Friday, April 16, 2010
In “No Confidence in the Flesh", Lon Solomon says that most Christians are saved by faith, but live by works. This describes much of my Christian life. And I’m sure others fall into this as well. So here’s an outline of Lon Solomon’s message ...
Phillipians 3:1-7 (NIV)
1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Summary: “God’s plan for believers is that we lean on his grace and not human resources.”
Many Christians have lost what means to simply walk hand in hand w/ Jesus.
The grace of the God is his desire and ability to meet your every need.
• v. 1-2 is a warning - watch out for false teachers that put confidence in human resources.
• v. 4-6 is a testimony - Paul had every human resource that you could possibly have.
• v. 3 & 7 is a declaration - Paul threw it all away to simply rely on the grace of Jesus.
Phillipians 3:3 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” (NIV)
In verse 3, Paul gives 3 marks of what it means to live for God …
• Fully depend on the Holy Spirit.
• Fully focus on Jesus.
• Put no confidence in human resources.
Phillipians 3:7 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” (NIV)
Why did Paul consider all of his human works to be a loss? Because they distracted him from living by faith.
If we are fully depend on God, does that mean that we do nothing? Does that mean that Christian practices like bible study, prayer, fellowship, witnessing are useless? No, Christian practices are useful. God can use them and the work we do. But we can’t trust in those things – they are not an end in themselves.
If you’re like me, you’re easily distracted. You were saved by faith, but somewhere along the way you began to think that your Christian life is all about the things you do. Paul reminds us what we need to do have the abundant life the God offers us - depend on the Holy Spirit, focus on Jesus, and put no confidence in human resources.
Other related verses that I keep coming back to …
• Romans 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (NIV)
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
• John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” ( NIV)
• Luke 10:41-42 “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NIV)
• John 10:10 “... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
It seems that American Christians are all about celebration. In fact, some churches have intentionally chosen the adjective “celebratory” to describe their worship style. Everything has to be upbeat, positive, encouraging (“Positive, Encouraging K-Love…”). After all, life itself is discouraging, depressing, and difficult enough; shouldn’t church be uplifting?
The Bible does indeed encourage us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). However, true celebration takes into account the gravity of mourning and suffering. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that lamentation is good for us: “The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Ecc. 7:4). And the Apostle Peter reminds us that suffering is crucial to proper rejoicing: “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13). To put it another way: Redemption and Consummation ring hollow without a realistic assessment of the Fall.
We want to celebrate exuberantly on Easter Sunday. To that end, we gather first for a somber and melancholy observance of Good Friday, this Friday at 7 PM at Suckau Chapel. Our Good Friday worship gathering will indeed be worshipful… just not in a celebratory way. We’ll reflect on the gravity of sin, the seriousness of God’s wrath, and the dark reality of that beautiful, scandalous night.
The early Christians used to fast between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as a way of identifying with the hopelessness, grief, and pain of the early disciples. Perhaps you would find it worshipful to do the same. Whatever you do to mark the weekend, I hope you’ll not attempt to muster up a joyful spirit on Easter Sunday without embracing the fear, darkness, and lamentation of Good Friday. It’s the biblical path to true, joyful, gospel celebration.