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  • Aug 05 / 2012
  • Comments Off on The Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31)

8.5

Bulletin_08.05.2012

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Verse 1 – some men came from Judea to Antioch – teaching circumcision is necessary to salvation.

Gentiles would have to obey circumcision and other aspects of Jewish law (i.e. basically convert to Judaism) in order to be considered part of the church.

Different cultural backgrounds.

Some traditional Jews continue to obey all the laws (or try to) and worship at the temple as they had since Moses. Some of these things (circumcision) identified them as the people of God and set them apart.

God said, “This is my covenant you shall keep for your generations – circumcision.”

So, Abraham took Ishmael, and all his servants and everyone in his estate and circumcised them all in the same day.

Later on, Moses reinforced circumcision – Exodus 12:33-34 – “This is the ordinance of the Passover – no foreigner may eat of it, but all your slaves – after circumcision – may eat.”
Joshua also reinforced it – all those born in the wilderness – a new generation of Israelites – hadn’t been circumcised. So, God commanded them to be circumcised with flint knives.

This was an important mark of the covenant with God.

On the other hand, ex-pagans were continually becoming saved and entering the church.

They had been worshiping idols, they had no desire for circumcision since there was no cultural value for them.

The Jews were afraid that the ex-pagans would change the nature of the church. They weren’t so concerned with some who kept the Jewish laws, worshiped at the temple, and so on. But, IF ex-pagans entered the church and DIDN’T keep the Jewish laws, it might encourage Jews to not be so zealous about keeping the laws themselves.

Something had to be done.

So, Paul and company traveled around and preached about how the Gentiles were turning to God – and accepting Jesus as the Way, Truth, Life.

At Jerusalem, they are welcomed by the elders and reported everything that God had done through them (verse 4).

But then, some with a legalistic background (Pharisee-order Christians), decided that circumcision must be enforced even upon the Gentiles.
They are leaders, teachers, a powerful force (and legalistic). They said Gentiles must basically convert to Judaism before they can be called Christians.

MUCH discussion took place…

Genesis 17 likely referenced to make the case for circumcision.

Then Peter stood up and gave a strong testimony to accept the Gentiles into the church on the basis of “faith alone” and according to the basic Christian creed.

God had already (possibly 10 years earlier – Acts 9) made an example of bringing Gentiles into the church by faith alone.

Peter: “God, who knows the heart, showed he accepted them, he purified their hearts by faith, and gave them the Holy Spirit.”

Peter said that the Pharisee Christians were testing God, placing a yoke around the neck of the Gentiles that Jews themselves had been unable to fully bear.

Yoke – metaphor for political, social oppression (1 Timothy 1? – yoke on slaves)

The gospel came at a time when slavery was rampant. It took many, many years before God – through many Christian men – helped change the world’s views of slavery.

=====
When Jews (or anyone) set up rules to prevent others from entering the body, they are testing God and burdening others.

Jesus himself said, “my yoke is easy, my burden is light…come to me all you who are burdened and heavy-laden and I will give you rest…take my yoke and find rest.”

Peter ends the speech by echoing the thoughts of Paul, “We believe it is by grace we are saved, just as they are.”

Next, Barnabas and Paul rise to defend their views on circumcision – the whole assembly became silent.

Barnabas spoke first, they trusted him, he was originally from Jerusalem, sent to Antioch. So, he and Paul both told the story of the Gentile conversion as it happened. Told of how they went to Cyprus, and how God through Paul had stricken the sorcerer with blindness because He wouldn’t put up with the obstruction to his gospel. Told of other miracles and wonders they witnessed.

This shows that God is blessing their work.

The next person to speak is James, the leader (head pastor) of the church in Jerusalem. He was highly respected all around, probably because he keeps all the Jewish laws.

He agrees with Peter and Paul that faith is the basis for salvation, but the Judaism-advocates misunderstand him. He said that “Just because I keep these laws doesn’t obligate Gentiles to do so.”

Amos 9:11-12 is quoted – prophecy.
He verifies and vindicates the Word of God. By quoting this, he is saying that the Gentile mission is the method by which the Gentiles are becoming part of David’s new tent (the new Israel) – verse 16)

He says, don’t obligate the Gentiles to follow our laws.

However, he has a public relations problem, he doesn’t want to alienate pious Jews – so he sets up 4 prohibitions.

3 of them are about food –
idolatrous worship foods – especially meat (but later Paul in 1 Corinthians says “eat” so long as it doesn’t cause another to sin),
flesh of animals that are improperly killed,
don’t eat blood – an extension on the previous one

The final prohibition = pornea (pornography origin)

No sexual immorality – 1 Corinthians – “He who sins sexually sins against his own body (all other sins are outside his own body)….each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband….I will be grieved over many who have sinned and not repented over their sexual sins in which they have indulged.”

Corinth was very perverse (Vegas?) and known for sexual immorality – in fact, immoral people were often referred to as “Corinthians”

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, prostitutes, homosexual offenders, drunkards, swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. AND that is what some of you WERE. BUT, you were purified, sanctified, washed, cleansed, made righteous.

But thank God for his grace.”

1 Corinthians – Paul recommended marriage BECAUSE of rampant immorality. If he were alive today, he would definitely encourage it.

Today, taboo things of the past have become commonplace. The Internet can bring any of these things with the click of a mouse.

Paul says “FLEE”
Many do struggle with sexual sin and temptation.

www.settingcaptivesfree.com
Porn, wine, cigarettes, finances, diet, homosexuality, etc.

www.purepassion.com?

Billy Graham? Do you know him?
Ruth Graham (his daughter) had been through 3 broken marriages.
First husband brought porn in, messed her up, divorced, raped before second marriage, second marriage broke up, third marriage.

Book “There’s a Broken Heart in Every Pew”

Everyone comes to church smiling, dressed in their best. “How are you?” “Fine!…..” She wasn’t, she was abused by first and second husbands. She finally found peace in her third.

God brought her through that, now she can minister to others with the same struggles. All these other online ministries are similar.

C.S. Lewis – The Great Divorce
Slay Sexual Sin in our own lives.

“Busload of people who travel to heaven on a tour before getting to their new home – heaven. Once in heaven, many flee back to the comfort of their bus. One ghost, with a talkative Lust Demon pestering him, wanders out and meets an angel. The angel asks, “Would you like me to make him quiet?” “Of course” “then I will kill him” “Oh, ouch!…You’re burning me.” “Don’t you want him killed?” “Nothing so drastic please” “It’s the only way, shall I kill it?” “no, no, he’s asleep now.” “May I kill it?” “no, no, some other day?” “No other day. You’ll kill me!” “Not kill you” “You’ll hurt me” “I never said it wouldn’t hurt you, just it wouldn’t kill you.”
Lizard, “I promise I’ll be good”
Angel “May I?” Man “You’re right, it would be better to be dead than live with this. God, help me”

The man screamed in agony, the angel squeezed the lizard, killed it and threw it.

Then the man (ghost) became solid – not a ghost anymore but a man.

The lizard grew bigger and bigger and changed. It became a stallion (horse), beautiful golden hair.

The man (not ghost) climbed upon his stallion that had been his sin and rode toward his Savior.

The only remedy for sexual sin is DEATH to that sin. But after that death, there is a beauty to the new creation life.

Let us prepare for communion, and if there are any lizards in our lives, let’s kill them.

Amen.

  • Jun 10 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Parting is NOT Such Sweet Sorrow (Acts 13:13)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Parting is NOT Such Sweet Sorrow (Acts 13:13)

6.10

Bulletin_06.10.2012

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

In Pisidian Antioch : 13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John (Mark) left them to return to Jerusalem.

*Oops, bulletin picture is apostle John ^^;

Previously, Barnabas was mentioned first.
Acts 11:30 – Prophecy of famine coming into the world, the saints in Antioch agreed to send supplies to Judea. They sent it in charge of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 12:25 – Returned from Jerusalem, “and Barnabas and Saul” returned, and they took on John (Mark) and a relative (nephew or cousin?) of Barnabas.

Acts 13:2 – While the leaders in Antioch were ministering and fasting, the Holy Spirit (HS) said, “set aside Barnabas and Saul.”

Three times, Barnabas was named first, then Saul.

Now, Acts 13:13 we read, “Paul and his companions” = (those around Paul) – Paul becomes center stage, and the others become satellites around him. He is the leader, dominant partner in the missionary team.

There is no specific indication WHY Paul becomes the leader here, perhaps due to the HS’s direction during the period when Paul called a mist of darkness to come upon a magician they met (Elymas). When the proconsul saw this power of God, he believed and the activities of Satan were frustrated through Paul.

Perhaps the HS is clearly at work in Paul at this point, so he becomes the leader.

Also, at this point John (Mark) returns to Jerusalem. No reason given here.

Perhaps Mark didn’t like that Barnabas is no longer the leader (perhaps the same has happened in some churches).
Or he may be in disagreement over some parts of the presentation of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Or he may have been homesick.
Or he may have been afraid of the next part of their journey – they would have to cross high mountains, endure floods, avoid robber crowds. It may have seemed a daunting future.

Whatever the reason, he returned.

Paul didn’t like it. Acts 15:38, he said, “desertion.”

Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36~) returned to some of the churches they’d planted to see how they were.

Barnabas wanted to take (this same) John (Mark) with them. Paul didn’t want to since he’d deserted them previously.

They had such a sharp disagreement, they separated. Paul chose Silas, Barnabas took John Mark. Paul returned and strengthened the churches. Barnabas continued on.

Who was right? Paul or Barnabas, or both?

Here are two men – crashing into each other verbally, angrily perhaps – and separated.

Paul was task-oriented. He wanted to accomplish his mission (the Lord’s mission).
Barnabas was people-oriented. He wanted to restore John Mark.

They separated, yet, now there were two missionary teams. So, God directed the two, he overruled their argument and sent them separately.

Toward the end of his life, (2 Timothy 4:11), Paul asked Timothy to bring him Mark – he changed his mind about Mark.

“All’s well that end’s well.”
“Let bygones be bygones.”
“Put the past behind you.”

Scottish Preacher, Samuel Rutherford, was reflecting on his youth – the debt he owed to God. “Pray that bygones between me and my Lord, may be bygones.”

The Lord CANNOT forget sins – he is omniscient (all-knowing).
But he CHOOSES not to remember – not to hold past sins against us.

When we repent (turn away from the sin), God forgives us and remembers them no more.

“Forgiving is not an emotion, it’s a decision. It’s tearing up the I.O.U.”
– Derick Prince

(I.O.U.) = I owe you, I must repay you.

“Many wives who’ve suffered from their husbands STILL suffer, because they’ve never torn up the I.O.U.’s. They have I.O.U.’s – “you owe me love, you owe me respect, you owe me…” Yet, God holds MANY MORE I.O.U.’s against you. God says, “if you tear up yours, I’ll tear up mine, but if you hold onto yours, I’ll hold onto mine.””

One lady forgave $30,000 in I.O.U’s immediately after this sermon.

Husbands/wives, friends, co-workers, even YOURSELF – have you forgiven these?
Have you forgiven yourself?

If you say, “how could I do this (sin)?”
The answer, “you’re still human, and not yet glorified – you are not perfect, so don’t hold yourself to the standard of perfection.”

Sample dialog:

  • Barnabas: Mark has potential!
  • Paul: He’s your relative…
  • B: Not true, I help others as well – he has great potential!
  • P: We need a tight, close, reliable team – able to endure beatings and scorn. How can we take him? He failed us before.
  • B: I’ve talked to him about this, I’m sure he wouldn’t do it again, to refuse him might do damage to his spirit at the moment of repentance.
  • P: It’s too soon to trust him.
  • B: Remember how soon after your conversion, I trusted you…I’d rather not keep him (Mark) waiting.

A.T. Robertson
“No one can blame Barnabas for giving Mark a second chance, nor Paul for fearing to risk a second chance.”

P & B parted in anger and sorrow.
Paul owed more to Barnabas than anyone.
Barnabas was parting from the greatest spirit of the time.

Who was right?
Most people think Barnabas. Swindoll is tempted to agree. Yet, Proverbs 25:19, “Like a bad tooth and unsteady foot is confidence in a faithless man in times of trouble.”

Have you ever loaned money to someone who never paid it back? Is it still outstanding? Would you loan that person money again?…Probably not. (This is Paul’s viewpoint.)
He hasn’t paid you back once, he’s more likely to do so again.

What if it has an impact on those we minister to? What if his actions roll over to others in the church and others leave as well?

If you see only Barnabas’ side, you’ve likely never been betrayed or failed by a partner in ministry.

Neither vote for Paul or Barnabas. Both sides have validity.

Yet, in the sovereignty of God, missionaries doubled.

Mark eventually wrote the gospel of Mark, Paul spoke well of him later.

This same thing has happened in churches since then. Church splits, yet God gives grace.

Whitefield (once saved always saved) vs. Wesley (give away salvation – fall from grace)

Q: What happens when you get to heaven?
Whitefield: “Wesley will be so close to God’s throne, I won’t even see him.”

That’s GRACE. Let’s pray we each can show the same kind of grace.

  • Mar 25 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Standing in Freedom! (Galatians 5:1)
Freedom Sermons, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Standing in Freedom! (Galatians 5:1)

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Galatians = great chart of Christian’s liberty (freedom)

Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll

Isn’t Grace Risky?
The Killing Fields movie – quite a movie
True story of NY Times report in Cambodia – closest asst. was Cambodian captured by regime (torturous cruelty).
Endured unbelievable suffering while escaping.

Continue Reading

  • Mar 13 / 2012
  • 1
Freedom Sermons, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Christian – You are Freed! Don’t return to your Chains (Romans 6)

Sermon Notes from Romans 6:1-2, 15

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Here, Paul asks two questions. The first question (v.2) is answered with second: How shall we live in sin when we are dead to it?

Chuck Swindoll says we should recall in our memories – recall our misery, that we couldn’t control our desires – perhaps the victim of a habit? lust, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, drugs, alcohol, food. Recall the feeling you had no hope. This is slavery = addiction at its worst. Shame increased, and overwhelmed you.

Some people, live in freedom in grace, but have forgotten their slavery.

Gordon Seagrave has said: “It is my earnest conviction that everyone should be in prison at least once. Should be in on suspicion, not proof, he should be sick most of the time, at least 4 months. Only then will he realize the value of freedom.”

Ex: Nelson Mandela, John Bunyan

When imprisoned, freedom is much sweeter.

Imagine, wrongfully imprisoned…

Who would volunteer to return to prison?

We are dead to sin, why return? We are freed slaves, freed from sin and shame. Why return?

“Emancipate” means to release from slavery.

In the US, the Civil War broke slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was killed for the cause. The 13th Amendment legally abolished slavery, black slaves emancipated (freed). The President had earlier stated his anti-slavery convictions.

New Year’s Day 1863 the Emancipation was proclaimed but it took until December 18, 1865 for it to be enacted. The newspapers declared: “Slavery: Legally Abolished” It was Good news!

But, the majority of slaves – now legally freed, continued to live as slaves…Former slaves lived virtually unchanged lives.

Shelby Foot in his 3-volume “Civil War” wrote: “The Negro was locked in a caste system of grace etiquette.” All slaves would likely say – “I don’t know nothing ’bout Abe Lincoln, ‘cept he set us free – and I don’t know nothing ’bout that neither.”

Slaves were ignorant of freedom. And that was TRAGIC…There was a war, assassination, amendment, they were emancipated, freed, but- still lived in poverty, fear, and old lives…They often chose to keep serving the same master, until they died.

Would you even know that slavery was abolished?

Plantation owners wanted to“Keep them ignorant, keep them in the field.” What else could they do?

Israelite slaves had an advantage – God was with them – signs and wonders. Exodus. Red sea, manna, pillar of cloud and fire. Manifestations of God.

Not so in America…Tragic?

Here is one WORSE. Christian slaves…

Jesus paid it all! But many Christians act as though held in bondage…Most prefer the security of slavery, to the risks of liberty. Strange, no? But Satan loves it! “Great! Keep it up!” Satan KNOWS we are free – but hates it. He does everything in his power to keep us pinned down in guilt, shame, intimidation, fear.

Romans 3 – this is us before Jesus.

3:10-20…
10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

(POINT 1) We had no way of escape. We were unable to change our enslavement to sin.

(POINT 2) Glorious release – Christ has set us free!

Sinners – everyone on Earth – has been set free! The first Easter – is our redemption.

Romans 3:21-22
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,

To qualify, you need no special requirements. Not culture, not skin, not language, ONLY faith in Christ. We were all slaves to sin, to Satan (our master).

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

We were spiritually useless, could not escape. Jesus, paid our price to free us. His own blood = price. He said to us all “You don’t have to live under your former master any longer! You’re free! Free to serve me for the rest of your life!”

We were changed from rebels to servants of God.

President Grace freed us from Satan – our master, and his wife Shame.

  • Theoretically, we were freed at Jesus death.
  • Practically, legalism, old habits, attempt to keep us in bondage – to keep us ignorant, afraid, thinking like a slave.

(POINT 3) Many Christians still live AS SLAVES.

It’s like saying, “I don’t know anything about Grace, cept maybe it set us free, and I don’t know bout that neither…”

We have a Sin-oriented mentality…

  • “I just can’t help myself.”
  • “I’m only human”
  • “I’m not a great guy”

We speak self-defeating references – we look like insecure religious slaves.

We rationalize our sins – hypocrites…

We lie, cheat, steal.

We say “Nobody’s perfect.”But that basically means “I’m still enslaved…”

Chuck Swindoll says: Nonsense! Live like you’re free! Where sin abounded, grace SUPER abounded! Once you were enslaved, now you are freed. Live ABOVE your old habit – old sin. Grace helps us to say “no” to sin and conquer it.

Here’s a Maverick thought:

Once we grasp true freedom of grace, we can spend lengthy periods of time sinless, shameless. Why should sin master us? How un-biblical to say we can’t help but let sin master us. We have been trained to expect and handle sin – rather than freedom. But that reinforces our slave mentality. Wake up, confess, go to bed, confess, anything I missed? confess… Where is the abundant life Christ promised? Are free people to live in such fear of sin?

Let’s live like we’re free!

Your old master doesn’t want you to think like this. He wants to keep you ignorant and in shame, and afraid of him and his whip (sin). Wants you to think you “gotta get beat” every now and then – to keep you in line.

HERESY! Jesus set us free! Satan has no right to put a whip to your back! You are free!

This is Grace Awakening.

We are freed from sin, Satan, shame, old selves…

Old man, new man

McGee tells a story to illustrate the concept of old man and new man:

A lady lived in the deep South – had a close relationship with former boyfriend – ultimately married him, had a rewarding life, though not perfect.

But one day, heart attack took him from her. She didn’t want to let him go – embalmed him, put in a chair, sealed in a glass case, in front of her home. Whenever she walked in, she said, “Hi, John” – walked upstairs, carried on.

One year later, took a trip to EU. Met an American who fell in love with her – married in EU, honeymooned, etc.

What a surprise for the new husband…He picked her up, knocked the door open…And almost dropped her!

She said, “That’s my old man John” – So he buried John. It was finally OVER.

That’s what Christ has done for us.

We died with Christ, raised to new life with him. The revelation of Holy Spirit reminds us of our freedom – Ephesians. We need the spirit of knowing our own death and rebirth with Christ.

Chuck Swindoll – closing part 2.

There are many high passes up mountains. It can be quite dangerous. The Govt. could put EMT at the bottom of hill to be ready for the injured. (This is like 1 John 1:9 for Christians.)

OR they could put warning signs up the road, preparing people for what is ahead. (This is like Romans 6 for Christians – it is our warning, and explains our freedom in Christ). Don’t spend time in guilt, confession, guilt, confession. Our inheritance is freedom! We are not under law – it only magnifies and explains sin. Rather, we are under grace.

We are freed in Jesus name!

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