Monday, December 30, 2013

Making Disciples of His Word

Let's pretend for a moment that I am a contractor. The company that I am working for is proud to present the biggest building project this world has ever seen. Because of this enormous responsibility I am going to need all hands on deck. Thus, in light of this grand event I have created literally thousands of jobs and have successfully filled them all with able working men.

However, there is a catch. What if I told all of these men to construct this skyscraper and be a part of something great, yet I withheld all tools necessary for them to not only complete the work, but to even start it? What if I picked up my megaphone and spoke to them all, telling them that "it needs to be completed by such and such a time, but I am not giving you any tools, wood, metal, or really anything to build with?"

This reminds me a lot of this nation's history. Several centuries ago in American history when the Roman Catholics ruled the religious system, they had declared it to be illegal for the "average joe" to read the Bible. This religious group had felt it to be a sin in translating the Scriptures into the English language even though they had apparently "forgotten" that the Word of God had already been translated from Greek into Latin over a millenia before.

Were they right in withholding this holy book from the average person? Absolutely not! They were withholding the tools and the means necessary to accomplish the greatest work of all time from the very people whom God had placed in position to see it to completion. The priests were spending their lives trying to disarm the armies of God, but they could not. There are now hundreds of English translations that are easily accessible to even the poorest of the poor.

With all that said I am now aiming to cut straight to the point. So often as we use these Christian terms and talk about "making disciples" it can become easy for us to forget who's disciples we are making. It can be easy for us to desire to teach each other things, even good and Scriptural things, yet we can fail at getting them to look to Christ in His Word for the answers.

Don't get me wrong. God has gifted the church with men and women whom He has appointed by His divine decree to teach and maintain the truth; however, so often I find that we have questions, and instead of coming to His Word and asking the only One who truly has the right and full answer, we have a natural tendency to run to mere men all of the time. Thus, instead of making disciples of Christ through His Word, we are making ourselves disciples of a mortal.

One of the reasons I do not like commentaries is because my natural response when I have a question about a verse is to run to them. Instead of just getting my hands dirty and studying the Bible like a lion devouring its prey, I tend to take the easy way out. This can be the same with teachers. So often I believe that we as Christians (myself included) have become weak in the Scriptures because instead of seeking the Lord desperately in prayer and putting effort into finding the answer through God's Word, we have the ability to google search an answer to any question we might have. This can be and has been used as a curse by the enemy to make us both lazy and less efficient.

Many of you are aware of my great respect for men such as John Piper, David Platt, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Ryrie, etc. But if I simply follow them for answers to God's Word, then I am not a disciple learning from God, but one learning from mortal men. Thus, as a result, my level of influence will be smaller than theirs was because no matter how much they try, they cannot give me everything they have learned and gained through intense study and incredible devotion to God. The picture below reveals this concept and shows what discipleship will be like if it is just from man to man.

The above graphic shows the concept of a disciple taking as much as he can from the preacher and allowing someone else to do the same with him and so on and so forth. If discipleship like this continues, then each one's influence will become smaller and smaller and eventually become non-existent. However, if we are truly discipling each other the way Jesus did, then we will be pointing each one back to His Word.

The image below is the correct way in that it reveals to us that if we are pointing each other back to God's Word, then disciple #1, #2, or #3 can all have an immense level of influence because all answers lie within the pages of Scripture. Thus, their circles do not get smaller, but because they are each eating from the same source, they can all be full grown disciples of Christ and thus have greater potential!


So let me ask you...whom are you making disciples of? Him? You? Or a teacher and his commentary?
NOTE: Before you can make disciples, you must first be one.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Camouflaged Christian

How many of us when we first became a Christian knew that we were signing up for war? For I do not want you to be unaware Christian, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12

We read about wars in our history books all of the time, but none of them can compare to the war that we are fighting. In this war we do not only face what is seen, but more so we fight that which is unseen.

Will we succeed?

Yes, but why will we triumph?

Because Christ Has already attained victory on our behalf! Now He calls each one of us to never surrender but instead commands us to stand firm (vs. 11). This "standing firm" is a military stance. It shows us that we already hold the strategic ground.

This is not some unanswerable question like "what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" I am here to inform you right now that if you are in Christ, then you are a new creation of unstoppable and immovable proportions and you are to always have an expectation of victory because you are not in this fight alone, but the God who made all things out of nothing is silencing the enemy on your behalf.

The world is against us, but the world is only a pawn in the hand of Satan. They can do nothing outside of God's allowance, but the only thing they crave for is what their master, the Devil, has given them to do because he has put wickedness in the hearts of men.

As Christians we are the light of the world. It is through us that God is bringing hope to the nations, yet so often we are camouflaging ourselves so that the world cannot see us for who we really are. Why are we not taking up the full armor of God? Why are we not exercising our full potential?

The main character on the new show "Duck Dynasty" recently made some anatomical logicality's and Biblically sound statements concerning homosexuality. The network that films the show suspended this man from having anything to do with the TV series. However, when faced with mass disagreement for their unwise choice, they caved and restored him to his rightful place because most of their audience believes that homosexuality is wrong.

A&E may have brought Phil Robertson back on the big screen, but a day is coming when not only will they refuse to give in, but our government will be actively involved in leading and ordering the mass persecution and death sentence of all who profess the name of Jesus Christ. That day is not far from this day. In the days ahead we will begin to see our brothers and sisters rot away in a prison cell for standing for what is right.

Will we stand firm in that day? Will we "take off the camo and put on the armor?" As Pastor Jim Creath from Compass Ministries put it this morning in his sermon at church. I dare say that we must start now or we will never start. If we do not speak up and do something now, then before we know it we will have lost all of our freedom in this nation.

Pastor Jim Creath showed us this acronym for the word C.A.M.O as he opened up God's Word for us:

C - Christians (followers of Christ, little Christs)
A - Among
M - Men
O - Openly

He finished with one last statement as he shared the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "We say this all of the time that 'God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.' To a point this is true, but who will go to hell? The sin or the sinner? The answer is the sinner!"

If we want to be used by God to win souls for Christ, then we must put on and keep on His full armor that He has given to us. Jesus said that the world will hate those who are not its own. We cannot change that, but we must remember that though Christians and non-Christians are not on the same side, we do have the same enemy and he is actively seeking to destroy us. Do not give him opportunity, but shine where God has planted you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jesus Christ: The Source of All Things

“He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

(Colossians 1:15-17 NASB).

If Christ were naught, then there would be naught. What this means is that if Jesus Christ was a nonexistent meaningless nothing, then there would be absolutely nothing and nobody would ever know it.

Before we really get into talking about Christ being the source of everything, we must first look beyond the temporary and created order of things and focus our attention on the One whom is eternal and has no beginning. Our God exists eternally in a triune state of being. He is three yet He is one. If any one of these select persons were taken out of the way, then there would be no God; thus if Jesus Christ had been nonexistent for all of eternity then there would be no one with the ability of bringing Him into being for two reasons:
  1. There would be no possible way to create an infinite God.
  2. There would be no God at all to somehow create another.

The point is that Jesus not only holds together and is the source of all the created order, but He is also one of the three in the Godhead who is sustaining the eternal God (Himself). Without Christ there would be neither Father nor Holy Spirit, and vice versa. Jesus Christ is the source of all things because “in Him all things hold together.” If there was no Him, then there would be no “all things” and nothing would be held together because nothing would be “in Him” and thus nothing would be. Nothing exists that is not sustained by Jesus Christ, and if He is not sustained Himself by Himself, then there would be no possibility for anything to exist, even God Himself, because there is no divine sustenance being the source and the strength of all things.

When we say Christ is our source of everything, what we are really meaning is that apart from Him there is nothing. This statement is true in both the eternal and the temporal. The eternal we have already seen and the temporal we will now look at. The only reason we have life is because He had it first. Think about it: None of us have created anything out of nothing. We as human beings do not and will never have the ability of speaking things into existence. Even if we could, however, what would be sustaining that thing? You see, it is not merely enough to just be able to speak something into existence out of absolutely nothing, but God demonstrates His power in actually keeping that which He spoke and holds it there in order that it may continue to exist.

The reason why we as humans will never be capable of creating from nothing is because we ourselves are being sustained by God. We do not sustain anything and because of this we will never be the ultimate source of anything. In order to create something out of nothing, that same one must first be sustaining Himself as ultimately supreme having no need for any other. Second, they must not just be sustaining themselves, but they must be capable of holding other things together even if it is for a moment. We can do none of these things, yet God can and does them all so perfectly.

It is interesting when you look at Christ coming down to earth and placing Himself in a somewhat limited estate in the sense of Him choosing not to exercise certain key attributes to their fullest extent. In imagining Him as a man and even as a baby and a child, it blows my mind that even while Christ was lying in the manger asleep on the hey, He never broke a sweat as He Himself held together the full universe and all of its splendor. Not only this, but He was fully working with the Father and the Spirit in divinely sustaining the eternal God while sleeping in His birth mothers arms.

This is because the life of the universe was not based on His baby hand-like grip. The life of the universe, every beating heart, and all that exists is in Him. Paul uses four different terms in explaining the fullest effect of His being the source. Not only was the universe created by Him, but it was also created for Him and through Him. He is the source of all things and not only this, but all things are actually said to be in Him. They are in His reach and in His power and in His grasp. Everything in all of creation, whether saved or unsaved, corrupted or uncorrupted, all things are held together literally in God! Nothing can exist outside of the Godhead and thus all things are sourced in Christ!