The Elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture

The elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture.

True worshippers are to worship in truth and spirit (John 4:24), by the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3). True believers remained in the teaching of God (2 John 1:9). They would have obeyed God as opposed to rebelled against God (1 John 3:10).

Men, women, and children would have gathered together to hear what was being taught – It may have been that only children who were old enough to understand who were in church service (such as those who were age 12, the age of when Jewish boys have their bar mitzvah, which happens to be the age of Jesus when he was in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions) (Deuteronomy 31:12; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Luke 2:41-47; Luke 18:15-17; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 2 John 1:1).

They met together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). They met in the temple courts, in people’s homes, beside rivers, in synagogues, and in lecture halls (possibly schools) (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 16:13; Acts 19:8-9).

The church leaders were male elders and male deacons and female deaconesses (Acts 6:2-8; Acts 16:13; Romans 16:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-10).

The communion supper (also known as the Lord’s Supper) was observed (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:18-32).

Prayers were offered up to God alone, in harmony with the will of God (1 Corinthians 14:15–16; Nehemiah 4:9; Matthew 6:9,;1 John 5:14).

Songs were sung to the glory of God and thanks to God was given (Ephesians 5:19-20; Psalms 95, 96, 98).

A free will collection was taken (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The Church was not involved with business (Matthew 21:12–13).

Sometimes church discipline occurred (Matt. 18:17).

The Scriptures were publically read (Colossians 4:16; 1 Tim. 4:13), and the Word of God was proclaimed (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Indeed, each had a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:28).

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A Christian is to live righteously.

It astounds me people who have been taught the truth about God want to keep poo-pooing what scripture says, ignoring it in favor of choosing to follow their own desires.

But remember, we are expected to love our brothers – this means showing them how to live righteously, calling them on NOT doing so, and then forgiving them when/if they repent.

Calling someone on their behavior is not the same thing as judging them. According to JESUS CHRIST, we are expected to live righteous lives. And we are expected to call out our brothers in Christ who are not living like God said to live. And we are expected to forgive them when they repent.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 18:15-17
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:21-22
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Scripture does not say God stopped speaking

Many want to say that God does not speak today.
 
I simply do not see that in scripture.
 
We are to test everything by scripture – no where does the bible teach God does not speak today.
1 Thessalonians 5:21

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
 
1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
People use the following  passages to say God doesnt speak today, so I will address them each.
 
Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
 
Rev 22:18 is speaking about the book of revelation – not the Bible.
 
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
 
2 Tim 3:16-17 – all scripture is inspired, profitable for equipping man for every good work. But its does not say that God has stopped speaking.
 
Malachi 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
 
Malachi 3:6 says God does not change – this is true. But that does not say that God stopped speaking – perhaps because then He would have changed.
 
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
 
Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus Christ does not change. Again, this dos not say anything about whether God has stopped speaking.
 
James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
 
James 1:17 – says God does not change – God spoke, so if he does not change, then He still speaks.
 
Numbers 23:19
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
 
 
Numbers 23:19 – God does not lie or repent. Again, this would indicate God doesnt change, but people want us to believe God has changed and stopped speaking.

The church should help those in need, but….

I made the statement, “If we choose to give to someone, then that is what being a Christian is all about. But the government has no right to take from you to give to me.”

Someone replied, “But the church doesn’t do what its supposed to do…”

My response:
Four things here:

1) Whether the church does what it should do (and does not do what it should not do) does not alleviate the government’s job to do what it should do (and not do what it should not do).

2) Whether the church is doing what it should really depends on what you call the church – I am convinced that most people in most local churches are not saved (or at best are immature because they are NOT sold out to be slaves to Christ) and so they do not tithe.

Those who love God obey God. They have pure and undefiled religion. They help those in need.

James 1:26-27
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Those are the ones who ARE helping the poor.

3) There are many who choose to not work. These are the ones we should not support.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-15
10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

4) People must meet taken care of by their own family before the church is to care for them.

1 Timothy 5:8-16
8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16 If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

Jesus has come. Now what?

We have all just finished celebrating Christmas – some of us did it with an evergreen tree covered with lights and ornaments; the cheerful melody of Christmas songs, or perhaps the evocative sound of worship songs; some with Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas; a baby figurine in a manger surrounded by figurines of Mary and Joseph and three wise men and an angel or three; lots of shopping; family: children, grandchildren, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend; love; lunch; dinner; arguing; yelling; cuddling; hugging; giggles; laughing. Most, if not all, of us celebrated the birth of Christ. But now what?

What difference does it make that Christ has come? Confucius was born over 2500 years ago. So? Confucius taught people how to live, with many of the same things that Jesus taught – live with integrity, treat others as you wish to be treated (Luke 6:31).

So Jesus has come… What now? What do we do with the fact that Jesus has come. What difference does it make in our lives?

Today’s passage is Acts 2.

 

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of firedistributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving themutterance.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus andAsia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, andvisitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in ourown tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17 And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19 And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 25 For David says of Him,

‘I saw the Lord always in my presence;
For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will live in hope;
27 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne,31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, andhaving received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:

The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at My right hand,
35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from thisperverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

There is so much in this passage – the beginning of the Church, the trinity, the Holy Spirit filling people and causing them to act as He wants, people believing, being saved, growing together in Christ, loving each other….

The passage starts with the fact that God came down into humanity.

Acts 2:1

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

 

The Holy Spirit reached down from heaven and filled the disciples and spoke through them. The people of God spoke and acted as The Holy Spirit desired. This is how we are to be – filled with the Holy Spirit and acting as God desires. Our lives are to reflect the fact that GOD lives within us. Jesus has come, now what? God entered humanity, now what? God filled people with the Holy Spirit. Are you someone filled with the Spirit? Does God speak through you?

What were the disciples saying? Lets read…

Acts 2:5-11

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

 

The disciples were speaking to people who were from different regions of the Roman empire and who spoke different languages – yet each one heard them speaking in their own languages of the mighty deeds of God.

This is a picture of exactly the opposite of what happened at the tower of Babel. To see what I mean, let us turn to Genesis 11:1-9

1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

In Babel, the people all spoke the same language and came together and tried to reach heaven to make a name for themselves. In response, God confused their language, stopping their building, and scattered them over the face of the earth. But in Jerusalem, God came down and entered men, causing them to speak in a way that all men understood them, praising God, and bringing the men together in one group – into what would become the Church.

But some didn’t understand what was happening – while others mocked those who spoke, as we see by returning to our passage: Acts 2:12-13

12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Rather than taking offense, Peter spoke truth, reminding the people of what God had said through the prophet Joel in Acts 2:14-21…

14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; 18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. 19 ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20 ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. 21 ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

God had spoken through Joel in ages past (Joel 2:28-32), and God fulfilled His prophecy through disciples of Christ after the death of Christ. Men filled with the Holy Spirit spoke in languages of other peoples. While some mocked and claimed they were drunk, Peter spoke the truth – that they were speaking for God, prophesying. This prophecy is a matter of already and not yet – they were warning of the things which had already happened, and of things that will come before the day of the Lord shall come.

We can see this when we look at the hours just before the death of Jesus in Matthew 27:45

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

And then when we look at Revelation 6:12

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

And finally, these people, chosen by God to testify of what God had done and was doing and was going to do, the disciples of Christ, were telling people that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

So we see that not only did God come down into humanity, but we see that God provided the sacrifice.

Acts 2:22

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know

We celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ at this time, but so what?
 Jesus the Christ has come, but what difference does it make?

God attested who Jesus was with miracles and wonders and signs that GOD performed through him. Notice – while some were mocking the disciples for speaking in languages others could understand, there was no such mocking here. No one challenged Peter when he said that God had attested to them with miracles, wonders, and signs. The ‘miracles’ attest to the fact that what was being attested to was miraculous – not natural. The ‘wonders’ tell us that people were made to wonder and be in awe by what God did. And the ‘signs’ indicate that what God did through Jesus were intended to point to the fact that it was GOD who did the works through the man Jesus.

Acts 2:23

this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Jesus was delivered to his executioners by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. God KNEW what was going to happen – in fact, He planned it before hand – not just planned FOR it, but planned it. Think about it, GOD DETERMINED that His Son would become human, would live a righteous life, would be handed over to be judged and executed – although he was innocent.

And even though it was Romans who carried out the execution, Peter said the Jews nailed him to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. It was not just the Romans who were responsible, it was the Jews who manipulated the situation and had him put to death. But it was not just they who were responsible, but everyone who ever sinned who is responsible for the need for the death of Christ.

Act 2:24

“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

And although God handed him over for death, God also raised Jesus the Christ up again, ending the agony of death, because it was impossible for Jesus to be held in the power of death.

Acts 2:25-28

25 “For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26 ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 28 ‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’

And here we come to the essence of the trinity in this passage – the Holy Spirit has filled the disciples and caused them to speak as He determined, prophesying what God the Father had previously said, that the Son of God, the Lord,would not abandon David’s soul to Hades, and nor undergo decay.

We have to look at who God is. These are not three different gods, but one God made up of three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:35

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

Isaiah 48:16

“Come near to Me, listen to this:
 From the first I have not spoken in secret,
 From the time it took place, I was there.
 And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

And yet there is no god beside the One True God.

Isaiah 45:
21

“Declare and set forth your case;
 Indeed, let them consult together.
 Who has announced this from of old?
 Who has long since declared it?
 Is it not I, the Lord?
 And there is no other God besides Me,
 A righteous God and a Savior;
 There is none except Me.

There is one true God.

Jeremiah 10:10

But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.

Having dealt with who God is, let us return to our text. Peter makes clear that David was not speaking of himself – but of the Christ.

Acts 2:29-31

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY

King David died and was buried and still in his tomb. But he looked forward to the resurrection of the Christ, knowing Christ would not be abandoned to Hades and He did not decay.

Acts 2:32

“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

God raised Jesus up again. How do we know that Jesus was raised up by God? Because the disciples were witnesses! The disciples saw and spoke with Jesus – AFTER His death. We see this in Luke 24:46-51

46 and He [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

Not only did we see the disciples were all witnesses to the fact that God raised Jesus after His death, but returning to our passage, we see in Acts 2:33-35

33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘

Jesus was lifted up to the right hand of God. Jesus received the Hoy Spirit.

Jesus poured the Holy Spirit on the disciples. God lifted Jesus and said to Him to sit at God’s right hand until God the Father makes His enemies a footstool for His feet.

Again, Jesus has come, now what? We see the answer in the last part of 1 John 3:8

… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

And we see in Acts 2:36

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”

God made Jesus, who was crucified by both Jews and Gentiles, to be Lord and Christ. And God wanted the House of Israel – the family of God’s people – to know this. This was a shock to his audience – they had not expected to hear how this man was both God and the Messiah. And this was when God made believers.

Acts 2:37-39

37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

Having realized what had happened and their culpability for the crucifixion of Jesus (the Lord and Christ), the audience were pierced to the heart – they were convinced intellectually, as well as spiritually convicted of the truth of they had done, and even more importantly, of who Jesus is and what God has done.

This conviction is likely what prompted them to ask what they were to do. Peter told them to repent (to change) and be baptized in the name of Jesus FOR the forgiveness of their sins and they would received the Holy Spirit – that they and their children and all who are far off (meaning both those were not near by physically and those who are not near to God, the unbeliever) and as many as the Lord God calls to Himself can be forgiven.

Many think we are forgiven because we are baptized, that water baptism is needed to be saved. In fact, the word translated as ‘for’ here is actually ‘eis’, which translated means ‘in’. People are baptized IN the forgiveness of their sins – not so they will be forgiven, but BECAUSE they have been forgiven. We are forgiven when we turn to God through faith in Christ, our repentance (our changing from sin to God) is demonstrated through our baptism.

Acts 2:40

And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

Peter solemnly testified and kept on exhorting (appealing to) them. He didnt leave it with the facts, but warned them to be saved from this perverse generation, from among the people who disobey God. In doing so, he reflected back to Deuteronomy 32:5

“They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.

In so doing, he was saying what Paul would say in Philippians 2:15

so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world

Believers grow together, which we see beginning in Acts 2:41

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Those who had received what Peter said – those who believed to the point where they were changed – did something about it. Those who believe in God, who have Christ as their Lord and Savior, obey God. In this case, those who believed were baptized – about 3,000 people in one day!

Acts 2:42

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

So what should happen when one believes? One acts upon one’s belief. We saw in verse 41 that they were baptized – that was obedience. But we also see they continually devoted themselves to what the apostles taught AND to fellowship – They studied what was taught, they put it into practice in their lives, they hung out with other Christians, which included eating (probably worshipping through the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

Jesus has come, now what? What was the reason Christ was born? To bring salvation and instruct us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Acts 2:43

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

Do you have a sense of awe? The believers were first hand witnesses to the wonders and signs the apostles were doing. Its easy for them to be in awe. Yet, for us, sometimes its easy to get caught up in the daily things of life and forget God is there, or what He has done, but we need to remember what God has done – how God has sent His Son to be born, to live a righteous life, to suffer and die, to be the perfect Sacrificial Lamb…

Acts 2:44-45

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

All the believers were together and did not keep things to themselves, but helped any who had need. This may mean they only helped believers but more likely, it means they helped anyone who had need. So they sold stuff and gave to those in need.

Acts 2:46-47a

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

Believers met together, ate together, praised God together, enjoyed the favor of all the people. This was a time of learning together, living together, sharing life together, practicing living righteously together, challenging each other to live as God commanded.

Not only did believers meet regularly together THEN, but Christians are to not stop gathering together with the assembly.

Hebrew 10:24-25

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

This is why we meet together in church with other Christians: so you are not tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by trickery of men, by deceitful scheming, but are no longer children, but are built up and grow up in all aspects.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

We end this passage with Acts 2:47b

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Lord added those who were being saved to the group of believers daily. God did it – not them. God grew the number of believers and God grew the believers – God worked in them to grow in the knowledge of the Son of God so they grew to maturity.

In the same way, we must recognize that God sent His Son to be born for a reason – to provide the avenue by which men might be saved. Are you saved? Have you celebrated Santa, but not the Savior? If your life does not reflect a turning from sin and a turning to God, then you must ask yourself – now what? Why did I celebrate? Jesus has come, now what? Is Jesus a baby in a manger, or is Jesus hanging on a cross, or is Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father? If Jesus God or merely a man? If he is a man, then you have little reason to celebrate. But If Jesus is Lord and Christ, then He is in charge of your life – does your life reflect that? Are you a testimony of what God has done? 

 

Grace Alone

For many centuries, the only option for church in Europe was the Roman Catholic Church. There were various groups which disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church and what it taught throughout the centuries, but they were quickly put down. While the Bible had been translated into over 500 languages by 500 AD, by 600AD, the only translation allowed to exist by the church (on penalty of death) became the Latin Vulgate[1]. This effectively made it so only the educated could read it – with end result being that only the Church was able to teach what God had said. And eventually the things the church taught and required of people caused some who COULD read Latin – to begin to speak out; some people even began translating the bible into their native languages (although those who tried to do so were killed). Eventually, this led to the protestant reformation often considered to have begun with Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. That was when he nailed 95 theses to the door of a church, 95 points of disagreement he had with the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, specifically dealing with indulgences (which were intended to be purchased to fund church buildings and supposedly caused people to be forgiven of sin). This reformation eventually came to have five principles in common throughout Europe – these have come to be known as the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation.

One of the things the Roman Catholic Church taught was that a combination of the scriptures, church tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium (the church teaching authority as exercised by bishops and the pope) were the foundation for faith and practice. In response to this, reformers responded Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone is the foundation for faith and practice. This did not mean that the church was not to interpret scripture, but that scripture must be the foundation, and not ignored in favor of church teaching if what was being taught was contrary to what the Bible teaches.[2] Another thing the Roman Catholic Church taught was that we are justified by faith AND the works that we produce, which the righteousness (that God infuses in us through faith) brings about. The reformers responded, Sola Fide, or “No, we are justified by faith alone, which lays hold of the alien righteousness of Christ that God freely credits to the account of those who believe.” The Catholic Church taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. The Reformers responded, “No, we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone” – or Solo Christo (AKA Solus Christus). The Roman Catholic Church taught that the glory for a sinner’s salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers response? Soli Deo Gloria, or “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.” And finally we come to the topic of today’s message: the Catholic Church taught that we are saved through a combination of God’s grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the excessive amounts of merits that the saints before us accumulated; the reformers responded, “sola gratia”, or grace alone. [3]

Let’s look at an example of how many view grace (this example is credited to the puritan Thomas Boston): Imagine a sinner in a deep pit which he can’t get out of. Now imagine God lowers a long rope down right beside him. If the man grabs hold of that rope, then God can pull him out of that pit.

This is generally as far as most people’s view of grace goes – where God initiates a way for man to be saved, but does not force man to take that way, and so to be saved a man has to cooperate with God by doing his part – making a decision, saying a prayer, being baptized, doing good works. The only problem is that the sinner at the bottom of the pit is dead! He can’t grab the rope, he can’t respond to anyone or anything. He is spiritually dead.

This brings us to our passage for today. Turn to Ephesians 2:1-10

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

I always like to look at a passage through the lenses of an investigator. So let’s look at the questions of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, as presented by the passage in question. Now this passage begins with the condition of every person before salvation:

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

Paul tells us something of the WHEN and something of the WHO in this passage – WHEN YOU (his audience, believers) were dead in your trespasses and sins. Some people don’t realize what that means, so I thought I’d take a second and review a couple of key passages dealing with sin and death. Let’s look at Romans 3:23

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

So we can see that EVERYONE has sinned – this is the case whether you are a good person or not, whether you are moral or not, whether you grew up in the Christian church or some other religion – ALL HAVE SINNED.

More than that, we have to realize that sinning has consequences.

Please turn to Romans 6:23.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We earn death with our sin. Whether it is one sin or a multitude of sins – we died. Obviously this does not speak of our physical condition, but of our spiritual condition – we die spiritually when we sin. And being dead, unsaved sinners are simply unable to understand who God is, or what God has done and even are unable to understand them. This is easy to see in 1 Corinthians 2:14

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Returning to our main passage

in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience

We see in Ephesians 2:2 that everyone, before they are saved, walked in ways affected by the world and by the spirit which works in those who disobey – the prince of the air – the devil.

While they don’t know it, Satan works in those he has captivated to HIS will. We see this more clearly in 2 Timothy 2:24-26

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Notice – God MAY GRANT repentance. So many people think they are good people, that if they live “right”, that God will grant them entrance into heaven when they die. But this passage tells us that unless God grants repentance, people continue to be held captive by the devil to do his will.

Indeed, let’s return to our original passage, verse 3:

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

We see in verse 3 that Paul shifts who he includes in the WHO – even HE, the Apostle Paul, lived in his lusts and indulgences, being by their very nature children of wrath – as ALL before coming to Christ were, and are, and will be. By their very NATURE, people without God are children of wrath. They are selfish, indulging the desires of their minds and bodies. The wrath of God remains upon them. But they are not unique – everyone without God is like this. We also see here the Where – in the lusts of our flesh and mind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us

So now we see where GOD enters the scene as part of the WHO. Remember earlier we saw that part of the “who” is believers. So we have two sets of “who” – believers and God. We have “when” – when believers were dead in their trespasses and sins; and “where” – in our lusts. We now also have WHY – because God is rich in mercy and because of God’s great love which with He loved US.

Let us continue in verses 5 and 6

even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

So we see the WHEN repeated – when we were dead in our transgressions. And we see more of the WHO (Christ), and finally we see the WHAT – God made us alive together with Christ – God saved us. God raised us up with Christ. God seated us with Christ in the places IN CHRIST JESUS.

We see that Paul was convinced that God had finished the work, as we see in Philippians 1:6 (AMP)

6 I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

And for our purposes today, we see some of the HOW – BY GRACE.

But what does “grace” mean? The New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon says the Greek word is “charis” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/charis.html)[4].

In our case, the definition we will focus on is:

  1. good will, loving-kindness, favour
    1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

We must realize precisely BECAUSE those who do not know God are helpless to do anything to be with God, that God had to initiate what it took for us to be with Him. That is grace.

Some people don’t like the idea that we are helpless to come to God UNLESS God does it all. But turn to Romans 5:6

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

We were helpless, and yet God died for us at the right time and it was by the grace of God that Christ died.

Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

That is grace.

And while people like the idea that they are the ones who chose God, they must realize that no one seeks God.

Romans 3:10-11

10 as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;

Indeed, without God working in us, we are hostile toward God and unable to please God.

Romans 8:7-8

because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

And some believe that everyone in the world has a call upon them to come to Christ and people will have the free will to choose to follow Christ or not, but we see in John 6:64-65 that ONLY those who have been granted permission by God the Father can come to God the Son, and that does not include everyone.

John 6:64-65

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Indeed, all those given to Christ WILL come to Christ and Christ WILL lift them up on the last day.

John 6:37-40

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

I guess it is summed up by Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

WHILE we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and that demonstrates God’s love toward us. That is grace.

Getting back to our original passage, let’s look at Ephesians 2:7

so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Another WHY – so GOD can show the awesome riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So now we have WHO – GOD, Christ, believers.

We have WHEN – while you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

We have WHERE – in the lusts of the flesh and mind – where we were living, the world.

We have WHAT – God made us alive together with Christ; God saved us; God raised us up with Christ; God seated us with Christ in the places IN CHRIST JESUS.

We have HOW – By the grace of God.

And we have WHY – because God is rich in mercy; God loved us; God will show in the ages to come the awesomeness of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us more of this grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We were saved BY GRACE, THROUGH FAITH. There is often a question as to what is meant by “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Some believe the “THAT” Paul spoke of was referring to grace, some believe he referred to ‘saved’ and some to ‘faith’. Personally, I think the Greek supports the all three being a gift. The key here, though, is that people who are saved are saved by GRACE – this is God working in you and for you to ensure you are saved through faith in Christ. It is God’s gift. It is God’s work.

We see that it is GOD’s work by seeing Jesus saying to people who asked what they must do to work the works of God in John 6:29

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

This belief is not mere intellectual assent, but it affects the believer so as to cause them to live differently – to obey God.

John 3:36

36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Acts 26:20

20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Its not that doing things saves us, but the things we do show we trust in Christ. This is what James meant in James 2:14-26, when he said that he could show his faith by his works – that faith engenders actions, otherwise it is an empty faith, a mere intellectual assent.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so we would walk in them. We are like living dolls, created to do the good things God prepared for us to do.

We also see in Philippians 2:13

13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure

There are those who would say that God began the work, and they had their own part in it. But that would contradict Ephesians 2:9 which says it was not by works. And Romans 11:5-6 tells us,

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Any who believe, only do so because they were graciously chosen by God. So either you were saved by grace through faith or you were not. Either GOD did it, or He lied. If GOD did it, then you did nothing to contribute to your own salvation.

Remember Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You earned death with your sin. But GOD graced you with the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is not something we earn OR cooperate with God on. This is something freely given by the grace of God, and something God works to ensure occurs.

Some would say that God showed grace to those who would be saved because He looked down the passage of time and saw they would choose Him and so chose them. But Romans 9:16 tells us,

16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Hebrews 2:10 tells us:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Hebrews 12:2 (KVJ) tells us:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Not only does it not depend on the man who desires or the one who does something, but God does not need anything from us, and even determined when and where we would live so we would find Him.

Acts 17:24-27

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

Just as we are saved by grace, we are justified (or declared righteous) by grace.

Titus 3:7

so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life

No, our justification, our salvation, our belief, our repentance is all the work of God, by the grace of God, alone.

All believers receive grace, realized through Christ, who was full of grace and truth.

John 1:14-17

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

And this grace is eternal.

2 Timothy 1:8c-9

God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity

We are set apart and called by God before we are born through grace.

Galatians 1:15

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

We have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, according to God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

We are to imitate the faith of those who led the church, and not be carried away by strange teachings and so be strengthened by grace.

Hebrews 13:7-9

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

And we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

2 Peter 3:18

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Even the very gifts we have differ according to the grace given to us, and we are to exercise them accordingly.

Romans 12:6

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

So reviewing the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW, we saw that God granted believers grace from all eternity – before we are born. God made them alive by grace. God saved them by grace, through faith. Moreover, God did so because He loved us, and to show the awesomeness of His grace. God initiated this while we were still dead in our trespasses and sins. God has completed it by seating us in heaven with Christ. God did it by working in us and around us and through us to desire and to do according to His will – we are HIS workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Let’s return to the example of grace I gave when I started discussing grace. You remember, a sinner in a deep pit which he can’t get out of, and God lowers a long rope down right beside him. If the man grabs hold of that rope, then God can pull him out of that pit. But instead of lowering the rope beside the sinner to grab hold of, God puts the rope around the man, gives him new life, and draws the man up out of the pit to be with God himself. THAT is how grace works – God not only initiates the whole thing, He completes it – God provides the people, the new life, the faith, and the obedience. GOD does something in the heart of man so man becomes alive spiritually and is able and willing to be saved and come to Christ. Because of Grace, by Grace, God effectually accomplishes salvation, by Grace Alone.


Footnotes:

[1] Anonymous; “English Bible History: The Pre-Reformation History of the Bible From 1,400 BC to 1,400 AD“; ; Available online 10/28/2015: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/pre-reformation.html

[2] Horton, Michael; “Reformation Essentials – Five Pillars of the Reformation”; Available online 10/27/15 at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/essentials.html.

[3] Anonymous; “39. What are the “five solas,” and what do they mean?”; Available online 10/27/15 at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/fivesolas.html.

[4] The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon; Available online 10/28/2015: http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/charis.html

John 3:16 does not say man can choose to believe or not

Many try to use John 3:16 to say that God gives man a chance to believe or disbelieve in Christ. But no where does that verse say this.

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 does not say man has a choice. It explains that God loved His creation (universe) or the collection of those who would believe (depending on your understanding of the meaning of ‘world’), that He gave His only Son so who ever believes in Christ will have eternal life. It is a description of those who have eternal life – anyone who believes. That does not mean man has a choice – just that those who  believe have eternal life.

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