Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Life Pleasing to God

It is so appalling to see so many in our culture today living corrupt lives filled with gross immorallity of all kinds. Sexual sin is running amuck and without restraint. Unwed pregnancies are accepted and even heralded in society as normal behavior. What a shock it will be to those who are ignorantly living such an immoral life style when they stand before God in judgment for their sins.

In our Sunday school we are studying Colossians verse by verse and line by line. In chapter one,verses 9-10 we learned that The Apostle Paul was praying for the Colossians believers asking God that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-6, Paul says. something very similar, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

What Paul is saying to both the Colossians and the Thessalonians is that they must live a life that is pleasing to God. “to walk and to please God” That phrase means they way that they live their life,“their manner of life.” That is, the life that Christians are to live is“a life that is pleasing to God” in all things and “do so more and more.”

The big problem for Christians, and for all people, is that are constantly facing ungodly worldly knowledge and worldly wisdom being offered by the world and by false teachers everywhere,including from our government. Paul prays that the Colossian believers will have the “wisdom and understanding”that comes only from God by the Holy Spirit.

The filling of “spiritual wisdom and understanding” would then lead to changed lives, lives that are filled with Godly discernment of right and wrong.

As a former rabbi, Paul understood the Jewish meaning of “To walk” He calls believers to live a manner that pleases God in every area of their life.

Although Christians are completely justified and forgiven their sins from the moment of initial saving faith in Christ, they are not fully sanctified, (purified) and sometimes, even unknowingly, can do things that either please or displease God each day.

The phrase Every good work (Col 1.10) is viewed as the fruit of salvation in the life of a Christian, that is, the visable evidence of a good and righteous life as the result of receiving His grace in Christ. Good works can not be looked upon as the prerequisite for gaining God’s favor. No one deserves Gods favor or can earn it by good works and none of us can impess God by our self righteous deeds. God is a God of perfection, The best that we have to offer Him is terribly flawed. We are totally dependent upon His grace.

Even though these Colossians were believers in Christ, their progress of growth in sanctification and their ability to “please God” had not progressesd to maturity, so he continued with more explicit instructions. “3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you”

Paul commands the Thessalonians to live in sexual holiness. Some converts who had been living lives of sexual imorality before they were converted to Christ, may have found it a struggle to adjust to Christianity's moral and ethical code.

He tells them in verse 3 that they “must abstain from sexual immorality.”
Prior to coming to faith in Christ these people were pagans. In the pagan world (even today) sexual sin was commonplace and accepted as normal, and the lure of sexual sins was a temptation all around.

This language refers to adultery, fornication, or other forms of sexual immorality.
Paul, under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, forbids any sexual activity outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Eph 5:3)
1 Thess. 4:4 tells us that each one of us should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.

In other words, one must conduct their sexual behavior in a manner that is honorable before God and humans respectively.

In verse 5 we are instructed that our lives are not to be “in the passion of lust like the Gentiles.”

Paul is concerned that some of the Christians may fall back into their former Pagan ways.

Then he says ( vs6) “that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you”

That word “wrong” means to defraud, to exploit,or cheat.”
Defrauding a fellow Christian (or anyone else) through sexual sin is a grievous sin and we are told that “the Lord is an avenger.”

Are you getting the picture here? We are looking here at the word of God and His view of the subject of sexual purity. The apostle Paul is speaking of both, chastity and uncleanness, not only to the Thessalonians but to you and me…..all of us!
The phrases used by the Apostle Paul describe the act of sexual immorality which includes adultery, coveting the wife of another, and lying with her, and by so, a defrauding and wronging him by defiling his bed; or practices of sodomy; an unnatural lust and desire in men after men, women after women and copulation with them. It also mean to "go beyond" what is natural and right, "to go upon", or "lie with", so often used in Jewish writings for lying with women, men, and beasts, in an unlawful way.

And the word translated "defraud", signifies a greedy, insatiable, and unnatural lust and desire after a man, a woman, or the committing of sodomitical practices with greediness: “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph 4.19)

These abominable acts are forbidden and should be feared and abstained from because the Lord is the avenger of all who commit these sins, such as, fornication, adultery, lasciviousness, and all sorts of abominable uncleanness.

I learned from an old teacher that the person who commits these things “the Lord will avenge,” either in this life, by the law of reaping and sowing, or by some awful judgment from heaven, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah; (Genesis 19) or in the world to come; for the righteousness of God waits IN WRATH against such persons. God will judge those who are living and dying in such sins. It is God to whom vengeance belongs; these persons shall not inherit the kingdom of God, but have their part and their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. (Rev 20 1-15)

Galatians 6.7-8 warns us that we must not be deceived,: “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

And Paul continues in1 Thess 4 verse 6. “As we have also forewarned you and testified;”

Paul had previously taught them these things when he was with them in person, when he was preaching to them and teaching them the word of God.

This sexual wickedness was very prevalent in their city; therefore the teaching that they had previously received bore testimony against them, (they knew better) and exposed the evil among them, and warned them of the danger, so that they could not plead ignorance.”

Paul also wrote to the believers in Corinth on this same subject, (1 Corinthisan 6.9-10) saying “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In 1 Thess 4, Paul concludes his exhortation in verses 7-8 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you

Christians are called to live in a manner pleasing to God and a life that will bring Him honor and glory through their lives.

And at the same time non-Christians are called to repentance. (Matt 4.17)
Those who ignore the explicit commands of God and live in oppostition to His moral laws will face the wrath of God at the final judgment.

According to the word of God there is going to be a final judgment for all people, (Rev 20) believers and unbelievers alike. This is clearly confirmed in many passages of Scripture. Every person, and that means you and me, will one day stand before Christ and be judged for his or her deeds.

There is much more to know about living a life that is pleasing to God than simply abstaining from sexual sin. We find these lessons throughout the New Testament but it all starts with faith in Jesus Christ. In the book of Hebrews we are told that without faith (in Christ) it is impossible to please God.

That is where the Christian journey starts, trusting in the One Whom God sent to save sinners from their sins. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Humbly submitted, Dale Sterzer, elder/pastor
Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Bonham (grbcbonham.org)

A Life Pleasing to God

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Atonement of Christ:;Universal or Limited

Colossian Study 7-19-09
The Atonement of Christ, Universal or Limited?
For the past several weeks in our Sunday school class we have doing a verse by verse study in the epistle to the Colossians.
Last week we were taking another look at Colossians 1.13 in which we are told that God has “delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ” The question came up “Who are the us that God delivered, and does it apply to everyone?”
Holy Scripture teaches us that when Jesus was dying on the cross our sins were met in Him.
Our sins were assumed by Him; He stood before God as though our sins were his own as though every vile deed of ours were His… and every wicked and angry word that we have spoken were His……as though all of our selfish deeds and all the immorality and wickedness that we committed belonged to Him……..as though they were all His……
He took them all. He took every unspeakable one of them……..He bore all them away.
He became, what is called the “scape goat”… the innocent one that takes the blame for others.
Christ in bearing our sin away became a curse and died in our place and paid the penalty for our sin. It is only by the shed blood of Christ and the power of God’s grace we are saved. After all, how can sinners like us save ourselves no matter how hard we try? We just can’t do it. We need mercy not justice.

The “scape goat” imagery is described in Leviticus 16. The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, … during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem.
During this sacrificial rite, the priest would symbolically place all of the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat.
Then, this goat, with the sins of the people placed upon it, was sent away into the wilderness alone to perish. This goat carrying the sins of the guilty would die in the wilderness and its death would atone for, or (cover) their sins.
The word "scapegoat" has come to mean an innocent person, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes, or sufferings of others.
It was a vivid picture of sin being removed from the people and committed to the goat and never seen again. As David said:
Ps 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
And this goat, which represented the removal of sins, bore them to an isolated place in the wilderness, never to be seen again.
There is the picture of the death of Jesus Christ.
Alone, and hanging on the cross, our sins were met in Him……and were assumed by Him;
He stood before God as though, in some mysterious sense, our sins were his own.
Christ bearing sin away He took our sin to the grave — As the goat went away to die alone, the eyes of the people followed it, and they were taught to believe that their sin, on that goat, was no longer was applied to them.
So Jesus, in his matchless grace, has borne away the sin of the world into a land of forgetfulness. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10.17)
He was alone in his mediatorial work. No one could provide Him company or relief. No one could do it for Him.
Others in later years have suffered deaths of martyrdom but they could not do what He did. His mother, and John stood at the foot of his cross…… but no one could accomplish what He did as He sacrificed Himself and took the wrath of God and in judgment paid the penalty for our sin.
Did you ever think….. how lonely He was in His agony and suffering! Even the Father seemed to have turned from Him!
Hanging naked and beaten on that cross before the universe, in that dreadful darkened hour, the Savior hung in awful, unimaginable solitude!
He was terribly alone.
I think that this is what was symbolized in the O.T. by the goat, laden with the sins of Israel, being led away into the wilderness and lost, forever.

Israel never saw this goat again, it died a lonely death in the wilderness, and thus Israel never saw its sin again.

It was the Father who has qualified believers to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Then having redeemed us by the sacrifice of Christ from the bondage of sin and the power of darkness, God transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Colossians 1.12-13

And that’s where all true believers are today living in the “kingdom of light” Col 1.12.

These true believers in Jesus Christ are the saints of God living in His grace under the guidance of His word and the instruction of His Spirit.

All because God sent a Savior to take their place in death and paid for their sins with His blood.

So the question was who is it that God delivered from the power of darkness?

That’s a good question….if the sacrifice of Jesus was for the whole world, then why isn’t everyone a believer? Why are there so many who scoff and reject Him?

Why isn’t everyone repenting from their sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Did He die for the whole world or didn’t He? Was His a perfect sacrifice or not?

Did His sacrifice and His shed blood cover the sins of everyone or only some? Did He die for you or didn’t he.

Did the sacrifice of Christ make it only possible for someone to be saved or did His sacrifice actually save those for whom it was intended?

Was the atonement of Christ universal? Meaning, did Jesus die for everyone? Or was it a particular, or limited atonement, saving only those the bible calls the chosen, or the elect? Matthew 24.22, Luke 18.7, Romans 8.33, Ephesians 1.4,

These are questions that demand an answer. Is the atonement of Christ for you? What is your answer and what is the basis for your belief?

Brother Dale, pastor/elder

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dear Readers,

It was brought to my attention by a dear lady who was perusing through our website that my blog was way out of date. She is right. Blogging is just not something that I think of very often. But her friendly comments reminded me that there are possibly some folks out there who are not members who may be interested in what is going on at GCBC. ( Did I say GCBC.?) Well that is the first bit of news that needs to be updated.

Let me start with this.

About two months ago, the membership of GCBC voted to change the name of the church to GRBC (Grace Reformed Baptist Church) Allow me to bring you up to date.

Four years ago, when this church was started, we chose to be called a non-denominational “reformed” church.

There is a long explanation as to how we arrived at the name Grace Community Bible Church that is not necessary to explain here, but it really does not fit who we are today.

Our doctrinal position is very similar to many of the bible churches but their entire order of worship is considerably different than ours.

Brother Jeff and I met earlier in the year to prayerfully discuss this matter and came to the agreement that the name Grace Community Bible Church, (GCBC) could easily be misleading to those who are seeking a true “bible church” and be equally misleading to those seeking a church in the reformed Baptist family. Therefore, we submitted this matter to the congregation for consideration and agreement.

Even with a “bible church” name, we referred to ourselves a Reformed Baptist Church. Our Confession Faith is the same confession that we have held since the organization of the church. (The 1689 London Confession of Faith) It is the same confession used by just about all Baptist Churches that call themselves reformed. Our order of worship is patterned after the biblical “regulative principle of worship.” We have “reformed” printed on our worship Bulletin and we are charter members, along with 6 other Texas churches in the forming of the “Texas Area Reformed Baptist Association.”

The only thing about GCBC not “reformed” was our name. Our name, unfortunately gave the outward impression that we were something that we were not.

In the light of this we proposed to the congregation that we consider an amendment to our by-laws and change the name of our church to a name that is more suitable to whom we are.

The congregation met in the month of April and following a discussion voted unanimously to change the name to “Grace Reformed Baptist Church.”

In a brief effort to explain what Reformed Baptists believe, and why they believe it, I submit to you, an except from an article written by Jim Savastio,
Pastor Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville

“When we say that we are “Reformed” we are saying that we embrace, as biblical, that system of theology known as the “doctrines of grace”: doctrinal truths that set forth the total depravity of man, the unconditional nature of God’s grace in election, the particular nature of the atonement of Christ (that is that Christ shed His blood specifically for the same people that the Father elects and draws and that the Spirit regenerates), the irresistibility of the effectual call, and the perseverance and preservation of the saints.

But the Reformed Faith touches on far more than these basic truths regarding God’s glory in salvation. The Reformed Faith is concerned with God’s glory in the church, as well as in society, in the family, and in a life of holiness.

The Reformed Faith promotes and teaches a high and God-centered view of worship. The Reformed Faith embraces a high view of God’s law and of His church.

In this “Reformed” tradition are the great names of Church history. John Knox, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”), the famous Bible commentator Matthew Henry, the great evangelist George Whitefield, the great American theologian
Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Adoniram Judson, William Carey, C.H. Spurgeon, A.W. Pink and a host of others all held tenaciously to the Reformed Faith.
We must underscore, however, that we hold to these truths not because great men of church history held to them, but because Jesus and the apostles so clearly taught them.

Out of this theological understanding came the great Reformed confessions and creeds—the Synod of Dort, The Savoy Declaration, The Westminster Confession of Faith, and The Heidelberg Catechism. The Confession of Faith held to by Reformed Baptist churches (London Baptist Confession of 1689) is deeply rooted in these historic Reformed Documents (in most places it is an exact word for word copy from the Westminster and the Savoy). For these historical and theological reasons we lay hold of the title “Reformed.” End of excerpt.

To read Pastor Savastio’s entire article go to the link on our website: “What is a reformed Baptist?” By the way, we also have a new website. For more information about GRBC please go to (grbcbonham.org)

If you are a seeker of Christ centered biblical truth in worship, preaching and teaching please join us in worship On the Lord’s Day beginning at 10:30AM. Take a look at the link on our website called “What to expect”

Humbly submitted,
Brother Dale Sterzer, pastor/elder