Christianity Explained – Chapter Three

Chapter Three

INTRODUCTION

God loves you and has a purpose for your life. God created you with special gifts, talents and abilities that would equip you to fulfill His purpose. You are on this earth for a reason. God’s purpose for you includes three “phases.” God’s purpose for you is that you be (1) saved, (2) sanctified and (3) serving. We have previously talked about the first two. Let’s talk about the third one. The Bible Teaches The Church Is A Body With No Unimportant Parts. In other words, every Christian has a place of service in the body of Christ. You discover your service ministry by discovering your S.H.A.P.E. (S=Spiritual Gifts, H=Heart; A=Abilities; P=Personality; and E=Experience.)

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

I Peter 4:10-11 says “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” This passage teaches us six very important things about Spiritual Gifts.

Two Facts About Spiritual Gifts

Every Christian has a spiritual (special) gift and each Christian is a steward of his or her gift. We like to jokingly say “I was behind the door when God was passing out gifts (talents).” But the fact is that the Bible teaches that each and every Christian has at least one spiritual gift and maybe more. A Spiritual Gift is a capacity for service. It may need developing but it is within you. It is a special area of ministry that God wants you to develop and use. God will hold you responsible for the use of your gift or gifts. In judgment, God will want you to give an account

of how you used the gift He gave you.

The Two Types of Spiritual Gifts

There are two types of spiritual gifts. There are the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. The speaking gifts includes prophecy, teaching, exhortation and other “speaking” ministries. The serving gifts include showing mercy, serving, giving and other “serving” ministries.

One kind is not better than the other. Both are needed in order to accomplish God’s work.

The Two Purposes of Spiritual Gifts

The two purposes of spiritual gifts are mentioned in this passage but you have to search a little to find them. The two purposes of spiritual gifts are to glorify God and to serve people. We glorify God by doing things in such a manner that God, not us, gets the glory (praise, credit). One little boy, when asked how can we glorify God said, “We glorify God by putting the spotlight on God.” When the spotlight is on God, I am in the shadows. God gave us the gifts; therefore He should receive the glory, the praise, the honor and the credit for the ministry performed using that gift. We are to use our spiritual gifts to serve others. Note that we use the gifts to serve others, not ourselves.

Nine Spiritual Gifts That Most Students Agree Are Available Today

Sincere Bible students disagree about whether all the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament are available today. We do not want to get into that controversy in this booklet. We will just consider the nine gifts that almost all Bible believing teachers believe are available. (While the study of the controversy is important, this is not the place nor the time for that debate.) Seven of the nine gifts are listed in Romans 12:4-8 and we get two more from a list in Ephesians 4:11-16. The nine gifts are listed below with a very brief description of each.

Prophecy – which is speaking for God. The prophets in the Bible were inspired by God. The prophets today are not inspired in the same way. Christians who have the gift of prophecy are usually very firm and straightforward in presenting the truth. They tell the facts and sometimes forget that people have feelings. They are dedicated to telling the truth.

Service – Christians with the gift of service usually serve in practical ways, behind the scenes without drawing attention to themselves. This gift covers a wide range of activities that are absolutely essential for the success of the church and other ministries. Note the order in which the first three gifts are listed. Prophecy (preaching) then service followed by teaching.

Teaching – Christians with the gift of teaching are involved in giving instructions to others in an effort to change their knowledge, attitude and/or actions. While the prophets tell you what is true, the teacher will tell you why it is true and give additional details about it.

Exhortation – The Christian with the gift of exhortation exhorts, encourages, comforts and motivates others. He tells you how to use God’s truth in practical ways in your everyday life. People with this gift are usually compelled to give advice. They are very helpful as counselors to those with problems or those who are going through a bad emotional experience.

Giving – The gift of giving is the ability to share liberally and cheerfully with others. All Christians are to give a percentage of their income for the work of the Lord, but those with this gift enjoy giving above and beyond what is normally expected. Sometimes the person with this gift has a natural talent to made great sums of money but that is not always true.

Leadership – The gift of leadership (administration, ruling) is the ability to

organize and to administer a project to its successful completion. They are usually goal- oriented people who know how to plan the work and motivate others to work the plan.

Showing Mercy – The Christian with the gift of showing mercy shows mercy, understanding and kindness to those who are undeserving. Mercy is to refrain from punishing offenders and this person is very forgiving of people who have made mistakes and gotten themselves into some kind of financial difficulty.

Evangelism – The evangelist has a strong desire to present the gospel to the lost and to lead them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Every Christian is to be involved in evangelism but the Christian with this gift is usually more concerned than others and he is usually more effective than others.

Pastor-Teacher – A Pastor-Teacher shepherds, feeds, leads and protects the flock (Christians), which is the church. Many Christians with this gift are in the located ministry as a “professional Minister” but that is not always the case. This person has a burning desire to teach and care for Christians and help them grow to maturity.

As you discover and use your particular gift(s), remember that other Christians have other gifts. One gift is not superior to another gift. All the gifts are needed in order for the body of Christ to function properly.

HEART (PASSION)

The “H” in the word “SHAPE” stands for “heart” and it means your passion, your desire, what you have “feelings” about. Usually there is a job or activity or function that you enjoy doing. You want to perform this particular activity. When you do it, it brings joy, happiness and satisfaction to you. It is something that the Lord has put on your heart. You know somebody ought to do this. When you keep feeling that “somebody ought to do this” you should realize that you are the “somebody” that ought to do it. This desire and conviction is a very strong indicator of the area in which you should work.

ABILITIES (Natural Talents)

The “A” stands for abilities or your natural talents. Each and every person has certain talents that allow him or her to excel in particular activities. The three areas of natural talents are (1) things, (2) people and (3) information. Each person is usually very good in one of the three areas. He may be fair in another area and very poor in the third area. If “things” is your area, then you like to fix things, you like to work with your hands, etc. If it is people, then you like to deal with them and be around people and work with and through them. If it is information then you like to work with facts, figures, knowledge etc. To understand this will not only help you in discovering your area of service in the church but also will help you tremendously in your job and career.

To help you discover which of the three areas you are the best in, I’m going to ask you to do something that will take a little time, but will be worth the effort. I want you to make a list of seven (7) things (projects, programs, etc) that you have done in your life. I want you to only include those projects or activities that brought great joy and satisfaction to you personally. Don’t include the ones that were the most profitable financially unless they also brought you personal joy and satisfaction. Some samples of things you might include are:

I obedience trained my dog

I built a deck onto my house

I read the entire Bible in one year

I wrote a research paper on a subject that was important to me

I learned to fly a plane and got my pilot’s license

I cut my grocery bill 25% by using coupons

I learned to get along with a very difficult person

I performed CPR on a person and might have saved his life

Now, go back over those seven things and determine which area of talent was most needed and used. Did I use my “people” talent or my “things” or was it “information?” The area that was needed and used the most in the seven things listed is probably the area in which you are the strongest. Try to be very honest and objective. If one of your seven projects was learning to do something, what brought you the greatest joy, the learning or the doing.

PERSONALITY

Several hundred years before Christ, Hippocrates discovered that people fit into one of four basic personality types. People who have never heard of personality types know that a person is naturally either active or passive. We realize that some people are “people-oriented” and others are “task-oriented.” We know that some people are extroverts and others are introverts. We know that some people are very outspoken and others are very shy. Some people are by nature very aggressive and others are very submissive. Many of these characteristics can be distinguished even when a person is a small child. In the last 100 years or so we have discovered that most people instead of being one of the four personality types are instead a combination of two (or more) of the personality types with one type being more dominant. As we look at the four basic types, realize that you are probably a combination of two or more of the types. It is very important that you realize that personality types are not mentioned in the Bible. We can learn about personality type from the science of human behavior and then go to the Bible and see examples of each type. It is not a “doctrine” of the Bible and therefore is not on the same level as the spiritual gifts. Having said that, let’s look at the four basic personality types.

The Sanguine also called the “I” personality is the Extroverted Feeling Type of a person. His goal in life is to have fun. He is a people-person. He likes to talk and to be the center of attention. They are usually the life of the party. They bring life to a room when they enter. They usually dress flashy or colorful. They are also forgetful, not very time-conscious and are “happy-go-lucky” type persons. They are a joy to be around for short periods of time but can get on your nerves in the long run. They make great sales people or public relations people. Two people in the Bible who seem to have been sanguines are David and the Apostle Peter.

The Choleric or D type personality is the Extrovert Thinking Type. He or she is a task- oriented person whose goal is control. If you don’t stop them they will take control over any situation in which they find themselves. They are the leaders, the drivers and the “get the job done no matter what” type. They are “over achievers” who accomplish a great deal in life. They are more concerned with facts than with feeling, so they may hurt some feelings in the process of getting the job done. Two Bible characters who seem to have been choleric are Paul and James.

The Melancholic or “C” type personality is the Introvert Thinking Type. They are task- oriented people whose goal in life is to have everything perfect. They are perfectionists. They like charts and graphs. They want to know the facts. They are usually very sensitive. Many of the great musicians and artists have been people with a melancholic personality. Two people in the Bible that seem to have this personality are Moses and Thomas.

The Phlegmatic or “S” type personality is the Introvert Feeling Type. They are people- oriented people whose goal in life is to have peace. They are calm, easy going and very likable. They are peacemakers who usually like to work behind the scene. While most

phlegmatics accomplish a lot in life, they appear to be lazy and not energetic. Two Bible Examples of people who seem to have this personality type are Abraham and Timothy

EXPERIENCE

The “E” is the acrostic SHAPE that stands for experience. Your experience can help a lot in determining what God wants you to do for him now. Be sure to consider all types of experiences. Several are listed below but don’t limit yourself to just these types of experiences.

Your Educational experience will include both formal schooling and other training you have had. For instance, if you are a trained accountant, God may want you to use that training to be the treasurer of the church or of some para-church ministry.

Your Vocational experience would include jobs you’ve had whether paid or volunteer. Ask yourself, is it possible to use the skills I developed at work to do something for the kingdom of God?

Your Spiritual experience has to do with your spiritual life and your Christian maturity. Spiritual maturity is very much needed in certain areas of ministry.

Your Painful experiences such as suffering, divorce, overcoming certain problems, serious sickness, death of a loved one, etc. can sometimes be very helpful in a particular job that needs to be done now.

Discovering your serving ministry is an ongoing lifelong process. You discover your serving ministry by discovering your S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences). Then you line those things up with God’s commands and the needs of people. Nearly always this process will point you to one or two specific activities that you should be involved in. As you look at these five areas, you will discover your purpose in service. Your service purpose may be different from everybody else you know. Be careful that as you fulfill your purpose that other people should also be fulfilling their purpose and it all works together to accomplish God’s purpose on earth! Are you willing to be used by God to do whatever He wants you to do? Most of the time, using the ideas in this chapter will help you determine what you should be doing for God. Occasionally God will call you to do something totally out of line with your “SHAPE.” But that is the exception rather than the rule.

FINAL SUMMARY

God loves you and has a purpose for your life. That purpose involves three phases. God desires that you be (1) saved, (2) sanctified and (3) serving. You are saved when you realize that you are a lost sinner and you receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Sanctification is a process of spiritual maturity as you grow to be more like Christ. That involves both a positive and a negative aspect. There are things you should do to “grow” in Christ, things like Bible study, prayer, church attendance etc. On the negative side, you need to learn how to deal with sin as it comes into your life. After you are saved and are in the process of being sanctified, you need to get involved in serving. One way to help you determine what service you need to render is to determine your S.H.A.P.E. This acrostic stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart (passion), Abilities and Experience. Knowing and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life will bring a joy and satisfaction not found in any other way.

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Christianity Explained – Chapter Two

Chapter Two

God loves you and has a purpose for your life. God created you with special gifts, talents and abilities that equip you to fulfill His purpose. You are on this earth for a reason. God’s purpose for you includes three “phases.” God’s purpose for you is that you be (1) saved, (2) sanctified and (3) serving Him. We have considered the first one, now let’s look at the second one. Positionally we are 100% sanctified in God’s sight because of the sacrifice of Jesus.  In this chapter, we will discuss how we can become sanctified practically.  To be sanctified means to be set apart. It means being set apart from the world and set apart to God. Sanctification is a life-long process that begins when you become a Christian and will continue as long as you are alive on this earth. It is the process of growing in the grace and knowledge of God and of His will for your life. I’ve divided this section into three parts:

  1. Follow the four-fold example of the first Christians as seen in Acts 2:42.
  2. Learn and apply 5 key “assurance” scriptures.
  3. Learn how to overcome sin in your life.

Follow the Four-Fold Example for the First Christians Found in Acts 2:42

 

           Acts chapter two describes the beginning of the church. The Apostle Peter preached a sermon about Jesus being the Messiah and challenged the people to accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior. Three thousand people responded and were baptized that day. Verse 42 of Acts 2 explains what they did after becoming Christians. It says, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” A Christian is involved in these four activities all his life.

 

Bible Study

           The first Christians continually devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. They listened to and obeyed what the apostles taught. The apostles wrote what they taught in what has become the New Testament. Therefore for us, we should study and obey the Bible, especially the New Testament. You study the Bible by hearing it, reading it, studying it, memorizing parts of it and meditating on it.  Every Christian should have a program of Bible study. The program may change from time to time, but there should always be some plan in effect. Some possible programs include: studying your Sunday School lessons, reading through the Bible in a year, reading through the New Testament twice in a year, memorize 100 key Bible verses, concentrate on one verse per week.

 

 

Fellowship

           The first Christians continually devoted themselves to fellowship. The Greek word (the original language of the New Testament) for fellowship was koinonia. It means sharing a common life. It describes the idea of teamwork or a business partnership. Christians care for other Christians. Everywhere God has a son, I have a brother. Everywhere God has a daughter, I have a sister. Fellowship includes church attendance, but it goes much deeper than just attending church services. It involves meeting the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

 

 

Breaking of Bread

           The first Christians continually devoted themselves to the breaking of bread or participating in the communion service. This is also called the Lord’s Supper. It seems that they partook daily for a while and then settled into a pattern of weekly communion on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). When we partake we remember Jesus and His death for us. The (unleavened) bread represents His body which was broken for us. The juice (fruit of the vine) represents His blood that was shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. As we partake we are to remember Him, think about the fact that He died for us and that He is coming back soon. It is also a time to rededicate yourself to Him.

 

Prayer

           The first Christians continually devoted themselves to prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. Communication is a key to the success of any relationship. Prayer is communicating with God. You should both talk and listen. Christians should stay in an attitude of prayer all the time. They should also have a set time each day in which praying is all they do.

 

 

 

Learn and Apply Several Key Assurance Scriptures

 

           A Christian is in a spiritual battle with Satan and his angels. Jesus taught us how to win this battle in Matthew 4:1-11 as He faced and overcame three temptations. He quoted Scripture that applied to the temptation he was facing. Satan will tempt you by bringing thoughts to your mind and by speaking through people. Below are five primary temptations that Satan uses with Christians. He has used them for years and they have been very effective. But prayer and specific statements from the Bible will help overcome these temptations.

 

Are you really a Christian?

           Satan says to the Christians: “You are not really saved. Being a Christian can’t be that simple. There has got to be more to it than just trusting Jesus to forgive you.”  The Bible says, “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:11-13) Eternal life is a free gift from God to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It is not based on my performance as a Christian. It is based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus paid for my ticket to Heaven.

 

Are you sure that you can be good enough to be a Christian?

           Satan says to the Christians: “You’ll never be able to live up to the standards of Christianity. You know how weak you are. You should have waited until you had all your problems solved before you became a Christian.”

 

           The Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and 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, that you may be able to endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) God will not allow the Christian to be tempted, tested or tried beyond his ability to handle. God limited how much Satan can do to the Christian. There is always  a Godly way out of troubles, temptations, trials, problems, etc.

 

You sinned again. It’s all over now.

           Satan says to the Christians: “You have really messed up now. You became a Christian and God forgave your sins. But now you have sinned again. You are no better off than before. Those sins are going to destroy your relationship with God.”

 

           The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins  and  to  cleanse  us  from  all  unrighteouness.“ (I John 1:9) There is never an excuse for sin because God has provided us a way out of every temptation. But even when we fail to take advantage of that offer and we do sin, He will forgive us. All we need to do is to confess to Him that we have sinned. We must acknowledge our responsibility for the sin. When we confess it and admit that it is our fault He will forgive us.

 

You don’t really believe that God hears your prayers, do you?

           Satan says to the Christians: “Who are you talking to? God is not interested in hearing your prayers. He is too busy with important things. You know better than to think that the God who created the entire universe will listen to your rambling.”

 

           The Bible says, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14)  God always hears the prayers of the Christian. He always answers the prayers of the Christian. Sometimes His answer is Yes. Sometimes His answer is No. Sometimes His answer is “Not now.” But He always answers! You can rest assured that God will do what He promised He would do and He promised to answer the Christian’s prayers.

 

If God is in control, why do all these bad things happen?

           Satan says to the Christians: “Either God does not exist or He does not care anything about you. Look at all of the bad things that have happened in your life. Don’t you think that if God were really God He would remove all this evil from the world?”

 

The Bible says, “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” (Romans 8:28). Not everything that happens is good. But God promises that He is going to work it all out for good. Bad things do happen and we don’t understand all the reasons why. We do know that if God removed all the evil from this world we would not be able to enjoy the benefits. You see, if He removed all evil out of this world, He would remove us too because we are sinful creatures.

 

Learn How To Overcome Sin

 

           Jesus saved us from the penalty for sin when we became a Christian. We will not have to experience the “second death” which is separation from God for all eternity. We have been promised a home in heaven. Jesus will one day save us from the presence of sin when he takes us home with Him. Whether we die first or He returns, we will go to  be with Him. Nothing evil or sinful will enter into the eternal dwelling. We will be away from sin and evil. Jesus also provides a way for us to be saved from the power of sin. The Bible presents a very simple plan to overcome the power of sin in our everyday life.  Here’s how:

Recognize sin as sin

Repent of that sin and ask God to forgive you

Replace that sin by allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in your life.

 

Recognize sin as sin

          

           We humans have a strong tendency to be able to see everybody else’s sin but our own. We will loudly put down the person who lies to us and never even consider the fact that it may be just as bad a sin for us not to forgive that person. We may be angry with a person for mistreating us and know that he has sinned; but we may not recognize that anger we have is also a sin. (There is such a thing as righteous anger, but most of us have never experienced that kind.)

           Study the following Scriptures and make a list of all the sins that are mentioned. The Scriptures are: Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 1:28-31; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 4:25-31; Revelation 21:8. Go through the list of sins and mark each one that you have a problem with. Be completely honest with yourself as you do this. Some of the sins listed in these passages are listed below.

 

 

___Evil thoughts              ___Fornications ___Thefts                  ___Murder

___Adultery                      ___Coveting

___Deceit               ___Sensuality

___Envy                  ___Slander

___Pride                 ___Foolishness

___Idolatry            ___Effeminate

___Homosexuality          ___Drunkenness

___Reviling            ___Swindlers

___Lying                 ___Stealing

___Unwholesome Words         ___Bitterness

___Wrath               ___Anger

___Malice              ___Unforgiveness

___Unbelief           ___Cowardly        

___Immorality                 ___Sorcerers

___Unrighteousness       ___Wickedness

___Greed               ___Gossip

___Strife                 ___Haters of God

___Insolent           ___Arrogant

___Boastful           ___Untrustworthy

___Unloving                     ___Unmerciful     

___Inventors of Evil       

___Disobedient To Parents

 

Repent of your sins

 

           Repentance is a change of the mind caused by a sorrow for sins leading to a reformation of life. It includes being sorry for the sin you committed but sorrow by itself is not repentance. Repentance also includes a sincere intention of not committing that sin again. You pray and ask God to forgive you. As you pray you also ask God to replace that sin with the fruit of the Spirit that is the “opposite equivalent” of the sin.

 

Replace the sin with the fruit of the Holy Spirit

 

           For every sin there seems to be an “opposite equivalent” of it that the Holy Spirit will produce in my life when I allow Him to control me. Some of these are very obvious. For the sin of hatred there is love. For unforgiveness there is forgiveness. For sexual immorality there is morality and sexual purity. Study the following Scriptures and make a list of all the good traits that are mentioned. The Scriptures are: Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-14; Romans 12:9-21. These qualities are evident in our lives when we allow the Holy Spirit to control us. The Bible calls this being filled with the Spirit. Some of those qualities are:

___Love                             ___Joy        

___Peace                ___Patience          

___Kindness                     ___Goodness

___Faithfulness               ___Gentleness     

___Self-control                ___Kindness         

___Tender-hearted        ___Forgiveness

___Holiness           ___Compassion

___Humility           ___Hospitable

___Prayerfulness            ___Not Vengeful

___Treating Enemies Well

 

           Go through the list of righteous qualities that you made (or the one above) and mark each one that is not in your life on a consistent basis. Remember that these qualities are produced supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. You cannot consistently produce them in your human power.

 

Chapter Summary

          

           We have covered a lot of material in this chapter on how to grow as a Christian. The Bible word for this is sanctification. We suggest that in order to grow in your spiritual life you need to do three things.

 

Follow the four-fold example of the first Christians as seen in Acts 2:42. Every Christian should study the Bible, fellowship with other Christians, partake of the Lord’s Supper and pray regularly.

Learn and apply 5 key “assurance” scriptures. Every Christian should use Scripture to overcome the temptations of Satan. We gave you five key scriptures that answer five prominent temptations that Christians face.

Learn how to overcome sin in your life. Every Christian can overcome the power of sin by recognizing sin as sin, repenting of the sins he commits and replacing the sins with qualities produced when the Holy Spirit controls his life.

 

 

Christianity Explained – Chapter One

Chapter One

Have you ever heard of the four spiritual laws? It is a simple way to explain biblical Christianity. Let’s examine what the Bible says about eternal salvation under four main points.

All Have Sinned

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This passage says that all sin. That includes you, me and everybody we know. Some are better than others, but all sin to some degree. The word sin means to miss the mark. I define sin as the misuse of something good. The Bible defines sin three ways. In the book of I John, chapter 3 verse 4 says that “sin is lawlessness.” Sin is to do wrong. James 4:17 says “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” This is the sin of omission. Romans 14:23 says “whatever is not from faith is sin.” That is a little more difficult to understand. What it means is that if I think something is a sin, then whether it really is a sin or not, if I do it while thinking it is a sin, then for me it is a sin. All persons of accountable age sin.

The Result of Sin is Separation From God

Because all of us sin, we have a tendency to think that sin is not all that bad. We can always find someone who sins more than we do. In fact, many times we can find a church leader–deacon, elder or preacher–who has sinned “worse” than we have. But that does not change how our own sin affects us. The Bible says in Romans 6:23a, “For the wages of sin is death.” Wages is what we get for what we do. If I have a job making $10 per hour and I work 40 hours, then my wages are $400. Wages are what we get for what we do. The wages of sin is death. What we get for our sin is death.

The Bible defines death two ways. Death always means separation. There is a physical death and there is a spiritual death. James 2:26

says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead…” When our spirit leaves our body, we are dead physically. There is also a second death, which is spiritual. Revelation 20:14 says, “This is the second death, the lake of fire.” II Thessalonians 1:9 explains this second death by saying, “And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Therefore, just as physical death is the separation of my spirit from my body, spiritual death (the second death) is the separation of my spirit from God. To die spiritually means I will spend eternity in hell, away from God. So far we have seen that all of us sin and that the result of our sin is separation from God. At this point in the process things look pretty bad.

God Loves Us and Sent Jesus To Die For Us

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we sin and should be separated from God for all eternity, He loves us and desires to save us from that awful fate. God wants us to spend eternity with Him. He wants us to share His life. Notice the phrase “Christ died for us.” It is very important that you understand what that means.

The prophet Isaiah explained it in Isaiah 53:6. That verse says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” In other words, all of us have sinned. We have gone our own way instead of God’s way. If we remain on that path, we will be separated from God forever. But God caused the sin (iniquity) of us all to be punished on Jesus. It is very, very important that you understand this point.

To help you get the point, I’m going to ask you to do something for me. Get a book and place it on the palm of your open right hand. Now pretend that book is a record of your life. It contains all the good things you have done and all the bad things you have done. Let’s consider the bad things. Those sins–what you did wrong and what you should have done that you did not do and even the things you thought were wrong and you did them anyway–are in that book on your opened right hand. Now pretend that your right hand is you. Those sins in that book are what separates you from God. Even if you add a lot of good things, the sins are still there and they still separate you from God. The wages of sin is death. Now pretend your opened left hand is Jesus. Jesus died for you. When he died for you he took your sins upon Himself. Transfer the book from your open right hand (you) to the palm of your open left hand (Jesus). How does that leave you? With no sins. Therefore, you have the right of access to God. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…” Jesus, who had never sinned, took our sins upon Himself. Christ died for you! Make sure that you understand this point before you read further.

In Order To Be Saved You Must Accept Jesus As Your Lord and Savior

You are a sinner. The wages of your sin is death, which is eternal separation from God. But God loves you and wants you to spend eternity with Him. Therefore God sent His only Son Jesus to die for you. He died for you and offers to you the free gift of eternal life. Let’s go back and read the entire verse of Romans 6:23. It says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eternal life is sharing God’s life with Him. It is being saved. It is being a Christian. It is spending eternity with God. Note that eternal life is a free gift. It is not something we earn or deserve. It is a free gift. But it is a gift only to those who are “in Christ Jesus.” So the question now becomes, how do I get into a right relationship with Jesus Christ?

Faith. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Those who believe in Jesus become sons (children) of God. John 3:16 says, “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.” In the Bible “believe” and “faith” are the same thing. It means to trust in, to rely upon, or to depend upon. To believe in Jesus means to believe the story presented above and to trust in His death to pay for our sins. It means to rely upon Him and Him alone to take away your sins. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that He died for your sins? Are you trusting Him alone for your salvation?

Repentance. Jesus said in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no, but except you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The word repentance means to turn around. To repent means that you stop living for yourself and start living for Jesus. You stop being in control of your life and allow Him to control your life. It is as if you get out of the driver’s seat, go around, get in the passenger side and allow Jesus to drive your life. Are you willing to turn the control of your life over to Jesus?

Confession of Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32, “Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” You must be willing to make a public confession of your faith in Jesus. You cannot be a “closet Christian.” You need to publicly state that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Are you willing to do that?

Baptism. Acts 2:38 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” In the church world, baptism has become a controversial subject. But Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus commanded us to be baptized (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Bible baptism is immersion in water of a repentant believer in Jesus. Baptism demonstrates that you are trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your salvation. You symbolize His death, burial and resurrection when you are immersed (baptized). Are you willing to be baptized into Jesus Christ?

Christian Living. Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you must continue to allow Him to lead your life. You are trusting Him to take you to heaven and you are trusting Him to tell you how to live your life here on earth. Acts 2:42 summarizes the life of the first Christians when it says, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In other words, Christians devote themselves to four activities.

Those four activities are:

The apostles’ teaching, which for us is the study of and obedience to the Bible, especially the New Testament

Fellowship, which is sharing your life with other Christians and includes, but is not limited to,

church attendance.

Breaking of bread, which is the Lord’s Supper or the communion. It is best to partake of

communion at least once a week.

Prayer, which is talking to God.

Review

In this chapter we have learned the following:

The four spiritual laws

• All Have Sinned

• The Wages of Sin Is Death

• God Loves You and Jesus Died For You

• You Must Receive Jesus As Your Personal Lord

and Savior

How to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior

• Faith in Jesus

• Repentance of your sins

• Confession of your faith In Jesus • Baptism into Christ

• Christian Living (Faithfulness)

How to continue in your faith after accepting Jesus as your Savior

• Bible Study

• Fellowship With Other Christians

• Partake of the Lord’s Supper Regularly

• Prayer

If you need to make a decision in your life concerning your relationship with God through Jesus Christ, do it now.

Christian Explained – Introduction

INTRODUCTION

God loves you and has a purpose for your life. God created you with special gifts, talents and abilities that equip you to fulfill His purpose. You are on this earth for a reason. Purpose is the original intent in the mind of the creator that motivated him to create a particular item. In this series of post it refers especially to the reason that God created you. God created you with a definite purpose in mind. In a general sense, your purpose is to glorify God and to serve people. In this series of post from my booklet, Christianity Explained, we explain how you can do that.

Myles Munroe says, “The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but life without a reason.” It is terrible to be alive and not know why. It is important that you do things right. It is even more important that you do the right things.

Kevin W. McCarthy gives a great illustration. He suggests that you imagine you’re in a boat on a river. He goes on to explain that people react as floaters, fighters or navigators. The floaters passively resign themselves to accept the river in its present condition. They aimlessly go along for the ride. The fighters fight the forces of nature. These high achievers accomplish a lot but experience burnout, stress, depression and other difficulties as they try to control the “river.” Nearly everyone is a “floater” or a “fighter” by nature. What we need to do is train ourselves to become “navigators.” The navigator knows the river and realizes that he or she can’t change it. But he can harness the resources that he has to go where he wants to go. Therefore, whether you are a floater or a fighter by nature, learn to become a navigator by discovering your God-ordained purpose and dedicate your life to its fulfillment. God’s purpose for you includes three “phases.” God’s purpose for you is that you be (1) saved, (2) sanctified and (3) serving. Phases one and two are the same for every person. Phase three is unique and different for each person. In chapter one we will study how to be saved and have an eternal, everlasting, God-quality life. In chapter two we will study some of the ways you can be sanctified. What we mean by sanctified is that you are growing in your spiritual life; you are becoming more and more like Christ. In chapter three we will attempt to show you how you can discover your place of service in God’s kingdom.

(To Be Continued)

Purpose Driven Life – Summary

 
 
 
THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE 
Persistence In Pursuing Your Purpose
by Lee Delbridge
 
INTRODUCTION
Have you ever known people who dedicated their entire lives to climbing the ladder of success and when they finally reached the top they discovered that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall?  This is the eighth in a series of sermons to help make sure that does not happen to you.  This is the last sermon in that series in which we will review what we have said and challenge you to discover and persistently pursue your God-given purpose.
 
Definition of "Drive":  It means to guide, control and direct.
 
Everyone is driven by something:  Some of those things are:
Problem-Driven      Solving The Problems
That Exist At the Time
People-Driven     Someone else sets the
agenda for your life 
(Could be spouse,
parents, boss, or a total
stranger)
Pleasure-Driven      If It Feels Good, Do It (All
the way from  "partying"
to just "taking life easy")
Possession-Driven   To have and to hold
material possessions
Prestige-Driven  To have a "position" and
to have "power"
 
PURPOSE-DRIVEN Guided, controlled and
directed by the purpose
God has for them.
 
The three steps in discovering your God-given purpose are:

(1)    Accept Jesus Lord & Savior. This is
the only firm foundation for a purpose
driven life.
(2)     Get To Know Yourself. God wants to
use you the way He made you. We
suggest that you start by discovering
your S.H.A.P.E. (This is an acrostic
that stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart/
Passion, Abilities, Personalities and
Experience.) 
(3)   Write A Personal Purpose Statement
It should be written down.  It should be
personal.  No one else is like you.  You
are unique for a reason.  You should
continue to work on it and improve it
until it is "just right."
 
Let's review some of the key points we have made.
 
  I.     GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE
1.           He created you for a purpose 
Proverbs 16:4
2.           He "re-created" you for a
purpose Ephesians 2:10;
3.           He "gifted" you for a purpose 
Romans 12:3-8
 
II.       BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF
PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIVES
1.           David  Acts 13:36
2.           Jesus  John 10:10; 19:30
3.           Paul  Acts 20:24; II Timothy
4:6-8
 
III.         PERSISTENTLY PURSUING YOUR
PURPOSE
1.           Glorify God  Matthew 5:16;
I Corinthians 10:31;
2.           Serve People  I Peter 4:10
3.           Stay Focused & Be Persistent 
I Corinthians 15:58
 
 
CONCLUSION
Have you ever known people who dedicated their entire lives to climbing the ladder of success and when they finally reached the top they discovered that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall?  Don't let that happen to you.  Discover why God made you.  Discover your God-given purpose and then persistently pursue it all your life.  Each one of us will one day have to give an account for our life.  What if God asks you "What did you do with the life I gave you?"
 
 
 
Assignment
 
Write on a card you purpose statement.  Review it every day. Compare your activities with your purpose. Ask yourself constantly "Am I Staying On Purpose?"  No one stays on purpose all the time.  The more you stay on purpose, the more you will glorify God, serve others and live a meaningful life.
 
If you have not written down your purpose statement yet, there is still something you can do.  Write on a card these words:

Glorify God

and

Serve People

 
Review it every day and ask yourself:  "Am I doing this?"
 

Emotions vs Truth

An author by the name of Tom Hopkins teaches that people make decisions based on emotions and then use reason and logic to defend their decisions. I have spent over forty years trying to get people to make decisions based on truth. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and that the Bible is the truth (John 17:17). I have gotten very few decisions and I have said thousands of time about what people did — “that doesn’t make any sense.” The reason it did not make sense is that the decision was based on emotions and not on reason. Even though it is probably true that people make most decisions based on emotions, I have decided to keep trying to get people to make decisions based on truth. I would probably be more effective if I told tearing jerking sob stories but I have decided to keep preaching and teaching the truth about Jesus from the Bible. I have decided to try to convince people to follow the Bible alone as their final authority in all matters related to faith and practice. A secular author, by the name of Robert Ringer teaches that we should learn to love truth rather than trying to make true what we love. Jesus said “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Base you decisions on the Bible not on your emotions. 

Jesus Is The Solution!

Jesus is the Solution to the Sin problem. Sin is the major problem we have and the primary cause of every other major problem we have. Study the following Scriptures with comments in ( ).

The Solution Is Seen in Isaiah’s Prophecy About Jesus and You
Isaiah 53:4-6
4 Surely our (Your Name) griefs He Himself (Jesus) bore, And our (Your Name) sorrows He (Jesus) carried; Yet we ourselves (Your Name) esteemed Him (Jesus) stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He (Jesus) was pierced through for our (Your Name) transgressions, He (Jesus) was crushed for our (Your Name) iniquities; The chastening for our (Your Name) well-being fell upon Him (Jesus), And by His (Jesus) scourging we (Your Name) are healed.
6 All of us (Your Name) like sheep have gone astray, Each of us (Your Name) has turned to his (Your Name) own way; But the Lord (God the Father) has caused the iniquity of us all (Your Name) To fall on Him (Jesus).

The Solution Is Seen As Paul Explains in the Book of Romans
Romans 5:8-10
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us (Your Name), in that while we (Your Name) were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Your Name).
9 Much more then, (Your Name) having now been justified (saved; being treated by God as if you never sinned) by His (Jesus) blood, we (Your Name) shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him(Jesus).
10 For if while we (Your Name) were enemies we (Your Name) were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Jesus), much more, having been reconciled, we (Your Name) shall be saved by His (Jesus) life.

Baptism And The Lord’s Supper—Commandments, Not Suggestions By Chuck Lee

Baptism And The Lord’s Supper—Commandments, Not Suggestions

There are two ordinances—baptism and communion—in the Christian Church that many outsiders (and some insiders) erroneously consider sacraments or mere rituals. I’m telling you they are not; this is why. A ritual is a ceremony or a practice, which may or may not have a reason for being. An ordinance, on the other hand, is a command to be obeyed; there is a reason for its being.

There are two things that we know about God: 1) He is never capricious; He ordained baptism and communion for a reason and 2) everything He does is for the benefit of His people. So what was God’s reason for establishing these ordinances? Baptism and communion are God’s way of keeping us aware of the core of our faith—the Gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These ordinances are for our benefit.

Paul explains the significance of His ordinances in Romans 5:8-9. He explains that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…we have now been justified by His blood”; i.e., we are saved by the blood of Jesus.

He tells us in Romans 6:3-4, “…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead so we too might walk in newness of life”. In short, we contact the saving blood of Jesus at baptism—and our own hope of eternal life.

So, what is the connection of baptism with communion? Recall that Jesus instituted the communion at the last supper he had with His apostles before he was killed. Then, in response to the trouble that the Corinthian church was having with the Lord’s Supper, Jesus revealed to Paul: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (I Corinthians 11:26).

God’s plan is that we first contact Jesus’ saving blood at baptism; then we stay in touch with His blood when we meet around the Lord’s Table. Why do I bring this up? Because I have seen that some SCC folk seem to be treating the Lord’s Supper as a ritual to be performed, rather than a command from God. This is not good. Jesus told Paul to tell us why:

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord… For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

This is serious. God has never rescinded any of His commandments just for 2016 Christians, so it applies to the church today. As my mom used to say, a word to the wise is sufficient.

At least that’s the way I see it;
Chuck Lee

How To Have Real Peace

I made up a story about my car. It is not a true story. I made it up to illustrate a point. I went out one morning to go somewhere and my car would not start. When I turned the key nothing happened. No sound. Nothing.  Since the car was dirty I decided to wash it thinking that may get it to start.  It didn’t help. It still would not start. I decided to put all new tires on the car.  That may help. I put four new tires on it. It still would not start. I decided to replace the back window that had a small crack in it. It didn’t help. The car would still not start. I replace all the wires and hoses. It didn’t help. It still would not start. I finally replaced the battery. I tried it. It started immediately!  I know it is a silly story but it makes the point I want to make. I know many Christians who are living very uncomfortable lives. I believe they are true Christians. I think they will go to heaven when they die. But they are miserable now. They have no peace! When you ask them what is wrong they nearly always want to change somebody else.  “If my husband was a better person, I would have peace.”  “If my boss was as good as the boss I had ten years ago, I would have peace.” “If my children were not so rebellious I would have peace.”  The odds are pretty high against you — you’ll never change someone else. Besides that, that is not where peace comes from. Galatians 5:22 says “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” Philippians 4:6-7 teaches that if I pray instead of worry I would have peace beyond human understanding. PEACE COMES FROM GOD!!!  If I don’t have peace I need to work on my relationship with God. Trying to get peace any other way is like replacing the tires on a car with a dead battery — it is not going to help. If you don’t have peace work on your relationship with God.  It would be nice if your husband would change or your wife would change or your children would be less rebellious but it is probably not going to happen.  You can have peace in spite of whatever any other person does / doesn’t do or in spite of your circumstances because peace comes from God.  Let me say it again: real peace comes from God not from other people!  If you don’t have peace work on your relatioship with God. It is the only place to find true peace. If you can change some other other things, go ahead and do it. But, you can have peace in spite of your circumstances and in spite of other people and what they do or don’t do because true peace comes from God. This is one of the greatest lessons you can learn.  If the battery in your car is dead don’t replace the tires, replace the battery. If you don’t have peace don’t try to change other people, work on your relationship with God.  Real peace comes from God and God alone!

An Obituary

II Timothy 4:6-8 (NASB)”For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

II Timothy 4:6-8 World English Bible in Bold; Lee Delbridge’s Comments in Italics

For (Paul has just instructed Timothy to preach the word both in season and out of season) I (Paul) am already being offered (as a worship offering to God), and the time of my departure (death, the picture here is of a ship leaving the dock and headed out to sea) has come (is near). I (Paul) have fought the good fight (the Christian life is a battle field, not a play ground). I have finished the course (completed the purpose and plan God had for my life). I have kept the faith (Has not strayed from the true gospel). From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness (a reward for his faithful service or the crown which is righteousness — the righteousness of Jesus which is imputed to every Christian), which the Lord (Jesus), the righteous judge, will give to me on that day (judgment day); and not to me only, but also to all (Christians) those who have loved (looked forward to and desired) his appearing (Jesus’ return; His second coming).

Assignments
First: Write your own obituary. What would you like the following people say about you at your funeral? Spouse. Children. Grandchildren. Co-Workers. Friends. Neighbors.     Really think about it.      Work hard to get it just right.

Second: live your life so that these things you want them to say would be true.