The Gospel

WONDERFUL WORDS

Everything we must know about the gospel is simple:

GOD – he is our Creator and we are accountable to him

MAN – we are condemned by our sin and deserve the punishment that God requires for it

CHRIST – in mercy, God sent his Son to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sin

RESPONSE – all who confess their sin and trust Christ to save them, are forgiven

Everything we can know about the gospel is vast:

Like being dropped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we could never dive to the bottom or swim to its end.

Here are some of the rich truths contained in the gospel that have reshaped the life of every Christian.

 Justification – in God’s courtroom, those whose sins were placed on Christ have been declared “not guilty”

Redemption – Christ paid for our release from the bondage of sin

Propitiation – Christ has satisfied God’s requirement for the “wages of sin”

Sanctification – those who have been forgiven are being transformed into the character of Christ

Regeneration – the Holy Spirit gives a new nature to all who are in Christ so that we are “born again”

Reconciliation – once the barrier of sin in removed, God welcomes us into a restored and intimate relationship with him

Adoption – our relationship with God is so close that we become children of God and co-heirs with Christ

Glorification – the work of sanctification will be complete and we will be perfected

Resurrection – God will raise our physical bodies and transform them so they are fit for our glorified inner self

Eternity – our life had a beginning, but it will not have an end; we will be everlasting

Kingdom  – we will forever enjoy the presence and rule of Christ without any interruption of sin or sorrow

Each of these words represents truths (doctrines) about God that are real for every believer. These are what Paul has in mind when he speaks in Ephesians 1:7-8, of the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us”.

Each of these truths is worthy of examination and reflection. God deserves our regular praise for each and all of them.  

Don’t be intimidated by these words, seek to grow in your knowledge of them – for they are the most precious realities we possess.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.30.17

‘Know Where to Get Wisdom’                    

 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

We all want to be wise in life. But the world’s views of wisdom and foolishness are upside down. This makes it hard to protect against being influenced by false wisdom. Paul strengthens our convictions, by helping us understand how wisdom is obtained.

 

1. True wisdom will not come through those the world thinks are wise (v6)

Paul starts by repeating his point of where wisdom is not found

This present age (this world order), exalts us instead of God, that is not wisdom

That means the rulers of this age (people of influence), don’t have wisdom

Paul refers to all who embrace the gospel of Christ as “mature”

Those who know wisdom is in Christ, have a certain measure of maturity

Their thinking is on a secure foundation, and it is leading you in a wise direction

Don’t turn back to the wisdom of those who are “doomed to pass away”  

 

2. True wisdom must be revealed by God (v7a)

Paul calls the gospel “secret and hidden wisdom”

God is not hiding wisdom from us, he is declaring where wisdom is found

The gospel had to be revealed; and a crucified Messiah was totally unexpected

We will not find wisdom by our effort, or what makes sense to us  

Christ is the treasury of wisdom and the full answer to all we need (Colossians 2:3)

Christ is the door to all wisdom, every other door leads to a dead end

 

3. The wisdom of God is eternal and unchanging (v7b)

The world denies that truth can be definitive. So it changes with each new “ruler”

But God is a perfect and eternal being – all knowledge is his possession

God is the Creator – all that exists flows out of his wisdom

God is the Judge – we are all accountable to his standards

True wisdom doesn’t change, it embraces the ways of God

New wisdom about life and godliness will always be false wisdom

 

4. Our response to Christ reveals whether we have wisdom (v8)

The proof that this world is blind to wisdom, is their rejection of Christ

God displays the fullness of his power and wisdom in Christ 

Jesus was perfect man and “glory” on display, but the world didn’t recognize it

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s wondrous plan, but the world doesn’t care

What wisdom can the world give us, when Jesus is nowhere in it?

In v9, Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4

He points out that the gospel of Christ contains glories beyond imagination

We cannot grasp all the gospel brings, but we have tasted it!

How can we consider neglecting the glories of gospel wisdom, to pick up what the world exalts?

 

5. The wisdom of God can only come from the Holy Spirit (vs 10-11)

The wisdom that created life and rules over eternity, flows from the mind of God

People emptily proclaim how life, eternity and God should operate; but unless God shares that wisdom with us, how can we possibly know it?

The Holy Spirit does know “the depths” of God

And he dwells in every believer to empower and ‘teach’ us (v12)

He makes the wisdom of God available and understandable to all believers

(1) This doesn’t mean every line in the Bible is instantly clear, it means it is all intelligible

(2) The Spirit who teaches us also inspired the Bible; so what he teaches us will always be in-sync with the Bible

If anyone’s thinking is not Holy Spirit inspired, then it’s not true wisdom

 

6. The wisdom of God can only be received by a “spiritual” person (v13)

v14 contrasts the spiritual person to the “natural person” (someone not born of the Spirit)

The natural person can study the Bible and recognize what it claims, but the realities of Christ don’t impact them

As spiritual people, we judge, but we are not judged (vs15-16)

This verse has been widely misused. It cannot contradict the rest of the Bible and mean we can avoid accountability

The context is clear, Paul is still rebuking the false wisdom of the world

God’s truth enables us to judge the world’s truth; but they don’t judge our truth, because it is God’s truth

Believer, you have “the mind of Christ”, which is the light of gospel wisdom. Use it!

Being wise in any situation is always tied to the cross and what it speaks to us

 

IS THERE CLARITY FOR THE FREE WILL DEBATE?

The issue of whether people have a ‘free will’ has been hotly debated for centuries. It is a debate that will likely continue until Jesus comes.

In my view, much of the distance between believers on this issue is that we have somewhat different definitions in mind about the terms we throw at one another. Once terms are better clarified, there still may be disagreement, but the difference is not as dramatic as we once imagined.

We may even grow to have new appreciation for each others perspective. This is true on virtually all debatable issues within historic Christianity.

I don’t think it is particularly clear or accurate to throw out absolute statements such as, “Yes, we all have a free will” or, “No one has a free will”.

I think Scripture gives us a clear, but more nuanced understanding.

We can certainly say; people choose to act as they do and are fully responsible for their actions. Romans 1:18-32 describes the responsibility people have in “suppressing the truth” and “exchanging” the glory of God for their own wisdom.

Yet, in this same epistle, Paul says the mind set on the flesh “cannot” submit to God (8:7). In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says that the natural mind is “not able to understand” spiritual truth. Ephesians 2 describes all unbelievers as spiritually “dead”. This language is meant to convey our inability to choose to live godly.

So, do unbelievers have freedom of will?

The answer is yes, but only within their nature. A spiritually dead nature will not and cannot choose godliness until the Holy Spirit awakens their soul to want God.

My favorite illustration is that of the lion and the antelope.

Although the lion and the antelope share the same habitat, the lion eats meat and the antelope eats grass. Neither will ever change their eating habits, because it is not in their nature.

In fact, the lion will starve to death before it eats grass, even though the antelope happily munches on the vegetation surrounding them both.

Lions are free to eat what they want, but their choices are limited by their nature. So it is with the unregenerate person. They are free to act as they want, but they will only choose within their nature.

In the end, all Christians agree that we need the intervention of the Holy Spirit if we are to become a Christ-follower.

This is evident in the way all Christians pray regardless of their position on freedom of will. We ask God to convict and work in the hearts of those who need to receive Christ.

God doesn’t force anyone to believe, but when the Holy Spirit enlivens the soul to truly see and know the glorious Christ, we cannot get to him fast enough!

If you are interested in thinking through this issue a little further, John Piper has this helpful article on the desiringGod website.

 

WHY DO WE WHINE SO MUCH?

We complain easily and we complain a lot.

As Christians we complain despite the reality that our life has the proverbial “embarrassment of riches”. The fullest description of our wealth of blessings may be what we find in Ephesians 1:3-14:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

A believer who habitually complains – is somewhat like Bill Gates moaning about his finances, or Michael Phelps whining that he doesn’t have enough Olympic medals.

In addition to what Ephesians describes,

We have God’s unfailing Word that we can read and follow in all situations

We have the Holy Spirit – all that God is – living in us

We have Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords interceding on our behalf

We have the open invitation to cast every burden upon our Lord Jesus

We have the Church which God raised up to bless and support us

We have the wondrous promise that every situation will work together for our eternal good

So how are we using this treasury of ‘riches’ from God?

Yes, our mouths should be open and we should have a lot to say. But let it be praise rather than complaint, thanksgiving rather than grumbling. These are the appropriate responses for all who are in Christ! As the Psalmist declares,

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised”

 

JESUS IS WORTH IT!

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This Sunday will kick off our Annual Missions Conference Week.

This is an exciting as well as a vital time in the life of our church.

We have opportunity to get to know some of our mission partners, and we learn how we can become more connected with the glorious work of the gospel both near and far.

This year’s conference is entitled “IS JESUS WORTH IT?”. We know the answer, but we still need encouragements in living as if Jesus is always worth it.

Make sure you and your family participate in as many events as you can!

Sunday, October 2nd 

     8:30 & 10:30 am   Pastor Pat Tedeschi Preaching

  Monday, October 3rd     

    7:00 – 8:30 pm   Meet & Greet Dessert Night

An evening spent getting to know our new missionaries Fred & Dawn Weindelmayer via a Skype interview.  Bring a dessert to share.

 Wednesday, October 5th

    5:30 – 6:15 pm   Our Famous International Meal

Enjoy cuisine from around the world.

     6:30 – 8:00 pm   Movie “Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places” 

This latest episode is set in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, where a patchwork of tribes live – people groups long crushed by brutal dictators and enslaved to the worship of demons. But the Gospel is setting prisoners free!

 Thursday, October 6th 

    8:15 – 9:15 am   Prayer Breakfast

Enjoy breakfast & pray for our Missionaries.

    9:30 – 11:00 am   Women’s Bible Study

       Featuring an interview with church planter Katie Eck of New City Fellowship in Atlantic City

Friday, October 7th

    5:45  – 10:00 pm   Youth Night

Food, games, and a presentation by church planter Peter Eck at New City Fellowship in Atlantic City.

       Saturday, October 8th

    9:00 – 12:00 pm   “Being Witness: Understanding & Applying Our Identity as Witnesses of Christ” Seminar & Continental Breakfast

A seminar by Jeff Boettcher, Lead Pastor of Christ Church South Philly (SGC).   Breakfast provided.

 Sunday, October 9th

     8:30 & 10:30 am   Pastor Peter Eck Preaching

WHEN A FELLOW CHRISTIAN IS WRONG

Do you have negative thoughts about another believer?

Perhaps they have treated you poorly, or maybe you disagree with something they believe, or with the way they live.

Let’s assume you have a correct perspective about their faults; they should make changes and they should act differently.

You are just in your assessment of what they are lacking.

However there is something more to this picture that should enter into our heart.

Does your perspective toward that believer include consideration of God’s heart toward them?

No one knows the reality of that person better than God. He sees what you see, plus every other word, action and motivation of their heart. In other words, God sees the absolute worst that is in them, because He sees it all and His standards are perfectly pure.

And yet, God not only saved that person, He chose them – He not only accomplished their salvation, He initiated their salvation.

They are never outside of God’s gracious thoughts.

The blood of Jesus that covered your sin, also covers their sin

The burdensome cry of Jesus on the cross included the weight of their guilt, as well as yours

God holds them along with you in His hand and has given them the same promise, to never leave or forsake them

He loves you both with the same love that He has for His Son

The same Holy Spirit lives in both of you forever

Neither of you will ever be apart from God’s eternal grace

God’s commitment to finish His work of sanctification rests on both of your lives

You will both flourish forever in the glorious kingdom of Christ

The fellow believer that is a burr in your heart, is a precious child in God’s heart.

What do you think of that?

From this point on, how will this knowledge affect your attitude toward them and your words about them?

R

WHAT IS TRUE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY?

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J.C. Ryle was a pastor and bishop in the Anglican Church during the second half of the 19th century. He served during a time when that church as a whole had lost sight of the gospel and was falling into widespread liberalism.

Ryle was determined to keep the gospel as his central focus, but sadly much of the church around him not only didn’t care – they ridiculed him and called his beliefs “dangerous”. How blind his critics were, for the greatest danger in life is to deny or ignore the gospel truths he sought to keep clear!

As he tirelessly fought the religious trends around him, Ryle identified what he called the “5 leading features of evangelical Christianity”.

1.  The absolute supremacy of Holy Scripture as the only rule of faith and practice.

2.  The depth and prominence it assigns to the doctrine of human sinfulness and corruption.

3.  The paramount importance it attaches to the work and office of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4.  The high place it assigns to the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man.

5.  The importance it attaches to the outward and visible work of the Holy Spirit in the life of man. True grace will always make itself manifest in conduct.

The title of “Evangelical Christian” is used broadly in the church today, but in many cases the implications of this title are watered down so much it becomes meaningless.

The church in every generation needs to seriously ponder and aggressively protect what it means to be a true biblical / gospel-centered Christian! This means Ryle’s ‘5 signs’ remain valuable reminders and guides to us.

 

HOW A CHURCH INFLUENCES PEOPLE DOES MATTER

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Today’s blog is not meant to be a smear or a rant against the Roman Catholic Church.

However, what a church teaches and practices shapes its members in ways that have eternal consequences.

In other words – it matters that we get church practices right

To get them right means we must be biblical. There is nothing wrong with traditions “if” they are biblically rooted. But if they are unbiblical, they can become hellish in their affect.

I read this fascinating article by John Piper which presented 7 lessons he learned in a recent trip he made to Europe.

The first point is the one I hope you will take the time to read (the rest is extra credit).  Piper describes the “shackles” that the Roman Catholicism has placed upon millions of people over centuries.

Some of the issues he describes have lessened over the years, but their influence on people remain obstacles to the gospel.

Think about that reality for a moment.

When an institution which claims to be the church actually keeps people in darkness about the gospel, which is the only hope we have for salvation – what spiritual force is truly in charge of it?

 

TESTIMONY OF A CHANGED LIFE

On Easter, Mike Frampus who grew up in Greentree and then drifted far from church and God, gave this testimony of God’s grace to save him. Mike has a history of significant problems with anxiety – so just standing before everyone to share his story was a wonderful work of God!

Good morning,

Dana called me a few weeks ago and asked me to come up here and give my testimony. She had prepared me beforehand and let me know that she would do that one day, so of course I said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I began to search online out-of-state job sites, because now that someone had asked me to get up and speak in front of the church, obviously it was time to pack up my family and move as far away as possible to begin anew somewhere else.

You see, I have something that I’m sure some of you know a little about….fear of man. Not only that, but Satan desires for me to be ineffective for God’s kingdom, and so I wanted to give 10,000 reasons why I could not do this.

But then I thought of Moses and Jonah and all the other sinful men that God used for his glory, and the only thing I could say in my heart was: “Here am I. Send me!” So I’m here this morning to give you a very brief glimpse into the power of God.

I grew up attending Greentree Church as a child and being in Sunday school. I was even baptized as a teenager right here behind me, which by the way was the last time that I ever fit into a tub. It wasn’t long, however, until I decided that I wanted to take control of my life and do things my way.

I began at an early age to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, and these things helped me to become more comfortable in a world where I felt as if I didn’t really belong anywhere. I began to believe whole-heartedly that every moment of every day was meant to be lived for my pleasure. So I ran hard after sin towards death until God was no longer even an afterthought.

Initially I was convicted in my heart as I did whatever I thought might bring me joy, but as I graduated to harder drugs I was able to quiet that voice inside a little more effectively. The more I tried to run the more broken I became.

My partying lifestyle began to affect every area of my life, as I began high school getting straight A’s only to struggle just to pass my senior year. I couldn’t wait to get out and really start living…or dying as it turns out.

I used heroin for the very first time when I was 17 years old. Although it was not necessarily love at first sight, in just a couple of short years I would be sticking a needle into my veins, and experienced a rapid downhill decline. I began committing crimes to support my heroin addiction, and I began to steal from the only ones in my life that cared about me.

I have experienced overdose, been through treatments, been to jail, I’ve been robbed and pistol-whipped, and I even sailed across an interstate highway and off the shoulder of the road at more than 75 mph. There have been literally thousands of times in my life where I could have easily died one way or another, and at times in my life I even wished for death.

But God, in His great love and mercy looked upon my helpless state…and led me to the cross. By His amazing grace I have not used drugs and alcohol for over ten years. I am now married to an awesome wife and have three wonderful children.

It is God who sustained me and continues to do so each day. He opened my blind eyes to see that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins and for any who would trust in Him. Through the blood of our precious Savior Jesus I have been brought from death to life and I have been made a new creation.

If, this morning you have a loved one that you’ve been praying for who you know is enslaved by this or any other sin, or perhaps it is you that are caught in this vicious cycle….cry out to the only one that saves. He is faithful.

EASTER LEFTOVERS 3.28.16

Is Jesus alive? It really does matter

 

I Corinthians 15:14-19

We all want to fill our life with what really matters. You may have nothing against Easter, but you wonder – does it really matter?

 

Many people think Jesus’ resurrection is an empty myth

The Bible itself describes the implications if that is true

If Easter is not true, Christianity calls itself empty and foolish

v14 our preaching would be empty: it is meaningless to be here talking about a myth

v14 our faith would be empty: it is foolish to trust in Jesus to give life if he is lifeless

v15 we would be misrepresenting God, by making up what he has done

The entire weight of Christianity rests on whether or not Easter is true

 

There is An Even Bigger Implication About Easter

v17 “If Christ has not been raised . . you are still in your sins”

We are all sinners! We know it’s true, but we cover it over

We tell ourselves, ‘I’m not as bad as other people’. But you are still a sinner

Or we think, ‘I have done more good stuff than bad’. But you are still a sinner

God is perfect and this has a couple unavoidable implications

(1) He will not allow sin to enter and ruin heaven

(2) He must judge all sin – and we are all sinners!

Human religions respond: “You must do certain things to get rid of guilt”

They place the weight of our eternity on our being faithful enough to earn forgiveness

This may appeal to our pride but it doesn’t change reality: no religious activity or good works can undo that “we are still in our sin”

Christianity is totally different, it declares God did it all

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)

We cannot undo our sin, so God came to us to remove the guilt of our sin

Jesus died and was raised for one purpose – to save sinners

If Easter is false, then no one has solved our sin problem

We cannot save ourselves, so if Jesus was not raised, we have no hope

 

The Importance of Easter Is In What It Proves

1. Jesus’ resurrection proves he was not just a man

The Bible says, Jesus was declared Son of God by the resurrection from dead (Romans 1:4)

Some have lived after people thought they had died, but no one has raised themselves out of the grave

2. Jesus’ resurrection proves the purpose of his death was accomplished

Death is God’s penalty for sin and Jesus died to pay for that penalty

Jesus’ resurrection shows us there is no penalty left on the sins he died for

 

How Can We Know If Jesus Really Is Alive?

Jesus’ death was very public so was his resurrection

Over centuries many who tried to disprove it, ended up believing

The great proof God gives is strong, because it comes from the inside

No matter how strongly verified, a proof can be ignored

But Christ proves himself by what he does in us

Let God prove himself to you by what he wants to do in you

How do we receive from Jesus the life he gives?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9)

“Confess” – that you are a sinner who needs Christ

“Believe” – in who Jesus is and what he has done

 

Is Jesus Dead or Alive?

It really does matter, for your eternity and in your life now

Your sin can be forgiven – totally and forever!

Your trust will be in Jesus who is alive and able to help!

Your life will have purpose, because Jesus controls our eternity

It really does matter how we respond to Jesus today

Is he at work in your heart right now? Don’t push him off

Do you want to believe? Ask him to give you faith