Thursday, November 29, 2007


Baptist Calvinists?


The Southern Baptists have just had a tremendous conference discussing the relationships between the various theological groupings in their convention.

The mp3's are here and are well worth listening to. Folks from both sides express their beliefs in a  well rounded gracious atmosphere.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Acts 23:23 Safe In The Arms of Jesus

He summoned two of his centurions and said, “Get 200 soldiers ready with 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Also provide mounts so they can put Paul on them and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 He wrote a letter of this kind:
26 Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.
27 When this man had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, I arrived with my troops and rescued him because I learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 Wanting to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down before their Sanhedrin. 29 I found out that the accusations were about disputed matters in their law, and that there was no charge that merited death or chains. 30 When I was informed that there was a plot against the man, I sent him to you right away. I also ordered his accusers to state their case against him in your presence.

31 Therefore, during the night, the soldiers took Paul and brought him to Antipatris as they were ordered. 32 The next day, they returned to the barracks, allowing the cavalry to go on with him. 33 When these men entered Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34 After he read it, he asked what province he was from. So when he learned he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing whenever your accusers get here too.” And he ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

I want to turn your attention to the hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" which is in our hymnal. This is a remarkable piece of poetry because it combines such beautiful and memorable and suggestive expressions with such deep and accurate reflection on the Bible's doctrine of divine providence, God's rule over all things and his bringing all things to pass according to his will and plan. "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform," is a line one hears all the time from the lips of folk who would have no idea that it came from William Cowper's hymn. But see how well the hymn grasps the biblical doctrine and turns it into faith and hope. God is sovereign, he is the Immortal and Almighty Ruler who "plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm."

But as Cowper goes on to explain in vv. 3-5, it is by no means possible for believers themselves to see the end from the beginning of God's plans for them. They must have faith. There will be dark clouds and terrible storms, his providence will often wear a frown, but at the end, when all is seen and known, when God's purposes have unfolded, we will see that behind that frowning providence was always a smiling face and that the clouds that looked so threatening were full of blessing instead. The lesson, as Cowper draws it in v. 6, is that we are all to know our limitations and trust ourselves to God's goodness and mercy. The unbeliever can't see the plan at all, either at the beginning or the end, but the believer can at least see some of God's purposes at the end. God will make it plain to him that He was always in control, always was working his purposes out. Appearances can be deceiving; But God will always communicate his goodness in his plan to those who believe in him.

But, the believer also needs the comfort of knowing that the reason life seems to often dark and threatening to him or her is only because of the limitations of our knowledge and understanding. God's purposes are always wise and good, always loving and merciful toward his children, however impenetrable they may be to us at the time. At one point in the Genesis history, when things seem bleakest, Jacob, now bereft of Joseph and thinking himself to be bereft of Benjamin as well, says in near despair "Everything is against me!" [Gen. 42:36] The reader smiles at his remark, because, of course, anyone who knows the story knows that he is just days away from the most glorious resolution to this apparent calamity and a greater happiness than he has ever known in his life.

We don't know what were, if any, the precise circumstances that prompted Cowper to write his hymn. It has been thought to be connected with a breakdown he suffered in 1773 when he made an attempt at suicide. One story, not verified, has it that he had resolved to drown himself in the river Ouse at a spot about three miles out of town. He called a cab and told the driver to take him to the place. For some reason, perhaps on purpose, the driver could not find the spot and after driving about looking for it for an hour deposited the poet back at his front door.

At the tender age of 15, Shawn Vickers was informed he had HIV.  Being born with hemophilia, a genetic disorder that prevents blood clotting, Vickers had been treated with transfusions of clotting factor from blood donors.  Unfortunately, sixteen years ago when Shawn was accepting blood transfusions, there were no systematic screenings for HIV contaminated blood.  Hence, Shawn contracted the known killer through such blood.   To make matters even more heartbreaking, he tested positive for hepatitis C, which attacks the liver.  That was the final blow pushing Shawn's life into a tailspin.  The news was so devastating, his Mother encouraged him to quit High School and just 'enjoy life' for the meager time he had left. Shawn's spiritual heritage was within the classical Pentecostal Church.  He initially responded by turning to his faith, expecting a miraculous healing to be given. He prayed for it and even went to healing crusades to get it all for naught.  Nothing changed.   

Even as the teen's faith was being tested, he was beginning to develop a new sense of faith in a God that was powerful enough to have the situation under control. Despite the terrible possibilities of the diagnoses, Vickers was determined to move ahead with his life, to finish high school and go on to college. "Mom thought I was in denial," he said. "She saw my expression of faith as denial."

Keeping his condition a secret most of the time, Vickers graduated from high school and went on to complete college as well. And his faith grew, even as he tried to reconcile a faith-healing theology with his continuing condition.

"So many things didn't reconcile with religion as I knew it," he said. "There shouldn't be a disconnect between faith and the real world."

He went to various churches, looking for answers.

"I was starving spiritually," he said.

Shawn stumbled across a radio show by noted theologian and Reformed author, R. C. Sproul.  All that Sproul said made good sense to him.

Subsequently, Shawn found a Church that taught very similarly to Sproul's view. 

"It was strange for me," Vickers said. The formal, structured service was unfamiliar, and the songs — traditional hymns rather than modern praise music — were totally different.

Despite the lack of outward expression, Vickers began to hear a message that answered his questions.

He heard sermons that spoke about "God and his covenant people," a God who is in charge of everything — even Vickers' diseases.

"It put so many things together, especially suffering," he said.

"Even the tragedies and sorrows do not occur by chance or because Satan is working in this world," Grotenhuis said. "God is sovereign; even Satan is under his control."

For Vickers, that message answered the questions that had been haunting him. It solved the puzzle.

"It put so many things into place, especially suffering," he said. "God isn't passive. He brought it to me."

If God is almighty, there is no limit to God's power or authority, he said. That is the sovereignty of God.

"It becomes a bit tangled when you insert human will ... or when it comes to suffering," he said.

If God is not in control, then there are two other possibilities — chance and the power of Satan. But it isn’t so. God is in control. And that is comforting.

In short, a distraught, distressed young man found peace and hope in the Scriptures. Shawn's story is not unique.  Many do find rest in a God Whose Sovereignty allows not one single fibre out of place in this vast Universe. 

God is in control and that is comforting. But what about the elections? Is God in control in our Australian Government?

1. God Protects Us Through Authorities

God provided the government at the time to protect Paul

Historians have long observed that certain provisions of the Roman Empire allowed Christianity to grow explosively over three centuries: Roman peace (Pax Romana), Roman roads, Roman language (Greek) and Roman law. Roman peace gave security. Roman roads gave access. Roman language gave communication. Roman law gave protection and legitimacy. This is not to say that the Roman government was always favorable to Christians. We know that it was not. The Romans could be vicious, inconsistent and cruel. Sometimes Roman officials persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and martyred Christians by the thousands. But, overall, the Roman government was an enormous asset to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Romans 13: 1 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do good and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

The Roman government was surprisingly supportive of religious freedom. Although pagan in practice the Romans didn’t impose faith in Zeus (or Jupiter) upon those they conquered or on their own citizens. As long as people lived by Roman laws they were left alone to believe and practice their religions.
Jews were at the other end of the spectrum. The Old Testament promoted a theocracy where there was no space for religious freedom—everything about God and government were woven together into a seamless cloth. To be a Jew was to be a citizen of Israel and to be a citizen of Israel was to be a Jew.
Then came Christianity. How was this new faith to function with Jewish roots in a Roman world? The choices the early Christians made became foundational to how the church changed the world.
Let’s go back to Jerusalem in A.D. 58. Paul was in protective Roman custody because a radical element of Jewish extremists had formed a terror cell and vowed to murder the man.
Claudius Lysias was commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem and had already rescued Paul three times in three days. He was getting tired of the uproar around Paul and decided to transport him 60 miles to the Roman provincial capital in Caesarea and turn him over to the jurisdiction of Governor Felix.

Claudius Lysias wrote a good letter. But, did you notice that he used the personal pronoun “I” eight times in four sentences? And, he spun the story to make himself look good. “This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen.” Actually, he didn’t find out that Paul was a Roman citizen until after he ordered torture that could have killed him. Lysias was dumping his problem by kicking Paul up to the Governor and making himself look like a hero in the process.

Felix had a sordid story of his own.
Felix was born a slave and was the first person in history to rise from slavery to become a provincial governor. This happened because he brother, Pallas, was popular in the Imperial courts of the Emperors Claudius and Nero.
Felix was married three times and every wife was a princess: Wife #1’s name is unknown; Wife #2 was the granddaughter of Antony and Cleopatra; Wife #3 was Jewish and the daughter of King Herod Agrippa I (her name was Drusilla).
Felix was famous for his ruthless crackdown on Jewish uprisings. He was aggressive, ambitious and unscrupulous. Felix liked to take bribes to determine how to rule in court cases and was already gearing up to get bribe money from Paul. He also hired hit men to murder those he didn’t like, including some of his closest supporters.
Felix had previously served the government for two years in Samaria. He was five years into his term of office as governor of Judea with two years left to go.
Paul and the church took full advantage of the protection and laws of the government to advance the cause of Jesus Christ. His goal was not to seize the reigns of power but to save the souls of people. He wasn’t trying to make the Roman Empire Christian; he was trying to make the Roman people Christian. He did not see the government as an end but as a means to win his generation to Jesus.

We know that 80% of the town of Meulaboh in Aceh was destroyed by the Tsunami waves and 80% of the people also died. This is one of the towns that was hit the hardest.  But there is a fantastic testimony from Meulaboh.  In that town are about 400 Christians. They wanted to celebrate Christmas on December 25th but were not allowed to do so by the Muslims of Meulaboh. They were told if they wanted to celebrate Christmas they needed to go outside the city of Meulaboh on a high hill and they can celebrate Christmas there . Because the Christians desired to celebrate Christmas the 400 believers left the city on December 25th and after they celebrated Christmas they stayed overnight on the hill. As we all know, in the morning of  Sunday, December 26 -2004 , there was the earthquake followed by the Tsunami waves destroying most of the city of Meulaboh and thousands were killed. The 400 believers were on the mountain and were all saved from destruction. Now [we're told that some of] the Muslims of Meulaboh [said] that the God of the Christians punished us for forbidding the Christians from celebrating Christmas in the city. Others are questioning why so many Muslims died while not even one of the Christians died there.  [Other Muslims of course deny this]. Had the Christians insisted on their rights to celebrate Christmas in the city, they would have all died. But because they humbled themselves and followed the advice of the Muslims they all were spared destruction and can now testify of God's marvelous protection.

2. God Protects Us Adequately

A. Paul’s nephew just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Imagine the circumstances of that.

He’s walking down the street, sees a gathering, goes in to hear what’s going on, and hears these 40 guys swearing to not eat until they have killed his uncle.

A friend of mine uncovered Police corruption accidentally when he found a brown paper bag being used to pass on bribes to a Police Superintendent. Right place, right time.

B. Paul was to be protected against 40 hungry murderers. And the government supplied the protection.

Acts 23:23-24 Then [the commander] called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
The Secretary General of the United Nations who doesn’t have anywhere near the protection provided for Paul. President Bush had a lot fo armed guards, but no one could protect him against ABC’s Chaser crew. A total of 470 body guards would have taken half of the Jerusalem garrison. That seems like a lot to stop a plot by four dozen assassins who were out to kill Paul. I guess the Roman commander wanted to be sure.
Protection of citizens is a primary responsibility of government. The Roman government saved Paul’s life which meant that he could multiply churches and Christians and write much of the New Testament. Seven years later (A.D. 65) Paul wrote a letter to his protégé Timothy. He may have been remembering the trip from Jerusalem to Caesarea with 470 bodyguards.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Paul made a direct connection between prayer, government power and salvation.
He valued the protection government gives.

3. God Protects Us Absolutely.

Safe in the Arms of Jesus.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast, There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest. Hark! ’tis the voice of angels, borne in a song to me.

Over the fields of glory, over the jasper sea.


Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast
There by His love o’ershaded, sweetly my soul shall rest.

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!


Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge, Jesus has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages, ever my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience, wait till the night is over;
Wait till I see the morning break on the golden shore.

On Wednesday I shared with Norma from the 34rd Psalm

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.

The Lord encamps Around Us.

He is all we need for every situation.

Lysias had 500 men. All he needed for protection.

Every danger anticipated in your spiritual warfare.

He provides for your comfort.

Mission USSR contains the stories of Soviet Christian prisoners. One of the stories this month is "Surviving the 'Valley of Death,'" the testimony of Valentina who was arrested at the age of 28 for transporting Christian Literature within the Soviet Union. After awaiting trial for six months, she was assigned an atheist public defender. Valentina knew this would not work for their philosophies clashed violently. She realized at her trial that the judge and his assistants were prejudiced against her, and it was clear that the case was being directed by someone behind the scenes. She was finally sentenced to five years imprisonment beginning January 28, l982.

After her trial, she was transported to a Siberian camp called the "valley of death" by the prisoners because of the high mortality rate and spread of tuberculosis. She was completely cut off from her physical and spiritual families and all the things familiar to her. Without the comfort of her Bible and surrounded by prisoners spying on and cursing each other, she said, "There were periods when it seemed I couldn't pray, that the heavens were sealed up and silent."

That is what I call living between a rock and a hard place. Valentina was separated from all that brings joy to the heart and soul. Being cut off from her family, friends and fellowship, she was cast into the very "valley of death" surrounded by the spiritually dead. There she discovered her soul had no desire to pray. At this point, the believer feels cut off from the Lord Jesus Christ, our only source of life. I am sure most of us have experienced this ourselves from time to time.

Valentina was in "the valley of death." Talk about a rock and hard place! She went on to say:

The conditions in camp were disheartening...I had prayed before being sent there that wherever God sent me, He would give me the strength to fulfill the work quota. At first, things were very hard physically, of course, but [italics mine] God preserved me in His mercy, through the prayers of my friends and the church. Sometimes I didn't even have the strength to pray, but could only raise my eyes to heaven in a silent cry. In His mercy the Lord sent me a Christian sister...Natasha...a wonderful Christian, of sterling character, full of peace, and it was evident that the Lord was present with her. We always tried to support one another in the arms of prayer. Valentina our Soviet prisoner stayed in the "valley of death" for the full five years. She was finally released in l987 at the age of 32. When she was asked, "Don't you regret the years that you wasted here?" she answered,

If the Son of God willingly went to Calvary for me, what in comparison is giving five years of my earthly life?...The ministry He gave me in the prison camp was the work He wanted me to do. He put me there and required only that I be faithful to Him....He gave me the health and strength to remain faithful to Him. And through His mercy and power through the prayers of His people, He enabled me to be victorious.

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him

Friday, November 23, 2007


Discipleship And the Church Acts 2:41-47


So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 So they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 And every day they devoted themselves [to meeting]together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

Moore of SBTS writes "A Princeton biologist has found Jesus in an anthill. No, he didn't discover a Last Supper scene made of bread crumbs. And, no, he wasn't the victim of a new coercive form of evangelism. In fact, I don't know if he's ever thought about Jesus at all. But he's found a laboratory-based, grant-funded way to say something quite old: "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).

According to the International Herald Tribune Princeton University mathematical biologist Iain Couzin is constructing a computer model to detail how army ants are able to move from colony to colony without "a mad, disorganized scramble." Couzin expresses awe that these tiny, relatively simple, organisms can build intricate highways and food-delivery systems without ever experiencing gridlock. Humans can learn a thing or two here, he suggests.

Now, at first glance, nothing seems further from the spiritual life of most Christians or from the mission of most churches than an Ivy League entomology study. But, what if our listening to this researcher will astound us even further about the wisdom of our Christ in the same way the Hubble telescope photographs cause us to gasp anew at the old truth that the heavens declare the glory of God?

Most Christians are familiar with Solomon's admonition to look to the ant (Prov 6:6-11). Our children sing songs about it. Our leadership manuals teach us to plan for retirement based on it. Most of us, however, tend to see this as helpful, homespun advice about good hard work. It makes sense to us, but it hits us with all the spiritual gravity of "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." But there's much more here.

Solomon tells us that there is wisdom to be gained from looking at a mound of ants. And, for Solomon, as for Jesus and his apostles, wisdom isn't data. Wisdom is a way one walks, a voice one hears, a Person one knows. The way the Proverbs tell us about, the structure of the universe, the Scripture tells us is a Logos, through whom God made everything that was made. Jesus of Nazareth is, Paul tells us, "the wisdom of God and the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24).

This is why laziness, right along with discord, gluttony, gossip, lack of self-control and every other form of folly mentioned in Scripture is not just a character flaw. Our foolishness tells us whether or not we are walking in wisdom. Since we know the Wisdom of which Solomon spoke (Matt 12:42), our laziness or ineffectiveness or lack of foresight tells us much about how we are following Christ.

The ants show us a design God has placed in the structure of the cosmos, a grain we'll either work with or against, as we follow Jesus in assuming our stewardship of our callings in the world. Solomon's counsel to look to the ant is itself an indictment of a humanity in rebellion against its Creator. After all, God commanded Adam and Eve in the beginning to "work and keep" the Garden, and to exercise dominion over "every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:26).

Now, a fallen humanity, turned away from their Creator, must be told to learn from the dominion exercised by one of the tiniest of all "creeping things": the ant. Solomon points to the foresight and effectiveness of the ant in storing food for winter (Prov 6:8). He admires the fact that the ant labors without coercion, or even direction from any chief officer or ruler (Prov 6:7).

Because we are future kings and queens of the universe in Christ, the Scripture has much to say about how we work in this time between the times. This is why so much of the Scripture is spent counseling Christians against idleness or insubordination. But, in this present age, the reign of Christ is seen in the church (Eph 1:20-22), a rule that is seen in His working through the Holy Spirit through gifts for the purpose of upbuilding the Kingdom community (Eph 4:1-16).

And that's where the ant research gets really interesting.

Couzin argues that the secret of ant effectiveness is the use of swarms. The insects are able, he says, to travel through any type of terrain without problem because they use their living bodies as bridges. "They build them up if they're required, and they dissolve if they're not being used," he concludes. But how do millions of ants know how to do this, without running all over each other?

While Couzin hasn't completely solved this one, he argues that chemical markers set forth "rules" that the ants follow, rules that wouldn't make sense for any individual ant, only for the swarm as a whole. "These rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move as if they were a single organism," the Herald Tribune reports.

I stopped in mid-sentence when I read that line, and felt the hair on my arms stand on end.

Thousands of years ago, Solomon told us to look to the ants and be wise. It wasn't just, as we often suppose, that the ants work hard. It was that they are able to work effectively despite the very mystery this study seeks to unravel: they have no chief officer or ruler. The way they're able to do it, this study tells us, is through one body with many members, all keeping in step with a common instinct. In so doing, they become, though legion, one organism with a collective mind.

Paul warned the church at Corinth that the mission of the congregation was jeopardized by a wisdom of this world that was, in fact, folly. The foolishness was a discord in the church, over leadership and spiritual gifts, that threatened to signal that Christ himself was divided (1 Cor 10-13). Paul, like Solomon points them to a hidden wisdom that is found not in the philosophers' writings but in the "low and despised" things of the universe (1 Cor 1:28).

The congregation shouldn't splinter apart into quarreling because, he tells us, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). There shouldn't be rivalry or jockeying for position because "you are the body of Christ and individually members in it," all various parts led by a central nervous system with a name, a birth date, and a manger he previously called home.

I wonder how often our ineffectiveness at our mission as congregations has less to do with a commitment to "excellence," and more to do with a refusal to see ourselves first ecclesially and only second personally. Perhaps our churches are so immature precisely because we see ourselves first in terms of our personal ambitions, our personal careers, our personal lives.

I wonder how much of the deadness and silliness in our churches has less to do with a laziness that refuses to toss aside individual glory for the unity of the church, a laziness that refuses to set aside one's preferences to discern the mind of Christ. I wonder if we really get that we are all individually tiny components of a vast, multinational organism, one that spans the globe and the centuries?

Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?

Yes, our highways are gridlocked, but our churches are often more so. Maybe what we need isn't to sit through one more corporate leadership seminar. Maybe what we need is to stop the Wednesday business meeting and walk outside to turn over an anthill. " 

What are the characteristics of God’s people? My Passion drives me, My purpose describes me. My Passion gives me Dynamic, My Purpose gives me direction, passion without purpose is aimless Purpose without passion is lifeless, but when there is passion and purpose there is POWER.

Acts 2, Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:42-47

We tend to revere rugged individualists, but there are no real-life Rambos or Lone Rangers who do things of great achievement on their own. “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” All the significant accomplishments in the history of humankind have been achieved by teams of people. The truth can also be carried over to a personal level. Most of life’s great moments-the ones that resonate in our hearts and minds-involve other people. John Maxwell

Petersen writes of American Christianity, We are a society of individualists and we like it that way. The pages of our history books present a parade of people who with their own two hands fought wars, forged governments, built industries, and made fortunes. It’s “the American way.” Frank Sinatra was only half joking when he introduced his autobiographical song, “I Did it My Way,” as our national anthem. We carry this pride in individual achievement over into our response to God’s calling as well. When we hear the familiar command, “Go make disciples,” a Lone Ranger image comes up on our screen: riding out to evangelize and disciple, and then coming back in with our notch on his gun.

The church is vital to God for several reasons:

• Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25 Matthew13:45,46). We are also to love the church.

• The primary purpose of God in this age is building the church (Matthew16:18 Acts 15:14). If we want to be involved with what God is doing we need to be involved in the Church.

• Paul considered it his greatest sin to have persecuted the church (1 Corinthians 5:9 Galatians 1:13)

• The church is the only institution established by the apostles. The church is the Divine plan of God and he founded the church, bought the church, builds the church dwells in the church, and loves the church.

• The Church will occupy a place of blessing and honor

• The Church will be united with Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:7)

• The Church will reign with Christ (1Corinthians 6:2; 1 Revelation 1:6, 3:21, 20:4-6 22:5)

• The Church will be an eternal testimony (Ephesians 3:10,21)

Because God views his church as important, it must be important to the believer. Spiritual health, growth in Christ, inner strength, and a joyful sense of fulfillment are experienced at their best in participating in a Christ honouring church (Ephesians 4:12-16). Christians who bypasses the local church are disobedient to the Lord and deprive themselves of benefits that can be found nowhere else.

NBT Exists:

1. To Celebrate God’s Presence. MAGNIFY

“praising God, and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:47)

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matt. 4:10)

Worship Fuels my service.

Worship shapes my life.

Worship prepares me for heaven.

2. To Incorporate God’s Family. MEMBERSHIP

“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:41,42)

The early church was a mixture of many races, many status’ slave and free.. etc all brought together as a family.

What made them one was more than what made them different.

All bro’s and sisters in Christ.

Insurance companies say if you go to church on a regular basis some emotional benefits. Church members are twice as likely to say that their home is happy and their work contributes to society. They will reconcile 10 times more likely to say they have a sense of community.

Accidents take place ..20% of accidents are  in cars, 17% of accidents occur at home, 16% of accidents occur on the street or the sidewalk.

16&% of accidents occur while we travel by air and water

.001% of all deaths were in a church service.

How to get into the church

Surrender your life to Jesus. Entry

Scriptural baptism .. Your identity in the church

Service Interaction in the church

Small group connection, your intimacy in the church.

An intimate walk with others begins here.

Sometimes a fire has been used to illustrate this reality. If you put a number of logs together they will burn brightly and for a good length of time. In contrast, if you only have a single log it will not burn nearly so brightly or as long.

You do not “join “ the church but are spiritually “born” into the church. You do not become a Christian by joining the church, but when you become a Christian, you are part of the Church. You cannot be a Christian without being a member of the church of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13) The church becomes what it should be as all members fulfil their personal responsibility. Church membership is fulfilling the responsibilities of being a member of the Body of Christ. “Anything less than active participation in the life of the assembly goes against Christ’s will for his church.” William Evans points out, “When a man became regenerate by believing in Jesus Christ he was thereby constituted a member of the church. There was no question as to whether he ought to join himself to the church or not; that was a fact taken for granted.” To be part of the universal church and yet to not want to identify with the local church is inconsistent with the theology of the church as well as with the reality of new life in Christ.

3. To Educate God’s People. MATURITY ESTABLISHING

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42)

They were committed to the truth of God’s Word.

Acts 17: 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.

We exist to help people understand the truth of God’s Word. We have become biblically ignorant and theologically inept.

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press onto maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1)

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

The central theme in verses 13-16 is a commitment to walking in Maturity.

Marks Of A Mature Christian:

Growth with respect to biblical Instruction. “until we all attain to the unity of the faith”

Growth with respect to godly Intimacy. “and the knowledge of the Son of God”

Growth with respect to Christlike Imitation. “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”

Growth with respect to loving Implementation. “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”

Marks Of An Immature Christian:

A life of Inconsistency. “we are no longer to be children”

A life of Instability. “tossed here and there by waves”

A life of Ignorance. “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming”

4. To Demonstrate God’s Love. MINISTER

“And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:44-45)

Ministering to One Another.

They were not just committed to meeting their own needs but to one another’s needs.

They were embracing and serving one another. The greatest ministry we can have is encouraging one another. I wish someone would love me encourage me .

A young stay at home mother had a rough day her daughter in high chair, mum wept and 2 year old took her dummy out and stuck it in her mum’s mouth.

We minister as we care for one another.

Serving one another.

We need ministers.

Gifts and service. Its not about your gifts its about your service! Gene Getz.

Get involved in serving O.A.

Sadhu Singh and 2 men hiking over the mountains.. the enemy was the cold, he time, and the lack of strength.

Came cross one man sick and dying of the cold. One refused and walked on.

Singh carried him and their body warmth kept both alive.

5. To Communicate God’s Heart. MISSION EXPORTING

“And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)


They grew at such a phenomenal rate because they were committed. Unless evangelism is the first priority, it will be your last priority.

Ask yourself how you are going with these 5 priorities of the church?

Membership Ministry

Maturity Mission magnifying the Lord. Are you that kind of Christian?

The Power of the Holy Spirit produces Passion + Purpose. And this passion and purpose produces fellowship together as the people of God.

Go to the ant. See how God works as we all work together. See the goals of community that He ahs for us.

In the May of 1940 the German army and air force trapped a third of a million British and French soldiers in a place called Dunkirk on the Belgian coast of the North Sea.  The British navy estimated that only 45,000 soldiers could be rescued.  Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned the British House of Commons to expect “hard and heavy tidings.”  The German forces were clearly superior.  British ships were sunk in the Dunkirk harbor.  The German Luftwaffe was ferocious.  It was a hopeless dilemma for the Allied troops. Then the people of England did something historic.  They set sail across the English Channel and into the North Sea in every boat they could float—tug boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, fire ships, private yachts, barges and even a paddle steamer.  Over 700 vessels (many of which had never been to sea before) rescued 338,226 soldiers from capture and death. Churchill called it a miracle and the British press said it was “a disaster turned into triumph.” The evacuation of Dunkirk is the story of the British using everything they had to save lives and to save England.

The story of the church is about God using every member of the Body, His church, to save souls.

You may think of yourself as a speed boat, or a yacht, or a dinghy. It takes us all to do the job. Will you use what God has given you to save souls?


Just Waiting For The Elections Tomorrow? Then Remember:

Monday, November 19, 2007


Acts 23 Your Stability in The Storms of Life

The background to this situation is found in the arrest of Paul in the temple where he had come to worship the God of his fathers.
Some of the Jews of Asia, from Ephesus who had been involved in a riot in the city of Ephesus saw Paul there and they stirred up another riot against him. The crowd had formed and the people were beating him to death. Right above the temple area where all this was happening, rises the tower of Antonio, where the Roman contingent was housed, sent there by Rome to enforce peace and quiet in Jerusalem. So when they saw the riot before them, they poured out of the castle down into the temple area and rescued Paul. The Roman chiliarch, the head, commanding officer of the contingent in Jerusalem, having discovered from Paul that he was a Roman citizen and could speak Greek, he acquiesced to Paul’s desire to speak to the maddening throng below.
So standing on the steps of the tower of Antonio, Paul begins to speak to the throng below in their own language, in Hebrew. The Scripture tells us that they listened quietly to what he had to say. As he closed that address he said: the Lord had told him: For I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto this word. And then lifted up their voices and say: Away with such a fella from the earth. It is not fit that he should live.
The word of course, was the Gentiles. The use of that word infuriated these people. How could the Lord send a prophet or an apostle to the Gentiles? They were hated dogs.
So the chiliarch decides to take Paul and try him before the Sanhedrin to find out why the Jews were so intent on tearing Paul limb from limb.
So Paul is held before the Sanhedrin and a trial is commenced. This trial is supposed to discover why the Jews were so cranky with Paul, and to see if there was some serious crime he had committed for which the Romans could execute him.
Acts 23:1 Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?” 4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?” 5 “I did not know, brothers,” Paul said, “that it was the high priest. For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”
Under stress we all react. Even Paul reacted angrily to the High Priest’s assault. But the difference with a Christian man is the recognition of rightful authority. And Paul affirms his submission to rightful authorities.
In the history of Josephus, this Ananias was sent as a prisoner to Rome bound in chains because of injustice and cruelty. And he was tried for his life before Claudius Caesar. In the trial he was acquitted and returned back to his office in Jerusalem. God shall smite thee, thou whited wall. That’s a prophecy. And this same Annias was assassinated at the outbreak of the Jewish War in A.D. 66 as a Roman sympathiser. He was murdered by the dreaded sicarii. They were men who mingled in the throngs. And in their flowing robes carried daggers and they murdered those who they felt proved unworthy of the confidence of the people. And this Ananias was so murdered by the sicarii. An unusual turn of fortune. Ananias was a Sadducee.
The Sadducees were political and religious opportunists. They took advantage of the devotion of the people in order to further themselves. They ran the temple and they received all of the tribute from the coffers in the temple. The Sadducees and the Pharisees hated each other. The Pharisees were the conservative group. The Pharisees were traditionalists. They were fundamentalists. They believed the Bible. They believed the word of God. But they added so much more to it. The only time you ever find them together is they agree on their hatred for Jesus and they agree here on their prejudice against Paul. Now, when Paul looked at them, and saw the Sanhedrin so divided, he said: I am a Pharisees. In the Bible there are many, many Pharisees converted to the faith such as Saul of Tarsus, this Paul. Or such as Nicodemus and many, many other Pharisees. Gamaliel was a Pharisees.
But you never read in the Bible and you never hear of it in history that there ever was a Sadducees who was ever converted to the Christian faith.
And Paul standing there said: In my acceptance of the word of God, in my belief in heaven, in my belief in angels, in my belief in the presence of God in power and in spirit and in my belief in the resurrection from among the dead, I am a Pharisee.
And again Paul puts the court into uproar, and again we read:
10 When the dispute became violent, the commander feared that Paul might be torn apart by them and ordered the troops to go down, rescue him from them, and bring him into the barracks.
But the storms got worse:
12 When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than 40 who had formed this plot.

I have had a couple of threats on my life over the years.
The first, when I helped a few folks get rid of 2 million dollars worth of Marijuana. I heard it back through the grapevine that this fellow was coming to get me. An absolute madman who had been imprisoned for trying to blow up a police station (with dynamite strapped to his own chest). I rigged up every door in the house with things that would rattle and sat up for 3 nights straight with a lump of wood in my hand, expecting him to blast through the door with a shotgun. I couldn’t call the police or I’d most certainly endanger his young family.
Another time a man who had assaulted disabled kids threatened to kill me after a church meeting put him out of church membership.
Another time a drug dealer was trying to use the premises at the East Hills Baptist church as his shop. I called the police, and while we waited the half hour for the police to arrive, he threatened to rape and murder Lorelle.
Death threats are no fun. But Paul hasn’t just got death threats. This is the whole box and dice! These fellas absolutely intended to slay Paul, even if it meant forfeiting their own lives to the Roman soldiers in their attack. These were madmen!
How can you stand up under such pressure? What do you do if there is extreme opposition?
Some of us have trouble with neighbours. Some of us have trouble with work colleagues.
Some of us experience this trouble because Satan has stirred it up in someone’s heart to just malevolently hate us.
November 1st 2007 The two owners of the Enoch Group, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel and Eliza Ng, were even put under house arrest from October 12 to 25, 2007. Their cell phones were confiscated and they were not allowed to go out of their house at the Panyu district, Guangzhou, Guangdong province. High level government sources told CAA that some of the central government leaders were upset that the Enoch Group has hired a large number of Chinese Christians. The Chinese leaders suspect that the Enoch Group uses its company motto, "love, peace, joy and faithfulness" to promote Christianity. Sources said the rather harsh tactic made against Enoch Group is to send a strong warning signal to other foreign businesses in China owned by Christians. The Enoch group is a well-established ecological company which produces environmentally related products. Mr. and Mrs. Ng are both naturalized Australian citizens, who emigrated from Hong Kong.
What do you do? How do you get your composure in these times? Can you get some sleep through all of that?
Paul discovered what believers in all times and situations have had to discover in the furnace of opposition.

1. The Person of God Will Sustain
Acts 23: 11 The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The intervention of God in the crisis of human life. You find it again in the story of the three Hebrew children. Cast into the fiery furnace, heated seven times above what it is wont to be heated. And these three young men, bound and thrown into the furious flames.
And then in the 27th chapter of Acts, "For there stood by me this night the angel of God Whose I am, Who I serve saying, `Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar.'"
"For there stood by him the Lord saying." And then again, "And there stood by me the angel of the Lord."
37th Psalm avows, "I have been young and now am old. Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread." Hebrews 13 so beautifully avows to us, "The Lord hath said, `I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'"
David "And the same Lord God that stood by me as I face the lion and the bear is the same Lord God that shall stand by me as I face this giant Goliath." And the lad replied, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a shield. But I come to you in the name of the Lord God Whom thou hast defied."
He is watching, caring, overruling, guiding, remembering, loving. That's the Lord Who never forsakes His children.
So I go on, not knowing. I would not know if I might.
I had rather walk with Christ by faith Than to walk alone by sight.
I had rather walk with Him in the dark, Than to walk by myself in the light.

When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me.
When the world is tossing me Like a ship upon the sea,
Thou Who rulest wind and water, Stand by me.
In trials and tribulations, Stand by me.
When the hosts of hell assail And my strength begins to fail,
Thou Who never lost a battle, Stand by me.
In the midst of falls and failures, Stand by me.
When I do the best I can And my friends misunderstand,
Thou Who knowest all about me, Stand by me.
When I'm growing old and feeble, Stand by me.
When my life becomes a burden And I'm nearing chilly Jordan,
O Thou lily of the valley, Stand by me.

2. The Plan Of God Will Stand
Acts 23: 11 The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
Where ever you are the Lord stands by you. He will take you places you could never imagine to proclaim His gospel. He said to Paul, you’re going to Rome. You’re not going to die in Jerusalem!
I thought of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. II Kings 6:8-18 When the king of Aram was waging war against Israel, he conferred with his servants, “My camp will be at such and such a place.” 9 But the man of God sent [word]to the king of Israel: “Be careful passing by this place, for the Arameans are going down there.” They were in a little town called Dothan. In the middle of Samaria. So the king said, “Go and see where he is, so I can send [men]to capture him.” When he was told, “Elisha is in Dothan,”
14 he sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” 16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When the Arameans came against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Please strike this nation with blindness.” So He struck them with blindness, according to Elisha’s word. 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will take you to the man you’re looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
Can you imagine Gehazi the servant? He came to Elisha the prophet and said: Wake up. Wake up. My soul, says Elisha, the soldiers of the enemy are all around us. Lord, my master, we’re done for. We’re done for. This means our head is cut off. This is the end of the way. Elisha, unperturbed. I wonder if he even got out of bed. Elisha said to Gehazi: Gehazi, they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And then Elisha prayed a little prayer: Lord, open the eyes of the young man. Help him to see. And God opened the eyes of Gehazi. And he looked. And the mountains and the heavens and the whole world above it was filled with horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
God’s Plan for Elisha would stand, even if there was a whole army armed and directed to kill him. God’s Plan will stand!
God’s plans always Stand! Where ever you are the Lord stands by you. He will take you places you could never imagine to proclaim His gospel. He said to Paul, you’re going to Rome. You’re not going to die in Jerusalem!
I think of Richard Wurmbrand, and Haralan Popov pastor in Bulgaria during the Communist regime, Haralan Popov recounts the testing of his faith during 13 years of persecution in Communist prisons. It truly is hard to believe what he was able to endure in those dark years--but that just stands as a testament to the power of God to sustain him through this awful ordeal, by his faith in Christ. Haralan Popov was a successful minister in Bulgaria when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment as an American spy, at a widely publicized trial in Sofia. Enduring torture and brainwashing in communist prisons and labor camps, Haralan Popov remained faithful to God. After his release, Dr. Haralan Popov founded Door of Hope International in 1972. "Tortured For Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand,
There was, however, much unique to Popov's account and his story, such as the different tactics of the Communists in torturing or extricating information from the prisoners, and also the difference in the prisoner's ability to acquire portions or even entire Bibles while in prison. He also describes the laborious but joyful work of many who toiled to reproduce and covertly distribute hand-copied bibles to the underground Christians, to replace those destroyed by the Communists.
Born in Bulgaria, a land called “Little Russia,” he was the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the nation, and was one of his country’s foremost spiritual leaders. After the Communist occupation of Bulgaria, his very prominence as a devoted Christian brought him severe physical and spiritual torture at the hands of the Soviet KGB and their Bulgarian puppets.
In 16 different prisons and slave camps, Pastor Popov continued his work for God despite the suffering he knew he might have to endure. Once Popov was forced to stand facing a blank wall for 18 hours. And knowing that if he flinched he would die. To know the Lord stood by him in that situation brought strength and courage and hope.
After the miracle of surviving 13 years and two months in Communist prisons, he was finally released. Despite threats of re-arrest, he continued organizing secret church services and Bible teachings because the official church had been infiltrated and had fallen under total Communist control.
Later, at the urging of his family living in Sweden and through the power of prayer, he made his way to the Free World. From there he focused all his energy to awaken society to the plight of persecuted Christians and their needs.
God’s Plans will Stand

3. The Purpose Of God Will Strengthen
Acts 23: 11 The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
When you focus on the task at hand, God gives you the grace.
Paul focussed on his one mission, to Christ and to make Him known! He had only one priority: 1 Cor 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Paul limited himself. He could have focussed on so many things. He could have focussed on his judicial training. He could have focussed on the injustices of his situation. He could have marshalled his arguments ready for the onslaught before the Sanhedrin. He could have worried about the future. No. All he had to do was focus on the one task God had given him: as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in… wherever. It really didn’t matter where, as long as he did what God had for him to do.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
This is what you need to be concerned about, nothing else.
Some people ask me why we can stand up under incredible pressures at the moment. Pressures with the Preschool, pressures with the HDBA, .. well it isn’t just pressures. There are priorities.
If you have the Lord’s one priority uppermost in your mind, you can endure almost anything.
I remember when a fellow pastor was falsely accused of something, something for which he could well go to jail. In the circumstances of the times, he would most certainly have gone to jail. I remember thinking to myself, ‘What would I do if I was falsely accused of a crime, and found guilty, and sent to jail? How would I cope? How would I look at the situation in the light of God’s sovereignty?” I decided that if that was the case, I would just anticipate that God had some people in some jails that He wanted saved, and that I would have to endure whatever the situation was just so these people could get saved.
Listen to 2 Tim 2: 8 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel. 9 For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God’s message is not bound. 10 This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Now put yourself there.
What if God called you to endure some indescribable situation, absolutely abhorrent to your sensibilities, could you endure it for the sake of the gospel?
Is the gospel really your number 1 priority?
Or is it yourself. Your plans and your purposes?
You can have the Lord stand by you. Or you can stand by yourself.
It’s your choice. What are you going to do? Joshua said Josh 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


How To Make Your Life Count

The most popular word for Christians in the Bible is SAINTS.
from the greek word Agonizomai... sanctified
Do you feel like a saint?
Saints? Like James and John?
I am like James and John Lord, I size up other people in terms of what they can do for me; how they can further my programs, feed my ego, satisfy my needs, give me strategic advantage.
I exploit people, for your sake, but really for my own sake.
Lord, I turn to you to get the inside track and obtain special favours, your direction for my schemes, your power for my projects, your sanction for my ambitions, your blank check for whatever I want
I am like James and John. Change me, Lord Make me a man who asks of you and of others, what can I do for you? – Robert A. Raines

We are often more like Plaster saints.

You know, Lord, how I serve you with great emotional fervour in the limelight You know how eagerly I speak for you at a women’s club You know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study. But how would I react, I wonder if you pointed to a basin of water And asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman day after day month after month In a room where nobody saw and nobody knew. – Ruth Harms Cullim

There is sin that adheres to even our most sacred duties! We don't much feel like saints.

Romans 6 gives us God's way of making us saintly.


1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
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.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

You need to realise that you are dead.
We are talking here tonight about the mystical union between the the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.
Baptism is like a wedding ring; just as a wedding ring symbolises that a person is married, so baptism symbolises our union with Christ.
Baptism symbolises death and resurrection.
It symbolises your death and resurrection with the Lord Jesus Christ.
You have died with Chris to sin.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2. YOU NEED TO RECOGNISE YOU ARE DEADRomans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
logizomai .. an accounting term. Do the sums. If you are untired to Christ, then you have died to sin. Reckon it to be so. When temptation comes a calling tell it there's no one home, the person that was there that responded to temptation is now dead. Reckon that this is so for yourself.

3. YOU NEED TO RESIST SINRomans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Take responsibility for your sins.
So often we make the excuse that we were born this way! This is our psychological makeup. And so there is no hope of us ever changing. We have made chanins for ourselves to our sins.
The angry eprson says, "well this is just the way I am. I can't do anything about, I'll just have to love with this the way I am." What a cop out! This person is refusing to take responsibility for their sins.
The depressive person who likes to enjoy their depression says to themselves, "Well this is just the way I am. I am a depressed person. I will just have to live with it!" Again, this is a cop out! This person is running from their responsibility for their sins, and as a result is leaving themselves chained to their sins.
And they don't need to. They can leave those sins behind.


Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Whose slave are you? you have a choice. you can be yielded to sin or to God. Bob Dylan said "You gotta serve somebody"
"instruments" = weapons
Whose stockpile of weaponry are you contributing to?
Consider the outcomes. Death!
But aren't Christians saved from death?
Yes. The atoning death of the Lord Jesus cleanses us from all sins. 1John 1:7
But tehre is still death is sin.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
is primarily written to Christians.
We like to use this verse evangelistically, but its for Christians. Paul is saying that when you as a christian give yourself up to some sin, you give yourself up to some elements of death.
Consider: if you give yourself up to selfishness, there will be death in relationships.
If you give yourself up to self pity there wll be death in some of your friendships.
And thre will be a diminishing in your fellowship with the Lord.
You have a choice.. to serve sin resulting in all sorts of death in your life , or to surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ with all sorts of life in your life.

When you relinishuish, make it a wholehearted surrender of all that you are to the
Lord Jesus Christ.
There are 4 answers for the saint who feels like an aint.
The Tour de France is the world's biggest cycling race. It is a 22-day, 20-stage road race that is usually run over more than 3000km. It is a circuit of most areas around France and, sometimes, neighbouring countries. The race is broken into stages from one town to another, each of which is an individual race. The time taken to complete each stage becomes a cumulative total to decide the outright winner at the end of the Tour.
In 1989 the organizers returned to holding a time trial as the final stage. In it, Greg LeMond of the United States overtook the Frenchman Laurent Fignon, who held a 50-second lead, to win by eight seconds, the closest margin in the Tour's history.
Disaster struck LeMond while turkey hunting in California, April 20, 1987, when his brother-in-law accidentally discharged his shotgun, striking LeMond in the back just over two months before the 1987 Tour de France was to begin. LeMond missed the following two Tours while recovering, also undergoing surgery for appendicitis and for tendinitis in his leg.
At the 1989 Tour de France, with 37 shotgun pellets remaining in his body (including some in the lining of his heart), LeMond was hoping only to finish in the top 20. Heading into the final stage, however, an individual time trial finishing in Paris, LeMond was in second place overall. He was 50 seconds behind Laurent Fignon, who had won the Tour in 1983 and 1984. LeMond rode the time trial using then-novel aero bars, which gave him a significant aerodynamic advantage, to beat Fignon by 58 seconds to claim his second yellow jersey with a final victory margin of 8 seconds – the closest in the Tour's history. As LeMond danced in victory on the Champs-Élysées, Fignon sat and wept. Several days later, Fignon attributed his loss to saddle sores, which had hurt his performance. However, it was noted that Fignon had been overconfident on the last stages of the Tour, even congratulating LeMond on his second place, allowing LeMond to gain an advantage which proved decisive.
In hospital all he could think of was making his life count.
With the impediment of a couple of gunshot pellets near his heart, he still put in the effort to win and make his life count.
Will you make your life count for the Lord Jesus Christ?

Saturday, November 17, 2007


James S Stewart - Clouds and Darkness and the Morning Star

Clouds and Darkness and the Morning Star

'If one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.' ISA. 5:30.

'I am the bright and morning star.' - REV. 22. 16.

OF ALL THE DOUBTS WHICH, AS BROWNING PUTS IT, CAN 'RAP and knock and enter in our soul', by far the most devastating is doubt of the ultimate purpose of God. You may doubt some of the dogmas of your ancestors, and be none the worse for it. You may doubt a particular article in a credal state­ment, and still be on the Lord's side. You may doubt the validity of contemporary fashions in religious thinking, and still have your feet upon the Rock of Ages. But to doubt the final purpose of God - which means to doubt the rationality of the universe, and significance of human exper­ience, and the worth of moral values - is there anything left to live for then?

Yet what is precisely the doubt which is lying like an appalling weight on multitudes of lives today. They would think twice before subscribing to Tennyson's faith:

'Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,

And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.'

'Where is any evidence of such a purpose?' they want to ask. 'Where is any convincing trace of plan or pattern or design? It does not make sense - this tangled world. We are not getting anywhere. We are just blundering along, victims of fate and chance and accident; and all our dreams and hopes and idealisms and struggles are a mere forlorn futility.'

So they are back where Ecclesiastes was. 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.' What is the use, cried Thomas Hardy, of all your prayers, you praying people, when you have nothing better to pray to than

'The dreaming, dark, dumb Thing

That turns the handle of this idle Show?'

'A bad joke' - that was Voltaire's final verdict 011 life. 'Ring down the curtain,' said the dying actor, 'the farce is done.'

People do not go about saying these things, of course. Not in so many words. But deep down in the hidden recesses of many a soul that doubt has begun to stir. Has God a plan?

Mark you, they are not flippant souls whom that doubt afflicts. Some of the most lovable and devoted people in the world are in the toils of it today. There was a man I knew: he turned in, with this particular burden on his heart, to a church one day. The preacher's sermon was a hotch-potch of Emersonian optimism, plus a dash of Coue: the world was getting better and better every day, and everything in the garden of the human heart was lovely, and soon we should all reach the New Jerusalem by our own momentum. That man left the church that day not only hurt, but angry. I don't blame him. I think it would have angered Christ. Face the facts! That is Christ's first rule of honesty. And when men do sincerely endeavour to face the facts, do you think it is so very surprising that sometimes a doubt of the ultimate meaning of it all creeps in? Read your Isaiah. He

might have been writing for today. 'If one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.'

Now this doubt of an ultimate plan or purpose in life springs from various sources; and I am going to ask you at this point to imagine that we have here in the church two or three typical representatives, who are going to speak for themselves.

Here is one. 'My doubt of an ultimate purpose in things,' he tells us, 'comes from science.' 'Will you explain?' we ask him. 'Well, it is like this,' he goes on. 'It is now a recognised fact that the universe we inhabit is gradually ­very slowly, but none the less certainly - running down like a clock, with its energy imperceptibly but steadily degen­erating. And if that is true, if that is the line of our destiny, is there any sense in talking of an ultimate purpose or a plan ?' Now it is a real difficulty; and even if I were to point out to this speaker that a universe which is running down like a clock must first have been wound up by some one, and that therefore his own argument points to a divine mind in con­trol; even if I were to remind him that in any case Chris­tianity never suggested that our home here was permanent ('The world passeth away'), it is hardly likely that this would dispel his doubt. Some better answer will be required. There is a better answer. There is, in Christianity, an over­whelmingly convincing answer. We are coming to that soon. Meanwhile, the difficulty stands.

Take a second man. 'It is not science,' he tells us, 'that has led me to doubt the purpose of God: it is the state of the world. It is this pitiless, unending struggle for existence among the nations. It is the collapse of our idealisms before the brute facts of force and chaos. It is the feeling that there is something demonic in the heart of things which is work­ing against us, that there is a radical twist in the very

constitution of the universe which will always defeat man's hopes, make havoc of his dreams, and bring his pathetic optimism crashing ill disaster. Purpose? Look at the world! That settles it.'

Take a third man. 'It is neither science nor history,' he tells us, 'that has shaken my faith in a divine plan. It is the fact of suffering.' And then perhaps he quotes the words of the philosopher Hume. 'Were a stranger to drop suddenly into this world, I would show him, as a specimen of its ills, a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors

-and debtors, a field of battle strewn with cm·cases, a fleet floundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under tyranny, famine, or pestilence.' 'Honestly,' he declares, 'I don't see how you can possibly square that with an ultimate purpose of love.' And indeed, I wonder if anyone here has never felt, like cold steel running into his soul, the sudden stab of that wild doubt? There is a most poignant moment in Eugene O'Neill's play, All God's Chillun got Wings. 'Will God forgive me?' one of the characters asks another. And the answer comes - 'Maybe He can forgive what you've done to me; and maybe He can forgive what I've done to you; but I don't see how He's going to forgive - Himself.' It is the same haunting doubt. Is there any loving purpose in command?

We have imagined these three men speaking frankly of their problem - one arguing from science, another from the condition of the world, a third from the mystery of suffering. But perhaps for someone here the problem is more intimate and personal still. It is not really science, nor the world, nor an abstract problem of evil that is your worry. It is your own experience. The psalmist advised us, when the low mood came, to address our own souls, and say, 'Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul?' But there are multitudes of people who know perfectly well what their souls would answer.

'Cast down? How can I help it? Life has been so different

from what I had hoped, so fuIl of thwarting and frustration; and I seem to be of so little use to anyone, and if I died to­night the world would go on tomorrow as if nothing at all had happened. And this struggle to achieve something like a decent character - what a weary business that has been! This troublesome self - ten years, twenty years ago, I was fighting that; and here I am, fighting the same thing still. And what's the use? I feel so tragically ineffective and futile. Don't talk to me of a divine purpose in my life! For that I can't believe.'

We have listened, then, to these different voices; and I think you will realise that what they are doing is to force us up against the most crucial alternative, the most inescapable 'Either-Or' of life. That alternative is this: Either despair ­or faith. Either blank, unrelieved pessimism, or a gambler's throw with your soul. Either darkness and futility and ulti­mate night, or the vision of God standing within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

There is no third way. It is between these two readings of life that every soul of us must choose. But it is precisely here that Christianity comes in with its central demand. It demands that, before we choose, we should at least try to see what the men of the New Testament had seen.

What was that? They had seen one point of light in the darkness. They had wrestled desperately with this strange puzzle of life, its problems and griefs and breaking hearts; and then God had put into their hands one word, and they looked at it, and suddenly they realized that this was the solving word, the code word, and that they had only to apply this to decipher all the rest. They had pored long on life's jumbled, meaningless pieces, trying vainly to make sense of them; and then one day the semblance of a pattern had ap­peared, not much of a design, it is true, just two lines like a cross - but at least it was a pattern; and with this standing out, somehow all the other things began to move into their place. In the maze of life's perplexities, they had come upon one fact that made the idea of a blessed purpose suddenly credible. They - the common soldiers on life's field - had been allowed for one moment to glimpse the great Com­mander-in-Chief's plan of campaign. In one flash across the darkness they had caught a sight of God's meaning with the universe and with themselves. They had seen Jesus.

And this stands today as the central demand of Christ­ianity, that when you and I are baffled by life and cannot see

purpose in it anywhere, and when we stand facing the final alternative of despair or faith, we should not decide until we have included the fact of Jesus in our evidence, and taken cognizance of His life and death and victory, and seen across the midnight darkness that bright and morning star.

This, of course, is not to exclude the possibility of other evidence. Go to Nature, for example. Is there no trace of purpose there? Have not scientists like Jeans and Eddington been telling us that everything points to the existence of an infinite, directing mind, as of a great mathematician? Does not the vast system of ordered natural law imply that ultimately the universe itself is on the side. of righteousness ­which is what the Bible means when it says, 'the stars in their courses fought against Sisera' ? And is there not a deeper meaning than some of us have suspected in the words of a familiar hymn?


'But the slow watches of the night

Not less to God belong;

And for the everlasting right

The silent stars are strong.'


Or turn to History. Is there no trace of purpose there?

Erratic and incalculable the course of events may often be; but do no clear principles stand out? This at least has surely

emerged from the long travail of the ages, that 'where ther is no vision, the people perish,' and that where there i moral apostasy

apostasy, there comes inevitably national deca) Does that not indicate purpose?

Or turn to your own experience. 'I came about,' said, Robert Louis Stevenson, describing a decisive stage of hi soul's career, 'like a well-handled ship. There stood at the wheel that unknown steersman whom we call God.' Perhaps there has been no such dramatic hand of Providence in you experience. But before you deny the presence of an over ruling purpose, think again! I put this to you now: Are there not certain things you would die rather than do? Are there not certain ideals of honour and truth that have a absolute claim on you, so that you can only say, 'Her stand I: I and no other' ? Where does that feeling come from Do you really believe Bertrand Russell when he asserts that it is just 'the outcome of accidental collocation of atoms' Were the heroisms of the martyrs, and the preaching of Savonarola, and the devotion of a Wilberforce, and the sacrifice of a Livingstone, and the shudder that passed over your own soul when the first real temptation came, and the peace that followed when you conquered - were these things the product of chance groupings of atoms? Do yo not think that that explanation is definitely less plausible far more incredible, than the Christian one, according t which that sense of honour, that resolve to die rather than do certain things, is the grip of a living God upon you soul; in other words, the clear token of a great purpose working through your life?

Yes, there are these lines of evidence. God has not lei himself without a witness to His purpose in nature, history, experience. But that is not enough. Men never felt that was enough. Still the mists of uncertainty linger. Still the shadows of the dread doubt darken the soul. But suddenly out of the mists comes Jesus! High in the darkened heavens rides a messenger of hope. I am the bright and morning star!

How do I know, looking at Jesus, that life has a meaning, and God a purpose! I know it from His character. Into this tumbled, chaotic world there has appeared at one point of time that quality of life - absolute chivalry, consistency un­wavering, love triumphant over every evil, compassion as wide as the sea, purity as steady as a rock. And when I gaze at that, immediately there is a voice in my own heart that begins to cry - 'The meaning of life is there! God's purpose for me, and for all humanity, is there. Soul of mine, follow the gleam!'

How do I know, looking at Jesus, that life has a meaning, and God a purpose? I know it from His cross. When a flag is flying in the wind, you cannot always make out its design and pattern; but then perhaps there comes a sudden stormy gust, and blows the flag out taut, and for a moment the pattern stands out clear. Was it not something like that which happened over nineteen hundred years ago? The flag of life and of man's long campaign had been flying for ages, and none could read its meaning; but suddenly came a storm-blast, the fiercest gust of all, and straightened out the flag: and men looked, and lo its pattern was a cross. Does it not help you, in your own sufferings, to know that that cross is the ground-plan of the universe, that life is built like that; that the trials and troubles and sacrifices which often seem so meaningless, the very negation of all purpose, are really the means by which the most glorious purpose imag­inable is being wrought out; and that therefore every pain you have to bear can be a holy sacrament in which the God who suffered on Calvary comes to meet you, and your con­tribution to the building of the kingdom of heaven and the redeeming of the world? Christ died to tell us that.

How do I know, looking at Jesus, that life has a meaning, and God a purpose? I know it from His resurrection. Do you

remember the dramatic passage in which Browning likens conversion to the effect of a lightning-flash in a dark night showing up everything momentarily as clear as day?

'I stood at Naples once, a night so dark

I could have scarce conjectured there was earth A

nywhere, sky or sea or world at all:

But the night's black was burst through by a blaze ...

There lay the city thick and plain with spires,

And, like a ghost disshrouded, white the sea.

So may the truth be flashed out by one blow.'

What was the resurrection of Jesus? What were the appearances to the disciples? They were the lightning-flash of God the bursting of the unseen world into the seen, the break through of God's new creation, the spiritual world order into the order that now is. No wonder Paul, meeting Jesus outside the gates of Damascus, fell blinded to the earth! What had he seen? Do not think it was the Syrian sunshine that dazzled him. No! He had seen - for one tremendous moment, in that risen, death-defeating Christ he had seen - the unveiled purpose of God. And you who have been where Paul and these disciples were, you who on some high road of the spirit have met the risen Chris again and felt the thrill and glory of His power, you to whom He is now the companion of the way in a blessed intimacy 0 friendship whose wonders never cease - you need no further proof. Life does have a meaning and a purpose and a goal And we poor struggling creatures are not the doomed play things of chance and accident and futility. We are getting somewhere. We are moving onwards to a day when this suffering, tormented creation shall see at last of the travail of its soul, and this corruptible shall put on incorruptibly and this mortal shall put on immortality, and God shall be all in all.

'I am the bright and morning star,' says Jesus. It all comes back in the end to the question: Who will follow that gleam? Are we prepared to live now as those who have seen the purpose of God, as men and women who have tasted the powers of the world to come? And will we hold to it in spite of everything, in spite of the tangles and the darkness and all our own secret sorrows and disappointments and defeats, that God's will is coming out at the last; that though hindered often and set back by human blindness and folly and sin, its ultimate victory is sure? 0 trust that morning star! God set it in the sky for you.

'And all the jarring notes of life

Seem blending in a psalm,

And all the angles of its strife

Slow rounding into calm.

And so the shadows fall apart,

And so the west winds play;

And all the windows of my heart

I open to the day.'

Friday, November 16, 2007




I have a limited amount of copies of a tremendous book covering 250 of FW Boreham’s illustrations from life.  260 pages crammed full of Blessing.

If you haven’t read Boreham you are missing out on one of the great illustrative preachers of all time. And he preached much of his ministry in New Zealand and Australia!!  ( Although it was only in  the nether States of Victoria and Tasmania).

Steve has the book available for $25 p.p. to anywhere in Australia.

Ring him for details on 02 49278378.


FW Boreham's ministry in New Zealand, the Hobart Baptist Tabernacle and Armadale Baptist church in Victoria  issued in the writing of many ma ny articles for Newspapers and our Australian Baptist. These articles made up the substance of more than 40 books, some of which sell today for in excess of $250.


If you want to preach to be understood in a post modern world, use the illustrations of FW Boreham found in this book.


Let your wife buy you one for Christmas! Buy Boreham!


The Secret Of Church Growth: MULTIPLY UNITS

During 1990 I had a wonderful privilege to be sent by a kind deacon to the USA for the wonder trip of a life-time. Since planting the Kiama church in 1984 as a young, keen 23 year old, I had had a  very keen interest in Church Growth. By 1990 I had read everything that was available anywhere on the topic.

Now came the opportunity to fulfil my dearest dream: to discover the "secret" of church growth from men I had only read about. Over the three week period I met with and watched the ministries of Chuck Swindoll (who taught me the importance of preaching the Word and trusting the Lord), John Macarthur Jnr (who taught me grace), Bill Yaeger (who taught me the value of aggressive whole church evangelism) and Gene Getz (who taught me the value of the small group). One man, Bill Taylor, then Christian Education minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, distilled an incredible 3 weeks and 10 years of research into 2 words: Multiply Units! 

"Your body grows each daily by multiplying units of itself. When parts of your body stop doing this, then that area stops growing" he said, patting his balding pate. "The same is true in the Body of Christ! For any area to grow, we must first of all multiply units. If we want more small group Bible studies, we must multiply the number of small group leaders. If we want a larger Sunday School we must multiply the number of effective teaching and recruitment units in Sunday School. If we want more men in discipling ministry, we must multiply disciplers."

This rare insight revolutionised my philosophy of ministry.

I had understood the significance of Ephesians 4:11-16 and the value of an equipping ministry.

11And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, [growing]into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

However now an equipping ministry had "wheels under it."

I now understood how to make this possible:

Definitively focussing upon multiplying small group ministries!

The small groups of whatever sort it may be, whether small groups we call men's dinners, youth groups we call Brigades, children's ministries we call Kid's Clubs, or adult biblical education which we call Bible studies or Adult Sunday School, are the heart of churches where real Body Life is experienced.

One of the opportunities that the NSW Baptist Pastors Forum can provide is the opportunity to network pastoral resources. 


Some tremendous resources for Small group ministry are freely available on the internet.

As an example, my own blog Grosey's Messages provides alongside preached messages, the Small Group Bible Study materials I use at the Tabernacle. Studies in 1st Peter, the Lamb of God, and Zechariah are available for you to reproduce, adapt and use in your own congregations.

Another great resource that has just come online is that of Geoff Pound the former Principal of Whitley College in Victoria. Geoff is a good man who has produced a wonderful resource for helping folks discover the Will of God. 

Geoff Pound

Geoff has produced some great Bible studies at his free Bible studies website called Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment 

Dr. Geoff Pound’s book, Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment, is a workbook, a tour guide or a travel journal for people wanting to make a forty-day journey in discernment.
Forty Individual Studies
The book, which draws on down-to-earth biblical principles, is written for Christians, for seekers and specifically for those at the vocational crossroads. The forty short chapters are not designed to be read in one sitting but they are intended as daily guides and reflections in a deliberate period of seeking and discovery.
Group Studies
Making Life Decisions also contains seven group studies for people who want to make this journey in discernment with another person or with a small group.


Geoff writes:

As a young person growing up in New Zealand I remember repeatedly asking my parents the question, “What am I supposed to do in life?” They took me to Careers Nights put on by the school but I agonized for years over this vocational question.
After I embarked on theological training and began to serve as a church pastor, the question continued to confront me and, while I was acquiring a sizeable bank of experience and a rich treasury of guidance principles, the elusive challenge of discernment has never been easy.
I would be rich if I had been given $50 for every time someone asked me the question (or a variation of it): “How can I discover God’s will for my life or in this situation?” As a pastor, this is the question I have been asked more than any other. Sharing the weight of this question and its consequences has been a significant part of the privilege of being a pastor.
When my vocational journey took a new twist in which I served as a consultant with Australian Baptist Churches, I came to see that the issue of corporate discernment is pivotal to local churches and denominations in discovering their unique personality and mission.
My path turned later in the direction of training and leadership, first as a lecturer and then as Principal of Whitley College, the Baptist College of Victoria, and I discovered that student interviews and course planning were vitally connected with matters of discernment.
In recent years I have relocated with my wife to the Arabian Peninsula and I am testing out new vocational directions. Daily we are being confronted with questions of discernment. This book, therefore, does not come as a last word on discernment because one never actually nails it as one might solve a Sudoku puzzle. The issues of discernment change from time to time and from person to person because they are about the dynamic way that God relates to each individual in their uniqueness.

Here are very useful Bible studies for small groups and for individuals intended to assist in the life of the local church.

May I recommend them to you. Making Life Decisions: Journey in Discernment


May I encourage each pastor to facilitate the growth of the body of Christ in our churches by the free interchange of small group ministry resources.

Please place your small group resources in the comments section here and they will be published as posts.

We can always adapt each other's materials for the blessing of our own congregations.  Why reinvent the wheel?




The Lamb Bible Studies

Bible Doctrine of the Lamb by Sidlow Baxter
Lamb Emphasis What It Is For
Genesis 4 Necessity Propitiation Sin
Genesis 22 Provision Substitution A Man.. Isaac
Exodus 12 Slaying Expiation A family
Leviticus Character Absolution A nation
Isaiah 53 Is A Person Vicarious The elect
John 1 That Person Is Jesus Removal The whole world
Acts 8 Son of God Individual Salvation Whosoever
1 Peter 1:18 Resurrection Redemption All History
Revelation 5 Enthronement Government All the universe
Revelation 21-22 Eternal Kingship Eternal Glory All Eternity

The Bible, although a collection of books and letters written by many different people from many different times, cultures, and languages, is one book united around one grand theme. This can only be attributed to the work of supernatural revelation. Scripture’s divine origin shines forth through the progressively revealed nature of its doctrines. The doctrine of the Lamb exemplifies this as well as any theme of Scripture. Ten primary passages trace its progression throughout the Scripture, each revealing a little more about the Lamb. The first passage is Genesis 4 and the account of Abel. The second is Genesis 22 where Abraham nearly sacrifices Isaac. The third passage is Exodus 12 and the Passover lamb. The sin-offering lamb of Leviticus is next, followed by Isaiah 53 and the suffering Lamb. The New Testament revelation begins with John 1 and the Baptizer’s announcement of the Lamb of God. Acts 8 and Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian further unfolds this revelation of the Lamb. The eighth passage is 1 Peter 1:18-21, and the final two are in Revelation 5 with the Lamb on the throne and Revelation 21-22 where the Lamb reigns eternally. Each of these ten passages teaches a different truth about the doctrine of the Lamb, shedding more and more light on the perfect work of redemption that Christ accomplished. Three of these passages emphasize the central position of the Lamb in all of Scripture: Isaiah 53, Revelation 5, and Revelation 20-21. From humiliation to exaltation to consummation, the Lamb is paramount in all of history. Although Christ arose from the grave in victory, the Christian must never leave the vision of the crucified Lamb. After His resurrection, Christ became the joint-occupant with the Father on His kingly throne. He now rules as sovereign over the Church and the universe. In the eternal state, the Lamb will continue His place of centrality. He is its light, its music, its theme, its source of joy, its object of service, its strength, and its glory.


A Lamb For A Sin Offering
Gen 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Gen 4:1 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with {the help of} the LORD."
2 Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

The fat of the animal was prized as its "luxury," and was to be given to God when the animal was sacrificed (Lev 3:16-17; 7:23-25). The burning of fat in sacrifice before God is called a sweet aroma to the Lord (Lev 17:6).

1. What was the purpose of the offering being made?

2. What distinguished the two offerings?

3. How is this incident important for us today?

4. How does the truth behind this incident have a bearing on our assurance of salvation?

5. Does this incident give us insight into how others view salvation?

6. Does this incident and its teachings give us insight into how we may effectively help others to saving faith in Christ?

Genesis 22 A Lamb For A Man…. Isaac and the Substitutionary Atonement

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 3 So early in the morning Abraham got up, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. 9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” 12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.”
This test was especially hard because it seemed to contradict the previous promise of God. Hadn't God promised in Isaac your seed shall be called (Gen 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be concerned about the boy and your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your • offspring will be traced through Isaac.)?
1. What aspects of Genesis 22 demonstrate Abraham’s faith?

2. What 5 aspects of Genesis 22 reflect types of Christ or salvation?
Both were…

3. Was Jesus referring to this incident in Jn. 8:(56Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.” 57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”58 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”)?

4. of recent days some argue against the centrality of the Substitutionary atonement in the gospel. What other ways are there to look at it? Is it central to the gospel?

Exodus 12 Expiation The Lamb Slain For A Family
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 If the household is too small for a whole animal, that person and the neighbor nearest his house are to select one based on the combined number of people; you should apportion the animal according to what each person will eat. 5 You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. 7 They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. 8 They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it, roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
11 Here is how you must eat it: dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn [male]in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. 13 The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy [you]when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute.
21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select an animal from the flock according to your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and brush the lintel and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. None of you may go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the Lord passes through to strike Egypt and sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, He will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike [you]. 24 “Keep this command permanently as a statute for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as He promised, you are to observe this ritual. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this ritual mean to you?’ 27 you are to reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and spared our homes.’ ” So the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 Then the Israelites went and did [this]; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.

1. In what ways do you think the redemption of Israel pictures the cross for us today?
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:7b
2. How significant was the Passover to the Jews?
3. How significant should it be to us today?
4. What is the significance for the family here?
5. What did the manner of eating signify?

Sometimes it may be necessary to present the gospel using the Old Testament.
We cannot have eternal life and heaven without God’s forgiveness. “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” – Psalm 130:3-4, NASB.

Forgiveness is available. It is—
AVAILABLE FOR ALL “ ‘To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him’ ”—Daniel 9:9, NASB.
BUT NOT AUTOMATIC “ ‘Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt’ ”—Daniel 12:2, NASB.

It is impossible for God to allow sin into heaven.
LOVE “ ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives inquiry, transgression and sin’ ”—Exodus 34:6-7, NASB.
JUST “ ‘He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished’ ”—Exodus 34:7, NASB.
MAN IS SINFUL “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear”—Isaiah 59:2, NASB.
Question: But how can a sinful person enter heaven, where God allows no sin?

T is for TURN
Question: If you were driving down the road and someone asked you to turn, what would he or she be asking you to do? (change directions)
Turn means repent.
TURN from something—sin and self
“ ‘Say to them, “As I live!” declares the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?” ’ ”—Ezekiel 33:11, NASB.
TURN to Someone; trust God’s Messiah only
(Scripture tells us that Messiah) “was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him”—Isaiah 53:5-6, NASB.

H is for HEAVEN
Heaven is eternal life.
HERE “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy”—Psalm 16:11, NASB.
HEREAFTER “In Your right hand there are pleasures forever”—Psalm 16:11, NASB.
“God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me”—Psalm 49:15, NASB.
HOW How can a person have God’s forgiveness, heaven and eternal life, and His Messiah as personal Saviour and Lord?
“He [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness”—Genesis 15:6, NASB.
“ ‘The righteous will live by faith’ ”—Habakkuk 2:4, NASB.
“ ‘It will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered’ ”—Joel 2:32, NASB.

Leviticus A Lamb For A Nation
1. The daily Offering Leviticus 1
Why is Christ called so often "the Lamb of God," and not "the ox, or the ram, of God"? The reply is, because these were not offered “every day," whereas the lamb was a daily offering, and therefore fitted to proclaim Christ's blood as always ready for use.
How does the idea of the daily offering affect us? Hebrews 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
2. The Peace Offering Bringing us Peace: the thank, votive and freewill offering, …"upon the offerings," i.e. over the very, remnants of the daily sacrifice. It is exactly like chap. iii. 5. We are there taught that particular sins must be cast upon the one great Atonement; and the cases that occur in this chapter of special guilt are just specific applications of the great truth taught in the daily sacrifice. Israel was taught that their different offerings were all of one nature in the main with the general burnt offering;--one Saviour only was prefigured, and one atonement. The peace offerings speak of the state of grace of the believer in fellowship with God, and they took place mainly in connection with feasts commemorating God. This is very much like assurances of peace we experience in communion
How does the peace made at the cross affect us? Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
3. The Sin Offering was a Lamb, And dealt with Purifying Leviticus 4
The sin offering carries with it in Hebrew the meaning “to purify.” The effect of the sin offering was forgiveness of the sin and cleansing from the pollution of sin (Lev. 4:20,26,31,35; 5:10; 12:8; 14:20; 16:19). Its presentation assumed that the offeror was conscious of sin; and the laying on of the hands was understood to mean that the sin was to be transferred to the animal (Lev. 4:4,14).
Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
How does the cross purify us? Titus 2:14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.
4. The Trespass Offering..a ram but also a lamb for Nazirites and lepers
The trespass offering was also a propitiatory offering, but it was made for a special offense, while the sin offering was made for the person of the offender. "In fact, the trespass offering may be regarded as representing ransom for a special wrong, while the sin offering symbolized general redemption" This ritual shows Christ's atoning for the damage caused by sin and has in view the injury of the sin as opposed to the guilt of the sin. This aspect of the trespass offering is seen in Psalm 51:4, "Against thee and thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and be clear when thou judgest."
How does 1 John 1:5-2:2 fit with these sacrifices?

Isaiah 53 The Lamb Is A Person Whose Sacrifice Is For His People
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

1. What was the physical appearance of God's servant?

2. With what animal and in what circumstance was God's servant compared?

3. The verb “has laid” on him 6 is an allusion to Leviticus 16. Describe the situation. Many have seen this passage not only as a prophecy of the suffering of Jesus, but the national confession of sin by Israel on the Day of Atonement—to be fulfilled at the end of the age when all Israel will be saved.

4. “Opened not His mouth” means:

5. How was verses 9 and 10 fulfilled?

6. The “offering for sin” is the reparation offering of Leviticus 5; it takes care of the sin and guilt and also makes reparation or restitution for what was wronged, lost, defrauded, or spoiled by sin. The teaching of justification through the personal knowledge of and belief in this Servant is now stated clearly in verse 11. What does this mean?

7. How does this verse and the repetition of “many” agree with the Upper Room description of communion?

“Five bleeding wounds he bears, for me to intercede; they pour effectual prayers, they strongly pleads for me; forgive him, O, forgive they cry, nor let that ransomed sinner die, nor let that ransomed sinner die.”

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Hit Counter