The DNA of Our Mission

April 7th, 2019

The DNA of Our Mission

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

DNA – The Core of the Local Church / Evangelism; Discipleship / Matthew 28:18–20

Today we launch a new sermon series:  DNA – The Core of the Local Church.  DNA is the genetic code that determines the core makeup of a living creatures.  The DNA will determine color of eyes, hair, and skin.  Every major aspect of how a creature is put together is determined by the DNA code.  It is the blueprint to how we are made and how we are designed to function.

In the next several weeks we will be studying the organism known as the Local Church.  The Bible teaches us that the Local Church is the physical manifestation of the Body of Christ here on earth.  She is a living organism.  In the next few weeks we will look at how the church is designed and how it is supposed to function.  We will examine her DNA and discover the core of the Local Church.

In our passage this morning, the church that Christ started was assembled. Jesus would soon be ascending back to the Father. Today’s passage contains the marching orders for the Church that Christ built. He told those apprehensive leaders that His power would be with them. He then gave the blueprint that every local church is to follow. These orders are known as “The Great Commission”.

A pastor once told the story of an experience he’d had with his dad, a skilled contractor and carpenter. One day, when he was a teenager, his father asked him to come to work and build houses with him. The boy replied, “But Dad, I don’t know anything about building houses.” At that, his father said, “That’s okay son. I know how to build houses; I just need you to bring me the wood.”

Often God’s people become discouraged because they have an inaccurate perception of their responsibilities. Many folks are fixated upon the need to grow the numbers of the local assembly. Today we will study the Great Commission and together we will discover what is part of this commandment and what is not.

I. Our Mission is Not:

A mandate to force people into a profession of faith

1. We are not responsible for our hearers’ response to the message

Ezekiel 33:7 KJV 1900

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

Ezekiel 33:8 KJV 1900

When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Ezekiel 33:9 KJV 1900

Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

2. The sinner’s prayer does not save – true faith behind that prayer saves

Romans 10:13 KJV 1900

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:14 KJV 1900

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

 A mandate to build the membership of the church

Matthew 16:18 KJV 1900

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

II. The Great Commission is:

 A mandate to go

Matthew 28:19 KJV 1900

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

1. Because you are being sent by Christ’s mighty power

Matthew 28:18 KJV 1900

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

2. Go to the whole world

Mark 16:15 KJV 1900

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 KJV 1900

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

A mandate to make disciples

1. Lead them to Christ

a. They will receive saving faith after hearing the Word of God

Romans 10:17 KJV 1900

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

b. This must be a life priority

John 4:35 KJV 1900

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

2. Baptize them

Romans 6:3-4 – 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.

Acts 2:41 KJV 1900

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:36-38 – 36 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? 37 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. 38 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 16:31-33 – 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

3. Teach them = “to give instruction”

Deuteronomy 5:32-33 – 32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Acts 2:42 – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

2 Timothy 2:2 KJV 1900

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.

Conclusion:

A proper understanding of the Great Commission will affect the emphasis and philosophy of every ministry in the church. Instead of asking the question, “Will this help us gain members?” we are to ask, “Will this help us go, evangelize, baptize, and teach people?”

Proofs of Inspiration

April 7th, 2019

The Proofs of Inspiration

A. The Character of God

1. We have already seen that he is a personal, almighty, holy, and loving God

2. We would expect him to have a loving concern for his creatures and come to their aid.

3. This is evident from his provision for man’s material and temporal needs.

4. Man also has spiritual and eternal needs- a sin problem

5. God uses redeemed, but fallible men

6. But we, saved though sinful men, need an infallible Word to declare.

2 Corinthians 5:18 KJV 1900

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19 KJV 1900

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

B. The Character and Claims of the Bible

1. It sets up the highest ethical standards

a. enjoins the most absolute obedience

b. denounces every form of sin

c.  informs the sinner how he can become right with God.

2. It has remarkable unity

a. It has one doctrinal viewpoint

b. one moral standard

c. one plan of salvation

d. one program of the ages

e. one world-view

3. It claims to be the Word of God.

a. More than 3,800 times the Old Testament writers use the terms, “thus says the Lord,” “the word of the Lord came to” such and such a person, “the Lord said,” or some such equivalent.

b. The New Testament writers use such expressions as, “declaring to you the whole purpose of God,” “in words … taught by the Spirit,” “what it really is, the word of God,” and “the Lord’s commandment.”

c. Various writers claim absolute perfection and authority for the law and the testimony

Deuteronomy 27:26 KJV 1900

Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

2 Kings 17:13 KJV 1900

Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.

Psalm 19:7 KJV 1900

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 33:4 KJV 1900

For the word of the Lord is right;

And all his works are done in truth.

Psalm 119:89 KJV 1900

LAMED.

For ever, O Lord,

Thy word is settled in heaven.

Isaiah 8:20 KJV 1900

To the law and to the testimony:

If they speak not according to this word,

It is because there is no light in them.

Galatians 3:10 KJV 1900

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

d. One book recognizes another book as speaking with absolute finality

 

Joshua 1:7 KJV 1900

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Ezra 3:2 KJV 1900

Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

Nehemiah 8:1 KJV 1900

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.

e. Peter puts the Epistles of Paul on a par with “the rest of Scripture”

2 Peter 3:15 KJV 1900

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

2 Peter 3:16 KJV 1900

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

f. Paul declares the whole Old Testament to be inspired

2 Timothy 3:16 KJV 1900

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

4. The Lord’s view of inspiration

a. “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)

b. He believed in the verbal inspiration of the law. “Law” in this setting no doubt included the entire Old Testament.

c. Further, Jesus made some significant predictions concerning the preservation and interpretation of the facts that are connected with him and his mission.

Inspiration of Scriptures?

April 7th, 2019


The Definition of Inspiration

A. Related Terms

1.  Revelation has to do with the communication of truth that cannot be otherwise discovered;

a. Inspiration has to do with the recording of revealed truth.

b. We can have revelation without inspiration

Lectures in Systematic Theology 1. Revelation

We can have revelation without inspiration, as has been the case with many of the godly people in the past. This is clear from the fact that John heard the seven thunders utter their voices, but was not permitted to write what they said (Rev. 10:3f.)

c. We may also have inspiration without direct revelation

Lectures in Systematic Theology 1. Revelation

We may also have inspiration without direct revelation, as when the writers set down what they had seen with their own eyes or discovered by research (Luke 1:1–4; 1 John 1:1–4)

Lectures in Systematic Theology 1. Revelation

John, on the other hand, received much of the Revelation by direct revelation from God. Both men were inspired in the penning of their material, but the material was received in different manners.

2 Peter 1:21 KJV 1900

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Timothy 3:16 KJV 1900

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2.  Inspiration. Inspiration has to do with the recording of the truth

Acts 1:16 KJV 1900

Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

3. Authority. The Bible carries with it the divine authority of God. It is binding upon man—on his mind, conscience, will, and heart.

4. Inerrancy – It is without error in the original manuscripts.

a. It is inerrant in all that it affirms, whether in historical, scientific, moral, or doctrinal matters.

b. Inerrancy extends to all of Scripture and is not limited to certain teachings of Scripture.

5. Illumination – The one who inspired men in the writing of Scripture, illumines the minds of those who read it.

Romans 1:21 KJV 1900

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ephesians 4:18 KJV 1900

Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Ephesians 1:18 KJV 1900

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

B. Inadequate Theories of Inspiration

1. Natural inspiration or the intuition theory. –

a. Inspiration is merely a superior insight on the part of natural man.

b. It is merely the intensifying and elevating of the religious perceptions of the writer.

2. The dynamic or partial-inspiration theory.

a. God supplied the ability needed for the trustworthy transmission of the truth which the writers of Scripture were commissioned to deliver.

b.  This made authors infallible in matters of faith and practice, but not in things which are not of an immediately religious character.

2 Timothy 3:16 KJV 1900

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

3. The theory that the thoughts, not the words, are inspired. – God suggested the thoughts of the revelation, but left it up to man to put the revelation into words

1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV 1900

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.

4. The theory that the Bible contains the Word of God.

a. The Bible is a human book which God can make his Word at the moment of personal encounter.

b. The writers of Scripture wrote of their encounters with God in thought patterns of their day.

c. These authors incorporated into their writings various supernatural myths and miraculous tales to convey spiritual truths.

d. The interpreter’s job is to strip away all the mythical embellishments and seek to arrive at the spiritual truth God has for us

5. The dictation theory.

a.  Holds that the authors of Scripture were mere pens, amanuenses, not beings whose individualities were preserved and somehow pressed into service in the act of inspiration.

b. On this view the style is that of the Holy Spirit.

c. This theory ignores the manifest differences in the style of Moses, David, Peter, James, John, and Paul, for example

C. The Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration

1. Inspiration is inexplicable

2. Inspiration, in this restricted sense, is limited to the authors of Scripture. Other books are not inspired in the same sense

3. Inspiration is essentially guidance. The Holy Spirit supervised the selection of the materials to be used and the words to be employed in writing.

4. The Holy Spirit preserved the authors from all error and from all omission.

5. Inspiration extends to the words, not merely to the thoughts and concepts

6. Inspiration is extended only to the original autographs

Definition and Existence of God

January 24th, 2019

Part I THEISM

  • The belief in a supernatural power or supernatural powers
  • The belief in the existence of but one God – This view includes monotheism, pantheism and deism but excludes atheism, polytheism, and henotheism.
  • The belief in a personal God who is both transcendent and immanent and exists in only person.
  • The belief in one personal God, both immanent and transcendent who exists in three personal distinctions.

The Definition and Existence of God

  1. Definition of God
  1. Erroneous definitions
  1. The eternal mind, the cause of good. – Plato
  • The first ground of all being – Aristotle
  • The moral order of the universe – Fichte
  • The absolute spirit without consciousness until it becomes conscious in the thoughts of man – Hegel
  • The creative force and energy behind the universe – Henry Sloane Coffin
  • Biblical names for God.
  1. Elohim – God the most High God (plural)
  • Jehovah – I AM
  • Adonai – Lord
  • Theological definition:  “God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support, and end.”  – Strong
  1. The Existence of God
  1. The belief in the existence of God is intuitive.

Romans 1:19-20

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 

Romans 2:15

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)  

  • The existence of God is assumed by scriptures

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Arguments for the existence of God
  1. Cosmological argument – everything that begun must have an adequate cause.

Hebrews 3:4

4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

  • Teleological argument – order and useful arrangement in a system imply intelligence and purpose in the organizing cause.
  • Ontological argument – the very ideal of God is proof of His existence.  Men have an intuitive idea of God.
  • The moral argument – every man has a sense of moral obligation, a sense of right and wrong.
  • Congruity – the existence of God best explains the facts of our moral, mental, and religious nature as well as the material nature of the universe.

January 19th, 2019
January 20 Services are cancelled due to snow and ice storm.

The Delusion of Isolation

January 12th, 2019

1 Kings 19:1–19

Often we are most tempted to give up and give in when we believe everyone else already has.  We must remember that God always reserves a remnant of believers to follow him.  You are not alone!

Tom Hanks is a gifted actor.  I have seen him play a diverse type of characters over the years, and in every role he turns in an impressive performance.  One of my favorite examples of his acting skills is the movie Castaway.  By the way, I cant believe that it is a 19 year old movie!  For over an hour Tom Hanks is alone with no other actors.  He portrays a Fed Ex man whose plane went down in the Caribbean.  He was able to get to a deserted island and he was forced to survive for 4 years before we was eventually rescued.  The movie shows how man was not meant to be alone.   The agony of loneliness was vividly portrayed by this masterful actor.

Loneliness is one of the greatest tools in the Devil’s arsenal.  With this weapon he causes many strong men to become weak, afraid, faint, even to the point of death.

Last week we saw that folks become discouraged when they confuse Karma with Grace.  They get bitter at God when they mistakenly think that He has mistreated them by not giving them what they deserved.  We discovered that Grace actually deliver us from what we deserve and gives us what we don’t deserve.

This week as we continue our series on Failing Faith, we will look at another tool Satan uses to destroy believers. As we consider the tactics of our enemy, we must remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  As believers, we can never be alone.  So the only thing Satan can do is to try to deceive us with the illusion of isolation.

Elijah had just gone through an epic spiritual battle.  The people of Israel were being seduced by the false god, BAAL.  The prophet prayed that it would not rain for three and a half years.  He had a show down asking for the real God to rain down fire on the altar they prepared.  Baal failed, Jehovah God did not!  The scorched soot stained spot on the ground stood as a testimony that the real God answered with fire!  After that the drought ended.  450 prophets of Baal were killed.  Rain came!  Victory was sweet…. but there was a counter attack.   Elijah was made blinded by the delusion of isolation.

I Feel All Alone and Ashamed – I Failed to Make A Difference.

1 Kings 19:4 KJV 1900

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

•    After great spiritual victory we are often vulnerable to the greatest spiritual attack.

•    Elijah expected a nation wide revival after such a great demonstration of God’s power… instead the queen had vowed to destroy him in 24 hours. 

•    After 3 1/2 years of struggle and after the showdown with the prophets of Baal, he thought it must be over… but apparently it was not.

•    Elijah ran to Beersheba in the extreme southern part of Judah… about 103 miles.

•    He was disappointed, exhausted, and spent.

•    In a moment of human weakness he longed for death.

•    He did not dare take his own life.

•    He did tell God he had had enough.

•    That all came from a belief that he was no better than his fathers… he was no more effective in ridding the land of Baal idolatry than they were.  Since he was a failure, there was no reason to continue.

•    An angel came to feed him and prepare him for a journey.  200 miles to the same Mount where Moses met God.

•    There was still more for Elijah to do.

God still sends His messengers today – pastors… leaders.. friends

•    Take your rest

•    Take your food

•    There is still a journey ahead of you…. God is not done with you.

I Feel All Alone and Afraid- Everyone is Against Me

1 Kings 19:9 KJV 1900

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

1 Kings 19:10 KJV 1900

And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

•    Elijah was directed to the mount of God, not to the cave or fear and isolation.

•    This time God’s voice came, not just His messenger.

•    The revelation was a question:  “What are you doing here?”

•    I have been jealous for God

•    Israel has turned from Your covenant

•    Israel has thrown down your altars

•    The prophets have been killed

•    I am the only one left.

Are you in a cave of isolation rather than meeting with God?

•    You feel like you are the only believer truly standing

•    Our church is the only one without compromise.

•    When directed to the place to meet God (church) you are curled up isolated in your mind and heart, not talking to anyone or open to any intervention….God gives you the same command as He gave Elijah… stand upon the mount before the Lord.

King James Version Chapter 19

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.

I Feel Alone and I am Wrong- I AM NOT ALONE

•    God can reveal Himself in many different ways, but He is tenderest when we need that the most.

And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind:

•    Sometimes God is seen in the midst of storms and tempest… not this time

King James Version Chapter 19

and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake

•    Sometimes God is seen in the midst of instability and crumbling foundations… but not this time

King James Version Chapter 19

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:

•    Sometimes God is seen in fiery trials that burn the impurities out of our lives… but not this time.

...and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

•    God, in His tenderness knows that his exhausted and bewildered servant that thinks he is alone needs a still small voice.  When you hear it… come to the opening of the cave…there is something life changing about to happen!

King James Version Chapter 19

What doest thou here, Elijah?

•    God asked the convicting question again in a still small voice.  The truth cut through… you are in the wrong place.  I’ve still got stuff for you to do.

•    In verses  15-17 Elijah recieved instruction.  You are not be be ashamed… I have work for you

•    You do not have to be afraid … I have work for you to do.

•    You do not have to feel like you are alone… You are not!

1 Kings 19:18 KJV 1900

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Conclusion:

Oh believer friend.  Have you slipped into deep dark depression thinking that you have failed to make a difference and that there is no reason to continue?  Listen to God’s messenger, you need strength… eat, rest and get ready for the journey God has for you.  Are you hiding in a cave isolated and afraid?  Listen to the voice of God that calls you into His presence.  You have heard God in the wind before and He has calmed your storms.  You have heard God in the earthquake before and He has brought stability.  You have heard God in the fire before and He has refined you.  But today He comes to you at this very moment in a still small voice.

“What are you still doing here?  I have work for you.  Your isolation is just a delusion.  You are not alone!

The Possibility and Divisions of Theology

January 4th, 2019

The Possibility of Theology

  1. Revelation of God

“Revelation is that act of God whereby he discloses himself or communicates truth to the mind, whereby he makes manifest to his creatures that which could not be known in any other way.”  – Thiessen

  1. General Revelation
  • In nature
  • In history
  • In conscience
  • Special Revelation – “Those acts of God whereby He makes Himself and His truth known at special times to specific peoples.”
  • Miracles
  • Fulfilled prophecy
  • The person of Christ

John 14:9

9 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?

  • Scriptures
  • Personal experience
  • Endowments of Men – How does man come into possession of this revelation?
  • Mental endowments – properties of reason
  1. 2. Reason is the organ or capacity for knowing truth
  • Reason must judge the credibility of a representation.
  • Reason must judge evidence
  • Reason must organize facts into a system
  • Spiritual endowments
  1. Man has an intuitive knowledge of God
  • A believer enters into a special personal fellowship with God.

Romans 8:15

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

1 Corinthians 1:9

9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Galatians 4:6

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

1 John 1:3

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

  1. The Divisions of Theology
  1. Exegetical Theology – occupies itself directly with the study of biblical text and such related subjects as help in the restoration, orientation, illustration and interpretation of that text.
  • Historical Theology – Traces the history of God’s people in the Bible and of the church since the time of Christ.
  • Systematic Theology – Takes the materials furnished by exegetical and historical theology and arranges them in a logical order under the great heads of theological study.
  • Practical Theology – Treats the application of theology in the regeneration, sanctification, edification, and service of men.

Karma or Grace?

January 4th, 2019

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Failing Faith / Saved by Works; Faith / Mark 10:17–31

Michael and I grew up in the same church and ran in the same Christian circles for most of our lives. We both understand each other, in an ancient sort of way, when we discuss faith. Up until the end of high school, our religious experiences were nearly identical. He knew exactly where I was coming from when I talked to him about how I felt my faith changing, failing. “Sometimes I wonder if what we were taught—what we were exposed to—doesn’t work out here in the real world.” Michael laughed before responding with a hint of anxiousness. “Bro, you don’t even know.” After I became a pastor, it took Michael sometime before he felt he could be honest with me about God. Now he wasn’t afraid to talk about what his faith—or lack thereof—looked like now. “I’m tired of a Christianity that tries to tie a neat bow on everything,” I nearly growled.

“Maybe that’s cool for a church bubble or something like that, but not here.” I stopped pacing and leaned against the wall in my office. The head on a Star Wars bobble head Dad gave me bounced on my bookshelf as I slid toward the ground. Its face wobbled up and down as I spoke. “You know what a pastor told me after Dad was diagnosed?” I looked down at the ground before continuing. “He told me that the key to my father’s healing might just be me owning up to the correction God was trying to do in my own life.” “[Expletive] that guy,” barked Michael. “Yeah . . . forget that guy.” “It’s fake,” Michael’s voice carried a side of bitterness. “I don’t know how many times someone told me that if I were good, I’d have everything I’d ever wanted. Well then why do I look around at all the good people in my life and watch them suffer the most?” “I was thinking the other day; out of all the friends we grew up with in church,” I quickly replied in the heat of the moment. “How many are still there?” The line hummed with silence before Michael replied. “Not me.”

Bearden, Wade. Failing Faith: When What You Thought You Knew about God Doesn’t Work in the Real World (p. 10). Kindle Edition.

This kind of bitter disappointment causes many unbelievers to reject Christ and many believers to give up and quit serving Christ. 

One of the reasons for this is a misunderstanding of what God offers.  Non Christian world views have been melded with Christian ones over the years distorting the truth of pure Christianity.  One of those distortions is that of Karma.

Karma is a concept in many Eastern religions where the universe pays us for what we have done… if we do good… we receive good Karma… if bad, then we receive bad Karma. Karma is getting what we deserve. Like much o the Devil’s lies, it is laced with truth.

Galatians 6:7–8 KJV 1900

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

So, when the law of sowing and reaping is mixed with Karma, we start to look at the good in our life from a view of entitlement.  I have a job because I deserve it.  I have a car a home, a wife, kids that love me because I deserve it… God owes me that much.

In our Scripture reading this morning we read a story about a rich man who had a similar view.  He was rich because he deserved to be.  He just wanted to take it to the next level and schmooze his way into eternal security by talking to a very connected Holy man, Jesus.  He would give him the inside scoop on exactly what he had to do to further advance his cause from this life to the next.

This morning we are going to contrast the concept of Karma where we get what we deserve, with Grace where we get what we don’t deserve.  We will find that Jesus offers a much better deal when it comes down to Karma VS Grace.

Karma Often Seems to Work: The Delusion of Deserving Good

•    God’s Blessing is validation of one’s self righteous delusion. – The rich man trusted in riches as evidence of God’s blessing.

Mark 10:24 KJV 1900

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

•    Flattery indicates one’s confidence in his own standing. “Good Master”

Good= benefit

Philemon 14 KJV 1900

but without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

•    The rich man’s question shows his Karma confidence… what good thing must I do

 agathos (??????) describes that which, being “good” in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect – Vine

•    Jesus dropped a truth bomb that prepared the rich man for the truth he was going to learn about himself… there is none good but God.

Mark 10:18 KJV 1900

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

•    With Karma, the standard you embrace becomes the standard that condemns you.

Romans 3:19 KJV 1900

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:20 KJV 1900

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Karma Cannot Fix What Is Broken: The Reality of Deserving

•    Karma creates the illusion of self- awareness.

Mark 10:20 KJV 1900

And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

At the beginning of her “Out of the Woods” music video, Taylor Swift is standing on a beautiful beach. “Vines begin to surround her as she slowly makes her way through a dark forest. As she sings of heartbreak and despair, she’s haunted by

both the forest and a series of wolves. The pack tears her dress, pursuing her to the top of a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm. The situation grows worse as Swift later

struggles through a swamp, a desert, and a firestorm—sounds like a day in Texas.

When she finally reaches the beach again, she approaches her former self, and gently

touches her shoulder. The video ends with the words: ‘She lost him, but she found herself. And somehow that was everything.’

“Swift’s video does provide an interesting window into twenty-first-century pop culture philosophy. Finding true peace means finding yourself. You alone hold the answer to meaning and purpose in this life”

(Bearden, Failing Faith, 25).

•    Jesus’ words shattered the illusion of self awareness.

•    These words of rebuke poured out of a heart of love from our Savior, not a heart of rejection opr hatred.

Mark 10:21 KJV 1900

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Mark 10:22 KJV 1900

And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

James 2:10 KJV 1900

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:11 KJV 1900

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

•    Jesus invited him to come – away from his Karma based works and to Faith based belief.

John 3:16 KJV 1900

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.

•    Jesus invited him to take up his cross- publicly confess his guilt and lack

Romans 10:9–10 KJV 1900

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

•    Jesus invited him to follow Him.

Matthew 16:24 KJV 1900

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

•    The rich man made his choice… he continued to trust Karma…after all look at all the tangible evidence that it was working for him…

Mark 10:22 KJV 1900

And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Karma Fails But Grace Prevails: The Gift of God Transcends our Merit.

•    Jesus used this sad occasion to teach the disciples these things:

•    It is hard for those that are comfortable to realize that they have a lack.

•    It is impossible for someone who trusts in riches to trust in Christ. – especially when the reason they trust in riches is that the riches are in inaccurate “proof” that their karma is working.

•    The eye of the needle in context is not talking about something that is hard, but rather something that is impossible. 

Mark 10:27 KJV 1900

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

•    ?Trust in Christ and the Gospel yields rewards  Mark 10:28-31 Trust in Christ and the Gospel yields both temporal and eternal benefit.

Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

(Mark 10:28–31, KJV 1900)      

“In his book The Prodigal God, pastor and writer Timothy Keller relays a conversation he had with a young woman about grace. The woman had grown up in a church that taught God only accepts those who lived good, ethical lives. Upon hearing Keller teach about grace—that God’s gift of salvation is completely free even to those who are immoral—the woman expressed fear. Keller asked her about it.” Her reply was telling:

“‘If I was saved by my good works—then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace—at God’s infinite cost—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.’” (Bearden, Failing Faith, 16). (Quote from Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God:

Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith [New York: Dutton, 2008], 121).

Conclusion:

Are you living under Karma or under Grace.  If you are trying to merit Heaven based on your deeds, your Karma will try you and find you wanting.  Jesus looks at you lovingly and says “One thing thou lackest”… righteousness.

Romans 3:10 KJV 1900

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

He wants to give you His righteousness if you trade your works for His.

2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV 1900

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

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If you are a believer saved by Grace through faith plus nothing, it is still possible to be living under Karma not grace.  Why do you serve?  Why do you tithe?  Why do you come to church?… so God will be happy with me and bless me… that is Karma… you wrongfully imagine that your actions will merit you favor.  God grants favor IN SPITE OF what we deserve.  If we humbly hit our knees God be merciful to me… we access His grace, and are covered by His righteousness.  So what are you trusting in to draw close to Jesus, your efforts, or His Grace?

1 John 1:9 KJV 1900

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In the battle of Karma VS Grace… Grace wins every time.

God’s First Responders Day 1

January 2nd, 2019

Introduction to Systematic Theology

  1.  Definitions and approach to Systematic Theology
  1.  Theology = theos – God / Logos – discourse
  1.  Doctrine of God

But in the broad and more usual sense, the term has come to mean all Christian doctrines, not only the specific doctrine of God, but also all the doctrines that deal with the relations God sustains to the universe. In this broad sense, we may define theology as the science of God and his relations to the universe.[1]

  • The science of God and His Works

Science may question the regularity even of the laws of nature, but the experienced believer in God sees in these apparent irregularities the intervention of God and the manifestation of his miraculous power. He maintains that while the apprehension of the divine revelation is progressive, the revelation itself is as stable as the righteousness and truth of God themselves. He, therefore, believes in the possibility of theology and of systematic theology, and he regards them with the same favor as did the ancients. Even the modern student who does not formulate his theological beliefs has fairly definite views with regard to the major questions in the field. The reason for this is found in his own mental and moral constitution[2]

  •  Systematic Theology vs. Biblical theology.
  1.  Biblical Theology = the study of various types of theology on a book by book basis through the Bible.
  2. Systematic Theology = breaks down Biblical theology into categories or systems to form a helpful overviews of various doctrines.
  •  Liberal presuppositions
  1.  The Word of God is not perfect.
  2. Truth is in a constant state of flux
  3. It is unsafe to form fixed views of theological truths.
  • Evangelical Presuppositions
  1.  There are constants to our universe.
  2. Evidence of these constants can be seen in nature and mathematics.
  3. There is a perfect, constant, infallible source of truth.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20, KJV 1900)

  1.  The Nature of Theology
  1.  Theology and Ethics
  1.  Philosophical Ethics = developed on a purely naturalistic basis – no doctrine of sin.
  2. Christian Ethics = motivated by an affection for and willing submission to God.
  •  Theology and Religion
  1. In theology man organizes His thoughts concerning God and the universe.
  2. In religion man expresses in attitudes and actions the effects that those thoughts have produced in him.

In other words, in theology a man organizes his thoughts concerning God and the universe, and in religion he expresses in attitudes and actions the effects these thoughts have produced in him.[3]

  •  Theology and Philosophy
  1.  Theology begins with the belief in the eternal existence of God.
  2. Philosophy begins with the belief in the eternal existence of matter – denying special revelation from an eternal God.

To know a man’s philosophy is, therefore, to get possession of the key to understanding him and also to dealing with him (Acts 14:17; 17:22–31). But the Christian must recognize that philosophy will never bring a person to Christ. Paul writes, “The world through its wisdom   p 4  did not come to know God” (1 Cor. 1:21)[4]

To know a man’s philosophy is, therefore, to get possession of the key to understanding him and also to dealing with him (Acts 14:17; 17:22–31). But the Christian must recognize that philosophy will never bring a person to Christ. Paul writes, “The world through its wisdom   p 4  did not come to know God” (1 Cor. 1:21)[5]

  1.  Necessity of Theology
  1.  The Organizing instinct of the intellect.
  1.  Not content with the accumulation of facts.
  2. One must find a way to organize these findings into a system.
  •  Character of unbelief of this age.
  1.  Dangers threaten the Church from philosophy. – Colossians 2:8
  2. The Christian must be ready with a Biblical answer. 1 Peter 3:15
  •  The Character of Scripture.
  1.  The Bible is to the theologian what nature is to the scientist.
  2. There are certain passages focused on a particular theology.
  3. None of these themes are exhaustive in any one passage.
  4. It is necessary therefore that we gather truth and organize it into a system.
  •  The development of an intelligent Christian Character.
  1.  Theology must be more than mere theory.
  2. Theology must be the guide to intelligent thinking about religious problems and a stimulus to Holy living.
  •  Conditions for effective Christian Service.
  1.  Know Doctrine
  2. Preach Doctrine
  3. Live Doctrine

[1] Thiessen, H. C., & Doerksen, V. D. (1979). Lectures in systematic theology (p. 2). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[2] Thiessen, H. C., & Doerksen, V. D. (1979). Lectures in systematic theology (p. 1). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Thiessen, H. C., & Doerksen, V. D. (1979). Lectures in systematic theology (p. 3). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Thiessen, H. C., & Doerksen, V. D. (1979). Lectures in systematic theology (pp. 3–4). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[5] Thiessen, H. C., & Doerksen, V. D. (1979). Lectures in systematic theology (pp. 3–4). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

New Sermon Series Sunday Mornings in January 2019

December 27th, 2018

In America, we often associate spiritual blessing with physical happiness. When life becomes difficult—through loss, divorce, depression, or grief—it can often make Christians either feel like their faith is a fraud, or lead them to believe that God is the One who is a fraud. Join us Sundays starting January 6 at 11:00 for this four-week series, that will, will empower individuals to cultivate a faith that will withstand the inevitable troubles of life