Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Did God Create Man?

Two Approaches:

Anthrocentric (man-centered) Approach:

The primary purpose of man is to be happy and enjoy what God has made.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism--the New American Religion
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.|
When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."
As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."

The major flaws with this view:
1. We can never be happy without God’s forgiveness – we need an answer to our sin problem and the guilt we have because of our sin.
Psalm 32:3–5 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

2. We can never be happy without God’s presence – we were created to be in fellowship with God.
Psalm 27:8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

3. We can never be happy worshipping anyone or anything except God – everything else is unworthy of worship and we know it because nothing else can survive time.
Psalm 96:4–6 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

4. We can never be happy when our purpose/happiness can die or be destroyed – we will live with fear of loss.
Matthew 6:19–21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

5. We can never be moral or enjoyable when our focus or purpose is our happiness because we can only be inspired/satisfied with an eternal holy loving God that does not change.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Theocentric (God-centered) Approach:
The primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

"God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you." -Augustine, Confessions

1. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we have peace with God.
Romans 5:1–2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

2. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we serve God’s purpose.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

3. We have rest and glorify and enjoy God when we live to glorify God.
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

12 Things About Satan

These are my notes from the talk I gave at The Men's Bible Doctrine Class. We meet every Thursday at 6 AM. You can join the class anytime. We will meet through November.

I developed these notes from a message I heard by Pastor James MacDonald.

1. He is powerful and wants to devour you.

1 Peter 5:8–9 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

-We need to respect his reality, but not fear Satan.
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors...” - C.S. Lewis

-He wants to destroy you, but does not have the power to do it without our assistance and permission from God.

2. He is Real. (On average God mentions Satan once in every chapter of the NT)
-People want to make him out to be a cartoon.
-He is a real powerful being that hates you and wants to crush you and everything that reveals God’s love and grace.

3. He is a fallen Archangel (like Michael)

Isaiah 14:12–15 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.

-Sometime between Genesis 1 and 3, Satan was cast out of heaven with 1/3 of the angels.
2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;

Jude 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

Revelation 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.

4. He pretends to be and masquerades as an angel of light
2 Corinthians 11:13–15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

-He does not come as he is. He comes in disguise. Although he is dark, he looks to be light. -It might seem that what he is offering is good and right.
-Those that serve Satan do what he does. We must be able to discern what is true.
1 Cor 2:12–16 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

5. He plants weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43)

-Not everyone in the church is actually of Christ.
-They are planted in the church to divide and confuse.

6. He hates Jesus.

-We are not the ultimate issue.
-Satan wants to hurt the King and rob God of His glory. He does that by causing those God has made in His own image and loves to sin and desert God.
Revelation 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Isaiah 14:13–15 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.

-We are in the war, but it is against God our Maker. We are the means of causing God pain. He can’t touch God, but he can attack God’s beloved.

7. He is an accuser (Diabolos = Devil) of God’s people
Revelation 12:10–11 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

-Satan brings against us to God real accusations of sin.
-Jesus claims victory and intercedes for us.
Romans 8:31–34 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

-The victory is already won.
Isaiah 54:17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

-Our justification is our heritage (birthright).

8.He is working very hard to destroy you because he knows his time is limited.

Revelation 12:12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

-He created and is continuing to spread sin.
1 John 3:8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

-He is opposing the work of God.
Mark 4:15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

-He blinds people to the Gospel
2 Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

-He is looking for a foothold in your life to be able to create more sinful influences in your life.
Ephesians 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

9. He is a liar
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

10. He is a cunning tempter

Genesis 3:1–5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

11. He is limited

Job 1:6–12 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” 8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

-Satan is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient

12. He is a defeated enemy and will be going to hell

Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Revelation 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It Sounds So Easy, But...

Something I hear from time to time is that I make living the Christian life sound so easy, when in reality it is so hard. The fact is, for us, it is impossible. In and of ourselves we cannot live the Christian life.

But there is hope. Jesus said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

What I have found we must guard ourselves from is the idea that God is going to bless what we have decided to do. The reality is that God is going to bless what He has decided to do and in His grace God has determined to allow us to be blessed in joining Him.

God desires to conform us into the image of His Son. God desires to pour out His love through our life. God desires to bless us so that we can be a blessing.

These desires are not fulfilled when we choose our own path and allow our sin nature to guide our choices. We are able to find hope, healing, peace, and joy when we submit ourselves to God through faith in Christ and offer our bodies as living sacrifices. Although it can be painful, the reward is out of this world.

We cannot live the Christian life without Christ. Christ must live in us as our redeemer and leader if we are to live as Christ. He never sits in the seat of the copilot. He drives or we do not go forward.

It is easy for Him. It is impossible for us. When we give Him complete authority, we go forward in the fullness of His life, love, and purpose.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

When You Feel in Over Your Head

A dear friend told me about how his daughter and son-in-law barely escaped last week's flood with their two children.

They had been watching the road into their subdivision to insure that it was passable. On one of those trips out they realized the water had suddenly raised to over four feet. That happened in a matter of minutes.

They went back inside and came out a bit later to find that the water was now at their doorstep. It was getting dark. Their children were scared. They were terrified so they decided to see if they could get to higher ground.

With a child on each parent's shoulders they got into the street. The water was at neck level just below their chins. They were not sure they would live through this, but then two boats showed up. Two boats driven by two men who were not assigned or paid for their task. Driven by a heart to help, these two men had brought their boats to that area that evening and by God's providence saved a family from certain death.

I know a lot of people feel in over their heads today with life. Look to the ONE who can save you. He came looking for you. Jesus left heaven to rescue you. Surrender yourself to HIS care.

George Matheson once wrote,

"O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

"O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

"O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

"O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be."

Hebrews 10:35–36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

When God Is There

It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right. So the saint and the Saviour can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.
And then, when pressed with burdens and troubles too complicated to put into words and too mysterious to tell or understand, how sweet it is to fall back into His blessed arms, and just sob out the sorrow that we cannot speak! --Selected

What a joy to rest in grace. In this position words have weight, but are not always needed. Nothing is wasted - not a laugh, a sigh or a tear. There is wonder in the mystery of silence, whispers and screams. The spiritual war is observed and fought with faith and fear vanishes when God's love is felt.

To live in God's presence is to truly live. All other ways of life are death. Anything short of Christ-centered being is unacceptable and will never satisfy.