RSS

Category Archives: CHRISTIAN LIVING

A Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle to Titus) (Part 3 of 5)

I am looking forward to Family Camp at Camp Elim in Woodland Park, Colorado, on May 25-27. I get to preach five messages — and I’ve chosen the theme of the spiritually-healthy family (from the epistle of Titus).

Let’s read carefully the second chapter of Titus:
We have already seen that the spiritually healthy family cares deeply about the local church and that, secondly, it recognizes false teaching in its many forms and opposes it (1:10-16).

Let’s notice thirdly in this chapter that —

The spiritually healthy family —

III. Appreciates and Applies the Clear Instructions of God’s Word (2:1-10)

God’s Word is very specific in speaking to specific groups:

A. The Older Men (vv. 1-2)

Notice the qualities that “older men” are to work on: to be temperate; worthy of respect; self-controlled; and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

B. The Older Women (vv. 3-5)

Who’s going to admit that they belong in the category of “older women”? Personal qualities: They are to be reverent, not slanderers or addicted to much wine. Teaching responsibilities: to teach what is good, urging the younger women to love their husbands and children.

C. The Younger Women (vv. 4-5)

The “younger women” are to focus on family obligations and personal qualities (self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, subject to their husbands). Note the reason for the good conduct of the younger women.

D. The Young Men (vv. 6-8)

Note that self-control is the first quality of “the young men.” They are to be examples in doing what is good, in showing integrity in their teaching. They are to be marked by seriousness and soundness of speech. Note the reason for these qualities (v. 8).

E. The Slaves (vv. 9-10)

The last category are “slaves.” Here’s a good article responding to the charge that the Bible supports slavery. God’s Word regulates one’s “ownership” of slaves, recognizing that the gospel will eventually lead to freedom for slave and master! Obedience, a desire to please, and honesty are all qualities of those who are in the category of “slaves.” Note the why of these commands to slaves.

(We will continue this five-part series over the next few days)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 3, 2019 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , , ,

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 5

How in the world do I live out my Christian life?  What principles does God’s Word give me to make significant strides in following Jesus?  We are camping on Galatians 2:19-21 to see what “keys” are there that can help us.

We have seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The law brings death and I have died to it. The second key is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.” The third key that impacts me here is this: There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20). I have not ceased to exist. But now I can live a new life by faith in the Son of God.  The fourth key that I see in this passage is: I have been paid for! Please notice the expression in verse 20- “the Son of God . . . who loved me and gave himself for me.” Theologians refer to this as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement! [We get paid by the big words].

The last key that I notice in this passage is found in verse 21- “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”  The principle I see here is I can never pay back God for my salvation — nor should I try to!  Salvation is a free gift of the grace of God in giving Jesus for my sins.  Gifts are to be received — and given thanks for.  But never paid for by the recipient!

I suspect that many believers live out their lives trying to repay God.  And that’s not the Christian life!  In perhaps their best-intentioned response to the grace of God, they nullify it.  They live as if righteousness could be gained through the law.  And the awful conclusion to that perspective is . . . Christ died for nothing!

Motivation is everything, and the reason I should live for the Lord is a grateful heart that wants to show my appreciation every day for His saving me.  My best good deeds are not good enough to pay for my sins.  But Jesus did for me what I could never do for myself.  Payback or praise?  It’s my choice.  And yours.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 16, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , , ,

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 4

Here in Galatians 2:19-21 we learn a number of truths that will help us navigate this thing called the Christian life.  These “keys” are not automatic or easy.  But they are essential IF I am to live out my new life in Jesus.  Let’s look at our text once more:

What have we seen so far?  We’ve seen that the first key in verse 19 is that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The law brings death and I have died to it. The second key is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  The third key that impacts me here is this: There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20). I have not ceased to exist.  But now I can live a new life by faith in the Son of God.

There is a fourth key that I see in this passage and it is this:  I have been paid for!  Please notice the expression in verse 20- “the Son of God . . . who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Theologians refer to this as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement!  [We get paid by the big words].

Notice two truths in this expression “He gave Himself for me”:  First, He gave Himself.  Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (Jn. 10:18).  Jesus voluntarily sacrificed Himself for me.  Notice also that the verse says “He gave Himself for me.”  Jesus’ death on the cross was intensely personal and specific.  It is hard to believe — but we must — that the Second Person of the Trinity had me in mind when He went to Calvary!

If this is indeed true — His death was voluntary and it was for me — how could I ever doubt His love for me?  How could I ever look at my life as insignificant?  How is it that I can choose at any one moment to live for myself, instead of for Him?

But we do, don’t we?  Today’s challenge: Focus today on Jesus’ giving of Himself for you.  Thank Him for His sacrifice.  And ask Him not how you can repay Him (an impossibility), but how you can moment by moment live for His glory.  Today. (to be continued)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 14, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , , ,

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 3

Principles, not keys, to victory in the Christian life might be a better way to describe what we are studying for the next few days.  The truths that I see in Galatians 2:19-21 will help the believer in Jesus understand some aspects of living for Him.

Here is our text:

We’ve seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The second key that we’ve noticed is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”

The third key that impacts me here is this:  There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20).  There was a movement years ago called “the Victorious Christian Life” movement.  Some in that movement suggested that Christ now lives His life through us — and we are to be passive channels through whom He lives.  There is certainly some truth to that perspective, but understood wrongly (I believe) can lead to static, passive Christians who don’t take responsibility for their lives.  This kind of Let Go and Let God mentality runs counter to such challenges as Peter’s when he writes, “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Pe. 1).

There is a NEW ME who is to strategically and aggressively live out what it means to be a new creature in Christ!  This is not sanctification by the flesh (which Paul addresses throughout the book of Galatians), but an active dependence on God the Holy Spirit to help us follow hard after God.

Today’s challenge: Are you ready to count your NEW SELF ALIVE today? What additives do you need to focus on in your life in obedience to Peter’s challenge in 2 Peter 1? (to be continued)

[For those who are interested, the Victorious Christian Life Movement (sometimes called the Keswick Movement) is evaluated here.  A primary source critiquing it is found here.]

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 12, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , ,

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 2

Like many of you I am somewhat skeptical of “keys to victory in the Christian life” or some such programs.  On the other hand, I’m extremely grateful for good directions that help me — step by step — to get something important accomplished.

For example, I was glad to have the SEVENTY-TWO PAGE booklet showing me how to put together the play set for my grandchildren!  True, none of the boards were marked and each had to be measured to make sure I was using the correct one for the next step, but I got it put together AFTER THREE WEEKS  of following the directions!

In some ways the Christian life is a bit easier!  We are looking at several well-known verses in Galatians 2 and asking, what truths are here that will help me live out the Christian life?  Here is our text:

We have already seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law.  Paul says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”  We die to the law as a way of salvation.  It was never intended to be so.  We die to our self-efforts at redemption.

The second key that I see this morning is that the old me is dead!  We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  I am to so identify myself with Christ that it is as if I were on the cross with Him, not as some kind of co-redeemer, but as a criminal who couldn’t live up to the law and deserved to die!  That’s what the law did for me.  It showed me my sin and my need of a Savior.

Have you ever been embarrassed at a Christian funeral? I have.  The believers there were rejoicing and laughing and, well, being very unfuneral-like in their celebration of their saved loved one’s homegoing!  Funerals are no laughing matter.  But if the funeral is a mere step to eternal life, then . . .

Today’s challenge: Are you ready to count yourself DEAD today?  The old me is gone.  Crucified with Jesus.  Now there’s a new me ready to . . .  (to be continued)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 10, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , ,

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 1

I’ve always been a bit leery of “steps” or “keys” to anything important. Some of those approaches sound too much like a timeshare salesperson who wants to sell you a week’s vacation for $20,000.

However, I’m learning that a lot of issues do boil down to several specific decisions or choices that one makes. And breaking down a major topic into doable, incremental steps can be helpful.

So it is in the Christian life. I don’t pretend to have found THE KEYS to living the victorious Christian life, but God’s Word deals with this massive issue directly. And so should we.

The text I want to focus on for a couple of posts is that of Galatians 2:19-21 where we read:

Let’s focus this morning (and in subsequent posts) on several keys to living out the Christian life. I don’t pretend that these are exhaustive, just practical and helpful! The first key I see in this text is that I must have a proper relationship to the law (v. 19). Paul writes, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”

Here we learn that the law brings death, not life! Paul “died to the law” in the sense that he died to the law as a way of salvation by obedience. The law was never given for that purpose and we can never perfectly obey the law.

Notice also that this death must occur before life can become real! Paul writes, “through the law I died to the law.” A knowledge of the law brings conviction of sin and the reality that one cannot buy salvation by one’s own goodness.

Today’s challenge:  Are you trying to live out the Christian life by keeping the law?  Christians should be obedient, but the law was never given to make us righteous.  It was given to make us aware of our need of grace.  (to be continued)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 8, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , ,

Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World (Part 1)

Friends:
Please remember me in prayer for my conference in Detroit, Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.03.37 AMNov. 6-8. The theme we have chosen is “Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World.” We’ll be working our way through the little epistle of Jude.

In this series of posts I would like to touch on several of the issues we will be discussing during our weekend together.  I’m working on a booklet with the title of the conference that I hope can be done by the November weekend.

Introduction:

Before we look at the little letter from Jude to a group of Jesus-followers, let’s think about the issue of life in this world.  How is the Christian to conduct himself or herself in this God-forsaking, Bible-rejecting, Jesus-ignoring culture?

Although we could multiply such negative descriptors of our world, we must first acknowledge that there is much good in the universe that God has made, and we are commanded to enjoy His physical blessings with thanksgiving (I Tim. 6).  However, we find ourselves in a progressively unchristian or post-christian or even anti-Christian environment.   The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, legitimated same-sex marriages, forbidding all states from banning such unions.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision, one which has cost the lives of an estimated fifty-five million children made in the image of God, rocked the Christian world — and we have been unable to do anything to have that ruling overturned.  The third most populous country in the world with 321 million people, the United States, one might argue, has systematically executed almost 1/6 of its citizens.

What are the believer’s options in living for Jesus in such an un-Christian world?  There appear to be only four possible choices that a Christian can make.  The first option is:

CONFORMITY:  The believer in Jesus can choose to not rock the boat, to Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.09.04 AMbecome exactly like the world around him, holding the same ethical values as his culture, and live a relatively conflict-free life in comfort.  The world will then see no discernible differences between believers and unbelievers, but will also have no reason to persecute those who claim to be Jesus-followers.  They will be seen as people who have nothing better to do on Sundays than attend half-empty churches, sing ancient songs to each other, and occasionally enjoy a pot-luck meal together.  The Christian can choose to conform.  (to be continued)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 14, 2015 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

Tags: , , ,