Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

fruit-of-the-spirit_t-1024x768Today we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit which is goodness.  This is more exclusively an attribute of God.  In Luke 18 when Jesus was talking to the rich young ruler he called Him “good master” (Luke 18:18).  Jesus did not deny that the word applied to Him but He wanted him to see that in the absolute sense the word good can only be applied to God, so Jesus asked him “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” We can be good only in a relative sense.  And yet the relative sense is also true goodness.  It is a reflection of God’s goodness in us because of our faith.

What does goodness mean? It describes the character of a saved person.  It could imply being faultless and outgoing.  For example when Paul was giving the qualifications for elders in the church in 1Timothy 3:7 he said he must: “Have a good testimony among those who are outside.”

In a paradoxical way Jesus said in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”  We Christians may suffer reproach from the world for being good.  We must distinguish between popularity that comes from compromise and the testimony of goodness that the world sometimes gives despite itself.  Somebody may call you for example a goody-goody.  Why do they do that?  There are certain vices in which we as Christians will not participate.  Calling you a goody-goody is a term of derision.  I wonder if your life convicts those name callers of the sin in their life.  This reminds me of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is telling us that our goodness can have a positive impact upon others.  Some will be attracted to us and others will not.  With Christ as our source of goodness we have a security in our life and conduct which others long to have but I believe they will never find because they are looking for the wrong things.

fruit-of-the-spirit-goodnessLet me also say we are not saved by our goodness.  When people are asked if they are going to heaven when they die, they all often answer yes because I am a good person.  Romans 3:12 says, “There is none who does good, no, not one.” Goodness is a result of our changed life not the cause. In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul said: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

George W. Bethune in his book The Fruit of the Spirit wrote: “True goodness is not merely impulsive, but rational and considerate—it will therefore pause, and be at some trouble to inquire what service, and how best may it be rendered… Goodness should be willing to give time, and thought, and patience, and even labor, not mere money and kind words and compassionate looks.”

We as Christians are called upon to do good for others in word and in deed.  We are to seek to minister to believers and unbelievers alike. True goodness is not only self sacrifice but also untiring. It does not “become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9).  It does not look to the recipients, or even to the results, of its deeds for its reward.  It looks to God alone, and finding His smile of approval, it gains the needed strength to carry on.

 

See you Sunday.

Dick

The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

fruit-of-the-spirit_t-1024x768The next fruit we are talking about is kindness. Let’s first of all talk about what kindness is not. In Proverbs 18:8 it says: “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” The Puritan Charles Bridges says: “No good results can arise from the spirit of the talebearer, because with him it is pure selfishness, without a principle beyond the love of sin for its own sake. He lives upon the scandal of the place, and makes it his hateful business to carry about tales, or slanders of his neighbors faults. Such reports are eagerly devoured, and the mischief-maker feeds with greedy appetite upon the fruit of his cruel indulgence. To him this may appear harmless play but if it draws no blood, and no outward hurt is shown, an internal and often incurable wound is inflicted.” How many times have we knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone with our speech? This is not showing kindness.

Another example of unkindness is found in the prophet Jonah. Remember how God told him to go preach to the people at Nineveh. Jonah knew that if he obeyed God that the people of Nineveh would repent and that God would forgive them. At first, Jonah wanted no part of this. He fled for Tarshish. He was showing unkindness to the people of Nineveh by not wanting them to enjoy the forgiveness of God.

One last example of unkindness is in a man named Diotrephes. We read of him in the epistle of 3 John. His ambition in the church led him to evil speaking, to the breaking of fellowship and to excommunicating those who would not obey him. He is an example of selfishness, pride, disobedience and rebellion toward God. He did not have the heart of a servant but rather wanted to have a position of lording it over other members of the church. I am sure people like this exist in churches where their lack of kindness is a stumbling block to believers and unbelievers alike.

kindness_t_nvWhat is kindness? Jerry Bridges defines the word this way: “Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others. It is an inner disposition created by the Holy Spirit, that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others, either physical, emotional, or spiritual.” I will give you two examples of Biblical kindness though there are many more. Matthew 7:12 is what we often called the Golden Rule. Jesus said: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” What Jesus means here is that I am to treat you with kindness regardless of how you treat me. This is not a conditional promise. For example our kindness would be letting someone in in traffic, not letting our tempers flare when someone inconsiderately pulls in front of us, acting kind to people who are not particularly kind toward you.

One other example is found in Luke 10 in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable Jesus speaks of a man in dire need, he had been robbed, beaten and left half dead. Who would show him kindness? Not a priest or a Levite. These were the upper classes among the Jews. The example of virtue which lower classes would follow. However they were neither kind nor merciful but the Samaritan was. Jesus was exposing the self righteous pride of many of the Jews of His day. Their pride led to unkindness. The Samaritan had nothing to be proud of. He was moved with compassion. He bound up the man’s wounds after having treated them with oil and wine. He then carried him to an inn for recovery and paid his expenses while recuperating. This is one example of how we show kindness to people without expecting anything in return. This is the Christ likeness we are to seek to imitate.

See you Sunday.

Dick

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

fruit-of-the-spirit_t-1024x768The fruit of the Spirit we are talking about today is peace. The verse we begin with is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”  When we think about God and his perfect peace, this should remind us that we are resting not upon changing sands of our circumstances but upon God who is our rock, eternal and unchanging.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” To be a peacemaker means that we do our best to realize what Christ did for us on the cross by buying us peace with God. Jesus here means that we are to be people who are not contentious. We can disagree without being disagreeable and we can confront without being abusive. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. To be called sons of God means that this attitude is a hallmark of being a child of God. Think of how much easier our life would be if we followed Jesus more closely.

fruit-of-the-spirit-peace-blankIn Romans 12:18 the apostle Paul says: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” There may be people who are not peaceful toward us but this should not affect our attitude in trying to show Christ to them.

In Philippians 4:6, 7 Paul says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” These verses are self explanatory. If we truly trust in God with our life and fervently pray to Him knowing that He hears and answers the prayers of His people, then we should have peace which is unknown to the world because our sovereign God is in control of all things.

fghfhIn Colossians 3:15 Paul said: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body, and be thankful.” The word rule means umpire. We in a sense have a choice to make, whether or not we will let the peace of Christ guide us in our circumstances that truly frustrate us or give in to our anger, lash out with our tongue and then regret how our conduct has affected not only us but people around us.

This peace that we have talked about is only for the believer.  Isaiah bluntly says in Chapter 48:22: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked. Unbelievers are looking high and low for contentment and peace in their life. They turn to all the wrong things. It may be alcohol, it may be drugs, it may be entertainment but that for which they seek will never be found outside of Christ. Let us be thankful for the fruit of the Spirit especially for God’s peace.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

fruit_joyThe second fruit of the Spirit is joy. Joy is in the same family of Greek words as grace. This means to me that because we are saved by the underserved grace of God, the joy we experience is non-circumstantial. This does not mean that we are outwardly happy about our circumstances all the time, nor does it mean that we have to walk around with a fake smile. The joy is a constant reminder that regardless of what happens to us in life, our relationship with God should remain strong.

Jesus said in John 15 that our relationship to Him is compared to that of a vine and the vinedresser. He said in Verse 4: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” In Verse 8, He said: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so that you will be My disciples.” I hope you see the connection between our bearing fruit and being in a relationship with Jesus.

In Verse 10 Jesus said: “If you keep My commandments (remember that we are in a relationship of obedience to Christ as fruit-bearers) you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Then in Verse 11 Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you (the things He has spoken to us concern our relationship to Him as the vine) that My joy may remain in you, that your joy may be full.” Again what is the basis of the joy? A living, vibrant relationship with Christ.

efrcefIn Romans 12:15 Paul said: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” If we look at the first part of the verse, he is saying that we rejoice in other’s success. We rejoice even if our team gets defeated and even rejoice when someone gets what we feel they don’t deserve. None of this is easy; however, our joy is secure in the grace of Christ.

In Matthew 5:11, 12, Jesus said: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The words be glad mean to be exceedingly glad. The literal meaning is to skip and jump with happy excitement. Jesus used the imperative mood, which makes His words more than a suggestion. We are commanded to be glad. How so? Do you remember the story of the three Hebrew young men who were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace? Their names were Hananiah, Mishsael, and Azariah, whom the king named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Three men!  But  when  the king looked  into  the furnace,  he said:

fgbf“Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the furnace?… Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24, 25). In the same way Jesus Christ is near to those who are persecuted for His sake and they can have great joy in this knowledge.

The world can take a lot of things away from us as Christian people but it cannot deprive us of our joy and our happiness. Nothing in this world is permanent but our reward in heaven is.

One final thought. We serve and obey a living Lord just as on earth He loved and obeyed His Father because He loved Him.  It was also because of the
“joy set before Him” that Christ Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame”. (Hebrews 12:2) The Lord’s joy was in dying for us. Our joy is in  living for Him.

 

See you Sunday.

Dick

The Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE

11-2012_Fruit-Bowl-of-the-Spirit_HerronI will be doing a series of pastor’s pens on the fruit of the Spirit, not fruits of the Spirit. They are called the fruit of the Spirit because all of these qualities are ours the day we believed. The fruit are different manifestations of God’s sanctification in our life.

Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law.

Let’s begin with love.  We will first talk about what love is not. In Matthew 5:43, 45 Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…”

The Pharisees had a very restrictive view of who their neighbors were, and so they could easily infer that their enemies could be hated. This was not God’s law and Jesus does not allow the perversion to pass. God does not countenance a limited love.

Leviticus 19:11 says: “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to on another.” This means that we are to be people of integrity in our dealings with people who work for us or who buy something from us. We are not to shortchange anyone in our transactions.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter came to Jesus and said: “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.’” The Jews in Jesus’ day believed that you only had to forgive a person three times. Peter thought he was being extremely generous in doubling the amount and adding one. Jesus allows no such qualification. As often as someone may aggravate me and verbally abuse me I am still obligated to show them God’s love by forgiving them. We may never be best friends but I am not to allow the anger to seethe inside of me. Let us remember how much Christ loves us. Remember in Romans 5:6 Paul said: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”

fruit-of-the-spirit_t-1024x768What is the positive side of love? In Romans 12:17-18 Paul said: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Paul goes on to say in the passage that vengeance belongs to God. That in so loving our enemy we are heaping burning coals of fire on their heads.  The paraphrase of  this would be “killing them with kindness”. Our showing love to an enemy may be an irritant to them but we are showing God’s love in our conduct.

In I Corinthians 13:4-8 Paul said: “Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up, it does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Each one of these characteristics of love I believe is self explanatory. Though loving people who love us is easy the real test is in loving people who do not love us.  This fruit given to us by God is to be exercised by us at all times whether it is convenient or not. So as Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and so glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

See you Sunday.

Dick

 

 

 

 

God Gives Us Power

fgbfhSince Easter was this last Sunday, I thought I would devote my column today to some thoughts on the practicality of our faith. In Ephesians 1:19 Paul said: “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Paul prays that we might know the exceeding greatness. That word could also be translated as surpassing. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: “God’s power not only surpasses our power of expression, it surpasses our power of comprehension! Take all the dictionaries of the world, exhaust all the vocabularies, and when you have added them all together you have still not begun to describe the greatness of God’s power.”

The words that Paul uses in this verse for power all boil down to one thing that God gives to us strength which overcomes, prevails and conquers. If you read the entire passage Verses 15-20, you will see that Paul is saying that the same power God used to raise Christ from the dead is the same power available to us as His redeemed people. It is power unknown to the natural man. For in Philippians 4:7 Paul says that God gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding meaning that an unbeliever could not understand how we can enjoy peace in the midst of life’s turmoil.

photo 1 (1)James Boice said: “Christianity is not just ‘head’ knowledge. It is not a religion of ideas only. It is not merely a philosophy. Some Christians treat the faith as if it were, taking care to master Bible doctrines, thinking that when they have done this they have done all that needs to be done. They believe that in knowing the truth they have it all. This did not satisfy the apostle, and it should not satisfy us either. For important as sound theological and doctrinal knowledge is, it is given that we might know God better and thus live in His power and be victorious over sin in this life. Christianity is knowledge, yes. But it is also power, power from beginning to end. Without the power of God not one individual would ever become a Christian. The salvation of the soul is a resurrection, the recovery of a person from the dead. Without God’s power not one individual would ever triumph over sin, live a godly life, or come at last to the reward God has for all His own in heaven.”

Why do we not see more of God’s power? God did not promise to remove us from difficulty, persecution, danger and even death, but He makes us more that conquerors in all such things. God does not promise us a power to work magic and escape troubles, but a power to live daily in an evil world.  Paul said in Romans 8:31: “…If God is for us, who can be against us.”

As we live our lives each day as Christian people striving to glorify God we should remember the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The context of this verse is that no matter what situation the apostle faced, whether he was in plenty or in want, in trials or times of joy, he looked to Christ for any and every situation he faced in life. We can enjoy the same blessings he did because of the resurrection power of Christ that belonged to him and also to us.

See you Sunday.

Dick

The Trinity as the Basis for Love

iukjynbgrtvfI John 4:8 says: “He who does not love does not know God for God is love.” God created us with a desire to love and to be loved. This desire however has been buried under the false views of denying the existence of God. Many fallaciously believe that by eliminating God we are freer to love. Back in the 1960’s most of the music of that day was about love. It was the Beatles who said All You Need is Love. Love is expressed by what was called love-ins which was nothing more than dope-smoking orgies. Was this love? Not at all.

Most of us were taught in our biology classes in high school that mankind is just the product of primordial slime that produced life only through time plus chance. Evolution teaches the survival of the fittest which has no purpose but one species dominating another. This is supposed to give us identity and meaning. In eliminating God instead of given us a higher view of ourselves, we have lowered our value, our status and our dignity.

In our materialistic world, where do we find love? In Romans 1 Paul says in verse 25 that we have “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” We try to find our purpose through our environment or animal rights or using other people for our own ends.

Nancy Pearcey in her book Finding Truth said: “All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statements that ‘God is love,’ writes C. S. Lewis, ‘but they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made he was not love.’ (Or if he had the capacity for love, he had no way to exercise it. To fulfill his nature he would need to create a world—in which case, he would be dependent on creation).”

wrfgetrgOnly a God of love is purely personal so the Trinity is crucial for understanding a fully personal concept of God who loves Himself. Because the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, love one another can we truly understand what love is. In His high priestly prayer in John 17:22-23 Jesus prayed: “In the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I and them, and You and Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Both Judaism and Islam teach the unitarian oneness of God. Therefore, they know nothing of His love for Himself and thus do not have a true biblical understanding of how to love one another. Only a God of love is fully personal.

In Islam for example Allah made the world and you must accept the way it interacts with you, even if it should kill you. You are allowed no questions, no doubt, no individual responsibility. Negation of self is your salvation. Therefore its spirituality is completely impersonal not based on a love of God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Though with Judaism we share a common heritage in the Old Testament, we differ in our belief in God. They, like Islam, deny the Trinity and thus have no concept of the personal relationship with God nor do they understand the love of God.

I hope from this you can understand how important it is for us to believe in the Triune God and know that the source of our love does not come from chance or religion but from God Himself. So as John said “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:11)

 

See you Sunday.

Dick

Inside Out: How The Church Can Change the World

As you know on Sunday mornings, I am preaching through the Book of Acts. My title for the overall series is: “Inside Out: How the Church Can Change the World.”

What I am learning in this series is that for us to effectively reach the world for the Gospel, it must begin with the local church. In our sermon last week in Acts 4:32 we talked about how the church “were of one heart and mind”. They may have had different customs, such as clothing and diet but that did not overshadow the Gospel. If we are God’s chosen people and know that He loves us, we in turn demonstrate our love for God by keeping His commandments. Part of our loving God is loving one another. The apostle John speaks a lot about this in his first epistle. In Chapter 4:7, 8 John says: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” What John is saying is that loving others is essential in our relationship with God. If I cannot love a member of Christ’s body, than how can I love anyone in the world?

It’s a shame if a secular organization would claim to have more unity than the church. What witness would we have to the community if we are beset by divisions and bickering? Our love for one another is not perfect but we do strive to do as Paul said in Romans 18 as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men. The Corinthians had a very poor witness because of the divisions that hampered their worship.  Jesus was talking to the disciples when He said in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciples, IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.” (emphasis mine)

I am thankful that I do not know of any problem with which we are dealing in our church and I do believe that we strive to model the early church. We sing, we study, we break bread and we pray (we could do better here) and we love each other! Therefore, we have a united witness to present to our community. We want our friends and neighbors to see the love of Jesus Christ in us. We want to tell them of the joys of Christ. We want to invite them to worship with us and experience the love of God and the fellowship we enjoy in our corporate worship. I pray for greater boldness in my own life.

Let me say a word about friendship evangelism. It is great to get to know our unbelieving friends and show interest in them; however, there comes a point when we must verbally tell them about the Lord Jesus. We may simply invite them to church with us or to church events and pray for an opportunity to tell them about the Gospel.

As Iain Duguid says: “We are called to care deeply and passionately for our lost neighbors, to be personally devastated by the prospect that they may spend all eternity in hell. Compassion for their souls demands nothing less from us. The extent to which the lostness of the world around touches our hearts is the extent to which we will be motivated to bring our neighbors the good news of the Gospel—and to go on bringing it to them, even when they don’t want to hear it.”

I would hope that our study in Acts would excite all of us into learning not only about the church, the challenges of being a Christian in today’s world, but also the privilege of seeing others come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday.

Dick

 

How Did They Change?

In Lee Beach’s The Church in Exile, he begins by saying: “On July 1, 1967 a crowd of 25,000 people gathered in Canada’s capital city for the country’s centennial birthday celebration. In addition to all of the dignitaries were members of the clergy. The service consisted of readings from the Bible, hymns from the Christian tradition were sung, and prayers, including a prayer of confession for the sins of the nation and a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, were offered. A litany was recited, and those gathered were invited to respond with the words ‘we rededicate ourselves, O Lord’. The service was a clear nod to the role that the Christian church had played in the first hundred years of the nation’s development.”

Thirty four years later another public service was held in Canada’s capital city. A crowd of 100,000 people gathered to commemorate the lives that had been lost in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the United States. This time there was no Scripture read, no prayers were offered and no hymns were sung.

At the September 11 memorial in the United States, the service had a distinctive Christian perspective including Billy Graham as a guest preacher. However at another memorial service held at Yankee Stadium in New York City, the service was hosted by Oprah Winfrey and offered a variety of religious traditions.

From these two events we are learning that the Christian faith no longer holds an excusive place that it once did in Canadian or American life. We are fast becoming a church in exile. How do we live in such changing times?

In the book of Daniel (which we are studying on Wednesday nights), there is much for us to learn about our living in a country that is less friendly to the Gospel. Daniel’s entire life was spent in exile in a metaphorical lion’s den but God preserved him alive and unharmed throughout his whole life enabling him to prosper under successive kings, until the time of King Cyrus, when his prayers for Jerusalem finally began to be answered.

Commentator Iain Duguid said: “As far as we know Daniel never returned home to his beloved Judah. His reward would have to wait until the Jerusalem that is above. In the experiences of Daniel and his three friends, God demonstrated that He could keep His people safe in the midst of their enemies. Life in exile would never be easy, nor would it ever be home. However, through God’s faithfulness, it was possible for his people to survive the exile as strangers and aliens, serving the earthly empire in which they found themselves, even while they looked for another city that was yet to come (Hebrews 13:14).”

We should learn from Daniel’s experience that the world in which we live is a dangerous place. It is not our home and never will be. We must also learn that the world can never hurt us beyond what God permits. In the midst of trials and sufferings, even when persecuted for our faith we can have a peace that will astound the world, for the Lord holds even our oppressors in His hand, and says, “thus far and no farther”.

In I Peter 2:11 Peter calls Christians aliens and strangers in the world. An alien is a long-term resident, someone not born where he now lives, yet someone who has lived in the new land for a long season. The stranger, by contrast, is a temporary resident, the traveler whose stay is shorter. But both terms suggest that believes belong elsewhere. So when Peter calls his disciples aliens and strangers, he means that we are never fully at home in this world. Strangers have no permanent residence. Aliens rarely hold positions of power or privilege. As Jesus said we are in the world but not of it.

But Peter encouraged his readers and us to remember that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

We are learning more of how we as Christians are to live in an increasingly Godless culture in our sermon series in Acts on Sunday morning. Come and be encouraged as we live out the Gospel boldly each day.

See you Sunday.

Dick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                       

 

 

The Healing of the Lame Man in Acts 3

This past Sunday I preached on Acts Chapter 3 which is the passage about the healing of the lame man. He was healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The lame man eventually died. What was the purpose of the healing? It pointed to the healing of our soul as well as our bodies permanently in heaven.

This reminded me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:3-5 when John the Baptist was in prison and heard about the works of Christ. He sent two of his disciples “and said to Him, ‘are you the coming one, are do we look for another’? And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’”

It dawned on me that Jesus was speaking here about the coming kingdom of heaven. His miracles were sign gifts showing us that as Paul teaches in I Corinthian 15:42-44 that all the struggles with sin will physically be removed when our new bodies are given to us on the day of resurrection.

Even if an unbeliever is healed it is God’s common grace pointing them to Christ. In Luke  17 Jesus healed 10 lepers and only one returned to give Him thanks. The other nine went about their business with, as far as we know, no thought about God. Even when we experience healings (we have seen God answer many of our prayers concerning the sick in our church), it is a testimony not only to God’s grace but a foretaste of eternity.

The same thing can be said about our souls. We now as Paul said in I Corinthians 13:12 see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. We enjoy the fruit of the Spirit but not in its completeness. In John 4:14 Jesus said “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. But the water than I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jesus is telling us that we can enjoy the benefits of the Spirit now but it is also pointing us to better days yet to come.

How do we know this? In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul said “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” The word I want you to notice is the word underlined: guarantee. It literally means a down payment. The apostle Paul is telling us that though we enjoy being sealed with the Holy Spirit, our inheritance is not complete. The best is yet to come.

This reminds me that though Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden due to their sin, God made a promise to them in Genesis 3:15 which says: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This is called the first gospel. It is prophesying the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death and points us to the new Eden of which we now have a foretaste and will one day enjoy it in its fullness.

See you Sunday.

Dick