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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where the fire has already been

        Many years ago, a father and his daughter were running from a wildfire in California.  In the distance, they saw the fire burning and quickly realized they were surrounded and will be engulfed by the flames.  The father knew there was only one way of escape: they would quickly begin a fire right where they were and burn a very large area of brush.  When the huge fire drew near, they would stand on the section that had already burned.  When the fire actually did approach them, the girl was terrified by the raging flames.  Her father assured her, “The flames can’t get to us.  We are standing where the fire has already been.”
        The Bible tells us that we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ so that we will receive according to what we have done in the body, whether good or bad. (2Co 5:10)  Do you fear the coming judgment?  The Bible describes Hell with words such as: Place of fire & brimstone (Rev 14:10), everlasting punishment (Mt 25:46), wailing, gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:42), souls will be tormented (Rev14:10).  In Mark 9 Jesus says it is better to go through life lame or blind and get into heaven; than it is having two eyes,  two hands, and two feet and be cast into the unquenchable fire of Hell.
        The price of our sin is death which is eternal separation from God.  That price must be paid in full in order for us to escape the fiery wrath of God.  Jesus paid that price for us on the cross.  If we are obedient to Jesus’ commands we do not have fear the fiery wrath of God because we are standing where that fire has already burned, beneath the cross of Jesus.  Jesus willingly laid down his life in our place that day on Calvary.  Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preacher Calvin

Preacher Calvin

Once upon a time there was a rich eccentric old rancher who owned thousands of acres of beautiful rangeland.

One day he decided to give a party on his veranda.

Since his son had died, he wanted to choose the one who he would leave his beautiful ranch. So he invited people to come for a barbecue.  Hundreds of people came to enjoy the party, knowing to may be last one, but not knowing he was to personally give his ranch to someone that very day.

He happily walked among the people saluting one and shaking hands with another, while his eyes roved the crowds, looking for the one on whom he would like to bestow his ranch.

Coming down the mountain simply passing by the veranda was a young prospector leading his mule. People pointed at him and asked him, “Did you find gold?”

He slowly shook his head, smiling and said, “Maybe next week.”

“What are you going to do when you strike it rich, young fellow?” someone asked.

“I’m going to buy me a ranch and settle down” he happily replied.

“Come here, young man,” said the owner of the ranch.  The young fellow tied up the mule and walked over to shake hands with the eccentric old rancher.  “What would you say if I gave you this one?” he said with twinkling eyes.

“Sure,” said the young prospector, “You’re just going to give away the finest rand in the
West, aren’t you?”

“Well, you go and wash in the river and clean up.  Then come back and we’ll talk about it,” said the old rancher.

The young fellow said, “I guess I am a sight to see and smell after a week in those mountains prospecting.”  He slowly got up and went to bathe in the river, and then he went to the bunkhouse to change into fresh clothes.

When he reurned to the house, the old rancher handed him a paper.  “What’s this?”  asked the young prospector.  The old rancher’s eyes sparkled with humor.

“What does it look like, boy?”  It’s a deed to this here ranch. I’ve made it out to you, and as of now, it is yours.”

The young fellow was speechless. “You made this ranch out to me?”  You mean, it is really mine?”

“Signed, sealed and delivered,” the old man crackled.  “It’s yours; lock, stock, and barrel.”

The people were astonished, bewildered, and confused.

“Why did you do that?”  they asked.

“I am dying, and I wanted to meet the next owner before I died.  I have now met him, and now I can die in peace,” replied the old man happily. And that he did inside the week.

The young man took possession on the day of the party and made many new friends.

About a week later an old Denominational preacher, named Preacher Calvin, came by to ask for a donation to build a new Denominational Church.  He began warmly with the young man.

“Bill,” he said, “you’ve come into a rich inheritance since old Gabby died and left you his ranch. We were wondering if you would like to share your gift with us and give us a donation on our new Church building?”

Bill said, “Whoa, I did no inherit this ranch by Gabby’s death,   I owned this ranch almost a week before he died.”

Preacher Calvin nervously replied, “Well, I supposed that is true, but he did give you the ranch.”

Bill said, “He never gave me this ranch. I earned it.”

Preacher Calvin said, “Well I reckon you did not earn it. I was here the day he gave it to you.”

The young man said, “I reckon you did not pay attention to what Gabby said, He told me to go wash in the river and we would talk about it, I did, and when he saw that I had, he made the deed out to me, I earned this ranch, lock, stock, and barrel!!!!”

“Are you trying to tell me you earned this ranch and that it is not a “free gift?” said Preacher Calvin hotly.

“I most certainly am” said young Bill.

Preacher Calvin sputtered, “Well, that is the most ludicrous thing I ever heard saying you earned this ranch because you washed up?”  You didn’t do anything to deserve it.  It   was simply grace on Gabby’s part that you own this ranch!!!!!   I vehemently deny that you did any works that makes it possible to boast that you earned it.”

Bill firmly held to his claim.  “Would I have gotten it if I hadn’t gone and washed in the river?”  You bet your sweet boots I wouldn’t have.  When I did what Gabby said to do, I earned the ranch and I don’t need any Denominational Preacher saying I didn’t earn it.  I obeyed his commandment and I earned it by my obedience to him.”

By this time Preacher Calvin had lost his cool.  “Now listen here, young fellow, you go around telling people that you earned this ranch and that it was not free gift of grace just because you dipped in the river and these folks around here will think you are crazy.”

Bill smiled. “I reckon they won’t, they hear talk like that all the time from your pulpit.”

Brother Calvin stiffened, “What do you mean by that?”  he asked suspiciously.

Bill said, “Many times I’ve heard that if you teach that you have to be baptized, that you are teaching people they can earn their salvation,  You’ve said over and over again, `Baptism is a work` and whoever says you gave to be baptized is teaching `works` salvation.  I reckon if being baptized is a work that earns salvation, I earned this ranch because I had to immerse myself to get this here ranch.”

Preacher Calvin knew he had been caught by his own stupid logic.  It sounded good from the pulpit, but in practicality he knew it was asinine logic.

As he left, Bill said, I reckon I better get back to work.  Earning this here ranch sure did wear me out.”  And with that, he laughed.

It was a laugh which Preacher Calvin would always hear I his conscience every time he said, “Baptism is a work that has nothing to do with salvation.”  Salvation is a free gift, not of works lest any man should boast.”

But knew that Bill know the ranch was free gift and that he didn’t believe he has earned it by immersing himself in the creek.  He knew Bill was showing him the silliness of such doctrine and that’s what always galled him.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is Worship? Pt 1

As far as mankind has been traced there has always been a need to worship something.  God has placed that need in us and has urged us to worship him.  Man has been created as a compulsive worshipper!  From the beginning, God has given us the purpose of worship; which is to bring glory to God and thus benefiting the worshipper.  In each dispensation (Patriarchal, Mosaic, & Christian), God has revealed the means by which worship is to be offered.
I. Worship Defined
Our word “worship” is nowhere defined in scripture.  We must define it in part by the terms from which it is translated.  There are a bunch of words in the Greek that can be and are translated “worship.”  For the purpose of this post let’s look at two of them!

        A. Proskuneo- pros-koo-neh'-o  This verb means to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards and kuneo, to kiss)   It is the most frequent word rendered to worship.  60 times in KJV!  Its often used as an act of homage and reverence! 
·         We must understand that proskuneo is a distinct act of worship that needs to be distinguished from a life of worshipful service to Christ.  Proskuneo is performed as a special act of reverence!  Gen 22:5  The LXX uses a form of proskuneo!  Abraham and Isaac went to perform a special act of worship.  They worshipped and upon finishing, they returned!
·         All Of Life is not proskuneo worship.  Jn 9:35-38  The blind man “worshipped” which constituted an act of worship. 
·         Proskuneo is an act, but it must NOT be equated with playacting or going through the motions!  It’s no mechanically performed ritual.  Rather it is spontaneous, from the heart, and genuine!

        B. Latreuo- lat-ryoo'-o  This verb means to serve, to render religious service or homage! 
·     Acts 24:14  Paul’s uses Latreuo here for “worship” and it is referring to his way of life.
·     Rom 12:1  KJV, NKJV “service”  NASB “service of worship”  Latreuo is used here so properly should be “service of worship”  This is yet another lifestyle of service to Jesus Christ!
·         Latreuo is truly the worshipful lifestyle that characterizes the Christian’s daily walk.

        C. The DISTINCTION between proskuneo and latreuo.
·         Worship should not be thought as confined to praise or a activity in a building.  It can be a distinct act such as remembering the Lord’s death in observing the Lord’s Supper(proskuneo) and/or our daily service to Jesus by conscientiously keeping His commandments (latreuo)
·         Mt 4:10 Jesus uses both words when answering Satan’s bid for worship!
·         Both the acts of worship that are commanded and authorized in God’s Word and the life of daily service to God according to His Word are distinctive means of worship!

II. Worship Identified
Jesus teaches what is acceptable and unacceptable worship(proskuneo) Jn 4:23-24; Mt 15:7-9
We must worship God on his terms and in his way.  Nadab and Abihu tried to worship on their own terms and ultimately faced death.  As so will we face a spiritual death if we follow their example?  There are 2 elements which we identify “true worship” and God identifies “true worshippers.”

        A. Worship in the Spirit
·         This expresses the character of true worship.  It is worship from a genuinely reverent and grateful heart!
·         It’s all about “heart”  Heart is what was lacking from the hypocrites in Mt 15:8.  How many people today offer mere lip service on the Lord’s day?

        B. Worship in the Truth
·         This expresses the standard of true worship.  Jn 17:17 Jesus prays for his apostles and makes this clear!
·         ***A true worshipper will only worship according to the authority of His Word. 
·         The truth is what is lacking from the vain worshippers in Mt 15:9   They worshipped according to the commandments of men!

III. Acceptable worship is a must.
·         We don’t see the word should in Jn 4:24, do we?  “those who worship him should worship in spirit and truth”   NO!  This makes worship very specific.  Jn 3:7  MUST!
·         Acceptable worship must be from the heart and must be authorized by God’s Word!