“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

The Cost of Discipleship [Luke 9:57-10:24]

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

The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his exploration of the freeness of grace and the costliness of discipleship, wrote:

“To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. … the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.”[1]

 This emphasis, however, is sadly lacking within modern evangelicalism.  The fear of legalism and works-based righteousness has produced, instead, an anaemic form of Christianity that might best be described as the Gospel about Jesus instead of the Gospel of Jesus.  I am not saying that discipleship is the way in which we are right with God [Galatians 3:11] BUT that it should be the normal response of spiritual rebirth [Ezekiel 36:25-27].

 

1. The Call to Follow

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:57-62 NKJV

 

As Jesus is moving from the region of Galilee in the North to the region of Judea in the South He comes across three prospective disciples.  The first, however, whilst he is eager to join has not clearly understood that Jesus has been refused hospitality in Samaria and therefore has nowhere to sleep and is effectively homeless [Luke 9:51-53].  The second man is asked to become a disciple but wants to wait until his father is buried and the third man wants to go home first and say goodbye to his family.[2]  Whilst this may seem harsh to us, what we must remember is that Jesus was in His final year of ministry at this time, which meant there was a sense of great urgency about His mission, an urgency that at times must be present within our own lives.

APPLICATION: Whilst we are weak and fallen individuals unable to follow the call, let us ask that God might give us the grace to count the cost, follow immediately and not look back.  This week look at the different areas of your life; these might include your intellect, time keeping, thought life, your finances, relationships or work.  Ask that God may allow you to see practical ways in which these might be used for His glory; if however, there are areas which do not bring Him glory you must turn your back on these things and begin to follow wholeheartedly.  This will not be easy and therefore must be done in prayer and in the counsel of mature believers.

 

2. The Command to Go

10 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ 12 ButI say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Luke 10:1-12 NKJV

 

Having whittled down these would-be followers to seventyish (the manuscripts are equally divided between seventy and seventy-two) Jesus commissions them for a mission trip.  On this mission trip Jesus gives them a plethora of principles that we can draw for our own lives.  Mission is better accomplished in partnership [v1] and while it is the job of all Christians, most don’t want to get involved so we need to pray for more workers [v2].  It will also involve great danger [v3], a sense of urgency [v4] and a dependence upon God and His people for provision [v5-7a].  It goes on to teach that we shouldn’t keep moving around until our mission is accomplished [v7b], that we shouldn’t be fussy at the provision we are given [v8], that there should be a proclamation and a demonstration of the Gospel [v9] and finally that we should not be embarrassed at God’s righteous indignation of sin [v10-12].

APPLICATION: I would like to encourage you to live missionally as that is what Christ requires of us all [John 20:21].  Please do not make others your pet-project or overwhelm them by becoming annoyingly overfamiliar before you even know them though; this only makes people suspicious of your motives and actually repels people from the Gospel.  Instead, try living more inclusively and developing actual friendships within your neighborhood and workplace; be ready to give an account of your faith, by all means, but please refrain from an aggressive, all-guns-blazing approach.

 

3. The Cause for Celebration

17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but ratherrejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 Allthings have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  Luke 10:17-22

 

The seventy return and begin celebrating their triumph over demons, something the twelve were unable to do earlier [Luke 9:38-41].  Jesus, however, tells them that they must not rejoice in what they do but where they are going, for even exemplary outward service is not an indicator of inner motives or of eternal salvation [Matthew 7:21-27].  Jesus then begins to rejoice at the fact that God Himself is the determining factor of whether someone is able to understand or not understand spiritual truth.

APPLICATION: Having understood this we must develop the utmost humility before God, acknowledging our absolute need of Him for salvation and spiritual revelation for the default position of man is blindness and enmity toward Him [Romans 8:5-8].  Over the centuries, many Christians have found “the Jesus prayer” helpful in developing this posture of humility.  Why not try and pray it throughout the week?

“Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

 

Here is a link to a film about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

 


[2] The second man’s father may have recently died, been ready to die or may have been in perfect health.  It was the job of the firstborn son to bury his parents.

It’s Ok Not to be Ok [Luke 9:27-56]

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

 

It seems, to me at least, that in so many evangelical churches, positive mental attitude has replaced biblical faith, so much so that many new or biblically illiterate Christians have total misconceptions as to the Christian life, mistaking triumphalism for faith and arrogance for assurance.  This is dangerous, for a Christianity built on such a foundation is often feeble, unrealistic and brings nothing but condemnation.  What is probably worst of all, it neglects the fact that Jesus wrestled with the will of God in the garden of Gethsemane [Matthew 26:36-45], Paul struggled with indwelling sin [Romans 7:14-25], Peter was publicly rebuked because of his religious/racial prejudice [Galatians 2:11-15] and John, on two separate occasions, tried to worship an angel [Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9].

My point is not to commend these things, for in fact, the opposite is true.  It is to highlight these things so that the Christian might not be surprised at the constant battle within his/her own life, a battle that has been permitted by Christ to humble us [2 Corinthians 12:7-10] and cause us to rely upon Him and on one another.  Nowhere can this be more consistently demonstrated than in this particular passage.

Here we see the inattentiveness of the disciples who are sleeping on the mountain of transfiguration [Luke 9:32], saying stupid things [Luke 9:33], unable to cast out a demon because of their lack of faith and prayer [Matthew 17:19-21, Mark 9:28-29, Luke 9:41][1] who refuse to ask Jesus when they clearly did not understand His teaching [Luke 9:44-45] and then argue over who going to replace Him when He died [Luke 9:46-48], something that also happens at the last supper Luke 22:22-24],  not to mention the prejudice they show [Luke 9:49-50, 9:52-54].  My point is that even our so-called heroes in the faith were not perfect men and therefore we should not be surprised when these imperfections rear their ugly heads in us or in other people.  They can and will be overcome.  However, for this to become a reality, our faith must be based on Christ and His work and not on a positive impression of ourselves.

 

APPLICATION: This week I want to encourage you to accept who you are, failings and all, and understand the fact that this was exactly the reason why God chose you [1 Timothy 1:15-16].  Secondly, I want you to begin taking your faith and placing it on Him and upon His finished work and not upon yourselves.  To understand this is to understand the grace of the Gospel, which is that He has chosen you, He will preserve you and He will sanctify you [Ephesians 1:4-5, 1:13b-14].  All you must do, by His grace, is believe it and allow it to be manifest in the way you think and live.

“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.”[2]


[1] Whilst “fasting” is a type of prayer and is added in some translations to Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:39 it is not included within our best manuscripts of the New Testament and therefore should not be considered part of the original text.  This is often picked up within the footnotes.

[2] “Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Bancroft

WWJD? [Luke 8:22-9:26]

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

 

When I was younger, I used to watch a TV programme called “Quantum Leap.”  In it, a physicist called Sam Beckett would travel through time jumping into the lives of other people in which he would solve some sort of dilemma before he would jump into the life of another. [1]  The Christian life is loosely analogous to this concept too, in that the new life of Christ has come alive within us and helps lead us, guide us and conform us into His image.  And while this is done through God providentially assigning us with a specific genetic make-up, leading us into and out of certain life experiences and through the power of His Spirit, it is also, to a greater or lesser extent, linked to our volitional choice.  Therefore, we as believers must genuinely ask the question, in regards to how we live our lives and the decisions we make, what would Jesus do?

Luke, in this passage, having described the demands of discipleship, gives us a twenty-four hour period within the life of Jesus – a period from which we are able to draw three integral truths for the life of the Christian and the life of the Christian Church.  These truths, however, must not be seen as exhaustive but illustrative of individual and collective Christlikeness.

 

1. The Primacy of Care

22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them,“Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep.” Luke 8:22-23

 

Most Christians, like their non-Christian friends and family, have very little time for other people.  Sure, we can be polite and civil (some of us at least), but our relationships with our fellow worshippers, family members, work colleagues and neighbours is often superficial at best and our care of the stranger in our midst, be it the new girl at work, the immigrant neighbours who have just moved in or the new family at Church can, at times, be appalling.  Jesus here is completely exhausted but still takes the time to still the storm [Luke 8:24], deliver a demon-oppressed man [Luke 8:27-39], heal a sick woman [Luke 8:43-48], raise a young girl from the dead [Luke 8:51-55] and feed five thousand people [Luke 9:12-17].  He did this because He believed in the primacy of care and the importance of people.

APPLICATION: As disciples we must follow His example.  This does not mean we should overstep boundaries or not practise wisdom, but it does mean that we should learn people’s names, learn a little bit about what their interests are and about their families, stop dominating conversations, share the truth in love, refuse to put them down even in jest, practise and receive hospitality and invite them into our lives or get involved in theirs, particularly if they look as though they really need our help.  It is this counter-cultural stance that makes evident the genuineness of our faith for He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” [1 John 2:6].

 

 

2. The Priority of Prayer

All bible-believing Christians agree on the importance of prayer and no-one modelled its need and the priority it should take in our lives as much as Jesus.  Even within this short period we see Jesus praying a prayer of protection against the storm [Luke 8:24], a prayer of deliverance for the demon-possessed man [Luke 8:29-33], a prayer of intercession for a dead girl [Luke 8:52-55], a prayer of commission for the twelve [Luke 9:1-2],a prayer of thanks for  the provision of the five thousand [Luke 9:16] and a prayer for revelation for the disciples [Luke 9:18-20, Matthew 16:17].   However, our lives and churches often suffer from a lack of supernatural power that results from the low priority we place on sincere, heart-felt, faith-based prayer.

APPLICATION: This week ask that God would give you the ability to pray.  Spend some time finding what places and what times work best for you.  A fruitful prayer life will have set-times (like before meals, when waking up and going to bed) and impromptu times, will pay attention to the bible and the newspaper and will be for the affairs of others as well as for yourself.  Some people may find that worship music or the sound of creation helpful when praying.[2]

 

3. A Willingness to Share

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases…So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1,6

A husband who can repair an engine but is unable to cook a meal, a child who can use complex electronic equipment but is unable to use a washing machine, an office that is over-reliant on one member of staff or a Church that collapses after the loss of their pastor or worship leader are all tragedies.  These tragedies often have two things in common, an unwillingness of people to share their skills and the unwillingness of others to learn those skills.  Jesus chose to complete His mission by transferring His skills to His team, and their role, as willing disciples, was to learn and practise those skills.

APPLICATION: We, too, must be facilitating others and be willing to learn new skills whether they be in the Church, the home or the workplace.  Why not start by taking an inventory of some of the things that you are responsible for or some of the things you do well and teach others.  This does not necessarily mean that you need to abdicate responsibility, though you may, but it does mean that you can empower others.  Alternatively, you might want to get involved in areas in which you have little or no knowledge or for which you have not been responsible before.  Please remember that even the most complex task can be broken down, making it more simple and manageable.  Remember the way in which the “Karate Kid” is trained through menial tasks?

 


[2] While it is a poor substitute for creation itself the sounds of nature are freely available on the internet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdIJ2x3nxzQ

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.

How to Judge without being Judgmental [Luke 6:37-49]

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

 

Introduction

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. [v37]

 

It would be ridiculous and completly un-biblical if the Christian was not to exercise any discerning judgment as to people and situations.  If you are going to employ someone who you do not know to baby-sit your kids, manage your business or if you are going to work for a company which is renowned for illegal activity or immoral behaviour and use this passage as a proof text then it gives more evidence of your own stupidity than any real or perceived piety.  The passage, when taken in its wider context,  does not require you to abandon your critical faculties when becoming a Christian but  teaches how one might judge without being judgmental.  In particular it allows us to see how one might be able to identify a true disciple.

 

1. Judging the Teacher

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. [v39-40]

 

Blind disciples follow and will become like their blind teachers.[1] This will lead to calamity, both temporal and eternal, for both of them.  So how might we identify a false teacher?

 

1. Doctrine: False teachers hold false doctrine and whilst they may use the bible they cannot be considered biblical as they are often more interested in placing their own opinions upon the text of Scripture than drawing out its actual meaning (2 Peter 1:20).  What is more distressing however, is that whilst they may be sincere and even move powerfully in the miraculous (Matthew 7:21-23), they have little understanding or regard for the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), for Apostolic doctrine  (Acts 2:42) or the person and the work of Jesus.

2. Lifestyle: Both legalistic asceticism (Colossians 2:20-23) and flagrant inquity (1 John 2:4) are condemned within scripture.  Nonetheless, these in themselves are useful ways of identifying a false teacher.  Please remember, like Jesus, that the Christian must hold together in tension self-denying separation from sin and the world (Matthew 16:24) and full participation in life (Luke 7:34).

3. Motive: If the sole motivation for a person is money, popularity, pride, peace or position then it is merely a matter of time before they are blinded by these things and will take them selves and their followers unto ruin.  Therefore, be on your guard.

 

Application: Write down a list of those who exercise significant influence within your life; this might include preachers, musicians, friends, family members and colleagues.  In light of the above you must prayerfully discern which ones you should allow to exercise such significant influence, which ones you should limit and which ones you should remove from your life entirely (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).  Allowing people with a bad theology and a bad lifestyle who have ulterior motives to influence your life substantially is foolish and exactly what Jesus rails against.

 

2. Judging the Fruit

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. [v45]

 

So that we may place no confidence in the flesh and remain wholly dependent upon God we are required to  wrestle with our old nature continually (Romans 7:14-25) and therefore if we are positionally righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) we will become more and more practically righteous in Christ also.  Not that we have arrived or, in this life, ever will.  The false disciple, however, knows nothing of positional righteousness nor practical righteousness.  This is often made manifest in the way they live and particularly in the way they speak.

 

Application: Are you someone who is always demeaning others by your angry tone, using terms like “kid” and “flower” when speaking to adults and/or are you someone who is always criticising, correcting, interrupting others and speaking before others have finished (Proverbs 10:19)?  And what do you speak about?  Do you speak life, wisdom and encouragement or foolishness, worldliness, triviality or gossip?

 

This week make a conscious effort, by God’s Spirit, to tame your tongue (James 3:6-8).  Watch how you speak and what you speak about for it reveals what lies in the subterranean regions of your heart.

 

Judging the Foundation

47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” [v47-49]

 

The final way in which someone’s profession of faith can be judged is to see if it is able to weather the storm, for that which is unable to weather it may have been built close to Christ but has not been built on Christ or by Christ.  Therefore, those who are truly saved may falter and fail at times but they will endure until the end  (Psalms 37:23-24, John 17:11-12, Philippians 1:6 and Hebrews 12:2).

 

Application: Either do a little bit of research on the lives of Corrie Ten Boom, Eric Liddel or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or look at examples within your own family or Church for those whose faith has remained strong in spite of the storms.  What practical principles can you apply from their life to yours?

 

Conclusion

Whilst only God is able to distinguish those who are truly His, this text provides for us three tests as to the sincerity of one’s profession.  Please remember that while salvation is purely a work of grace, transformation is the usual evidence of saving grace.[2]  If you have failed on each of these points then you must humbly ask God for the gifts of on-going repentance, faith and service.

 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

From “My Hope is Built” by Edward Mote

 

lyrics and story behind “My Hope is Built”

 

*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*


[1] Whilst this particularly deals with religious teachers, it can also apply to all who exercise influence within one’s life (i.e. parents, peers, authors etc.).

[2] Due to God’s grace there will be rare exceptions but we must not try to build our belief and practice upon these exceptions (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Following Jesus [Luke 6:17-26]

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

Introduction

Having picked His twelve apostles Jesus shows them the ministry that they are to participate in, the healing of the sick and the preaching of Truth.  From it we are able to extrapolate what it means to follow Jesus.

 

1. The Demonstration of Power

While there are many ways in which the Christian might be defined, biblically speaking it is a person who has received the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit and allows that power to move through them.  Therefore, no man can decide for Christ or be born a Christian; he must be born again.  And likewise, no man is able to live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Application: Have you truly been born again?  That is, do you know that Christ died for your sin, is on your side by grace and now dwells in you giving you new power and strength to live?  If not then I would urge you, my friend, to get on your knees before God and beg Him to show Himself to you.  If you have, I would encourage you to be a conduit of His power by the way in which you live, by praying for others, witnessing and by emulating Him, the word of God says: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” 1 John 2:6.  Please understand, however, that the power to do this comes from His word, His Spirit and through the encouragement of His body the Church and not from guilt or self-effort.

 

2. The Declaration of Truth

Having healed the sick and cast out demons he goes on to a teaching section which is known as “The Sermon on the Plain” and whilst this is not identical it should be seen as parallel with “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew ch 5-7).  Within this section Jesus is portrayed as the new Moses who comes down the mountain to a mixed multitude and pronounces the Kingdom’s blessing and curses (Deuteronomy ch 27-28).  It must be remembered these are not given as a qualification for entry but as evidence for entry (Luke 6:46-49) and describe the way in which God’s view of man.

Jesus is not advocating abject poverty for this would contradict the rest of Scripture; instead this is to be read as Jesus bestowing a blessing on the righteous poor who have suffered righteously.  In like manner He is pronouncing a blessing upon the hungry, the weeping and the persecuted.  Within the following section He pronounces a “woe” upon the rich, the comfortable, the pleasure-seeking and the popular.  Again, these are not evil in themselves but only if they become the sum total of our life.

Application:  Are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?  The best way to check is to see how you spend your time and your money and see how you use resources and talents.  Whatever is the sum total of your life is your god.

 

Conclusion

Following Jesus should never be seen as attainable.  Sinless perfection was purchased for us by the cross of Calvary but is unachievable when living with a fallen nature, wrestling with a fallen enemy and living in a fallen world.  Nonetheless, we should be sinning less, for we: “with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 3:18.  Therefore let us, by the mercy of God, declare this truth with our lives that all may come to see and know Him.

*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*