Friday Sermon | “Christ, the Door” by Phil Johnson

PhilJohnson-GraceLifeFor today’s good sermon, we’ll be visiting Grace Life Church’s online ministry the Grace Life Pulpit. Our sermon for today is delivered by Phil Johnson and was preached on Sunday, August 2, 2015. This is an excellent sermon, one that was brought to my attention by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith.

If you’d rather just listen to this sermon click the below:

The sermon text is John 10:7-10.

John 10:1-21 (ESV) | I Am the Good Shepherd

10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them andscatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | What I decree and declare…

418px-Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)There is a lot of bad teaching out there regarding prayer and spiritual warfare. Today, I want to address the blasphemous “I decree and declare” type prayers. We aren’t called to pray that way. If you are reading this blog and are unfamiliar with Pentecostal or Charismatic teaching on spiritual warfare, I don’t want to create a strawman in your mind, take a moment to see the sort of teaching we are addressing.

Source: Charisma Mag (read with caution)

Decreeing and declaring are becoming more popular in Christian circles.

Often people begin their prayers by saying, “I decree and declare. …” The two words have distinctly different meaning though, and by understanding what they mean, we can more powerfully harness the power of what each does.

The word declare comes from the Hebrew achvah, meaning “to make known” or “to set forth an accounting.” It is commonly used by customs agents who ask international travelers, “Do you have anything to declare?” The agents are asking for specifics of what you have, what you are carrying.

As it pertains to us spiritually, declarations are what we speak into the atmosphere, making known what we already have possession of. We can declare our righteousness, our salvation, our eternal victory and our friendship with God.

Into the atmosphere? No. We don’t pray to the atmosphere, to nature, to men, to angels, or to demons. We pray to God. So, unless we are offering up prayers to false gods, this should severely limit what we should be decreeing and declaring to God in our prayers to Him.

What we already have possession of? Repentance. For it is by God’s Grace that we have been saved, through Faith, and that faith isn’t of ourselves, it is the Gift of God… that no one should boast (paraphrasing Eph 2:8-9).

We can declare our righteousness? Sure, if by doing so you are confessing you have none of your own. Your greatest good work is stained by sin. Declare your unrighteousness… by confessing and repenting to God.

We can declare our salvation, our eternal victory? Yes. If we are talking prayer, it still falls under confession and repentance because we are talking to God. I would rather this declaration be set in the context of Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to both the believing and the lost.

Source: Charisma Mag (cont…)

By contrast, decrees are a tool by which we cause the truths of the heavenly realm to be manifest into the natural realm so they become our daily reality. We decree healing when we are sick. We decree provision and abundance when we are lacking. We decree peace when there is turmoil. Decrees are a tool to fulfill Matthew 6:10: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (KJV). Decrees manifest heaven on earth.

The English definition of decree is “a statement of truth that carries the authority of a court order.” For example, when a defendant is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, he cannot ignore that sentence because the authority of the court order is such that upon conviction, he has no further say in the matter.

The same is true with decrees in the spiritual realm. When we decree God’s provision and blessings over our lives, then anything purposed against our provision and blessing can have no further say in the matter. When we decree God’s peace and unity in our family, then anything purposed against peace and unity has no valid objection or standing to come against us.

We cause the truths of the heavenly realm to be manifest into the natural realm? No, no, no…. no… no. Just…. no. God does the work as He sees fit. He is sovereign over all of creation. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and we do not cause anything to be manifest in the natural. I mean, this is supposed to be prayer, right? We are praying to God and telling Him what we truths we will cause to be manifest? Seriously? No. To presume to do the work of telling God what to manifest is to commit the sin of blasphemy. He alone is God.

When we decree God’s provision and blessings over our lives, then anything purposed against our provision and blessing can have no further say in the matter. What a lie. God made no such promises in Scripture. This false teaching is what shipwrecks faith… by leading sheep to place their faith in empty promises. This isn’t prayer… this is sorcery. This turns the notion of prayer into a “spell of protection”. This is dangerous theology… blasphemous within the context of prayer. This isn’t prayer. And when these false promises turn up empty, you’ve left the sheep completely exposed to the wolves to be devoured… and their blood is on your hands.

It is Written

Let’s get a little perspective now.

John 1:1-16 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Jesus is God in the flesh, the God-Man. It is as inexplicable as it is inescapable. Jesus Is. Through Him all things were created and with Him not anything made was made. This is important to note going into the next couple of passages.

Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV) | The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

A couple of notes here. Firstly, Satan came to Jesus to tempt and distract Jesus. Jesus responds “it is Written”. Such a powerful response coming from the One who Is the Word Made Flesh. If anyone could have decreed and declared of His own, it would be Jesus… yet He deferred to what He has already said and caused to be Written. Even when He told Satan “Be gone” Jesus qualified it “for it is written”. Secondly… Jesus isn’t praying to Satan. He isn’t praying to the atmosphere. He was fasting (an act of humble Worship to God the Father), became hungry, and Satan came to tempt. Notice how Satan first tempted Jesus… to have Him command (decree) the stones be made into bread.

On the issue of prayer, we’ve addressed how Jesus answered the request of His disciples to teach them how to pray. Teach Us to Pray.

What I decree and declare

That I am a sinner in need of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was in the Beginning, who came to fulfill the Promise, pay the price of sin I couldn’t pay by His death on the cross, who rose victorious over sin and death, and ascended into Heaven until the Day of His Return to judge the living and the dead. Let’s look at what Paul declared in his letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 3 (ESV)| Righteousness Through Faith in Christ

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Straining Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Please stop reading books and magazine articles by self-proclaimed “spiritual warfare” gurus that teach you to treat the Bible as a spell book, and encourage you to blaspheme what you do not understand (Jude 8-10; 2 Peter 2).

James 1:2-5 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Many misuse this verse as a springboard to promoting direct-revelation from God. God has already given us all that we need in the Scriptures. Learn to read the Bible as a revelation of Christ (how the Bible describes itself) rather than some guidebook about you.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Learn to pray the Lord’s Prayer as He taught His disciples to pray. Learn to pray the Psalms, in many of them the first-person pronouns are Jesus, not David or you. Prayer is a gift from God for those who have been adopted through His Son, Jesus. And when it comes time to pray ex corde (from the heart), let the Lord’s Prayer and the 10 commandments guide your prayers. Remember to whom you’re praying (1-2 Commandment), honor Him in your prayer, do not make petitions based on anger (murder), covetousness, jealousy, etc. Finally, I do not recommend reading Charisma Mag for any spiritual guidance whatsoever. It is one of many “christian” tabloids spreading false-doctrines and promoting false teachers.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

Our sermon today is not a sermon. I reviewed 5 sermons this week that were good, but didn’t seem to hit the notes I felt were most important for this week. Yesterday’s DiM post was a discerning look at the role of music and Worship in the Church, from pastors who come from various reformed traditions. I attend a reformed Baptist church now, but I wanted to find something that could present a bit of a juxtaposition of Lutheran and Reformed theology. I believe this discussion does a good job of that.

We’ve listened to lectures from this year’s Liberate conference, and today we’ll be looking at a discussion between a respected Reformed Pastor Steve Brown and Lutheran Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. They had not met previously, but knew of each other by common friends and associates. Here, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the subject of Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins, the Gospel of Grace, discussed from both the Reformed and Lutheran perspectives. There are difference, yes, but there is also common ground that is worth highlighting, that being the Gospel of Grace.

Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

[youtube https://youtu.be/5VkNNeMgZcY]

*note: At one point in this discussion (16:15), Steve Brown reflects on his encounter with Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran pastrix. While I do appreciate Steve Brown’s intention of using this anecdote to highlight the diversity of believers and the power of Grace, I don’t want anyone to come away from this thinking she is doctrinally sound or that she rightfully holds a position of pastor. She is not, and does not, and I pray she repents. She is still loved and cared for by many in the LIBERATE community. She is to the Lutheran community what Rob Bell was to the Southern Baptists, deconstructing Doctrine and minimizing sin ala the Emergent/Liberal Church.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “The Superiority of Scripture” by Phil Johnson

PhilJohnson-GraceLifeFor today’s good sermon, we’ll be visiting Grace Life Church’s online ministry the Grace Life Pulpit. Our sermon for today is delivered by Phil Johnson and was preached on Sunday, January 11, 2015.

Grace Life Pulpit provides a transcript on their website here.

If you’d rather just listen to this sermon click the link below:
http://gracelifepulpit.media.s3.amazonaws.com/GL-2015-01-11-PJ.mp3

The sermon text is Psalm 19.

Psalm 19 (ESV)

The Law of the Lord Is Perfect
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “Let the Lion Out” by Alistair Begg (Shepherds’ Conference)

inerrancy-summitOur sermon today is a lecture given by Alistair Begg at this year’s Shepherds’ Conference (2015).

The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement as together we seek to become more effective servants of our chief Shepherd. Visit the inerrantword.com website for more information on this year’s topic.

Lecture Text

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Alistair Begg introduces the sermon title by way of quoting from a sermon entitled “Christ and His Co-Workers” by C.H. Spurgeon  (1886):

A great many learned men are defending the Gospel—no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do—yet I always notice that when there are most books of that kind, it is because the Gospel, itself, is not being preached. Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in a cage and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I would suggest to them, if they would not object and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, open the door, and let the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself—and the best “apology” for the Gospel is to let the Gospel out! Never mind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch—preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Let the Lion out and see who will dare to approach Him!The Lion of the tribe of Judah will soon drive away all His adversaries!

With Easter Sunday being this weekend, pray for your pastors, elders, and deacons. They are no-doubt under a lot of pressure to get everything just right for one of the biggest Sunday’s of the year. A day that statistics have shown time and time again that many who are not saved will attend a Sunday Morning service. The temptation to defend the Gospel by appealing to the desires or comfort of the once-in-a-year attendee is strong. Pray that rather than succumb to the pressure of defending the Gospel by keeping it caged up, your pastors might instead open the cage and Let the Lion Out!

Video Link

Watch this lecture here: https://vimeo.com/channels/887255/121303688

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge