Reading Your Bible With Purpose

Open BibleGod has Something to Say to You

Whether you are reading Scripture in a printed version or you are reading Scripture via an online app, the Bible you hold in your hands is truly an incredible miracle. You see, the Bible you are holding is the direct revelation of God our Creator to you and I, his creation. God has something to say to us, and he wants us to be sure we know it. So God moved upon a number of men in a supernatural way so that they would record a single harmonious message, a testimony to the character of God and His redemptive plan for us through Jesus Christ. This message would be stitched together over thousands of years and through sixty-six unique books. And though there were certain historical cultural shifts during this period, God never shifted from the purpose of His Word. He wanted to reveal himself to us.

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Joining Jesus on Mission

 

Making-Disciples


In Philippians, Paul writes, “To live is Christ.” John Piper expounds on Paul’s expression in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, where he writes, “You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ… If Christ is not made much of in our lives, they are wasted.”[1] The truth is that when Jesus called you to follow him, he called you to an un-wasted life. Jesus brought you from death into life, and this life is to be lived to the fullest measure for him.

At your death, before Jesus Christ, how will your life be measured?

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t leave you unaware of what he wants you to do in this life. He declared to you your destiny – indeed, the destiny of every true follower of Christ. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are a missionary. This is your destiny; you are a fisher of men, a disciple-making disciple, a missionary. The Holy Spirit has been progressively transforming you into a disciple in order that you actively multiply your faith in Christ in others. This is your destiny, and at your death, before Jesus Christ, how will your life be measured? Will you be counted faithful as an obedient fisher of men, or have you been on the shoreline, equipped with everything you need (2 Tim 3:16-17), but never casting the gospel line in faith as a fisher of men?

Friend, you can’t go back and change your past, but you can refuse to let your past dictate your future. You can shut up the condemnation of Satan for things left undone and declare, “From this day forward I will follow Jesus in His mission. I will not waste my life.” First, repent for the sins of apathy and absence from the mission. Then ask Jesus to ignite in you a passion for his mission that will never be quenched. Pray this prayer each morning. Then finally, taking a page from the shoemaker, “Just do it!”

It’s not too late!

It’s not too late! No matter your age or station in life, you can begin today in the mission of Jesus. Engagement in the mission of Jesus Christ is not only for the young, or the strong, or one gender or another. The beauty of Jesus’ mission is that it is for every believer, everyday at home and abroad until he or she meets their Maker face to face. How can you get involved? You can get involved in the mission of Jesus though Praying, Giving, and Going.
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Discerning A Very Different Jesus

hello-my-name-is-jesus-trim

Baptists believe that the Bible is a perfect, holy treasure of divine revelation directly from God to mankind and that Jesus is the focus of this revelation. Nature may reveal the glory of God to conscious observers (Ps 19:1-3), but Scripture directly reveals God’s plan of redemption for sinners like you and I through Jesus Christ (2 Tim 3:15-17). What we intimately and assuredly know about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we know because he revealed it in the Bible.

Narrowing our focus a little more, what we know about who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he demands doesn’t come from the latest pop-theologian, that kind of knowledge – which we can admit is critically important – only directly comes from Scripture. In fact all of Scripture, all 66 books of both the Old and New Testaments, is a “testimony to Christ” (John 5:39). [1]

Salvation only comes through the Jesus of the Scriptures

But there seems to be many different conceptions of Jesus found in our culture, and so it is our task, according to the Word of God, to discern these very different Jesuses from the Jesus of the Bible, because salvation only comes to those who have surrendered their life by faith to the Jesus Christ revealed to us in the Bible (Acts 4:12).

Some very different Jesuses are easy to discern. Clearly when Jehovah Witnesses (a.k.a., the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) assert that Michael the archangel was the pre-human Christ and deny the deity and eternal preexistence of Jesus, the Jehovah Witness’ Jesus is a very different Jesus than the Jesus of Scripture (Jn 1:1-14; Phil 2:5-11; Col 1:15-20; Rev 3:14).[2] The Mormon’s fictional Jesus should also be rejected. Mormon’s teach that Jesus was born a spirit child to a flesh and bone exalted man called “Heavenly Father” in a pre-earth realm, and that Jesus is in a tussle with his younger brother, Satan.[3] This fictional character that Mormon’s identify as Jesus departs so severely from the Jesus of Scripture, I will devote no further space to the matter.

So the fictional Jesus like the above varieties should be easily distinguishable as very different from the Jesus of the Holy Scriptures. But what about the not so easily distinguishable, very different Jesuses? Beginning in the 18th century, various scholars have taken part in a series of quests for whom they called the historical Jesus. These quests typically began with a presumption that the supernatural is impossible, and thus the record of Jesus in the Gospels is largely unreliable. So with that critique in place, these scholars began to try to decide who the real Jesus of history was. Invariably, in all these quests, the Jesus the researchers wound up identifying looked very little like the Jesus of the Gospels and much more like the researchers themselves – a 19th century German Jesus, a feminist Jesus, a liberal Jesus, and so on.[4]

A Jesus in our own image is no Jesus at all

Such a phenomena is not limited to scholarly researchers. We must discern the pop-culture Jesus who has been slowly tweaked from the Jesus of Scripture into a Jesus made in our image. The things that we have said of Jesus that he never said of himself represent this very different, dangerous, self-condemning Jesus. And so together let’s discern this very different Jesus by identifying some things that Jesus never said.

Jesus never said:

  • “Follow me… unless you can find your own way and your own truth to suit what you want to do, then I will follow you and give you my blessing.”
    (instead, Jn 14:6, 15:5)
  • “You are a really good person now, but please invite me into your heart so I can complete you and make you better.”
    (instead, Eph 2:1, 3)
  • “Follow me and I will make you healthy, wealthy, and popular among your peers.”
    (instead, Mt 10:32-39)
  • “I am loving and never, ever judge.”
    (instead, Jn 5:21-24; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor 5:10)
  • “I will never test you and try you more than you can handle on your own.”
    (instead, 2 Cor 1:8-10; Phil 4:13)
  • “Come just as you are, and don’t worry, you can stay that way until you are ready to change.”
    (instead, Jn 3:3; Mt 16:24-27; Rom 12:1-2)
  • “Your worship in my church is optional, she’s not as important to me as you are.”
    (instead, Eph 5:25-33; Lk 4:16; Heb 10:25)
  • “Go therefore and make disciples, unless it’s inconvenient or difficult. I understand.”
    (instead, Mt 28:18-20; Jn 15:12-13)
  • “You should give yourself and your means to my mission through the local church, but not too much. First, you should store up for yourself lots of material goods and a healthy retirement so you can be comfortable. Hell is not that uncomfortable.”
    (instead, Mt 6:19-21; Acts 2:45)
  • “Once saved, always saved. So you might want to get a copy of the church record when you became a member. I will ask for that when you die.”
    (instead, 1 Jn 2:4; Mt 7:15-23)

We need to know who Jesus is, what he has done, what he demands

So the next time you find yourself saying, “Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that…” It is time to stop, pray, open up your Bible, and read for yourself just what the Bible says about who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he demands. In short, Jesus is the Word made flesh, God incarnate, the great I AM, fully God and fully man, the blessed Redeemer of mankind, the prophesied Messiah, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, and the living Lord. Because of his volitional sinlessness and perfect submission to God the Father, his death on the cross entirely atoned for our sin debt against God. And what a great sin debt this is, for we are dead in our sin and destined for hell! However, Christ’s bodily resurrection from the grave undoubtedly signified that once-and-for-all death is dead, Satan is defeated, our sin can be forgiven, and life can once again be eternally lived reconciled with God on earth and in heaven. This is the gift of salvation that we desperately need.

But we do have to receive it, and Jesus said in order to receive him we must by faith believe the Gospel, turn from our sins, surrender our minds, bodies, and motives and follow him as our master. Jesus takes the dead, and gives them life, a life to be yielded back to him by observing all that he has commanded without qualification, proclaiming the gospel without fear, and making disciples who do the same. This is the Jesus of the Bible, a very different Jesus than the Jesus of culture.


[1] “Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” (Southern Baptist Convention). Accessed February 2015 from http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.
[2] Tal Davis, “Jehovah’s Witnesses View of Christ,” (SBC, North American Mission Board). Accessed February 2015 from http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbnew.aspx?pageid=8589952835
[3] Tal Davis, “Comparison Chart-Mormonism and Christianity,” (SBC, North American Mission Board). Accessed February 2015 from http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbnew.aspx?pageid=8589952801.
[4] Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament, (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009), 111-125.

A Gift from God for his Glory, Not a Disability

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Dear Church Family,
It is good to write to you again! From my family, let me first express our deepest gratitude for your gracious generosity. Your gifts have helped us tremendously as we have traveled to the hospital in Chapel Hill for Abbey, and they continue to be a blessing as we now begin her therapy. Even more so, thank you for your fervent prayers for her and for all of us! Abbey seems to have fully recovered from her Cochlear implant surgery at the beginning of January, and at the end of the week in which I am writing this letter, we will complete the process for her right ear and she should begin hearing for the first time. It is an exciting time; please continue to pray!

In our morning worship service, we have just completed our journey through First Peter. Much of Peter’s letter is focused on preparing us to face tough seasons of trials, suffering and persecution. Over and over it seems we could almost hear Peter’s refrain: “Let Hope reign! If you want Jesus to reign over your circumstances, he must reign in all areas of your life!”

Let Hope reign! If you want Jesus to reign over your circumstances, he must reign in all areas of your life!

The application of this truth was fleshed out in our family in a way that I must share with you. At the dinner table, one of our children asked, “Why did Jesus make Abbey deaf?” This is a question that we knew would come some day, but even so, when it did with such innocence, it jars you a bit. How do you communicate the grace and sovereignty of God in a way a child can understand? With the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Megan responded so perfectly. She said, “God brought Abbey through so much and through her he has done so many wonderful things. So God let Abbey be deaf so that, for the rest of her life, when someone asks her about the things she will wear behind her ear or they ask why she is deaf, she can tell them the whole story of how awesome God really is.”

In other words, Abbey’s disability is a gift from God for his glory. It is a gift so that neither Abbey nor the rest of us will ever forget the abundant grace of God through a difficult season.

Suffering is a gift that keeps us ever mindful of the love and grace of God.

Have you ever viewed your trial that way? Have you ever viewed suffering as a gift that keeps us ever mindful of the love and grace of God? For the child of God, saved by grace through faith, you can, and indeed, you should (Rom 8:28). So in your season of suffering, climb into the loving arms of your Father in heaven.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Pastor Jason
Ephesians 3:20-21