Conditional Grace (6/29/16)

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough to serve Jesus? This isn’t an uncommon thought among Christians, especially those who are all too aware of their struggles with sin. However, we should never let our past sins keep us from serving God. Jesus Christ’s atoning, sacrificial death on the cross saves us from the consequences of our sin. God doesn’t choose perfect people to serve him because there aren’t any.

Even though God knows we’ll never be perfect, he still calls us to throw off the “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). The difficulty with this is that when God or other people confront us about our sin, our normal, human reaction is to try and justify it. There are those rare occasions when we will humbly agree with those who challenge us but our normal, human reaction is to defend ourselves.

In his book Future Grace, John Piper writes: “Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself.” This quote makes sense because we wouldn’t break God’s commandments if we really thought they are what’s best for us. We wouldn’t justify sin if we desired God more. (more…)

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From Darkness to Light (6/19/16)

1 Peter 2:4-17 says, As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

            They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

                9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

                11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

                13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

In this passage, Peter refers to Jesus as “a chosen and precious cornerstone,” which references Isaiah 28:16. The initial readers of this letter most likely understood what Peter means with this example. Modern scholar N.T. Wright says, “For a first century Jew…the great hope of Israel was that the true God, YHWH, would return to Zion (Jerusalem) at last, coming back to live forever in the Temple – once, that is, it had been properly rebuilt so as to be a suitable residence for him…There was a long tradition of speaking about the Temple being built on the ‘rock’, on the ‘cornerstone.’ Find the right ‘stone,’ and you may well be on the way to building the new Temple, ready for God to return.” (more…)

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What About Judgment Day? (6/5/2016)

According to the Bible, what is really required for us to have salvation?

Our understanding of salvation is heavily influenced by the Sinner’s Prayer, which is often used at revivals and evangelistic services to help people who come forward to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. A basic, shortened version this prayer goes something like this: “Lord, please forgive me for my sins. I believe that you died on the cross and resurrected. Please come into my heart and save me.” This prayer is one of the best things the church ever created because it is a clear and succinct way of helping individuals come to Jesus. It’s based on the theology that faith is all we need for eternal redemption. (more…)

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