Thursday, July 24, 2014

Your Spiritual Workout

By John MacArthur

What do you think of when you hear the words “work out”? You probably think of gymnasiums, weights, and all sorts of fitness equipment. Hard work, commitment, time, and resources are necessary to grow and strengthen our physical bodies. While exercise is popular in America today, it’s certainly nothing new.
Paul made use of this familiar imagery in his letter to the believers in Philippi. In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul’s exhortation for believers to exercise their spiritual growth comes down to those two simple, familiar words: “work out.”
But the workout Paul refers to is far more strenuous than a short jog on a treadmill—and it makes a much greater impact in your life.
Doing the Work
The principle of working out one’s salvation has two aspects. The first pertains to personal conduct, to faithful, obedient daily living. Such obedience obviously involves active commitment and personal effort. Scripture is replete with injunctions, both negative and positive, to strive toward obedience.
Sin in every form is to be renounced and put off and replaced by righteous thinking. Believers are to cleanse themselves “from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). They are to set their minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth,” because they have died to sin and their lives are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2–3). Just as they once “presented [their] members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness,” they should “now present [their] members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19), walking “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
Paul exhorted the Corinthians to aggressive, strenuous effort in living the Christian life:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, cf. Philippians 3:12-16)
He gave similar instruction to Timothy: “Flee from these [evil] things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11–12; cf. 4:15–16; Hebrews 12:1–3).
If living the Christian life were merely a matter of passive yielding and surrender, of “letting go and letting God,” then such admonitions not only would be superfluous but presumptuous. But those injunctions, and countless others like them throughout God’s Word, presuppose believers’ personal responsibility for obedience. They must choose to live righteously, to work out their salvation in daily living, while at the same time realizing that all the power for that obedience comes from God’s Spirit.
Persevering to the End
The second aspect of working out one’s salvation is perseverance, of faithful obedience to the end.
Salvation has three time dimensions: past, present, and future. The past dimension is that of justification, when believers placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and were redeemed. The present dimension is sanctification, the time between a believer’s justification and his death or the rapture. The future aspect is glorification, when salvation is completed and believers receive their glorified bodies.
Believers therefore have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. They are to pursue sanctification in this life to the time of glorification. In that glorious moment believers will see the Lord “face to face” and come to know Him fully even as they are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). They “will be like Him, because [they] will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). It was for that glorious moment that Paul so deeply longed. Looking forward to that time he exclaimed:
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8–14)
In the Olivet discourse, Jesus declared, “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Paul admonished Timothy: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). The writer of Hebrews notes, “We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
The Power to Persevere
Perseverance in the faith is the duty of every true believer, but the believer does not secure his own salvation through his own power. Instead, perseverance is the unmistakable and inevitable evidence of divine power operating in the soul (Colossians 1:29).
Believers will persevere because God’s power keeps their salvation secure. Jesus repeatedly emphasized that truth. In John 10:28-29 He declared,
I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Earlier in Philippians, Paul wrote that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). From beginning to end, the entire divine work of salvation is under God’s control. In a well-known and beloved passage Paul wrote,
We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30)
So it is clear from Scripture that believers are responsible to work out their spiritual growth. But it’s also clear that their work is possible only through the power of God. How do the two coincide? Next time we’ll consider the Lord’s role in our spiritual growth.

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who Is Responsible For Your Spiritual Growth?


   
Monday, July 07, 2014
By John MacArthur

 
The Christian life is anything but a passive pursuit. The New Testament commands believers to “be all the more diligent” (2 Peter 1:10), to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), to “strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24), to “run” that we may obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), and to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Our spiritual growth clearly involves human exertion. But what, then, are we to make of God’s sovereignty over our growth?
In recent years, that question has fueled intense theological debate on the driving force behind sanctification. Is spiritual growth produced by the believer or is it sovereignly performed by God?
In Philippians 2:12–13, Paul lays it out as a paradoxical truth:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (emphasis added)
Who is responsible for our sanctification? The answer is more complex than some make it out to be.
Paul sees sanctification as a two-sided coin. He focuses first on the believer’s role in sanctification. Some misguided interpreters completely misread this exhortation as if it said, “work for your salvation,” “work at your salvation,” or “work up your salvation.” But both in the immediate context of this letter and the broader context of the New Testament, none of those interpretations is correct. Paul is not speaking of attainingsalvation by human effort or goodness, but of living out the life God has graciously granted.
Alive by Faith
To the Ephesians Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Faith alone has always been the way of salvation. Noah was a righteous man by faith (Genesis 6:9; Hebrews 11:7). Abraham was saved by God’s grace working through his personal faith: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3). The Mosaic law did not alter the way of salvation. It was only by faith that Moses and all Old Testament saints were saved (Hebrews 11:23–38). All those believing men and women “gained approval through their faith” (Hebrews 11:39), by which God granted them His righteousness—salvation—in advance on account of the future death of His Son.
Working Out What God Worked In
So, salvation is from God alone, yet in Philippians 2:12, Paul focuses on the responsibility of believers to live lives that are consistent with that divine gift.
Strabo was an ancient Roman scholar who lived about sixty years before Christ. He recorded an account concerning some Roman-owned mines in Spain. He uses the very same verb that Paul does in Philippians 2:12, katergazomai, when referring to the Romans as working out the mines. Strabo’s point was that the Romans were extracting from within the mines all their richness and value.
That’s a fitting expression of what katergazomai (work out) means in Philippians 2:12.I am to mine out of my life what God has richly deposited there in salvation. I am to produce such precious nuggets of godly character from what He planted when He saved me.
Working by the Spirit
Everything in life requires energy. It takes energy to walk and to work. It takes energy to think and to meditate. It takes energy to obey and to worship God. Where does the believer get the energy to grow as a Christian, to live a life that is holy, fruitful, and pleasing to the Lord? Philippians 2:13 makes it clear that God is the necessary source of that sanctifying energy we are commanded to expend. In the words of Galatians 5:25, since “we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
So who is responsible for your growth as a Christian? God is responsible for supplying everything you need for life and godliness, and you are responsible for actively using that power to grow in sanctification for His glory. The paradox is found in the believer being both fully responsible, and yet fully dependent on God’s supply. We may not fully comprehend the paradox, but we can exercise faith that it is resolved in the infinite wisdom of God and respond in obedience to His commands.
Paul’s words suggest five truths that believers must understand to sustain the pursuit of working out their salvation. We’ll examine each of them in the days ahead.

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Joel Osteen: Orgin and Errors of His Teaching




This video was made by Keith Thompson http://www.youtube.com/user/KeithTruth
Are Joel Osteen's teachings Biblical? Are they in line with ancient church belief? What does he teach and where do his views come from? This documentary is the most comprehensive video refutation and expose of Joel Osteen that exists

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Only the Good Die Young: Jackie Hill


This is a powerful piece!!! Listen and read along!


Lyrics

I'm a girl
21 years old
On my way home
Car crashes
Bones break
Body tossed into the windshield like a acrobatic rag doll
Brain playing ping pong with my skull
Crushed arteries shoot blood around the car like vampires playing paintball
Lungs, committing suicide with the air
Chest heaving
In and out like a child overdosing on asthma attacks
Two seconds later, my body, laid there limp like an aborted fetus that was ripped from its
temporary home
And after this poem, just like me,
Everybody at the sound of my voice will die.
I had to realize the hard way that
Death, he has no age, he
Takes no fun in catching up
To those who already expect his arrival.
If you were death, would you rather take the 80 year old preacher,
On his deathbed singing to Jesus about going up yonder or,
The 18 year old boy at the club, thinking that he got his whole life to live right, oblivious
that he's
5 heartbeats away from,
4 breaths away from,
3 seconds away from,
2 late to keep a stray bullet from saying hello to his lungs
And looks like life just lost 1.
Death, gets the glory he searches for, every time someone utters the words
"Only the good die young"
Because it's good for the young to die in his eyes,
It's called shock value
The more it's unexpected the better he gets edit
Death is a jealous fellow.
When you fail to think about him, the more he remembers who you are.
Your name, where you stay, your friends, your family,
He tends to use the ones you love to be his pawns, in this chess game of life,
And the lies if they will push you towards the true king cuz death ain't no rook so,
No matter how much you think they will protect you in a time of trouble
Death will always yell checkmate.
You, can treat life like a tic tac toe if you want to,
Making you the x and turning god into a zero,
X-ing out, every opportunity you have to live eternally,
Eventually, those x's will connect like connect four and blow up in your face like
battleship,
But some of you just might have to die to realize life ain't to be played with so,
Start thinking about your funeral.
And don't be surprised if your profile picture is tagged,
To the front of your obituary, cuz that'll be your final Facebook,
Because you, will die, whether you believe it, or not, death could care less if you are
healthy.
You can jog, and eat veggies and go on diets til your face turns green,
But it's a fallacy to think that low calories
Will stop an undetected aneurysm from exploding in your brain while you sleep.
Death will not have sympathy on you because you have kids, because life, ain't nothin
but preschool for them, and eternity, is elementary
Death will not hold back because you are in school, trying to get a degree, start a
career, and have a family,
He identifies with you more than you think, he graduated from the university of R.I.P.
He has a master's in mastering those who think they have mastered what it means
To live life, like there's no tomorrow, and you, are a part of his family
That's why his name will be engraved on each one of your graves,
The date of your death is his signature.
I know, you probably think you would be married with children,
I know, you think your parents are supposed to die before you,
But the fact of the matter is, 155 thousand people die every day,
That's 6,461 people an hour,
108 people a minute
And two people per second
That means, that the clock inside your chest
Is ticking,
And only god knows what time it is.
Wake up, because your ignorance is committing your suicide.
But god, is ready to resurrect you from the grave, because he resurrected.
Death, cannot sting those that are covered in the repellant of Christ's blood,
But for those of you, that refuse to believe the truth,
Death is playing duck, duck, goose, with everyone in your room,
And sooner, then you may assume, his finger will eventually point to you

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Eternity

"God has made us eternal beings. Every person ever born will continue in existence forever either in the ecstatic bliss of God's presence (Ps:16:11) or in the unimaginable horror and remorse of separation from Him forever. The choices we make, the manner of life we live and our attitude toward God, His Word and others carry consequences not only for this life but for eternity. Life on earth is short; eternity never ends. That fact is awesome to contemplate and in itself should cause us to live by faith in Him."  -Dave Hunt

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sin and the Work of Christ


By John MacArthur

What did Jesus set out to accomplish? Did His death and resurrection have any practical effect for this life, or was it all focused on eternity? Consider this: the holy Son of God set aside His glory, humbled Himself by taking the form of a man, lived a righteous life, and willingly surrendered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of others. Was all intended merely to forgive sin without removing it?
The apostle John wrote his first epistle to help his readers test the authenticity of their faith. These tests come down to examining whether Christ’s work has had its necessary effect on their lives. And in 1 John 3:5-8, he makes it clear that Christ’s work on our behalf ought to have a significant sanctifying impact in the lives of His people.

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
Christ’s Work on Our Behalf
Jesus came to earth “in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5). He came not only to pay the penalty for sin and provide forgiveness, but also to take sins away altogether. As a result of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, believers have been set apart from sin unto holiness. The lawlessness that once characterized their lives has been removed.
Therefore, it is inconsistent with His redeeming work on the cross for anyone who shares in the very life of Christ to continue in sin. In other words, because Christ died to sanctify the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21), to live sinfully is contrary to His work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer’s life (cf. Romans 6:1-15).
The truth that Christ came to destroy sin is not merely a future hope; it is a present reality. John is not saying—as some have tried to infer—that believers will eventually be delivered from sin when they die, and in the meantime can be as sinful as they were before their conversion. On the contrary, while sanctification may be slow and gradual, Christ’s transforming work in salvation is immediate (Philippians 1:6).
At salvation believers experience a real cleansing of and separation from their sins. On a practical level, that separation continues as they become more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Titus 2:11-14 summarizes well the present and future aspects of sanctification.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
So the one-time work of Christ on the cross initiates His ongoing work in our lives. But what fuels that ongoing work? What transformation takes place that enables us to overcome sin in this life?
Our New Nature in Christ
John concludes verse 5 with the phrase “in Him there is no sin.” Jesus Christ is the sinless One (2 Corinthians 5:21). This truth has immense practical ramifications. “If you know that He is righteous,” John wrote earlier in the epistle, “you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). When God’s saving power is applied to a new believer, they are born again—they receive a new nature. And like a newborn baby, they embark on a life of learning to live in God’s kingdom.
Then in verse 6 the apostle describes the character of the person saved through the work of Jesus Christ. “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” Abiding in Christ can be likened to dwelling in His kingdom, following His laws, and celebrating His victories. In short, the new nature draws one toward Christ and away from sin.
Years earlier Paul taught the same truth to the Roman believers.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:4-7)
That description outlines key provisions of the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:25-31), which Paul further elaborates:
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
The emphasis of the apostle’s statements is on sanctification. True Christians have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-17), receive a new heart (Acts 16:14), complete forgiveness (Colossians 1:14), and a transformed life (Colossians 3:5-10)—all evidenced in their new ability to obey the law of God.
Sanctification and Assurance
John taught that “no one who sins” (1 John 3:6) can also abide in Christ. It is not that people who become Christians will never sin again (1 John 1:8), but that they will not live as they once did, because “no one who sins” consistently or habitually in the pattern of the unregenerate “has seen Him or knows Him” (3:6).
John further cautioned his readers to make sure no one deceived them concerning a correct understanding of sanctification. Despite any deceptive teaching to the contrary, only the one “who practices righteousness” can have any assurance that he “is righteous, just as [Jesus] is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
John makes the obvious conclusion that because “the Son of God appeared . . . to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), it is impossible and unthinkable that true believers would continue in devil-like behavior. Today Satan is still opposing the plans and people of God (1 Peter 5:8), but believers are no longer his children or under his rule. We who know and love Christ have been freed from the captivity of sin, and the apostle John—through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—says we must live accordingly.
So far we’ve seen that a lifestyle of sin is incompatible with saving faith because sin is lawlessness, and true believers have had that defiant, lawless heart replace with a heart of repentance. Today we’ve seen how Christ’s work not only forgives sin, but initiates the life-long process of sanctification. John has one final argument for why sin is incompatible with saving faith, and it focuses on the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit. We’ll wrap up this series with that last point next time.
 
(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John.)