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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a HOPE! (Part 8 Final)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true. For example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth — and final — conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be biblically hopeful about the future because our God is sovereign. Someone has posted the following on Facebook —

I think that’s a terrific way of thinking about the Christian life! Despite life’s challenges, the follower of Jesus is, in a sense, neither a pessimist nor an optimist. He or she is a realist who is eternally grateful that his cup “runneth over”!
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%We have an eternal hope that God will wrap up history, exercise righteous judgment, reward the godly, forever separate the ungodly from His kingdom, and will usher us into an eternity of worshiping and serving our blessed Savior! There is no greater hope, is there?

What might be some characteristics of one who is biblically hopeful? Several occur to me: (1) We will not overestimate man’s abilities to solve his own problems. We will care about our world and cooperate to alleviate man’s suffering, but will recognize that only the Lord can meet a person’s deepest needs;
(2) We will cling tightly to the truths of Scripture and allow its worldview to be our worldview. This means identifying and rejecting the “wisdom of the world” and being determined to stand with God’s people, even when they are suffering;
(3) We will affirm with the Apostle Paul that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17) What’s the “them” in that text? Logically, the “them” refers to our troubles, our outwardly “wasting away” (v. 16)

Today’s Challenge: Do a bit of a word study of the term “hope” in the Scriptures. What are several truths you can share with those who read this blog?


 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2021 in gospel

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have JOY! (Part 7)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true, for example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be supernaturally joyful despite the challenges of this fallen universe. I love the statement by the preacher who said that Christians owe it to the world to be supernaturally JOYFUL! Yes, we do! And we owe it to the Lord of joy! The epistle of Philippians emphasizes the issue of JOY in spite of suffering.

2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Your present troubles may not see “light” and “momentary,” but they are compared to what our Savior suffered on our behalf. We are to be “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.” (Hebrews 12:2)

The follower of Jesus recognizes the tragedy of sin, the effects of the cosmic fall, the sadness of unbelief, but he or she must keep in mind what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 14 — “for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)

Today’s Challenge: Would you describe yourself as full of joy in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? What are some joy-killers that can drag down the believer and keep him or her from saying “Whoopee!”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2021 in gospel

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a THEODICY! (Part 6)

This profound question raised by Karl Barth is fundamental to biblical Christianity. Certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true, such as we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. We’ve also seen that we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. If the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. We looked at a fourth conclusion which was we desperately need the people of God, the church.

Let’s look at a fifth conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. Biblical Christianity affirms the reality of suffering. But it also affirms the truth of the goodness of God. Putting those two truths together — which many worldviews deny — is called a theodicy (a defense of God’s justice in the face of evil’s reality).

The “thorns” in our world come in many different varieties. There are self-inflicted thorns; pains produced by others; brokenness inherent in our fallen world. Some thorns are given directly by God (one thinks of 2 Corinthians 12 and Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”); others sovereignly allowed by Him.

Biblical Christianity provides the best theodicy for it acknowledges that this world is fallen (it is not what God intended it to be), mankind is in rebellion against God, and a Savior has been provided for those who turn to Him in faith. He solves the problem of personal evil and suffering and one day will deal with the issue of cosmic brokenness.

In his very helpful book Why a Suffering World Makes Sense, Chris Tiegreen makes the following points:
(1)  He writes: “I will never understand those who believe that spiritual problems can be solved with social programs, that peace can be achieved by treaties, that prejudices can be eliminated by discussion, that rebellious youth can be corrected with heavy doses of esteem and understanding, that scars can be healed through therapy, that wrongs can be righted by litigation, and that diseases can be eliminated by research. Evil is woven into the fabric of humanity, and it’s obvious.”
(2) Philosophically, “I both know that philosophers and theologians have found the existence of evil plus the existence of God more than a little troubling. They have also found the existence of evil plus the theoretical nonexistence of God utterly depressing.”
(3) “The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and that he is love, in spite of clear evidence of rampant evil and excruciating suffering in this world.”

Today’s Challenge: There so much that is helpful in Tiegreen’s book that I’ll do the following: For any of you who reads his book, I will send you one of mine free. You can choose from DocTALK, DocWALK, When Temptation Strikes, Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World, and even The Other Side of the Good News! Deal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2021 in gospel

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a FAMILY! (Part 5)

When he stepped into the pulpit for the first time, Karl Barth raised a profound question, didn’t he? But what conclusions should we reach IF the gospel indeed is true? We’ve seen in our study that if the gospel is TRUE, then we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. We are Christ’s aroma (2 Corinthians 2) — and some will think we are a fragrance and some an odor! We’ve also seen that we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Thirdly, we drew the conclusion that if the gospel is true, then we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Let’s notice a fourth conclusion —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We desperately need the people of God, the church. For many the church is the great Evangelical option. “I’ll go if I have time.” “I’ll give if I can spare some loose change.” “I’ll serve if I must.” Because the good news of the gospel is true, God is creating a forgiven family — and each of us are members!

Not a one of us is perfect — but we’re growing. And we are to meet together to focus on Him and to practice the four priorities which marked the early church. We read in Acts 2 —

If we wish to be like the early Christians and to be blessed by God, we will devote ourselves to: doctrine, fellowship, worship, and prayer! Because we need somewhere to go on Sunday?! NO! Because Christ is building His Body, the Church, and we are members of it!

Today’s Challenge: Philip Yancey’s little book Church: Why Bother? raises some key questions. Why do you “bother” with church?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2021 in gospel

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a FINAL AUTHORITY! (Part 4)

“IS IT TRUE? IS IT REALLY TRUE?” was the question Karl Barth anticipated as he was talking about the gospel. These posts are intended to give certain conclusions IF the gospel is true.

If the gospel of Jesus Christ is really TRUE, we’ve seen that we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. We are Christ’s aroma (2 Corinthians 2) — and some will think we are a fragrance and some an odor! We’ve also noticed that we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel.

Let’s notice a third conclusion and that is —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life.

Many Christians actually hold to a number of inadequate pictures of the Bible. For some it’s like a kind of good luck charm, kind of like a rabbit’s foot (which was unlucky for the poor rabbit). For others, the idea of a holy horoscope comes to mind. They drop their finger on a random verse to give them happiness for a day. Others look at the Bible as a kind of fundamentalist fortune cookie that provides uplifting and totally innocuous sayings.

But the true nature of the Bible involves the following pictures (discussed in my book DocWALK):

So much could be said about God’s Word, the Bible. IF the gospel is true — and it is — the Jesus-follower must realize that he or she has a final authority that should not be picked up haphazardly! The Bible should be our daily source for guidance, the light we need for living wisely, the cup of cold water thrown in our face when we are stuck in sin, . . . You get the picture.

Today’s Challenge: My friend, what is the Bible for you? Meditate on the verses given above for the true nature of the Bible. And take specific steps to grow in your love of and obedience to God’s Word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in gospel

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 8: The Bible

We are asking the question in these posts IF we truly believe WHAT we say we believe. Like the runaway missionary Jonah, we Jesus-followers can be incredibly orthodox in what we SAY we believe, but heterodox in how we behave.

Early Christians were accused of being “a people of the Book.” Are we? IF we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word composed of 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, our daily interaction with God’s Word ought to show it. Herrick Johnson writes, “If God is a reality, and the soul is a reality, and you are an immortal being, what are you doing with your Bible shut?”

Allow me to ask some very direct questions of you, my friend:

1. Do you have a regular, daily Quiet Time with the Lord? It may be only a few minutes, but you have disciplined yourself to spend time in God’s Word every day. No exceptions (unless you have to take someone to the hospital).

2. Do you study God’s Word? Not simply read it (although I highly recommend what I call “unit-reading” the Scriptures which means reading a whole book at one sitting). What topics or themes are you presently studying? I challenge you to leave a comment below specifying what you are studying in God’s Word.

3. Are you examining the Scriptures daily (like the Berean believers in Acts 18) to evaluate all that you hear from preachers, the media, and other Christians? In this day we dare not believe every idea that comes down the pike.

4. Ponder, think about, the following quote from A.W. Tozer. Consider leaving a comment below.


Today’s Challenge: Either choose a biblical book to unit-read or a topic to study throughout Scripture. Leave a comment below about your choice.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in beliefs

 

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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #5 Special Revelation!

It is quite logical that an infinite/personal God who created man in His image would want to communicate with man.  It is reasonable to assume that such a God, especially if He is described as loving and merciful and relational would want to connect with His creature.

And such is the biblical story.  We did not evolve.  We did not preexist on some other planet.  We were created by the only God who is.  And we were “made in His image.”  That expression (which we will examine more closely when we look at Anthropology) involves communicative skills.  We communicate with one another — why can’t God communicate with us?

The Bible’s claim is that He has communicated with us, in sixty-six books or sections of the Bible, to be exact.  The “Old Testament” is composed of 37 such books, ranging from historical documents to narratives to poetry to prophecy.  The unity of the incredible variety of the Bible is one of its most amazing features!

General revelation referred to God’s communicating truth to all people at all times everywhere (nature, human nature, history).  Special revelation refers to God’s selecting certain people or groups to receive His truth — and to write it down for future generations.  That’s what the Bible professes to be!  The inscripturated (theologians love big words) record of God’s words and works for the benefit of God’s creation.

The process of recognizing which books belong in the holy canon (that collection of books deemed inspired by God) is a critical issue and may be studied further here.  All religions have holy books.  Why the Bible and not the Qu’ran or the Book of Mormon or the Bhagavad Gita?  (Here‘s a good article on other religious writings).

We may have confidence that the Bible and the Bible alone is God’s written word to man.  But a book, as someone has said, if not read, is just a block of paper!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in special revelation

 

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Great Quote from A.W. Tozer on God’s Word!

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.” (A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian)

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in A.W. Tozer

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #2- The Scriptures) (con’t)

This new series of messages at Crossroads Fellowship Church (available on their website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) is examining ten areas in which the Jesus-follower is prone to get STUCK!

Ever get STUCK in the Scriptures?  I don’t mean that you’re reading and forget where you are.  I’m referring to the whole concept of the believer and his or her Bible.

Some of us view the Bible incorrectly.  We might think of it as a holy horoscope or as a religious rabbit’s foot or as a fundamentalist fortune cookie.  We use it like a magic charm or a book of witty sayings.

But how does God’s Word present itself?  First of all, it is a hidden treasure.  The Psalmist says, “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches” (Ps. 119:14).  He also says, ““The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” (Ps. 119:72).

Second, the Word of God is the believer’s food.  Job 23:12 tells us that he “treasured the words of [God’s] mouth more than [his] daily food.”  Jeremiah says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (Jer. 15:16).  Hebrews 5:12-14 has much to say to us about moving from milk to meat in our spiritual diet!

Third, the Bible is a collection of case studies!  Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Wise is the Christian who studies … Joseph on the sovereignty of God (Gen. 45, 50), David on the steps leading to great sin (2 Sam. 11), Nathan on the steps in restoring a fallen believer (2 Sam. 12), Balaam on his matter-of-fact discussion with his donkey on doing the will of God (Num. 22), Three Jewish young men (Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego) on not committing idolatry no matter how many times the pagan king strikes up the band (Dan. 3), King Saul on God’s definition of true obedience (“Goats? I don’t hear any goats!” I Sam. 15), Isaiah on God’s hatred of empty ritual (Is. 1), Habakkuk on the absurdity of idolatry (Hab. 2), Solomon on the emptiness of life without God (the book of Ecc.), etc.

Fourth, the Word of God is the autobiography of God!  We don’t mean that everything about God is told us in the Bible (the Bible’s truth about God is sufficient, but not comprehensive). God does not “mature” or “age” or even “learn.”  We do mean that — a. The Bible discloses the mind and heart of God.  b. We learn of His passion for lost people (Mt. 23:37).  c. We learn of His care for His creation (Ps. 145; Acts 14).  d. We learn of His joy and delight in those He has redeemed (Ps. 147; Is. 62).

Fifth, the Bible is the divine agenda for the believer!  We are to become like Christ!  Jesus prays in John 17: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” We are to become useful to His Kingdom!  And this leads us to look once again at our main text:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3)

Notice that God wants His children to be useful!  Each believer needs (at times) to be taught, rebuked, corrected, and trained in righteousness!   The writer Herrick Johnson asks, “If God is a reality, and the soul is a reality, and you are an immortal being, what are you doing with your Bible shut?”  Now go dive into His Word!

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in christian growth

 

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Time for a Great Quote: Tozer on Sanctification and Christian Growth

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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in christian growth

 

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