Do you really believe?

What we believe, as Christians is crucial.  Faith is what salvation and our relationship with Christ are based on, and faith has everything to do with what we really believe.

So I ask you, do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.  (Genesis 15:6)

Do you really believe in the gospel message, or do you just acknowledge it without having faith in it?  Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.

We can demonstrate the difference between faith and belief with a chair.  You can look at a chair and say you believe that if you sit in the chair it will hold your weight, but you do not really have faith in it unless you go over and sit in the chair.  Only then do you display that you have faith the chair will hold you.

That is a decent analogy, but how exactly does it apply to our faith?  I sit my butt in a pew at church every Sunday, isn’t that showing that I have faith?

My favorite analogy is that of two guys getting onto an airplane.  Both are greeted by a flight attendant addresses them with a smile on her face saying “there is a high probability that this plane will crash during this flight.  You will want these parachutes.”  (At this point I would be getting off the plane personally, but these guys are tough, they can handle the risk.)

So they get on the plane, but only one guy puts on the parachute.  He isn’t scared at all, not hanging on for dear life, he just put on the parachute and went about his business.  The other guy just tossed the parachute in the back of the plane and went about his business.

Now I ask you, which of these guys had actually believed the plane might crash?  The guy who put on the parachute, right?  How do you know he had faith?  It is because of his actions; he acted according to what he believed.

So how do we apply this to our Christian faith? By our actions.  You can tell one who has faith because he acts like it.

Actions of faith

Faith saves us, but only faith that produce actions.

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”(James 2:17)

Avoid Sin!

The number one action that shows a person really believes in God is how they live their life; a life of righteousness.

Sin is serious, but we tend to down play, to make it seem like it is really nothing.  To us it may be nothing if we lie, cheat, watch pornography, are a homosexual, have sex outside of marriage, or any other sin. To us, these may seem like nothing, but to God they are horrible!

We can see this all through the old testament.  Read the laws and you will see there are huge penalties (i.e. death) for sinning.  Why?  Because God really hates sin.

The New Testament still talks about how much God hates sin and demands we avoid it.  One passage we will look at is the book of 1 John.

God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1,4-6)

These passages should make it clear, living for God means we will avoid sin.

Loving God

I really want to focus on verse five of the passage above. “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” (1 John 2:5)

We do not avoid sin to gain salvation or impress God, but because we love Him.  I buy gifts for my wife from time to time, not to impress her or try to win her love, but I do it because I love her.  In the same way, we must live our lives absent of sin (as much as humanly possible at least, more on this in a minute).

To understand why this is an act of love towards God we need to understand more of what sin is, or more importantly who God is.

God is perfect, no darkness is in Him, no sin, no blemishes; everything about Him is absolutely perfect.  God is Holy, set apart.  And to sin is to do something contrary to His nature.  Sin is horrible.

Sin is an incredibly disgusting act in the sight of God that goes against His perfect holiness.  Even the best we can do, most righteous deeds, are nothing more than “filthy rags” to Him (Isaiah 64:6).  How much more filthy are our sinful deeds to Him?

Our sin also hurts God.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus was tortured, literally tortured, beaten, and killed, why? Because of our sin.  And you can honestly tell me that you want to choose to live in sin over living for God, and that God is okay with it?

One way we justify this is to separate the act of sin from the person committing the sin.  We say “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  I think Leonard Ravenhill brings a fresh perspective to this topic.

“I don’t believe there is a man on the whole TV that preaches salvation. They preach forgiveness. Forgiveness is not salvation. … “Oh you know the Lord loves you just as you are.” Well then why get changed? Commit adultery as much as you like. He still loves you. Be a cheat, be a liar, be a thief, and be a failure. He still loves you. But there’s a scripture. Isn’t it the Psalms 7… where it says “God is angry with the wicked every day.” I heard somebody quote today “God loves you but hates your sin” that’s bunken. God hates you for committing the sin. Is God going to take your sins and judge them at the Judgment and leave you alone?”

This is why, if we love God, we must avoid sin.  If we don’t then we are just fooling ourselves.

If you are living in sin right now, as in purposely doing something you know is wrong, then you are choosing sin over loving God.  Christians are ambassadors, we take the name of God and we represent Him on this Earth, you are saying that you want Him to be the Lord of your life.  Yet you choose your filthy disgusting worthless sin over Him?

That fact alone has to disgust God greatly!

Living in Sin vs slipping up

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we will ever be perfect this side of heaven, for we are still in these sinful bodies.  What I am talking about is the purposeful, intentional, and continuous choice to sin.

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

The choice to keep looking at pornography, the choice to keep watching those shows on tv that have “questionable” content, the choice to sleep with someone you are not married to.  It is your lifestyle, things you choose to keep on doing.  You cannot have a lifestyle of sin and serve God at the same time.

You Must Make God Number One

To sum it up, you absolutely MUST make God first in your life.  There is no way around it.  Jesus did not die on the cross to save us from sin just to allow us to continue sinning.  He freed us from sin so we could stop sinning, so we could serve Him.

Evidence the Bible is True

I know that everybody here believes the Bible is the true word of God, but why? I’m not trying to start a debate or anything, just give facts that can back up the claim of the Bible. Here is some information that was given out at our church. Please feel free to add your thoughts and other evidences.

Seven steps that answer why we know the Bible is true.

Step One: Is the Bible a historically reliable document?
Step Two: Can the Bible be proven based on what it says, or is this circular reasoning?
Step Three: What is the Critical Claim of the Bible? What actually needs to be proven?
Step Four: What are the claims of the eyewitnesses?
Step Five: Is there any corroborating internal evidence?
Step Six: Is there any corroborating external evidence?
Step Seven: What important conclusions can we draw from this?

Step One: Is the Bible a historically reliable document?

There are 24,000 + manuscripts (handwritten ancient copies) of the New Testament. The earliest known manuscript was found in 125 A.D. and was written from 40-100 AD. These 24,000 documents all agree with each other. There are not any conflicts within them.

Special proof exists for the New Testament, since Christians were strongly persecuted by both the Jews and the Roman government. If the New Testament writings were false, these two groups would have produced a great deal of evidence to stop the growth of this “sect.” None exists. Further, the New Testament writings (before they were assembled into the “book” we call the New Testament) circulated during the lifetimes of thousands of people who had actually seen Jesus’ miracles and other historic events. No one ever refuted the New Testament writings as “fairy tales.”

There are other historians who lived around the time of Christ who wrote about him too. Josephus, in his book The Antiquities of the Jews said this about him:

quote:


“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works”€a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (emphasis mine)


It is amazing that those who where closest to him did not turn and forsake him, even though there was a tremendous amount of pressure against them. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then why did they go to their death defending him? Would you die for something that you know is false? But that is a topic for a later time, to get back on subject…

In 115 AD, P. Cornelius Tacitus wrote the following passage that refers to Jesus (called “Christus,” which means “The Messiah”) in book 15, chapter 44 of The Annals:

quote:


“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”


Of all these manuscripts and external sources, none of them go against what the New Testament says. Since the New Testament says the same thing as these other historical documents we can logically conclude that the New Testament is a historical document.

The rest of these I’m going to briefly go over and look up the details for them when I have the time.

Step Two: Can the Bible be proven based on what it says, or is this circular reasoning?

I found this on-line…

quote:


You cannot use the bible as proof of itself. If you are trying to prove the bible is true, then everything in it automatically must be excluded from evidence, because it’s the thing in question. Secondly, the bible is in no way a properly documented living history, it is a book, made by a church, with chapters/books they felt like including at the time according to the beliefs of that time period. Some books were rejected; others made it in, that is well documented, and also quite an interesting read


It does sound like circular reasoning to say that we know the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says so…. but is that really circular reasoning? Let’s look at the facts. We are not using the Bible to prove itself true, we have already proven that the New Testament is true by outside works. What was discussed in Step one already proved this. Since we know that the works of the New Testament are true, let’s look at what the New Testament is.

The New Testament is a collection of letters from eye witness accounts of what happened to Jesus and his ministry. When using the Bible to quote that it is true, really, we are only comparing eye witness accounts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all agree in what they saw in Jesus and they all wrote it down. So we are not using the New Testament to prove that the New Testament is true, we are using two or more eye witness accounts to prove the same point. Just because they were consolidated into one book does not mean that they lose their validity.

Each author can be considered separately as a separate source.

Step Three: What is the Critical Claim in the Bible? What actually needs to be proven?

Paul claims in 1 Corinthians 15 that the ultimate claim is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If this fact is false, then all faith and hope is worthless.

Step Four: What are the claims of the eyewitnesses

The four gospels, when examined carefully, paint a full and complementary picture of the resurrection. The critical claim in the NT is in 1 Corinthians 15, which was written before the four gospels were completed. The testimony of Paul, himself, illustrates the dramatic truth of the Resurrection.

Step Five: Is there any corroborating internal evidence?

#1-Prophecy
#2-Unity of 40 authors over many centuries of writing
#3-The pictures and foreshadowing of Christ in the OT
#4-The unashamed truthfulness of the writers: it doesn’t read like a cover up or a glorification

Step Six: Is there any corroborating external evidence?

#1-Archaeology!
#2-There is ancient sources outside of the Bible that speak of Christ’s life, death and resurrection and support the details mentioned in the Bible.
#3-The existence of the church and the continued transformation of lives
that people experience today.
#4-The uniqueness of the Christian message: it is quite unlike anything man would naturally think up.

Step Seven: What important conclusions can we draw from this?

#1-Jesus’ claims are true because of the resurrection
#2-Jesus believed the OT was true
#3-We don’t have to argue about the authenticity of the OT: we can, and it bears up under scrutiny as the NT does, but it isn’t necessary! It is proven because of the NT and Christ’s claims.
#4-Jesus claimed his disciples would have the same authority as the prophets of old. They claimed it as well in their writings. (John 14:25, John 16:13-15, John 17:20, 1 Peter 1:16-21 )

I hope that this helped you out. I am sorry that it is long reading, but it is really interesting. Please post your notes, and expand on the points that I had to briefly fly through.

I used notes from church and this website to help me prepare this article.

YHWH: The Name of the Lord

YHWH: The Name of the Lord
By Matt

One constant in the language of the Old Testament that makes it different from the New Testament is that we notice that “LORD” is in all capital letters. Some may wonder why this is. In the original Hebrew language, LORD is translated YHWH, God’s name. From this we get the anglicization “Jehovah.” As the O.T. writers penned the Word inspired by God Himself, they used many compound Hebrew names for God. These names reflect God’s character– His faithfulness, His unchangeableness, His truth. Let us explore some of these. This article is written based off a list of names for God in the Old Testament found in the MacArthur Study Bible.

Jehovah
“The LORD,” Genesis 2:4-6

“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.”
The original Hebrew here for “LORD” is “Yehovah,” which stresses God’s self-existence and eternality. The Lord has always existed, in the past, in the present, and in the future. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”‘” God is self-existent– He created the end and the beginning themselves! We see God’s eternality affirmed again in Deuteronomy 33:27: “‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…'”. The Lord is eternal– He is everlasting, forever!

Jehovah-Jireh
“The LORD Will Provide”, Genesis 22:14

“And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.'”
Jehovah-Jireh: the LORD will provide. When we start to panic over not having enough of something– like not having enough money, time, patience, energy, or other things– how often we forget that God is the God who provides for our every need. And indeed, God has provided for us. He has provided the resources we need to preach His Word to a lost and dying world. He has provided our necessities, as Jesus affirmed in Matthew 6:32, when He assured us that the Father knows what we need. And perhaps the most hard-hitting provision of all was prophesied by Abraham on that mountain– that the Lord would provide His one and only Son to suffer and die on a cross to take away our sin and shame.

Jehovah-Maccaddeshem
“The LORD Your Sanctifier”, Exodus 31:12-13

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.”‘”
The Sabbath is spoken of here as a sign between God and His people, Israel. God had set Israel apart from other nations. They were always different, from the time that Abraham left his homeland in Ur. When we give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, He sets us apart from the world, just like He did His people in the Old Testament. The apostle John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) We are separate from the world as believers– we are in the world, but not of the world. God has set us apart for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Jehovah-Nissi
“The LORD Our Banner”, Exodus 17:14-15

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, ‘Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'”
John MacArthur says regarding this, “By titling the altar with this designation for the Lord, Yahweh-Nissi, Moses declared the Lord Himself to be the standard for His people.” The Amalekites were a corrupt people who did not worship the one true God. On the other hand, God declared His standard throughout the Old Testament, calling His people to holy living and to honor Him. The Lord is our banner– He is our standard. It is His flag that we carry with us and display to the people we meet. If we’re living a fruitful Christian life, other people will notice it in us– they’ll see our banner flying high.

Jehovah-Tsidkenu
“The Lord Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6

“‘In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'”
Jesus Himself is our righteousness– for only God gives us righteousness. The Bible tells us that there is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). How can we become righteous? There is only one way, and that way is by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting His atoning sacrifice for us at Calvary. Without Him, we can never be righteous. Our righteousness as believers is not our own– it comes only from the one true Lord God.

Is War Wrong According to the Bible?

I. IntroductionII. The Power of the Sword

Romans 13:1-7 “1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise
from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

-As Christians, whose citizenship in the Kingdom of God takes precedence over our citizenship as Americans, our views ought to be based, not on political loyalties, but on the unchanging truths of God’s Word. We should base what we believe on God and what He has said because Truth does not change, whereas cultural and political views and movements do.

-The aim of this article is to see what the Bible says about the right use of force and when, if ever, war is justified.

-Generally Christians fall into 2 camps when it comes to the subject of war
1)Those who support the idea of a just war because they read in the Old Testament of God’s command to Israel to make war, specifically the command to make a conquest of the land of Canaan.
2)Those who oppose war based on the 6th Commandment not to murder, and on Jesus’ teaching and modeling of non-violence in the New Testament.

-The governing authority at the time this verse was written was Rome.

-Paul recognized the God-ordained role of civil government and called on Christians to honor and submit to it. (verse 1)

-Paul is saying that civil government is ordained by God. God appoints the office of rulers over others because there is a need for it. That need exists because of the advent of sin during the Fall.

-Without an authority structure in place, the sinfulness of man, manifested in his
selfishness, will result in constant conflict.

-Paul equates a refusal to submit to the authority of civil rulers as nothing less than opposition to God Himself. (verse 2) Why? Because God ordained the civil rulers to maintain order. It is part of His Will for us on earth to answer to these governmental authorities.

-It is the duty of the ruled to be subject to the God-ordained authority of civil rulers.

-God ordains civil government to support what is morally good while suppressing evil. (v. 3)
-Authority is empty if it is not backed up by force.
-The sword is the “compelling power” to authority.

-Authority refers to the legal right. Force speaks of the ability to do so. For example, a policeman has a badge showing he has the legal right to enforce the law, and he has a gun which serves as the means by which he enforces it. His gun makes the authority of the badge effective.

-God ordains civil government both authority and the power to back up that authority.

-We must recognize and honor the expressions of God’s authority, and that is what civil rulers are.

-Since submission to civil rulers is seen as a submission to God according to the Bible, then a defiance of civil rulers is likewise a defiance toward God.

-What about those civil rulers who hate God and place terrible demands on people?

It is interesting to look back at the persecution of early Christians and notice that those who were being persecuted did not defy the authority and become full out protestors; the early Christians instead displayed a quiet, gentle humility toward the executioners who were abusing them. Although the Christians disobeyed the law by refusing to worship and call Caesar god, they were obeying the spirit behind the laws given…a spirit of humility and submission to the laws of God. As a result of their quiet, yet strong spirits, many of their executioners became Christians also because they saw how good and upright the Christians were and how they humbly submitted to the sentence given them by the government as opposed to non-Christian law breakers.

-Christians not only owe a debt of submission and respect to civil rulers, they owe them support. This support is shown through the paying of taxes.

-Taxes are us affirming the God ordained role of government and showing our recognition of God’s authority through government.

-What about governments who misuse taxes? Should we stop paying taxes because we do not agree with what the government is doing with them? No, we should continue to pay our taxes regardless of what the government does with the money because God is the ultimate judge and these civil authorities will ultimately be judged and held accountable for their actions when we all will stand before His throne.

-Our duty as Christians right now is to obey the laws of God given through civil government.

The Use of Force

-Paul sees the proper or just use of the “sword” as being the restraint and punishment of evil.

-Because we live in a fallen world, force is necessary to restrain those who are doing evil, and when they perpetrate evil, to punish them.

-God will spiritually judge individuals for the evil they do by eternal means.
But He also judges evil in the here and now through human agents.

-Justice and Love are not mutually exclusive. True justice always comes to bring out the most perfect virtue: love. True justice seeks to restrain evil so that love and peace can prevail.

-God is NOT opposed to the use of force if it is used to a just end. In fact, Jesus will judge with a “rod of iron” in the Millenium where justice will be perfect and swift (no lawyers, no juries, no long drawn out trials…Jesus will use force swiftly to bring about peace and justice).

The Doctrine of “Just War”

The “Just War” must…

1) Have just cause (ie. restraining evil or punishing evil doers; or preventing imminent evil harm from occurring).

2) Be declared by a proper authority (not just anyone can declare war).

3) Possess right intention (ie. to redress an injury or prevent one from occurring).

4) Have a reasonable chance of success (there must be a good enough reason to risk the lives of troops)

5) Have as its ultimate goal the establishment of peace in a region.

6) Be waged with means proportional to the end.

7) Use weapons and methods which discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.

-What about what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 5:39 Or what about Luke 6:35, Exodus 20:13, Psalm 34:14, and Matthew 5:9?

-In Romans 13, Paul is identifying the God-ordained role of civil government and the way believers relate to it. The previous verses, on the other hand, deal with interpersonal relationships, not the role of the civil government….it’s apples and oranges.

-The 6th commandment prohibits MURDER, not killing. Murder is the premeditated, purposeful taking of a life (or lives) without the legal justification or authority to do so.

-Civil rulers have a God-ordained task with the delegated power to back it up–the protection of those they serve by leading them. Police are delegated to do this on a local level, and civil government is authorized to do this on a national and global level.

-A strong and capable military acts as a restraint to evil.

III. ConclusionSometimes War is Necessary!

War that’s waged to protect a nation’s citizens from imminent harm is the proper function of civil government.

Our Calling

No matter how good the world may be doing, it is ever the role of the church to stand as a prophetic voice, separate from the world and separate from the government, calling the world to an even greater degree of righteousness.

-Churches should NOT buddy up with any political view or movement. Our duty as Christians is to stand to the side calling others to the cause of the Kingdom of Christ. We are not Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Green Peace in God’s eyes; we are Christians and should act likewise.