The Four Applications of Doctrine.

Gregg R. Allison, in his book titled, “50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith* described doctrine having four applications. I found his idea intreaging and therefore include his thoughts on the matter.

  1. Doctrine is believed. Orthodoxy is true belief, or sound doctrine.
  2. Doctrine is practiced. Orthopraxis is right practice, or godly living.
  3. Doctrine is confessed. Confession is the public profession of Christian belief.
  4. Doctrine is taught. Teaching (the word “doctrine” comes from the Latin docere, “to teach”) is the faithful transmission of Christian belief from generation to generation.

In today’s world of preaching, a lack of doctrine will lead to false teaching and false belief system.

Oh, that Christians today would fall in love with the Word of God, and practice these four applications of doctrine.

Believed

Practiced

Confessed

Taught

Amen, and Amen.

*Gregg R. Allison, 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A guide to understanding and teaching theology, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Books, 2018, p.1

Decline of Christianity in the US.

I was reading with interest the findings of a Pew Research Center survey the other day. In an article: “The U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at a Rapid Pace.” “An update on America’s changing religious landscape.”

The article comments: ” In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.”

It goes on to say: ” Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population – a group also known as religious “nones” – have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.”

As I read these findings, I did not curl up in the corner with my blanket, sucking my finger and crying; “The sky is falling.” Instead, the words of Jesus as He was ascending to His Father echoed through my thoughts:

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We were made for a time like this!

Remember, when Jesus proclaimed these words to Peter, James and John, the world was under the iron rule of the Romans. The percentage of Christians in the world was miniscule. However, the World was changed with this simple Gospel…the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

The last commandment Christ uttered to the disciples rings true today. Let us not look at the numbers as insurmountable. The Truth is still the Truth! And we Christians hold that Truth. Jesus is the way the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but by Him.”

Fear is the weapon of the enemy, Satan. Truth overcomes fear, every time.

Excerpts From Ephesus – Part 4

Sealed With the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13-14

Ephesians 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Introduction

So far, we have been reviewing the “spiritual blessings in heavenly places” which are “according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7). The spiritual blessings have been from eternity and history past. Today we will look at those things that the church at Ephesus currently had and experienced. Therefore, we as Christians in the 21st century can also enjoy.

The Gospel First

Ephesians 1:13a In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

The Apostle Paul reminds the readers that these blessings are only available to those that heard the Word of God, trusted in those scriptures and believed.

Notice with me how personal salvation is: “ye also trusted, ye heard the word of truth, your salvation, and ye believed.” They personally heard and they personally trusted. It was their personal belief and it is their personal salvation. No one else is responsible for your salvation but you.

Note: Trust stands in contrast to those that simply embrace salvation. My favorite question to really find out if a person is sure of their salvation is; “If you were to die today, are you 100% sure that you will spend eternity in heaven?” The answer to this question is very revealing. You can find out if the person trusts the Gospel or is simply in agreement with the Gospel. The Gospel may seem like a good idea, and it is, but to trust in the Word of God for your salvation is not the same than those that simply know about the Gospel.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. (NLT)

The Gospel of Christ is the power of God at work unto salvation. The power of salvation is the Gospel. Gospel is translated as “God news” or “Good news.”

Also, please note God’s method of getting the Gospel out. Salvation comes through hearing, then trusting and finally believing the Gospel. The Gospel message is simply defined as the “death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.” The truth of the Gospel message is placing your trust in God’s Word and trust brings belief and belief brings salvation.

The Gospel message is preached, and the Holy Spirit works in the hearer. The Apostle Paul wrote the book to the Romans and he clearly defined the role of Christians today in the process of Salvation.

Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Therefore, an important part of the plan of Salvation, after God and Jesus did their part, is that those that believe are to preach. Preach means to proclaim the Word of God. That is everybody’s task. We are to …be witnesses unto me [Jesus the Christ] both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

Our Jerusalem is the town in which you live. Judaea is the state of Texas. Samaria is North America and the uttermost part of the earth is the world. We all have been called to spread the Word of God. There is no way around it.

The Holy Spirit has sealed us

Ephesians 1:13b In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, “…ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”

Not long ago, I had to have a document notarized, to prove that I was the person in the document and that the signature was mine. I took the document to a Notary Public and in front of the notary; I showed some Id and signed my name. Then the notary signed her name and put a seal on the document. The seal was then imprinted to show that the contract was completed. The seal also implies that I was who I said I was and that I had the right to sign the document.

The Roman seal on the grave of Jesus carried the meaning of security and ownership. No one would attempt to enter the grave or else they would find themselves being pursued by the government of Rome until they were caught, arrested and judged. That grave became the property of the Roman government until that seal was removed.

In much the same manner, that is what the Holy Spirit does. He put His seal on us. God has transferred the title of our life unto Him. So, when God puts His seal on the believer, they are the property of God with all the security and ownership of the Lord himself.
And most importantly, the transaction is finished! The seal also shows that the believer is genuine.

that holy Spirit of promise” – Jesus promised that the Comforter would come:
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
(See also John 16:7-11; 13; 15:26; 14:16-17)

The Holy Spirit gives the earnest of our inheritance

Ephesians 1:14a Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Which is the earnest of our inheritance”. In the time of Paul, earnest was the down payment that guaranteed the purchase of property to seal the deal. The down payment was the guarantee that the buyer was serious. In this way, the Holy Spirit is God’s earnest to the believer of the salvation that is offered. God is serious about salvation and gives the earnest, Holy Spirit, to the believer.

Earnest is also translated as “engagement ring.”

Ephesians 1:14b Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

“…until the redemption of the purchased possession”. Redemption is an interesting word. When we become believers, we are redeemed. I love that old hymn, “Redeemed”. That is what I am. But redemption has three parts:

  1. I have been redeemed from my sins by my faith in Jesus the Messiah
  2. We are being redeemed as the Holy Spirit does His work in and through the believer.
  3. We shall be redeemed when Christ returns, and we become like him.

Ephesians 1:14c Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

“…unto the praise of his glory.” – All of this, the believer’s sealing, the Holy Spirit as the earnest, for our inheritance is to the praise of God’s Glory!

Conclusion

The work of the Holy Spirit in God’s plan of salvation is amazing.

  1. Each of us must grasp the importance of the proof of our faith is “being sealed by God with the Holy Spirit and
  2. Each of us must grasp that just as God gave Jesus to the world so the world through him might be saved, God sent the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our salvation.
  3. The Christians future rests in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Excerpts from Ephesus – Part 3

Making Known the Mystery of His Will

Ephesians 1:8-12

Ephesians 1:8-12 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Introduction

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus a most glorious letter. The letter is filled with hope and promise as he carefully lays out the importance of God in the lives of the brethren. In the first chapter he lets us in on a profound truth for Christians;

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Paul introduces them to how “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

In verses 4-6 we were introduced to the blessings of the Father: He Chose us (v. 4), He Adopted us (v. 5) and He Accepted us (v. 6). Beginning in the seventh verse, we see the blessings from God the Son. In verse 7 we found that Jesus redeemed us.

In this passage today, we will continue to see the Blessings in Heavenly Places from God the Son as Jesus reveals God’s will to us.

Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

In the previous verse we found that “we have redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of sins”. And all this is according to the “riches of his grace.” Now add “he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” Spiritual blessings heaped upon spiritual blessings from God’s grace to those who trust in Christ.

Notice the word abounded, it means “in excess; more than enough to spare.” God does not give wisdom and prudence in moderation to His children. God will give in abundance to those that love God and keep His commandments.

Wisdom means full of intelligence and carries the idea of acting wisely. It can also mean insight. So another of the spiritual blessings is to have insight into God and then to act wisely concerning His will in your life.

Prudence means to have understanding; to think clearly, a capacity for understanding.

So God liberally gives, through the riches of His grace, wisdom and understanding to believers in His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Anointed One!

Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

As a young boy I didn’t like to read very much. I would just as soon be playing baseball with all my friends. This condition existed until my first deployment on a ship in the Coast Guard. Life aboard a ship is one of work and then utter boredom. After the work was done, there wasn’t much of anything to do. I noticed that many of my shipmates were filling the down time with reading. So I found a book in the “loaner library” and I found that I liked to read and that I really enjoyed mysteries. I liked the “who done its.”

Paul uses the word “mystery” in this verse, but it carries a different definition than a “who done it.” Mystery used in Scripture is defined a “sacred secret, which was once hidden but is now revealed.” In this case it is a sacred secret revealed only to God’s people.

There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by human agencies, for it is always a revelation from God; and (2) it is revealed at the proper time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed.[1]

The Apostle Paul says that the “sacred secret” of God’s will is now revealed to Believers. And God let us in on this secret by His own good pleasure.

How Great Is Our God! Say it with me, “How Great Is Our God!”

Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

We really need to understand two terms that Paul uses in this verse; that is the word “dispensation” and “fullness of times”. Dispensation is a term that means “the law or management of a household.” Theologically it means “the method in which God carries out His purposes towards men.” Paul’s use of the word in this verse means the “commission to preach the Gospel.”

Now God has never had but one method of saving folk; everything rests upon one method of salvation. The approach and the man under the system have been different, however. For example, Abel offered a lamb to God, and so did Abraham. The Old Testament priests offered lambs to God. God had said that was the right way. But I hope you didn’t bring a lamb to church last Sunday! That is not the way God tells us to approach Him today. We are under a different economy.[2]

“Fullness of times” means a point in time. It is time for the plan which God had previously hidden to be revealed to believers through Christ. In this case, it is time to reveal God’s redemptive plan for mankind. The clock of God, if I can use that term since God is beyond time, is moving forward to the event when God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, will return to the earth and rule as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5)

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

When my two sons, Sean and Rob, were teenagers and Michelle, my daughter, was just on the edge, I would have to begin the “countdown” on Sunday mornings so they would know that it was time to leave for church. I would begin by shouting “fifteen minutes kids before it is time to leave.” They knew that meant that I would be backing the car out of the driveway on our way to church in fifteen minutes. Soon I would follow-up with “ten minutes kids, all you have is ten minutes.” I called out “five minutes” and finally “I am walking out the door.” It was at this point that I would go to the car, sit and simmer! You see I was the only one on my time. Everyone else was on their own time schedule. Eventually all would get into the car and we were on our way, tying ties, pulling out curlers and applying makeup.

Jesus is coming back one day. The “fullness of time” is at hand. God has already shouted “fifteen minutes world, you have fifteen minutes.” Scripturally there isn’t another event in the prophecy concerning Jesus return that has to be accomplished.

Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Here is a wonderful truth. Christians have obtained an inheritance! God is giving us something we do not deserve. And this is all being done as per God’s will for those that love Him and believe on His Son. God knew this from the foundation of the worlds and he predestinated, it was all part of His Plan of Salvation.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

All of the Scriptures are coming “in focus” since the birth of the Messiah. The Gospel message includes the birth, death and the resurrection of the Messiah, Immanuel, Jesus the Savior of man.

Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

All of the blessings that come from the Father and the Son are given to those “who first trusted in Christ.

Conclusion

Let us review “all the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

  • God chose us to be holy and without blame (v. 4)
  • God predestined us to be adopted children by Jesus Christ (v.5)
  • God accepted us (v. 6)
  • Jesus redeemed us (v.7a)
  • God forgave us our sins (v. 7b)
  • God revealed His will to us (vv. 8-10)
  • God has made us an inheritance (vv. 11-12)

 

 

 

[1] McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 222). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 223). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Excerpts from Ephesus – Part 2

Introduction

The Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the church at Ephesus

With very little argument, the Book of Ephesians is attributed to the Apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry to the church at Ephesus is found in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 18:18-21; 19:2-41; 20:17-35)
Paul wrote this letter from his Roman prison cell, somewhere around 60-63 A.D. (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Paul arrive in Rome in the spring of 60 A.D. and was placed under house arrest for approximately 2 years (Acts 28:30). Paul wrote his “Prison Epistles” somewhere between 60-62 A.D. or 61-63 A. D. The Prison Epistles were written to the churches at Ephesus, Philippi, Colossi and to Philemon.
There is a lot of similarity in the letters sent to Ephesus and Colossi, which would leave us to understand that they were probably written about the same time. In Colossians 4:16, Paul mentions another letter that was in circulation among the church of the Laodiceans, which he called the “Epistle from Laodicea.” Paul intended for all his letters to be “circular” in nature. That is that the letter would be circulated to believers everywhere.
Albert Barnes writes:
In 1 Thessalonians 5:27, the apostle also charges those to whom that epistle was addressed to see that it be “read unto all the holy brethren.” It is evident that the apostles designed that the letters which they addressed to the churches should be read also by others, and should become the permanent source of instruction to the friends of Christ.1
This epistle is chocked full of doctrine. It is apparent to me that Paul, knowing that his end was near, wanted to teach as much as he could to each of the churches. In that teaching he reveals God’s purpose through creation and His Son for the church. He encourages the brethren to unity and the hope that lays before them, eternal life.

Ephesus

Ephesus was an important port city in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The city had its roots. Due to its location on the root of the main highways of Asia minor in its natural, safe harbor. The surrounding land, rich in fertile, was excellent supply of fruits and vegetables to support the city and its growth.
However, the harbor became unusable in the middle of the first century, filling up with silt. However, the trade route had become so successful because of the religions of Diana and Artemis. Temples were erected in the city found new life as their worshipers made pilgrimages, if using much-needed revenue into the city.
Silversmiths brought a whole new industry to the city with idols made for Diana and Artemis. Prostitution in the temple was another revenue stream.
As harbor continued to be filled with silt, shipping found a nearby harbor at the port of Smyrna. As more and more of the shipping revenue is lost to Smyrna, the only income was from the temple rites and associated services. The city eventually died out.

The Church at Ephesus.

Apollos, was the pastor of the church, and Paul visited he found 12 believers. Apollo’s was inexperienced and somewhat misinformed concerning the Holy Spirit. Paul spent three months in Ephesus, teaching the church, and preaching in the synagogues. Because of the opposition, Paul moved the church to the house of Tyrannus. Paul spent the next two years, preaching and teaching the young church. (Acts 19:1-9). The church took on the role of the missions throughout Asia (acts 19:20).
Many miracles were performed in Ephesus, and many believed. The church grew mightily even in the face of the city filled with people of superstition, magic, and a desire for the sensual. It was in this city of immoral and pagan practices that the gospel was preached. People were saved. The church grew. The believer respected fellowship, the Lord supper, and baptism.
Even though the church grew and send out missionaries throughout Asia, they soon followed in the trend of the city, and the church declined as they left the teaching of the apostle Paul and Apollo’s. We see the mention of the church at Ephesus spotlighted in John’s vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:1-7 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Excerpts from Ephesus, Part 1

This is the first “excerpt” from a commentary that I have written titled: “Ephesians: Preparing the Believer for Spiritual Warfare.”I am always in awe of the writers of the Bible. To put pen to papyrus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to tell the story of God to man, is most wonderful and exciting.

Next to the Gospels, the epistles of Paul are my favorites. The story of Paul’s conversion, in the book of Acts, is so dramatic, it is difficult to fathom. From a hunter for the Jewish aristocracy, to an Apostle of Jesus Christ alone is worthy of appreciation, marvel and amazement and movie rights.

This book is the result of Bible study and sermon series given at churches that I have pastored in Texas. I am indebted to those wonderful brothers and sisters who helped to shape this study.

There is so much the Church of the 21st century can use in following the Pauline Epistles; its methods of church organization, discipline, evangelism, doctrine and teachings. It is incumbent upon every believer to read, study and apply this letter, not only to the life of the church, but to our own lives as well.

It is my hope that by revealing sections of the commentary, that you, the reader of this blog, will dig deep into this most wonderful epistle.
Let us harken to the voice of Paul as we begin this study:

Ephesians 1:1-3 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Beware of False Prophets

This week I was in a large corporate “Christian” book store and I was shocked at the number of books of “false teachers and heretics” that are stocked on the shelves and sold. As I stood in the isle, I must have been muttering to myself. as one of the store’s employees approached me with a smile and asked, “May I help you?” I knew that they were not the store’s manager, and a deep discussion concerning their agreements and contracts with the publishing houses would come to no avail. So, I simply said, “I was surprised that you were carrying this author.” They replied, with a smile on their face, “Oh, we sell a lot of these books from this author.” I was going no-where, so I thanked them and simply said I was just “killing some time until I meet my wife for lunch.” They smiled and as they walked away, he said, “Let me know if there is anything else I could help you with.”

I wanted to shout, “Well, you could remove all the books of this heretic and burn them on a bonfire in the back” so unsuspecting readers would not be harmed by these false teachers. However, I understand where the problem really lays. It is not the reseller or the publisher, and to some degree not even the author. The fault lays clearly on the demand by the readers. If no one purchased their books, they would not be ordered, stocked and sold. They would make their way to the “deep discount” area and the publishers would stop going into contracts with those authors. The problem could be solved in just a couple of years. However, there is so much demand for these authors that until Christians “wake up and heed Jesus’ warning”, the authors will write, the publishers will publish, the stores will order, stock and sell, and the public will continue to be under the spell of “ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Jesus Taught

Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, warned His disciples concerning false prophets and teachers.

Matthew 7:1520 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (ESV)

I believe the reason so many people follow these false teachers is because they are lazy. “Lazy” you may ask? Yes, an emphatic “Lazy.” Instead of reading and studying their bible for themselves, they take the easy way of simply reading and following teachers that scratch their itch, instead of spending the time in prayer and study of the Bible.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Understand this. You will be held accountable for allowing these false teachers into your mind. Jesus says that you can identify them because they bring forth thorns and thistles instead of good fruit. Translation: these false teachers bring disease that can only bring evil fruit and destruction.

The Apostle Paul Taught

Don’t take the easy way out. the Apostle Paul understood this and in writing to his protégé Timothy;

“2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The Apostle John quoted Jesus;

“John 5:37 -43 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
41 I do not receive glory from people.
42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

What Are We To Do?

  1. Get a good “word for word” translation of the Bible, without commentary and without references and study the Bible after prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you.
  2. Journal – write your questions, thoughts and impressions so that you can return to them later.
  3. Be methodical in your approach to study. Learn how to study the bible by “Observing what the Scripture says; search out God’s interpretation of the verse, paragraph, text or book and then apply what you have learned to your own life.
  4. Observation, Interpretation, Application – in that order. Don’t jump to interpretation until you fully understand what the “text within the context” is saying. Don’t leap to applying the Scripture until you have completed the hard work of Observing and then finding out what God is saying and what He means.
  5. It takes time and is an investment in your spiritual health.

As Christians, we are to study the Word of God. We are to receive sound doctrine and oppose false teachers, even if they are the #1 best seller in your local “Christin” book store.

I Wasn’t There

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

(Hebrews 11:1; King James Version)

This is the only place in the Bible where Faith is defined. And yet, time and time again we are told about believers having faith and its importance in the life of the believer. The Bible instructs us that we must have faith to be saved.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews captures example after example of men and women who had faith and the results of their faith. This eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been labeled “the Hall of Faith” in the Bible.

As the title of the Book defines, the letter was written to Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah. And having believed, they were enduring great trials of persecution, which could cause some to relapse.

Peter expresses the importance of maintaining faith when faced with times of trials – 1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Others Have Walked In Your Shoes

The writer’s goal is to show that throughout history, others have demonstrated faith! And for those reading this epistle, in the midst of trials there is POWER through FAITH.

It is crucial that the believer knows what faith is. A man without faith cannot please God. Hebrews 1:6:

Hebrews 1:6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

There may not be a more important verse in the New Testament than Hebrews 11:1. You might say, what about John 3:16 and you would have a good argument. But without faith, there would be no belief. You see salvation is based on faith, repentance, and trust.

John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Everlasting Life is formed when we “Hear God’s Word, Repent of our Sin and Believe that God Sent His Son as our payment for sin. This requires Faith.

English Standard Version

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Let’s define the words of this verse…

Faith – is a Spiritual reality

Assurance – the quality of confidence which leads one to stand under, endure, or undertake anything.

Hope – expect, in a religious sense, to wait for salvation and joy and full confidence.

Conviction – approve, that by which a thing is approved or tested. “True faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance, and is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8)”1

Not Seen – metaphorically, to see what the mind’s eye, to discern mentally, observe perceive discover understand.

Christian Standard Bible

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

This video is the sermon of this text. Lakeview Baptist Church, Belton, TX on July 2, 2017.

The Wife of a Pastor

The pastor’s wife normally is seen in the background of most churches. These dedicated women of God have been thrust into a lifestyle and conditions not of their own choosing. And yet, behind every good pastor, is a good pastor’s wife.

I personally believe that I have been given by God, the best wife. Not only is she loving and caring for me, her children and grandchildren, but she cares for a different family, not of blood, but of the spirit. The church in which her husband serves.

My wife Linda, is loving, compassionate, dedicated, and led by the Holy Spirit woman. I am so amazed by her attentiveness, commitment, and swaying devotion to the church family.

I want to tell you about an incident that happened this last Sunday. I was preaching in the place of another pastor, at a church that we’d only visited two times before, and it was Father’s Day. I preached a Father’s Day message out of the Christmas story. The point of the message was that God not only choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, but he chose Joseph to be the father, the earthly father of Jesus. It would be his task to teach the Son of God him how to be a man. Teach him the Jewish lifestyle and the law. Joseph would teach Jesus the tradecraft of being a carpenter.

Towards the end of the service, I asked all the fathers to approach the altar. I had them spread across the front of the church and then I asked the family members to join them. Those fathers had their family members join them at the altar, except for two, I noticed. They were older, and were standing there all by themselves. I remembered thinking that it was a shame that they would be standing alone during this portion of the service, however, I turned my attention to the remaining fathers. I asked the family members to love on their fathers and pray for them at the altar and that I would give them time for them to accomplish this. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my wife get up out of her chair, moving to stand between the two men who had no family to stand with them. She spoke softly to each one of them and then reached out and took her hands into hers. She pulled them in close and prayed for each one of them just as any other family member would do. As each of the families completed their time of prayer, they went back to their seats, and Linda, stood on her tiptoes and kissed each of these fathers on the cheek and then she returned to her seat.

I have to tell you, I was in awe and very proud of my wife. Such a simple and honest gesture allowed these two men to join in in this part of the dedication service.

After the ceremony was over as I left the podium and went to be with Linda, I saw a woman move over to speak to her. I overheard part of the conversation. She said, “You sure are a good pastor’s wife. I saw those two men standing there but I didn’t think to get up out of my seat and go participate in the service with them. But you did!” With a smile on her face Linda just shrugged off the complement and turn to get her things.

smiled, with the pride and love for this pastor’s wife. My wife. Linda.

Introduction and Summary of the Gospel of Luke

The Gospel According to Luke

The Gospel According to Luke is positioned as the third book of the New Testament and is the longest of the four Gospels, containing 24 chapters and 1151 verses. It is considered one of the three “synoptic” Gospels, written somewhere between AD 58-60. Luke is also attributed as the writer of the “Acts of the Apostles.”

Among most theologians and commentators, there is little doubt that Luke, the “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), is the author of the “Gospel According to Luke.” They also believe that Luke was a Gentile according to the Apostle Paul’s own hand. In the fourth chapter of Colossians, Paul differentiates between those “who are of the circumcision” and lists other fellow servants (who are not included in the circumcision, obviously Gentiles). It is in this group that Paul mentions Luke. It is believed that Luke was a native of Antioch.

He is mentioned as the travelling companion of Paul in Acts 16:10, and were close traveling companions during Paul’s second and third missionary journeys referring to Luke as his “fellow worker.” Luke was with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).

The introductory remarks (Luke 1:1-4) indicate that there were many written accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that he found to be wanting. Therefore, Luke, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, undertook writing a Holy Spirit inspired version of the life of Jesus Christ, presenting a complete and thoroughly verified account of the early history of the Christian Church. It is apparent that as Luke traveled with Paul, he talked with Paul, other Apostles, eyewitnesses and believers, gathering the content of this Gospel. Luke, as an educated man, provides a more detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus than the other Gospels.

As a historian, Luke’s account can be easily established by the known historical events. Luke records Jesus birth taking place before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC. Jewish history records the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus began approximately 27 A.D. (Luke 3)

Luke contains the lineage (from Mary’s point of view) and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus in great detail, confirming the fulfillment of prophecy of the birth of the Messiah. The announcement of the birth of John and Jesus, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the story of the announcement to the shepherds who came to worship Jesus at night, Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, Jesus circumcision on the eighth day, all of which are not included in the other Gospels.

Luke, as an educated man and a doctor details the unusual conception of Jesus, “a virgin espoused to a man whose name is Joseph.” Luke includes the circumcision of Jesus (Luke 1:59, 2:21). The next time we meet Jesus, he is 12 years of age. It was when Jesus was not found in the caravan that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were traveling. Luke says; “after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”

Luke shares much of the information found in the other two synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark, including the ministry of Jesus in His early Galilean ministry and his latter ministry centered on Jerusalem. Luke recognizes Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, as a turning point in the lives of the Twelve as well as the ministry of Jesus. Luke details in the arrest of Jesus, His many trials, His passion and ends his Gospel centering on the resurrection of Jesus. He records 20 miracles of Jesus and lists 18 parables which only occur in his Gospel.

Only in Luke’s Gospel do we find the parables of the Money Lender and the Two Debtors, (Luke 7:41–43), The Good Samaritan, (10:25–37), The Friend at Midnight, (11:5–8), The Rich Fool, (12:13–31), The Vigilant Servants, (12:35–48), The Barren Fig Tree, (13:6–9), The Great Banquet, (14:16–24), The Unfinished Tower, (14:28–30), The Unwaged War, (14:31–32), The Lost Coin, (15:8–10), The Prodigal Son, (15:11–32), The Unrighteous Steward, (16:1–13), The Rich Man and Lazarus, (16:19–31), The Unprofitable Servants, (17:7–10), The Importunate Widow, (18:1–18), The Pharisee and Publican, (18:9–14), The Ten Pounds (19:11–27).

Only Luke includes the story of Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree in order that he might see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Luke shows love to the unlovable according to the Jews. Jews hated the Samaritans, Luke includes the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed, however, only the one expressed his gratitude for what Jesus had done, and he was a Samaritan. And we are all familiar with the parable of the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho. It was a Samaritan who came to his rescue, befriended the man and covering the cost for his care.

Another interesting point in Luke’s Gospel, is his special attention to prayer. In all of the Gospels, there are 15 different prayers captured by the writers. Luke records 11, each of the other Gospels highlight 4 or less. Luke records for us a significant portion of Christ teaching on prayer, not recorded in the other Gospels.

The manner in which Luke wrote his Gospel, appeals to the general populous, particularly to the intellectual Greek mind, even though it was written to Theophilus (Luke 1:3). Jesus is portrayed in the gospel of Luke as the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of all mankind. Luke includes the intimate events of Jesus kindness toward women, the infirmed, poor, children, outcast, and those who were suffering.

Luke includes the raising of the dead servant of a Roman Centurion (leader over 100 men(Luke 7:1-10), and the calming of the sea in which the storm was filling their boat (Luke 8:23-24). Luke includes Jesus forgiving sins, which only God could do in Luke 7:48.

Luke’s Gospel could be generally acknowledged as portraying Jesus as the perfect man. Luke uses the phrase, “Son of Man” 26 times.