Sunday, June 28, 2009

Missional Living Series Week 2: Sin

Here's a link to part 2 in our missional living series.

Sin separates us from God. All of us have sinned; therefore all of us are separated from God. Being in sin, we do not have the ability to overcome it, so we are lost and hopeless. Yet God, in His great love and mercy, has put forth Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins providing reconciliation and restoration of our relationship with Him. He does this through the blood of Christ on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Notfrom our merit, but by His grace are we saved (Eph. 2:8‐9). Our condition separates us from God, only His grace reconciles, so why are we not the most humble people? A right understanding of sin allows us to be participants in the mission of God, not creators of our own “missions.” When we realize that we are participants only by God’s grace demonstrated in redemptive history and manifested in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then we can take the ministry and message of reconciliation to our world with love, gentleness, kindness and self sacrifice. In what ways are you letting sin continue to distort your relationship with God? In what ways is sin keeping you from articipating in God’s mission?

Resources to keep Digging Deeper
• To Listen:
o “The Importance of Knowing Our Sin

o “Adam, Christ, and Justification” parts 1‐5

o “The Fatal Disobedience of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ

o “The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

• To Read:
o “Mortification of Sin” (abridged) – John Owen
o “The Imputation of Adam’s Sin” – John Murray
o “The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative” – Christopher J.H. Wright

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Truth & Falsehood (Second Peter 2)

Okay, we are getting back into 2 Peter this Sunday night, so I wanted to post something reviewing where we left off.

Second Peter is a book for people with questions, doubts, and frustrations about their faith.

In Paul’s message on 2 Peter 1:12-21, we discussed the questions, doubts, and frustrations that we sometimes have with the Scriptures as they have been delivered to us. After all, isn’t it possible that we are all just following a bunch of cleverly invented stories? I think we can all benefit from engaging with this question.

For Peter’s audience, the Old Testament Scriptures delivered from God by the prophets were trustworthy and true, and he affirms this in his letter. But weren’t there also false prophets in Israel? Weren’t there false teachers in Peter’s day? And aren’t there false teachers in our day? How do we discern if someone is trustworthy and true? This is the subject of Chapter 2 in Peter’s letter.

Any discussion or discourse on false teachers assumes that there are such things as truth and falsehood. But what is truth? This is a question that humanity has wrestled with for thousands of years.

Philosophers have proposed at least three theories of truth: (1) correspondence theory, which says: “A statement is true if and only if it corresponds to the facts” (Velasquez, 427); (2) coherence theory, which says: “A statement is true if and only if it coheres or fits in with that system of statements that we already accept” (Ibid.); (3) pragmatism, which says: “A statement is true if and only if it effectively solves a practical problem and thereby experientially satisfies us” (Ibid.).

There are strengths and weaknesses to each of these theories. For the most part, I would say that the Scriptures use something like correspondence theory: “truth” is what corresponds to reality, to the way things are. “Falsehood” is what is deceptive, what does not correspond to reality.

What do you think?

There is a group of teachers whose lifestyle and teaching Peter believes to be deceptive. Commentator Peter H. Davids suggests that they may have been Epicureans. Whatever the case, their lifestyle and teaching do not correspond to what we have in Christ, and Peter does not want them influencing the congregations to whom he is writing.

They secretly introduce destructive heresies (v. 1). What is heresy? Mary Veeneman says: “I usually define heresy as a belief that is so fundamentally problematic it renders human salvation via Christ impossible” (source).

They bring the way of truth into disrepute (v. 2). They are lovers of money, likely exploiting the gospel for financial gain (v. 3). They despise authority (v. 10); oftentimes when someone despises authority, it is so that they can set themselves up as an authority instead.

Clearly, their influence is destructive. Peter spends over half of the chapter (vv. 13-22) talking not about the content of their doctrine (which he addresses briefly in vv. 1-2) but about the content of their lives. We must not miss this: false living is false teaching.

Here is the best definition of teaching I have ever heard: “Teaching is causing someone to learn.” Teaching is more than just the transfer of information. False teaching, the kind that Peter is concerned with, is more than the transfer or proclamation of false doctrine, although it includes that, to be sure. Simply put, false living is false teaching. And this is Peter’s concern (see esp. vv. 13–14, 17–20). He does not want these false teachers to influence otherwise healthy, growing congregations.

So what is the application for us? In 1 Tim 4:16, Paul says to Timothy: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Some people are really good about watching their doctrine. They quote verses such as Jude 3, Gal 1:8-9, etc. This is good and necessary. Some people are really good about watching their lives. They quote verses like James 1:27, Micah 6:8, etc. This is also good and necessary.

But if we are in Christ, we must watch our life and doctrine closely. We dare not preach a false gospel with our doctrine, but we also dare not preach a false gospel with our lives. False living is false teaching. Therefore, let us watch our life and doctrine closely. Let us strive to have a positive, godly influence on all those around us, by God’s grace.

As we learn to cling to Jesus instead of ourselves, his lifestyle and teaching will become our own.

(Download mp3)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Isaiah 55:1-3 - Repenting of Idols

This week we studied the first three verses of Isaiah 55. In order to get some background about the passage, we reviewed some of the context of Isaiah and the history of Judah around that time. Isaiah was a prophet who ministered to Judah after the nation of Israel had been divided and was on the downward slope of idol worship, unfaithfulness to God, and wickedness. Isaiah called God's people to forsake their idols and return to the Lord. Isaiah also looks forward to the restoration of Israel, especially through the work of the Suffering Servant, who is ultimately fulfilled through the Messiah, Jesus, who is the True and Faithful Israel.

Isaiah 55:1-3 is an extended metaphor in which the Lord calls out to those who are hungry and thirsty and invites them to receive refreshment from Him at no cost. Like Israel, we are all hungry and thirsty for various things. Perhaps it is for love and acceptance, for value as a person, for purpose and meaning in life, or for freedom from guilt and shame. Whatever it is that we are deeply longing for, the Lord invites us to come to him to receive what we need but cannot provide for ourselves. This is the gospel!

The passage then goes on in the second verse to contrast the foolishness of "spending money on what is not food" with the deep satisfaction that there is in going to God and receiving "the richest of fare". I gave some illustrations to try to help us imagine better what is being contrasted. It is as if we were really, really hungry and went to the store and spent our last dollar buying something totally useless to satisfy our hunger rather than buying food. Maybe something like Kleenex or a big carton of ice cream, something that would seem to satisfy hunger but ultimately will leave us feeling sick rather than satisfied. That is in contrast with going home and having your spouse or roommate or a friend have a lavish steak dinner all prepared for you.

If you are really hungry, you would be a total fool to choose the Kleenex or the box of ice cream over the hearty meal. Yet that is what sin is like! So often we pursue idols in our lives and expect them to somehow satisfy our deepest desires and they can't. We choose the things that only let us down and deepen our ache when God is inviting us to come to him through the gospel and receive in Christ all that we need. Why are we so stupid?!

There are many reasons why we might turn away from God to idols, but what the Lord calls us to is to turn back to him. In the third verse, God invites the people of Israel to listen to him and come to him in order that they might live. The invitation is made through covenant relationship, which we also, 2500+ years later, are invited into through faith in Christ. Through faith, we are included in Christ, the True Israel, and so inherit all the many great and precious promises that God has made with his people.

Our relationship with God rests not upon anything that we can do but solely upon the covenant relationship that we have with God through faith in Christ. Each day, we are drawn away by our sinful nature and turn to idols, but God is calling us to day by day turn back to him and renew our covenant relationship with him.

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."

Through the discussion time, I offered some questions that I hope will help us to identify some of the idols that we have in our lives and see how insufficient they are to satisfy our deepest needs and, in contrast, how absolutely sufficient God is to meet those needs.
  1. What are you hungry and thirsty for?
  2. What idols are there in your life that you go to to try to satisfy your hunger and slake your thirst?
  3. How does that work out for you?
  4. How is God sufficient to satisfy your hunger and slake your thirst where idols fail?
  5. Spend some time praying and renewing your covenant commitment with God.

Recommended Reading/Listening:
Preaching the Gospel to Yourself by Drew Goodmanson (blog post)
How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself by David Fairchild (sermon with a fairly complete text outline)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Missional Living Series Week1: The Resurrection

Here's a link to the sermon that we listened to on Thursday June 18th:

Here are a few key points that we went over in our study:

The Ministry of Reconciliation is: the corporate and collective activities of the Church to engage a world in all facets that is separated from the God who created and sustains it.

The Message of Reconciliation is: the personal message of the gospel as seen in an individual's life and expressed to people who are separated from the God who loves them.

The Mission of Reconciliation is: the mission of God to restore man and creation to right relationship with Himself. He has called us by the resurrection of Christ, having been made new by His victory over sin and death to participate in this mission.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been reconciled to God. He has removed our sin and shame and given us the message of reconciliation, the message of hope that should take root in every area of our lives. This means that we are to look at each aspect of life, our own hearts and minds, our relationships, our work, our time, etc.; through the lens of the gospel of reconciliation.

Passages for study: 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hospitality Pt. 1

This past week we started a new two-week series talking about hospitality. This is an important topic and an important discipline because hospitality
  1. Demonstrates genuine Christian love toward out brothers and sisters in faith by sharing our homes and our lives
  2. Displays the gospel by treating those who are not family as if they were
  3. Is commanded of believers and is a necessary mark of Christian maturity

I referenced several passages throughout my message, and if you missed them, you can review my notes—or read the book The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. He does an excellent job of surveying the New Testament teaching on hospitality.

As we grow in showing hospitality toward other Christians, toward our neighbors and co-workers and others in our community, and toward the disadvantaged, I think we will see that God beams out the light of the gospel more strongly through our community. The key in all this is love. God first loved us, so we love others. As we love others, we demonstrate the love of God and give visible witness to the power of the gospel. I pray that the Lord will give us hearts to love those around us and eyes to see the ways that we can love them in tangible ways.

This coming Sunday night we will have a special guest speaker to do Part 2 of the series. Brian Fort has been living out hospitality for some time and will be joining us to clean up after me and give more of a practical perspective. I'm looking forward to learning from Brian and being challenged to follow his example!

Recommended Reading:
The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch
Blog posts: Gospel Hospitality and Gospel Hospitality in Our Neighborhood by Jeff Vanderstelt


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday Night Community Group

Hey so this is my first post ever on the Regen blog. That's pretty cool I guess. Anyways last Thursday at Community Group we listened to a stand alone sermon by Matt Chandler. We're going to be going through an audio sermon series by Matt Chandler on Thursday nights and I wanted to give everyone kind of an introduction and thought this sermon would be good for that. Enjoy!

Link to mp3

If the link doesn't work or you would like a text version of the sermon go to If you would like more information on who Matt Chandler is go to