Sunday, January 31, 2010

#12) The 5 Points of Calvinism (Part 2) –Unconditional Election

Last week we introduced the 5 points of Calvinism in the form of a brief history lesson. We also covered the first of those 5 points; Total Depravity. Tonight, we will be covering the second point; Unconditional Election. Election is not really a foreign thought to either side of the argument. Most will admit that God has elected those who will be saved. The area of contention is whether God’s election was the cause or the effect.

Ask congregation if they feel God chose them based on foresight or ordination.
Review flyer.

Again, the doctrine of election is not usually argued as it is very clear in Scripture as a whole. It isn’t until we start to figure out what election is really all about that people come up with different ideas. As usual, my goal is to let Scripture speak for itself.

Psalm 65:4
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You
To dwell in Your courts
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Your holy temple.

Psalm 106:5
That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance.

Some may say these are only Old Testament verses that only relate to Israel. I take this point and match it with God’s Word.

Matthew 11:27b
nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

By now, you should all be able to see a pattern of at least some type of choosing going on on God’s part. Now to move into where we get the word “elect” from.

Matthew 24:22, 24, & 31
Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short…For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect…And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Luke 18:7
now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

Titus 1:1
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

Again, this is not normally the issue. The issue comes from people who believe that God chose them based on knowing they would freely choose Him at some point in their life. Based on last week’s lesson, we know it is impossible for one to freely choose God because Scripture is clear that no one seeks God, no one chooses God, and no one does good. We are a totally depraved being before God takes hold of us. Keep this in mind as we go through the following verses that normally mislead people on the surface.

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

1 Peter 1:1-2a
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:

With passages like the 2 above, it is easy to infer that God only chooses us based on His foreknowledge. After all, doesn’t Romans 8:29 say God predestined those whom He foreknew? Doesn’t 1 Peter 1:2 say that God chooses according to His foreknowledge?
Let us begin to answer these with another question. If God based salvation on His advance knowledge of those who would believe, where did their saving faith come from? We know that the carnal man does not choose God.

John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father

The desire of the devil is certainly not for us to choose God. Because of the Scripture taught last week, one cannot Scripturally come to the conclusion that man, of his own carnal & unsaved self, chooses Christ. This means the foreknowledge that Romans & 1 Peter speaks of cannot imply knowledge of who would choose God. The proper context is speaking of God ordaining in advance before the foundation of the world.

Peter 1:20
For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world,

Here we see Christ being referred to as foreknown. It is the same word we saw in Romans 8:29 & 1 Peter 1:2. Surely this verse is not saying God foreknew what Jesus would choose do on the cross for that was no mere chance. Not a soul would deny that Christ coming to die on the cross for our salvation was a preplanned act of God that nothing could have changed. In turn, the word “foreknown” can only mean that God foreordained the action. God knew exactly what was going to happen because He ordained it before the foundation of the world. It is the exact same thing in the other 2 verses. God did not choose us based on a foreknowledge of what we would do. He had a foreknowledge of His ordination that took place before anything ever was. Arthur W. Pink has a wonderful quote regarding God’s sovereign election:

A.W. Pink
In the nature of things there cannot be anything known as what shall be, unless it is certain to be, and there is nothing certain to be unless God has ordained it shall be.

He had a foreknowledge of the intimate relationship He would come to have with every believer. Even more so, Romans 8:29 says he already knew us before anything ever was. That is how awesome our God is! Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Our election is unconditional.

Romans 9:16
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Romans 10:20

2 Timothy 1:9
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

John 15:16a
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you

Exodus 33:19
I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.

Ephesians 1:5
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

By now, we should be able to clearly see that not only does God choose us but that He also does so based on His own purpose and will & not based on anything within ourselves or any foreknowledge of a choice we were to make.

1 Peter 2:8b-9
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

To God is always in control. Even those who claim God chose them still refuse to believe it fully for they feel the rest rejected of their own free will. The two are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually inclusive. We clearly see that the disobedient ones spoken of in 1 Peter 2:8 were only this way because they are appointed to that very doom; to wrath.

1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Again, if he can appoint some to a doom of wrath, why can He not choose others to be saved? Isn’t it obvious by now that God is in control? Isn’t it obvious by now that God chooses who goes where? It is not saying God gives us the opportunity to choose Him. It does not say that God stands on the sidelines and hopes we choose Him. It says God has DESTINED us for obtaining salvation. He ordained us as His elect before the foundation of the world that we would be conformed to the image of His Son.

I would like to close out with another quote from Arthur W. Pink:

A.W. Pink
If the Lord Jesus possesses all power in Heaven and earth then none can successfully resist His will. But it may be said, This is true in the abstract, nevertheless, Christ refuses to exercise this power, inasmuch as He will never force anyone to receive Him as their Lord and Saviour. In one sense that is true, but in another sense it is positively untrue. The salvation of any sinner is a matter of Divine power. By nature the sinner is at enmity with God, and naught but Divine power operating within him can overcome this enmity; hence it is written, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). It is the Divine power overcoming the sinner's innate enmity which makes him willing to come to Christ that he might have life. But this "enmity" is not overcome in all-why? Is it because the enmity is too strong to be overcome? Are there some hearts so steeled against Him that Christ is unable to gain entrance? To answer in the affirmative is to deny His omnipotence. In the final analysis it is not a question of the sinner's willingness or unwillingness, for by nature all are unwilling. Willingness to come to Christ is the finished product of Divine power operating in the human heart and will in overcoming man's inherent and chronic "enmity," as it is written, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Psa. 110:3). To say that Christ is unable to win to Himself those who are unwilling is to deny that all power in Heaven and earth is His. To say that Christ cannot put forth His power without destroying man's responsibility is a begging of the question here raised, for He has put forth His power and made willing those who have come to Him, and if He did this without destroying their responsibility, why "cannot" He do so with others? If He is able to win the heart of one sinner to Himself why not that of another? To say, as is usually said, the others will not let Him is to impeach His sufficiency. It is a question of His will. If the Lord Jesus has decreed, desired, purposed the salvation of all mankind, then the entire human race will be saved, or, otherwise, He lacks the power to make good His intentions; and in such a case it could never be said, "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied." The issue raised involves the deity of the Saviour, for a defeated Saviour cannot be God.

#11) The 5 Points of Calvinism (Part 1: History / Total Depravity)

Over the new few weeks, we will be covering something very in depth. It isn’t something most people think about on a day to day basis. It isn’t even about how to be saved or how to stay on the straight and narrow. It is about the origin of salvation and the roles of God & man.

Ask congregation who has heard of Calvinism.

Calvinism is a broad subject but is often summarized by 5 points. We will be covering the 5 points in depth. Before we begin dissecting Calvinism, we need to learn the basics.

1) John Calvin (1509 – 1564)
2) Jacobus Arminius (1560 – 1609)

Hand out flyers (summary of Arminianism / Calvinism) to congregation.

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

In 1610, the followers of Arminius drafted 5 points that were based on his teachings. They demanded that the Church of Holland change their doctrines to match the teachings summarized in the 5 points of what we now know as Arminianism. In turn, the Synod of Dort took place in 1618 and brought their own summarized 5 points to the table. Their 5 points were based on the teachings of John Calvin.

Review flyer with congregation.

J.I. Packer really says it all when comparing the 2 doctrines:

J.I. Packer, The Difference
The difference between them is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content. One proclaims a God Who saves; the other speaks of a God Who enables man to save himself. One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind – election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit – as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly. The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them. The two theologies thus conceive the plan on salvation in quite different terms. One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man; one regards faith as a part of God’s gift of salvation, the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, Who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it. Plainly, these differences are important, and the permanent value of the “five points,” as a summary of Calvinism, is that they make clear the points at which, and the extent to which, these two conceptions are at variance.

He continues to go on about how Calvinism is not truly five points but rather, one point. The one true point was only broken into five points to address each of the five points of Arminianism at the Synod of Dort.

J.I. Packer, One Point
The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] in the form of five distinct points tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are really inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God – the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power, and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves – does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners – men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners – and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedaling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Savior. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present, and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever, Amen.

Total Depravity

The first section I will be teaching on is Total Depravity.

Ask a question: Q: Why do most people who say they are going to Heaven claim it to be so? A: Because they are a good person.

Total Depravity teaches the exact opposite. It teaches that a man has no good within himself. It teaches that man is wicked, wretched, dead in sin, corrupt, and perverse. Total depravity can also be called total inability; within one’s self, there is absolutely zero ability to be saved. Just as man is completely unable to fly, he is also completely unable to perform any act pertaining to salvation.

Westminster Confession of Faith
Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

Many have bought into the lie that is Arminianism. As we dissect the five points, I am hoping you will all see Scripture for what it really says; that all glory is God’s alone.

Romans 5:12
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

Genesis 8:21b
for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth;

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

John 3:19
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

As we went over last week, man cannot understand the things of the Spirit without the Spirit first residing in him. In order for the Spirit to reside in him, he must first be regenerated to the point where his body is the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Titus sums is up quite nicely:

Titus 1:15
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defile.

We are at war with God and hate Him. Before God calls us to Him, we serve Satan. We have no desire to serve God nor can we possibly desire it.

John 3:20a
For everyone who does evil hates the Light

John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father

Romans 3:9-12
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
as it is written,

All of the above passages confirm our fallen state. Many will agree with this. The area of contention really stems from the belief of whether or not a man has any power whatsoever to do anything about it.

Job 14:4
Who can make the clean out of the unclean?
No one!

Jeremiah 13:23
Can the Ethiopian change his skin
Or the leopard his spots?
Then you also can do good
Who are accustomed to doing evil.

John 6:44
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Many claim an active role in their salvation. Instead of giving full glory to God, they try to cling to some sliver of control by saying they made the choice to be saved. While it sounds nice and many claim it is what the Bible teaches based on its many passages of choosing, it is not accurate. The Bible would never teach a doctrine that would steal glory from God and place it in the hands of men. To say we chose God is to effectively say we saved ourselves. It is to say God was not in full control of the situation and that all the above verses are a lie.

1 Corinthians 4:7
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

Salvation has nothing to do with anything that came from us. For us to claim that we chose God instead of rejecting God means that we took an active part in our salvation. With such an active part, we would have much to boast about but we are told that we’ve got nothing. We are told that we received salvation and that we have nothing to boast about because it was not of ourselves in any way. Our entire adequacy of salvation is from God alone. We are totally depraved and incapable to seeking God. To Him be the glory!

#10) Three Simple Words

I want to start out tonight by asking a question. I’m just going to mention three simple words and I want you to put them in order for me. The words are:

1) Grace
2) Faith
3) Regeneration

Ask congregation to think about what each word means and the order they would place them in.

In my personal experience, most people place them in the order of grace, faith, and then regeneration. The reasoning is that God must first give us grace but then we choose whether to accept His gift before any regeneration can occur. This is a false doctrine that has infiltrated the Church.

Acts 15:11
But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.

Acts 18:27
And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.

Romans 3:24
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Grace is completely God’s doing. It is His gift to us, as Christians. God is a gracious God.

Psalm 86:15
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

Jonah 4:2
He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.

Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved through faith by grace. Grace has to take place before any faith can.

Romans 9:23
And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

God showered His grace upon us before the foundation of the world. Before anything ever was, He had a plan. Part of that plan was to call the vessels of mercy to Himself. Even while we were still enemies of God, He showed His love for us and lavished us with grace

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 1:7-8
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

The fact that grace comes first is not usually the part that confuses people. It is the proper order of faith and regeneration that gets sticky. As I have already stated, this is not the correct order at all.

Psalm 53:2-3
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.

First of all, it is impossible for one to choose God. As I said in a sermon last deployment, before salvation, we serve the dominion of Satan.

Acts 26:18a
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God

We are at war with God and hate Him.

John 3:20a
For everyone who does evil hates the Light

Nobody chooses the enemy. Even the most infamous traitors in American history were not serving the enemy. They may have been OUR enemy, but they were not THEIR enemy. Whether it was money, allegiance, or some other common bond, our enemy had become their ally. In the same way, nobody who chooses God is an enemy of God at the time. In order for one to choose God, a change must first occur. There must be a common bond. That common bond is the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

We see this verse speaking of the natural man. Another phrase used to identify this type of person is carnal man. The carnal man is a man of his own desires. He is a man at war with God. He is the unregenerate man bound by the chains of sin who still serves the dominion of Satan. Scripture tells us plainly that this man cannot understand the things of the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Titus 3:5
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Here we see a new kind of person being introduced. This is the regenerate man. This man has been set free of the chains of sin. He has turned his eyes to the Light (Acts 26:18). He has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

The Holy Spirit does not reside in the carnal man. The Holy Spirit resides in the regenerate man. Our bodies are the very dwelling place of the Holy Spirit; of God. Having the Holy Spirit is synonymous with being saved. It is utterly impossible for a man to be saved without the Holy Spirit. It is equally as impossible for a man’s body to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit if he has not been regenerated. As a result, there is no way faith can come before regeneration.

First, the grace of God is poured out to us. This occurred before the foundation of the world. Next, in God’s timing, we are washed anew and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. At this time, we become a new creature in Christ. We now possess the ability to understand the things of the Spirit because the Spirit resides within us. Lastly, faith occurs. It is only after grace and regeneration that one can truly have faith in God. Of course, this means the “choice” we made was not really our own but rather an irresistible calling of God Almighty as He had already changed our very nature and desires. I am thankful for this because if it were up to me and my own works (a choice is technically a work as it is something we are doing), I would be left with nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and a lack of Christ.

#9) Forgiveness

The Bible has a lot to say on the matter of forgiveness. It is an area that we all struggle in. Self defense is natural. If someone wrongs us, we tend to get upset. That can lead to feelings of anything from anger to sadness. It is okay to feel upset. However, the way we react is very important.

Ask congregation if they tend to hold onto feelings of “being wronged” or if they forgive without any problems.

God has many attributes in Scripture. He is eternal, immortal, unchangeable, & incomparable. God is love, vengeance, & mercy just to name a few.

Psalm 94:1
O LORD, God of vengeance,
God of vengeance, shine forth!

Psalm 103:8
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

Psalm 145:8
The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

It almost seems like a contradiction to say that God is both a God of vengeance as well as a God of mercy. How can God be both and how does it relate to believers needing for forgive?

First, let’s look at Romans 6:23:

Romans 6:23a
For the wages of sin is death…

Deuteronomy 32:34-35
'Is it not laid up in store with Me,
Sealed up in My treasuries?
'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.

If we look at the overall picture being portrayed in Psalm 94, we can almost hear the desperation in the text. Unrighteousness was running rampant and the author was petitioning God to put an end to it. Notice he was not taking vengeance into his own hands. It was all being left to God. God is a God of vengeance and when the time is right, all who refuse to turn to Him will be destroyed. We reap what we sow and the wages of sin is death. On the flip side, God is also described as compassionate, gracious, and merciful. It says He is slow to anger. God is ready to forgive those who are His. Those who live for Him are forgiven completely.

Jeremiah 31:34
"They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Acts 10:43
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The promise of God is clear. If one believes the Truth of the Gospel, that person will be washed clean. God will cleanse him from all unrighteousness and forgive ALL his trespasses. Jeremiah 31:34 says God will remember them no more. God is omniscient so He will obviously not forget the sins. The point being made is that He will never again bring them up. They have been forgiven once and for all. When He forgives, it is not only on a surface level. It is thorough and complete.

Ask congregation how many times we have forgiven somebody only to bring it back up in a later argument.

We are not called to hold on to feelings of revenge or feelings of being wronged. We are called to forgive. We are called to love. It is impossible to truly practice love if we are harboring feelings of anger or revenge. Love can only be perfected once forgiveness is perfected.

Proverbs 25:21-22
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.

Romans 12:17-21
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ask congregation if they have ever heard the term “kill him with kindness”

The last passage in Romans is quoting Psalm 25:21-22. If one wrongs us, do not let our pride build up feelings of anger or revenge. Continue to love those who wrong us. Proverbs tells us this will be as if we are dumping burning coals on their heads. Psalm 140:10 refers to coals being heaped upon the evil ones are a sense of judgment & destruction. This is why Romans 12:21 says to overcome evil with good.

Matthew 5:38-42
"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

This passage in Matthew is quoting Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, & Deuteronomy 19:21. This is known as the Law of Retaliation. It ensured proper and just punishments. If one wronged another, the punishment would fit the crime and not go beyond. It ensured one would not go out on their own and retaliate. The same goes for today. We are not to retaliate or commit personal acts of revenge. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for suing one another for selfish gain.

1 Corinthians 3:7
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Everything that we have, everything we are, and everything is do is because of God. Do not boast in yourself. Do not boast in your actions. Do not take pride in what you have. Jesus really drives this home by relating the Law of Retaliation to how we practice love.

Matthew 5:38-42
"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

We have zero right to anything. Who are we to feel wronged if one takes out shirt? Would we even have that shirt unless God blessed us with it? Rather, give him your coat as well. The entire point of this passage is forgiveness and practicing love. Do not go beyond what has been done by practicing self retaliation. Realize that all we have is because of God. Realize that by returning evil with kindness, we are heaping burning coals upon their heads, leaving vengeance up to the Lord.

Listen to the following passage and see how closely it relates to Navy life:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

This passage should jump out at everybody in here. Being in a close knit environment like a ship, there are many people we can’t stand working with or working for. We may want to do a sloppy job for someone we dislike. We may want to talk about them behind their back. We may want to look for ways to get back at them. Scripture tells us to appreciate them. It tells us to speak highly of them. It not only commands us to do this but it also commands us to encourage those brothers and sisters who are having difficulties in doing so. Do not repay evil for evil. If our leaders are truly wronging you, forgive them completely, return kindness for evil, be at peace, and practice love.

How can we encourage someone who is having difficulty? We can show them the encouragement of Scripture.

Genesis 50:20
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

1 Corinthians 10:13b
God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

God is with you. As a follower of God, we will be hated. This is a promise of Scripture. However, another promise is that each time we are wronged, God has provided a way out. Even more, when one pays you evil, if you truly forgive as we are commanded and show love to that person, God will repay you and bring about many good things be it here or in Heaven.

Ask congregation for other reasons (other than the fact that we are commanded to) to forgive.

Colossians 3:12-14
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

If Almighty God forgave us for wronging Him, who are we to hold onto a grudge over someone wronging us?

Matthew 26:28
for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

The blood of Christ was spilled in order that we might be forgiven. If God went to this extreme for us, why can we not manage to forgive?

Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

1 John 4:20
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
We daily wrong God yet He forgives us. Why is this? It is because God is love. If God has forgiven us of every wrongdoing against Him, we are to do likewise to those who wrong us. If we do not, Scripture is very clear that the love of God is not in us for if it were, we would have already forgiven. It is not a matter of a commandment of God or imitating God. It is a matter of where we are in our relationship with God. If we cannot forgive, we need to double check our relationship with God.

1 Peter 3:8-12
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,

Love one another just as God loves us. Forgive one another just as God has forgiven us. By doing this, our relationship with God will flourish. God is in control. He always has been and always will be. Let Him bless the righteous and have vengeance on the unrighteous in due time.

#8) Sanctification

Recently, we have been discussing many topics surrounding justification, sanctification, and glorification. Today I would like to focus on sanctification by itself.

Ask congregation what the difference is between justification and sanctification.

Justification is the work God did in us the moment we believed in Christ as our Savior. There was nothing we could do to justify ourselves. The blood of Christ was not only sufficient but also the only thing that could have saved us. Justification is not the cleansing of us from all sins. It is the pardoning from our sins. The cleansing is sanctification and it is a continual process that never ends.

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Sanctification is what we strive for in our Christian walk. The very basic idea of it is being separated from sin. It is being separated unto God. Another word that shares this definition is holiness. It is what we are called to as Christians.

1 Peter 1:15-16
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”.

All of us sin. It is a fact of life. None of us will ever be holy in this life. Jesus was the only one who was ever perfect and sinless. As for the rest of us, Romans 3:23 puts it best:

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Just because we all sin does not mean that we are to give up and not strive for holiness.

Q: Ask congregation how we can be assured that we are not to give up.
A: Because 1 Peter 1:15-16 commands us to be holy!

As I already stated, none of us will be perfect in this life. This is why Philippians 1:6 tells us that God will perfect us until the day of Christ. It is a gradual and ongoing process. Does this mean we are to sit back and let God work in us while we drink Coke and eat popcorn in our La-Z-Boy? Of course not!

Ephesians 5:1
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;

1 Corinthians 11:1 (Paul speaking)
Be imitators of me, just as I am also of Christ.

Imitate Christ in all we do. Because Christ was perfect, he is also the perfect role model. Scripture tells us to follow his example in all we do; to imitate him to the best of our ability.

John 17:19a
For their sakes I sanctify Myself…

Christ was the only one to ever be able to make this claim. He sanctified himself. He separated himself from all sin and set himself apart unto the Father. We may never be able to make this claim of ourselves but we are certainly to give it our best shot. We are to be imitators of Christ in all aspects including this one.

While justification is something only God can do, sanctification is something we are to participate in. We do this by being imitators of Christ.

Ask congregation how we can know ways to imitate Christ.

The answer is found in the rest of John 17:19:

John 17:19
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

We know the truth because we have Scripture. Scripture is the Truth! What better way to know the Truth than to be in the Word? In a previous lesson, I taught on the promise of spiritual growth. One of the key ways to grow is to have an understanding of the depths of God. This understanding comes from knowing your Bible.

I spoke on how Paul used the analogy of milk and meat. The milk was the basics while the meat was the deeper theological knowledge.

Matthew 4:4

Scripture gives us what we need to grow. It is the truth that teaches us how to imitate Christ. As a result, it is the truth that sanctifies us. God is always faithful. If you truly need it, He will provide it. He will perfect us until the return of Christ. These are the promises of God. In much the same way, we are to sanctify ourselves. We will never be able to make the same bold statement as Christ but we can do our best in each area of life.

We are often given choices in life. One path leads to righteousness while the other often leads to darkness. Ask yourself what choices you find yourself making day to day.

1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

Galatians 5:25
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

God is upholding His promise to sanctify and perfect. Are we obeying His command to do the same?

#7) Vanity of Vanities

Ecclesiastes 1:2
"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher,
"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."

Ask congregation what they think vanity refers to in Eccl 1:2

lb#h# ‎hebel (heh'bel); from OT:1891; emptiness

One of the best words to use in the place of vanity would be futility. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. He was the son of David and was full of wisdom. You can read of his wisdom in Proverbs as he wrote most of them. Solomon not only had great wisdom but he also had great wealth.

He was king over all of Israel. Some of his possessions included 12 deputies to watch over Israel for him, 40,000 stalls for horses & chariots, 12,000 horsemen, 30,000 forced laborers, 70,000 transporters, 3,300 chief deputies in Lebanon, and more gold than you can imagine.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11
I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men — many concubines. Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

Despite the fact that Solomon had great wealth and could perform many actions that others could only dream of, he knew everything was in vain. It was futile in the grand scheme of things. Solomon, in all his wisdom, knew a man’s works do not lead to anything in the eternal sense. To believe so is to place faith in futility.

Ecclesiastes 1:3
What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 3:9
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?

Ecclesiastes 2:22
For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 5:16
And this also is a grievous evil — exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So, what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?

Proverbs 11:29
He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.

All of these verses speak of the futility of living for the sake of doing things. A farmer has the right to take the best portion of his crops and eat but this will not have a lasting effect. Bungee jumping seems like it might take life to a new level but in the end, you will be left hanging….both literally AND figuratively. To strive after works is to be the equivalent of chasing after wind. Wind cannot be contained. One will never get a firm grasp on the breeze. You can reach for it all you want but it will remain fleeting and will be an effort in futility, an effort in vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:25
For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?

This is a perfect summarization of what Solomon was getting at. He asked a rhetorical question because the answer was obvious. Without God, there is no peace. Without God, there is no enjoyment.

Many people today are searching for the meaning of life. Some believe it is to worship nature. Others believe it is to live life to the fullest and to get the biggest rush you can get. Others believe he who dies with the most toys wins. In reality, it is to bring glory to God and let him refine us into being the righteous men and women He desires us to be.

Ecclesiastes 11:10
So, remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Timothy 2:22
Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Living for eternal purposes is the only thing that will last. The only eternal purposes are the purposes of God. Without God being the focus, all is vanity. The things of this life will soon pass. Our life will soon pass. Ecclesiastes 11:10 says it is fleeting. Instead of focusing on the latest “rush” in life, try focusing on perfecting our holiness in the fear of God. Pursue righteousness!

Proverbs 22:8
He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.

Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

This reaffirms the fact that we are to live for Christ and not for the fleeting things of this world. Forget skydiving. Imagine the rush when Christ tells you to depart from him and continues to tell you that you lived your life in vain by chasing emptiness, by chasing hebel!!!

It is okay to do things that bring happiness but it is important to realize that none of this will bring an everlasting joy. Only God can do that and it is through the promise of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.

#6) Saving Grace. Action or Reaction?

Ask congregation if they feel grace is the cause of God or the result of our choice.

Some common themes in my lessons have been righteousness, sanctification, justification, and glorification. Another common theme has been God’s grace. God’s grace is very important regarding salvation because without it, there would be no salvation.

Titus 2:11
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Salvation comes through faith but it is given by grace. Without grace, salvation would not exist. The question to be answered in this lesson is where does grace come from? We can see it is a gift of God but is it a gift God gave us because we asked for it or did we only realize we wanted it once it was already ours?

Romans 8:29-30
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

We can see verse 29 is speaking of the Elect. It tells us God foreknew the Elect as well as predestined them, called them, justified them, & glorified them.

Ask congregation if they feel God “predestined” those whom He knew would choose Him or if we only choose Him because He predestined us to do so.

Over the last few lessons, we have learned a few things.

1) As a natural man we are hostile toward God and will never choose Him
2) Our works do absolutely nothing for salvation and are on par with rags of menstruation when they are of our own self
3) Faith is what saves
4) Faith is a gift from God

How does all this tie into the point of grace? Verse 28 says God foreknew those whom He predestined. It does not say God foreknew who would make a choice. It does not imply God foreknew what actions certain men would perform. In fact, if this were the case, nobody would be saved because He would have seen how hostile we would be towards Him. Our nature does not change until God makes that inward call, causes our old self to die, and regenerates us in the resurrection of Christ.

Romans 8:29 tells us that God foreknew us. The “us” is all past, present, and future Christians. Out of all the people in the world, God chose me. If you are a Christian, He chose you. He knew you before the foundation of the world.

Romans 9:23
And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Titus 2:14
who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

The purpose of our salvation is not God giving us a gift because it is something we want because, by nature, we are against the things of God. It is meant to bring glory to Him. The loving relationship we have with our Lord is certainly a gift but its primary purpose is the glorification of God. God Almighty has set aside certain individuals for the purpose of purification. This was not our choice that God saw in advance. It was His decision that He set into motion before the very foundation of the world.

Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

2 Timothy 1:9
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

We can see that our choice to trust in Christ is the result of the cause of God. It is not the cause of man which resulted in an act of God.

Murray has a great quote on the matter:

“The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He Himself creates.”

Philippians 3:8-9
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,

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Titus 3:7
so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

2 Corinthians 12:9a
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you….

Our salvation comes from a faith which is given to us by God’s actions and not reactions. There is nothing we can possibly do to change our salvation status with God. This is true for initial conversion as well. God chose us and as an irresistible result, we chose Him. He gives faith. He causes the old self to die and the new nature to be established. It is only after He does all these things will one have a desire for Him through faith.

If you are a fellow Christian, be thankful that God chose you out of His grace when we all deserved eternal death. If you are not a Christian, this does not mean you are not chosen by God. Chances are, if you are here today, He is working in you at this very moment. Listen for His voice and His inward call.

#5) Perseverance of the Saints

Ask congregation if they feel one can lose their salvation.

In my last lesson, I taught on our freedom in Christ. What good is this freedom if there is a chance of losing it at every turn? Scripture teaches a peace of God. Where is the peace when we are constantly worried of falling away?

First, we need to look at what faith really is and where it comes from.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Faith is a gift from God. It is not something we earn. It is not something we work for. God gave it to us in grace. Through His gift, we have assurance of hope.

Scripture makes it very clear that not every person who claims to have faith is actually a believer.

Matthew 7:21a
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven

This is not saying that God excludes certain people of faith. It is saying not everyone who claims to have faith actually does. There are many people who know all about God but do not actually KNOW God. Jesus taught on the subject of people who claimed to be believers but later fell away. He used the parable of the sower.

Explain different types from Matthew 13:

1) fallen by roadside (eaten by birds): lack of understanding
2) rocky places (dried up by sun): no roots
3) thorns (choked): deceived by the world
4) good soil (flourished): true believer

Only one of these was a true believer with true saving faith. The others were only on a superficial level. If one falls away from faith, he was as the seed that fell by the roadside, rocky places, or thorns. He never truly had saving faith. The person with true saving faith will abide with God forever.

Continue with Matthew 7:21-23

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

John 2:19
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

Many people claim to be Christians. Many people actually feel they are Christians. Unfortunately, they do not understand what it means to be a Christian. It is not a title to be claimed. It is not something we can work for. It is a change of nature which only God can perform. Only those in a personal relationship with God are considered to be His. Only those who have received His gift of faith are saved.

God has given the promise of eternal security in Him. We do not have to live in fear of losing our salvation. If we are confident in our love for God and our faith in Christ, our salvation will always remain for we will always abide in Him.

Ephesians 1:13-14
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view of redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Once you have the gift of faith, God sets out to work in perfecting you through sanctification, justification, and glorification. God gives His promise that He will continue to do this until Christ’s return. He does not say He will continue it until one falls away.

Romans 8:28-39
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, tothose who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

This is a great passage that drives home the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. It speaks of God’s elect.

Discuss underlined portions of above passage.

Do not be deceived into thinking you can act any way you want because of your eternal security. As we discussed last week, we are not to use grace as a covering for evil. Furthermore, Scripture tells us how one of true faith will act.

1 John 2:4
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

Ask congregation to point out what this man is being accused of lying about.
Answer: Having come to know God.

Notice it does not call the man a liar about saying he is currently with God. It calls him a liar by saying he never even came to know God at all. This is not speaking of following every single commandment of God. Obviously, we all sin. This is why we need a savior. I can guarantee you that I came to know God a while ago and God has been perfecting me ever since. If I were perfect already, He would have no need to perfect me. It is speaking of one who is still in his old nature, does not struggle with sin, yet claims Christ as savior.

1 Corinthians 6:9b-11
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

From the moment of our salvation, the process of sanctification, justification, and glorification begins. Our old nature dies and a new one is born. We share in the resurrection of Christ.

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Consider various trials and tribulations to be a blessing. They give us a chance to trust God but they also serve another purpose. Just as the Old Testament law pointed out the sin in man, trials and tribulations give glory to God by pointing out the promise of perseverance of the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 10:27-30
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. "I and the Father are one."

John 6:39
This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

1 Peter 1:4-5
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

God protects our salvation status. He has promised it. It is His Will that Jesus should lose nothing which he has been given. That includes us. God has us and it is impossible for us to be snatched out of His hand. Our inheritance is eternally reserved for us.

2 Peter 1:10
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

Check your faith daily. Ensure you are walking with the Lord and not deceiving yourself as many already are doing. If you are confident in your salvation and your relationship with the Lord, be at peace in knowing you will persevere until the final day when Christ lifts you up and God perfects the work within you. Nothing can change this fact!

#4) Chains No More

Over the last month, I have taught on the dangers of sin, the peace of God, and Spiritual growth. All of these together lead to something wonderful. It leads to freedom.

Before we were believers, we were slaves to sin. A slave serves the will of his master. In a spiritual sense, a slave to sin is also a slave to Satan. There was no escaping him of our own will because we were also at war with God. We were hostile towards God.

John 3:20a
"For everyone who does evil hates the light,

John 8:34
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Just as we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to God.

Romans 6:20-22a
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God,…..

While this may sound like a terrible thing, it is not. In the Old Testament, we read of bondservants. A slave would belong to his master for a time. When it came time for him to be freed, he had the option of taking his freedom or, if he felt he was treated fairly by his master, had the choice of remaining a slave for the rest of his life. A man who was a slave by choice was known as a bondservant. His entire life was dedicated to serving his master. While he is now in a lifelong state of servitude, he chose to live this life. Romans 6:22 tells us our benefit comes from being enslaved to God. Being a bondservant of the Lord results in sanctification & eternal life.

Romans 6:20-22a
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All month we have been speaking of the basic promises of God.

Romans 8:21
that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Just as God promises us peace & growth, he also promises us freedom.

Ask congregation to point out the pertaining promise in the following verse:

Psalm 146:5-7
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God;
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free.

Revelation 1:5b
To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood,

From the moment we are saved, we are seen as the children of God. From this moment, we are freed from the chains of sin. It is only in Christ can one be freed. This freedom is in by the grace of God and not something we earned.

Just because we have this newfound freedom does not mean we are to abuse it.

Romans 6:1-2a
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be!

Romans 6:15
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

In Scripture, repetition usually points out important details. Twice within the same chapter Paul points out how we are not to abuse our freedom.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

If we go back to Romans 6 again, Paul tells us why we are not to abuse our freedom of grace. Just as Christ died, we have also died.

Romans 6:1-7
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might 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, in order 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 be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Ask congregation what is meant by law of the Spirit of life.

Romans 3:27-28
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Ask congregation what is meant by “law of sin and of death.”

Romans 7:12-13
So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

We can see the Law is not to blame. The Law simply pointed out our sin. If there is no Law, one can never be guilty. The law of God is referred to as the law of sin and death because man is sinful and it points out exactly that.

It is Christ who gives us freedom from the Old Testament law and gives us hope in faith.

Romans 6:14
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Ask the congregation to imagine a prisoner who has just been set free. Ask them how the law expects him to act. Answer: Do not break the law and remain free.

1 Peter 2:16
Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:1
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

We were once slaves. We now have freedom in Christ. Take advantage of your newfound freedom. Have peace in this fact!

#3) Growing Up

Ask congregation if they feel they are like children or mature adults. Ask if they feel the same way about their spiritual life.

Growing is natural. Everything that lives also grows. Just as we grow physically, we are also to grow spiritually. A sign of being a true Christian is growth.
(Stress that a lack of growth does not necessarily mean false conversion)

A few weeks ago we learned that God desires us to be righteous. Last week we learned that the righteous man pleases God and that God has promised peace to those with whom He is pleased. God also promises growth.

Psalm 92:12 & 14
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon….They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.

It does not say the righteous man will remain stagnant. It does not say “maybe” there will be growth. It promises growth!

With growth comes change. Ask how many were able to physically grow without changing their size. One cannot remain in the same state yet grow.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, ust as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Romans 8:29
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

We are constantly being transformed. God predestined this action.

Continue by reading Romans 8:30.

Romans 8:29-30
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Last week I spoke on the peace of God and how He has promised it to all whom He has called & justified. Here we can see that this same group is also promised change in the fact that we will be conformed to the image of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:49
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

Ask what it means by image.

Genesis 5:3
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

Philippians 3:21
Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

God promises change. He promises growth. He promises this growth to those with whom He is pleased.

Q: What kind of man pleases God?
A: The righteous man.

Scripture relates Spiritual growth to physical growth. It gives the analogy of children and mature adults.

1 Corinthians 14:20
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking, yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.

1 Corinthians 3:2
I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,

Discuss milk & meat analogy.

Ephesians 4:14-15
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by the 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,

James 1:6
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Satan plots deceitful schemes all the time. Ask who has ever had doubts These doubts come from Satan attacking our weak areas of faith. Just as a child is weak to defend himself, an immature Christian is more vulnerable. Just as a grown man has stronger defenses, a mature Christian is able to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:11
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Ask for parts of the armor of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17
Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

During ancient Biblical times, men grew up to be warriors. We may not be fighting a physical battle but there is most certainly a Spiritual battle going on. As mature Christians, we are to put on the full armor of God daily so that we might be able to not only defend ourselves, but also attack evil.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (refers to Isaiah 64:4 & 65:17)
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, whoa are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

Last week we read of wisdom personified in Proverbs chapter 8. We see it again here.

Proverbs 8:23
From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.

Last we can see, Scripture promises us we will grow so long as we remain righteous & obedient. We will all start out on milk but as we grow in our faith, we will also mature. We will move on from milk to meat. We will have a longing to understand the depths of God. We will no longer be satisfied with being children in our thinking. I urge you to mark today as the first day of your Spiritual journey to becoming a mature follower of Christ.

#2) The Peace of God

Ask the congregation how they would define peace.
Peace – Cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissention.

Scripture has much to say on the subject of peace. Last week I spoke on the importance of being sensitive to sin and remaining in the Will of God. The result of being in His Will is being filled with light and keeping darkness out. We know God is light. Since Jesus is a part of the Trinity of God, we know he is light as well.

Scripture actually calls Jesus “peace.”

Eph 2:13-14
But now in A Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off 1 have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace,

Col 1:20
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross;

We find peace in Christ because he IS peace. This peace has been made available to us through his blood. Without the blood of Christ, one cannot truly know peace.

Ask who is promised the peace of God.

Luke 2:14
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Ask how we can please God. (probably get different works for answers). Accept the answers but move on to the next point.

The only way to please God is to be in His Will. Last week we learned is Will is for us to be righteous. We also learned the only way to be righteous is through the Son.

Isa 64:6a
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;

Without Christ, nothing we do is clean or good. To really drive this point home, Isaiah uses the word ‎`ed (ayd);

OT:5708 ‎`ed (ayd); from an unused root meaning to set a period [compare OT:5710, OT:5749]; the menstrual flux (as periodical);

The literal translation used here means “and like rags used of menstruation.” Even our greatest works, when Christ is not the center, are like the rags used to catch the blood of a menstruating woman. On the bright side, when Christ is our focus, all our works become righteous because they are based in his love.

This goes back to Luke 2:14 as we read above. As long as we are in Christ, we are in the Will of God. As long as we are in the Will of God, we please God. As long as we please God, he promises us His peace in Christ.

Prov 3:13
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding.

Prov 3:17
Her ways are pleasant ways,
And all her paths are peace.

So long as a man walks in wisdom, he will find peace. We know that true wisdom comes from the Lord so as long as we remain in God and ask Him to direct our paths, we will be at peace.

Ask for some of the fruits of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

Great messages can be taught on each of the fruits of the Spirit. Peace is no exception. A true believer should exhibit each and every one of the fruits.

Rom 8:29-30
or whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Rom 5:1
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

It is through our faith in Christ which we have peace. God has justified us. We are no longer found to be guilty of our sins. That alone should bring peace.

Not only has God given us peace in the area of salvation, He has also promised us peace in times of trouble.

John 14:27
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

There is only so much peace the world can offer us. One can find temporary peace in the ear of a compassionate person. This peace will soon subside. Christ offers a special peace that cannot be offered by the world.

Phil 4:13
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

While it may look like this verse is talking about doing the impossible as long as it is done in the name of Christ, it is actually speaking of peace.

Phil 4:9-14
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

We can see that it is not speaking of jumping off cliffs in the name of the Lord. This would be testing God. We can also see it isn't talking about doing things that strengthen us in the name of the Lord. This would mean we can lift weights for Jesus. While we can certainly witness in the gym, it is not the power of God getting us through that last bench press.

Phil 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We know it is God who strengthens us. If we look in Ephesians, we can see how it all works together.

Eph 3:13-17
Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

Regardless of our situation, do not lose heart. Whether it be the tribulations of another or times of trouble for ourselves, remain at peace by the strength of God. Let the Holy Spirit work in our heart through faith so that we can be content. Be anxious for nothing. Christ can strengthen us to endure all hardships. He offers a peace that nobody else can offer and he wants to offer it to you.

(Perform invitation)

#1) SIN – What is it?

Sin is being outside the Will of God. The Bible describes sin as lawlessness.

1 John 3:4
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Sin is also unrighteousness.

1 John 5:17a
All unrighteousness is sin,

Everything that comes from God is righteous. Anything apart from God is unrighteous. Since we know sin is lawlessness, we know sin is outside of God.

The analogy most often used for sin is darkness. Scripture describes God as being Light. Because sin is the exact opposite of God, it is considered to be darkness. The 2 are opposed to each other constantly.

1 John 1:5b
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

John 1:4-5
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Ephesians 5:11
And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

Scripture tells us that light and darkness cannot co-exist. If God is light and there is no darkness in Him, one cannot claim to have a relationship with God while still living in the darkness of sin.

2 Cor 6:14b
what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Acts 26:18a
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God,

Another reason light and darkness cannot coexist is because the Light will always chase away the dark. Have you ever seen a shadow is broad daylight? A shadow is only cast when there is something blocking the light.

John 3:20
For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

A desensitization to sin leads to hating God. If we choose to walk in the darkness, we cannot walk with God. John 3:20-21 tells us if we do evil, we HATE God. It also tells us we will choose to stay away from Him because He will expose our sin.

How many of us like to be comfortable? Conviction is no fun? It eats at us until we must make a choice. Some choose to turn to the light and let God expose their sins while others choose to run further into the darkness to avoid the discomfort. This leads to even more desensitization and a hating of God.

Sin truly destroys all that is good. Sin comes from Satan. Satan is known as the Destroyer.

Revelation 9:11
They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

‎Abaddw/n ‎Abaddon (ab-ad-dohn'); of Hebrew origin [OT:11]; a destroying angel:

‎Apollu/wn ‎Apolluon (ap-ol-loo'-ohn); active participle of NT:622; a destroyer (i.e. Satan):

‎a)po/llumi ‎apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee); to destroy fully

Satan destroyed innocence in the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Think of a small child running naked. This child has no shame and is completely innocent in his actions.

Genesis 3:7-10
hen the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself."

Adam and Eve had lost their innocence. They were deceived by Satan and made aware of their nakedness. As a result, they chose to hide from God in shame. God had made a perfect world of innocence and Satan went to work as The Destroyer that Revelation 9:11 makes him out to be. Satan will destroy your relationship with God through the tool of sin!

Being aware of sin is the only way to be in a relationship with God. A life of sin could even lead to a hardened heart. This is the point of no return and God will hold this person accountable for it. Don’t be this person.

Hebrews 3:8
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,

Romans 9:18
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Sin may be appear to be fun but it leads to nothing more than death and a separation from God.

Isaiah 59:2
But 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.

Romans 6:23a
For the wages of sin is death

Revelation 20:15
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Thankfully, we have a God that loves us and desires to see us come to Him. This love is not based on anything we did, will do, or even CAN do.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Colossians 1:12
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

We did not do anything to make us worthy of Heaven. God makes that change inside of us. He alone can qualify us.

Acts 26:18 (focus on b)
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. '

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

John 3:17
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is only through the blood of Christ that we can be saved. One must believe that Jesus, the Son of God, lived a sinless life, died as a perfect sacrifice, and three days later, defeated death and returned to the Father’s right hand.

No one will choose God on their own. Doing so will only lead to going astray in the end as a false convert. True repentance and salvation come from God.

John 6:44a
"No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him;

John 6:65
And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father."

If you feel God has placed conviction in your heart and you would like to know more about how He desires to have a relationship with you, please do not hesitate to ask me. I would be more than happy to sit down with you one on one.

As we get ready to pull into (edited for operational security reasons), keep your guard up and remember that light and darkness cannot coexist. You will have to choose one or the other. I urge you to choose God.