimes you get around people who want you to listen to some new philosophy that is supposed to change your life. But what does it turn out to be? Man’s interpretation? Man’s wisdom?

1 Corinthians 1:17-25
  1. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
  2. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
  3. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
  4. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
  5. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
  6. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
  7. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
  8. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
  9. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

So the foolishness of God, to them that believe, is the power of salvation. I made the mistake of printing out this Bible study at work, and one of my co-workers picked it up. He said, “I want to be saved.” I said, “Great. Fantastic. I’ll see you Friday night for Bible study.” He wanted to change the subject.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31
  1. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
  2. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
  3. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
  4. That no flesh should glory in his presence.
  5. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
  6. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

That’s our glory, to be saved, stay saved, and see others saved.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16
  1. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
  2. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
  3. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
  4. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
  5. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
  6. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
  7. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
  8. Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
  9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
  10. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
  11. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
  12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
  13. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
  14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
  15. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
  16. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

So we have this wisdom, right? We have the mind of Christ. My question is, do we seek a religion, or do we seek a filled relationship with Christ? I look around at the men who make up the backbone of the church. We have our mind made up, right?

Luke 9:62
  1. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

We’ve seen our friends drop off, leave, and not continue. But we’ve all stayed to make up the backbone of the church. It’s not for the faint of heart, but for those who have their spirit binded with their minds.

James 1:21-25
  1. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
  2. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
  3. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
  4. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
  5. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

I want to focus on the “engrafted word.” It means to form by incision, to impress deeply, as by engraving. God’s word is engraved on my mind forever. Later on, he says, “continue therein, not being a forgetful hearer.” Are we maintaining our direction without deviation? Some people stop coming out to church, and they say “I’ll come back to church once I’ve figured things out.” Well, that’s a bad place to be figuring things out, in the world. It’s better to take it to God.

So we have some challenges ahead. What do we have to do?

James 1:12
  1. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

So that’s one thing about being saved. We’re going to go through changes, temptations, but if we endure, we’ll receive that crown of life.

Matthew 24:11-14
  1. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
  2. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
  3. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
  4. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Endure :To undergo a hardship, especially without giving in. To suffer. To regard with acceptance or tolerance.

I watched a documentary about some folks who endured Auschwitz. The only thing that kept them going was the thought, “I must survive.” We haven’t gone through what they went through, but we’ve got to have that same mindset, to endure.

John 6:27
  1. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

So we’re sealed with our faith in Christ. We’re going to endure. We’re going to be saved, stay saved, and see others saved.

Discussion

> Todd Morgan

A lot of times we do look back at the pit that we were in before we got saved, but there are also a lot of pits along the way since we’ve been saved.

> Jeff Linger

I take this study as a reminder not to grow weary. It’s easy to get tired, to stop pressing for the mark of the high calling, to put it in neutral. It’s easy, and the flesh likes “easy.” But we’ve got to keep pressing forward, not only for ourselves but for those behind us, who are looking to us for examples.

> Ricardo McPherson

I like the part about doing all things with our might. I find myself at work sometimes, not finishing certain quals. It was in my mind to do it, but I found myself doing other things. We can apply this scripture to every part of our daily life. If I had done that, I wouldn’t have to stay late at work finishing my quals and missing church.

> Jay Hunemuller

I’ve always looked at “engrafted word” like being grafted into a plant, but it makes sense the way he put it, being pressed deeply, like an engraving. If we let God’s word be pressed deeply into our minds, we’ll act on it when we should.

> John Connor

I often feel embarassed or upset because I haven’t advanced myself in this world. And God knows where I’m at and what I want, but where have I been putting my focus?

> Scott Shepherd

I like the part about Paul not coming with excellency of speech. A lot of times we worry about what we say or how we impress people. But it’s not about us; it’s about the gospel. We’ve got to get ourselves out of the way and let Christ do the talking.

> Rod Williams

Joshua had to remind the people about what God had done. Joshua had a made-up mind. I think that’s what we’ve got to have; we’ve got to have that kind of mentality.

Brotherly Love and Charity

Wednesday Evening Bible Studies, 2/2/11

Testimonies

> Pastor Paine

It was my junior year in High School. I had fallen in with the wrong crowd and was smoking marijuana and doing some things that were bad by themselves, and also leading me in a bad direction. Some of those guys were already doing cocaine, and one of them had done a crime that was going to put him in prison. I could see that I was making a whole series of horrible decisions. That for me was when I started seeking the Lord. I knew I was on the wrong road, but I didn’t know how to get to the right one. I cried out, “God, if you’re real, show me.” And the first night of my senior year in High School, I got invited to a home Bible study. It turned out that the lady who owned the home didn’t have any immediate family. She was too ill to get out, so she invited the people who were holding Bible studies to meet in her house, so she could attend. When she died, she left the house to the Bible study group in her will, and it was the start of a church that still exists today. I went there, and there was no furniture other than folding chairs. It was weird, but that was the start of my walk with God. That’s what this reminds me of today.

> Rod Williams

I was really excited about being asked to teach this study. I remember when we had a home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we held Bible studies there. It’s a real blessing, and it does bring a more “homey” feel to the study.

Tonight we’re going to be talking about charity and brotherly love. I have two questions:

  1. Do I love God as I should?
  2. Do I love myself?

When we talk about charity and brotherly love, it’s a deep subject that we sometimes take for granted. As we study tonight, I pray that you really look into the scriptures.

We know that Jesus walked the earth as God in the flesh. He was mocked and ridiculed, beaten, and hung on the cross. Here we read about why he did those things.

John 3:16
  1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I was going down Tidewater Drive and saw a young couple crossing the street. A car was coming as the guy stepped out, so the girl pulled him back. They stood there and held hands for a while, and then crossed together. I looked and said, “That’s what love is: risking your life to save another.”

God showed his love to us so that we could show our love to one another.

1 Corinthians 13:1-4
  1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
  2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
  3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
  4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

This is Paul speaking, who wrote the majority of the New Testament while in prison. He was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked; fell among false brethren. He knew what it is to live this life.

As we read what he wrote, consider that Jesus did all these things. Jesus suffered long, but was not puffed up.

You may meet someone who needs to see the light that God has given you to show. My nature is to be mostly stoic, but I’ve got to seek Christ to reach out to other people.

1 Corinthians 13:5-8
  1. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
  2. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
  3. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
  4. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Through all those things, charity never faileth. Love never fails. Prophecies are a big thing, because prophecy is for the edification of the church. Of course we know that tongues are a sign of the Holy Ghost. But it says that love is the greatest of all these things. Debbie sings a song, [Love is the greatest gift of all].

1 Corinthians 13:9-13
  1. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
  2. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
  3. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  4. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
  5. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

It’s love. When I was preparing for this study, I realized that love is a powerful weapon. Jesus said, “love your enemies.” If it wasn’t possible, then God wouldn’t have said it. So the next time there is a situation where someone is giving you a hard time or whatever, remember that. The next time that happens, say “You know what, I really appreciate you. Let me try to help you.”

Colossians 3:12-15
  1. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
  2. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
  3. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
  4. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Oh, yes. Above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. How many of us have ever loved someone or something very deeply? How many of us have lost sleep or felt like you couldn’t be apart from that person or object that you loved? I got to thinking. I’ll use Sherry as an example. I remember when we first met; I couldn’t be apart from here. The minute I got of duty or whatever, I was there. Some of you might not have experienced that before. But that love that we have for another person: we’re willing to do whatever it takes to show that love. Gary Chapman wrote a book about the five love languages. He said that sometimes the way you show love might not be the same language that your partner is receiving. But whatever that thing is that we desire to have, we can ask God for it, because God is not going to withhold that which is good from us. The Bible says

Matthew 24:12
  1. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

It’s up to us, the saints, to apply that love of God to the world. We’re not living this life for the earth or ourselves; we’re living for eternity.

Matthew 22:36-39
  1. Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
  2. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  3. This is the first and great commandment.
  4. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Notice that Jesus said to love God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind. And notice that he said to love thy neighbor as thyself. So in the order of things, God comes first, and then our neighbor, but we fall right under that.

John 15:12-17
  1. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
  2. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
  3. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
  4. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
  5. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
  6. These things I command you, that ye love one another.

So it’s commanded for us to love one another. I’m around my brothers and sisters quite a bit. This study is real personal to me. I’ve got to stop and think, “Who do I know well? Who do I have a common bond with? And who don’t I? And why?” I’ve got to connect; I’ve got to reach out; I’ve got to forge that bond. Jesus did all that; he set the example for us, and his disciples did, as well.

John 13:33-35
  1. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
  2. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  3. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

This was Jesus talking to the disciples. He knew the Jews would betray him, and he had washed the disciples’ feet. So he said, “As I have loved you, so love ye one another.” And he said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.” So Bill, if you and I went to Alaska, people should know that we are Jesus’ disciples. We can do great things, but love is the greatest of all.

Another thing from Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” was the “love tank.” Is your love tank full? Is it half-full? I’ve got to admit that as I started this study, my love tank was low. But now it’s getting filled, from all you here today. Sometimes I just need somebody to say hello, or share a scripture, or go on a ride with me. We should have a strong desire to spend time with each other, and love one another.

Have you ever seen people at a football game? Do the people supporting different teams sit right beside each other? If they do, they won’t feel too comfortable. But it’s up to us to show love to the people beside us. I thank God that we have diversity; we should cherish that.

2 Peter 1:5-8
  1. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
  2. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
  3. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
  4. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Look at all these things. We’re going to bear fruit if we have all these things.

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Hey, if we lack that love, seek God for it. It’s part of his commandments. Don’t be afraid to ask things from God. How many of us had a father-figure that we were afraid to ask things from? I was. I always ran to my mother. But as I look back today, I realize how much my father loved me. He sacrificed himself to make sure that we had food on the table, transportation, a roof over our heads, and so forth. I didn’t know that at the time; I figured my Mom loved me more, because she was the one who was always around. There was a barrier there between me and my Dad, and there may be barriers between us and the people around us, because of our perceptions. But now, I love my Dad, and I let him know that. So don’t let your perceptions of the people around you keep you from showing that love that God has commanded. Go to your brother or sister and ask, “How can I learn to know you better?” God wants us to love one another, and perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18
  1. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 Peter 4:8-10
  1. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
  2. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
  3. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Wow. We’ve been talking about stewardship, right? I looked up “fervent” and it means “without ceasing.” So we should love without ceasing.

As we look into the scriptures tonight, I hope that everyone has been blessed. So don’t stop with the scriptures tonight; there are a lot more. But more than that, don’t just study the word, but also apply it. That’s what it’s all about.

We Need Each Other Spiritually

Friday Evening Bible Study, 1/7/11

We Need Each Other, Spiritually

There are quite a few men in this room tonight. How many of us have ever considered growing up spiritually? We took out time to consider, and God directed me, and allowed me to come into contact with a brother like Rich Brand, or Robbie Smith. What is my spiritual heritage? I remember when cried out to God, and God put certain people in my path. When I reported to Waukegan for construction duty, guess who was my mentor and instructor? Brother Rich Brand. He was one of those 100mph guys. He was dragging me along, despite the fact that I was 22 and he was … a lot older. As a 21-year-old, this gentleman was going 100mph, and I was wore-out tired.

We need each other; no ands, ifs, and buts about it. You work a job, and God will keep you. But what happens after that job is over with? Are we making an effort to encourage and be encouraged? I did hear in Wednesday service about us being a more spiritual church. So hmm… there are thirty-five people in here; that’s thirty-five different lifestyles, experiences, and levels of maturity. Yet God requires us to be one. If I’m a thousand miles away, how can God expect me to communicate and fellowship with you? This is 2011. There is email, voicemail, text-messaging, twitter, you name it. There are no limitations. We serve a big God, so we should expect big things.

1 Corinthians 12:14-25
  1. For the body is not one member, but many.
  2. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  3. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  4. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
  5. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
  6. And if they were all one member, where were the body?
  7. But now are they many members, yet but one body.
  8. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
  9. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
  10. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
  11. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
  12. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

So I can’t say that because I’m in the volunteer department, I can’t fellowship with Josh, because he’s a singer, or with John, because he’s in the military ministry. How many of you have loved every single time that you’ve worked with a brother? But how many times, if you worked with a brother, did you get a blessing out of it? If we let our flesh come between our fellowship and working with each other, then we miss out.

If Chris likes croquet, and I can’t stand croquet, that shouldn’t affect our relationship with each other. We’re all different, but we need each other spiritually. We don’t need to be making stumbling-blocks for one another.

John 13:34-35
  1. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  2. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Let’s talk about that word “love.” I want you to think about the things that you love. How many of us think, “I’m going to hide the way I think about this.” It’s hard to do when you have true love and passion for something. If someone really loves to fish, he talks about it all the time.

In the last couple of months, I’ve really been seeking to know the beginnings of the ministry. And God has been faithful to put in my path people who were around in the very beginnings of the ministry. Jim asked me the other day, “Do you want to go out and get some fellowship?” And I said, “Sure.” Jim started sharing with me about the very beginning of the ministry, and how they were so tight and practically on top of each other, but never once did he talk about how tough it was.

What is our ultimate goal? To be saved. And if that truly is our goal, then compare how much effort we put into that with how much effort we put into our natural goals. If I want to get a degree, then I know I’ve got so much time to work toward getting that degree, and at the end of that time, I can look forward to holding a diploma in my hand. But in God, no man knows the day nor the hour. So we’ve got to constantly be thinking, “This could be the day.” And tomorrow, “This could be the day.” And fifteen thousand years later, “This could be the day.”

Sometimes we all need our quiet time. Jeff, I might need to spend a day away from here. But I don’t need a week, or a month, or a year. I get in my routine; I go to work, punch a clock, get off, go home and do my business. But we’re all men. How many men here, your mama still tells you what to do, and you still do it? One thing about the military; you always know who the “mama’s boys” are.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’m not going to try and do the same things that Abraham does; experience tells me that if I try, I’ll fall flat on my face.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-13
  1. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
  2. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
  3. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
  4. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
  5. Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

The majority of us have spent some time in the military. What’s the most important thing to have with you before you go out on liberty in a foreign port?

> A buddy.

Why?

  • Accountability
  • Safety in numbers
  • One of you can run to get help
  • A lot of times one prevents the other from making bad decisions
  • An extra set of eyes

How many of you have ignored the rules and gone out by yourself?

 
(Lots of hands)

I’ve done it. But every time I did, I was nervously expecting something to go wrong.

When it comes to spiritual things, we’ve got to put the meat to the side. We had two baptisms last night. Pastor Taylor, can you share with us about that?

> There was a gentleman who was watching this TV preacher talking about baptism in Jesus’ name. He was so determined that he wanted to be baptized, that he started searching online for a church that baptizes in Jesus’ name. Our church was on the top of the list, so he called us up and asked about getting baptized.

Hebrews 10:24-25
  1. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  2. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Let us consider one another. If everyone put their consideration on one another’s needs, just think how much better things would be! We all say we’re Christians, right? Let’s put it to the test. I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve prayed “God, use me.” And suddenly everything goes wrong. The kitchen sink breaks; my boss asks me to work late; and suddenly I’m just as miserable as anyone else. Where is my prayer life? Where is my walk with God? What happened to all that fellowship I’ve had? And then I’ve got to stop and say, “Okay, God. I’ll do it your way.” And then someone says, “You must be a Christian.” How can they tell? Or then again, (I’m still using myself as an example,) someone may say “I thought you were a Christian.” Maybe I lost my temper; maybe something else went wrong. I’m thankful that God has placed men in my ministry who could show me how to grow through all that.

John, how long have you been in the Navy? Six years? However long you stay in, somebody was there before you, and somebody will be there after you. People will remember you when you’re gone, saying “That John Conner was a really cool guy. He always used to take us out for pizza and fellowship.” Or maybe they’ll see your walk kind-of plateau for a while, and they’ll say, “I remember when he used to …” Have you ever plateaued like that? Jesse, has that ever happened to you?

> More often then I can count.

That’s why we should be accountable to one another. We know what accountability is.

Hebrews 3:12-13
  1. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
  2. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

First we’ve got a warning, and then we’ve got a solution. Chris, do I work with you on the ship? Jeff, do I work with you? Jim, do I work with you?

> No

Then how can this scripture be fulfilled, that we should work with each other daily? How many of you remember gathering on Tuesday nights to write letters to the brothers out to sea? And you never knew what effect those letters had until you went out to sea and got four or five letters at a time, and everyone else was saying, “Somebody must really love you!” But today, you can call me on my cellphone anytime; you can send me an email whenever you want. There’s no excuse not to stay in touch.

Psalms 133:1
  1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Doesn’t that feel good? We need each other spiritually, and we need to be in one mind and one accord, harmonious. Being together shouldn’t be a burden. When it becomes a burden, it’s because of us, making it a burden. If all of us were over in Afghanistan, in the Army or the Marines, we’d want to stick together. Spiritually, it is a life-and-death thing. We have the power to give life or to take it away. We make jokes around here and pick on each other, and maybe it’s all right and encouraging. But be aware that some brothers may not take it that way. There are some brothers that we can joke with each other and we have a language to ourselves, but there are other people who could be hurt by that same language. Do you know that many people in war are killed by what is called “friendly fire”? We can be the same way.

Nehemiah 2:1-5
  1. And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
  2. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
  3. And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
  4. Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
  5. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

Good ol’ Nehemiah; he really stepped up to the plate. He took it personally. He said, “My homeland. My people. My ministry.” Take it personal. We must protect our ministry. If we do the things that are spiritual and right in God’s eyes, he’ll take care of things for us. Each day we should seek to have small victories, and build them up. Ask me how my day was, Todd.

> How was your day, Rod?

Oh, man; not only did I have to work late, but I ran over the cat, and my car broke down, and it was terrible. How was your day?

> It was great! We all have things that go wrong from time to time, but you’ve just got to keep a positive attitude, and God will pull you through.

Now how many people want to hang with Todd, and how many want to hang with me? Hey, at this point, even I want to hang with Todd! Spiritually, if I know somebody is hurting, and I can do something to help or encourage them, then I’m going for it. So what if it causes me to lose some sleep? So what if it causes me to miss going to the movies? The moment you stop paying the price is the moment you start going down.

So Nehemiah said, “I must build.”

Nehemiah 2:17-18
  1. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
  2. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

Wow! Isn’t that something! He told the king, “I must build.” Then he says, “You see the distress that we are in.” It’s all our problem; it’s all our opportunity. He goes on to say, “come, let us build.”

God may lay things on your heart that you’re scared to do. But don’t let that stop you from moving forward. Notice who Nehemiah was talking to: First he told the king, but then it says in verse 16:

Nehemiah 2:16
  1. And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work.

So he didn’t speak to the rulers, the priests, or the nobles. He spoke to the people, and “they strengthened their hands for this good work.” You might be the one who God uses to motivate me at two o’clock in the morning, saying “Come on; we’ve got a baptism to go to.”

How many of you have worked for a captain or an admiral? You don’t just go up to him and say, “Hey, man; my evals are coming up, so take care of me, willya?” No; there’s a protocol to follow. But you can still be the catalyst to make something start happening. Nehemiah was that catalyst.

Let’s finish the study by reading this last verse, all together.

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

It’s a great thing, being in God’s army, reaching forward to make it to that goal together. You’re not the Lone Ranger; we’re all in it together.

A Wise Sower

A Wise Sower

> Jay Ugali

The reason why I started with this parable comes from my uncle. In his back yard, there was a field, probably half the size of this fellowship hall, that was just stone. It was ugly. So I wondered, “What can I do with this place?” I don’t have a green thumb, but I know that dung is good for growing things. So I started spreading dung and soil and hauling away the rocks. It was part of my program to lose weight before joining the Navy. I could carry two buckets of dirt and dung at a time, and it would only cover a small piece of ground. So as I read this parable, I think about all the work that goes into sowing seed.

Matthew 13:1-9
  1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
  2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
  3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
  4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
  5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
  6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
  7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
  8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
  9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

So I was thinking about sowing. How many sowers do we have here today? How about spiritual sowers? It should be every one of us.

How many of us have gone out into the street and thrown seeds there? How many of us have thrown seed among thorns or stones? We have the word of God. What are we doing with it? How many of you guys are going to throw your seeds among the wayside? None of you, I hope. The Bible says:

Matthew 7:6
  1. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

You remember when we first got those invite cards, and we said, “Guys, don’t just hand them out to everyone; you’ve got to be careful.” How much more careful should we be with the word of God?

Matthew 13:5
  1. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Did that seed grow? Yes, it grew. But what happened? There was not much earth. So what do you think we’ve got to do? I’ll give you a hint: it’s in Luke 13.

How many of you have handled dung? Does that stuff smell good, or what? I’m a city boy. For me to go into a village and smell this dung, it wasn’t good. But then I looked around and saw this fresh ground, and these stones, and I said, “Let’s see what I can do with this dung.”

Luke 13:6
  1. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

This is no longer a seed. This is a tree, but it has no fruit on it. None!

Luke 13:7-9
  1. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
  2. And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
  3. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

How many of you guys have been in this ministry more than five years?

> (Lots of hands)

How many of you have been here less than five years?

> (About half as many hands)

That makes me think, what are we doing? Most of us have been here for a long time: five, ten, fifteen years. I’ve got to make sure that I continue to study and do what God would have me to do.

Hebrews 5:12-14
  1. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
  2. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
  3. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

So who does meat belong to? The strong. Who does milk belong to? Babes. I like to use this as a gauge. What am I sharing most of the time? Is it just milk-stuff? What am I taking in? Is it just milk-stuff? But he says, “You have need that one teach you again…” It’s like you’ve lost your first love. Most of the New Testament is designed to encourage and teach. We’ve got to learn how to encourage the church. “C’mon, you’ve got to be careful! God purchased that soul with his own blood!” We’ve got to ask, “How am I treating the new people around me? How am I working with them?” We have to look at ourselves and say, “I’ve got to be more dedicated at going out and sharing with the brothers.” Who is reaching out to the new people? The seed that fell on the stony place, if you take that plant out of the ground and take it to your house, you’re responsible for it. That’s a lot of responsibility. It’s like when we see the new people out there. Don’t try to hammer them over the head with scriptures; you’ve got to love them. You’ve got to feed their flesh first; take care of their physical needs.

You know what’s really powerful? When you have a testimony.

Matthew 13:18-20
  1. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
  2. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
  3. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Going good so far, right?

Matthew 13:21
  1. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Persecution because of what? Because of the word, he is offended. That’s why I appreciate those who have the testimony of how they overcame by the word.

Hebrews 9:16-17
  1. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
  2. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

Now think about when Paul said, “I die daily.” A lot of us got up at a crossroads, and you could have gone back home to wherever you came from, but you decided that this is a life. It’s not like the military where you only do five, ten, fifteen years. Some of us, that’s our testimony. God has done so much in our life that we say, like Peter, “Where else can I go?”

How many brothers have said, “I want you to teach me a Bible study about this. I need you to share with me about that.” If that’s not happening, then we’ve got to ask ourselves where we’re at? How many of you have cleared out thorns? It’s hard. We have so much talent in this room; it’s so good to see all the brothers working together. But it’s about more than just playing an instrument or singing or working in financial ministry or whatever. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you should withdraw yourself from one church and go to another. No, you work with what you’ve got.

Matthew 13:24-30
  1. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
  2. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
  3. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
  4. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
  5. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
  6. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
  7. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

When I read this, I’ve got to ask myself, “What am I? Am I a tare?” How many of you have ever gotten taught by somebody who is no longer here? What do I do now? If the righteous scarcely be saved, what am I doing?

Matthew 13:36-43
  1. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
  2. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
  3. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
  4. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
  5. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
  6. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
  7. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  8. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus said, “I have chosen twelve of you, and one of you is a devil.” We see what the enemy does; he waits until everyone is asleep, and then he goes around and sows that seed. That’s what’s going to happen to our ministry, if we’re not careful. That’s why it says,

2 Timothy 4:5
  1. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

You just don’t know. The Bible says,

2 Timothy 4:2
  1. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

You have to prepare the ground. Before you throw that seed there, take out all the thorns; take out all the stones. You’ve got to do all you can to prepare the ground. Otherwise, the seed won’t grow.

Proverbs 25:17
  1. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.

The Bible says to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. I’m not saying that any of us are serpents, but how many of you would hand a scalpel to a small child? We’ve got to be careful to use that scalpel for healing and not for killing.

2 Timothy 2:1-2
  1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

How many students do you have? As you look at this room, how many here are your students? How many are you teaching? That’s a good gauge to have.

Now, imagine a soldier being so concerned about this life. How can you take the thorns out? How can you be a minister? How many of us have given up good jobs for the ministry? I remember when my cousin wanted me to be a bouncer, at fifty grand a year. If we find ourselves being caught up in this world, we can’t be good soldiers. How many of you have been soldiers? That’s not me. I don’t want to be on the ground with somebody shooting at me; I already dealt with that in L.A. We look around at the leadership, and we have the examples set before us. They get married and have kids, but they don’t use them as an excuse; they still do what needs to be done. But so many of us get used to doing whatever we want to do. It doesn’t matter that we’re having all these baptisms; how many of them are going to stick with it? We’ve got to ask ourselves, “Am I doing enough? Am I pulling up all the stones? Am I digging and dunging it?” I’ve got to appreciate the steward of the vineyard, because he said, “Give me a year.” I like what brother Jim does. How many of you has he taken out to dinner? That’s ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
  1. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
  2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Yeah! Pastor Taylor, how many brothers have given you headaches? I’m one of them, right?

> I’m not going to answer that.

2 Timothy 4:3-4
  1. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
  2. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

You see how Satan works? Even amongst the body of believers, Satan is there. It says,

2 Timothy 4:5
  1. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Yeah, those things are going to happen.

2 Timothy 4:6-9
  1. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
  2. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
  3. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
  4. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:

Be busy in Jesus. Dig out the stones and weeds in your own personal life.

I want to encourage you all in that. There is so much to be done, and we should be careful in how we use the sword of the word, not shoving it down people’s throats. Be careful with the word of God; it’s very powerful.

Pure Religion

Sunday Plus, 11/28/10

Songs

Intro

> Mike Jackson

I was talking to my wife this afternoon, and to me the message this morning was really powerful. The Bible says that if we gave our all, one hundred percent, we’d still just barely make it to heaven. That was a real eye-opener for me, because that guy said, “Wish you were here.”

We’re charged with going out and being about Christ. So be thankful, because by God’s grace, you can make a difference. Only by God’s grace. So be thankful.

Message: Pure Religion

> Scott Shepherd

The idea of “pure religion” comes from James 1:27.

James 1:27
  1. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

We tend to have a bad connotation with the word “religion” in our culture. We tend to associate it with people standing by the roadside with a blowhorn and a sign that says the world is about end, and we’re all going to hell.

We want to look at the difference between man’s idea of religion and God’s idea of religion. The biggest difference is between legalism and the freedom of the grace of Christ.

We’re going to start in the book of Luke. Luke was born in Greece, probably of Jewish decent. It is believed that he was from Antioch. He wasn’t there with the disciples, but he was sent to investigate and report on what had happened.

Luke 1:1-4
  1. Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
  2. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
  3. It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
  4. That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

So, he’s writing to Theophilus, and Theophilus was asking him to investigate these these things. We’re going to Luke because he kept things brief. He was the “Reader’s Digest” of his day. I like Luke; he’s my kind of guy.

So we see here in the beginning of chapter six something different from the other accounts in the gospels.

Luke 6:1-11
  1. And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
  2. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
  3. And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
  4. How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
  5. And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
  6. And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
  7. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
  8. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
  9. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
  10. And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
  11. And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

So here’s how chapter six starts out. The Sabbath was a very important thing to the Jews; it still is now. There were thirty-nine rules as to what constitutes “work”. So the Pharisees were following them around in the corn-field, (which I think is a little strange, to begin with.) And when they say “corn”, it’s a generic term for grain. God had said to do no work on the Sabbath, and harvesting grain was one of those thirty-nine things that they defined as “work.” So they challenged Jesus about working on the Sabbath, and Jesus didn’t answer them about right or wrong; he just related a story about what David did on the Sabbath. He was running (which I guess he shouldn’t have done on the Sabbath day either, but he had to, because Saul was trying to kill him), and he went to the priests for food. The only thing they had was the shewbread, so they asked, “Have you kept yourself pure, lately?” and gave it to them.

The point is, there are a lot of things that, by the letter of the law, might be wrong. We tend to make up rules as Christians, but I don’t think that’s what God meant when they said, “Do not work on the Sabbath.”

When I went to Israel, there was an elevator, and on the Sabbath day, it stopped at every floor, because it would be a sin to push a button or change a circuit on the Sabbath day.

The funny thing about legalism is that it’s a bunch of rules that are not what the scripture said. Now, we do need rules; we can’t all be anarchists and say, “Whatever feels good to you is okay with me.” But we get in trouble when we say, “This rule is equal to scripture, and if you break this rule, you are in danger of going to hell.” You aren’t in trouble with God when you break a rule; it’s what goes into breaking the rule. It’s all about the attitude that goes into your decision.

So if I live my life by a checklist of “do’s” and “don’ts”, then one of two things will happen. Either I will become a minimalist, and do just what I have to, or I’ll be lifted up in pride because I did more than the checklist required.

Luke 6:20-26
  1. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
  2. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
  3. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
  4. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
  5. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
  6. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
  7. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

There is a concept here about when you are blessed and when you should take heed. The word “Woe” means a denunciation, or warning of impending evil. The concept here is where you’re gaining your identity. If you’re gaining your identity in the things of God, then the things of this world won’t mean that much to you. So what are you worried about? Is it money? Is it fame? Are you worried about what people say about you? What are you getting your identity from? If it’s from God, then everything you do will have an audience of one. So if I get up here and teach on Sunday Plus and it’s all about me, then I’m in trouble. If you say, “There’s Scott; he’s a good teacher”, or if you say “There’s Scott; he’s a terrible teacher”, and I’m doing it for God, it won’t matter. What will matter is whether I’m teaching the word of God.

Luke 6:27-36
  1. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
  2. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
  3. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
  4. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
  5. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
  6. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
  7. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
  8. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
  9. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
  10. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

So we find here that if our material things are the things we’re most impressed by or worried about, then we’ll have problems. It said, “If someone takes your cloak, give him your coat also,” and these people probably only had one coat and one cloak. I know that if I had to pack everything up and move, it would probably fit in one car. But what he’s basically saying is, don’t get caught up in material things. If someone takes what you have, just give it to him and don’t worry about it. Does that mean you should just walk up to some guy and give away everything you have? Well, if that’s what makes you happy, I suppose.

But if there’s someone that you don’t like, and you’d want to just spit on them, whatever face you put on that, Jesus says love them, unconditionally. If you’ve been abused or treated poorly by someone, then Jesus says, “Love them.” That’s much easier to imagine as a concept than to put into reality.

If someone were to be sexually inappropriate to the point that the law gets involved, you don’t have to let them off the hook. You should still call the cops, but you should forgive them. And just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean they shouldn’t suffer the consequences of what they’ve done. So who has mistreated you? Who has lied to you? Who has done wrong by you? If you can love that person, you can love anybody.

There is a particular person who I felt treated me badly. I had been playing piano for about three months, and there was a particular song that was a little “above my paygrade,” so to speak. And this particular Sunday, the music went really badly. So afterwards, Pastor Wilson took us all down to the basement, and I’ve never heard Pastor Wilson yell like he did that day. He said, “And some of you couldn’t even play your instrument, so I had to come play it for you!” that

So let’s continue with what is probably everybody’s favorite verse.

Luke 6:37-38
  1. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
  2. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I want to be careful with this particular section of scripture. People say, “You can’t judge me; the Bible says judge not!” But the Bible also says you’ll know them by their fruits. If I go up to an apple tree and expect to see apples, and I judging? I don’t go to an apple tree and say, “I’d really like an orange.” Have you met someone who is always negative? They’re always judging; they’re always saying, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” That’s part of what Jesus is talking about. The other part is, if we judge someone, whatever judgment we pass, we are accountable to the same standard. If I go to Aaron and say, “Hey, brother; you’re wrong. You shouldn’t be doing that.” Then Aaron has a stick to beat me with if, at any time, he catches me doing the same thing.

I like verse 38. Have you ever gone to the store and bought a big bag of potato chips? It’s huge. This thing is half as big as I am. Then I take it home and open it up, and say “Who stole my chips?” Well, they had this bucket of grain, and they would fill it up, then press it down and stir it up and pack it down, then pour in some more. What God is saying is that if you give, you’ll get more than you can fit in your bucket. It will spill over into your lap. Sometimes we get the idea that if we give, we’re cheating ourselves. But my attitude is, if I give something, it wasn’t mine to begin with. I’m just the steward of what God already has to begin with.

Here’s what this has to do with tithes and offerings: If I gave you some money to give to charity, and you came back to me with a story of “Well, I didn’t ever get around to giving to that charity, and I spent too much money on other things, so I needed it for food.” Would I give you more money? I think not. That’s enough about money, I think.

Luke 6:39-49
  1. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
  2. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
  3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  4. Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
  5. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
  6. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
  7. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
  8. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
  9. Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
  10. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
  11. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

So we in our lives either have a truth problem, or an obedience problem. Either we haven’t heard the words of God, or have forgotten what God has said, or we have a problem with obeying what God has said. I hear a lot of times, “You know, God has really been dealing with me about that, and what I heard today really gave me a new perspective. I’m going to do it.” Then a few days later, I hear them say, “I’m confused.” At some point, the rubber has to meet the road. You have to stop praying about it and start doing it.

The main thing I want to get across is that it’s not about rules; it’s about obeying God.

James 1:23
  1. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

We are either of ourselves, or we are of God. And if we’re of God, then we’re good tree and we’re going to bring forth good fruit. And if we’re a bad tree, and bringing forth bad fruit, then we’re of ourselves and not of God. It’s like that murderer on death row, when they say, “He’s a good man at heart.” No, he’s not. He did bad things. I don’t care if his mother says he’s got a good heart; it isn’t true. I know because of what he did.

James 1:24-27
  1. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
  2. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
  3. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
  4. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

I hope that you’re able to take this and read Luke chapter six along with Matthew chapters five through seven, and take this message to heart. I know that God is love, and he will give unto us according to the desires of our heart, if our desire is to be like him.

Not Much

What do we really know about God? Not much.

God is a Spirit

What is a Spirit? We don’t really know. How do you describe something that cannot be directly experienced? How would you describe a beautiful painting to someone who was born blind?

We know what a spirit is not.

Luke 24:39
  1. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
John 3:5-12
  1. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
  2. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  3. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
  4. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
  5. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
  6. Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
  7. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
  8. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

The Bible speaks of many spirits:

  • The spirit of God
  • Angels, or “ministering spirits”
  • The devil and his angels
  • The spirit of man which is in him
  • Familiar spirits (possession)
  • The spirit of jealousy, evil, sorrow, lying, pride, humility, world

These spirits have certain things in common:

  • They cannot be detected by our physical senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell, etc.
  • They affect our life in some way
  • Except for the spirit of God, they have no effect on dead or inanimate objects
Joel 2:28-29
  1. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
  2. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

God says that he will “pour out his spirit upon all flesh”. What does that mean?

When we say that someone “throws his life into his work”, or “pours out his heart” to someone, what do we mean? When a craftsman says that he put some of himeself into every piece of his work, what does it mean? When you say to someone, “I see a little of your father in you.” What does that mean?

So that transfer of qualities from one person to another, which cannot be measured in physical terms, is called “spirit.” The difference between us and God is that we are partly flesh, but God is all spirit.

God is a Creator

Genesis 1:1
  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Nehemiah 9:6
  1. Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
Proverbs 16:4
  1. The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
John 1:3
  1. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Acts 7:50
  1. Hath not my hand made all these things?
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
  1. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
  2. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

God made heaven and hell

We know that heaven is created for men, and that it is a place of rest from labor, of rejoicing and not sorrow, of life and not death.

Hebrews 4:9-10
  1. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
  2. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Revelation 21:1-4
  1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
  2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
  3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
  4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

We know that hell was created for the devil and his angels, and that it is a place of sorrow, pain, and punishment:

Matthew 25:41
  1. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Matthew 25:46
  1. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Matthew 8:29
  1. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

God made man

The Bible also says that God created man in his own image, in his own likeness.

Genesis 1:27
  1. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Does that mean that we physically look like God? Does God have two eyes in the top of his face, and a mouth at the bottom, and a nose in the middle? Does God have a frontside and a backside? No, of course not. We are created in God’s spiritual image. We inherited certain attributes from God which cannot be measured in physical terms. What are some of those spiritual attributes?

  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Jealousy (the good kind)
  • Love (charity)

God has a plan for us

From time to time, God even shares bits of his plan with his servants:

Genesis 18:17-19
  1. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
  2. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
  3. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
John 1:1-3
  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  2. The same was in the beginning with God.
  3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:19-21
  1. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
  2. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
  3. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
Mark 13:4-10
  1. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
  2. And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
  3. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
  4. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
  5. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
  6. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
  7. And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

But although God gives us prophecy from time to time, prophecies sometimes fail.

Jonah 3:1-10
  1. And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
  2. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
  3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
  4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
  5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
  6. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
  7. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
  8. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
  9. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
  10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
1 Corinthians 13:8
  1. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

What was God’s plan for Nineveh? What do we really know?

God plan for us begins with baptism

Mark 16:15-16
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
  2. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Acts 2:1-17
  1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
  2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
  3. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
  4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
  5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
  6. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
  7. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
  8. And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
  9. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
  10. Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
  11. Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
  12. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
  13. Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
  14. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
  15. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
  16. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
  17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Acts 2:36-38
  1. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
  2. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
  3. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 8:26-38
  1. And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
  2. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
  3. Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
  4. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
  5. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
  6. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
  7. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
  8. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
  9. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
  10. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
  11. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
  12. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  13. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Acts 10:1-6
  1. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
  2. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
  3. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
  4. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
  5. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
  6. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
Acts 10:21
  1. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
Acts 10:47-48
  1. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
  2. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Acts 19:1-5
  1. And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
  2. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
  3. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
  4. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
  5. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

Trading up, not Giving up

In Saturday morning’s Leadership training, we covered John Maxwell’s “Law of Sacrifice.” Over and over, we heard that leaders have to “give up to move up.”

I had a hard time with that lesson, because it sounds like a sucker play. A lot of Christianity’s critics despise the word sacrifice, because they think it’s all about the followers becoming poor so that their leader can become rich. So I looked up the word to see what it really means. Here’s what I found:

Sacrifice
(n) 1. A surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable.

Wow! That put a whole new perspective on things. Sacrifice isn’t about giving up what you have and expecting nothing in return. Sacrifice is about letting go of what you have so that you can trade it for something better.

Racoon Traps

In the book, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, there’s a description of how to trap a wild raccoon. You drill a hole in an old log, and polish up some metal slugs so they’re really shiny, and drop them down into the hole. Then you drive three nails into the log around the hole, so the points come out just above the bottom. A raccoon will see the shiny things at the bottom of the hole, and will reach in to grab them. He can reach his hand past the nail points into the hole, but he can’t pull his fist back out. Along comes the hunter with his gun, and the raccoon knows he’s in trouble. He knows he’s in danger of losing his life. He’s growling and snarling and spitting and fighting for his life. And all he has to do to get free is to let go of those shiny things. But the raccoon isn’t capable of making that sacrifice. He just can’t let go of those shiny things, even to save his own life.

Old Testament – Physical sacrifice

Genesis 4:3-5
  1. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
  2. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
  3. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

What was the difference between Cain’s offering and Abel’s offering? Cain was a farmer, a “tiller of the ground”, and Abel was a herdsman, a “keeper of sheep”. They both gave God something of what they had. But the scripture says that whereas Cain gave “of the fruit of the ground,” but Abel gave “of the firstlings of his flock.” Cain just gave any old thing, but Abel only gave the best. That’s the difference.

So what was Cain saying by his offering? And what was Abel saying by his offering? Cain was saying, “God, I’m willing to trade some of what I have for whatever you have for me.” And Abel was saying, “God, I’m willing to trade the best of what I have for whatever you have for me.” God took Abel up on his offer, but he ignored Cain’s. Why? God wasn’t going to accept Cain’s offer because Cain didn’t put a high enough value on what God had to offer. It’s like they were playing “The Price is Right.” They both wanted what was behind “door number one” and Abel bid higher than Cain. So Abel won the bid.

New Testament, pride for humility

“I may be poor, but at least I have my pride”

What is the advantage of having pride? Why do we place such a high value on it?

pride
a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

All of us want to be the center of our own universe. All of us want to believe that the whole world is focused on “me.” That’s natural. That’s the flesh. That’s why we’re sometimes willing to give up everything else, but not our pride.

In the book, Mister God, This is Anna, this four-year-old girl named Anna visited a church once. She didn’t like it much, and when her friend Fynn asked why, she explained that the preacher wouldn’t let God be his proper size. “He makes the difference between God and people bigger, but he doesn’t make God bigger. He just makes people littler.” Anna implicitly understood that in order to let Mister God be his proper size, all you needed to do was to move out of the center of your world and let Mister God move in. That’s all.

The Rich Young Ruler

Matthew 19:16-22
  1. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
  2. And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
  3. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
  4. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  5. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
  6. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
  7. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

For the young ruler, his riches are what gave him self-worth. That’s what enabled him to be the center of his own universe. When Jesus told him that he had to give that up, he found he couldn’t make that sacrifice. He knew that spiritual riches are better, but like the raccoon, he couldn’t let go of what he had.

2 Kings 5:1-14
  1. Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
  2. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
  3. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
  4. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
  5. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
  6. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
  7. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
  8. And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
  9. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
  10. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
  11. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
  12. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
  13. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
  14. Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Naaman was the “big cheese” of his day, and he acted like it. The little maid said he should go to the prophet, but that wasn’t good enough for him. He went straight to the top, to the king. In fact, he had his king send a letter to Israel’s king, and brought what he thought would be a fair price to pay for a healing. In short, he acted like a big-shot. When he was told, once again, to go see the prophet, he was too good to knock on the door; he waited outside for the prophet to come to him. So the prophet sent his servant to say “go wash in the Jordan”, Naaman got mad. Why? Because the prophet refused to treat him like the big-shot.

Now here’s the lesson of the story: In order to be healed, Naaman had to trade in his pride. He could have held on to his pride and stormed off in an angry huff. In fact, that’s what he started to do. But his men convinced him to get off his high horse and just do it. So finally, Naaman “swallowed his pride” and did what the prophet told him to do. I’m sure he felt silly, but he finally decided to put a higher value on his health than on his pride. And so he was healed.

Become as little children

Matthew 18:1-3
  1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
  2. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
  3. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The disciples were all on the same team, but like any team, there was a little rivalry; they argued among themselves about who was better than the other. So finally they went to the coach to settle the argument. They asked, “Who’s gonna be the big cheeze in heaven, boss?” And Jesus said, “None of you will, with that attitude. You’ve got to start over, just like this little child, or you won’t even get into heaven.”

  • Baptism – being born again
John 3:1-7
  1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
  2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
  3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
  4. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
  5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
  6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Romans 6:1-7
  1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
  2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
  3. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
  4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
  5. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
  6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
  7. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

The Bible teaches us that being baptized is like being born again. To be saved, we’ve got to kill “the old man”. We’ve got to say, “God, I want to trade my whole life for salvation.” That’s what being baptized means – that you place a higher value on salvation than on your whole life up to that point. So you’re willing to start over, start fresh, make all things new.

2 Corinthians 5:17
  1. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Growing up religious

For a lot of people who grew up in church, this is a hard message to receive. Most churches basically teach that if you don’t do anything too bad; if you’re basically “good” people, then God will let you into heaven. People grow up with examples of “good people”, like their mom and dad and aunt and uncle. They build their whole value system on the foundation that if you’re good enough, you’ll be saved. And then someone tells them, “Nope. That’s not good enough. You’ve got to start all over.” That’s a hard message to hear. It’s like you’re a marathon runner, on the twenty-second mile of a twenty-three mile race, and somebody says, “Sorry, guy. You’re on the wrong track. The real starting line is over there.”

Can you imagine how hard that is? And for people who overcome all of that and accept the message of salvation, it gets harder. Now they face the challenge of going home and taking that message to all the good people in their family, the ones who taught them everything they knew. How hard is that?

Paul was in that situation. He grew up in a very religious, very strict family. He was educated in the best schools; he mixed with the very highest society. And then God literally knocked him off his high horse and told him to start over from scratch. He accepted the message of salvation, but now his heart goes out to all those good people he grew up with:

Romans 9:1-5
  1. I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
  2. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
  3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
  4. Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
  5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 10:1-3
  1. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
  2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
  3. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

These are God’s chosen people! These are people who have made sacrifices! They have sacrificed their goats and sheep and cows and incense and gone through every ritual required by the law, but like the rich young ruler, they haven’t sacrificed their pride. They haven’t moved out of the center of their universe and let God (who actually is the center), take their place. And it hurts Paul to know that they’re not going to make it. He says, “I wish I could be wrong so they could be right. I wish I could be cursed so they could be blessed.” But God doesn’t work that way. To be saved, you have to make that highest sacrifice. Tradition won’t save you; going through the motions won’t save you. You have to trade in your whole life, to make all things new.

Principles of the Doctrine of Christ: Baptism of Spirit

Baptism of Spirit

Last Sunday, we covered the essentiality of water in baptism in Jesus’ name. Today, we’re going to take the other half of that; we’ll be talking about the spiritual baptism.

In the Old Testament, God’s spirit wasn’t given to everybody. Only a handful of people prophesied by inspiration of the spirit of God. But there was a prophecy that there would come a day when the spirit of God would be poured out upon all people.

Zechariah 12:10
  1. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

There are all kinds of TV shows about ghosts and spirits and witches. But when people open themselves up to that realm, they don’t know what they’re getting into. It’s an awesome thing when the Holy Ghost is poured out on your life, but people are looking for that in all the wrong places.

There are spirits. The Bible says,

Ephesians 6:12
  1. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

As I said, the only difference between angels and demons is who they follow. Otherwise, they’re exactly the same beings.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15
  1. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
  2. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Don’t get wrapped up in the study of angels. The Bible teaches us to study so that you will be able to discern, when the time comes, what spirit is what. You won’t get that information by studying the spirits, but by studying the word of God. Ask yourselves, is what you’re going through going to pull you into God, or push you away from God? That’s a real quick test. But how many in the world today are really looking for that spiritual experience? Oh, my! People everywhere are looking for that experience. And we have it, church. We know what it is to have the Holy Spirit poured out upon us while we’re in prayer and worship. The whole world is looking for that, but they’ll never find it. It’s our job to take it to them.

Luke 3:16
  1. John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Here, John says you will be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. What is fire used for, besides heat and light? It’s used for purifying. The Bible talks about God’s spirit being as a refiner’s fire. I’ve seen gold being refined. I used to think you went digging for gold and found these bright shiny things. But when you dig it up, it’s dirty; it looks like ugly pieces of rock. When they refine it, they heat it up, and add some stuff that binds to the impurities and makes them float to the top, and scrape that off, and do it

You’re not going to first get the Holy Ghost until you get your act together.

Romans 10:17
  1. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Bible says to rehearse it in their ears.

Habakkuk 2:3
  1. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

We’ve got to get that word out, telling people about what God has done, what he’s doing, and what he has yet to do for us. And then they will cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Acts 2:38
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

When we look at the beginning of that chapter, we see:

Acts 2:3-4
  1. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
  2. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Speaking in tongues seems to be a topic that most churches don’t like to talk about. But you have to understand what this is all about, and put it in its proper place.

In Acts 2, we hear about the prophecy that’s coming true:

Acts 2:17-18
  1. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
  2. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

The scripture comes from the book of Joel:

Joel 2:28-29
  1. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
  2. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

The Bible says that things happen to people when the spirit of God is poured out on them. I remember going to church and hearing about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But nobody talked about what the Holy Ghost is. Last week we went over it to a certain extent in John 14, where Jesus spoke of the Comforter.

John 14:26
  1. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 4:24
  1. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

How can he speak the world into existence? How can he part the waters of the Red Sea? I don’t know how God does it, but I know that he does.

I remember the first time we were at a little church in Waukegan. We were all praying at the altar, and I had just recently been baptized. I had never experienced the move of the Holy Ghost. And when God started moving on me, I got scared and jumped up and ran to the back of the church. But Jim spoke to me about the …

Speaking in tongues is a visual and audible evidence of what’s going on.

In Acts 8, Philip was preaching to the Samaritans.

Acts 8:16
  1. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

How did they know that the Holy Ghost wasn’t come upon them? Because they had not received the witness of them speaking in tongues, proving that it was God’s will for the Samaritans to come to Christ.

The next example we read about was in Cornelius’ house. All of a sudden, they started speaking in tongues. Peter didn’t tell them to speak in tongues. Peter was preaching to them about Jesus Christ. The Jews were uncomfortable, because they were supposed to be separate from the Gentiles, and here was Peter bringing the message of their savior to the Gentiles.

Acts 10:44-48
  1. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
  2. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  3. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
  4. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
  5. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

The evidence to the Jews that God had opened the door to the Gentiles was the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and them praising God.

The next example we read is about a few disciples that Paul found in Corinth:

Acts 19:2-3
  1. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
  2. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Boy, that would be a conversation-stopper. Ask somebody sometime, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?”

Acts 19:4-6
  1. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
  2. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  3. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

You can’t get away from the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost by the evidence of speaking in tongues. You just can’t get away from it.

I just took a drink of water, from a nice glass. I’m thankful that they provided it. But if you ask Jim Bailey for a drink of water, and he goes in the back and gets a toilet plunger, turns it upside down, fills it with water, and brings it back, you wouldn’t want to drink out it. Even if Jim says it’s a brand-new toilet plunger, never used, you wouldn’t want to drink out of it. Because it’s a toilet-plunger.

You are the vessel of the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 6:19
  1. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

It’s time for us to prepare our vessel for the receiving of the Holy Ghost. You take time to ask God, “What is in me that is not right? What is in me that limits your power?” And you take the time to change your habits, change your lifestyle. You can’t offer your vessel for God to fill if it’s a toilet-plunger. You’ve got to wash your vessel in the pure word of God.

Will Aygarn, you remember when we were around the coffee table in the “cool room” at Hillside. People would get the Holy Ghost ten and twenty at a time. Jim Ottoson, you remember when we were on trips, and we anointed even the bathtub. Those hotel rooms were just … Whew! It was awesome! Because we wanted what God had.

Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Clean it out, and prepare it.

How many of you have been watching the TV series, “Hoarders”? I just can’t imagine living that way. If you did, how many people do you think you could invite over for a football party? How many do you think you could fit in there?

As we talk about the Holy Spirit, yes we want the benefits of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we want to be a vessel fit for the master’s use. But church, you’ve got to want it enough to clean up what’s in your vessel.

The Bible says the the world is the enemy of God. You can’t straddle both. You must prepare yourself for the gift that God has for you.

There’s a story about a boy who’s getting ready to graduate, and they’re talking about getting him a car, and the boy and his father are out shopping, and they find just the right car. The kid asked his father when he would buy the car, and his father just said, “Wait until you graduate. Then we’ll see.” On graduation day, the father gave his son a box wrapped in a ribbon, and said “I’m proud of you, and I want you to have this. The son shook the box, but it didn’t rattle. He opened it up and found a Bible. He got so mad that he stormed out and never spoke to his father again. Years later, when his father died, he was sitting next to his mother at the funeral, and she said, “Your father really wanted you to have this,” and handed the box to him again. When he picked up the Bible and opened it, there was a check for the exact amount of the car they had picked out so many years ago.

Church, are you rejecting God, because he’s not moving in your life the way you expect? God has a design, and we’ve got to be ready to follow God’s design. We’ve got to get rid of all our prejudice and preconceived notions. God doesn’t take our advice.

Now we’re going to spend some time in a little bit of those preconceived notions.

1 Corinthians 12:1-13
  1. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
  2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
  3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
  4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  11. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
  13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

The fruit of the spirit is different from the gifts of the spirit. The fruits of the spirit is the evidence that we bear in our lives. If you have the spirit of God in your life, your life will bear evidence. You’ve got to show that you are in God, and God’s spirit is in you. And that’s go to happen before God puts his spiritual gifts in your life. If you’re not showing the fruits of the spirit in your life, God won’t add those extra gifts.

Part of getting ready for God’s gifts is bearing fruit for God. Pray, “God, if there is anything in me that is not right, clear it out.” In the “Three Chairs” study, we talked about those drawers that are in our life, that we don’t want God to see. You can’t have those drawers in your life. You’ve got to let God’s light shine in every part of your life.

We’re never perfect, but if you don’t bear fruit for God, you won’t get the gifts of the spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:28-31
  1. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  2. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
  3. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
  4. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

God wants you to covet the very best gifts. Covet them; seek after them. I have wanted a very specific gift. God has used me in this way a couple of times in my ministry, but he hasn’t given it to me consistently.

I asked Dave if he could play the piano, and he said, “I’ve tinkered with it.” I said, “Great! Tinker with it a lot.” So he practiced, and now his playing is fabulous. The more you use the gifts that God gives you, the more you will be able to use those gifts. As much as I want to, I’ll never be able to master the piano. There are some gifts that you won’t have until God puts them in your life.

You might not have the gift to get up in front of a large group of people and teach, but you can sit down with one or two. You might not have the gift of prophecy. The Bible says to earnestly seek out the best gifts, but not everybody is going to get them. There are a lot of people who have spoken in tongues and think that they’ve got the gift of tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:1-5
  1. Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
  2. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
  3. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
  4. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
  5. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

What is the definition of prophesying?

> Expounding the word of God.

Many people think it’s standing up and saying, “The Lord says ….”. But really, it’s saying, “The Lord hath said…” I know people who could be talking about horse races or something, and then suddenly they’ll say, “Let’s pray,” and the next thing you know they’re speaking gibberish.

Church, there is a need for speaking in tongues. There is a need for you to speak in tongues, because it’s God speaking to and through you. But it’s not the gift of tongues.

I’ll never forget the time in that little church when someone spoke in tongues, and a little boy stood up and spoke, clear as a bell, “The Lord hath said …” That was amazing. If someone has the gift of tongues, there will be someone to stand up and interpret what is said, for the edifying of the church.

So you need to pray; you need to cleanse your life; you need to speak in tongues, but it’s different from the gift of tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:5-8
  1. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
  2. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
  3. And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
  4. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

The military used to have bugle calls. Custer had them; Joshua had them. But you had to understand what that particular repetition of sound meant. When I first got aboard ship, I heard a bugle call and wondered “What’s that?” Everybody else was running around getting ready for lunch, or taps, or general quarters.

1 Corinthians 14:8-19
  1. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
  2. So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
  3. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
  4. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
  5. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
  6. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
  7. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
  8. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
  9. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
  10. For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
  11. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
  12. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

The Bible is not confusing, church. It really isn’t. Yes, when you get saved, God’s spirit comes in. God’s spirit tugs on your heart. You show fruits of that spirit in your life. Study the gifts of the spirit. They are the gifts that God gives to the church, but not everybody will have them. It’s like the body: somebody’s got to be the eye, and the mouth, but somebody’s also got to be the sole of the foot. Church, not everybody is going to have the gifts of the spirit, but every one of you is supposed to have the fruits of the spirit.

Seek earnestly the best gifts, and seek earnestly to speak in tongues. Many of you remember brother Terrance speaking in tongues, and there was another brother dancing around in the spirit. He hasn’t been the same since, has he? But that doesn’t mean he has the gift of tongues. Because nobody was there to interpret.

I hope this doesn’t leave you scratching your head. When God’s spirit first comes tugging on your heart, invite him in. Don’t worry about cleaning it up; it gets cleaned up. Then, as God’s spirit starts manifesting in your life, seek for that spirit in you to be dominant. Seek for God’s spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues. Then seek earnestly the best gifts, to edify the church.

I want every one of you to go home and worship God and speak in tongues. But in church, seek that you edify the body of believers. Think how much better our church would be, if you had a prayer life like that. Think what kind of church this would be, if there were manifestations of God’s spiritual gifts. Think of what it would be like if the sick and lame could come up and someone could lay on hands and heal them. Think of what it would be like if we had the gift of teaching, if there were people we could send anywhere in the world and know that the word of God was being taught and people getting baptized.

Rebuilding The City

Sunday Plus, 10/17/10

Songs

Message: Repairing The City

> Scott Shepherd

We’re going to start in the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah is an interesting book. Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the king. The cupbearer would taste the wine before the king, to prevent the king from being assassinated. So he was like any one of us; he wasn’t a priest; he was just an ordinary guy doing a job. Fortunately, I think that none of our bosses are asking us to taste their food to make sure they don’t die of poison.

Nehemiah 1:1
  1. The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

Chisleu in their calendar was like the month of November or December in ours.

Nehemiah 1:2-11
  1. That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
  2. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
  3. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
  4. And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
  5. Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.
  6. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
  7. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
  8. But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
  9. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
  10. O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.
Nehemiah 2:1
  1. And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

By the way, Nisan would be like March or April.

Nehemiah 2:2-8
  1. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
  2. And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
  3. Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
  4. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
  5. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
  6. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;
  7. And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.

So Nehemiah was the guy who was responsible for rebuilding Jerusalem. If it wasn’t for Nehemiah, there wouldn’t have been a Jerusalem for Jesus to come to. So this was an important moment in Jewish history.

When he was upset about Jerusalem’s gates being burned, you have to realize that it had happened a hundred and forty years previously. It’s like I told you that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and was really upset about it. Jerusalem was destroyed before Nehemiah was born, so he grew up with that knowledge. So I don’t think he was upset because of any new news; he was upset because he had a new perspective. He spent the time between December and March praying about the situation, and he came to a conclusion.

Matthew 5:14
  1. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Jerusalem was suppsed to be like that “city set on a hill”. It was supposed to be the example to the rest of the world of what Godly life was like.

Nehemiah started his prayer by acknowledging God in his greatness. That’s the same way Jesus taught us to pray.

Matthew 6:9-10
  1. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
  2. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

So the first thing that Jesus taught us to do was to acknowledge God. That’s how Nehemiah started his prayer. He said, “God, you are great, and you are the only one who can fix this problem.” The next thing he did was to confess the sins of Israel, which had put them in the situation they were in, even though they had happened before he was born.

Nehemiah 1:6
  1. Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

Sometimes we as Christians are very good at telling other people to confess their sins, but not so good at confessing our own. I need to confess my sins to God every day. Nehemiah didn’t start out his prayer saying, “My father’s house really messed me up.” He didn’t blame anybody else. The problem with blaming other people is that you can’t fix other people; you can only fix yourself.

Matthew 7:4-5
  1. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
  2. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

There are people around us who are the representation of Jerusalem laid desolate. And when I say desolate, I mean like after Hurricane Katrina came through. We need to be like Nehemiah and go into their lives and repair their walls. They have been laid waste by the enemy, and they are chained to their sins. They need someone to go in and share the light of Jesus with them.

Back to Nehemiah. Artaxerxes was the king, and he saw that Nehemiah wasn’t happy. That was bad for Nehemiah, because he was the king’s cupbearer. When you’re the king, you don’t like to see your cupbearer unhappy, because maybe he’s only pretending to taste the wine, and it’s actually poisoned. So I like how Nehemiah starts his answer. He says,

Nehemiah 1:3
  1. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

I like that. He says, “King, I like you. We’re good!” But if you turn to the book of Ezra, which is right before Jeremiah, you can see where the king had signed a decree forbidding the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Ezra 4:19-23
  1. And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
  2. There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.
  3. Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until another commandment shall be given from me.
  4. Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
  5. Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.

So Nehemiah was going, “Hey, you know that decree that you made, telling us not to rebuild Jerusalem? I want you to reconsider it. And not only that, but I’m asking you, in front of your wife and the court and everything, to send me to be the ambassador to rebuild the city.”

Nehemiah 1:4-5
  1. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
  2. And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

So not only does he get the king to send him, not only did the king make him an ambassador, even told him to stop on the way and get some wood for the rebuilding.

Why is this example important to us today? Nehemiah was a slave, a cupbearer. He did not have the resources to rebuild Jerusalem. The king had all the resources. Likewise, when we offer to help someone, we don’t have to worry about having the resources. God has all the resources.

The last point I want to make is that God had told Moses that if the people transgress, they will be scattered. But if they return and obey God’s commandments, God will gather them together.

Nehemiah 1:8-10
  1. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:
  2. But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.
  3. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

If we likewise return to God, God will allow us to be like that city set on a hill which cannot be hid, and we can shine the light of Jesus into the lives of all those around us.

Principles of the Doctrine of Christ: Baptism of Water

Baptism of Water

I’m looking forward to today’s Bible Study. I couldn’t get all of it into one night, so we’re going to break the doctrine of baptisms into two nights, and we’ll finish it up next Wednesday night.

Today we’re going to be talking about the water side of the doctrine of baptisms.

Hebrews 6:1-2
  1. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
  2. Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

So we’re going to be talking about one part of the doctrine of baptisms. We’ll start with Christ’s words as he commanded what to do:

Matthew 28:19-20
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  2. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Christ right here commands baptism. But before we go on, I’ve got to spend a few minutes, because there is a lot of confusion in the church world about the name of Jesus and the trinity. You won’t find the word “trinity” in the Bible. You will find in the Old Testament that God said, “I am one”, and “There is none beside me” over and over and over. So if he was one in the Old Testament, why are there three in the New Testament? It’s simple. I am a father; I am a pastor; I am a husband. I have different hats. But I’m not three different people. You wear different hats. You base your actions and reactions on the relationships you are in. God is the creator; the father; the giver of all life. Jesus is the son of God. The Holy Spirit is that part of God which dwells in each of us. But how can we limit God by saying that he is one thing and not another? God is here, but he’s also in Japan, and Iraq, and Chile. We don’t have a God who is limited in what he can do. We limit God by our unbelief. If we think that God won’t be somewhere, then he won’t be there – according to us. But what we say or believe doesn’t limit what God can do.

You’ve got to understand who God is, and what God is, and what God is capable of. You’ve got to understand that to understand what Jesus was talking about when he said:

Matthew 28:19
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Jesus himself gave us an understanding of the oneness of God:

John 14:7-9
  1. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
  2. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
  3. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

I have been told by a lot of people that I look a lot like my Dad. Pastor Paine looks a lot like his Dad. In fact, at a family reunion, he nearly gave one of his aunts a heart-attack because she thought he was his Dad, come back from the dead. But what Jesus says here isn’t, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen someone who looks like my father.” He says,

John 14:9-10
  1. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
  2. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

A lot of people just blast past that and don’t think about what Jesus is telling you there. He’s saying, “If you have a hard time with my words, look at what I’m doing, and then ask yourself if a man can do these things.” A man can’t, but God can.

John 14:11-16
  1. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
  2. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
  3. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
  4. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
  5. If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  6. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Jesus was a comfort to those around him. He was a comfort to his disciples. He was a comfort to everyone who came to hear him speak, because he spoke the truth. Now he’s talking about another comforter:

John 14:17
  1. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Verse 18 is very important:

John 14:18
  1. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Now who did he say was going to come to them? Another comforter. But who did he say would come to them? He himself.

John 14:19-26
  1. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
  2. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
  3. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
  4. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
  5. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
  6. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
  7. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
  8. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

In this one passage, we hear Jesus saying over and over there is one God. You might see different things, but there is one God.

Pastor Paine and I rode motorcycles across the country in our leather jackets and motorcycle boots. And people said, “You’re a pastor?” People who saw me had to struggle to look past my clothes to recognize me.

If you see Jack Rohrer driving up in his pickup, do you say, “There’s God?” Of course not. It’s God in us that we love; it’s God in us that makes the difference. The Holy Spirit in us is what comforts us. Jesus said, “I, I, us.” You can’t get around the fact that there is no separation; Jesus taught that he was God manifest in the flesh.

Acts 4:12
  1. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Colossians 3:17
  1. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

If we’re to do everything in Jesus’ name, why is it that most people don’t baptise in Jesus’ name? The very first act you can do as a believing Christian is to get baptized. But the innocent babes in Christ are being lied to, by saying “Oh, you can just get dribbled on, and we’ll call it baptism.” Or they do it by total immersion, but “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” You can’t find a single instance where people baptized any other way than by full immersion in Jesus’ name. If God had meant it to be done “in the name of the father, son, and Holy Ghost,” why did the very men he was speaking to in Matthew 28:19 go and do it another way? Don’t you think God would have struck them dead if it was wrong? God struck Ananias and Sapphira dead just for lying about a little money they got for selling their land.

The key is in Mark 16:16:

Mark 16:16
  1. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

The key isn’t your baptism; the key is your faith. What do you believe in? If you believe in God, then your faith is secure. The very first thing God tells us to do is believe on him, and the second thing he tells us is to be baptized. A lot of people say, “If I don’t believe, do I have to be baptized?” No, if you don’t believe, you can do whatever you want to, and it won’t make any difference. But if you believe in God, then you’ve got to do what he says, and that includes getting baptized.

John 3:1-8
  1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
  2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
  3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
  4. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
  5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
  6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
  8. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Nicodemus doesn’t ask Jesus any questions. He comes in making a statement. “We know you must be a man of God.” And the next thing Jesus says is, “You must be born again.” I’m saying, “Wait a minute; what are we talking about?” Imagine Nicodemus! “Whoa, Jesus! What are you talking about here?” But Nicodemus didn’t ask a doubting question.

John 3:4
  1. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

See, he’s still judging things by the spirit.

John 3:5
  1. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Now, how powerful is that? That’s why Hebrews talks about the doctrines (plural) of baptism, because there’s one of spirit, and one of water.

John 3:6
  1. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

They are obeying the gospel. We cannot see God in them, but we can see God through them. When you are obeying the gospel, people can see the evidence of God in your actions.

Luke 3:16
  1. John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Why did John baptize? Well, in the Jewish culture, there were special places for being baptized, called miqvats. They had to have flowing water; it couldn’t be stagnant. I’ve seen several ancient baptismal pools in Jerusalem. It isn’t just a New Testament thing. John wasn’t doing anything new; he was telling people they had to wash their sins away, the same as the Jews had been doing for hundreds of years.

Matthew 3:14-17
  1. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
  2. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
  3. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
  4. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus went down into the water, and he came up out of it. It was total immersion. When I see documentaries about Jesus, I pay special attention to how they do it. The one that always gets me is where Jesus walks out into the water, bends down, and then John pours a handful of water over him. The word “baptizo” means total immersion. The word “rantizo” means sprinkling. When you go to get baptized, you don’t want some doing “rantizo” over you.

Jesus was totally immersed, and he led the way for all of us. Because if he obeyed it, what gives us the right to argue or deny it?

Why water? God has used water throughout the Bible as a purifying and creative thing.

Genesis 1:2
  1. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:9-10
  1. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
  2. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

So our world was a ball of water, and out of the water came forth land. The beginning, the nurturing, the thing that started it, was water. You couldn’t have animals and man living in water, but the way God did it is to start with water, and from the water he brought forth land.

We find in Genesis 6 that God was really upset with man.

Genesis 6:5-6
  1. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
  2. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

But God said to Noah,

Genesis 6:17
  1. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

God saw all that man had done corrupted all that God had done. And God had to cleanse the earth, and he buried it with water. And there’s the direct symbolism to our salvation. Our life is sinful, until we come to God. And when we come to God, the water of baptism symbolizes the cleansing from sin.

Genesis 7:6-9
  1. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
  2. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
  3. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
  4. There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

God told Noah what to build to save himself. God allowed Noah to live because of his righteousness. God saved righteousness and he killed sin. He killed sin under the water, and saved righteousness on top of the water. We did a project where we compared the scale of the ark to an aircraft carrier, and it was almost as big. And he didn’t have Black & Decker back then. He had to cut and trim and fit it all by hand. God told him to put a big door in the side, and he made no provision for it to be closed. The Bible says that when Noah and his family went into the ark, and the Lord closed the door.

When God provides a way for you to be saved, you’ve got to decide which side of the door you want to be on. As Bill Cosby said, “How long can you tread water?” Don’t you think there were some good Moms and Grandmas back then? Don’t you think there were parents who tried to throw their children on top? If they ever find the ark, I’m quite sure there will be claw-marks all around the sides. But God didn’t make provision for the good; he only saved the righteous.

In Exodus, we see another example of how God used water in his plan of salvation.

Exodus 30:18-19
  1. Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
  2. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:

There was a curtain that surrounded the tabernacle, and there was one door. The first thing you saw when you came through that door was the altar of sacrifice. Then there was the lavern of water. And beyond that was the actual structure of the tabernacle, with the shewbread, and the candle of incense.

The priests had to wash before they entered the holy place, lest they die:

Exodus 30:20-21
  1. When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:
  2. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

God put a lavern of water, and he told them they had to wash in it. Why did they have to do it? Because they didn’t want to die. They had already seen Aaron’s first two sons; they offered strange fire and got killed. So you think the next two sons got the idea? “I’d better do it right, or I’m not going to be alive to do it at all!”

For another example, Naaman’s wife had a Hebrew slave who said, “Why does your husband suffer from leprosy? Doesn’t he know there is a God in Israel who can heal him?” So Naaman wrote a letter to the king and said, “This is what I understand, so I’m coming to be healed.” The king said, “Oh, God!” Because Naaman was the chief warrior of the army. But the prophet heard of it, and said, “Send him to me; I’ll take care of it.”

2 Kings 5:10-12
  1. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
  2. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
  3. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

He’s like a little kid, throwing a temper tantrum, because he couldn’t do it his way. His way had never cleansed him before; his way had never purified him before. He had washed in those rivers and nothing happened. Now he’s mad because he can’t do things his way. But his servant had some brains:

2 Kings 5:13
  1. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

In other words, he said “What’s the big deal? Just do it!”

2 Kings 5:14
  1. Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

He had washed in those other rivers in the past, and nothing happened. But when he did it God’s way, in the water that God told him to use … nothing happened the first time, or the second, or the third, or the fourth or fifth or sixth. But the seventh time, he came up clean. What do you think would have happened if he’d gone down the eighth time? He’d have come up a leper.

We’re not going to be saved if we do it any other way than what God said for us to do. And he said to repent, and be baptized in water, in Jesus’ name, washing away our sins. Why did it say to do it in water?

John 19:34
  1. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
1 John 5:6-8
  1. This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
  2. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
  3. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

In Ephesians it says that salvation is not of works; it’s not of man; it’s not of anything we’ve done. When you look up that word “works” you’ll see that it means doing good deeds. Baptism isn’t a good deed; it’s doing what God said. The Bible says that there are good works that are ordained that we should walk in.

Colossians 2:11
  1. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

What is circumcision? What is it? It’s removing the foreskin off a man. Know why they do it to kids? Because us guys wouldn’t stand for it. And in those days they did it with a sharp stone, with no anesthesia. Now, to whom was circumcision given? Moses, or Abraham?

Abraham.

And who came first, Moses, or Abraham?

Abraham.

So Moses had been told by God to do a certain thing, and he was on his way to do it, and an angel of God met him by the way to do it. Why do you think that was? Because Moses had not circumcised his son. So his wife had to do it, and she said, “A bloody husband thou art to me, because of the circumcision.” And she wasn’t even Jewish.

This is the circumcision made without hands, because it’s a circumcision of the heart, and you can’t do that by cutting something off with your hands.

Colossians 2:11-13
  1. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
  2. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
  3. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Again, going back to Genesis and the earth being covered by water. The circumcision happens when we obey Christ and are buried by him in baptism. That burial washes away our sins, so we can rise in newness of life.

Romans 6:1-4
  1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
  2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
  3. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
  4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In the Miqvats, they had to have running water, because the person being baptized had to walk down into the water and walk up out of it. Why did they have water going into it and water going out of it? Well, would you like to go down into someone else’s sins?

Acts 2:38-41
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  2. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
  3. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
  4. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

This is the very first instance of the New Testament church practicing baptism, and they did it by full immersion in the name of Jesus.

Acts 8:12
  1. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

They heard it; they believed it; they were baptized. But how do you know they were baptized?

Acts 8:16
  1. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

The eunuch was returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and he was reading Isaiah. God sent Philip to him, and he asked, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” He said, “How can I, except some man teach me?” And Philip started to preach to him Jesus. It doesn’t tell what he said; it just says he preached to him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-36
  1. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
  2. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
  3. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

If Philip wasn’t teaching about baptism, then why would the eunuch ask that question? When they were teaching about Jesus Christ, they were teaching baptism essential to salvation.

Mark 16:16
  1. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Acts 8:37-39
  1. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  2. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
  3. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

When you share with people about Jesus Christ, you just can’t tell them about the goodness of Christ, and leave out the message of salvation. Salvation isn’t about being good buddies with Jesus; it’s about submitting yourself to God and obeying him in baptism.

Now, in the next example, the gospel had only been preached to the Jews, but God finally got the message through to Peter that it’s time to let the Gentiles in. So Peter went to see Cornelius, and preached a message, and they all started praising God and speaking in tongues. God had to do that so that Peter and the Jews with him would get the idea that the Gentiles were accepted into the plan of salvation.

Acts 10:47
  1. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Now, there wasn’t anything in the message that Peter had preached that told them to do anything. The only thing he told them to do was to be baptized.

Acts 16:14-15
  1. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
  2. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

The spirit of God touched her, and she listened to what was spoken, and she got baptized.

Acts 16:30-31
  1. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
  2. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

A lot of people put a period there and call it the end of the chapter. But there’s more:

Acts 16:32-33
  1. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
  2. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

The jailer asked, “What do I need to do to be saved?”, and he taught him the word of God. And the message that matters is Jesus crucified; he rose again, we get baptized, and we live a new life in Jesus. It’s that simple.

This shows important that baptism was to the disciples:

Acts 19:1-3
  1. And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
  2. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
  3. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Think about it. He didn’t ask them, “What synagogue did you go to?” He asked them, “Unto what were you baptized?”

Acts 19:4-7
  1. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
  2. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  3. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
  4. And all the men were about twelve.

They heard the truth about baptism, and they got re-baptized. You say, “I was baptized, doesn’t that count? Nope.

Ephesians 4:5
  1. One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

There’s one baptism. So which one is it?

Some people say that the Bible doesn’t say that baptism doesn’t save. Yes it does:

1 Peter 3:20-21
  1. Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  2. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Church, “he that believeth” – you’ve got to believe the gospel – “and is baptized” – and you’ve got to be baptized. But if you don’t believe, then it doesn’t matter.

Matthew 7:22-23
  1. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
  2. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some of you say, “How could all of those people be wrong? My momma didn’t lie to me! My daddy didn’t lie to me!” Church, I’m not saying that those people were dishonest; they just didn’t have all the information.

If you’ve not been baptized, and you want to be baptized, or if you were baptized but it wasn’t in full immersion in Jesus’ name, we’ve got three hundred gallons of water back there, and we’ll do it. But don’t do it because this church said so; you study and find out for yourself what the Bible says. If I’ve told an untruth, and you can prove it in the Bible, then I’ll repent. But if I’ve told you the truth, then it’s up to you to do what it says.

Next week we’ll go over the spiritual baptism.

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