Thursday, April 28, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Forgiveness of sins

"I believe in the forgiveness of sins."  This follows the section about the Holy Spirit, the Church, and the communion of the saints.

Forgiveness is something the Lord gives freely to his loved ones.  Truly, the Lord is the only being who has a right to remain angry at his people for committing treason against him but he does not.  He sent Jesus to freely forgive us.

It is freeing to know that my sins are forgiven.  It is difficult to forgive other people, but this is another work that the Holy Spirit does in his children.  He forgives sins through us.

It's even harder to teach children to forgive.  Children are best at showing their natural depravities. They kick each other, get mad, use each other, and will always blame others for whatever is wrong in their lives.  How do we teach them both forgiveness and loving others more than themselves?  Only the Holy Spirit can really do that, and only he can help us set the example.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Self-esteem or God-esteem?

Colossians 3:1-4, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

I think one of the biggest problems in the church and why it cranks out so many worldly people, at least that is the case here in Georgia, is that we do a good job about teaching Jesus and forgiveness, but we do a horrible job at teaching about how to make him our Lord.

And one of the biggest mistakes is to teach self-esteem.  I think of someone like Donald Trump.  The guy definitely has self-esteem, but is he really someone we want our kids to be like?  Do we want our kids to have such high views of themselves that they think they can sleep with whoever they want to, get pregnant, have abortions, look at horoscopes, view porn, and then blame everybody else for their problems and decide that they don't need to ask God for forgiveness?  Or do we want them to become young men and women who both love Jesus and fear him as both their loving Savior who will also judge the world some day?

The problem is not lack of self-esteem.  The problem is that they are not taught to fear God anymore.  They are not told of his absolute holiness and perfection or that just one sin is enough to keep them under his Wrath for eternity which is what it is so important that they accept Jesus as their Savior.

And they are told that they are enough when really, God is simply enough.  Look closely at Ephesians 2:10.  This applies to all believers: "For we are his workmanship."  Whose workmanship?  His.  God's.  Not mine, not my mom or dad's, not my teacher's, not my best friend, not my favorite show, not my cell phone's.  I am God's workmanship.  Which means without God, there is no me and certainly no reason to boast in myself apart from the worth God gives me.

How did God create us? "Created in Christ Jesus."  God made a way so that we would not have to endure his Wrath for eternity.  He did not act like what I did was not important.  He also did not cast me away as a nothing.  He sent my sin to Jesus Christ and gave me his perfect life.  Neither of us deserve that.  I was created in Christ and that is what he does for believers which is why they matter so much.  That is what he can do for you.

And why did he create us? "For good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in him."  My good works do not save me.  Apart from Jesus they are only just as evil as my sins.  Christ's works save me and because of that I can follow him.  God does have a plan for your life, but you have to follow his plan.  You have to marry before you have sex.  You have to marry the opposite gender.  You have to go to a church body once a week.  You have to seek His will in His Word.  And you have to believe Jesus.  And when he saves you, you will do all that.  And he will be enough.  You won't need anything else.  Give your life to him and esteem him, then you will have time to esteem yourself in light of him.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apostles' Creed: communion of Saints

"I believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints."

The Holy Spirit on earth is the one that keeps all believers whether still on this planet or who have gone home to be with the Lord connected in one church.  This is not the visible church where believers are mixed with unbelievers, but all the elect of God from the foundation of the world for all time.

This church has Jesus as its worldwide head and pope and no other.  Nobody needs to take his place on this earth because he has never left his office as Prophet, Priest, and King.  The Church has no husband other than her Lord and Savior.  And he sends his Holy Spirit to all believers and that way we are united as the universal Church.

If you are recovering from any addiction or sin, it is good to know not only what you are saved from, God's wrath, how you are saved, by grace and faith alone in Jesus who lived a perfect life and took your punishment on the cross, but what you are saved to.  Jesus stands before the Father day and night praying for his believers, the saints, the ones he has called out from the world as his treasured possession, and while we still wait for his physical return to earth, he places us in a church to be with both Him and other believers.  So not only do we enjoy heaven in the future, we enjoy it now.

Heaven is not a place, but a man, Jesus Christ.  And we are in heaven when we meet in a true church body where his Presence dwells in the Word and among other believers who have the same Holy Spirit.

Also, for grievers, this means we are not separated from those we love who are now dead.  We can no longer talk to them, but we are not separated from them either.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Apostles' Creed: The Holy Spirit

"I believe in the Holy Spirit."  This is the most forgotten member of the Holy Trinity but also the one we interact with most.  It is the Holy Spirit that awakens dead sinners to be able to receive the Gospel.  He flows through a congregation as the preacher preaches from the Word of God.  It is him that we talk to and he guides us away from sin and closer to holiness.

Every Christian has the Holy Spirit within them.  Every Christian is a recovering sinner and has no hope outside of the Holy Spirit's awakening and leadership.

One time I had a discussion with a woman about predestination and the freedom to choose.  Believe it or not, as a predestinarian, I do believe that people make free decisions and that we are not robots.  But I also believe that salvation, just like all of history, is planned and directed by God even down to whether I will have the ability to give my heart to Jesus or not.

Ephesians 2:1 says that all people start out dead in their sins.  Imagine if I decided to throw a party and go down to a graveyard and invite the people there.  They are indeed free to decide to come, but unfortunately, they are dead and cannot make that decision.  First, I would have to make them alive some how and then help dig them out of their holes.

This is exactly what the Holy Spirit does when he turns a sinner into a believer.  And unlike me, God can send his Holy Spirit to follow someone until they come home to him.  Everyone that God saves will come to know Jesus and we will see it.  Those he does not save simply remain dead.  Even if they show up to church, they eventually fall away and don't return.

But the Holy Spirit is so essential to the life of a believer who still recovers that believers need to ask for his guidance and spend time in Scripture every day if they are to avoid sin and are to grow closer to holiness and to influencing other people to know Jesus.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Judge the living and the dead

"He will come again to judge the living and the dead."

Many times if a Christian tries to point out sin to someone they will be accused of judging.  Is an unmarried couple having sex and/or living together?  Are two men or two women in a sexual relationship?  Is someone considering abortion?  Usually if we point out sin past or present, then we are judged as judging.

However, one day Jesus will come back and judge both the living and the dead for all we have done.  I will be judged for both my sins and my good deeds.  Praise God, however, that we do not judge you or anyone else.  We told you the problem, but we have a glorious solution!  Jesus came to save sinful men and women and then to heal them from their sins.  We can all be saved from even our favorite sins and changed so that we no longer desire them.

At the same time, just knowing that if you do not give your lives to Jesus, then when he comes again and judges the world, you will not be saved from hell.  Knowing that this judgment is coming should be enough for anyone to seek recovery.  Whether it is for something external like adultery, theft, even murder, or something internal like codependency or anger, it is wonderful to know that Jesus will save you if you confess his name and believe in him.  You can either turn to him or stay lost in your sins.  If you pass up this glorious opportunity for freedom from your sins then you will die in them.

Please do not do this.  The Lord will not turn away anybody who come to him in repentance and he will faithfully change their hearts and lives and they can live with him in blessing and happiness forever.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Apostle's Creed: Ascended into heaven, seated at right hand

"He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father."

When you are recovering from an addiction or a sin, what a blessing it is to know that Jesus's body lives in heaven and always sits by the Father pleading for me and for anyone else who believes in him.  Although we were once eaten away by our sins and separated from God, he sent Jesus to pay the penalty for them.

We rejoice in him being with the Father because God always delights in his Son.  Because of that, he will save all that Jesus died for.

And in this crazy election where no godly candidate is winning and all the ones who were godly are now caving and going for the ungodly men and women, it is wonderful to know that Jesus is still in office in heaven ruling the world.  The world that we see is all His and nobody comes into power without him allowing it.  And he will bring it all under his rule both now and for all time.

Right now, while we wait we must think of that and continue to do his will.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Descended into the dead, rose on the third day

With election season in full swing and no good candidates leading, it is good to hear some good news  Here is the next step in Recovery following the twelve divisions of the Apostles' Creed from tradition.

The first part: he descended into the dead.  I came from a tradition that says he descended into hell.  Most just say Hades.

The important thing is that he truly died.  Jesus took the complete punishment for my sins and for the sins of all his elect believers and suffered God's wrath on the cross in my place.

I do believe he experienced the hell that the reprobate will experience for eternity, but he experienced it all on the cross.  He did not go there after he breathed his last breath.  He was immediately in Paradise with the thief who was next to him on his cross.  But indeed, he truly died.  He did not fake it.  It was not an illusion.  God the Son really died and suffered God the Father's wrath.

Part two: He rose again on the third day.  He wasn't even dead three days.  One evening, one whole day, and then Sunday morning, he was alive.  His body was alive, people touched him, watched him ate, and he partied with his disciples for 40 days.

Recovering?  Remember that he did both of these things for you if you believe in him.  Believe on him and you will be saved.  You, too, will rise from the dead.  The people you love who have died who believed in him will rise from the dead.  In fact, everyone will rise from the dead and then some will go to eternal punishment while God's redeemed experience eternal live and an eternal kingdom ruled by God on this earth and in this universe.

Start living for this kingdom now.  Trust him.  Put away your idols and trust him.