“He Breaks the Power of Cancelled Sin & Sets the Prisoner Free” – Wesleyan Self-Examination

Although, we will never be entirely free from sin until Christ returns that does not mean that we should not seek after a growth in Gospel holiness and ruthlessly put to death the old nature.  For this reason I have uploaded the following devotion and whilst you might not agree with everything it is a useful tool in Christian discipleship.

“The questions have their origin in the spiritual accountability group started by Wesley when he was a student at Oxford — a group that detractors called “The Holy Club.” The first list appeared about 1729 or 1730 in the preface to Wesley’s second Oxford Diary. Similar questions appeared in his 1733 A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week. As late as 1781, Wesley published a list of questions like this in the Arminian Magazine.” [1]

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Do I pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
  3. Can I be trusted?
  4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
  5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  6. Did the Bible live in me today?
  7. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
  8. Am I enjoying prayer?
  9. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
  10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  12. Do I disobey God in anything?
  13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  16. How do I spend my spare time?
  17. Am I proud?
  18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the tax collectors?
  19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
  20. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
  21. Is Christ real to me?

[1] http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/selfexam.htm

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Supper at Simon’s House [Luke 7:36-8:3]

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Sermon Link [Why not have a listen to the sermon?]

Like many cultures around the world, though not Western culture, Jewish culture is built around the concept of honour and shame.  This means that the way someone feels inwardly is often linked to the way in which they are perceived and treated outwardly.  In our narrative, a Pharisee, named Simon, invites Jesus into his home to publicly shame Him.[1]  The commentator Hendriksen writes:

“The Master exposes before everybody the shabby treatment he had received from his host.  The latter had omitted all the customary evidences of hospitality, all the amenities to which, as everyone knew, an honoured and invited guest was entitled…The reception had been cold, patronising, and discourteous. ”[2]

 Nonetheless, it is as a result of this failed shaming that we are able to extrapolate some essential theological truths.  To do this we must look at the three main characters that are involved.

 

1. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar [v36-38, 8:1-3]

Firstly, we have an unnamed woman who is referred to as “a sinner” and while it is not explicitly stated the consensus of scholarly opinion would identify her as a prostitute.  This unnamed woman sees the public snub of Jesus by Simon the Pharisee and begins to wash his feet with her tears, dry them with her hair and anoints his feet with costly oil which we learn later comes from the gratitude she feels from having been forgiven. [3]

Application: According to the Jews, the feet were considered the filthiest part of the human body, a woman’s hair was not to be shown to anyone but her husband and the perfume in alabaster jars was expensive and could only be used once (they had narrow necks which had to be snapped).  From this, we are able to understand something of what was expended at this meal.  Luke goes on to show that costly worship is normative for the Christian [8:1-3].  This week examine the cost of your own worship. If it is not becoming progressively more costly, you must ask yourself why.  Maybe I could challenge you to give a one-off generous donation to the rebuilding of the Philippines, rid yourself of self-consciousness in public worship or challenge you to live missionally.

 

2. The Pharisee with a Bad Attitude [v39]

The second person at the meal is Simon the Pharisee.  He is scandalised by what is going on because he knew “who and what manner of woman” this was.

Application: We too can be like Simon, feeling good about ourselves by comparing ourselves to others.  However, the Bible says: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” Phil 2:3.  Therefore, I would like to challenge you to measure your goodness against Christ and not others.  If you do this, you will come to see that we are constantly indebted to His grace and constantly in need of His power; hopefully this will develop the gratitude to God and humility in front of men that was sadly lacking in Simon.

 

3. The Saviour who Forgives [v40-50]

Jesus goes on to tell Simon a parable in which “a certain creditor” forgives “two debtors,” one who owed fifty days wages and one who owed five hundred.   He uses the parable to show that one’s response is in direct proportion to one’s perceived need.  Is He teaching, then, that all men are actually or potentially saved?

Calvinists and Arminians often debate whether Christ purchased a limited atonement or an unlimited atonement.  As a “Cal-Minian” I would say that the atonement is unlimited and everyone in the history of mankind was actually forgiven at the cross [John 1:29, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, 4:10, 1 John 2:2].   Nevertheless, the atonement is also limited because it only becomes efficacious and salvific for the elect, that is those, by God’s grace, who have accepted it [Matthew 1:21, John 6:37-40, 10:15, Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 5:9].

Application: What have you done with the forgiveness of God?  If you have truly accepted it then there should be a growing personal relationship with God [Matthew 28:20], a hunger for doctrinal truth [John 16:13], an assurance of salvation [Romans 8:38-39] and lifestyle change [Titus 3:8].  This does not mean that there are not exceptions to this [Luke 23:39-43] and nor does it mean that we are saved by our own merit.  We are saved by grace through faith and for works [Ephesians 2:8-10].  Anything other than this is not the Gospel and hence I would like to challenge you, to wholeheartedly place your whole life into the hands of Christ.


[1] During a meal the well-off would leave the doors open so others could participate in the conversation or wait for leftovers.

[2] “New Testament Commentary: Luke” by William Hendriksen p. 408

[3] Many confuse this account with the one found in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8 but a close examination shows that they took place in a different location, by a different woman and for a different reason.

Forgiving the Unforgivable [Luke 6:27-36]

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Sermon Link [Why not have a listen to the sermon?]

 

“There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.”  William Cowper

 

Of all Jesus’ teachings the imperative to “love our enemies” is probably the most famous and the most difficult.  Nonetheless in light of the forgiveness we have received we must also forgive.  To do that, however, we must try to understand from the text the distinction between Kingdom love and worldly love.

 

1. Kingdom Love is Spiritual Love

Whilst there is so much more that can be said of the text, “I say to you who hear,” which begins this passage shows us that Kingdom love is spiritual love.  Please hear me; I am not saying that it is devoid of any practical application but I am saying that in order to “hear” or understand it, let alone practise it, we must be born-again and must be walking in accordance to God’s Spirit.

Application: Whether you are to forgive whole groups of people, certain individuals or even yourself you must understand that the power to do this rests wholly with God.  Read this passage a number of times and ask God for the power to both “hear” and to act.  This whole concept that true forgiveness comes from emotion or from an act of the will is destructive, impossible and unbiblical.

 

2. Worldly Love is Self-Interested Love

Worldly love, however, is a love that is empowered not by God but by man and is merely shared amongst those people whom we like or those people from whom we seek to receive something in return.  “For even sinners love those who love them.” 

 Application: This week why not do something good  to those who hold animosity towards you.  Please be wise and do not do it in a way to gain the moral high ground but purely because “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).  Practically, this might mean taking in your neighbour’s rubbish bin, giving due credit to a certain colleague at work, trying to understand things from another persons perspective or being sensitive to someone else’s beliefs (i.e. not eating bacon in front of a seventh day Adventist or not participating in orange marches particularly if they pass through Catholic areas).

 

3. Kingdom Love is God’s Love

In the ancient world many trades were passed on generationally from father to son.  Therefore the love spoken of within this passage is none other than God’s love “for He is kind to the unthankful and (the) evil.”  We are seen, therefore, as apprentices  and co-labourers in His great work.

Application: Now you might be thinking that the person/s or group that you have in mind are completely undeserving of any good.  I would agree but I would also assume that you are not deserving of any good either,  and therefore even if the good that you seek to do is not received in a loving spirit, then I would exhort you to share it universally (not just to those who have offended you but to all) and untiringly, so that all might see that you are a son of the most high God.

 

Conclusion

“Christ’s injunctions are not to be applied mechanically, formally, or in foolish blindness which loses sight of the true purposes of love.  Love is to foster no crime in others or to expose our loved ones to disaster or perhaps death…Christ never told me not to restrain the murderer’s hand, not to check the thief and robber, not to oppose the tyrant, or to foster shiftlessness, dishonesty, and greed by my gifts.”  Lenski

Therefore let us not be fools; nonetheless let us not also be those that use over-caution as an excuse not to forgive the unforgivable in ourselves and in others.

 

*Our infinite God has chosen to limit Himself by using finite men therefore the sermon and the study notes should be received in a spirit of humility for that was the spirit in which they have been given. It is therefore our prayer that by the power of the Spirit’s illumination they might be used for the glorification of God and the transformation of your life*

[the audio from the 1st clip and the video from the 2nd where put together and shown before the sermon]

 

As Christ loved the Church!

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33.
What does it mean to love your wife as Christ loved the Church? How do we go about doing it?

As I write, these questions and this section of the of Ephesians 5 seem increasingly pressing and pertinent. The reason for this is simple. I’m getting married on Oct 19th and as such by 2pm that afternoon I become Lauren’s husband and this command will apply directly to me.

In effect verse 25-26 will read, “Andrew, love Lauren, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

If you are married, or soon to be married stick your names into verse 25 and read the passage again. This verse carries a stunning weight when personalised. The command to love your wife as Christ loved the Church is staggering both in terms of it’s privilege and responsibility.

Over my next few posts I’m going to be looking at exactly how Christ loves His bride, and how we should go about mirroring Him as we love our brides.

We will consider leadership, servanthood, intercession, sacrifice, provision, protection, faithfulness, patience, and pursuit. If you can think of anything else that you’d like me to cover drop me a comment and I’ll add it in.

Yours in Christ

Andrew.

Soli Deo Gloria.