Friday, November 28, 2014

Living In Step With The Spirit

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25 ESV)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6 ESV)

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6 ESV)

If you are a follower of Christ you are indwelt with the Spirit of truth. People of the Spirit are characterized by a love of the truth. Truth is a divine Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ. Some wrongly seek truth in man-made spirituality, or other demonically inspired forms of religious enlightenment. One way the spirit of error manifest itself in the church is through compromise. It embraces attitudes and actions that are not consistent with Scripture. It is what the Bible calls the "Spirit of error" that leads people into deception. This compromising attitude or spirit goes as far as to call "good evil and evil good". 

This defective belief system rejects godliness as an achievable goal. during the life time of the believer. But the Spirit of truth leads us to live a holy life set apart for God. Compromise in a believers' life is offensive to the Holy Spirit, and weakens our desire for the truth of God's word. I am convinced that part of being "led by the Spirit" is being led away from ungodly and harmful behavior. God's Spirit always leads us in  the path of right living. Dwelling in His presence and seeking wise counsel from God's word, gives us the ability to live "in step with the Spirit"  - Bobby

Monday, November 17, 2014

Paul's Passion

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16 ESV) little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. (Galatians 4:19-20 ESV)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

The Apostle Paul lived for the glory of God alone. He preached the Gospel with prophetic zeal to reach the world for Jesus. Paul's passion was to see the life of Christ fully formed in his spiritual children. That involves being freed from demonic oppression and delivered from seeking to establish our own righteousness, by our good works. Paul sought to free people from oppressive religious observance and systems that do nothing to deliver believers internally.

The Gospel frees us from being controlled by what he called "elemental principles or spirits" of the world. Jesus came to set both religious and irreligious people free. His death and resurrection  redeems us from spiritual slavery to adoption into his family. As God's sons and daughters we can now cry out, "Abba! Father!" by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul describes his passion for the spiritual maturity of believers as a woman in childbirth, which speaks of excruciating pain. And as one mother pointed out, "he couldn't think of anything else!" The key to our spiritual  maturity is dependent upon our grasp of our adoption into the family of God, not just keeping rules and regulations. This reality can only be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. 

Those that revert to law based religion seek to justify themselves based on good works apart from Christ. And they miss the point of the Gospel. - Bobby

Monday, November 10, 2014

Misconceptions About The Second Coming by Sam Storms

What would you say are two or three of the greatest misconceptions about the second coming of Christ among Christians today?

In spite of our Lord’s unmistakable declaration that “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son” (Matt. 24:36) when his return will occur, some continue to set dates or allegedly discern the times in order to pin down the precise moment of his coming. This simply needs to stop. Although it certainly sells books, nothing brings more reproach on the church of Jesus Christ than these ill-conceived efforts to predict the time of his return.

Another misconception is that Christ will return at a time of cosmic upheaval, social disruption, and global chaos, such that everyone will be looking toward heaven, fully prepared for his appearing. But Jesus himself said that “as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37). In other words, before the flood people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matt. 24:38), which is to say, they were carrying on blissfully in the routines of life, largely unaware of any impending disaster. Such will also be the case when Christ comes again.

Finally, I realize this is a controversial point, on which many readers will disagree, but the second coming is a singular event, not two comings separated by a seven-year tribulation. It is true, of course, that when he returns those believers who are alive on earth “will be caught up . . . to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17). However, this is not a pre-tribulation “rapture” but the final resurrection and glorification of  God’speople.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

20 Quotes By Tim Keller From His New Book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Tim Keller’s fantastic new book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton) [interview | review]. Thanks to Tony Reinke for inspiring the 20 quotes idea.

“Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God. . . . We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” (5)
“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” (18)
“It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances.” (20)
“A rich, vibrant, consoling, hard-won prayer life is the one good that makes it possible to receive all other kinds of goods rightly and beneficially. [Paul] does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself.” (21)
“The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.” (23) 
“Jesus Christ taught his disciples to pray, healed people with prayers, denounced the corruption of the temple worship (which, he said, should be a ‘house of prayer’), and insisted that some demons could be cast out only through prayer. He prayed often and regularly with fervent cries and tears (Heb. 5:7), and sometimes all night. The Holy Spirit came upon him and anointed him as he was praying (Luke 3:21–22), and he was transfigured with the divine glory as he prayed (Luke 9:29). When he faced his greatest crisis, he did so with prayer. We hear him praying for his disciples and the church on the night before he died (John 17:1–26) and then petitioning God in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally, he died praying.” (27)
“Our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture. [We] speak only to the degree we are spoken to. . . . The wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.” (55, 56)
“We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology. It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture. . . . Some prayers in the Bible are like an intimate conversation with a friend, others like an appeal to a great monarch, and others approximate a wrestling match. . . . We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.” (60)
“A triune God would call us to converse with him . . . because he wants to share the joy he has. Prayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God himself.” (68)
“When life is going smoothly, and our truest heart treasures seem safe, it does not occur to us to pray.” (77) 
“To pray in Jesus’ name [is], essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognize your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state.” (105)
“Prayer is like waking up from a nightmare to reality. We laugh at what we took so seriously inside the dream. We realize that all is truly well. Of course, prayer can have the opposite effect; it can puncture illusions and show us we are in more spiritual danger than we thought.” (130)
“Prayer is not a passive, calm, quiet practice.” (136)
“[Prayer] gives us relief from the melancholy burden of self-absorption.” (139)
“Prayer—though it is often draining, even an agony—is in the long term the greatest source of power that is possible.” (140)
“We must be able to existentially access our doctrinal convictions. If doctrinal soundness is not accompanied by heart experience, it will eventually lead to nominal Christianity—that is, in name only—and eventually to nonbelief. The irony is that many conservative Christians, most concerned about conserving true and sound doctrine, neglect the importance of prayer and make no effort to experience God, and this can lead to the eventual loss of sound doctrine. . . . Christianity without real experience of God will eventually be no Christianity at all.” (180)
“To lose our grip on the costliness of forgiveness will result in a superficial, perfunctory confession that does not lead to any real change of heart. There will be no life change. To lose our grip on the freeness of forgiveness, however, will lead to continued guilt, shame, and self-loathing. There will be no relief. Only when we see both the freeness and the cost of forgiveness will we get relief from the guilt as well as liberation from the power of sin in our lives.” (208)
“God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” (228)
“Our time frames are not in touch with ultimate reality. Our perspective on timing compared with God's is analogous to a two-year-old’s with an adult’s. God has good reasons for making us wait a long time to see some prayers answered.” (236)
“We know God will answer us when we call because one terrible day he did not answer Jesus when he called. . . . Jesus’ prayers were given the rejection that we sinners merit so that our prayers could have the reception that he merits.” (237, 238)

Editors’ note: Register to see Tim Keller speak in both a plenary session and a workshop at our 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15, in Orlando.
Matt Smethurst serves as associate editor for The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have two children and live in Louisville, Kentucky, where they belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How To Pray by Tim Keller

“This, then, is how you should pray:‘Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come, 
your will be done
 on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 Forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:9-15).

We live in a culture that is starved for deep experience of the soul … there is a vacuum in our lives. We’re told we don’t need religion, yet we are seeking mystical experiences through all sorts of techniques. But we find we cannot substitute for prayer, for true intimacy with the infinite. The Lord’s Prayer holds the secret to what we seek …
— Tim Keller
Message from Tim Keller
May 6, 1990