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Understanding freedom

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jesus Christ came to give us freedom that comes through the truth that has been given (Jn. 8:32). This is why the gospel is referred to as the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25). However, this great law came by means of Christ’s death and shedding of His blood (Matt. 26:28). This gospel message is perfect because it can free those who are under bondage to sin (Rom. 6:18).

 

Knowing the great price that had to be paid to provide those who want this freedom, many have failed to grasp what this means. By that I mean, so many people have come to the false conclusion that Jesus did what He did so we can do whatever we want. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s take note of the can and can’t.

 

Freedom means you can and you can’t choose

(People can choose to do whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean the Lord automatically approves of what they do)

 

  1. You can choose to obey the gospel to become a Christian (Rom. 6:17; Mk. 16:16; Jn. 8:24; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38).

You can’t choose to obey just part of the gospel to become a Christian (Jas. 2:24-26; Lk. 6:46; Gal. 1:6-9).

 

  1. You can choose any faithful church to assemble with (Heb. 10:25; I Cor. 11:17-18; Rom. 16:16).

You can’t choose any religious group that calls itself a “church” (I Jn. 4:1; I Tim. 4:1; Rev. 3:1).

 

  1. You can choose to worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 8:24; Phil. 3:3; I Cor. 14:15).

You can’t choose to worship God any way you want (Matt. 15:7-9; Rom. 1:25; I Cor. 11:17-22). 

 

  1. You can choose to get married if you desire (I Cor. 7:2, 28; I Tim. 4:3; Heb. 13:4; I Tim. 5:14; Matt. 19:4-5).

You can’t choose to marry if you have no right, or if the one you want to marry has no right (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9; Rom. 7:1-4).

 

  1. You can choose to leave home and live on your own (II Tim. 1:5,4:5; Titus 1:5).

You can’t choose to ignore your responsibilities towards your parents (I Tim. 5:8,16; Jn. 19:25-27).

 

  1. You can choose to devote yourself to the ministry and preach publicly, and/or become an elder/pastor (Eph. 4:11-12; I Tim. 3:1; II Tim. 4:5).

You can’t choose to devote yourself to public ministry or an elder/pastor if you are a woman (I Tim. 2:12; I Cor. 14:34; Titus 1:5-6).  

 

  1. You can choose to grow and mature as a child of God (I Pet. 2:2; II Pet. 3:18; II Thes. 1:3).

You can’t choose to remain on the milk of the word and remain a babe in Christ (Heb. 5:12-14; Eph. 4:14; Eph. 6:10).

 

  1. You can choose to stand up for being a Christian and suffer for it (I Pet. 3:14; 4:14; II Tim. 3:12).

You can’t choose to suffer as a Christian for doing evil (I Pet. 4:15; Rom. 13:1-4).

 

We all faces choices in this life. Because of what our Lord did, He made it possible for us to make the right choices since there is freedom in Christ. However, we do not have the freedom to do whatever we want!

 

Chuck

"baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire"

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Early last week I received an email from a gentleman who wanted me to deal with his Bible question on our TV program. He has sent a number of questions in the past. This one centers around something John the Baptist stated in Matthew 3:11. It reads, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He wants to know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire means.

 

Let me first deal with a serious problem we face with most people that misunderstand this text. That is, they try to answer it without looking at examples in the Bible where this is fulfilled. This we will do later on in this article. But before we get to that, we need point out what is not in this verse. It’s assumptions that lead to false teaching.

 

When you read the text, John was not saying that everyone was going to receive the Holy Spirit. This we will clearly see when we examine the fulfillment of this promise. To take this text and teach that everyone in the future will be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit is a clear mishandling of scripture. This is why there is so much false doctrine in the world today because people do this very thing with many verses in the Bible.

 

Let’s now study the context. This should help in ascertaining the meaning of Matthew 3:11. If you look at verse 10 and verse 12, you will see that John was dealing with two classes of people. There are those who are faithful to the Lord and those who are not. Thus, we are dealing with those being rewarded for being righteous and those being punished for being wicked. Why would we conclude that verse 11 isn’t linked with these truths?

 

Fire, in scripture, is often used to deal with the consequences for being evil (Jude 7; Matt. 25:41; II Thes. 1:8; Rev. 20:15 etc.). The word baptize means to immerse, which is a fitting term to describe those who will be baptized with fire. On the other hand, the faithful obtain the “gift of the Holy Spirit” when they become Christians (Acts 2:38). This gift is the hope of salvation, which every faithful saint enjoys.

 

This brings us to the fulfillment of those baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. We need to see the link with Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with providing the gift of the Holy Spirit for all the saved. Consider the promise Jesus gave His apostles concerning the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13; Acts 1:8).  Look at those passages carefully. For in them Jesus said His apostles would be guided into all truth and that it would happen when they were in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:1-4, the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. As they taught the life-saving message and people responded they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – which was that hope of eternal life.

 

In one sense, what John stated would apply to everyone. After all, with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all of mankind would be able to hear the gospel in order to be saved (Rom. 1:16). Then the baptism of the fire deals with all those who reject the Lord and do not obey the gospel (II Thes. 1:8). Please keep in mind this all has to do with the scheme of redemption Christ brought to this world.

 

I realize there are those who say they have had a “religious experience” and say they were “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and/or with fire”, however the Bible teaches otherwise. Even though Matthew 3:11 is used to support this idea, such is not the case. Let’s be sure we handle the word of God properly and do not twist the scriptures to our own destruction (II Pet. 3:16).

 

Chuck

What a huge responsibility!

Sunday, May 06, 2018

We had the opportunity to share in the joy of Kevin and Samantha with the birth of their daughter, Willow. Without taking anything away from the happiness, I want us to once again be reminded of the God-given responsibilities placed upon all parents. I wants us to think more specifically as to what is means by, “…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:3). These principles apply to all, but how much more to our own children?

 

  1. Teach them about the Lord and to respect His authority (Jn. 8:24).

 

  1. Provide for all their needs, not all their wants (I Tim. 5:8).

 

  1. Be watchful of every word that comes out of your mouth (Eph. 4:29).

 

  1. Let your light always shine before them at all times (Matt. 5:13-16).

 

  1. Have courage enough to exercise tough love and discipline them to help them grow (Heb. 12:5-11).

 

  1. Protect them from the dangers that all children face in this world (Eph. 4:14).

 

  1. Be understanding as a parent knowing that children are just that - children (I Cor. 13:11).

 

  1. Instruct them to choose their friends wisely (I Cor. 15:33).

 

  1. As they age to remember: your home, always your rules (Lk. 15:17-18).

 

  1. Set aside pride and be willing to admit to your child when you did something wrong and do better (Prov. 29:23).

 Chuck

How is the gospel for everyone?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Our Lord made it perfectly clear that salvation is for everyone, since Christ’s death was for the whole world (Jn. 3:16). Let’s take a closer look at this to understand that there is absolutely no favoritism when it comes to the gospel message. The fact that it is to be taught to everyone (Mk. 16:15) is proof of this. Yet, let’s see additional evidence to this.

 

Your financial status doesn’t matter

When it comes to the grace of our Lord, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. Unfortunately, people think those who are financially set are favored by God. Jesus said that the rain falls of the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45). The message of the cross has nothing to do with money, and the sooner people understand this, the better off they will be. Keep in mind, preaching the gospel to everyone means everyone!

 

Your standing with men doesn’t matter

It was the apostle Paul who said that, “not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble , are called.” (I Cor. 1:26). Notice the text said not many. This implies some do respond to the calling of the gospel. It’s vital that all realize that our Father in heaven doesn’t care about your status in society. After all, the Lord isn’t looking for those who seek the approval of men. To receive the lifesaving message means to put the Lord first (Gal. 1:10).

 

Your education level doesn’t matter

In the Corinthian text we mentioned in our last point, in the same chapter the apostle stated, “we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” (I Cor. 1:23). To think you are required to have a high level of education to know the truth is false. In truth, many who reject the gospel are those who are very “smart” in man’s eyes. Remember that there are many intelligent people who fail to see the plain and simple gospel message.

 

Your sinful past doesn’t matter

For some, there is the idea that the gospel favors those who have lived a good, moral life. To think the gospel message isn’t for those who have lived a rough life, couldn’t be any more wrong. The fact is, everyone has sinned (Rom. 3:23). No one is more deserving of the death of Jesus than anyone else. The power of the gospel will change the life of anyone that will to turn and follow the Lord. It even happened to one who considered himself the chiefest of sinners (I Tim. 1:15).

 

Your age doesn’t matter

Other than being a child that doesn’t have the capacity to understand right and wrong, there is no age limit. The point here is that someone might be thinking that they have lived too long in sin, there is no place for them in God’s family. Again, that is just not true. Christ’s parable about the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16), dealt with this issue. Sometime people don’t hear the gospel until they are older. Even though at their conversion they regret their past, they are welcomed into God’s family. That’s what the gospel does.

 

Your race doesn’t matter

There is nothing in the gospel message that favors a certain race. If someone thinks so, you can be sure they don’t understand the message of the cross (Rom. 1:16). It matters not the color of your skin. Let’s not create barriers that are just not there.

 

Chuck

Who is not ready to become a Christian?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

We all know of people who know the truth, but for some reason there is something that is holding them back. Here is a list of things that are responsible for individuals not doing what they need to do.

 

  1. More of a love for the things this world has to offer (Lk. 18:18-23).
     
  2. More of a love for man than God (Jn. 12:42-43).
     
  3. Not convicted of sin and is willing to live in it (Rom. 6:3-9,17,19).
     
  4. Having a feeling of comfort in almost obeying (Acts 26:27-29).
     
  5. Waiting for a convenient time (Acts 24:24-27).
     
  6. Unwilling to gladly receive the word (Acts 2:41).
     
  7. Lack of faith (Heb. 11:6) 
     
  8. Lack of understanding (Acts 8:30) 
     
  9. Simply not willing to make the commitment (Matt. 11:28-30).

Remember: Anyone willing and wanting to obey the gospel – can!

 

Chuck

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