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Great Book About the Story of Reality February 6, 2017

Posted by roberttalley in Apologetics, Book Reviews, Creation, Death of Christ, Evangelism, God the Father, Jesus, Resurrection, Uncategorized.
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Koukl, Gregory. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How it Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

The length of the subtitle should not be scary. Koukl’s relating of the Story (capitalization his) of reality is a concise, but engaging presentation of the metanarrative of Christiantiy. This books serves as an apology for Christianity, an overview of basic theology, and a passionate evangelistic message. In just less than 200 pages the reader will find a clear and convincing telling of the Story.

The Story is in presented in five parts with an introduction. The idea of story is consistent throughout the book but it is not strictly delivered in a traditional story format. It is more accurate to say that the book is a discussion of the Story. In fact, the device of capitalizing “story” is effective in reminding the reader that even when Koukl dives into apologetic, theological, or philosophical issues, they are all related to the great Christian metanarrative, the Story.

In the “Introduction” the author begins by asking the question “What is Christianity?” He wants the reader to know from the beginning that he is discussing pictures of reality, that is, worldviews. For Koukl each worldview is like a puzzle that people attempt to fit into reality, the better the pieces fit both together and into reality, the more accurate the worldview picture is likely to be. Each worldview is like a map or story but can be misunderstood. Before presenting the Story (the map, the puzzle), Koukl warns that there is a problem that presents itself in the Story to both believers and unbelievers, the problem of evil. Because of that problem, many infer that an important aspect of the Story, God, must not exist, otherwise the problem would not exist.

The five parts of the story are clearly delineated: God, man, Jesus, cross, resurrection. Yet in the presentation of the first part of the Story (God) it becomes clear that there are competing stories: “matter-ism” and “mind-ism”. These two stories are, however, limited. In these two stories the problem of evil cannot exist, that is, there is no place for the existence of evil in the puzzle of reality. This section is an effective apologetic for the Christian worldview against these two competing worldviews for a world with which something is clearly wrong just does not fit into their story and yet everyone seems to recognize that something is clearly wrong with this world. These two stories, however, will not allow it.

When discussing man, Koukl keeps the fact that something is wrong with the world before the reader, but introduces two other ideas: (1) that there is something special about man and (2) that man is broken. Other stories have explanations for this but these explanations fall short. It is at this point that the Story begins to feel like a story rather than an adept apologetic argument. Koukl presents the Fall, though the story of the Fall itself brings up several objections for which another short but deft apologetic section is offered.

This the basic tactic of the book: reveal basic problems that must be addressed before telling some portion of the Story, tell the Story (Jesus, death, resurrection), and answer objections that are raised by the telling of the story. As he nears the end, he reminds his reader of the beginning of the journey to ensure that the reader has not forgotten important aspects of the Story or the answers to significant problems raised by the story that were previously addressed. Koukl weaves effectively what he has told before and how it relates to what he is telling at that moment.

After bringing the Story to a successful conclusion, Koukl tells the story once again through just a few pages in the “Epilogue”, but this time as a passionate evangelistic message. This evangelistic epilogue does an excellent job turning this an apologetic worldview book into an invitation to “accept your pardon now, while you can, and turn and follow Jesus” (page 177). For this reason, this reviewer highly recommends this book as an evangelistic tool though it would certainly be of profit for most Christians as well, especially those who do not understand the real world ramifications of the story. Notes with scripture references are in the back making the book less intimidating for those who might be put off by an “academic” look, however, even Koukl’s notes are often quite engaging. Additionally, his use of stories within the telling of the Story is inviting.

Readers (and users, hopefully) of his 2009 book Tactics will recognize his two part method of asking key questions and revealing false assumptions throughout this newer book. This newest book is highly recommended as a tool for both apologetic and evangelistic purposes.

The Filling with the Spirit as seen in the book of Acts January 3, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Evangelism, Filling with the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Religion, Sermons, Signs and Wonders, Spiritual Goals, Spiritual Power, Tongues, Witnessing.
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THE FILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 2:1-39

People often pray that I would be filled with the Spirit and I need to be. I need the filling of the Spirit so that I might have the capability to witness of Christ. I need that capability in my preaching, my praying, in my ministry. The mother, however, who is trying to teach her children the ways of Christ also needs the filling of the Holy Spirit to enable her, otherwise her efforts will be powerless. She will not be able to pass on to her children the witness of Christ. The ladies who keep our nursery and teach our preschoolers need this filling. Our teenagers need this filling. Our retirees need this filling. We all need this filling so that we might witness of Christ.

A. It is clear from the book of Acts that people can be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). Now the word “with” can be used a couple of different ways.

In Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the context of Ephesians, it seems that the Holy Spirit is the filler. I am normally the one who makes the coffee in our house. There are specific things that I must do to make coffee. One of those things is to place the coffee filter into the coffee maker and then I fill the coffee filter “with” a plastic scoop “with” ground coffee. To fill a coffee filter “with” a plastic scoop is a much different meaning than to fill a coffee filter “with” ground coffee. Ephesians 5:18 seems to be indicating that the Holy Spirit is the means, “the plastic scoop”, by which we are filled. Now this is a subject for a different sermon but if you want to know with what the Holy Spirit fills us, Ephesians 3:19 indicates that it is the fullness of God with which the Holy Spirit fills us.

1. Luke, however, both in his gospel and in the book of Acts uses the phrase “filled with the Spirit” differently. The Holy Spirit is the content (the ground coffee) of the filling (compare 2:2, 4). If you look at verse 2 we have an example of a filling. It says a sound like a rushing mighty wind filled the whole house. Now we are all familiar with the way in which the sound of a blowing wind can drown out all other sounds. It is not that the other sounds do not exist but the sound waves do not go very far. They are overwhelmed by the sound of the wind. On that day, no matter where in that house you were, you could hear that sound. You could not get away from it. In fact, according to verse 6, I think you could have heard the sound outside of the house also. The people who Luke interviewed for his book were in the house, perhaps in different parts of the house but wherever they were in the house the sound like a rushing mighty wind was to be heard. It filled the house.

That is what Luke means when he says that these people were filled with the Spirit. He was in them and there was not a part of their being in which He was not.

2. His filling results in action from the ones who were filled (2:4-11). In this particular case, they were given the ability to speak in tongues, that is, in other languages. Now we need to be careful and not try to become “monkey-see, monkey-do Christians.” The filling with the Spirit is real but it does not always result in tongues speaking. In Acts 4:8, 13, 31 we see that the filling of the Spirit resulted in boldly proclaiming the gospel of Christ. That was also the main characteristic of Stephen in chapters 6-7, a man filled with the Spirit and bold to speak the gospel of Christ. After Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 9:18-25, we find him boldly preaching Jesus as the Christ.

In this chapter we find that boldness to preach the wonderful works of God also accompanied those who spoke in tongues. Miracles may or may not occur but the filling of the Spirit of God resulted in action, most often bold speaking of the gospel of Christ.

Now these actions are not always understood. On the day of Pentecost, it was assumed by some that these men were drunk. In Acts 4:13, the rulers recognized that these men had been with Jesus. In Thessalonica, the people saw Paul and Silas and Timothy and became followers of them and of Christ to such an extent that their enemies claimed that these men had turned the world upside down. It is clear that these men and women acted because of the filling with the Spirit in their lives.

B. People then can be filled with the Holy Spirit but generally it is only God’s people who are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:14-21, 38-39). This is really the point of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. It is not just that people can be filled with the Holy Spirit but that God’s people are the ones now filled with the Holy Spirit and that you can become part of God’s people only through faith in Jesus as the Christ.

Peter is here making it clear that the outpouring of the Spirit on God’s people had been prophesied (2:14-18) and was to a certain extent being fulfilled before their eyes. Obviously, not everything that Joel predicted was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. That fulfillment is still to come when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. What was fulfilled though was the filling of all God’s people with the Spirit of God, young and old, free and slave, man and woman and that the purpose of this fulfillment was to call people to turn to Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

At the top of your bulletin insert there is an outline from Ray Pritchard covering what the Bible teaches about the filling of the Holy Spirit.
“What Moses wished for (Numbers 11),
What Joel predicted (Joel 2:28-29),
What Peter explained (Acts 2:16-20),
Is now available to every believer (Acts 2:21).”
I might also add that this filling of the Spirit will reach it zenith when Christ comes to set up His kingdom on this earth.

It is important that we recognize that these people, although God’s people, were simply people. Peter continued to have problems with prejudice and cowardice despite experiencing the filling with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit enables you to minister effectively but it does not take you permanently to a higher spiritual plane that insulates you from sinful and selfish behavior.

Being filled with the Spirit also did not hinder Paul and Barnabas from disagreeing with one another so vehemently that they parted ways because of a difference of opinion. People wonder how it is that people who appear to be filled with the Spirit can strongly disagree with one another. It is as if they assume that being filled with the Spirit removes all hints of my own personality from my actions, opinions, and decision making. That is just not so. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 14, “The spirit of a prophet is subject to that prophet.” So being filled with the Spirit does not make me a mindless automaton incapable of controlling my own actions but rather it takes my being and empowers me, enables me, emboldens me to do consciously as God would have me to do.

C. The filling with the Holy Spirit is through Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36). As I mentioned earlier, this is the point of Peter’s sermon. The key to being filled with the Spirit of God is faith in Christ.

1. Our witness of Christ is the reason for the filling (2:32-33). This is easily overlooked but is clearly stated in these verses. We have already seen how that in this case, the ability to prophesy or to speak in tongues was the immediate method God used to testify of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). God has not always used these methods and in fact, I believe, does not use these methods anymore because they are no longer needed. We have the completed written Word of God. The significance, however, is not in the method God chooses to use but rather in the message that He is revealing to men and women through our witness.

We have also seen that this boldness to witness is really the primary earmark in Acts of someone who is filled with the Spirit. You see, the Spirit’s main concern is that people know Christ. If your main concern is for people to know Christ, if you have a passion for presenting Christ to a world on its way to hell, then it is likely that you as a believer are while presenting Christ filled with the Spirit. The filling with the Spirit is not identified by passionate feelings but by Spirit-enabled actions of witnessing of Christ and bringing others to discipleship of Christ.

After almost forty years in the faith, I find it relatively easy to determine when I am filled with the Spirit because during those times when I am filled with the Spirit there is great boldness to speak the gospel of Christ. When I am more concerned about what others think of my witness than of being Christ’s witness, I am not filled with the Spirit. I want to be a pastor who is filled with the Spirit. I want to be a father and husband who is filled with the Spirit. I want my wife and my children to be filled with the Spirit. I want this church to be filled with the Spirit. I want us to be bold in our witness for Christ.

2. Not only is Jesus the reason for the filling but He is also the provider of this filling with the Holy Spirit. He receives for us from the Father what we cannot obtain for ourselves (2:33).

“…the Spirit on the day of Pentecost came to these people in answer to the prayer of Jesus, not in answer to their praying…but entirely and absolutely in answer to the request…of Christ Himself (G. Campbell Morgan)” (see John 14:16). This waiting was evidence of their faith and trust in the promise of the Father and the prayer of Christ.

The believer can receive directly from the Father through Christ just as Christ Himself has received from the Father (John 14:12-14). This is why we pray. Jesus Christ has taken the place of authority by sitting on the right hand of His Father. When I pray to the Father, based on my faith in Christ, Christ is saying that the Father will answer my prayers in the same way that He gave to Jesus. The reason He does this, though, is because of Jesus Christ and not because of anything which I may bring before the throne of God. I cannot do anything in my prayers that will guarantee that they are answered. You see, Jesus is my access to the Father. He is the guarantee to answered prayer. That is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.

Now I typically end my prayers with some variation of “in Jesus’ name.” That phrase though is not what guarantees that God answers my prayers. Prayer is not about phraseology. It is about access. I have access to God not because of the way I pray but because I trust for my salvation, Jesus Christ. So it is appropriate to pray for the filling of the Spirit but remember it is because of Christ and not because of you that the filling comes.

Are you filled with the Spirit? If you are, it is because of Jesus Christ and it will be evident to the world because you will have power to tell others about Jesus Christ and your faith in Him.

This, however, cannot be forced. LeRoy Eims tells in his book “The Lost Art of Disciple Making” of being “…asked to develop a summer training program for some high school and college students…” He writes, “During the course, my associates and I kept them on a daily schedule of tough spiritual discipline. We demanded they have a quiet time. We required them to memorize a certain number of Bible verses each day. We forced them to do a daily Bible study. We jammed it down their throats. It was mind over matter; we didn’t mind and they didn’t matter. The whole thing had the air of a Marine Corps boot camp. After the program was over, many of the young people left the camp disillusioned with these things. We had not yet learned that faithfulness and consistency (and I might add, power through the filling with the Holy Spirit) are the result of the promptings of the Holy Spirit within, not human efforts from outside.”

That does not mean that there is nothing we can do though. In Acts 2:42 we find out what the disciples did that allowed the early church to be consistently filled with the Holy Spirit. These were not new things but simply extensions of what the original disciples were already practicing before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (See Acts 1).

1. They learned and obeyed God’s word together (doctrine).
2. They partnered with one another (fellowship) by meeting together for communion and prayer.

We can learn from this pattern. Some of you need to start going to Sunday School and Bible studies so that you can learn the Word of God and be filled with the knowledge of Christ. Others of you need to partner, fellowship, with other believers, in some cases, with this church, with the body of Christ. Your communion with Christ needs to be communion with His body. Some of you need to start praying with us on Wednesday night or if you cannot do that then begin praying with other believers in Christ. These are simple things that we all can do that will help us in our devotion to Christ and will make us available to be filled with the Spirit. Will you do them?

Next Week: Resisting the Holy Spirit

Why the Reception of the Holy Spirit is Not Always Accompanied by Tongues/Prophesying December 30, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Evangelism, Holy Spirit, Joel, Religion, Signs and Wonders, Tongues, Witnessing.
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First, let me apologize for not getting yesterday’s promised links up. I hope to have them up by Sunday.

Many teach that the reception/baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by tongues, prophesying, some other type of miracle, or at least some supernatural power in service (R. A.Torrey, for example). It is easy to understand why. When Moses in Numbers 11 wished that all Israel would be filled with the Spirit, it was for the purpose of supernatural service, particularly prophesying. The prophesy of Joel also specifically indicates miracle gifts like prophesies and visions as being characteristic in the last days of those on whom the Spirit is poured out. It is also true that several times in the book of Acts, not just on the day of Pentecost, that miracles often accompanied the filling with the Spirit.

Yet they did not always, even in the book of Acts. Acts 3:8 speaks of Peter speaking with boldness but not of performing miracles when he was filled with the Spirit.

There are three reasons why I believe that miracles do not always accompany the reception/filling/baptism of the Spirit.

1. Hebrews 2:3-4 teaches that the purpose of these signs and wonders were confirmation of the eyewitness testimony of the disciples. Acts also indicates that these signs and wonders served as confirmation that those believing in Christ were truly believers (Acts 8 and 10-11). We do not need such confirmation today because of the confirmation(s) found in the book of Acts. Also, we have the completed Word of God today which makes confirming signs and wonders unnecessary.

2. The main result of being filled with the Spirit seems to be boldness to witness rather than miracles. Compare the various passages with 1 Thessalonians 1-2, where Paul describes the missionary experience in Thessalonica.

3. The main doctrinal passage on the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer (especially 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 8) do not emphasize the sign gifts. In fact, Romans 8 does not even mention them. It seems that the main work of the Holy Spirit within us and within the church is quite independent of signs and wonders.

For these reasons, one should not require a miracle to prove one’s salvation, to confirm one’s preaching, or to verify that someone has the Spirit of God. The Bible just does not back that up as a present reality.

The Holy Spirit though is of great importance. That is in a sense the theme of the book of Acts. The importance of the Holy Spirit, however, is not in that miracles are performed through men by Him but rather that He enables men to spread the gospel of Christ throughout the world. For that purpose, we certainly continue to need the filling with the Holy Spirit today.

Going Beyond Saying “Merry Christmas” December 8, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Christmas, Evangelism, Messiah, Religion.
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The controversy during the past few years over stores not allowing their employees to wish their customers a “Merry Christmas” has evolved into a political speech issue in the minds of many on both sides of the issue. There is a campaign now that enlists churches to become promotional centers for saying Merry Christmas. This may be a good thing. I am not yet certain. I am afraid though that it is actually a commentary on our failure to present Christ.

Our pastors’ sermons against Santa Claus are sometimes stronger than our sermons presenting Christ.

Our members’ condemnation of the commercialization of a Christian holy day is weak in comparison to our fervor in laying up treasures and gifts for ourselves here on this earth.

Our families’ reservation of the holidays and Holy Days for themselves bears witness of our hesitancy to leave father and mother for Christ.

We rejoice more in the sentimentality of the season than in having our name written in heaven.

So what should we do? We should say more than “Merry Christmas.” These are pleasant words and there are occasions when circumstances or time allow nothing more to be said. We should, however, tell people about the Christ. Most people do not know what the title means. They do not know that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, who came to take away the sin of the world. They need to hear. We need to tell them.

Read the Christmas story from Matthew or Luke and emphasize the gospel elements of the Christmas story. Let people know that it is more to you than a tale but that Christ’s birth began the life of the One Man who could and did change history through His life, death, and resurrection.

Find those Christmas carols that tell the gospel and talk about them with people. Anything by Charles Wesley is good. He packs his carols full with the gospel. “Joy to the World” is especially good. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” also. Tell people what it means that Christ was born to give men second birth or what the curse was that “Joy to the World” speaks about.

Talk about the Christ of Christmas. People need to respond to him and they need to know that. Let “Merry Christmas” be more than a greeting and more than a political statement of your religious and free speech freedoms. Make it an opportunity to tell the good news of Christ to your friends and neighbors and enlist them as disciples of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Cat’s Have Nine Lives, Christians Only Two July 20, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Evangelism, Philippians, Religion, Sermons.
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CATS HAVE NINE LIVES, CHRISTIANS ONLY TWO

Philippians 1:12-26

When googling “cats nine lives”, I came across a number of interesting facts, quotes, and tidbits of information. For example:

“Most are surprised to learn that a cat stands a greater chance of survival if it falls from a higher place than from a lower place. New York veterinarians gathered data from their feline patients, which clearly supports this fact. Ten percent of their patients died after falling from 2-6 stories, while only five percent of the fatalities occurred when their patients fell from 7-32 stories

Laws of physics explain why these survival rates vary. All falling bodies, regardless or their masses, accelerate by 22 miles per hour per second of their falls. The falling object, after traveling a certain distance through the air reaches a final speed, or “terminal velocity,” because the object’s friction with the air slows the fall. The smaller the object’s mass, and the greater its area, the more it will slow.

A cat falling from a higher floor, after it stops accelerating, spreads its legs into an umbrella shape, which increases the area against which the air must push and increases the friction, thus slowing the cat’s fall. Through the cats highly developed sense of balance, he buys more time to maneuver his body in preparation for landing on all fours. A cat falling from a lower height does not have the opportunity to increase its body’s area, slow its fall, or position his body to land on all four feet.”

From http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/cats2.asp

 

Certainly there would be an advantage in having nine lives. “After all, a creature with nine lives can afford to take risks” (Justine Hankins from http://www.moggies.co.uk/html/9_lives.html).

However, we know that this is just a superstition. Our passage today teaches that we as believers in Christ have two lives and it also makes clear that as believers in Christ we a second life in hand, can afford to take risks but they are not risks without a purpose.

Our first lives have a unique purpose (verses 12-18, 24-26)?

Our present lives are for the progress (furtherance) of the gospel (verses 12-18).

“The word “advanced” is a military term that refers to the movement of an army into enemy territory. As the soldiers move forward, they clear the obstacles, open the roads, drain the swamps, and build pontoon bridges so that the whole army can advance unhindered. Paul means to say that his imprisonment—which seemed to be a setback—actually served to advance the gospel in Rome” (Ray Pritchard).

There are basically two types of standards to evaluate military success. One is to destroy the enemy army. Occupation is not the goal, destruction is the goal. That is Satan’s strategy. Although he desires to control territory, more important to him is that he destroys God, Christ, and all who follow Christ. Now there is coming a day when God will resort to this strategy also, when he will fight against and destroy all who are in rebellion against Him but that is not His strategy at the present. His strategy is advancement, the furtherance of the gospel. God, however, has a different strategy. His strategy is for the gospel to advance into new territory, to be proclaimed in new areas, for people who have yet to hear the gospel of Christ to finally hear this good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The advance of the gospel has two characteristics that are emphasized in this passage. It is tough (verses 12-13) and it is a group effort (verses 14-17).

Our present lives are for the progress (edification) of other believers (verses 22, 24-26).

Paul makes it clear that he wants to have fruit. Now there are many different kinds of spiritual fruit mentioned in the Scriptures. Earlier in this chapter, Paul mentions that he is praying for the Philippians that they might be filled with the fruit of righteousness in their lives (verse 11). At the end of the book in 4:17 he seems to be emphasizing the furtherance of the gospel of which we have just spoken. Verses 24-26, however, seem to indicate that the fruit that he is speaking of here is spiritual progress in the lives of the Philippians. We wants them to be built up, to grow. If evangelism is an advance into the devil’s territory, then spiritual growth is an advance into the areas of our hearts and lives that continue to be stronghold’s for the old man. This progress, however, is not just for the purpose of removing the enemy within but the replacement of our old ways with joy that comes from faith in Christ.

Ultimately, however, our present lives are for the magnification of Christ (verses 20-21).

“But in fact for thousands of people and pastors the event of “worship” on Sunday morning is conceived of as a means to accomplish something other than worship. We “worship” to raise money; we “worship” to attract crowds; we “worship” to heal human hurts; we “worship” to recruit workers; we “worship” to improve church morale. We “worship” to give talented musicians an opportunity to fulfill their calling; we “worship” to teach our children the way of righteousness; we “worship” to help marriages stay together; we “worship” to evangelize the lost among us; we “worship” to motivate people for service projects; we “worship” to give our churches a family feeling, etc., etc” (John Piper).

Now all of these things are good and we could easily argue that all of them are necessary but we need to remember that all of these things are primarily for the magnification of Christ. That is our purpose now in this life.

Our lives hereafter have a unique purpose (verses 19-23)?

The opportunity for the gospel to progress (to further the gospel) is past.

The opportunity for us as individuals to progress (to edify other believers) is past.

There are some other things that are past. In his sermon on this text Alexander MacLaren gives the following answers:

We lose everything we don’t need—We lose the world, the flesh, and the devil. We lose our trials, our troubles, our tears, our fears, and our weaknesses.

We keep everything that matters—We keep our personality, our identity, and our knowledge of all that is good.

We gain what we never had before—We gain heaven, the saints, the angels, the presence of God, and Jesus himself.

Our death can and our lives hereafter will continue to magnify Christ. There is no end to the progression of magnifying an infinite God.

The earnest expectation (verse 20): Paul was eagerly looking for the day when He would see Christ. He was like a young man, looking out the window of the train, to see the his family waiting for him at the train station. He cannot get off the train yet, it has yet to stop but he cannot wait and he is looking forward, looking for the station, looking among the crowds of people for those who he loves. That is the type of expectation and hope that Paul is expressing here for his future. He is looking forward to magnifying Christ for all eternity.

To die is gain (verse 21). Why did Paul count dying as gain? Why did he feel it was better for him to depart?

It was not because of his circumstances there in prison. He was confident that through the prayers of the Philippians and the supply of the Holy Spirit that he would soon be out of prison.

He does not mention his physical health as the reason for his departure. Most feel that Paul was never a strong man but he does not mention the desire for a glorified body in this particular passage.

He does not mention the loved ones who had gone on before him. Paul had been serving for many years and there was no doubt he looked forward to seeing them again but that was not what caused him to desire to depart this earth.

His reason? Christ. You see, to Paul, trusting Christ was like cashing in a bond. When you buy a bond, that bond gains interest. When you cash in that bond you receive both principal and interest. Paul is saying that to die is to cash in “…both principal and interest and so to have more of Christ than when living” (Robertson).

INVITATION: It will be a wonderful life, our second life, our new life, when we will be able to concentrate ourselves on magnifying Christ. I trust you are looking forward to that day. Right now though, we are in a war. A war to advance the gospel into our area and a war to advance the fruit of joy in our hearts. These are two of the main battlegrounds between God and Satan.

Concerning this first battleground I am only addressing those believers who regularly attend this church. There is no doubt in my mind that God wants every person in Castleton and Fair Haven and the surrounding area to hear of Christ. That is our mission. We are doing a lot of skirmishing but we need to take some territory for Christ. What are you doing as a believer to advance the gospel of Christ?

Concerning the second battleground, my question for every person, believer and unbeliever is this, “Who are you going to bow down to and who are you going to serve?” Matthew 4:8-10 says, “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” That is the way to true joy.

This not about religion or religious practices. Religion without Christ is dangerous. This is about an inward change. Millions of people today are trusting in something that they or some other man can boast about. John 3 teaches that religion without being born again will send you to hell. One preacher said it this way, “You can say your prayers five times a day…you can listen to Billy Graham, you can take the Lord’s Supper, you can light the Advent candle, you can even drop a million bucks in the offering plate, and if you don’t know Jesus, it won’t do you a bit of good.” (Ray Pritchard)

 

Jesus came that you might know true joy. It is not based on a place or a religious direction. It is based on trust in Jesus Christ alone, buying the bond; and then magnifying Christ in your life. He died for you and rose again, that you might magnify Him. Trust Christ as your Savior from sin today. Let us show you from the Bible how to be saved, how to accept this message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Believer, did you magnify Christ this morning or did you just enjoy yourself? Did you focus on advancing against the enemy within and submitting yourself to Christ this morning? We should never wait until the invitation. We should enter those doors submitting ourselves to Christ, ready to advance against the old man within us and replace him with the joy that is found only in faith in Christ. Bow before Him now in your heart and submit yourself and everything and everyone you have totally to Him.

Next Week: THE PRICE OF HUMILITY, Philippians 1:27-2:13

 

One of our members has a new website February 20, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Evangelism, Fellowship Bible Church, Religion.
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Craig Chambers has a new website dedicated to evangelism. You can find it here.