Christmas: The Dawn of Death’s Destruction

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The Apostle Paul wrote, “O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Anyone grieving the death of someone they love deeply will say that “sting” hardly begins to describe the pain.

And Christmas often heightens this pain. Certain decorations recall hands we will never hold again. Gatherings make visible precious absences. Sweet voices now stilled echo in our memories as we sing or share stories.

But this is not a bad thing. Christmas is actually a very good time for grief. Because sorrow has a way of disbursing fantasy nonsense and pointing us to what the birth of Jesus was all about: death’s destruction (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The sting Paul is talking about is not grief. He knows “sorrow upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:27). He is talking about something far worse: condemnation.

“The sting of death is sin” (1 Corinthians 15:56) because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And physical death hardly begins to describe this death. Like all of us, Paul would have preferred to not die physically (2 Corinthians 5:4). But he knew he would (2 Timothy 4:6). The death Paul spent his life trying to save people from was spiritual death.

Paul’s main concern was the “wrath and fury” (Romans 2:8) people would experience if they stood before the “judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10) still in their sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-20). He believed the worst possible thing a human being can experience is to be “accursed and cut off from Christ” (Romans 9:2). He believed Jesus, who said,

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

This is the main issue in life. We must be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20) and have our sentence of hell cancelled (Colossians 2:14). And the only way to do that is to receive the free gift of God, which is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through his Son, Jesus (Romans 6:23).

That’s why Jesus came. His whole purpose for being born was to die,

That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

But not just to die. Jesus was born to be raised from the dead (Revelation 1:18). He is the Resurrection and the Life and whoever believes in him “though he die yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem it was the dawn of death’s destruction. It made possible the fast-approaching time when,

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)

If you’re feeling grief this Christmas, then know that what you’re experiencing is very much a part of Christmas. Jesus came to deal with your grief. Hear with fresh ears the angel’s gospel: Jesus came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). And if sin is removed, death’s days are numbered and your numbered tears (Psalm 56:8) will be wiped away.

May the Resurrection and the Life infuse your Christmas grief with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Reclame

David Platt – The Cross and Christian Sexuality (Part 2 of 2)

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See PART 1 here

You can print out and follow along with the sermon notes here (4 pages) – www.radical.net/files/2650/MN_130630_c.pdf See VIDEO link at the bottom of this post (You will have to click on picture).

Text: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – Sexual Immorality

  • The central exhortation in the text is „Flee from sexual immorality.” Don’t reason with sexual immorality, don’t rationalize it, flee from it as fast as you can. Last week we talked about what sexual immorality is.
  • The biblical clarification is- when the Bible says to flee sexual immorality, the Bible is saying to flee any and all sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
  • The term porneia (used) is any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. That includes any and all fornication, prostitution, pornography, adultery, homosexual activity, any and all sexual thinking, desiring, looking, touching, speaking, acting outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. All of these things are sin, and we are to run from them. Quoting Kevin DeYoung: „The simplest way to understand porneia is to think about things that would make you furious and heartbroken if you found out someone was doing them with your husband or your wife.” So, if you think sexual immorality, think any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. That’s the key. This is not at all to say that sex is bad. But, that sex is good within the boundaries that God has designed for sex.
  • You had Corinthians then, saying just like Americans today, „Well, it’s 2 consenting adults, what’s the problem? This is what my body was made for. I was created this way. Just because I eat when I’m hungry, I do this because of my biology. And who are you to say this is sin? And what makes it sin? It’s just who I am.” And Paul says, „No, it’s not who you are. Your body is not just about biology. Your body is much more valuable than that. Your body has been created and designed by God for your good, and for His glory. And so it’s wise to listen about what God says about your body.” God says it as clearly as it’s possible to say: Sex is for marriage between a man and a woman, and any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sin, it’s sexual immorality and we should flee it. (These are notes from the introduction, first 7 minutes).

In Part 2 – the topics of pornography and masturbation are preached on. Platt gives a list of clear biblical prohibitons in Scripture (17th min).

  1. No sex outside of marriage. OT says it, Jesus says it, NT reiterates it. Having sex with your spouse is the sign that you are in covenant with this person. Having sex outside of marriage makes a mockery out of that covenant.
  2. No sexual worship. Sex is good, but sex is not God. Throughout the history of God’s people, Deuteronomy 23, Exodus 32, 1 Corinthians 10, we see God’s people fall into the trap of worshipping sex. It’s happening today as part of our culture. I’m convinced this is what’s at the root of so much that’s going on in our culture right now. People thinking, „If only I had sexual freedom this way or that way, then I will be happy.” But, this too is a false God, it’s a broken cistern that does not hold water. So, let’s be there when they see that the broken cistern does not hold water, and say, „There is one who satisfies. And satisfaction is not found in this gift (sex), but it’s found in the giver of the gift. Sex is good, but it’s not God.”
  3. No sexual prostitution or violence. Scripture speaks clearly against all forms of violence, including sadism, masochism, any kind of spousal abuse. God has not designed sex to be hurtful. He has designed the marriage relationship to mirror that between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5) which sacrifices for one another’s good.
  4. No homosexual activity. You have deny Scripture altogether to miss this. (Platt speaks on this subject more in the first video- see here) It is impossible to biblically justify homosexual activity.
  5. No sex with animals, relatives, or children.
  6. No sexual lust- having wrong sexual desires for others. Jesus is clear in Matthew 5 „Everyone that looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It is wrong for you to think about, entertain the thought of, or desire in any way, sex with someone who is not your wife or your husband. That’s lust.
  7. No sexual immodesty – provoking wrong sexual desire in others. This is huge. Men and women across this room, it is wrong for you to provoke sexual desire in someone else who is not your wife or your husband. Romans 14:21 „Don’t cause your brother to stumble.” Specifically speaking to women, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 „Women should adorn themselves with respectable apparel, with modesty and self control, with what is proper for women who profess godliness with good works.” In other words, women dress modestly, not in a way that draws attention to yourself sexually. This is so huge. Let’s just be honest. In our culture, we are extremely loose when it comes to what women wear- skin tight clothes, low necklines, short dresses, short skirts, short shorts, it goes on… it’s the norm among us and it falls dreadfully short of God’s standards for us. And I say this in general, but even when it comes to the gathering of the church, the Bible says to the women of the church, and with all due respect, even to sisters in this room right now: The way some of you are dressing around your brothers are at best, a distraction from honoring God, and at worst, an attempt- whether you realize it or not, to seduce men in this church into sin. The Bible says, „Don’t do it.” For the sake of your brothers, for the sake of your body: Dress modestly. And don’t miss what 1 Timothy is saying there. It’s not saying, „Don’t adorn yourself with anything.” But don’t adorn yourself with physical immodesty that draws attention to you. But adorn yourself with good works that draw attention to God. I urge you church: No sexual immodesty, for your good, for our good, ultimately for God’s glory, to whom we want to point attention. They have lowered the standards in the culture around us and the church thinks: As long as we’re above that we’re okay.” Don’t buy it.
  8. No sexual allurement- including inappropriate emotional attachment outside of marriage. Now the Scriptures that I’ve listed here are particular to a woman alluring a man, but this could go either way, and often goes both ways. Emotional attachment is often the gateway for many people into a sexual affair. You remember those feelings when you were first attracted to someone. You thought about that person all the time. You looked forward to every interaction with that person, even if it was something small, you just wanted to be around them. You were emotionally attached to them. But then, after time goes on, years of marriage, years even and the shine off the romance begins to fade as you watch them brush their teeth on a daily basis. And the reality is that no man, no woman can consistently measure up to that sweaty palms, butterfly feelings that you once got. And so, another man, or another woman can come along, and he or she can start to make you feel like your wife or your husband once made you feel. And so you find yourself thinking about that other person, beginning to look forward to interaction with that other person. And slowly, you start to think about and turn to that other person in the way that you are supposed to think about and turn to your husband or your wife. And you rationalize it, thinking, „This isn’t an emotional attachment, it’s just enjoying time with someone else? What’s so wrong with that?” And maybe it’s the sort of thing your soul is starving for because you’re not getting it in marriage. And so, you think it’s not physical and so it’s not harmful and the reality is that the more you become attached in your thoughts and your emotions, the more you will find yourself wanting to attach to that person physically. You read both Provers 5 and Proverbs 7 and you see an emotional attachment that eventually leads to a physical relationship. I just want you to listen to how the author describes it. In this case, it’s a woman luring a man emotionally: „With much seductive speech she persuades him. With her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter. As a stag is caught fast as an arrow pierces its liver. As a bird rushes into a snare. He does not know that it will cost him his life. Oh sons, listen to me and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways. Do not stray unto her paths, for many a victim has she lain low and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” And this can go both ways (a man can also sexually allure). No sexual allurement. Don’t allow yourself to be sexually allured. This is happening. I know this is happening in people’s hearts and minds all across this room tonight. It’s happening. Don’t do it! You’re like an ox going to the slaughter.
  9. No sexual looking or touching outside of marriage. Job 31 „I made a covenant with my eyes..” Great picture, making a covenant with your eyes not to look at another woman. So, don’t look at someone else sexually who is not your husband or your wife. And this is not just lusting, this can involve taking advantage of another person, when you are able to see something in private that you should not see. That’s exactly what happened with Ham and Noah in Genesis 9. And then it pertains to what you touch. The Bible prohibits touching in any way that you would not normally touch your friend or neighbor, in any way that is sexual in nature.
  10. No entertaining ourselves with or joking around about sex outside of marriage. This is huge. Ephesians 5:3 „Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” It goes on to say that it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. The reason this is so huge is that in our culture, even as Christians, even for those who say, „Okay, I am not gonna indulge myself sexually in these ways,” so many of us are entertaining ourselves with those who do indulge themselves sexually in these ways. You say, „What do you mean?” Well, you think about the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we pay to watch, the TV shows we turn on, how many of them make light of or even exalt sexual immorality? Movie after movie, song after song, so many songs we listen to and we sing by heart that are talking about sexual activity outside of marriage. Book after book, bestsellers like the 50 shades of gray, and countless other subtle versions of the same thing, that are filling leisure reading among Christians. We read these things, we listen to these things, we watch these things and it is as if we say to the world, „We’re not gonna do the things you do, but, we’ll gladly pay money to read about, to listen, and watch you doing them in front of us.” Ephesians 5:3 says, „It must not be named among you. It’s shameful to even speak the things they do in secret. Don’t miss this: God’s standard doesn’t just start with us avoiding these sins, but with us not entertaining ourselves with others’ sins. Now, I am not presuming here that just to talk about sexual immorality is sin, that would make this whole sermon a sin. But, the key is we’re not talking about sexual immorality in a way that views it as good, but as something that we are to avoid. And so much of what we’re exposing our eyes and our minds to, and so much of what we’re exposing our kids’ eyes and kids’ minds to  is dulling our spiritual senses to the point where we see sexual immorality  as not that bad- in the end, kind of entertaining to us, when it should not be. We should grieve over it an run from it. God’s word prohibits entertaining ourselves with jokes or books, or movies about sex outside of marriage. (34:00)

When you look back at all these prohibitions it’s because God forbids sexual activity outside of marriage. God has designed sexual activity for marriage. Sex is not bad, sex is good within the boundaries that God designed it for.  It is at this point that people start talking about gray areas, and there’s tons we can dive into, but there are 3 common practical questions here I want to delve into when we talk about sexual immorality. Questions like:

How far is too far between a single man and a single woman? 

And it’s questions like these when we start looking for specific Bible verses and when we don’t find one, we conclude: I guess I’m just gonna have to figure this one out on my own. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this question in the church, in a way I’m convinced has been disastrous for teenagers and men and women all across the church. I would even go so far as to say that a lack of an objective biblical answer to this question has been disastrous in my life. So I wanna be completely honest with you in this question. Before I got married, particularly in high school and college, I had I don’t know how many conversations with friends and church leaders about this question.  And I cannot ever remember hearing a well reasoned objective biblical answer to this question. Instead, what I heard over and over again to something like this, people would say: Clearly no sex outside of marriage, the Bible prohibits that, but after that the Bible doesn’t give specifics. So you need to pray and set some boundaries, basically build your own list of sexual standards that you’re gonna live by. So I and my christian buddies would sit around and talk about what those standards should be. We all came up with different answers, some guys said kissing was okay, some guys said- as long as clothes stay on it’s okay, in reality, the guy with the lowest standards would usually win out in the discussion. You put together a bunch of guys who are sexual sinners, what else are you going to expect? And so, this is an area where I struggled. I struggled to set boundaries, and I struggled to keep boundaries, and I  found myself in this dangerous gray area that led to all sorts of confusion and guilt and failure. By God’s grace, Heather and I have never had sex with each other or with anyone else before we got married, but that did not mean that we glorified God with our bodies. And I share all that, to say that I remember well what this struggle was like. And I want to say tonight, what I wish somebody had said to me, or maybe they said and I just wasn’t listening. I want to show you what is a biblical objective answer to this question. And I am going to warn you that many of you will think that it’s extreme, restrictive and many of you will be likely to say, „Well, that’s easy for you to say since you’re married now. But, I’m saying it from out of a heart of hurt from past sin, out of a desire for our good, and ultimately out of a desire for what Scripture teaches.

I am indebted here to a good book on this issue ‘Sex, Dating, and Relationship’, by Pastors Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas. They observed 42% of single evangelicals- so single evangelicals, Bible believing Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 are currently in a sexual relationship. 22% have had sex in the past year, and an additional 10% have had sex at least once.  Assuming the accuracy of that data, that means only 20% of young Bible believing christians have remained abstinent. They continue on saying the pastoral community must shoulder much of the blame here. Simply put, we pastors are not quite  certain how to counsel single and teens on appropriate sexual boundaries. We either offer subjective biblical standards, like the Bible says, „Be pure,” which can be massaged around like a waxed nose. Or, objective opinion: Keep it above the neck- which lacks any real authority. Singles need an objective Biblical standard of premarital sexual ethics and we pastors are the ones responsible for providing it. So I want to provide it.

The Bible gives us 3 God ordained categories for relationships between men and women. When you look at relationships in the Bible, there are only 3. And all 3 categories have God given standards for sexual activity in them.

  1. First you have the neighbor relationship: sexual activity prohibited.We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and in that relationship that we see all over Scripture, sexual relationship is prohibited. The Bible says: If you have a strong sexual desire, then get married. The Bible doesn’t say experiment with your neighbor and then decide whether or not you’re gonna get married.
  2. Then there’s the family relationship; sexual activity prohibited.
  3. The third God ordained category is the marriage relationship between a man and a woman, and there sexual activity is commanded. The Bible commands a man and a woman to be together because that is sexual union, as a sign of the covenant relationship that they have before God. So it’s commanded there.

Now, you put all that together and you realize: God, in His word, has no category for 2 people who aren’t married, but kinda, sorta, in some ways act like they are, particularly sexually. That is not a God ordained category of relationship. There is not one place in this entire book (Bible) where we are ever encouraged to engage in any sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship. Instead, we are discouraged. Remember porneia- meaning sexual immorality, sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. I would be furious if anyone hugged, or touched my wife in a sexual way, yet many guys don’t have a problem doing any or all of those things with a woman who is not their wife. Which leads me to ask the question: Would it be acceptable for me, as a married man to kiss a woman who is not my wife, to do these things to a woman who is not my wife? And you say, „Of course not.” But, the reality is guys, any single woman that you’re talking with, statistically is going to be somebody’s wife. So, why should you be doing these things with somebody else’s wife? You say, „Well, she might be my wife, she’s gonna be my wife…” and the Bible says: Well, then make her your wife and then kiss her all you want. But aside from that, 1 Corinthians 7 „It is not good for man to have sexual activity with a woman. She is your neighbor and sexual activity is prohibited with your neighbor.

And then you take this a step further, because Scripture takes it further. 1 Timothy 2 Paul tells Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, in all purity. So follow this, the Bible ties pure treatment of the opposite sex with the picture of the family relationship. So in singleness, single men and women, what does purity looks like with your brother or your sister? There you have it, a standard for purity in your relationship with a single woman in Christ. Absolutely nothing sexual. Why not? Because she’s my sister, and certainly your sister in ChristOr single women, your brother in Christ deserves all the greater purity in Christ than even your own family member does.

So I want to encourage you single men and single women in this room, based on the 3 God ordained relationships in the Bible, I want to encourage you not to do anything sexually with another person who is not your husband or your wife. Looking for a guideline? Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do with your brother or your sister, because any and all sexual activity is for marriage. Regardless whether you are single or married, flee all sexual activity outside of marriage. (46:00) At the 47th minute David Platt talks about masturbation. There are 24 minutes left from this message.

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David Platt – The Cross and Christian Sexuality (Part 1 of 2)

You can print out and follow along with the sermon notes here (4 pages) – www.radical.net/files/2650/MN_130630_c.pdf

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[c]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

At the 21st minute Platt talks about God’s design for our bodies, particularly sexually, how God has designed sex. He also recommends a thick book, a theology of sexuality, titled ‘True Sexual Morality’ by Daniel Heimbach. What is God’s design?

  1. Sex is relational- the two become one flesh
  2. Sex is covenantal – something you participate with the wife of your youth. Sex is only celebrated, it’s only advocated in the Bible, in the context of exclusive covenant relationship between a husband and wife. There is no other kind of sex that is ever celebrated in the Bible.
  3. Sex is intimate. It’s obviously physical, yet deeply spiritual. It literally draws a woman and a man so close that nothing comes between them. Nothing divides them, nothing separates them. Sex is a powerful picture of personal intimacy.
  4. Sex is fruitful. Sex is productive.
  5. Sex is what leads men and women to multiply.
  6. Sex is selfless, not self centered. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
  7. Sex is complex. It involves the mind, the body and the soul.

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Al Mohler – A Gospel Centered Response to Homosexuality

MAINTAINING BIBLICAL CONVICTION

IS GOING TO BE A VERY HIGH COST

ALL OF US ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY

Albert Mohler posted an excellent response to the issue of homosexuality here –  http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/07/02/b21-panel-sbc-2013/ During the Baptist 21 Panel at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston Mohler was asked about a Christian Gospel-centered response to homosexuality.

I transcribed part of the 8 minute video, starting at around the 2 min mark:

„Homosexuality is a sin that leads to death, along with adultery, along with being disobedient to parents, along with being a gossip… many people in our culture have bought into the lie that their sexual desire is who they are. The reality is that every human being north of puberty is a pervert, in the sense that there isn’t any Christian, or any person we know that is without sexual sin- at least, even if you define that as ‘falling short of the glory of God…. every honest person knows that whether it’s a desire for relational fulfillment or the desire for the fulfillment of the flesh, we have all tried to make of our sexuality something that is basically idolatrous. This is the very point that Paul makes in Romans chapter 1. So we’re talking as sinners to sinners, and we know that.

And yet, those of us who are heterosexual sinners can have a place of wholeness and health in marriage, because the biblical theology of sexuality is entirely derivative of the biblical theology of marriage. And marriage, biblically defined is only one thing, and that is the union of a man and a woman. And Jesus, in the Gospel of Matther says, „It was God’s intention form the beginning that it would be so. So, the Bible authorizes heterosexual sinners to enter into the holy union of marriage. Which is holy, by the way, even if the people in it are unregenerate. It’s a Christian institution given to all. And thus, we can find sexual fulfillment, which is also given with the gift of procreation, which is so clear in the Genesis mandate, that the gift of sexuality  and the gift of marriage were given for the filling of the earth and the multiplication of God’s glory  in the progeny that would come.  

But, around us, we have this sexual liberation that tells people our sexual desires are who we are. We have no way of knowing if there are more people that have in themselves same sex desires, but there certainly is an authorization now to name it, to claim it, and to say, „This is who I am.”  We, as Christians, are gonna be in a tremendously difficult position. Everybody feels it. The younger you are, the more keenly and acutely you know it. Maintaining biblical conviction is going to be a very high cost all of us are going to have to pay.

……

If you tell people that their sin is not sin, then you’re telling them Jesus didn’t have to die for that, and you don’t need a Savior for that. And, as much as that’s true of my pride, and every sin of mine I can list- it’s true for them. And, if I deny that any of my sin is sin, I say, „Jesus didn’t die for that. I don’t need a Savior.” I can’t say that about my sin, or their sin.

By the way, I get asked all the time these days- I just taught a class on this, last week, on Homosexuality and the Gospel. People said, „What about gay people in the church. There aren’t any gay people in the church. There aren’t any adulterers in the church. If 1 Corinthians says, „… such were some of you…” it doesn’t mean that people aren’t struggling with things. But, if you are in union with Christ, you’re not defined by a sin. That’s prior to your conversion. Once you are regenerated, you are gonna struggle.. Paul makes that so candidly clear in Romans chapter 7. But, you are no longer defined by that. Because, if you’re united with Christ, Christ is not that.

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Dealing with jealousy and envy

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Dr. Lin McLaughlin, professor of educational ministries and leadership from Dallas Seminary:

Definition of jealousy: Hostility toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.

Definition of envy: Painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with the desire to possess the same advantage.

I experience those emotions and/or sin, and behavior, and I have been a little disturbed to see how much it pervades my life. I am acknowledging this before you, not that I want this to be. The problem for me is that these emotions are very toxic. What that means is that they are also very likely to contaminate. It really starts to interfere with my relationships. The other problem with jealousy and envy, to the extent that I have it, or to the extent that I act on it is that it can be very wounding. It can wound other people. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t. Maybe some of you can identify, either being on the sending or the receiving end of those wounds, because of jealousy and because of envy. This is problematic for me, this temptation, these emotions, because what I find I do amass them. I am very quick to rationalize and justify them as warranted criticism of others. That from my vast ministry experience, or on the basis of my credentials, or my expertise in a given area, or that because of my mastery in a certain subject area, or a particular kind of leadership in a church- my criticism is warranted.

But, that is not what is really going on, on a deeper level with me. And that’s my challenge to you: to examine and be self aware of what’s happening. Commensurate with the definitions that we’re given, one of the things I find going on with me, that’s a signal of a problem is that I start to see colleagues and peers, and maybe friends, as maybe rivals. And so, a kind of rivalry starts to set itself up in my mindset and my thinking. What’s really underlying that is a jealousy, a resentment for that person, toward that person because of recognition, because of achievement, and it’s particularly strong when I’m at my most insecure, or when I have, myself, experienced a failure in ministry and a failure in leadership. In an attempt to somehow band aid that hurt and that pain I elevate myself. In my own mind and my own thinking that’s what I’m doing. And that could even spill over in my conversation with others about that person, which of course is gossip. That’s the nature of the toxicity of these emotions, these struggles for me.

Of course, Scripture is really clear about this being a problem. I’ve got something to share with you from Paul from 1 Corinthians 3:2-3  And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  AND 2 Corinthians 12:20 – For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. James 3:14-16 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 

It is real clear, that around jealousy and envy orbit this constellation of other destructive behaviors actions and emotions. And that’s one of the reasons that it’s so problematic for those of us who deal with it and for those others who are around us. Concerning envy, Proverbs 14:30 says this: A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.And it really, actually feels like that is happening at times when I’m in the throes of these emotions.

PRAYER – So, what do we do? How do we try to counter these? Well, honestly, the best one I found is prayer. I just have to go to the Lord and acknowledge (that) I’m just getting whipped by this, and I just don’t think I can gain the upper hand. And I really need for You, through the work of the Spirit to put to death these emotions. I’ve tried just about everything I know. I admit and acknowledge there’s no place for them in my life. And I need for You to take them out of the way, because this ends up interfering with my ability to love others, which is what we are principally called to do- and edify them, and support them.

SELF AWARENESS – Self awareness is another thing that can help us. That is just living the examined Christian life. But, being able to catch those indicating emotions and thoughts that signal to us, that queue us into the fact that really what’s at work here is our own problem with jealousy and envy. And that can help us, perhaps, reverse those tendencies or at minimum to pray about them. Because, you see, we are very much a puzzle to ourselves. And that puzzle about ourselves, and of ourselves can lead us to deny that this is actually happening or taking place. It can lead us to self justify and rationalize, as opposed to getting to the root of the problem.

Celebrate others – Finally, I would say this: Celebrate others. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is a counter to these emotions and the pull of them when I sense them coming on, and this happens especially when I see someone else getting recognition for their achievement, when I see them getting an accolade. Does that happen to you? I mean, do you think to yourself, „Why  isn’t that happening to me?” But, celebrate others. By that I mean, as I sense that happening, I ask myself,” Hold up, wait a minute, how can I enter into the joy of this person’s achievement and success?” I just try to work on my thinking. I try to say, „Lin, put this envy aside and just think about the joy of what this person is feeling and experiencing, and vicariously enter into that.  I shared with my class, earlier this week, we have a number of works, theologically, on the pleasure of God. The pleasure of His being and His person, rightly written. I don’t think we have enough on the pleasure of people. And as Christians, that’s what we are to enjoy. We often talk about what a pain people are, but I don’t think we talk often enough about the pleasure of people, the sheer joy of people.

In closing, I submit this thought to you: Most of the pleasure of this life, that we can experience is to be vicariously experienced. We We usually think about pleasure for us that which is directly experienced in our own life. But it could be that there is a vast amount of pleasure that’s waiting to be experienced vicariously as we enter into the pleasure of others and just celebrate them. Try to avoid the eye of envy and the eye of jealousy, and ask the Lord to help you overcome those things.

Dr. Lin McLaughlin, professor of educational ministries and leadership, talks from his own personal struggles about ways to combat jealousy and envy.  http://www.dts.edu VIDEO by dallasseminary. Jim McLaughlin from Dallas Seminary:

Day of Pentecost and Spiritual Gifts

We may define spiritual gifts as follows: A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church. This broad definition includes both gifts that are related to natural abilities (such as teaching, showing mercy, or administration) and gifts that seem to be more “miraculous” and less related to natural abilities (such as prophecy, healing, or distinguishing between spirits). The reason for this is that when Paul lists spiritual gifts (in Rom. 12:6-8); 1 Cor. 7:7; 12:8-10, 28; and Eph. 4:11) he includes both kinds of gifts. Yet not every natural ability is included here, because Paul is clear that all spiritual gifts must be empowered “by one and the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:11), that they are given”for the common good” (1 Cor.12:7), and that they are all to be used for “edification”(1 Cor. 14:26), or for building up the church. Read more here – (1) What are spiritual gifts?

Grudem: The New Testament lists specific spiritual gifts in six different passages. See table here –1 Corinthians 12:28 , 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Peter 4:11.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

    1. apostle   – (1-8 from 1 Cor. 12:28)
    2. prophet
    3. teacher
    4. miracles
    5. kinds of healing
    6. helps
    7. administration
    8. tongues
    9. word of wisdom   – (9-13 from 1 Cor. 12:8-10)
    10. word of knowledge
    11. faith
    12. distinguishing between spirits
    13. interpretation of tongues
    14. evangelist        –   (14-15 from Ephesians 4:11)
    15. pastor-teacher
    16. serving    –  (16-20 from Romans 12:6-8)
    17. encouraging
    18. contributing
    19. leadership
    20. mercy
    21. marriage     – (21-22 from 1 Cor. 7:7)
    22. celibacy

1 Peter 4:11 whoever speaks (covering several gifts) and whoever renders service (also covering several gifts).

What is obvious is that these lists are all quite different. No one list has all these gifts, and no gift is mentioned on all these lists: in the context of speaking of marriage and celibacy, Paul says, “Each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”

Click here to read more…  (2) How many gifts are there?

Grudem: Paul says that if we have the gift of prophecy, we should use it “in proportion to our faith” (Rom. 12:6), indicating that the gift can be more or less strongly developed in different individuals, or in the same individual over a period of time. This is why Paul can remind Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have” (1 Tim. 4:14), and can say, “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you” (2 Tim. 1:6). It was possible for Timothy to allow his gift to weaken, apparently through infrequent use, and Paul reminds him to stir it up by using it and thereby strengthening it. This should not be surprising, for we realize that many gifts increase in strength and effectiveness as they are used, whether evangelism, teaching, encouraging, administration, or faith.

Texts such as these indicate that spiritual gifts may vary in strength. If we think of any gift, whether teaching or evangelism on the one hand, or prophecy or healing on the other, we should realize that within any congregation there will likely be people who are very effective in the use of that gift, perhaps through long use and experience, others who are moderately strong in that gift, and others who probably have the gift but are just beginning to use it. This variation in strength in spiritual gifts depends on a combination of divine and human influence. The divine influence in the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit as he “apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11). The human influence comes from experience, training, wisdom, and natural ability in the use of that gift. It is usually not possible to know in what proportion the divine and human influences combine at any one time, nor is it really necessary to know, for even the abilities we think to be “natural” are from God (1 Cor. 4:7) and under his sovereign control.

But this leads to an interesting question: how strong does an ability have to be before it can be called a spiritual gift? How much teaching ability does someone need before he or she could be said to have a gift of teaching, for example? Or how effective in evangelism would someone need to be before we would recognize a gift of evangelism? Or how frequently would someone have to see prayers for healing answered before he or she could be said to have a gift of healing?

John Piper – Lust is as Powerful as Drunkenness

photo via charleston.thedigitel.com

From SoundCloud Ask Pastor John:

Pastor John, in a previous podcast, you expressed how important deep and rich theology is in the fight against porn addiction and lust. (That was the theme in podcast #18), and I want to revisit this and look more closely at how Christian men can serve each other. What would you say to a man, who has friends committed to helping him win, in the battle against lust and porn addiction?

Piper:

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about Paul’s text in 1 Corinthians 9, where it says he pummels his own body. The word is literally ‘gives his body a black eye’. He says, „I don’t box beating the air, in other words, I know where to land my punches. And he’s talking about the sins in his life that need to be punched out, that need to be put to death. And so, he’s talking about a kind of self denial, and a kind of self opposition, that stands up and pokes himself, and I think he’s just extending Jesus’s words, where he says, „If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.” Well, that’s a pretty good punch, you know, to the eye, taking your eye out. And, if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Now, we know that’s not meant to be literal, because he says, „If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out. Well, you’ve got your left eye left over, and you can see the naked woman just as well with your left eye, as your right eye. So, we know that the literal tearing out of the right eye wouldn’t solve the problem. He means, ‘Be as vigilant and as forceful in your opposition of sin as you need to be, in order to kill it in your life.

Noe, here’s my new wondering. Why, why does lust, with seeing- I am thinking mainly men, but not just men.. Why does seeing have such a force, to draw us to click on pornography, or to linger over some bathing suit issue of Sports Illustrated, or to linger over some ad for a movie. What is it about us? And, as I’ve tried to analyze my own body, over the years, I’ve got this phrase, that I use: psychoerotic euphoria. I made that up. Psychoerotic euphoria. What I mean is, I don’t know what it is, or where it is, somewhere localized in the body- it can get localized, but it isn’t localized usually.

But, it’s just like power, in your body, that makes you so pleased by the erotic, by the visual, that you are moving toward it visually with such force, that it starts to nullify moral conviction, and puts you out of touch with all the arguments you had before to be pure, and moves you into behavior that, then, later you are going to disapprove of. What in the world is that like? And my answer is: It’s like drunkenness.

If you go into a bar, supposing, I’m just making this up. Suppose you go to a bar with a buddy, „We’re gonna witness for Jesus tonight,” at the bar. And you’re just sitting there, and this guy that you’re with starts drinking. Then he drinks too much and he gets drunk. And you say, „Well, this is obviously not working, we’ll never win anybody for Jesus. We just disobeyed Jesus by getting drunk, so we’re gonna go out of here,” and he grabs his arm, and, „We’re leaving.” And he’s the one who drove tonight. And so, he wants to drive, and go down and watch a movie downtown, while he’s drunk. And you say, „You’re not driving, I’m not gonna let you drive. I’m driving, I’m gonna drive this car. You bend his arm behind his back and throw him in the back seat, and grab his key, and since he’s your friend, he doesn’t hit you. And you drive him home and you throw him in bed. That’s a lot of manhandling, for a drunken guy. Is that right? Should we do that? And, I think most people would say, „Yeah! Yeah, you should do that. I mean, he was drunk, he was gonna kill himself.”

And, my question is: Is there something like that, that we should do for each other? If this psychoerotic euphoria is as powerful as drunkenness, and I think it is, do we need people in our lives to break our arm? Not just… Paul says, „I pummel my own body..” I’m saying, „You should pummel me.” You know, we often talk about accountability relationships. And a lot of people get all bent out of shape about legalism, and „You’re supposed to love Jesus from your heart, and you should not have to be constrained.” Look! If you’re drunk, and you’re about to kill yourself, you better be glad somebody’s in your life, to throw you in the back seat of a car, and later on, when you wake up, you be glad they did. And then, you can pray yourself into some kind of appropriate stance, where you obey freely from your heart.

But, this lust thing is much more like drunkenness, than it is like anything else, and so we may need this kind of personal accountability, where we have some kind of connection, some kind of special number on our cell phone, some way to push a button and say, „Knock me out, if you have to, in the next half hour, because I’m about to lose it because of this psychoerotic euphoria, that’s come over me like drunkenness. So, I’m just throwing that out there to guys. I’m saying: Compare it in your life, analyze your own soul, to see whether the sheer physical, erotic, psycho nature of this power is enough like drunkenness, where you would put a thing in your life like „drive this home”.

Yeah, I can see how this would apply to a brother, stumbling in sin in our presence, so much of pornography and lust however, is a private struggle in the darkness of isolation. How does this principle work out there?

Piper:I’m saying, when Hebrews 3:13 says, „Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief.” You would extend that out and say, „Perhaps, throw one another in a cold shower, every now and then, so that there won’t be an acted out heart of an inebriated psychoerotic drunkenness in a person’s life. If a guy is fighting a losing battle, and most of the guys, or gals, know who they are. „I know I’m supposed to fight this, I’m supposed to win this, but, I’m regularly losing this battle.” If they know that, they need to say that to their small group. And then, one idea would be, „I’m gonna put your number at the top of my favorites on my iPhone. It will take one punch, and I want you to give my number a special ringer on your phone.” And, the only time he ever hits that number is when he needs me to intervene. And so, you get on the phone, and you say, „Stand up, go outside in the snow.” Or, I’m coming over right now.” You just have it worked out, just the way you would if he were an alcoholic, and he would say, „You know, I’m just moving towards this bottle on my wall. I don’t know what it is. I want you to come smash my bottle for me.” I mean, it’s that weird,

Why else would Jesus say things like, „Cut your eye out.” I mean, that’s just wild. Oh, if someone says, „Oh, putting a special number on the phone, that’s wild.” Really? (As wild as) Take a screwdriver and poke it in your face? That’s not wild? So, I’m saying, When Hebrew 3:13 says, „But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief.” You would extend that out and say, „Perhaps, throw one another in a cold shower, so that there won’t be an acted out heart of inebriated psychoerotic drunkenness person’s life.

Saved and without works = a refugee in heaven

judgement seat of ChristRomans 8:15-17 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,“Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Chuck Missler: „..if indeed we share in his sufferings” – There is a hint hereI like to alarm people here by saying, „Most Christians, when they get to heaven, will be disappointed.” That gets everybody a little bit uptight, because we’ve all been taught, „Gee, if you’re saved, you’ll reign with Christ.” It doesn’t say that. If you’re saved, you have the opportunity to inherit and be a joint heir .. there’s a rewards issue and that’s a subject of another study.

Paul does a strange thing in 1 Corinthians 9:27-
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave
so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

What does Paul mean by that? What’s he afraid of? You read his letters, he’s paranoid, he’s frightened. What’s he frightened of? Losing his salvation? Heavens, no! He wrote the book on eternal security, it’s called Romans 8. What was Paul afraid of? Not losing his salvation. He’s talking about the judgment seat.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. „we must all”, he’s talking about the saved people here, he’s  not talking about the unbelievers, he’s talking about believers here. THERE IS A JUDGMENT SEAT COMING, the first thing after the rapture, I believe. How’s that going to be handled? That’s explained in Paul’s first letter in 1 Corinthians chapter 3- the judgment seat of Christ, sometimes called the BEMA Judgment seat.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Gold, silver and precious stones are inflammable, and they will endure. Wood, hay, straw is flammable and will be consumed. Notice that the work is being judged here, not the man. It will be revealed by fire, this is not talking about the fire of hell, it’s a medium here to evaluate the works. Then it goes on to explain that if what has been built survives, he shall receive a reward. I suspect they will be all over the map, little ones, big ones, there’s gonna be all kinds, there’s 5 crowns. If when burned the builder will suffer loss, it will be just like a refugee, it’s like you’ve been in one of these hurricanes, your house is gone, but you’re alive, but that’s all. You’re saved. Don’t confuse this judgment with having anything to do with your salvation. It has to do with your rewards.

The Overflow of Easter: A Whole Theology of Resurrection in One Chapter by John Piper

He is risen! And O the overflow of that single event. It was the cosmic Yes! from God the Father that the death had done all it was meant to do. And it was the beginning of the eternal existence of the God-Man in a glorious new body in which he would finally reign on the earth forever. And so much more.

There is a whole theology of the resurrection and its achievements in 1 Corinthians 15. Here’s a summary. Let each of these sink in. Savor each one. Then start your new week (the rest of your life) abounding in the work God calls you to “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1. Christ died for us and rose again.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and . . . He was buried, and . . . He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

2. He verified his resurrection by large public appearances.

After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:6)

3. Because Christ has risen, we are not still in our sins.

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

4. Because Christ has risen, our afflicted lives are not pitiable.

If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:19)

5. We who trust Christ will be raised from the dead at Christ’s second coming.

For as in Adam all [his posterity] die, so also in Christ all will [his posterity] be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)

6. Christ now reigns invincibly over the universe.

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (1 Corinthians 15:25-26)

7. Our resurrection body will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual.

[Our resurrection body] is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

8. Living or dead, we shall be given new bodies in an instant at Christ’s coming.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

9. Death now has no sting and will be swallowed up in victory.

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, „Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

10. Christ suffered for sin and satisfied the law for us.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)

11. Therefore, do huge amounts of Christ-exalting work because none of it is in vain.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

(VIA) © 2011 Desiring God

David Platt – God in the life of a pastor

Pastor David Platt, of Brook Hills Church:

1 Corinthians 1:18

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20  Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, tobring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Why the cross is at the center-

  1. Because the cross represents God’s predetermined affection for you.
  2. Because the cross demonstrates God’s past substitution for you.
  3. Because the cross makes clear God’s daily execution of you. The cross is not just a place of death for Christ, but also for the Christian (Galatians 2:20… to be crucified with Christ).
  4. Because the cross ensures God’s ultimate glorification of Himself.

First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Pastors Conference 2012.

David Platt PC 2012 from FBCJax on Vimeo.

Pentecost (4) Discovering and seeking spiritual gifts

by Wayne Grudem – Paul seems to assume that believers will know what their spiritual gifts are. He simply tells those in the church at Rome to use their gifts in various ways: “if prophecy, in proportion to our faith…he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:6-8). Similarly, Peter simply tells his readers how to use their gifts, but does not say anything about discovering what they are: “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).

But what if many members in a church do not know what spiritual gift or gifts God has given to them? In such a case, the leaders of the church need to ask whether they are providing sufficient opportunities for varieties of gifts to be used. Though the lists of gifts given in the New Testament are not exhaustive, they certainly provide a good starting point for churches to ask whether at least there is opportunity for those gifts to be used. If God has placed people with certain gifts in a church, when these gifts are not encouraged or perhaps not allowed to be used , they will feel frustrated and unfulfilled in their Christian ministries, and will perhaps move to another church where their gifts can function for the benefit of the church.

Beyond the question of discovering what gifts one has is the question of seeking additional spiritual gifts. Paul commands Christians, “Earnestly desire the higher gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31), and says later, “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1). In this context, Paul defines what he means by “higher gifts” or “greater gifts” because 1 Corinthians 14:5 he repeats the word he used in 12:31 for “higher” (Gr. Meizon) when he says, “He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified” (1 Cor. 14:5). Here the “greater” gifts are those that most edify the church. This is consistent with Paul’s statement a few verses later when he says, “Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up of the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). The higher gifts are those that build up the church more and bring more benefit to others.
But how do we seek more spiritual gifts? First we should ask God for them. Paul says directly that “he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret” (1 Cor. 14:13; cf James 1:5, where James tells people that they should ask God for wisdom).

Next, people who seek additional spiritual gifts should have right motives. If spiritual gifts are sought only so that the person may be more prominent or have more influence or power, this certainly is wrong in God’s eyes. This was the motivation of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:19, when he said, “Give me also this power, that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (see Peter’s rebuke in vv. 21-22). It is a fearful thing to want spiritual gifts or prominence in the church only for our own glory, not for the glory of God and for the help of others. Therefore those who seek spiritual gifts but “have not love” are “nothing” in God’s sight (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).

After that, it is appropriate to seek opportunities to try the gift, just as in the case of a person trying to discover his or her gift, as explained above. Finally, those who are seeking additional spiritual gifts should continue to use the gifts they now have, and should be content if God chooses not to give them more. The master approved of the servant whose pound had “made ten pounds more,” but condemned the one who hid his pound in a napkin and did nothing with it (Luke 19:16-17, 20-23)—certainly showing us that we have responsibility to use and attempt to increase whatever talents or abilities God has given to us as his stewards. We should balance this by remembering that spiritual gifts are apportioned to each person individually by the Holy Spirit “as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11), and that “God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Cor. 12:18). In this way Paul reminds the Corinthians that ultimately the distribution of gifts is a matter of God’s sovereign will, and it is for the good of the church and for our good that none of us have all of the gifts, and that we will need to continually depend on others who have gifts differing from ours. These considerations should make us content if God chooses not to give us the other gifts that we seek.

Pentecost (2) How many gifts are there?

from Wayne Grudem’s  BIBLE Doctrine – Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith.

In Part 1 We read regarding Spiritual Gifts in general- 1)Spiritual gifts in the history of redemption and 2) The purpose of gifts in the New Testament age. You can read part 1 here.

The New Testament lists specific spiritual gifts in six different passages. See table here –1 Corinthians 12:28 , 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Peter 4:11.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

  1. apostle   – (1-8 from 1 Cor. 12:28)
  2. prophet
  3. teacher
  4. miracles
  5. kinds of healing
  6. helps
  7. administration
  8. tongues
  9. word of wisdom   – (9-13 from 1 Cor. 12:8-10)
  10. word of knowledge
  11. faith
  12. distinguishing between spirits
  13. interpretation of tongues
  14. evangelist        –   (14-15 from Ephesians 4:11)
  15. pastor-teacher
  16. serving    –  (16-20 from Romans 12:6-8)
  17. encouraging
  18. contributing
  19. leadership
  20. mercy
  21. marriage     – (21-22 from 1 Cor. 7:7)
  22. celibacy

1 Peter 4:11 whoever speaks (covering several gifts) and whoever renders service (also covering several gifts). Click to read more…

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Pentecost (1) What are spiritual gifts

from Wayne Grudem’s  BIBLE Doctrine – Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith.

In previous generations, systematic theology books did not have chapters on spiritual gifts. But the 20th century has seen a remarkable increase in interest in spiritual gifts, primarily because of the influence of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements within the church.

We may define spiritual gifts as follows: A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church. This broad definition includes both gifts that are related to natural abilities (such as teaching, showing mercy, or administration) and gifts that seem to be more „miraculous” and less related to natural abilities (such as prophecy, healing, or distinguishing between spirits). The reason for this is that when Paul lists spiritual gifts (in Rom. 12:6-8); 1 Cor. 7:7; 12:8-10, 28; and Eph. 4:11) he includes both kinds of gifts. Yet not every natural ability is included here, because Paul is clear that all spiritual gifts must be empowered „by one and the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:11), that they are given”for the common good” (1 Cor.12:7), and that they are all to be used for „edification”(1 Cor. 14:26), or for building up the church.

1. Spiritual gifts in the history of redemption. Certainly the Holy Spirit was at work in the Old Testament, bringing people to faith and working in remarkable ways in a few individuals such as Moses or Samuel, David or Elijah. But in general there was a less powerful activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of most believers. There was little effective evangelism of the nations, there was no casting out of demons, miraculous healing was uncommon(though it did happen, especially in the ministries of Elijah and ELisha), prophecy was restricted to a few prophets or small bands of prophets, and there was very little experienceof what New Testament believers would call „resurrection power” over sin, in the sense of Romans 6:1-14 and Philipians 3:10.

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in new covenant fullness and power in the church occurred at Pentecost. With this a new era in redemptive history was inaugurated, and the new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit that had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets (cf. Joel 2:28-29) had come to God’speople; the new covenant age had begun. And one characteristic of this new era was a widespread distribution of spiritual gifts to all people who were made partakers of this new covenant – sons and daughters, young men and old men, menservants and maidservants– all received a new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit, and it would also be expected that all would receive gifts of the Holy Spirit then as well.

2. The purpose of spiritual gifts in the New Testament age. Spiritual gifts are given to equip the church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns. Paul tells the Corinthians, „You are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). Here he connects the possession of spiritual gifts and their situation in the history of redemption (waiting for Christ’s return), suggesting that gifts are given to the church for the period between Christ’s ascension and his return. Similarly, Paul looks forward to the time of Christ’s return and says, „When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away”(1 Cor. 13:10)…The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in „power’ at Pentecost (Acts 1:8) was to equip the church to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8)–something that will continue until Christ returns.And Paul reminds believers that in the use of spiritual gifts they are to „strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).

But spiritual gifts not only equip the church for the time until Christ returns, they also give a foretaste of the age to come.Paul reminds the Corinthians that they were „enriched” in all their speech and all their knowledge, and that the result of this enriching was that they were „not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Cor.1:5-7). Just as the Holy Spirit himself is in this age a „down payment”(2 Cor. 1:22 cf. 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14) of the fuller work of the Holy Spirit within us in the age to come, so the gifts of the Holy Spirit gives us are foretastes of the fuller working of the Holy Spirit that will be ours in the age to come.

In this way gifts of insight and discernment prefigure the much greater discernment we will have when Christ returns. Gifts of knowledge and wisdom prefigure the much greater wisdom that will be ours when we „know as we are known” (cf. 1 Cor.13:12). Gifts of healing give a foretaste of the perfect health which will be ours when Christ grants to us resurrection bodies. Similar parallels could be found with all the New Testament gifts. Even the diversity of gifts should lead to greater unity and interdependence in the church (see 1 Cor.12:12-13, 24-25; Eph. 4:13), and this diversity in unity will itself be a foretaste of the unity which believers will have in heaven.

3. How many gifts are there? The New Testament epistles list specific spiritual gifts in six different passages. Consider the following table:

1 Corinthians 12:28                    Ephesians 4:11

1. apostle                                            (1) apostle

2. prophet                                          (2) prophet

3. teacher                                          14 evangelist

4. miracles                                         15 pastor-teacher

5. kinds of healing

6. helps                                             Romans 12:6-8

7. administration                            (2) prophecy

8. tongues                                           16 serving

1 Corinthians 12:8-10               (3) teaching

9. word of wisdom                           17 encouraging

10. word of knowledge                   18 contributing

11. faith                                                 19 leadership

(5)  gifts of healing                            20 mercy

(4)  miracles

(2) prophecy                                    1 Corinthians 7:7

12. distinguishing                             21 marriage

between spirits                                  22 celibacy

(8) tongues

13. interpretation of   Tongues                           

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks (covering several gifts)

Whoever renders service (covering several gifts)

(Tomorrow in Part 2 – more on the number of gifts, the variation in the strength of the gifts and discovering and seeking spiritual gifts)

Also in this series – in Part 3 – the debate on the validity vs. cessation of the spiritual gifts.

Cristian Barbosu – The Word of God: Why Are Christians Ashamed of the Bible? Moody’s Founders’ Week, Chicago 2011

Cristian Barbosu is pastor of Harvest Metanoia (Biserica Metanoia) churches in Arad and Braila, Romania. These churches partner with Harvest Bible Fellowship, a church planting arm of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL. He is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Anne have two daughters.

Visit Biserica Metanoia’s website or Harvest Bible Fellowship’s website.

This message was given at Moody Bible Institute’s Founders’ Week 2011:

Why are more and more Christians ashamed of the Bible?

You can listen to it here in mp3 format. (From Moody Radio Chicago WMBI 90.1 FM)

source –  Today in the Word Moody Radio Broadcasting.

 Listen Now – Part 1
you can purchase the CD set containing this message here.
Listen Now – Part 2

>>>>>>

In Limba Romana – Notitele originale in format pdf se gasesc aici si aici (Limba Engleza). Dar, pentru fratii si surorile Romani am copiat aici pe pagina mea ca sa puteti traduce folosind google tranlsate la mine pe pagin in dreapta, sub icoana cu stegulete.

Pt predici in Limba Romana de Cristian Barbosu faceti click aici. Predica la Oradea Feb 2011 –  La Bis. Penticostala Betel  Ce vrea Dumnezeu sa stiu de suferintele din viata mea  – Transformari la Tirgu Mures, Conferinta Peniel 2010.

English – The original notes pdf links are here and here. For the benefit of my Romanian brothers and siters I cut & pasted it here so you can use Google translate in my sidebar in order to translate these notes.

Background on Corinth
Anybody who wanted to become a somebody especially in Corinth aspired to be trained and accepted by the Sophists.” – Bruce Winter
The Sophists were the idols, the Hollywood stars, everyone wanted to be like them in appearance. Appearance to them was a big deal.”
The Sophists: were the wise ones. They had the look. They had the walk. They had the talk. “To handle well the art of rhetoric in the Greco Roman world was the equivalent of a PhD from Harvard or Cambridge in our world.”
“Aris or Aristas there was rivalry between these people, that‟s why there was much pride attached to being a disciple of a Sophist. Followership was the key word in the Sophist movement. Becoming a disciple of Sophists was to imitate him in every aspect of his life.

Click on ‘More’ button to read the rest of the sermon  notes.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit – What are spiritual gifts?

from Wayne Grudem’s  BIBLE Doctrine – Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith.

In previous generations, systematic theology books did not have chapters on spiritual gifts. But the 20th century has seen a remarkable increase in interest in spiritual gifts, primarily because of the influence of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements within the church.

We may define spiritual gifts as follows: A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church. This broad definition includes both gifts that are related to natural abilities (such as teaching, showing mercy, or administration) and gifts that seem to be more „miraculous” and less related to natural abilities (such as prophecy, healing, or distinguishing between spirits). The reason for this is that when Paul lists spiritual gifts (in Rom. 12:6-8); 1 Cor. 7:7; 12:8-10, 28; and Eph. 4:11) he includes both kinds of gifts. Yet not every natural ability is included here, because Paul is clear that all spiritual gifts must be empowered „by one and the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:11), that they are given”for the common good” (1 Cor.12:7), and that they are all to be used for „edification”(1 Cor. 14:26), or for building up the church.

1. Spiritual gifts in the history of redemption. Certainly the Holy Spirit was at work in the Old Testament, bringing people to faith and working in remarkable ways in a few individuals such as Moses or Samuel, David or Elijah. But in general there was a less powerful activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of most believers. There was little effective evangelism of the nations, there was no casting out of demons, miraculous healing was uncommon(though it did happen, especially in the ministries of Elijah and ELisha), prophecy was restricted to a few prophets or small bands of prophets, and there was very little experienceof what New Testament believers would call „resurrection power” over sin, in the sense of Romans 6:1-14 and Philipians 3:10.

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in new covenant fullness and power in the church occurred at Pentecost. With this a new era in redemptive history was inaugurated, and the new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit that had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets (cf. Joel 2:28-29) had come to God’speople; the new covenant age had begun. And one characteristic of this new era was a widespread distribution of spiritual gifts to all people who were made partakers of this new covenant – sons and daughters, young men and old men, menservants and maidservants– all received a new covenant empowering of the Holy Spirit, and it would also be expected that all would receive gifts of the Holy Spirit then as well.

2. The purpose of spiritual gifts in the New Testament age. Spiritual gifts are given to equip the church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns. Paul tells the Corinthians, „You are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). Here he connects the possession of spiritual gifts and their situation in the history of redemption (waiting for Christ’s return), suggesting that gifts are given to the church for the period between Christ’s ascension and his return. Similarly, Paul looks forward to the time of Christ’s return and says, „When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away”(1 Cor. 13:10)…The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in „power’ at Pentecost (Acts 1:8) was to equip the church to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8)–something that will continue until Christ returns.And Paul reminds believers that in the use of spiritual gifts they are to „strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12).

But spiritual gifts not only equip the church for the time until Christ returns, they also give a foretaste of the age to come.Paul reminds the Corinthians that they were „enriched” in all their speech and all their knowledge, and that the result of this enriching was that they were „not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Cor.1:5-7). Just as the Holy Spirit himself is in this age a „down payment”(2 Cor. 1:22 cf. 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14) of the fuller work of the Holy Spirit within us in the age to come, so the gifts of the Holy Spirit gives us are foretastes of the fuller working of the Holy Spirit that will be ours in the age to come.

In this way gifts of insight and discernment prefigure the much greater discernment we will have when Christ returns. Gifts of knowledge and wisdom prefigure the much greater wisdom that will be ours when we „know as we are known” (cf. 1 Cor.13:12). Gifts of healing give a foretaste of the perfect health which will be ours when Christ grants to us resurrection bodies. Similar parallels could be found with all the New Testament gifts. Even the diversity of gifts should lead to greater unity and interdependence in the church (see 1 Cor.12:12-13, 24-25; Eph. 4:13), and this diversity in unity will itself be a foretaste of the unity which believers will have in heaven.

3. How many gifts are there? The New Testament epistles list specific spiritual gifts in six different passages. Consider the following table:

1 Corinthians 12:28                    Ephesians 4:11

1. apostle                                            (1) apostle

2. prophet                                          (2) prophet

3. teacher                                          14 evangelist

4. miracles                                         15 pastor-teacher

5. kinds of healing

6. helps                                             Romans 12:6-8

7. administration                            (2) prophecy

8. tongues                                           16 serving

1 Corinthians 12:8-10               (3) teaching

9. word of wisdom                           17 encouraging

10. word of knowledge                   18 contributing

11. faith                                                 19 leadership

(5)  gifts of healing                            20 mercy

(4)  miracles

(2) prophecy                                    1 Corinthians 7:7

12. distinguishing                             21 marriage

between spirits                                  22 celibacy

(8) tongues

13. interpretation of   Tongues                           

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks (covering several gifts)

Whoever renders service (covering several gifts)

(Tomorrow in Part 2 – more on the number of gifts, the variation in the strength of the gifts and discovering and seeking spiritual gifts)

Also in this series – in Part 3 – the debate on the validity vs. cessation of the spiritual gifts.

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