Saturday, November 26, 2016

Repentance - Foundation Series

What moved Luther from seeing the life of the church in his day as normal and satisfactory to realizing that not only the church but his own life was in need of radical change?

How did the rest of the reformers know that the church teaching and practice was off base and in need of correction?

Repent = re + think; think again; change my thinking; a change of heart and action. NT Greek = Metanoia; a change of thought or feeling; practical reformation; reversal of the past.

One of the greatest gifts of grace God ever gives a person or a church is the grace of repentance.

Semper Reformda - always reforming.
The church is reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.

1. Always Repenting
Deuteronomy 30:1-3
"And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
Job 42:5-6
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
Matthew 3:1-2
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 15:9
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Repentance is a lifestyle

2. Not Repentance
Sorrow is not necessarily repentance
Regret is not necessarily repentance
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Hebrews 12:16-17
that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

3. Repentance is Returning
Jesus took Judaism back to God's Word:
-Their view of divorce: Matthew 19:3-9
-Their view if the Resurrection: Mark 12:24 with Exodus 3:6

Biblical repentance is nothing new.

The Reformers' work of reformation wasn't about trying to be innovative and creating something new, but rather, the reforming they had in mind was a reforming back to what God had plainly laid out in His Word.

Isaiah 8:19-20
And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

4. God's Kindness & our Repentance
Romans 2:3-4
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

God's Kindness in His patient forbearance of our sin is meant to bring us to a change of heart, mind, relationship and practice, in a word, to repentance.

1. In it's initial context Romans 2 is about repentance to salvation; the most important step of repentance.
2. The wider the kindness and grace of God in regards to repentance:
-God's kindness shows us our need of repentance as believers.
-God's kindness gives us repentance.
-God's kindness doesn't overwhelm us with all our sin at once; rather, He shows us little by little, lest we despair in a moment over the remarkable depth and breadth of our sin.

How do you and I work at our own reformation?
How do we come to recognize deficient beliefs and practices and repent?

Self-Test:
-Have I ever repented of my rebellion against God and my alienation from Him by entrusting myself into the saving grace of Jesus Christ?
-Am I confessing my sin to God and to others as needful, so that I'm not hardening my heart to truth and my own need of repentance
-Am I immersing myself in the truth of God's Word, using that as the plumb line against which I measure my own thoughts?
-Am I in regular fellowship with other believers in an iron-sharpening-iron way?
-Do I take seriously the concerns others bring to me?
-Do I ask God to "search me and try my heart" (Psalm 139) and show me any hurful ways I need to repent from?

"Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. 
Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin." -Tim Keller

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Grace - Foundation Series

John 8:2-11
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

If God gives us what we deserve we get justice and that means eternal death, but
 if God removes that just penalty it's not because we deserve a stay of execution, it's simply God's grace.

-What does a life lived in the reality of God's incredible, amazing grace look like?
-What does life lived on the Rock of God's grace feel like?

Grace = God's loving, benevolent disposition toward us, based on His own will and Jesus' saving work, and not on our merit.

1. God's Common Grace
Remember that we've already concluded from Romans 3 that everyone on the earth sins and therefore deserves the righteous wrath of God.

Everyday God withhold judgment is a grace gift.

Matthew 5:45
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Acts 14:17
Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Psalm 65:9-13
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
Psalm 104:10-15
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart.

The witness of God's common grace is all around us if we simply have eyes to see it.

Some question why God will eventually judge all humanity, but the real question is why hasn't He already? The answer in large measure is His grace.

2. God's Saving Grace in Christ
Acts 15:11
But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
Ephesians 2:3b-9
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 3:23-25
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
2 Timothy 1:9
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
Titus 3:4-7
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It's God's grace, not our merit, that has moved God to demonstrate His goodness, and kindness to us in salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God's singular, greatest grace gift. God's grace is in Christ. 

3. God's Uncommon Grace to Believers

Grace and Peace
1 Corinthians 1:3
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace from God's Word
Acts 20:32
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Grace Adequate for Generosity
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Grace Adequate for Suffering
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Grace for Comfort and Hope
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Common grace is amazing grace; but God has poured out grace over grace in the uncommon and particular ways His grace is given to us for every need we face in life.


4. God's Grace is Always in Christ
It's not just that we're saved by God's grace through Jesus, but He is always the medium through whom our experience of God's grace comes. To experience more of the riches of God's grace, draw near to Jesus.
John 1:14-17
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
2 Timothy 2:1
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Revelation 22:21
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God's grace is our experience of more of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.



Generations ago, there lived a man who heard the Scriptures from his mother in his youth, but she died and he became the worst version of himself possible.

He grew up, and became went off to sea, working as a slave trader. In his darkest time, he saw God's grace, and eventually wrote what is probably THE best loved hymn - Amazing Grace.



Self-Test:
-Do I live with a consistent humility of the grace of God?
-Do I live with a  consistent thankfulness because of the grace of God?
-Am I quick to pray for others knowing my own need of the grace of God?
-Am I quick to forgive others knowing the grace of God in my own forgiveness?
-Am I drawing near to Jesus in Scripture, prayer, and fellowship to experience more of the grace of God?
-Am I speaking of God's amazing grace to others?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
-Elizabeth

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Judgment - Foundation Series

What do we make of the death penalty?

If we knew with absolute certainty that an individual was guilty of a heinous, premeditated, murder would the death penalty by just?

What do we make of an eternal "death penalty?" Is there really a place called hell, a lake of fire that burns forever into which God consigns the wicked?

If yes:
What kind of life and person deserves that stern sentence?
What sin deserves the punishment of hell?
Is it possible that any of us deserve hell?

God's justice/righteousness: God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right. Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine

1. Judgment & God's Character
Genesis 18:25
Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"
Habakkuk 1:13
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
Revelation 16:4-6
The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, "Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!"

2. Judgment & God's Standards
Has God given us His righteous standards? How do we know what God expects of us?
Romans 1:18
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Wrath = Overflowing anger, indignation, violent emotion.
John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Romans 2:5
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
Romans 12:19
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

God gave us ten "words" to follow, knowing that we would not be able to - but He had a plan for that.

Will any of us ever perfectly keep God's standards?

The perfection of God's own character requires that He judge our sin.

3. Judgment & Man's Glory
Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 9:5-6
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man."Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

The glory of our nature in the image of God requires that God hold us accountable for our sins. 

4. Judgment & God's Glory
Because God is perfect in all He does when God judges He does so perfectly and displays His glory in the perfection of His judgments.
Deuteronomy 32:4
The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
Deuteronomy 10:17-18
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Psalm 9:7-8
But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.
Revelation 21:27
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Matthew 22:1-13
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

5. Judgment & Our Substitute
Who deserves hell? EVERYONE!

If God judges us righteously we all are separated from Him forever, in the lake of fire, the second death, where our sins are punished appropriately, forever.

Thankfully, God has made a way for guilty sinners who deserve punishment to be pardoned and to stand in God's presence in His own perfect righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Self-Test
-Have I acknowledged that my sins deserve God's judgement?
-Have I agreed with God that even sins I consider minor provoke his righteous wrath?
-Have I embraced in Jesus Christ a Substitute who has adequately taken on all God's righteous judgment for my sin?
-If yes, am I humbly, profusely, thanking Him everyday that Jesus took the judgment I deserved?
-Am I living as one who has been forgiven much?
-Am I quick to forgive others as I've been forgiven?
-Am I quick to share with others under God's righteous wrath the way of escape in Jesus?

God can no more be "blamed" for His holiness and the necessity of judging sin and putting it away forever in hell the he can be "blamed" for His glory, or His omniscience, or His beauty, or His goodness, and on and on. God is holy. And because He is, He cannot ultimately endure sin. He must put it away and He will.

Happy Weekend!
-Elizabeth