Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 31st - Evangelism

Prayer Requests –
Pastor Aaron and Denise
Taste of Kennesaw
Celebrate Freedom
3on3 Basketball
Homeless Outreach
More Students in Class
Harvesters for God's Fields

1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

- a chosen race,
- a royal priesthood,
- a holy nation, (set-apart, sanctified)
- a people for his own possession
- called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
- once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- That we may proclaim the excellencies of him who did all of these things.

The end goal of evangelism is the glory of God. When you share the Gospel with God as the goal, you don't have a tendency to water down the message, and a result of this is that people get saved. If the end goal is the salvation of men, then we have a tendency to change the Gospel and soften the message, and no-body gets saved. For example, no where in the Bible does it say to "Ask Jesus into your heart" and it's ridiculous to tell someone to do so. Jesus said "Repent and believe the Gospel, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" (Mark 1:15) we should say the same.

Proclaim His Excellencies
Evangelism is a running theme through the Bible

Notice that you have to speak...
Romans 10:14-17 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Psalm 126:6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Luke 10:2 And Jesus said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Matthew 10:27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Chronicles 16:8-9 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

Jude 1:22-23 And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Jude said, “Hating even their garments stained by sin…” (Jude 23)

Psalm 5:4-6 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

I have a replica of a Civil War Bullet here, if this bullet was used to kill someone, who would be responsible; the bullet, or the assassin? It would be foolish for God to hate the bullet, the sin, and not the assassin, the sinner.

It is imperative that we don’t say, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner…” The problem is that if the sinner thinks that God loves them no matter what they do, then when Christ was crushed, humiliated, and hated on the cross won’t make sense to them, because they don’t realize that Christ was hated in our place. When we witness to people, we're dealing directly with enemies of God, but God follows his own rule that you are to love your enemies. God’s Love in the Bible is always associated with an action, “God demonstrated his love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “Here is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Here are some verses that pertain to us,

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 9:2-3 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

We should love people in the same way Christ loved us, through action. We must not condone their sin, but we don’t want to let them die in it either, even though they deserve Hell, like we did, there is reconciliation available with God.

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Just as Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." (Matthew 5:9), we are declaring peace available with God through Jesus Christ.

How do we do it?
Once again, I’d like Jesus to show us how to do it instead of me telling you how to do it. Remember we read Psalm 19 where it says that the Law of God is perfect at converting the soul (v. 7), the Commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes (v. 8)? Galatians 4:24 says that the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Paul said, “I had not known sin but by the law.” (Romans 7:7)

Text: Luke 18:18-27 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Proverbs 20:6 says that almost everyone will proclaim their own goodness, which is what the young man who came up to Jesus was doing, and Jesus told him straight out, there is none good but God.

Then he listed off some things, do you recognize which list he was quoting?

It was 5 of the 10 Commandments, and when the young man said he had kept those five, Jesus took him to the 1st Commandment, which is to keep God first in your heart, and it became clear that the young man loved money more than God. Jesus earlier said, “You can either serve God or money, you cannot serve both.” (Luke 16:13)

Using Luke 18 as a Template
Ray Comfort has come up with a great scripted witnessing tool using this verse to witness to people. It is easy to remember and starts out inoffensive but quickly shows each sinner that they are woefully lacking in God’s eyes. It goes like this,

“Would you consider yourself to be a good person?” – 99% of people will say yes.

“Would you like to take the good person test?” – 99% of people will say yes, they want to know just how good they are…

“Have you ever told a lie?” We start with this one because it is the least offensive, because everyone will admit to telling at least one lie. Some people will say, “Only when I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.” In most cases this is called discretion and while maybe a lie in God’s eyes, skip the argument, and ask “I mean a regular, bold-faced lie, like your mom asked, 'Did you do that?' and you said no when you really had done it.”

“What do you call someone who lies?” – Most people will say a liar, if they won’t say, “It starts with L and rhymes with fire.” The goal is to get them to say liar so you don’t have to call them a liar, but that they admit to it themselves.

“Have you ever stolen anything, irregardless of value?”

“What do you call someone who steals things?” – Many people will say, “Stealer”, here is an opportunity for some humor to keep the conversation light at this point. Say, “Only if you’re from Pittsburg, if you’re from Atlanta, then you’re a thief, right?”

“Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?” – Most people will admit to it, but won’t know what it is called, so we say,

“That’s called blasphemy, it’s a very serious sin, the Bible says that God will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

“Final question…” (2 you can use here, I’ll let you guys pick which one you want)

- …You’ve heard it said of old, thou shalt not commit adultery, but Jesus said, ‘Whosoever looks upon someone to lust after them has committed adultery with them already in their heart.’ Have you ever looked with lust?”
- …You’ve heard it said of old, thou shalt not murder, but Jesus said, ‘If you hate someone you will be judged as a murderer.’ Have you ever hated someone?”

“Here’s the bad news, you’re not a good person, by your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer/murderer at heart, and you have to face God on Judgment Day. Based on your admission of guilt, is he going to find you innocent or guilty?” – Many people will say innocent, some will say guilty. If they say innocent, tell them that,

“The Bible says that all liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8), that no thief, blasphemer, adulterer (or murderer) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven.” (1 Cor 6:9-10)

“Does it concern you that if you died tonight, God would be justified in sending you to Hell for eternity?” – Watch facial expressions, you’ll see things in their faces or hear things in their voice that they will be too proud to say.

“Do you know what God did so you don’t have to go to Hell?” – Some people will know, but won’t understand, some will just say no.

“2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, was born of the virgin Mary, and he lived a perfect sinless life. He was tempted in every way that we've been tempted but he never succumbed. He was the only good man ever to walk the earth, the only man who deserved Heaven, but because he loved us, he stepped in and paid our fine by dying the most horrific death imaginable on the cross. He bore the full wrath of God so that we can be forgiven. Does that make sense?”

Most people will say that it does make sense, ask, “Do you know what you have to do to receive this forgiveness?” Most will say no.

“Jesus commands that you repent of your sins (Acts 17:30-31), which means to turn away and forsake them, and then trust completely in him and that his death on the cross was sufficient for your salvation. Then you can go to Heaven when you die, not because you’re a good person, but because you’re a bad person forgiven by a good God who paid your fine on the cross.”

“Do you have any questions?” Most people won’t have any questions. If you probably won’t ever see them again, consider giving them a Summit card, Canyon’s card, or with your parent’s permission, one of their cards, in case they think of questions later. Ask them if they have a Bible and tell them to read the Gospel of John to get a good idea of who Jesus is and how he wants them to live for him.

Example Videos:

Witnessing is the scariest thing you’ll ever do. I’ve been shot at and still giving someone a Gospel tract or witnessing to them is the scariest thing I've ever done. If it was easy, everyone would do it. The reward afterward is incredible though, and you’ll be walking on air afterwards no matter the outcome because you’ve been obedient to your Saviour, who is actually the one who is going to do any saving that occurs.

Jeremiah 1:4-9 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD." Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

Follow up:
Put away falsehood; Share the Truth, by Canyon Shearer

May the Lord of the Harvest employ you this week to labor in his fields, may he give you the words to speak and send you to those who need to hear. May he protect you, bless you, and use you for the glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 24th - Creation vs. Evolution

For Next Week, we will study evangelism. If at all possible, invite an unsaved friend to come to class!

Prayer Requests-
- Pastor Aaron
- McIntosh's moving
- Praise Report from KSU outreach

Recap - Week 1 - How to get to Heaven

You are saved by grace through faith, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no man may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

Justice is when you get what you deserve, which in this case is Hell for transgressing God's laws.
Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve, which would be if God gave you a reprieve from Hell but wouldn't let you into Heaven.
Grace is when you get what you don't deserve, not only did Christ pay your fine on the cross, he gave you his righteousness so that you can go to Heaven.

We are saved entirely by Christ's gracious payment on the cross and resurrection, this gift is received through faith, so that God gets all the credit and is the one that gets to boast.

Recap - Week 2 - Why the Bible

"This book will keep me from sin,
and sin will keep me from this book."

"A Bible that is falling apart almost always belongs to a person who isn't."

There are over 200 English translations of the Bible, and almost of all of them say the same thing about how to get to Heaven. The reason there are so many is for a lot of reasons. One is translation style, ensuring that certain aspects are emphasized, others are merely for monetary gain, the Bible is the all time best seller and publishers have a lot to gain in having a version. The worst reason is to force presuppositions into the text. Lets look at some different translations.

English Standard Version (ESV) - Essentially literal, maintains poetic language of KJV, a beautiful and faithful translation of the Bible. Canyon prefers this Bible.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) - Preferred by Pastor Aaron and many others, very good Bible.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) - As literal as possible, literalness makes it blocky sometimes. Dave Snyder's preferred Bible.
New International Version (NIV) - Translated to remove ambiguity and improve readability. Is looked down upon by many but is a faithful and useful translation.
New King James Version (NKJV) - Attempted to make KJV more readable, but ran into some copyright issues. Still a good translation and easy to read.

King James Version (KJV) - Excellent translation of the Bible, preferred version for over 350 years, but readability is suffering and the English language has changed so much as to make the KJV very difficult to read. Impeccable translation, but not recommended due to difficulty of reading.
Today's New International Version (TNIV) - Gender inclusivity (neutrality) is teetering dangerously on modifying the Bible. Many good aspects, but with fatal flaws.
New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) and New American Bible (NAB) - Catholic Bibles, well translated in most points, but containing the Apocrypha (extra books). These Bibles will work if nothing else is available.

New World Translation (NWT) - Jehovah's Witness Bible, specifically edited to remove divinity of Christ.
Contempory English Version (CEV) - Dangerously plays down the sinfulness of sin. This Bible is becoming more and more popular amongst liberal churches.
Amplified Bible (AMP) - More of a running commentary than a translation, the authors force their presuppositions upon the reader and attempt to speak for the Bible.
The Message - A paraphrase of the Bible with damning presuppositions. Very liberal and strays far from biblical intent.

It is important to remember that the Bible is perfect in the original Greek and Hebrew, it is
Infallible - It is true yesterday, today, and forever.
Inerrant - There are no errors or contradictions. If someone shows you a contradiction, contact me or Dave Snyder or Google it, and I guarantee there will be an easy answer, no matter how difficult the "contradiction" seems to be.
Timeless - The Bible is as relevant today as it was when it was written as it will be 'till the end of time.

Most translations have minor translation errors, most of these do not change the meaning of the Bible. Reading at least two good translations will alleviate this issue. Overall the Bible can be trusted.

An example of a translation error is the King James Version, Genesis 1:21 which reads And God created great whales... The word for whales does not mean whales in any way shape or form. The word translated whales is tanniyn which means dragons. The King James Translators in 1611 had never seen a dragon and probably didn't believe they existed outside of the imagination, so they probably chose a large animal that was created on the 5th day, which is the whale. In the 1800's skeletons of dragons were discovered all over the world, their name has since been changed to dinosaur. The Bible speaks of giant reptiles in the sea in the 21st verse.

Elsewhere that dinosaurs are mentioned are Job 40:15-24, the author describes a Brontosaurus,
Behold, Behemoth,
which I made as I made you;
he eats grass like an ox.
Behold, his strength in his loins,
and his power in the muscles of his belly.
He makes his tail stiff like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
His bones are tubes of bronze,
his limbs like bars of iron.

"He is the first of the works of God;
let him who made him bring near his sword!
For the mountains yield food for him
where all the wild beasts play.
Under the lotus plants he lies,
in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.
For his shade the lotus trees cover him;
the willows of the brook surround him.
Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened;
he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.
Can one take him by his eyes,
or pierce his nose with a snare?

And while we don't know what killed the dinosaurs, Isaiah tells us in his 27th chapter, verse 1, In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. God killed the dinosaurs, probably to demonstrate his power over these massive animals which men had a hard time killing.

Evolution is a religion with the end goal of saying there is no God, that men are evolving to become gods or as close as they feel is possible. They probably will try to teach you this in school, and we want you to be ready.

Below is a comparison chart:

Man caused death
Evidence points to design -
Genesis 1:1
Getting Worse
6,600-10,000 years old
Admit we know very little
Life begits life
Death caused man
Evidence forced to fit model
2 Peter 2:5-6
Getting Better
16 Billion years old
Think they know a lot
Abiogenesis disproved

1 big problem for both Creation and Evolution, there are stars at least 78 billion light years away according to the Hubble Telescope. Neither belief is old enough to account for this distance, however Einstein's Theory of Relativity says that speed is not as constant as we think it is, and therefore we don't have to worry about this since it is a problem for both beliefs, neither side can claim it.

It is estimated that there are enough stars for each person on Earth (7 Billion people) to own 11 Trillion stars personally. God knows all of the names of all of the stars (Psalm 147:4) and measures the width of the universe with the span of his hand. (Isaiah 40:12)

Evidence of Creation -
Complexity - Your eye contains 137 million light sensitive cells in the size of a postage stamp. It takes in a crystal clear image, focuses faster than you can think, determines distance automatically, has built in moisturizers and windshield wipers. Its complexity and perfection in design warrants a Creator in the same way a camera proves a camera maker.

Laws - The Laws of Gravity, ThermoDynamics, and Sin and Death (Romans 8:2), among many others, are so reliable that scientists never fear that gravity might change and ruin their experiments. These laws point to a Law-Giver.

7 Day Week - The year is based on rotation around the sun, the day is based on rotation on an axis, the lunar calendar is based on the moon's rotation, seasons are based on the tilt of the earth, but the 7-day week has no natural purpose. God created the Universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th, and now ~10,000 years later we still recognize a 7-day week.

Irreducible Complexity - Your heart is one of the most incredible pumps ever created, it pumps 2,000 gallons of blood a day continuously for decades with no external maintenance. But without blood it is useless, and blood without lungs to put oxygen in is useless, and oxegenated pumped blood is useless without arteries and arteries are worthless without veins. All of these are worthless without a body, and a body is worthless without a brain. Each of these must be in place to have a working circulatory system, and therefore could not have evolved, but must have been created whole.

Wall in History - History is fairly clear until ~2200 BC when everything gets fuzzy. The Bible tells us that just before this there was a great flood. We see evidence of this flood in rock layers, oil deposits, fossils, and a panoply of flood stories from all over the world.

Both Creation and Evolution are religions. One comes from God, the other comes from men. There is no doubt from a scientific basis that a world-wide flood occured, and that dinosaurs are in the Bible and other places in history.

Dinosaur Cave Paintings and Pottery
Creation Science Evangelism
Answers in Genesis
The Dying Religion of Evolution, by Canyon Shearer

If you run into a teacher who believes in Evolution, please consider standing up to him or her and simply tell them that your Bible Study Teacher says that evolution is a dying religion. Feel free to have them call me.

Don't forget to invite a friend to class next week, 8/31!


Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 17th - Why the Bible

Prayer Requests -
- Pastor Aaron
- KSU Outreach with Jud and Canyon
- Middle School Class Start-up

The main reason we need to know the Bible is so that we recognize when people are using it wrongly. For example, Psalm 14:1 very clearly says, "There is no God"

When we read it in context, we learn that what it actually says is,
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.

There are a lot of things people come up with, like the Emergent Church and Christus Victor which believes Christ came to save us from sickness and sadness instead of the wrath of God.

There will always be attacks on the Bible, but it has survived so far and I promise you will survive until Christ returns. It has been called, "The anvil that has been wearing out hammers for 2000 years."

I found a write-up I liked a lot from 1891 in a Messianic Jewish journal,
If the permanency of Scripture itself is a marvel, no less marvelous is the romance of Criticism with whcih it is inseparably associated. We call it romance, because there as been no theory too wild to be fastened to it, no view too absurd to be connected with its stories and chronicles. The rise and decline of such schools of criticism have been constant. Each believe that it has discovered a secret; each prides itself on superior scholarship. Each claims to be based on the latest discoveries, and lo! each passes away with all its positiveness and erudition and the Bible remains.

Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime.
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.

How many anvils have you had? asked I,
to wear and batter these hammers so?
Just one, said he, then said, with twinkling eye,
The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.

And so, I thought, the Anvil of God's Word
For ages sceptic blows have beat upon.
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed - the hammers gone.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

-The Bible will make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
-It reveals everything we need to know about life, Heaven, holiness, and especially God.
-It is valuable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.
-It will straighten out weird and wrong views just by reading it, and you can find the answer to the questions you have about God contained within.

John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Here we see that Word is referring to Jesus. He was in the beginning, he was with God, and he is God. It is great mystery on how Jesus relates directly to this Bible, because the Bible I hold before you is not physically God, but it does contain the revelation of God and words that can lead to Eternal Life.

Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Everything we need to know is recorded in this Bible. It is the only revelation of God to mankind, and it is all we need. It is sufficient to bring us to repentance and faith in Christ, and when people say they've heard from God, if it didn't come out of the Bible, they have not heard from God.

John 14:23-26 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

There is a direct correlation to loving Christ and his Word, and God welcoming you into his family.

Everything that Christ said was from the Father.

What Christ spoke was later written down by his Apostle's and direct disciples, what they wrote was straight from the Holy Spirit helping them to remember. While I can write something with a pen, it is the pen actually marking the paper, but I am controlling the pen, the same with the writers of the Bible, they were doing the work, but the Holy Spirit was controlling them to write accurately and truthfully.

I think it was probably a joy to be writing, like the Apostle John, and saying, "I forgot Christ said that!" It must have been a treat to be used by God in such a powerful way as to convey the revealed Word of God to so many.

John 21:25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

What we have here is a snippet of Christ's life, and what is written is what God wants us to know. He has purposefully chosen the parts of Christ's life that we will know and learn from. It helps us to have a book we can be familiar with, instead of a library which would be impossible for a person to learn in a lifetime. When different books come up, like the Gospel of Thomas or other books that haven't historically been in the Bible, you can know that God specifically chose the Bible for you to read and know. He is in control.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

We're not trying to convince people the Bible is true, because it is impossible to convince someone into Heaven, you have to use the Bible as it is intended, as a weapon to defeat their self-righteousness.

I was with my friend Aaron at a Starbucks and he witnessed to the cashier, Merideth, and he asked her, "Have you ever stolen anything?" And she answered, "Well, maybe someone's boyfriend..." and I said, "Uh-oh, that leads to the next one." Aaron quoted Matthew 5:27-28 to her and she physically deflated, you could see her pride go away and she was wounded by the Word of God. Until that moment the Good News of the Gospel didn't make sense to her, but now I am fairly certain we will see her in Heaven.

Charles Spurgeon said, "Defend the Bible? Would you defend a lion? Loose him, and let him go!"

Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

You never know which verse might get someone saved, for me it was 1 Timothy 3:16 quoted by a nut in a park screaming that the reason the world is going to Hell is because women are allowed to speak in the church! Obviously he has no scriptural precedent, the reason the world is going to Hell is because of rampant sin, but he quoted, "Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh..." and it rocked by world-view.

For David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam", who murdered six people, he read the entire New Testament and then got saved while reading Psalm 34:6, "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles."

It's not our job to convert anyone, we must preach the Word, because Paul said that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Philippians 2:16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

We hold fast to the Word of Life, we know that we have eternal life if we do what it says. Just as the Olympians right now are competing, we are also competing for crowns in Heaven with the end goal of giving them to Christ. The Bible contains everything we need to know in order to live a God-pleasing life that will end in him being glorified and us going to Heaven.

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

The final judgment will be done by the Word of God. It is unchangeable, and we know that there will be no extra rules on Judgment Day.

We won't get to Heaven, having repented and trusting in Christ and his payment on Calvary's cross, only to be turned away because we failed to get the memo that we had to do a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in order to get in. No, the Bible tells us everything we need to know, and the Book of 1st John contains the word "know" 32 times, God wants us to know we have been saved.

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

All of these are about the Bible,
The law is perfect for conversion,
The testimony is sure, it gives us wisdom,
The precepts are right, they bring us joy,
The commandment is pure; it enlightens our lives,
The fear of God is clean, it lasts forever,
The rules are true and are entirely righteous,
The Bible is better than gold, sweeter than honey, and reading and doing it will result in a great reward.
James said, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only..." (James 1:22)

Therefore, read your Bible everyday, but make sure you're putting what you read to practice.

On how the Bible was translated, it was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament), the Roman Catholic Church translated it into Latin, and Latin it stayed for 1,000 years. John Wycliffe realized that England needed an English Bible and set out to translate the Bible from Latin into English. His translation was far from perfect, being a translation of a translation, but it was better than nothing and the Catholic Church began to fight the translation. Wycliffe died of a stroke before he could be executed.

About forty years later John Huss of Hungary translated the Bible into his native language, he was not so fortunate as Wycliffe and was taken prisoner by the Catholic Church after being promised safe passage to discuss his translation efforts. Their reasoning was that they did not have to keep their promise to enemies of Rome. (See Matthew 5:33-37 for rebuttal) Huss was burned at the stake and his ashes thrown into the River Swift. At the same time the Roman Catholic Church decided to make an example of translators and dug up John Wycliffe and burned his bones to ashes.

Then the Muslims sacked Constantinople and the Eastern Orthodox Church fled into Europe. They brought original Greek and Hebrew copies of the Bible. Meanwhile the printing press was invented which turned making a copy of the Bible from a year long endeavor to several Bibles a day. Desidarius Erasmus, a Roman Catholic, got ahold of a Greek copy of the Bible and translated it into German. Martin Luther read it, and started the Reformation.

Meanwhile, a small group of scholars was meeting in Zurich. They were studying languages and needed a good book written in Greek. They got the Best Book written in Greek, the New Testament, and nearly all of them were converted. Amongst these were Felix Manz, Michael Sattler, Ulrich Zwingli, Balthasar Hubmaier, and many other famous names of the Reformation.

Felix Manz became convinced that the Bible taught that baptism follows faith, and for his ardent preaching against baptismal regeneration and state-sponsored churches, they decided to baptize him to death in the river in Zurich. He preached all the way, despite opposition pleading with him to follow man-made religion instead of the Bible. His mother followed on the opposite side of the river encouraging him to continue preaching the truth and to stand for God. Manz preached until being pushed into the river with hands and legs tied.

A few months later, Michael Sattler was sentenced to be burnt at the stake. In order to keep him from preaching, they cut out his tongue. By the grace of God, he was still able to preach without a tongue. His friends were not afraid of death, because they knew they would be resurrected with Christ, but they were afraid of dying, because they knew it would hurt. Sattler told them he would give them a sign if dying was bearable. His hands were tied behind his back and he was set ablaze. After a little while the rope burned through and his hands were free. He gave his friends the promised sign by pointing skyward until the flames consumed him.

Maekyn Wenz was a few years later, but she was a great preacher and threat to state sponsored religion. She was sentenced to be burnt at the stake, and her preaching the Gospel was so threatening that her persecutors enlisted a blacksmith to make a tongue-screw which would keep her from being able to preach. It worked, and after the flames had died down, all that was left was the tongue screw.

In conclusion, the Word of God is offensive, those that know it either love it or hate it, and those that are in the middle aren't paying attention. Women are just as capable and responsible to preach the Gospel as men, and we should be prepared to lose friends, property, and life for the Bible, which contains the only Way to Everlasting Life and reconciliation with God.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 10th - How Do You Get to Heaven?

Prayer Requests -
- Pastor Aaron

Text - Matthew 5:17-48

The background is that Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down to teach his disciples specifically, but then a crowd gathered and he preached the most famous sermon ever, called the "Sermon on the Mount". I believe that this mountain was probably created specifically to have perfect accoustics to share the truths Jesus was about to share, to explain to his listeners how they could attain Heaven.

So, I could tell you how to get to Heaven, but I would much rather let Jesus do it.

v. 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

The Law and the Prophets are two of the three portions of the Old Testament. The Law is the first 5 Books of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Prophets are the writings of those like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Micah and many more. Not mentioned here, but mentioned elsewhere (Luke 24:44) are the Psalms, or Writings, which are things like the Book of Proverbs, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes. The Law, Prophets, and Writings is another way to say, "The entire Old Testament."

Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah in this verse, he was fulfilling the Messianic prophecies.

v. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here Jesus is speaking of a different Law, specifically the Law of the 10 Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 20) This Law is the embodiment of truth and knowledge. (Romans 2:20)

They are:
1. You shall have no others Gods
2. You shalt not make any graven image (money, idols)
3. You shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. Honor the Sabbath Day, to keep it Holy
5. Obey your Father and Mother, that your days may be long on the earth
6. Thou shalt not murder
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
8. Thou shalt not steal
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness (aka lie)
10. Thou shalt not covet

v. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

If you keep and teach the Law perfectly, you will be called great in the kingdom of heaven, but failing to keep them has dire consequences.

v. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. This could be rewritten today as, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the pastor and the elders, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Notice that it says exceeds, Jesus was saying that the Pharisees and scribes, whose job it was to keep religious ordinances, were not righteous enough to enter Heaven.

v. 21-26 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Jesus began to confront his listeners with how righteous they must be. He specifically chose the Commandment that most of them thought they had kept, the 6th Commandment which says, "Thou shalt not murder." He showed them that God was concerned both with their actions and the intents of their heart, and if they'd had murderous thoughts, they would be judged as murderers.

The word translated "You Fool" is Raka which does not have a direct English translation. By our best account, this word is similar to the f-word or s-word and is very strong language to express dislike. The Bible calls some people fools (Psalm 14:1 for example) so the main context is being angry without cause, because Christ was frequently angry with cause, and Psalm 7:11 says God is angry with the wicked every day.

Verse 25 links the natural world with the spiritual world, Christ showed his listeners that they had a debt to pay against God which was bigger than they could possibly pay. He said, "You will never get out until you have paid the last penny." A sin against an infinite God requires an infinite retribution, and so the punishment of Hell will go on forever.

v. 27-30 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Again Christ showed that God is concerned with the intents of the heart.

Compare Job 31:1-4
I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
What would be my portion from God above
and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is not calamity for the unrighteous,
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
Does not he see my ways
and number all my steps?

When we make a covenant with our eyes, we look away from things that will cause lust in our hearts. Girls can be just as guilty as the guys that are looking at them if they dress immodestly. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Here Hell shows us how much God hates sin, that he will punish it for eternity.

v. 31-32 "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

God hates divorce. One reason is because the church is the Bride of Christ, and our marriages represent his betrothal with the church. It is important to note that Christ will be wedding one church, which is made up of all believers, he is not marrying each individual believer. I will not be wearing a wedding dress, because if Christ married each believer, he would be an adulterer. Be careful while listening to "Christian Radio" because they often refer to Jesus less as our Lord and Saviour and more as our girlfriend and boyfriend, and this is obviously not true and is very insulting to Christ.

v. 33-37 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

I like this verse, because it says what it means, which is to say what you mean. Keep your promises, and don't make promises you know you can't keep.

v. 38-42 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Jesus later said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) This is the summation of this verse, and how Jesus conducted his ministry. He was wronged in more ways than we could count, yet he still gave and gave and is the most followed man in history.

Another way to say the Acts 20:35 verse is, "You receive more through giving than you do by taking." Because you receive blessings by giving.

v. 43-47 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Reach out to others, both friends and non. No-one deserves Heaven, but Christ reached out to us, so should we do the same with others. One way of doing this is through Gospel tracts.

v. 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Verse 48 brings the whole thing together, first Jesus said their righteousness must exceed the religious leaders' righteousness, then he concluded, "You must be perfect." Many people who were listening to this sermon probably thought they were going to Heaven when it started, and there were probably some parts that made them think they were definitely going, but once Jesus got to hatred being the same as murder and lust the same as adultery, they realized they were not going to make it. Jesus confirmed that by saying they must be perfect.

Is anyone in this class perfect? We're not, so we're also in trouble, we need to have perfect righteousness to get to Heaven. The reason we read the Sermon on the Mount was because you have to see yourself as lost before you can be found, you have to humble yourself before the Lord before he will lift you up.

1 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

My sister likes the phrase, "Jesus lived a perfect life and faced a sinner's judgment so that we can live a sinner's life and face a righteous judgment." Jesus was God in every way, he was born of the virgin Mary, where he lived a perfect, sinless life, and demonstrated his love for us by dying in our place on the cross. He paid every last penny of our infinite debt by facing the full and infinite wrath of God. His perfection can be credited to our account and we can go to Heaven based on his merits.

Verses 3-9 of Matthew 5 explain what we must do.

v. 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These are the people the don't think they can make it on their own goodness, who recognize their badness.

v. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Mourn over your sin and how much it has offended God.

v. 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Fall down at the feet of God and admit to your sinfulness and lostness.

v. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

This is the hardest one. Do your best to stop sinning and start seeking after godliness. Make a covenant with your eyes, try to keep your thoughts pure, do your absolute best, strive for perfection.

v. 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Forgive others as Christ will forgive you. Afterall, your offense against God is infinitely bigger than any offense someone can make against you.

v. 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Ezekiel said that sins have made our heart sick. (Ezekiel 16:30) So those with sin are not pure in heart and will not see God. But God says that he will replace our heart with a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), then our new heart, washed by the blood shed by Jesus Christ, will be pure and allow us to see God.

v. 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

This isn't like someone who stops a war between countries, this is someone who makes peace between men and God. The Bible says we have made ourselves enemies of God (James 4:4), and that Jesus Christ offers the peace treaty (Romans 5:1), therefore a peacemaker is someone who declares the Good News of peace available with God through the cross of Christ.

In all, these 7 verses can be summarized with one word, "Repent" which is a turning from sin to righteousness, instead of running away from God, running towards him.

When you repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning death and resurrection, then you can go to Heaven on his righteousness, not because you're a good person, but because you're a bad person forgiven by a good God who paid your fine on the cross.

v. 10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The world will hate us because it hated Christ first. In Myrtle Beach with Tyler M. we made an atheist really mad just by telling him we knew the truth. People have been beaten, exiled, and killed through history for standing up for God, and we shouldn't expect any better treatment.

Follow-up questions:

Which day is the Sabbath?

The Sabbath started on Saturday and remains on Saturday. We are in a unique position as Christians because Christ rose from the grave on Sunday, which we call the Lord's Day. Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath, which was to provide a rest for those waiting for the Messiah, and now we live for Christ every day, we should be reading our Bibles, praying, and loving God every day, because we have found our rest in Jesus Christ.

Some churches believe that by worshipping only on Saturday, they will get to go to Heaven, but we've learned today that they have to be perfect to go to Heaven, and keeping one Commandment impeccably will not make up for the ones they break.

I believe, without much direct scriptural evidence, that the reason the Lord's Day is on Sunday instead of the Sabbath is a matter of inheritance. Adam and Eve were created on Day 6 and were able to enjoy all of creation on Day 7. We have now been moved to worshipping on Day 1, Sunday, and have become inheritors with Christ of every good thing, we are no longer just partakers, but made children of God through adoption.

In all, this is a very tough question, but we should remember that keeping just the 4th Commandment will not earn us Heaven, that we must either be perfect to go to Heaven, or inherit Christ's perfection through his death on the cross and our repentance and faith to go to Heaven. In all, worship God on every day, and thank him that we've found rest in the death and resurrection of his Son.



This website will be used for you to reference in case you miss a class or would like to review past material. I also would encourage you to share this with your parents so they know what we are learning and can more fully interact with you and expound on the material.

iHsay, (in His service and yours)