Best Thanksgiving sermons

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Thanksgiving Sermon for 2014

1) Lk. 16:20-21 – READ
2) The word “beggar” tells us this man was poor.
3) When we look at Lazarus in Lk. 16, what did he have in the form of transportation?
4) The word “laid” indicates this man had virtually zero mobility.
5) Lazarus also lacked when it came to health care.
i) Lazarus was cared for by dogs (Lk. 16:21).
ii) Imagine having multiple open sores (wounds) and dogs lick them.
6) In addition to commenting on Lazarus’ lack of transportation and health care, Jesus spoke about food.
i) This man wanted “crumbs” from the table of the rich man (Lk. 16:21).
ii) This man longed for table scraps like we might offer to a dog.

THE “SMITH” FAMILY.

1) Mr. and Mrs. Smith each have an automobile, but their vehicles are far from new.
2) Both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are thinking this year will be another slim Christmas.
3) Old cars, poor gas mileage, low wages, sparse Christmas plans, new medical issues – things look pretty bleak.
4) The Smith family is not really looking for to Thanksgiving; what do they have to be thankful for?
5) By in large America is a country where people are often ungrateful.
6) Even if we can focus on being grateful for, there may be still some dissatisfaction for what we do not have.
7) Perhaps it is time to look at thankfulness in a new way.
8) Perhaps many would benefit by considering things they are allowed to avoid (not experience).

LOOKING AT LIFE IN A ENW WAY.

1) Could the Smith family be:
i) Thankful their children had medical issues that could be addressed and solved?
ii) Grateful they had transportation, a place to call home, and food on the table?
iii) Thankful they had jobs, they qualified for a loan, and they had an Obama Phone?
iv) Their family was safe, intact, and together?

b) If we break a leg, thank God our problem is not a more serious medical issue.
i) If our medical copay goes from $5 to 50, thank God is not $500 and we can afford the increase.
ii) If our child gets sick for a day or a week, thank God it is not a lifelong problem.

2) Our thankfulness can also include where we live.
3) We should be thankful we live in this country rather than some other places in the world.
i) Imagine living in a country where fresh water is not readily available.
ii) Imagine living in a country where people have almost no access to courts and justice.

4) In many ways EVERY DAY in America should be Thanksgiving Day.
5) We can come up with hundreds of not thousands of things which we are allowed to avoid in life.

6) If all we had to be thankful for were bad things we are allowed to avoid, we would be greatly blessed.
7) Our time and country allows us to avoid many bad things PLUS enjoy many good things.
8) Are we TRULY thankful?

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Do the work of an evangelist

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2 Timothy 1:1-10 – Fan the Flame

From time to time, we lose our zeal; or at least the fire grows cold. We need to, periodically, fan that flame back into a fire. In 2 Timothy 1, Paul tells Timothy to “kindle afresh” the gift of God that he had (1:6). 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter he wrote and it is among his most personal.

The theme of 2 Timothy is the very brief command in 4:5: “do the work of an evangelist.” Everything will submit to that command. In this letter of four chapters, Paul gives 33 imperatives.

THE GOSPEL IS BASED IN CHRIST’S AUTHORITY – 1:1-2:
Paul begins by referring to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.
Paul is saying that with eternal life being found in Christ Jesus, it was God’s will that Paul be chosen as an apostle to teach and preach that message.

THE GOSPEL IS CONTINUOUS WITH THE OLD TESTAMENT – 1:3-5:
Paul served God with a clear conscience “the way my forefathers did.” Paul saw the New Testament faith as continuous with the Old Testament faith just as a rose is continuous with its seed. It is an outgrowth, a maturing, a development from one to the other.
Paul never disparages the Law of Moses. Jews were saved, in a sense, under the Law of Moses in the same way that mankind is saved today under the Law of Christ: Faith that obeys the Laws of God given by His grace.

THE GOSPEL IS A CALL TO ACTION – 1:6-8:
It is that living faith that has been passed down through at least three generations that serves as the foundation for Paul’s appeal to Timothy in this section with the first imperative of the letter (found in verse 8)…
The reason Timothy is to “kindle afresh” this gift is because God has not given us a spirit of timidity but the spirit of power, love, and discipline. You could imagine what impact it would have on Timothy for his beloved mentor, Paul, to call on Timothy to be just as active and courageous!
It is the message of the Spirit, the “promise of life,” that gives us courage. That’s what gives us the power to move ahead, to stay faithful, to endure, to love, and to control our own thinking, or “sound judgment” (NASV marg.).
“Therefore,” Paul draws a conclusion… “Because you have a living faith and have a gift within you that gives you power, love, and self-discipline,” Paul tells Timothy (his first imperative): “Join in suffering with me.”
Paul wants Timothy to agonize with him in prayer, in sharing the Gospel with others, in being willing to be persecuted, even martyred for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Endure the pain, too,” Paul says.
The power of God will conquer. It will not break Paul out of prison, but who cares? It will break the chains that Satan holds around the hearts of the centurions who are guarding Paul (cf. Phil. 1:13). When Paul tells the Christians in Rome in Romans 16:20: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet,” he meant that through the power of the Gospel, evil doers will be converted. The tide will turn. That’s why we should never be ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) and why we should never change the Gospel. You cannot improve on God’s power. If you add your thoughts to God’s power, it only dilutes it.

THE GOSPEL FOR WHICH WE SUFFER – 1:9-10:
That Gospel is discussed in various ways in verses 9 & 10…
The plan of salvation is not based on any works that we have done. But it is in agreement with His own plan, His own purpose, and His own grace. God planned throughout eternity that Jesus would be the sacrifice for sin and that those who obeyed God would be forgiven of those sins and would be added to His spiritual body, the Church.

Do the work of an evangelist and spread the Gospel message.

–Paul Holland

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Thinking Right about God by Frank Chesser

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Thinking Right About God

Perhaps you reached this conclusion years ago but within the last two years or so I have been overwhelmed with this perspective: It all begins and ends with the nature of God. When Moses begins writing the text of Scripture, he says, “In the beginning, God…” That says it all, right there. If you need to trust God, you must understand the nature of God. If you are thinking of obeying God (or not obeying God), you must understand the nature of God.

Whether we believe in the miracles of Jesus, it ultimately depends on our understanding of the nature of God. Whether we accept the Bible as the word of God, it ultimately depends on our understanding of the nature of God. How we view the world is affected by our view of the nature of God.

Frank Chesser is truly a word-artist. He can paint beautiful portraits of sublime themes with the use of words. Chesser has written a few books before, each of which is worth reading: The Spirit of Liberalism, Portrait of God, and Voyage of Faith. His most recent book is again, about God: Thinking Right about God.

Thinking Right about God begins with a look at how God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. We cannot understand God without hearing about how God reveals Himself (1 Cor. 2:11-14). Chesser writes: “The desire to think right about God is the master key to discerning the thinking of God” (pg. 10). That chapter on the nature of God sets the foundation for Chesser’s further comments.

While Chesser weaves his own thoughts together in beautiful prose, you will observe that his thoughts are all based directly on the thoughts of God as He has revealed in Scripture. Chapter Two, on the Nature of God, is a quarter’s worth of Bible study. Teach it. The material will lift the humble in heart and abase the lofty in spirit.

Other chapters in the book deal with sin and redemption, elders and preachers, prejudice, capital punishment, and the “censorious eye.” Chesser’s chapter on the home is a month full of sermons that need to be preached. Within that chapter is this statement that summarizes the whole book: “A man’s mind that is full of the mind of God thinks the thoughts of God. He thinks like God thinks” (pg. 176).

I encourage you to get a copy of Frank Chesser’s book, Thinking Right about God. It will help you fill your mind with the thoughts of God.

–Paul Holland

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Free Bible study on Psalm 59

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Stand By Me – Psalm 59

Ben E. King was a souls singer from the 60s and 70s and is best known for a song entitled “Stand by Me.” It is interesting that this song was based on a Gospel song written in 1905 by a Protestant preacher named Charles Albert Tindley. That song may be familiar to you as it begins, “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me…”

These same sentiments are expressed by David in Psalm 59, which I want us to study.

You will notice in the superscription of the psalm that it was written by David “when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him.” That would place Psalm 59 in the context of 1 Samuel 19. When we look at 1 Samuel 19, we find that Saul is trying to kill David.

The way that our adversary, the Devil, works today is through deceit. He works in some way to get us to question and doubt the power of God, His love, His grace, His justice, His wrath, His truth in the Bible. That’s the battle we fight today, against the world forces in this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). So, even today, we call upon God to “stand by me.” Let’s look at this psalm…

STANZA ONE – THE CALL ON GOD FOR DELIVERANCE (59:1-5):
In this strophe, David calls on God for help through seven commands…

Verse 1 – Command #1 – David calls on God for deliverance. He describes these people through four expressions: 1.) His enemies, 2.) “those who rise up against me,” 3.) “those who do iniquity,” and 4.) “men of bloodshed.”

Verse 2 – Commands #2 & #3 – Deliver me. Save me. The focus of the psalm is deliverance from those who sin. In fact, David will use four different words for “sin” in this psalm: iniquity (wickedness, evil), “transgression” (vs 3; stepping beside or going beyond); “sin” (vs 3; missing the mark); and “guilt” (vs 4).

Verse 3 – This verse begins with “for,” showing the reason for the call.

The strophe contained in verses 4 & 5 has four commands…

Verse 4b – Commands #4 & #5 – Arouse yourself. See! Sometimes we feel like God is not watching, that God is not there, that He does not see.
Verse 5 – “Lord of hosts” acknowledges that God has a multitude of angels at His bidding and His call. We are not told much about angels, I suggest, because God does not want us worshiping angels nor trusting in angels. Yet, angels are there for God to use for His children as God sees fit (Heb. 1:14).
Commands #6 & #7. Awake. Do not be gracious. David says he’s going to leave vengeance in the hands of God. In 1 Samuel 24 and 26, God gives David a test to see if he will, in fact, leave vengeance in the hands of God. David, of course, passes the test.

STANZA TWO – DAVID’S ENEMIES VERSUS GOD – 59:6-10a:
David turns descriptive in these verses. He goes from talking to God to talking about his enemies and about God…

Verse 8 – God scoffs at the nations. The militant atheists of our day may write best-selling books and draw large crowds and laugh at the God of heaven and His Bible, but God will get the last laugh. No one mocks God with impunity.

Verse 10 – Not only is God powerful but God is also a God of “lovingkindness.” “Lovingkindness” is the grace of God. It is His commitment to be faithful to the covenant He made with man and the faithfulness that motivates God to keep that covenant despite man’s sin against the covenant. David mentions this “lovingkindness” of God here and in verses 16 & 17.

STANZA THREE – DAVID’S CALL FOR TEMPERANCE – 59:10b-13:
Verse 11 – There are three commands in this verse: Command #1 – Do not slay them. Command #2 – Scatter them by your power. Observe here the words David uses that have a military connotation. “Set me securely on high” from verse 1 is a cognate word for “stronghold” in verse 9. We also have “strength” (vs 9), “power” (vs 11) and “shield” (vs 11). Again, in verse 16, we have “strength” and “stronghold” and “refuge” and then “strength” and “stronghold” in verse 17.

STANZA FOUR – DAVID’S ENEMIES AND DAVID’S RESPONES TO GOD – 59:14-17:
The final strophe (verses 16-17) is David’s responses to God. Verse 16 – “But as for me,” is emphatic in Hebrew. What is David going to do? He will worship! He will sing of God’s strength. He will sing of God’s grace, God’s lovingkindness.

Verse 17 – David will sing praises to God. Why? Because God is his stronghold, his power. He is the God who shows David lovingkindness.

When you are in need, call on God to stand by you. He has the power to do what is right. He has the lovingkindness to do what is right.

–Paul Holland

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Too many irons in the fire

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Take Some Irons Out Of The Fire

We have a common idiom that describes someone who has ‘too many irons in the fire’.  The reference is to a blacksmith who is trying to work several items in the fire of his forge.  In fact, he has too many objects in the fire and some will ruin before he is able to do his necessary work.  Today, while there aren’t many blacksmiths around, we still use the expression to describe someone who is trying to juggle too many responsibilities and activities.  The end result is that some things don’t get done as they should.

Christians must be careful about having ‘too many irons in the fire’.  Jobs, careers, educational pursuits, hobbies, recreation, kid’s activities, various programs, etc., all have the potential to keep us so busy that we allow spiritual things to get crowded off (or at least seriously downgraded on) our list of priorities.  We cannot afford to let this happen.

In Matthew 24:37ff, Jesus said, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”  People were, of course, very wicked in that time.  But look at the list of things they were doing.  Note that not all of them were necessarily sinful.  But, clearly, they had excluded God from all their thoughts and plans.  They had even ignored the warnings that Noah was preaching (2 Peter 2:5).  They were just too busy for God – and that, friends, is TOO busy!

So, look at your schedule again.  Re-evaluate your commitments and activities.  Are you crowding God out of the top spot?  If so, you need to ‘take some irons out of the fire’.  Think!

- by Greg Gwin

 

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Free Bible study on Luke 17

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Created for Praise – Luke 17:11-19

One distinction between Christians and non-Christians is understanding the need to be thankful, even in the middle of suffering (1 Peter 1:7-8; Hebrews 12:11). Paul said that the departure from the faith happens because of a lack of thankfulness (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Let’s study the nine unthankful lepers from Luke 17:11-19 in order to learn from their example – let’s be like the lone thankful leper.

WE ALL NEED HELP – 17:11-12:
These men “stood at a distance” because they were lepers. One was “unclean” from the point of view of race (Samaritan) as well as unclean from the point of view of health (they were lepers).
All of us have problems. We are concerned about many things that we cannot do anything about. Nobody lives life without problems. That’s why we need help.

WE SERVE A MASTER FULL OF MERCY – 17:13-14:
The lepers recognize in Jesus the attribute of being a teacher and that He has the ability to heal them. So, they cry out or pray for mercy from Jesus. “Mercy” is found 119 times in the NASV. Mercy “describes the emotional response and resulting action after encountering the suffering or affliction of another” (Mounce, 447). So the lepers cry out for the “kindness” of Jesus to heal them.
God causes the sun to shine on the evil and on the good and sends the rain on the just and the unjust. Why? Because He is a God of mercy.

GOD DESERVES PRAISE – 17:15-18:
One of the ten healed returns. One. One glorified God with a loud voice. One. The majority of the time, the majority are in error. One. Jesus healed all of them but not all were thankful.
The ten were blessed. The ten were healed. The ten experienced the goodness and kindness of God. The ten tasted the heavenly gift. The ten tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come. But one returned. One glorified God. One gave thanks to Jesus.
But not only that but giving thanks to God leads us to give thanks to others around us. If I am thankful to God for my wife, I will tell God. Then, I will tell my wife. When we show/express thankfulness, it communicates that we value that other person. One of the most important needs that we have as human beings is the need to feel valued, the need to feel appreciated. For over twenty five years, Dr. Nick Stinnett at the University of Alabama has studied what makes marriages strong and one of the six major qualities that make families strong is the quality of appreciation.

THANKSGIVING BRINGS FURTHER REWARD – 17:19:
Jesus told the Samaritan – “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” It seems here that Jesus passes from the physical blessing to the spiritual blessing (just as He did before in Mark 5).
Being thankful brings further rewards. With God, it brings further blessings. With our spouse, it will strengthen our relationship with the other and motivate him/her to do more. With our employer, it may bring added honor, responsibilities, even promotions. With our employees, it lights a fire under them to work more and harder – to go the extra mile.

Take home message: In everything, to everyone – give thanks.
–Paul Holland

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Do not Make Merchandise of the Gospel 1 Timothy 6:3-10

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Men (and women for that matter) have to make a living. We have bills to pay, health care, retirement, etc. Everyone needs something to do to earn a salary for their own expenses and to share with those in need (Eph. 4:28). What we cannot do is use the Gospel to make money, even teaching falsely for the sake of monetary gain. Nor can we support those who do.

In this paragraph (1 Tim. 6:3-10), Paul gets to the heart of a false teacher, literally. If anyone teaches something different than what Paul has been teaching, something that is not consistent with sound (“healthy”) words, those of the Lord Jesus and His doctrine that conforms to godliness…

Such a teacher is conceited and understands nothing! Wow! What an indictment! I may not be able to judge a man’s heart but Paul does. Not submitting to the apostles’ doctrine leads one to discuss and argue other things. He has a “morbid” interest in controversial questions and disputes. The end result of this attitude is: envy, strife, abusive language (“blasphemia”), evil suspicions…
Notice that Paul is sarcastic here when he says these people “understand nothing!” How can you understand “nothing”?

False teaching brings constant friction with men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth. Not only is their heart conceited but their mind is depraved and they do not have the truth! Why? Because they are not teaching the truth! In Paul’s case, these men are using the “Gospel” as a means to make money…

THE GREED OF FALSE TEACHERS – 6:6-10:
Yet, godliness is a means of gain, if one is content. “Contentment” is “self-sufficiency.” Of course, Paul’s point is that we should depend on Christ.

We cannot change the doctrine of Christ to tickle ears and draw in people who are not willing to submit to the teaching of Christ. We need to be content with what God has given us. We did not bring anything into the world and we will carry nothing out (Job 1:21; Psa. 49:16; Eccl. 5:14). It is irrational to do such things for money when that does not last!

There is an ever-present danger in life going well for us, financially, especially, that we turn our backs on Christ’s Truth. Big crowds lead us to believe that God is blessing us because of what we are doing. No, God blesses us when we are faithful, not large. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation, a snare, many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Men will do any sort of evil, wicked, ungodly things in order to gain more money. Some, Paul writes, have wandered away from the faith / the Gospel and pierced themselves through with many sorrows because of the pursuit of money.

Do not preach for money. And certainly, do not pervert the Gospel for the sake of a dime. Eternity costs way too much for that!

–Paul Holland

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The 26th chapter of Isaiah

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You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3—ESV)

The 26th chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful song of praise to God for the safety and well being of his people. Here we have a promise of perfect peace for those whose minds are stayed (set / fixed) on God (Phil. 4:6-7). There is never an hour of temptation or darkness that our God cannot deliver us from its power if we will trust him to do so (Psalm 62:8, Isa. 12:2-3, Psalms 37:39-40, Psalms 119-169-174, Heb. 4:14-16, 1 Cor. 10:13). God knows how to deliver us when in our minds we can see no way out and may even think that all is lost (Isa. 59:1, 1 Cor. 10:13, Eph. 3:20, 2 Pet. 2:9,) It is imperative that we understand the promise of perfect peace, the promise of deliverance is predicated on the love we have for God (Mark 12:30) and the level of trust we are willing to commit to him (Prov. 3:5, Psalms 25:20, Psalms 62:8).

The question now becomes: What would you say are some of the evidences of a mind that is stayed (fixed or set) on God? While there are any number of answers that could be given to this question, allow me in this short message to put before you the following four answers:

1. A mind set on God is a seeking mind—Psalms 34:10, 69:32, 105:4, 119:2, Prov. 8:17, Heb. 11:6, 14, Col. 3:1, Matt. 6:33

2. A mind set on God is a sacrificial mind—Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 2:5, Romans 12:9-21, Philippians 4:3-4, Heb. 13:15-16

3. A mind set on God is evidenced by the willingness to be involved—Mt.5:16, 1 Cor. 15:58, Jas. 1:25, 2 Cor. 8:9, Col. 1:10, Jas. 2:17-18

4. A mind set on God is a submissive mind—Deut. 11:26-27, 1 Sam. 12:14-15, 2 Cor. 10:3-6, James 4:7, 2 Cor. 8:1-5

God has given to each of us a free will allowing us to decide whether or not we will fix our minds on him. Of a truth, with a mind willing to fully, completely submit to God, his word and his church we will live; on the other hand if we refuse to submit our mind to him, we will die (Deut. 6:17, Ps. 119:4, 2 Pet. 1:5, 3:14, 2 Thess. 1:7-9, 2 John 9).

This thought must conclude with a soul searching question for each of us to give answer to: Is my mind stayed on God? The answer we give is a key not only to our well being on this side of eternity but it is also a key to our eternal safety once we shed these earthly bonds.

Charles Hicks

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What does it mean to be sealed by the Spirit?

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Sealed by the Spirit – Ephesians 1:3-14

When the Israelites made the golden calf, God told them that He could not go with them from Mount Sinai because He would destroy them (Exodus 33:1-6). So, He sent an angel to go with them to guide them. Man cannot be holy on his own. He needs God’s help.

Eventually, the prophet Ezekiel would predict that God would send His Holy Spirit to make His people spiritually alive, to make them holy (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

When Peter preached, following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, on the day of Pentecost, he told the Jews that they would not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit until they had repented of their selfishness and been immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). If they were to comply with those two commands – repentance and immersion for the forgiveness of their sins, then they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

All Christians receive the Holy Spirit as a gift once they have obeyed Jesus Christ, Peter says in Acts 5:29.

I want us to look at one passage that deals with being “sealed” by the Holy Spirit: Ephesians 1:3-14.

“SEALING” WITH THE SPIRIT IS “IN” CHRIST JESUS – 1:3-6:
Observe the text…
This whole context is discussing blessings we have in Christ Jesus. Paul says that we are blessed by God “with every spiritual blessing” in Christ. There are, therefore, no spiritual blessings to those outside of Christ. All spiritual blessings are for those who are in Christ, immersed into Him as they have obeyed the Gospel. In fact, notice the number of times that Paul puts these spiritual blessings in Christ: 3, 4, 6, 7 (two), 9, 10 (two), 12, 13 (two). If we have not been immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins, we are not in Christ and these blessings are not ours.

“SEALING” WITH THE SPIRIT INVOLVES REDEMPTION AND RECONCILIATION – 1:7-10:
In Christ, we have redemption through His blood. Paul defines “redemption” in this verse as the “forgiveness of our trespasses.” “Redemption” comes from the slave trade and means to buy someone out of slavery, out of prison. This redemption is accomplished, Paul writes, through the blood of Christ. That washing occurs when we are immersed into Christ, Acts 22:16.

“SEALING” WITH THE SPIRIT INVOLVES AN INHERITANCE – 1:11-14:
We have now come to the seal of the Spirit. The seal was applied to letters and other official documents to guarantee the genuineness of the document and the seal indicated ownership and to ensure protection, that the document had not been tampered from the sender to the recipient.

The “seal of the Spirit” also involves a pledge, the Greek word for “engagement ring.” I want you to take a look at verses 13-14 and observe what Paul says – “After listening to the message of truth,” the Holy Spirit is given. The Holy Spirit does not come before one listens to the message. Nor does the Holy Spirit come before believing. One is not saved by the Holy Spirit coming over you. That’s not the role of the Holy Spirit. But, it is in response to hearing, believing and obeying the Holy Spirit that one comes into possession of the Holy Spirit as a seal of your inheritance.

As Christians, we have been sealed with the Spirit. We belong to God and are protected by God.

–Paul Holland

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The word “obey” in the Bible

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The “Fellow-ship”

A document has found its way into my hands. Some of you may recognize it. I know the author but as the material that came to me was anonymous, I’ll leave it that way. Regardless, the thoughts of the document demand refutal, indifferent to its author.

The author proposes that all “Christians” are on the same boat together. Some are in the “bow;” some are in the “stern.” Yet, we are all on the same ship, moving the same direction and we should not allow our denominational differences to get in the way of unity.

First, we must understand that illustrations do not prove doctrine. They can only illustrate doctrine. The author’s fundamental error in his illustration is the very first sentence: “God has enlisted us in his army and placed us on his ship.” By what means does God place us on his ship? Through what means does God extend to us fellowship?

This author is dishonoring Jesus Christ by suggesting that obedience is an option. We can pick and chose what we want to obey and then “accept” everyone who does not obey Paul’s writings (see 2 Thessalonians 3:14). How blasphemous!

This author also makes a mockery of Jesus’ emphasis on obedience and Truth. The word “obey” is used 169 times in the Bible (ESV), 33 times in the New Testament. “Obedience” is found 19 times in the New Testament. Does anyone who claims to be a Christian believe obedience is optional? Does that not imply we can and must know the Truth? “Truth” is found 101 times in the New Testament. “Teaching” is found 120 times. “Preaching” is found 77 times. Can we not know the Truth? Can we not obey that Truth?

John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Jesus is God. Is this verse hard to understand? Why can’t Jehovah’s Witnesses not understand this verse? What is the fundamental problem!?

Because this author has created his own god to serve and worship, he fundamentally misses one fact: God demands we obey His word. “We each followed him across the gangplank of his grace onto the same boat.” That is true only if we have obeyed Jesus (Mark 16:16); obeyed Peter (Acts 2:38); obeyed Paul (Col. 2:11-12). This man obliterates all obedience out of the New Testament and is suggesting – through “smooth and flattering speech” (see Romans 16:18) – that if someone “calls on the name of the Lord” without submitting to His law, then he can be saved (contra Matthew 7:21-23).

“There is one captain and one destination.” That is absolutely true. But, to reemphasize the point, there is also only one plan of salvation. No man has a right to “make up” his own plan of salvation to get on the “boat.” Remember that it was God who closed the door of the ark (Genesis 7:16). Neither you, this author, nor I have the right to decide what can and what cannot be obeyed in order to be pleasing to God.

The author laments also the “plethora of opinions” that contribute to this “disharmony.” Who died and left this man in charge to say that Mark 16:16 is opinion? Who died and left this man in charge to say that Acts 2:38 is opinion? The solution to “disharmony” and a “plethora of opinions” is not to be found in disgracing Jesus Christ by setting aside His doctrine.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:10 what the solution is. Everyone needs to stop teaching doctrines not found in the New Testament; stop using names and designations and titles not found in the New Testament; stop making laws not found in the New Testament and start obeying Jesus Christ and His inspired apostles. Let us do what the New Testament says to do as we study the context of each individual command of Jesus!

In this whole discussion, the author is correct to quote the words of Jesus from John 17:20. But then he disgraces Jesus by setting the “unity” over and above the basis for that unity. The basis, in the words of Jesus, is not “harmony in the midst of diversity” or “agreeing to disagree” or “acceptance, acceptance, acceptance.” That’s what this author’s “god” says. But that’s not what my Lord and your Lord said. Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, said that we will be “one” “through their [the apostles’, p.h.] word.”

Unity is based on our humble submission to the teachings of Jesus Christ through His inspired apostles, and in no other way. And I cannot have fellowship with someone who is not teaching that same doctrine (2 Thessalonians 3:14), otherwise, I’m condemned by God (Galatians 1:8-9; James 3:1).

May each of us see God’s Truth in contrast with Satan’s flattering lies.

–Paul Holland

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