Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seeking Justification

Notice vv.17-21, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” The bottom line is that righteousness does not come through keeping the Law of Moses. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to keep the Law of Moses. You and I simply cannot do it.

Now, some may be sitting there right now wagging their self-righteous heads and thinking to themselves, “I can keep the Law of God.” The Pharisees of Jesus’ day made the same mistake. They thought that as long as they physically kept the Law that they were okay. For example, if the Law says, “Thou shalt no commit adultery”; that meant that as long as they didn’t physically commit adultery they were okay. However, “window shopping” was okay. Then Jesus comes along and blows that view totally out of the water when he says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). That changed things considerably because who hasn’t looked with lustful eyes at another person?

That’s also why Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What Jesus was saying is that the righteousness of the Pharisees was just external while what they really needed was an internal righteousness. In other words, just keeping the Law externally (not physically committing adultery) while breaking the Law internally (lusting after others in our hearts) was still breaking the Law and thus, Heaven was not an option!

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Recordings

I have finally worked it out so that I can record my Sunday night teachings. Check it out under "Most Recent Studies". I would also like to invite you to come. We meet on Sunday evenings at 6:00pm in the Worship Center Balcony at First Baptist Church of Brownsville.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Why do bad things happen? In answering this question, I realize that there are many who have suffered a great deal of unexplainable troubles in this life and who, to this day, cannot figure out why. My attempt to answer this question is in no way intended to minimize the trouble many have endured. I’m just going to look in the Bible to see what it says about this subject. I believe these passages will explain many bad things that happen, but not all.

God allows bad things to happen for numerous reasons. One reason that they happen is so that God can demonstrate His power. A great example of this is found in the Bible in regards to the Egyptian captivity that the Israelites suffered for over four hundred years (Exodus 1-14). In speaking of this, the Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." In essence, God allowed Pharaoh and the Egyptians to enslave the Israelites so that His power could be demonstrated in their deliverance. The longer Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people go, the more opportunity that God had to display His power to not only the Egyptians, but to the Israelites as well.
The bottom line is that we may have to endure something bad NOW (I.e. the Jewish captivity in Egypt), so that God can be allowed to demonstrate His power LATER.

As matter of fact, later when Israel had already been delivered from the Egyptians, they came to the city of Jericho and met a harlot named Rahab who told them, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you…and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites…And as soon as we had heard [these things], our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he [is] God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Someone has calculated how a typical lifespan of 70 years is spent.

Sleep................23 years...........32.9%
Work.................16 years...........22.8%
TV....................8 years...........11.4%
Eating................6 years............8.6%
Travel................6 years............8.6%
Leisure.............4.5 years............6.5%
Illness...............4 years............5.7%
Dressing..............2 years............2.8%
Religion............0.5 years (6 months) 0.7%

Total................70 years............100%

Justification By Faith

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:16 where it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” This is a clear cut presentation of justification by faith. It simply means that justification, or being made right before God, comes about only by faith and not by works. That means that there is absolutely nothing you or I can do to “earn” it. I find it interesting that Paul spent so much of his time on this subject throughout his writings. Obviously it was a major concern to him. Unfortunately, most today also believe that they have to do something to “earn” God’s love and forgiveness. Just ask anyone around you what they think that it takes for a person to go to Heaven. The answer will invariably be something like; “go to church”, “be a good person”, “respect my fellow man,” and the list goes on and on. Sadly, it is a sure sign that they haven’t got a clue about justification by faith.

Paul’s point in this passage is simple. If the Jew had to leave the Law behind in order to be justified by faith, why should the Gentile be brought under the Law? After all, it didn’t save the Jew and it certainly wasn’t going to save the Gentile either. Paul will later say in Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” That very verse alone played a major role in the start of the Protestant Reformation.

The bottom line is that too many people are running around trying to gain favor with God. I must remind you that God said in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” My friend, don’t continue to think that your salvation depends upon you. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God looked down through the portals of time, and out of love, decided to save you: not because of who you are but because of who He is!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peter's Hypocrisy

Let’s pick up our study this week in Galatians 2:11-14, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Peter was playing the hypocrite by withdrawing from the Gentiles when his Jewish buddies would show up. I think that Paul found this particularly disturbing since Peter was the first to be used of God to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Acts 10.

By definition, hypocrisy is “a feigning to be what one is not, a concealment of one's real character or motives, or one who assumes a false appearance.” How many of us have not done that? It reminds me of a story about King Louis XIV. Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, "What does this mean?" Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king."

We must be careful that we are not the same way. It’s so easy to pretend and God absolutely despises it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many have told me that the reason they don’t go to church is because of the number of hypocrites that are found there. Yet, that same person will deal with hypocrites every day at work and sees no problem in taking their money. As a pastor, my response to these poor delusional souls was always, “Hey, one more will not hurt! Can I look forward to seeing you Sunday?”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ten Days

The other night in my Revelation discipleship class at FBC, we came to the portion of Scripture in Revelation 2 where it says in v.10, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested and you will have tribulation for ten days." The question arose about the "ten days". Most commentaries (I.e. John MacArthur) say that "ten days" simply represents a short period of persecution. However, Tim LaHaye has a very interesting take on it that one of my students pointed out. He says that there were ten persecutions: eight of which the Church of Smyrna had to endure. Check out the ten persecutions that he lists. Could each one of these represent one of the "ten days"?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Adjustments and Announcements

You may notice that I removed several links for my site. I am in the process of reformatting them and downloading them to this website. I'll get them back up plus many more as I can. I've also began a Discipleship Class at First Baptist Church. I'll begin recording those this Sunday in MP3 format and uploading them. God bless each of you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Little Harsh

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:6, “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:” In this verse, Paul is referring to the apostles whom he had never sought in regards to the revelations that he had received after his conversion on the Damascus Road in Acts 9. At first glance, it seems a little harsh. However, most believe that the literal translation is a little harsher than what Paul really meant for it to be. He is just stating that they agreed with him and acknowledged that all men are the same before God. Paul had no hostility toward the other apostles as the verse would seem to indicate.

Notice vv.7-8, “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)” Paul was known as the apostle to the Gentiles while Peter was known as the apostle to the Jews. However, it was the same gospel. Gentiles aren’t saved one way and Jews another.

Notice v.9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Again, the translation about them “seeming to be pillars” is a little harsh. He is simply saying that an agreement was made about who was to go with whom.

Notice v.10, “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” Part of the agreement was also that the poor should be remembered. Jesus had a very special place in his heart for the poor. He said in Mark 14:7, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.” James also said in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”