Pastor’s Blog

Can We Trust it?

THE BIBLE FOR GROWN UPS

CAN WE TRUST THE IT?

Many people’s faith are being called into questions, mostly because of where their faith was placed.  For many christians, their faith is place in: ‘BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.’  But the answer is becoming so hard to give.

Life circumstances:  “Why Does God allow…”  “Why is this happening to me?”  Questions about its historical accuracy.  Questions like: “is it just a religious text?”  Questions about possible contradictions.

Many people are walking away from the faith today because they may know the stories in the bible, but have never learned the story of the bible.  And that is a very important distinction to make.

THE REASON WHY SO MANY PEOPLE 

ARE LOSING THEIR FAITH 

IS BECAUSE THEIR FAITH 

WAS TIED TO A BOOK.

First off, we do not place our faith in the book for the book’s sake.  

Our faith is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain… 

…For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…

…But now Christ has been raised from the dead…He has put all things in subjection under His feet….

So after a message like last week’s; this is a great follow up message. Let’s start with a couple of questions:

So what about the bible?   Do we need?  Should we read it?  Should we follow it?  Can we trust it?  The answer is, yes!  But why?  How can we trust it?  What should be our approach?

For those that want to bring the Bible, Jesus, Christianity in general into question:  They may start with something like this:  All of our claims are only found in the Bible.  And this is the purpose or intent of their question.  To those that want to tear down the faith, they approach is this, if I can bring one part of it down then the whole thing will crumble.  But that is not true! This is about how and why we can place our faith in the bible.  

Now, many try to use Bible verses to prove that can trust it.   Who have heard:

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is inspired by God

But this is like using the word in the definition.  It’s like saying because the bible tells me so.  This is The Bible for Grown-Ups.  Before we get to application of Paul’s instruction to Timothy, we need to work on our approach to these books we find bound together as the Bible.

To begin, we must ask ourselves:  Why were these letters and instructions that we call the Gospels and the Epistles written in the first place.  And the reason was not to be the Bible.  The writers original intent was not for a religion’s sake or purpose.  Setting aside for a moment how we use these words, today; the original intent was to give an to give account, to encourage, and to instruct.

Luke would tell us as much:

Luke 1:1-4

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Luke tells us purpose of his writing is not to be religious text, but rather, it is a historical text. (This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t inspired; only referring to the purpose and the writing style.)

Luke tells us that many people are writing about this Jesus Christ.  Many people are writing about the events and the things that have happen.  And they are researching it.  They have gone out and asked those that were present and heard and seen him.   He is saying:  “I am doing/ I have done the same thing.  Letting you know what I have seen and what I have gathered from eyewitnesses.  And now, I give you an orderly account.”

  

And if this is true we should be able to find more  accounts about the life Jesus in external sources.  If we want to prove that these words we refer to as the gospels as true, then we should be able to prove this line.  

The great news is we do!  We find this to be true. Let’s start with External Evidence.

Can we find Jesus and these events outside of the bible?  YES!  And more than one place, too!

Tacitus—(55/56–c. 118 C.E.)—was a Roman senator and  historians writes this:

Neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered by Nero. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts … whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.

Tacitus’s statement about “Christ” clearly corroborates the New Testament on certain historical details of Jesus’ death.  He was executed by the Roman governor of Judea; and the time of his death was during Pontius Pilate’s governorship of Judea, during the reign of Tiberius. (Pilate governed Judea in 26–36 C.E., while Tiberius was emperor 14–37 )

Writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. One reference describes the condemnation of one “James” by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ.” This agrees with Paul’s description of James in Galatians 1:19 as “the Lord’s brother.”

There are clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings.   On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald … cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”

The passage also tells us why Jesus was crucified. It claims He practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy! Since this accusation comes from a rather hostile source, we should not be too surprised if Jesus is described somewhat differently than in the New Testament. But if we make allowances for this, what might such charges imply about Jesus?

Interestingly, both accusations have close parallels in the canonical gospels. For instance, the charge of sorcery is similar to the Pharisees’ accusation that Jesus cast out demons “by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”

But notice this: such a charge actually tends to confirm the New Testament claim that Jesus performed miraculous feats. Apparently Jesus’ miracles were too well attested to deny. The only alternative was to ascribe them to sorcery! Likewise, the charge of enticing Israel to apostasy parallels Luke’s account of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of misleading the nation with his teaching.  Such a charge tends to corroborate the New Testament record of Jesus’ powerful teaching ministry. Thus, if read carefully, this passage from the Talmud confirms much of our knowledge about Jesus from the New Testament.

Jesus existed.  Many people wrote about him.  History is proves this.   Now, can we trust these gospel writings.  Are they authentic?  And if the what we call the gospels (but to them just letters) were written by the people we ascribe them to; can we find proof of it?

Now the questions becomes: Can we trust the gospels?

The gospel accounts can be held to be true in different ways.

Traditional Paths

Older strategies that support the historical reliability of the New Testament often begin their case by pointing out that the New Testament documents enjoy superior manuscript evidence. 

There more than 5500 copies and partial copies in Greek and other languages, while most ancient classical Greek and Roman texts have fewer than 10 each. Moreover, there is comparatively little significant variation between these manuscripts, even when they are derived from different textual families. The more copies available (this is before printing press) the earlier they documents would have to be in existence.

The earlier known copies are dated within 100-150 years of the original dates.  Unlike the other classical writings from that time period in which the earliest know copies are dated 700 years after the origin date.

This enormous difference significantly closes the distance between the authors and the earliest copies, placing the dates of the New Testament copies much closer to the events themselves. This makes it at least possible that the biblical writers were in a better position to know what actually occurred.

The Principle of Dissimilarity:

Dissimilarity is difined as difference or variance.

Through the gospel we find that Jesus’ designation for himself is “Son of Man.”  He, in many cases if I can say it like this because we are reading about the man Christ Jesus, never over played his divineness. And even though “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite self-designation in the Gospels, very surprisingly, none of the New Testament epistles attribute this title to Jesus even a single time.

Free of Other Theologies

The Gospels are altogether free of Gnosticism and of the other aberrant theologies that pervade many writings from the second century.

Gnosticism was a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity and that Christ was a person sent on a secret mission from the supreme divine being.  But only a small number of people would ever understand their doctrine; they said.

In the familiar four Gospels, we find no traces of the heresies that flourished during the second century. The absence of such traces, is further evidence that the canonical Gospels originated in the first century.

The Gospels mention details of place, culture, and politics that could have been known only to contemporaries of Jesus.

Next, let’s talk about the books themselves.

Let’s remember, and this is a very important thing to remember, that the bible was not written to be the bible.  These were individuals writing.  They did not come together to write different books of the Bible.  This is important because that means we deal with each book individually. 

If someone was to call out one part, one verse, one possible contradiction out; the whole house doesn’t fall. 

Gospel of Matthew:  

It comes with a parody.  A parody is an imitation or when someone else is coping the work.  The parody, written by a rabbi known as Gamaliel, was written about A.D. 73 or earlier.  That is very significant and very important, because that validates the legitimacy of Matthew’s Gospel.  It confirms the truthfulness of the biblical account in Matthew and confirms the truth of what Jesus did.  The earlier the Gospel was written, the more likely eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life would still be alive.  The fact the parody exists and the date when it was written undercuts badly ‘biblical critics’ claims that the Gospel of Matthew was written at a late date of A.D. 85-90 or later.

Something else important about the book of Matthew is that it was originally written in Hebrew.  Papias, The Disciple of John  Papias was a Greek Apostolic Father, Bishop of Hierapolis, and author who lived 60–163 said that:  “Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able.”  (refer to Shem Tov’s Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew.)

This is so important because of how many times Matthew writes:  has it is written or makes references to O.T. scripture.

Luke and Acts 

It is generally agreed that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by the same author, and they are often referred to as a single work called Luke-Acts. The most direct evidence comes from the prefaces of each book. Both prefaces were addressed to Theophilus.

What is important to note about  these two works, as it relates to timing, is what is missing.  And it is missing Nero’s Rome. The great fire (70AD) in which the temple is burned, essentially bringing the end to Judaism in that time.  

This is so significant in the timing of everything.  This is dealing with a time where things are shifting to a new way.  Not a graduated Judaism; but Jesus was preparing them for something new.  And the early church struggled with this.  More on this next week, but look at Paul’s writings and read the book of Acts.  Many of the situations that are being dealt with in the church is regarding trying to blend OT Judaism to this NEW TESTAMENT WAY. 

Emperor Nero sent General Vespasian to Jerusalem to destroy the Jewish revolt.  And they do by destroying everything, including the temple. And with the OT, no temple, no worship, no religion,  It ends!

But Acts and Paul’s writings are still dealing with Judaism. So they have to be written before then.  

John

The Gospel of John is likewise imbued with an accurate knowledge of circumstances. The author was obviously a Jew, for he had a thorough understanding of Jewish laws and customs. He was a Palestinian, for he had a good grasp of traveling routes and location of sites.  For example:

John 4:3-5

3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

Others include Bethabara, Galilee, Bethsaida, Nazareth, Cana of Galilee, Capernaum, Judaea, Aenon near Salim, a place of “much water,” an allusion to the many springs found there (John 3:23), Samaria, Sychar, Joseph’s field, Jacob’s well, “this mountain” in Samaria—that is, Mount Gerizim, the Pool of Bethesda, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, the Mount of Olives, the treasury of the Temple, the Pool of Siloam, Solomon’s Porch, Bethany, Ephraim, the brook Cedron, the garden where Jesus was arrested, the “palace” (better, “court”) of the high priest, the door of the same court, Pilate’s hall of judgment, the Pavement, the place of a skull, or Golgotha, the garden where Jesus was buried, and finally, the Sea of Tiberias—another name for the Sea of Galilee.

The author of John must have resided in Palestine before the wholesale destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, for in describing certain buildings that were later obliterated, he notices specific details. For example, he says that the Pool of Bethesda had five porticos and that Pilate held court at an outdoor platform called Gabbatha in Aramaic.  AFTER AD 70, thanks to Nero and the great fire, all of this is burned.  It doesn’t exist.

Furthermore, the author of John was most certainly a contemporary of Jesus, for as he sketches the political environment of the Crucifixion, he furnishes information missing from the Synoptics. He tells us that in the year of Jesus’ death, Caiaphas, the high priest, shared power with Annas, his father-in-law. Luke, the only other Gospel writer who mentions Annas, says only that he was a high priest along with Caiaphas. The additional facts that John supplies are corroborated to some extent by Josephus’s history of the period. Josephus, the great Jewish historian active in the late first century, records that Annas was a high priest with no less than five sons who succeeded him to the same office.

BOOK OF MARK

Papias, c. 60 – 130, who and a disciple of the Apostle John, Papius says “Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that [Peter] mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ; not, however, in order. For he was neither a hearer nor companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord. So then Mark made no mistake, writing down in this way some things as he [Peter] mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing, not to omit anything that he had heard, nor to include any false statement among them.” 

There was no attempt to cover their embarrassment.

The principle of embarrassment, negative report, or surprise is indicated by the presence of disparaging remarks made by the author about him/herself, another individual, or event concerning which the author is friendly and has a vested interest.  The point is that, in normal circumstances, most people need a sufficient reason to report very negative things about something which they deem valuable, or someone they love dearly. This would appear to be the case especially where the purpose of the writing was to instruct the readers in holy living.

The gospel makes no attempt to cover their:

-the unbelief during miracles

-falling into the water

-fleeing after the arrest

-embalming the body of Jesus after the crucifixion

-the women being the first to go the tomb, though they could never testify in court about what they saw

-their unbelief about the resurrection at first

From all of this we have to draw the conclusion:

THERE IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THESE WRITINGS…

When we can see that each of these books are historically written when and by the people whom we have ascribed them to; we know there is something different about the words in here!

When we can prove the books were written in the time to be eyewitnesses of Jesus and when these writings tell us with historical accuracy the political climate;  we know that there is something different about this book!  

So if these words tell me of a resurrected savior; I will trust it!

Because what we have is this, not a bible, but what we have is this::  Their written testimony!  

And we overcome by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB!  His death burial and resurrection!  And we overcome by the word of THEIR testimony!

Because he is alive, I can read their testimony and apply it to my life:

2 Timothy 3:14-17

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Doctrine or Teaching:  I can read and study this to learn what to believe!

Reproof:  If I need to, I can test it again and again and it will always be found true!

Correction:  I can use it to learn about what needs to change in my life!  My turning away from sin!

Training in righteousness:  Righteousness is integrity, virtue, purity of life.  Not only can I use these words to turn from sinful actions, I can use it to live a better life!  


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Our faith is in the Resurrection!

 If you were to ask the average christian if they believe in Jesus and that He died for their sins…Most christians would answer with a resounding, YES! And then if you followed up that question with:  “Why do you believe that?”  The answer that you would most often hear is:  “Because the bible tells me so.”
 

This is because for many christians, probably at  young ages, were given a bible.  That bible was most likely given to by a close relative (like a parent) or someone held in high regard.  And thensomething like this was said:

THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD…  

EVERYTHING IN IT IS TRUE…

 DO YOUR BEST TO LIVE BY IT…

And that was all the instruction that was given about the bible and its story. 

Since then, you have wrestled with this Bible.  You were young and without any real instruction and you started reading from the beginning. You struggled with the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’.  You struggled with the dated language.  You came to page after page of strange names that you couldn’t pronounce. You came to a book called Leviticus and asked: “What is up with all this?”   But you pressed on through.  On through the things that made sense and through the things that didn’t; because, as you were told,  it is the word of God, it’s all true, and you needed to do your best to live by it.

And if someone asked if you believe in this or that. If you believe that Jonah was really in the belly of a great fish. Or, if you really believe in Adam and Eve.  Your answer was a resounding: “YES! BECAUSE THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO!”

But the older you become the more difficult that answer has been to give; and for good reason. 

That answer has become so much harder to give because:

There are people bringing up questions about the bible. There are questions about possible contradictions; it’s historical accuracy; or calling it just a religious text.  And today, many Christians do not know how to answer these questions because for so long the only answer they had and all of their faith was placed in:  “The Bible told me so.”

Not only is this answer hard to give to the people we do not know, but now the questions are coming from inside the house. Our children (the next generation,  the ones that we will have to hand the church over to one day) are going to off to college and having their faith tested. In grade school, our children have so much access to information that will bring their faith into question.

Our children are now asking questions; the same questions about the possible contradictions of the bible.  And many christian parents do not know how to answer them because for so long the only answer they had and all of their faith was placed in:  “The Bible told me so.”

These questions have called peoples faith into question.  What has been sad to watch or witness is:  the number of many people are walking away from faith, today. If you ask those that are leaving the church today and walking out of faith (and there have been multiple studies on this)  people are saying they just don’t believe it any more!  

They are fed up with the contradictions.  They are fed up with all the things that don’t make sense.  They are fed up with the answer:  ‘because the bible tells me so.’

And those that are falling away; they know the stories of the bible, but for many, they have never been told the story of the bible.  They know about Adam and Even, Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, and Jonah.  But what is missing from so many peoples faith is the understanding what this book really is, how it came to be, what it is meant to be in our lives.

And because that, faith is misdirected and misplaced.

THE REASON WHY SO MANY ARE LOSING THEIR FAITH 

IS BECAUSE THEIR FAITH WAS TIED TO A BOOK…

 If you have been struggling, doubting, wrestling, think of giving up on faith;  I have great news for you.  If you have had all the same questions and fears about the stuff that just doesn’t seem to make sense, I have great news for you.

OUR FAITH IS NOT TIED TO THIS BOOK!

OUR FAITH IS TIED TO SOMETHING GREATER1

At the beginning of this series, I am going to ask our faith to GROW UP.

When you received that first bible, you had that child like faith. The kind that made Jesus proud:

Matthew 11:25  

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

Jesus spoke a lot about childlike faith, but he never intended for our faith to stay there! Jesus spoke so much about it because He was doing brand new things.  Jesus was changing everything.  Jesus changed what the passover meant.  Jesus changed the way the Jews were to look at the law.  Jesus was changing everything.  

It was the beginning of something new. So, yes a child like faith is what He called for.  But we can tell by the world around us that healthy things grow.  Our faith is mean to grow and not stay child like.

Those that followed Jesus and taught about Him and wrote letter things like this to encourage and instruct new believers:

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, 

think like a child, reason like a child; 

when I became a man,

 I did away with childish things.

To bring this to our terms.  We put away our children’s bibles.  We put away the childish answer of “Because the bible tells me so.”  We put away childish faith that only believes it because some else told me it was truth.   We are made for more than this!  And when our faith grows, we will experience more!

The one that would write to the Hebrews would tell them that basically:  it is time for your faith to become an adult:

Hebrews 5:12-14

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Let me ask you:  “How can you teach and lead someone to Christ if the only answer you have regarding the Bible is “The bible told me so?”

Ephesians 4:11-16

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of 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 craftiness in deceitful scheming; 

When our faith is immature, it is easy for us to believe anything and to be lead astray.  This is why our faith must grow!

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 what 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.

OUR FAITH MUST GROW UP! In order for our faith to mature, we must rightly place our faith. 

WE DO NOT PLACE 

OUR FAITH IN A BOOK!

WE PLACE OUR FAITH IN 

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!
 

WE TETHER OUR FAITH

TO THE EVENT

THAT SPARKED A MOVEMENT

THAT BROUGHT US THE BOOK!
 

Our faith begins with HE IS ALIVE!  And it is because of the resurrection that I can place my faith in the words of scripture!

Hebrews 6:1-2

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

When we grasp a hold of the resurrection, our faith can GROW!

1 Corinthians 15:1-7

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;

Those first quote, unquote “Christians” saw a resurrected savior!  And armed with that alone, they took on the world and turned it upside down!  Before they wrote one word down they lived a life of faith to the resurrected Jesus Christ!  Before what you and I would call the bible would ever come into existence, people were living in faith because Jesus rose again!

People were healed.  People were delivered.  People were blessed.  Miracles were happening.  Provisions were happening.  All because these people saw a resurrected savior and told the world about Him!

Listen to just how important the resurrection is:

1 Corinthians 15:13-17

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 

This is exactly what I men when I say that our faith is not in a book, for the book’s sake.  I don’t believe what is in the Bible just because it is in the bible.  If my faith is not first in His resurrection then everything I am doing is in vain.  Every verse I quote, every prayer I pray, is all in vain if my faith does not first begin with the resurrection.

Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

But when our faith is in the resurrection:

1 Corinthians 15:20-27

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, 

when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.

Because He has risen He has put all things in subjection under His feet. 

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN:  HE HAS ALL POWER

Matthew 28:18 –

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: HE CONQUERED THE CROSS

Hebrews 12:2 –

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: HE CONQUERED DEATH

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 –

 O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am just going to speak to the church for a moment before I get into the rest of this.  Many of you are in a rough season.  You have dealt with tremendous heartache and loss.  You have dealt with extreme changes.  You have dealt with seemingly unbearable physical ailments.  You have dealt with anxiety and depression.  You have had no idea how you were going to make through…or if you would make it through.  It’s been rough for many of us.

So what I give you know, I want you to get excited about!

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN:  THERE IS POWER INSIDE FOR US!

Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: JESUS IS MY HEALER

1 PETER 2:24 –

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: JESUS IS OUR PROVIDER

Philippians 4:19. 

And my God will supply 

all your needs according 

to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: JESUS IS OUR COMFORT

John 14:18 –

I will not leave you comfortless: 

I will come to you.

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: JESUS IS OUR SALVATION

Acts 4:12 

Salvation is found in no one else, 

for there is no other name under heaven 

give to mankind by which we must be saved!

1 Peter 3:21

Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—

not the removal of dirt from the flesh, 

but an appeal to God for a good conscience—

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

BECAUSE HE IS RISEN: JESUS IS OUR DELIVERANCE!

Romans 6:1-11

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, 

in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; 

death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

JESUS IS MY HELP, STRENGTH, JOY, AND PEACE

Hebrews 4:14-16 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Those that followed Jesus and witnessed his resurrection lived out a faith that believe nothing was impossible for Him to do.  No need was too big!  No healing was too hard! No provision was too great! They witnessed a God who conquered the grave and they knew that He could conquer any obstacle, any situation, and any circumstance!

This is a calling to renew our faith in the resurrection:  not to a doctrine, not to a book, not to an organization, not to a denomination.  This is a calling to renew our faith in the power of GOD!

1 Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom of God 

does not consist in words 

but in power.

MARK 16:17-18

These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”


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Vision For 2020: Made For More!

VISION FOR 2020

MADE FOR MORE
 

Ephesians 1:18

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.

 

Through out 2020 we will focus on:
 

APPRENTICING UNDER JESUS

Apprenticing under Jesus is learning the teachings, practices, and lifestyle of Jesus. It is engrafting His practices and teaching into our daily lives and holding ourselves accountable to Him. When we say that we are apprenticing under Jesus, we are striving for something greater than what the world calls Christianity, today. We are striving to be like Him! It is more than belief. It is more than a style of church. It is a life style change of that is both personal and communal.

As individuals and as a church we will live out the spiritual practices of prayer, studying the Word of God, worship, and faithfulness to the house of God that Jesus demonstrated for us.   Then with the the strength we have gained through those spiritual practices, we will go out in to the community to strengthen those around us!

 

EVANGLISM

The mission of Jesus was very specific:  To seek and save the lost!  He saw the As Christ followers, we take on that calling for our lives.  This declaration was made clear during this reading in the temple: 

Luke 4:18-19, 42

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.
 

Jesus now transfers this declaration to us:

Matthew 9:36-37

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
 

As followers of Christ we are to:

2 Timothy 4:5 

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
 
 

WORSHIP

Revelations 4 describes to us a wonderful scene in heaven:  continuous worship!  You and I are created to worship:  Isaiah 43:21  “The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.
 

Worship is what God is seeking from His church:

JOHN 4:23-24

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Here are a few areas of focus to guide our praise and worship.
 

WORSHIP IS PREPARED:

Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
 

WORSHIP IS EXPRESSIVE

Psalm 150:1-6

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary; 

Praise Him in His mighty expanse.

Praise Him for His mighty deeds;

Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet sound;

Praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;

Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.

Praise Him with loud cymbals;

Praise Him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!
 

WORSHIP IS SPIRITUAL:

2 CHRONICLES 5:11-14

When the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions), and all the Levitical singers, A-saph, He-man, Je-duth-un, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,” then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
 

TRUTH

Jesus, as well as the rest of the New Testament writers, spoke very strongly about TRUTH.

John 8:31-32

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

TRUTH IS IMPORTANT. We cannot afford the mindset of not knowing is ok. We cannot afford the mindset of anything goes: you believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want. ALL ROADS DO NOT LEAD TO HEAVEN. What we believe about God is important and it is important unto salvation.

We must seek TRUTH! We must seek to know Him. We must seek to learn about Him. We must seek truth!

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, 

for he who comes to God must believe that He is 

and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

The Bible gives many warnings regarding those that do not want this truth!

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

WE MUST SEEK TRUTH!

2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

BECAUSE THIS TRUTH SAVES US:

Ephesians 1:13

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—

 

1 Timothy 2:3-4

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
 

John 8:32

and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
 

Ephesians 4:22-24

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

 

Paul warns:

Galatians 1:8-9

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Paul describes truth as the gospel:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Death, Burial, And Resurrection of Jesus is the gospel (the truth) that saves us!  And this is how Paul preached this gospel truth:

Acts 19:1-6

It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
 

GIVING

The bible is full of promises for those that give.  We are a church that will allow God every opportunity for those promises to come true!  There are so many ways we can give:  returning our tithes, giving offerings, and giving faith promise (missions) offerings.  As a church we support foreign missions efforts (supporting those that are starting churches aboard), home missions efforts (supporting new churches in the U.S.A), local charities such as I Am, Hendersonville Rescue Mission, and First Contact.    


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Where Is This Coming From – Judgment

A Few Thoughts on

Where Is This ‘Judgment’ Coming From

We have a complicated relationship with the word ‘judgment.’  There are negative associations regardless if it being received or being given.  But, if we want to live the life Jesus has called us to, we must confront the difficult relationship.

First; we do not like to receive it.  We may view it has a violation of our rights or an intrusion on our privacy.  We really have a hard time with the thought that someone is examining our words or actions, determining if those words or actions are good or bad, and then telling us about.  We want to reject and push against anyone that would attempt to do such a thing.  We will even attempt to use the bible to prove our point.

Most of the time our response to these situation is “Only God can judge me.”  Admit it.  We have all seen the tattoo.  We have all heard that before.  We have all, more than likely, said that before to someone that we thought was “getting in our business.”  We use this ‘excuse’ for our actions in saying, “You don’t know what is in my heart.”

And that is so true.  We do not know what is in another person’s heart.  All that we have to go on is the sum total of words, actions, and emotions. And from that, we can infer the direction a person’s life is headed and what their priorities are.  It’s true.  Our words, actions, and emotions reveal so much about us.  We may not know what is in the heart, but the actions give us a good clue.

When this excuse ultimately fails we move to the next one:  “Who are you to judge me?”  We may say things like:  Don’t look at me!  What about your relationship, family, children, job, money, social media, addictions, etc… And we will, again, try to use the bible to back up this position in saying:  “Judge not or you will be judged.  For the same standard of measure you measure with, it will be measured to you.”  

But what if the standard of measure was love.  What if the standard of measure was grace.  What if the standard of measure was truth and honestly trying to save you from a bad decision or a worse situation.  We will never know because we rejected the words immediately and never gave it an opportunity to help us.

We have a complicated relationship with receiving judgment. We also have a complicated relationship in giving judgment.  When we see a person that we can see is about to make a bad choice or headed down a dangerous path, we have two choices:  confront them or hope someone else does.  Often time, we opt for the later.  We don’t want to look like the bad guy.  We don’t want people thinking that we are ‘holier than though’ or ‘we are so perfect that we have the right to speak to whoever we want, about whatever we want, whenever we want.’  So we stay out their lives so they will, in turn,  stay out of ours.  Or, we disguise or indifference as helpful.  We ACT like we are kind.  We ACT like we are compassionate.  We ACT like we are sensitive.  We ACT like we are loving.  We ACT like we care. But, the whole time we do nothing that would actually help them.  We are indifferent.  

But this is not the way Jesus has called us to live; as families or as a group of believers that we today call the church.  Jesus said:

Matthew 18:15

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

This is sound against our culture, today.  Seriously, who lives this way?

People who want to grow!  People who want to see those around them grow!  People who want to see the kingdom of God grow!  People who want to see the calling God has placed on their life fulfilled!  People who want to see the calling God has placed on others fulfilled!  That’s who!

It is time to drop the excuses of “Only God can judge me.  Stop looking at my life.”  It is time to allow mentors, elders, and pastors, and family members that care about you to speak into your life.  They will help you grow.  They want the best for you.  Let the ego drop.  Let the guard down. It is not a power play.  No one is trying to control you or make you fit into a mold.  In love, grace, and truth, there are people wanting to help you grow!

It is also time to drop the excuses of “I’ll help when they ask for it.  I don’t know if I should get involved.  Our generations don’t connect.”  It is time to reach out to those around you; younger than you and younger in the faith than you; to mentor and guide them.

Jesus has invited us to get involved in the lives around us.  And here is why.  He loves you.  He loves them.  It is his will that none should perish. He wants you to help those in your church and in your family to draw closer to Him!


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Where Is This Coming From – Fear

A few thoughts on “Where is this FEAR coming from?”

First off, it is important to understand that fear is innate.  We are born with it.  Even more importantly, we need to be aware of the fact that is NOT a part of broken or sinful humanity.  God has placed the ability to fear within us!  It is there and will always be there. 

An examination of the perfect, sinless life of Jesus teaches us as much.  As he is looking ahead to the cross he prays: “Let this cup pass from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done.”  Jesus, in his humanity, looking ahead to the cross, understood the physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual pain he was about to endure.  It is in these moments that fears shows up.   Fear is to alert of changes in the environment.  Fear is to make us aware that there may be a threat to our lives or the lives of our families.

But there is a problem with fear. The problem comes when we respond in fear.  Jesus did not allow his fear to dictate his direction or actions.  Rather, he resolved to live out his purpose and calling.  

We fear things; maybe lots of things.  We fear how to make ends meet.  We fear if our marriages will end.  We fear the doctors prognosis.  We fear for our children’s well-being.  And we are also seeing fear in the church regarding the things of God.  We fear worship.  We fear giving.  We fear accountability .  We fear community.  We fear submission. We fear holiness.  We fear outreach.  We fear experiencing more of the power of God.

There is the initial fear that rises up that let’s us know that something is changing in the atmosphere, but that fear should be used to drive us into God’s purpose.  But often times, when we fear these things, we submit to the response of fear.

We fear that if I give, I can’t make ends meet.  Then, we end up ‘broke.’  We fear that our marriages will end in divorce, and alas, they do.  We fear the doctor’s prognosis is the gospel truth; we never get better.  We fear worship and we never have the strength to press through when we really need to experience God’s presences (we didn’t realize how cold our relationship with God had become). We fear outreach and people are left to die without hearing the truth of God’s word.  We fear submission and our lives are left with no direction.  

When we allow the response of fear to take the reins of our lives, we submit to the outcomes of those fears. But there is hope.  It is getting back to the true purpose of our fear.

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

This is a fascinating account of Jesus and his disciples and the different way fear operates in our lives.  A storm comes and the disciples, that are originally fisherman, are afraid.  This is a legitimate fear.  They understand that the boat is sinking.  This isn’t irrational.  Much like the storms we face.  They are real.  It is not irrational for fear to rise up in you to say: “SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!”  But notice the way this scene plays out.

Jesus is asleep.  Jesus is calm.  Jesus never gets in a rush.  While, on the other hand, the disciples are screaming and shouting, and emotionally charged.  They are accusing Jesus of not even caring that they are about to die.  This is the perfect example of the response of fear.  The response of fear submits to the outcome.  “We are perishing!”

But Jesus, calmly, speaks to the storm:  Peace, be still.  

I love this, because the one that as all power authority in heaven and in earth does not have to command anything twice.  We never hear where Jesus commands a healing twice.  We never hear where Jesus has to tell a demon twice to be cast out.  NEVER!  When Jesus speaks to the storm he calls the name of the storm, Peace, because in the middle of fear we are to find the peace of God.

Then he turns to the disciples and asks:  “Why are you afraid?  Why do you still have no faith?”  We should ask ourselves the same question:  Why are you still responding in fear?  Where is our faith?  Maybe our faith is weak because we have been listening to the response of fear instead of the word of God.

One translation of the last verse states that the disciples “feared a great fear.”  In other words, they stopped responding in fear.  The innate fear, the fear that they are born with, instead of submitting to the outcomes of worry, hopelessness, and despair is now submitting to the power of Jesus.  

When fear rises up in us we are to find peace because we KNOW that JESUS IS GREATER.  We KNOW that JESU IS MORE POWERFUL!  Jesus is greater than my fears, hurt, pains, lack, diagnosis, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.  When I submit to the power of Jesus I am submitting to the power of His outcome.  

Isaiah 41:10

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,

Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Stop responding in fear!  God will strengthen you.

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life,

and whoever has it rests satisfied;

he will not be visited by harm.


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