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Archive for September, 2010

Brian Croft over at the “Practical Shepherding” blog has posted an excellent article on how a local church should minister to a convicted sexual offender in their congregation.  Having supervised sexual offenders for several years as a probation officer prior to entering full-time ministry, this topic was of particular interest to me.  I think a lot of churches simply bury their heads in the sand and refuse to address the issue… and thereby they place others in danger of being sinned against.  This is a touchy subject, but Brian’s suggestions are excellent.  You can find his post here http://briancroft.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/how-do-you-welcome-a-man-in-your-church-who-is-an-habitual-child-molester/.  (Read down through the comments thread to find my suggestions if you are interested…)

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For a review of this week’s study, here are some helpful resources:

–          Read “Believing in Jesus” – a sermon on John 2:23-3:15.  You can find it here https://ramblingpastorman.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/believing-in-jesus-%E2%80%93-john-223-315/.

–          Read the book “Finally Alive” by John Piper.  This is one of Dr. Piper’s recent books and I found it to be extremely edifying.  It is a thorough (and readable) study of the doctrine of regeneration (i.e. new birth or being born again.)  You can purchase it here http://www.monergismbooks.com/Finally-Alive-p-18254.html from Monergism Books.  Or you can download the book in pdf format for free from Desiring God Ministries (found here http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/finally-alive.)  Or… if you are an audio?visual learner… consider listening to or viewing the 16-week sermon series on which this book is based (entitled “You Must Be Born Again.”)  You can find the sermons available for audio or video streaming or download here http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-series/you-must-be-born-again.  I listened to these sermons again recently and was quite blessed.  Listen to them if you have the time!!!

–          For a systematic explanation of the doctrine of regeneration, you might consider reading the following theological article by Dr. Wayne Grudem.  You can find it here http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/regeneration_grudem.html.

Homework for Week # 5: How Do We Share the Gospel? – Part 1 – Luke 18:18-27

  • Review your Scripture memory verses (Luke 10:2 and I Corinthians 15:1-4.)
  • Spend some time each day going over the 4-point outline of the gospel (i.e. God, Man, Christ, and Response) and the 4-point outline of redemptive history (i.e. Creation, Fall, Redemption and Recreation) either out-loud or in writing.
  • Engage in at least 1 gospel conversation this week with a fellow Christian or unbeliever. Regarding any aspect of the gospel.  Be prepared to talk about this in class next week.
  • In preparation for next week’s class, read Luke 18:18-27 and think through the questions below:
    • What is the setting of this passage?  (Read the context.)
    • Describe the “ruler” in this passage.  Make a list of his characteristics.  What does this tell us about him?
    • Analyze how Jesus approaches this man evangelistically by answering the following questions:
      • How does Jesus describe God?  Why is this important?
      • How does Jesus describe people?  Why is this important?
      • Why does Jesus quote from the Law?  What is He attempting to accomplish?  Is this effective?  Read Romans 3:9-20 and Romans 7:7-12.  How does this relate to what Jesus is doing here?
      • What response does Jesus call this man to?
      • What does Jesus promise this man if he responds to the gospel?  (Read Luke 18:28-30 for a fuller answer to this question.)
    • How does the ruler respond to Jesus’ evangelism?  Why is this significant for us today?
    • Think carefully about Luke 18:24-27.  What does this teach us about the response of natural man to the gospel?  How does this relate to our study of conversion last week?  (You may want to consider John 3:1-15, II Corinthians 4:1-7 and Ephesians 2:1-10.)
    • What do we learn about evangelism from this passage?
    • How can we apply the principles learned here in our evangelism? Think of some practical answers to this question and be prepared to share in next week’s class.

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In my quiet time today, I read from Psalm 63

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I sek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Have you ever been thirsty?  I mean really thirsty?  Have you ever felt so parched that you thought you might collapse?  The answer is to avail yourself of a cool drink of water… and keep it coming until you are satisfied…

Have you ever been spiritually thirsty?  Have you ever felt the dryness of spiritual dehydration?  Have you ever felt like God is so far away and like you cannot go on without His presence?

I have felt this way on more than one occasion.  And I’m not alone.  If you have been a Christian for any length of time, then you have felt this too.

What is the solution to spiritual dehydration?

I have found Psalm 63 to be quite helpful when feeling spiritually dehydrated.  The Psalmist suggests the following actions:

1) Draw near to God in worship (v. 2, 4.)

2) Intentionally remind yourself of the greatness of God’s steadfast love for you in the gospel (i.e. it is “better than life” – v. 3.)

3) Remind yourself of the promises of God (v. 5.)

4) Meditate intentionally on the greatness and glory and grace of God… particularly in the times of greatest darkness in our soul (i.e. “watches of the night” – v. 6.)

5) Remember the past of grace of God  and let this strengthen your trust in the future grace of God (v. 7-8.)

6) Trust in the promise of God that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (v. 9-11 and Romans 8:28.)

This psalm has carried me through some dark times in my life… and I’m sure it will carry me through more dark times to come…

Are you spiritually dehydrated?  Then spend some time meditating on Psalm 63.  I pray that it will satisfy your thirst as it has mine…

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Here are three pastors (Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald) talking about the role of the pastor in personal evangelism.  It’s not very long and worth watching…

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For a review of this week’s study, here are some helpful resources:

–          Follow the link here for a helpful outline of redemptive history by Dr. Bruce Waltke (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/files/2009/12/Waltke-BT.pdf.)  If you are new to the Bible, this could be a helpful tool while reading Scripture to provide you with a general overview of the chronology of events in Scripture.

–          For a brief evangelistic presentation of history of redemption, check out “Two Ways to Live” by Matthias Media (found here http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/.)  You can also purchase this in booklet form from Matthias Media.  You can also view a video presentation of “Two Ways to Live” in the video clip below…

–          Consider listening to the sermon “What Does God Want of Us?” by Mark Dever.  This is an excellent overview of the story of the Bible.  It is about an hour long, but well worth your time to listen to.  You can find it here http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/audio/2000/01/09/what-does-god-want-of-us-the-message-of-the-bible/.  You can also view the video clip below of Dr. Dever explaining the gospel as a (very) brief summary of our last two lessons…

Homework for Week # 4: Evangelism and Conversion: What is the Difference???

  • Review your Scripture memory verses (Luke 10:2 and I Corinthians 15:1-4.)
  • Spend some time each day going over the 4-point outline of the gospel (i.e. God, Man, Christ, and Response) and the 4-point outline of redemptive history (i.e. Creation, Fall, Redemption and Recreation) either out-loud or in writing.
  • Engage in at least 1 gospel conversation this week with a fellow Christian.  Make a point of discussing the flow of redemptive history as discussed in class (i.e. Creation, Fall, Redemption and Recreation.)
  • In preparation for next week’s class, read the following passages of Scripture this week and think through the questions below:
    • John 3:1-21:
      • What is the setting of verses 1-15?
      • Make a list of the characteristics of Nicodemus.  (Optional study:  Use a concordance or cross-references to look up other references to Nicodemus in the Gospel of John.)  Why is this important?
      • What does it mean to be “born again”?  How is this related to being “born of water and the Spirit”?  (Consider Ezekiel 36:25-27 in answering this question.)
        • (Optional study:  How does the topic of being “born again” relate to the following passages:  Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 3:3-7, and I Peter 1:3-5.)
      • Who is responsible for the work of being “born again”?  (See verse 8.)  How does this relate to John 1:12-13?
      • How important is it to be “born again”?
      • How is being “born again” connected with believing in Jesus (i.e. verses 14-21)?
    • II Corinthians 4:1-7:
      • According to this passage, what is the natural state of human beings in relationship to “seeing” the gospel?  How does this relate to being “born again” and “seeing the kingdom of God” in John 3:1-8?
      • Who is responsible for sinful people being able to “see” the glory of God in Jesus?
      • What effect do these truths have on Paul’s (and our) ministry?  How does Paul describe his ministry?  How should this affect our evangelism?

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For a review of this week’s study on the Gospel and I Corinthians 15:1-8, consider reading the following articles/sermons:

–          “What is the Gospel?” – This is a simple presentation of the gospel following the 4-point outline (God… Man… Christ… Response) used in class.  You can find it here https://ramblingpastorman.wordpress.com/what-is-the-gospel/.

–          “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” – a sermon on I Corinthians 15:1-19 by D.A. Carson. You can read the sermon here http://www.thespurgeonfellowship.org/Downloads/feature_Sp08.pdf or listen to it here http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/what_is_the_gospel_1.

–          2-part sermon series on I Corinthians 15:1-8.  Part 1 (“What is Most Important to You?”) is found here https://ramblingpastorman.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/keeping-the-gospel-of-first-importance%E2%80%93-part-2-%E2%80%93-i-corinthians-151-8/ .  Part 2 (“Keeping the Gospel of First Importance”) is found here https://ramblingpastorman.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/keeping-the-gospel-of-first-importance%E2%80%93-part-2-%E2%80%93-i-corinthians-151-8/.

Recommended Resources for further study on the gospel:

–          “Living the Cross Centered Life” by C.J. Mahaney – This is a short but very helpful book on the gospel.  This is typically the first book I use when I begin a discipling relationship with someone.

–          “A Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent – This little known book has become precious to me.  The author walks through Scripture and shares brief devotional thoughts regarding the promises granted to us in the gospel.  Read it through in one sitting (it isn’t that long…) then slowly digest it over the course of a month or so in small doses interspersed with praise and thanksgiving.

–          “Basic Christianity” by John Stott – I recently re-read this book and was blessed in great measure.  This is a great tool for growing in our understanding of whole gospel message.  It is also a good book to give away to unbelievers (it is warm, clear, and not too long…)

–          “The Gospel for Real Life” by Jerry Bridges – Very few authors have the ability to penetrate deep into the gospel and still apply it to the nuts-and-bolts of our day –to-day lives.  Jerry Bridges is one of those authors.  I have never been sorry I read any of Mr. Bridges’ books, but this is one of my favorites.

–          “50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die” by John Piper (formerly entitled “The Passion of Jesus Christ:50 Reasons Why He Came to Die”) (available for free download here http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/online-books/fifty-reasons-why-jesus-came-to-die .) – Like “A Gospel Primer” above, this is a series of brief meditations on the gospel.  This makes a great daily devotional, since each chapter is only 2-pages long.  I have owned several copies of this book and ended up giving them away for one reason or another… only to buy another copy.  I often use this book to prepare my own heart to partake the Lord’s Supper.

–          “The Gospel and Personal Evangelism” by Mark Dever – This is an exceptional book describing what evangelism is by focusing primarily on the gospel.  I would recommend anything by Dr. Dever.  This is a particularly easy and practical book.

Homework Assignment for Week # 3 – “What is Going on in the World?” (A Survey of the History of Redemption):

  • Memorize I Corinthians 15:1-4.
  • Spend some time each day going over the 4-point outline of the gospel (i.e. God, Man, Christ, and Response) either out-loud or in writing.
  • Engage in at least 1 gospel conversation this week with a fellow Christian.
  • Next week’s study will be an overview of the biblical history of redemption.  In order to be prepared for next week’s study, read the following passages and think through the answers to the following questions:
    • Genesis 1-2:
      • What does this passage teach us about God and His relationship with creation?  What does this teach us about God’s relationship with humanity?
    • Genesis 3:
      • What did the man and woman do wrong here?  What was their primary sin?  What were the consequences of this sin?
      • What does God promise in Genesis 3:15?  Be specific.
      • Why is this chapter so important?
    • Romans 1:18-32:
      • What does this teach us about humanity?
    • John 1:1-18:
      • What does this teach us about Jesus?
    • John 3:16-21:
      • What does this teach us about God?  What does this teach us about Jesus?
    • Romans 3:21-26:
      • What does this teach us was necessary for human beings to be restored to a right relationship with God?  Think carefully about this passage.
    • I Corinthians 15:20-28, 51-57:
      • What does this teach us about the purpose of the work of Jesus?  What does this teach us about the end result of the work of Jesus?
    • Revelation 21:1-22:5:
      • What does this teach us about the final state of creation and humanity in Christ?

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The 9 Marks Newsletter for Sept-Oct 2010 was recently posted on the internet.  This issue is entitled “Hell: Remembering the Awful Reality” and it is a clear, biblical reminder of the existence and purpose of hell.  Although hell is an unpopular topic today (even among conservative Christians), it is a reality which we must never forget.  Our belief in the eternal judgment of God provides much of the impetus in our evangelism and worship (i.e. shouldn’t we rejoice that we have been saved from the everlasting wrath of God by the work of Jesus?)

Following is the introduction to this issue, written by Jonathan Leeman:

“Wisdom so often in life prescribes moderation. It‘s wise to eat with moderation, to speak with moderation, to feel with moderation, some would even say to believe with moderation.

But there‘s absolutely nothing moderate about the doctrine of hell. It‘s extreme in every way. It‘s an extreme idea for the mind. It‘s an extreme confrontation for the heart. And it blows against all the rules of social etiquette.

Embracing the reality of hell means setting aside moderation. It means admitting that our sin is dark and heinous to the point of eternal damnation; that the white light of God‘s character and glory justly destroys those who have fallen short of his glory; and that that our non-Christians friends have nothing greater to fear. That‘s tough to do when you have moderate views of your sin, your friend‘s sin, and of God‘s glory.

Embracing the reality of hell also means going against the fallen cultural structures and belief systems of this world, all of which conspire together with our own hearts to repeat the serpent‘s promise of a moderate outcome, “You will surely not die.”

As hard as it is to stare at the doctrine of hell, surely it must be salubrious to our faith to do so from time to time. It forces us to once again reckon with who God is and who we are.”

It is worth your time to read this newsletter.  (I was particularly encouraged, convicted and edified by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s article entitled “What Then Shall We Preach on Hell?”)  You can find the newsletter available for online reading or downloading here http://www.9marks.org/ejournal/hell-remembering-awful-reality.

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