The Biblical Basis for the Pretribulational Rapture of the Church
The Bible provides several passages that give the truth of the “rapture” of the church. Here are five, with the important phrase italicized:
John 14:2-3 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
1 Cor 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Phil 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
2 Thess 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him
These passages only tell us of the fact of the rapture; they say nothing of the timing or when in God’s prophetic plan or calendar it will occur. While this requires more study than proving the deity of Christ (for example), with a little time and study you can have a biblical understanding for when Christ will return for church age saints.
While an exhaustive study is more than can be accomplished here, a basic survey of the Scripture’s teaching can be given, focusing on four basic lines of truth:
The Purpose of the Tribulation
1) During this period God will render judgment on the exceeding and unrepentant sinfulness of the wicked (Rev 9:20-21; 14:14-19).
2) Israel will be chastened for her millennia of unbelief (“Jacob’s trouble,” Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1) but because of this judgment, the nation will turn to God and be born again (Dan 12:1; Zech 12:10; Rom 11:26).
3) In addition to God’s salvation of individual Israelites, a large number of Gentiles will also be saved (Zeph 3:9; Rev 7:9-17).
4) The church is never identified as present during this period of judgment.
God’s Promises to the Church
5) God has promised to protect the church by removing it from the time of world-wide judgment during the Tribulation (Rev 3:10).
6) God has promised that He will not allow the church to go through the period of His wrath in the end times (1 Thess 1:10; on “rescued” cf. 2 Pet 2:5, 7 – neither Noah nor Lot went through God’s judgment on the ungodly but were delivered from such).
7) God has promised that through Jesus Christ Christians will have no part in the coming day of judgment (1 Thess 5:9).
The Place of the Church in the Book of Revelation
8 ) An honest, simple reading of this epistle has to recognize that while the church is often mentioned in chapters 2-3, it is never mentioned in chapters 4-19.
9) These sixteen chapters describe the time of wrath (6:15-17; 14:10; 15:1; 19:15) from which God has promised to deliver the church.
10) Where is the church during the Tribulation? From 13:6 (“his tabernacle, those who dwell in heaven”) and 19:1-10 (“the marriage of the Lamb…his wife has made herself ready”) church age saints are in heaven and they will follow Christ when he returns to the earth at His Second Coming (19:14).
Christ Can Come at Any Moment
11) In passages that clearly talk about the rapture, no mention is made of any event that must happen before Christ’s return for the saints.
12) When Paul spoke of the rapture he included himself as a potential participant (1 Cor 15:51-53; 1 Thess 1:10; 4:15-17).
13) Christ’s coming is described as being “at hand” (Rom 13:12; Jas 5:8-9; Rev 22:7, 12, 20) and Christians are exhorted to look for Christ’s return (1 Cor 1:7-8; Phil 3:20; Titus 2:13).
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday evening, July 22, 2007
Sanctification and the Second Coming – Titus 2:13-14
The subject of Christ’s Second Coming was dear to the heart of the early church and had a prominent part in the apostles’ teaching and preaching. In the history of the church, this subject has been like a clock’s pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other.
- After first centuries to the extreme of being forgotten
- Revived shortly after the Reformation
- To other extreme of setting dates for Christ’s return
- Has come back to a balanced, biblical view, though both extremes are still present today
Perhaps because of these “pendulum swings” and/or the challenge of understanding prophecy this doctrine of the Second Coming often is not given the “air time” it deserves. Is it fair, though, to ignore a doctrine because of the actions of fanatics? There have been fanatical responses to almost every major doctrine of Scripture. Does that keep us from preaching about Jesus Christ, the unity of God, justification, or sanctification? No!
As the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), it is the church’s responsibility to pull such doctrines out of the muck in which they’ve been degraded and lift them back to the exalted place the Scripture gives them.
Note the place that Paul gives it here! In Titus 2:11-14 he provides the basis – why – Christians should live godly lives. Part and parcel of the grace that saves and sanctifies is constantly, continually, and eagerly looking for Christ’s return. You must live a godly life while looking for Christ’s return.
Jesus Christ is God and Savior, 2:13b-14
This is one of the clearest verses in the English Bible of the deity of Christ – “our great God…Christ Jesus.” Because Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, he could provide a sacrifice for sins that was 100% satisfactory to God. No sinner can ever – in this life or eternity – make a final satisfaction for sin. Only Jesus Christ the God-man accomplished that!
In addition to redeeming believers from sin, he reclaims them for his service – “to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” No longer serving self and Satan, believers are saved by Christ to zealously live for Christ.
Jesus Christ is Coming Again, 2:13a
Christ’s Coming is the “Blessed Hope”
The Second Coming of Christ is clearly taught throughout the Bible by the prophets (Zech 14:3-4), Jesus Christ (John 14:2-3), the angels (Acts 1:11), and the apostles (Acts 3:19).
“so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb 9:28)
Christ’s Return has Two “Stages”
In the first “stage” of Christ’s return Jesus will come in the air for church age saints. This is called the rapture (Latin for “snatch”), and is taught, for example, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Church age saints will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.”
In the second “stage” of Christ’s return Jesus will come to the earth with his saints. This is called the revelation, and is taught in Revelation 19:11-16. If you compare these two passages you will see an obvious difference between them! The Second Coming of Christ will be:
- Visible – seen by the church at the rapture, by the world at the revelation
- Sudden – “I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:7, 12, 20)
- Imminent – at any moment, no predicted events requiring fulfillment (1 Thess 1:9-10; Titus 2:13; Heb 9:28)
Christ’s Coming is Anxiously Awaited by Christians – “looking”
There is a vast difference between looking ahead and looking over your shoulder!
When you’re looking ahead, you see what’s coming, do all you can to move “faster” toward the objective, and have a positive, anticipating attitude. When you’re looking over your shoulder, you have an attitude of fear, move along slowly because you’re not watching where you’re going, and are more concerned with evading than anticipating.
In this context, believers are reminded that God’s grace not only brings salvation, it teaches them what not to do and how they should live. Can you honestly say you are eagerly anticipating Christ’s return while indulging sensual fleshly desires? Are you striving to be sensible, righteous, and godly? Continually looking for Christ is a helpful perspective on living life in this world (cf. Col 3:1-4).
What would you think of a bride who on the day and time of her wedding was
- Dating another man?
- Rummaging through a dumpster or garbage can?
We would say the first and third activities are definitely wrong and out of place. But is there anything sinful about sleeping or sewing? No, but they are not things that the bride should be doing at that point in time! she has a more important thing to attend to!
In like manner, the church is called the Bride of Christ (cf. Rev 19:7-8). There are things that Christians should never involve themselves with as such are not appropriate of Christ’s Bride. There are also activities or pursuits that – while not evil in and of themselves – should not occupy our time. There are more important things to do!
What’s going on in your life? Is your life characterized by a real desire to see Christ? How are you spending your time? What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing? What are you not doing that you should be doing?
Are you looking and ready for Christ’s return? He is coming!
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, July 22, 2007
Gladness on the Gallows – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Consider this list of situations you could experience in life:
- A situation that you have failed to solve or correct
- An incurable illness or physical ailment
- Personal relationships that have been permanently frayed
- Genuine possibility of losing your job because of evil motives
Now, how will having a nice new home, the latest model vehicle, or money in the bank really help you with and through any of those situations? They won’t!
At the time Paul wrote the Corinthians this epistle, the church there was divided and troubled. He testified of experiencing an “incurable” physical ailment. The pressures of other churches were constantly weighing on his mind. Wherever he went to preach the gospel hostile Jews harried and hounded him.
Yet, in roughly 10 years from the writing of this letter he will be on the gallows and exclaim, “I have fought the good fight…to Him be the glory forever and ever…grace be with you.”
How in the world can anyone be content in such situations? Only through grace can you be glad on the gallows. How can God’s grace help you in the worst situations and thus any situation?
Rely Solely on God’s Grace, 12:9a
You need to see two essential characteristics of God’s grace from Paul’s testimony here. First, Christ’s grace is supernatural help. Paul relates the predicament he experienced in 12:7 – a thorn in the flesh – and his prayer that received this answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
God’s help appeared to Paul in his circumstances and situation. Grace is God’s kindness to mankind and it is supernatural, above and beyond this sphere of existence.
Second, you must rely on God’s grace because it is sufficient help. How many of us would have wanted to hear the answer to Paul’s prayer that he did? What would your response really have been? It is a sad fact that many evangelicals deny in practice the sufficiency of God’s grace. The idea is that grace is good enough for surface issues, but for really tough problems you need psychology, therapy, or something else. Have we forgotten that we’re talking about God here???
God’s grace is sufficient to help you through any situation or experience. The problem, more often than not, is not with the grace, but with us! In addition to relying solely on Christ’s grace, you must
Rejoice in Trials through God’s Grace, 12:9b
This is a tough one. Rejoice in trials??? There are two reasons why you should. First, rejoicing in trials is the right thing to do. Probably one of the last things you would think of doing is “boasting” about life-threatening or disturbing problems. This doesn’t mean that you find difficult circumstances enjoyable in and of themselves. Rather, you see them as an opportunity for God’s grace to be shown, displayed, and magnified.
Remember James’ words: “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). Do you rejoice in trials? It is the right thing to do, because this is one of God’s means of making you stronger in Him and more dependent on Him.
Second, rejoicing in trials brings Christ’s power. Christ said to Paul, “power is perfected in weakness.” The weaker – less dependent on self – that Christ’s people are, the more conspicuous is His strength in sustaining them.
The idea of Christ’s power dwelling in you is that of taking up residence. This indwelling power is the result of the Spirit strengthening you in your inner man, giving you the needed strength to patiently endure any circumstance and joyfully thank God for that circumstance because it resulted in the magnification of His grace and glory.
Christian, this is a hard lesson to learn, but it is one that brings rich blessings: it is when you are out of answers, confidence, and strength, with nowhere else to turn but to God that you are in a position to be strengthened by the Lord.
No one in Christ’s body is too weak to experience God’s power, but many are too confident in their own strength. Lastly, for God’s grace to help you, you must
Recognize the Truth of God’s Grace, 12:10
Christ’s grace exists in any circumstance. What would you think of the list of troubles in this verse?? Having a right view of trials and suffering is essential for Christian living. Focusing all your efforts on removing difficulties is not the answer.
You must embrace the trials God allows you to undergo, knowing that it is through them that God helps you see your character, humbles you, draws you closer to Him, and shows His grace and power in your life.
Christ’s grace enables contentment in any circumstance. There really is no human explanation for Paul saying “I am well content” in any of these situations. It is important to note that Paul’s attitude and actions were not controlled by the situation – he was controlled by Christ.
Christian, when you rely on Christ’s grace, rejoice in Christ’s grace, and then reckon Christ’s grace to your circumstance, He enables you to have contentment in any circumstance.
It is only through grace that you can be glad on the gallows!
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, July 8, 2007
Spiritual Self-Defense – 1 Timothy 4:6-10
If a farmer wants to see a good crop, it won’t happen just because he has good intentions. The same is true of an athlete who wants to run a 15k marathon!
Paul wrote to Timothy because of false teaching and living that were being spread in the Ephesian churches (1:3). The instructions in this epistle are important because of the essential role of the church, God’s people in this day and age: it is “the pillar and support of the truth” (3:15)
Beginning in chapter 4, Paul warns that local churches can expect to see the spread of demonically taught doctrines. How can churches deal with this? What can be done for protection? God’s people must live godly lives.
Protecting yourself and your church from apostasy requires three essential activities:
Definite Teaching, 4:6-7a
In order for you to be protected from apostasy you need to listen to definite teaching. Timothy is called “a good servant of Christ Jesus” (4:6). The difference between a good and a bad servant is what one does with the truth of God. Good servants of Jesus Christ teach “these things” of Scripture, not man’s ideas.
This definite teaching must be doctrinally based. Christians must be taught and learn “the words of the faith and of sound doctrine.” This refers to the gospel and all the doctrines that result from the gospel, which is simply biblical Christianity. The only other source of teaching is identified in 4:1 as “doctrines of demons.”
What must you do with this doctrinally based definite teaching? You must be “continually nourished” by it. Living a godly life involves more than just possessing good doctrine-you must be constantly nourished, continually trained by it. This isn’t something that just happened once in the past or occurs periodically-it must be your day-to-day habit. You must daily feed on the Word (1 Pet 2:1) and devote yourself to the public teaching of Scripture with God’s people, the church (Acts 2:42).
The continual growth and training that comes from attention to doctrinally based teaching necessarily requires separation from false teaching. There can be no tolerance of unbiblical teaching in your or the church’s life. Too many have a “smorgasbord approach,” picking and choosing whatever looks or sounds good (cf. 2 Tim 4:2-4). “Worldly fables” refers to teaching that is radically opposed to God’s truth-there is nothing sacred about it. In order to live a godly life you must “have nothing to do” with such teaching!
A second essential activity you must give yourself to in order to live a godly life is
Disciplined Living, 4:7b-9
False teaching and living is always a danger. God has provided you with the means of protecting yourself, so you must use them! You should not expect to merrily go along and expect to grow in Christ, just as the farmer shouldn’t expect a good crop to automatically pop up!
Protection from apostasy requires disciplined living. What will a farm look like if the farmer sleeps in until 9:00 a.m. everyday? The Christian life is no different-you must discipline yourself. The Ephesian and Roman cultures placed a premium on physical exercise and appearance, what Paul here calls “bodily discipline.” The idea is vigorous training.
As a believer, you must look at every aspect of your life and work to make them all consistent with, supportive of, and working toward God’s intentions. It’s not enough to just “believe” good doctrine or “belong” to a good church. What should you rigorously discipline your life for?
A disciplined life strives for godly living (4:7b). Godliness is a life that is consistent with and a result of God’s truth – a God-reverent life that is not merely one of form and appearances but of active obedience. You want to live this way and you’re doing all you can to live a life totally set apart, dedicated, and consecrated for God (1 Cor 6:19-20; 10:31). How can you have such a disciplined life?
Living a godly life requires prioritized living (4:8). Living a disciplined life involves saying “no” to things that might not be bad in and of themselves. You must do this so that you can give more attention to things that are of greater importance – “bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
This isn’t a slam against physical exercise – the point is one of contrast. The good that physical discipline accomplishes is limited to this life-the good that spiritual discipline accomplishes is unlimited! Maybe you’re not big on physical exercise so this contrast doesn’t hit home as hard. Consider these things that may apply, areas that you do discipline yourself to accomplish:
- Make it to work on time every day
- Keep a tidy home
- Pay your taxes and bills
- Buy Christmas and birthday gifts and cards for your 85 children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews
- Remember when a certain video is out
- Not miss your favorite TV show
- Cook or bake an intricate recipe
- Keep thousands of tools cleaned and organized
- Take care of dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, gerbils, spiders, fish, and birds
- Plan for a big family event or vacation
- Care for your body, hair, clothes, or nails
- Have a beautifully landscaped home
- Effectively fulfill your responsibilities at work or school
These things in and of themselves are not evil! But Christian-will you be occupied with them 100 years from now? What priority do the things of God have in your life that will help you be godly, such as Scripture, prayer, public worship, and service?
A last essential activity that you need to be actively involved in to live a godly life is
Diligent Service, 4:10
Protection from apostasy requires diligent service. The idea here is one of hard, exhausting work. There is more than enough to do in spiritual service. The Christian who says “there’s no place or program for me to serve in” probably isn’t looking or trying hard enough.
Diligent service is fueled by confidence in God. When you have a real knowledge of Who you’re serving and what He holds out for you, that gives you the motivation to train hard to be like Christ in your life.
What are you training yourself with-God’s truth or worldly truth? Is your life disciplined to serve God now? 100 years from now what will you be doing?
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, July 1, 2007
Assurance of Salvation
Salvation is God’s gracious deliverance of a sinner from the power and penalty of sin. God saves when one turns from sin and every effort to save oneself and relies on and surrenders to Christ alone for salvation. You may wonder if you can lose such salvation; can you? Maybe you feel like you are not saved—how can you know if Christ has saved you? Is it important? Should you know?
Eternal Security and Assurance of Salvation
There is a difference between these two doctrines and that difference depends on the standpoint salvation is viewed from.
Can you lose your salvation? The answer to that question cannot be answered from your standpoint or perspective. God is the one who saves through Jesus Christ; your salvation depends on and rests with Christ (John 6:39; 10:27-30; Jude 1). From God’s point of view, then, your salvation can never be lost because your salvation does not depend on you but Christ! The fact of your deliverance from sin’s power and penalty rests with God.
How know if God has saved you? This depends on your standpoint or perspective—assurance of salvation means you are certain you possess eternal life in Christ. Do you know if you are saved from sin? Can you know that you have eternal life?
Can I Know for Certain that I have Eternal Life?
Yes, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can know for certain that you have eternal life—you can be assured of salvation:
Rom 8:38-39 “I am convinced that neither death, nor life…will be able to separate us from the love of God”
2 Tim 1:12 “I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day”
1 John 2:3 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments”
1 John 5:13 “These things I have written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life”
Those who believe that no one can really know whether they have eternal life do so because they see salvation as dependent in some way on themselves. This is not what God says though (Eph 2:8-10; Titus 3:5).
Should I Know for Certain that I have Eternal Life?
Yes, you should! Why? The Bible tells you to seek and gain such assurance:
2 Cor 13:5 “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!”
2 Pet 1:10 “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you”
Heb 6:11-12 “we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”
1 John 5:13 (quoted above) John tells his readers that he wrote his epistle so they would know they have eternal life. This implies the necessity of reading the letter with a view to gaining such assurance
Assurance of salvation is the result of living a Christ-like life. If you just “assume” you’re saved, that can quickly and easily lead to complacency, sinful habits, disobedience, unfaithfulness, and self-deception. Knowing you are saved comes from living for Christ.
How Can I Gain this Certainty of Eternal Life?
In order to know where you’re headed on a journey, you need to be going in the right direction. You will know you’re going in the right direction when the “signs” and “landscape” around you matches the “map” you’re following.
A sure knowledge of salvation is the work of the Spirit living in your life (Rom 8:16; 1 John 3:24; 4:13). As you “walk in the Spirit” He gives you the conviction—the deep seated knowledge, confidence, assurance—that you are a believer.
Have a firm grasp of what the Bible teaches about salvation. The more you know about salvation, the stronger foundation you will possess for trusting Christ. The clearer vision you have that salvation is entirely by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone the better you will be able to see God’s work of salvation (note our doctrinal statement).
Examine your life (2 Pet 1:10-11), looking for evidences of salvation. God’s Word (the “map”) tells you what “signs” you should see in your life:
- Faith in Christ (are you relying entirely on Christ, or yourself?), 2 Pet 1:1
- A love for holiness, 2 Pet 1:4; 1 John 1:6-7
- Growth in Christian virtue, 2 Pet 1:4-9
- Obedience to Christ’s commands, 1 John 2:3
- Love for other believers and a desire to worship with them, Heb 10:25; 1 John 2:19; 4:7-12
As you seek and see the evidences of Christ in your life, you can know that you have eternal life. If you truly are a Christian, the Spirit should control your life (Gal 5:16, 25) and as He does He assures you that you belong to Christ.
When people take salvation for granted they neglect continually examining their lives to make sure they are headed in the right direction. The result is people profess to be Christians (they have the form of godliness) but their lives are contrary to true Christianity (they deny its power).
What are the Results of Having a Certainty of Eternal Life?
A settled certainty that you posses eternal life will result in:
- Commitment to the assembly of God’s people, Acts 2:42; Heb 10:25; 1 John 2:19
- Living a life of confident victory and growing Christ-likeness, Rom 8:28-39
- Growing knowledge of God’s Word and proportionate maturity in life, Eph 4:11-16; 1 Thess 3:2-3; Heb 5:14; 12:11; 1 Pet 2:2
- A lifestyle characterized by holiness, 1 Pet 1:13-21
- Loving other believers, 1 Pet 1:22-25
- Diligently examining my lifestyle and character, 2 Pet 1:4-11
- Willingness to suffer for Christ, 2 Tim 1:8-12
- Contending for the faith, Jude 1-4
What about those times when you really question whether you’re saved or not? What are some causes of a lack of assurance?
- A wrong understanding of the truths of the gospel
- A weakness of faith that results from not cultivating it or the fruits of the Spirit
- Excessive care for the things of this life, Phil 4:6-7
- Prayerlessness, Heb 10:22
- Not being careful or diligent, 2 Pet 1:10-11; Heb 6:11-12
- Not responding to sin, 1 John 1:9
- Disobedience to the commands of God, 1 John 2:3
- Worldliness, 1 John 2:15-17
You can know that Christ has saved you and you should know. Don’t rely on writing down the date you prayed a prayer; don’t depend on what someone said you did. Truly knowing that you are saved comes from the Spirit. When you have a stronger knowledge of salvation from the Word (the sword of the Spirit) and live out your salvation, the Spirit gives that genuine, settled, confidence and assurance that you are a child of God.
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Wednesday evening, April 4, 2007
The King on a Colt–Luke 19:29-44
Every gospel tells of Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, showing its importance in the life and ministry of the Messiah. Sadly, our children often only view it as an opportunity to make palm branches out of construction paper in Sunday school. More sadly, “worshipers” of Jesus view it only as a religious ritual that they think makes them right with God.
What really happened and why did it? What was going on? What was the point? What did it mean?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem six days before he was crucified, he consciously knew he was the King of Israel and that Israel would reject him.
The reason each gospel writer includes this event from Jesus’ life is to show that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man—he was the Messiah, the King of Israel. That is who was crucified six days later. Jesus of Nazareth Is the Messiah.
Luke’s account of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem gives three important aspects of Jesus the Messiah:
Jesus Perfectly Fulfilled Every Messianic Prophecy, 19:29-35
When Jesus came from Bethany he knew exactly who he was—he had no identity crisis. Earlier he said “the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).
Because he knew who he was, he knew what Scripture had prophesied of him in Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
To us this seems incredible—why the foal of a donkey??? If Jesus is really going to make a grand appearance as the King or Israel, get something more impressive! However, in that culture that is exactly what He did! It meant more to the crowd than a stretch limo would today. In OT times, the donkey was the mount of princes (cf. Judg 10:4; 12:14). Particularly with David and his sons, the donkey was the animal this royal family used (2 Sam 18:9; 13:29; 1 King 1:33).
Jesus’ particular, specific choice of this mount shows he understood who he was—the descendant of David. It also shows that Jesus the Messiah, the King of Israel, publicly makes his claim to the throne of David as he entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. He is the chosen Son of David to sit on David’s throne (1 King 1:33, 44), the one of whom the prophets had spoken (Zech 9:9)
Because Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel, he knew exactly what was required and expected of him and thus fulfilled every prophecy and expectation to a “T”—even what he rode on. Did others recognize this? This passage also shows that
Jesus Was Received As The Messiah, 19:36-40
Prior to this, some 483 years, Daniel the prophet gave the precise date on which the Messiah would come to Jerusalem (Dan 9:24-26). Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on this day was the fulfillment of that prediction. How people responded to Jesus’ entrance would indicate whether they recognized this also. What did they do? Did they recognize who this was?
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowd spread their coats on the road, in essence rolling out the red carpet for him (Luke 19:36). Spreading coats on the road showed honor for royalty (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). In their culture, it was the custom to lay costly rugs before the feet of kings. Consider for example the vast difference between the entrance of the Queen of England and her butler! Everyone knows who the queen is by the procession, pomp, and entourage. What precedes the butler’s entrance? 🙂
The other gospel writers also tell that the crowd cut palm branches and laid them in front of Jesus. Palm branches signified victory and prosperity (cf. Lev 23:38-40), and for some time in Israel the palm branch was the national symbol of their hope and expectation that the Messiah would come and liberate them from foreign, idolatrous oppression.
Luke also tells us that the crowd praised God “for all the miracles they had seen” (19:37). One particular recent miracle of Jesus’ was raising Lazarus from the dead. John 12:17-18 tells us “so the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.”
The Jews in anticipation of the Messiah would often quote and sing Psalm 118. Note 118:25-26—“O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.”
Note from Luke 19:37-38 what the crowd said when Jesus entered Jerusalem as they spread their coats and palm branches before him—their words makes it clear that they recognized who Jesus was, the Messiah, the King of Israel. From all these actions it looks like the people understood what was going on!
Throughout Jesus’ career, the Pharisees opposed him. Thus, when they saw the crowd’s activity and Jesus’ apparent agreement with it, they did not like it (v. 39)! The Pharisees knew exactly what was going on with the garments, palm branches, and “Hosannas”—Jesus was clearly identifying himself as the Messiah, and Jesus’ did not disagree with their assessment one bit (19:40).
How did Jesus respond to all this?
Jesus as the Messiah Recognized the Crowd’s Insincerity, 19:41-44
Sadly, despite Jesus’ clear fulfillment of every prophecy that showed him to be the Messiah, and despite the words and actions of the crowd in apparent agreement with that, Jesus knew what was in their hearts (19:41-42). Jesus knew that in a matter of days the same crowd that praised him would condemn him. They rejected him as their Messiah because they refused to submit to who he was and what he taught.
Jesus foretold what their rejection of him would mean for them. In Luke 19:43 Jesus tells of Rome’s conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The soldiers surrounded the city and used embankments around the city to conquer it. In Luke 19:44 Jesus foretells how the Romans would demolish the city and kill its inhabitants. This judgment came because the nation failed to embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
What was so important and significant about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt? It proved publicly to everyone, beyond any doubt, who he was—the Messiah, the King of Israel, God incarnate.
What do you need to see from this passage? You need to believe that Jesus was not merely a “good man” or a “religious teacher”—he was God in the flesh. Your faith in him must be genuine—anyone can shout praise to God or make a profession of faith to Christ. You cannot expect any religious activity or ritual to make you right with God. Israel thought that way, and they received God’s judgment; don’t expect anything less!
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, April 1, 2007
The Biblical Response of a Believer to Sin
Does it matter whether or not someone who considers himself a believer deals with sin his life? What should we think of someone who considers himself to be a Christian but has a flippant attitude toward his own personal sin? How should believers respond to sin in their lives?
John wrote his first epistle with a definite purpose in view—“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). John wanted the believers he addressed to have a strong assurance of their salvation in Jesus Christ. This controlling purpose was motivated by false teaching that attacked the foundations of Christianity (cf. 2:26). Without fundamental Christian doctrine there can be no salvation and no assurance of eternal life. John deals with such false teaching throughout his letter so that the recipients would be able to experience the joys of salvation in Christ (1:4) and assurance of salvation (5:13).
The wrong doctrine and practices that the false teachers were promoting included:
- Some form of perfectionism, 1:8, 10
- Disobedience to the Word and a resultant sinful lifestyle, 2:4; 3:4-10
- No love for brothers in Christ, 2:9, 11
- Avoiding assembling with believers, 2:19
- Believing that Jesus was not the Christ, 2:22-23
- Believing that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh, 4:2
Our opinion regarding those who refuse to deal with sin in their lives should be formed and guided by Scripture—not their profession, personality, or our relationship with them. In this letter John addresses a situation among believers where there were those who refused to deal with sin in their lives. What does John say about this?
First, John says that the proof of salvation is a holy life—“God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:5-7).
The only standard by which we are measured is our holy God. God’s nature and character are absolutely pure, completely free from any stain of sin—He is “Light.”
Those whose lives are characterized (defined) by sin are not truly saved—Christ has not cleansed their sin for they refuse to repent of it. Those who are truly God’s children will live lives that are characterized (defined) by their Father’s holiness—their lives are lived in the sphere of God’s holiness (2:3-4; 3:4-10).
Furthermore, true believers who live in this sphere will seek and enjoy fellowship with others in that same sphere. There is a like-mindedness among believers—they enjoy the things of the Lord, and want to be with others who desire the same.
False teachers would never agree that their lives were characterized by sinfulness—they would claim that they were living godly lives and were true believers, all the while practicing deeds of darkness. They sound mixed up and deceived!
Second, John says that to deny personal sin is to be without salvation—“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1:8-10).
True believers don’t respond to their own sin by ignoring or denying it; instead, they confess it to God, admitting and forsaking it.
Those who ignore and deny sin do not have their sin cleansed; those who admit and forsake their sin are continually cleansed by Christ.
When someone denies their own sin they are lying to themselves and setting themselves up to fall into greater, more grievous sin that will in turn be denied, resulting in further self-deception. Those who claim to be Christians but whose lives bear no resemblance to Christ’s are mixed up and deceived! In fact, they deceive themselves (1:8)!
The fact of the matter is that denying personal sin is proof that God’s truth has not been accepted (“the truth is not in us”), for the proper response to God’s truth is repentance from everything that is false. That which is true and false cannot coexist together.
To deny personal sin while maintaining to be a Christian turns God into a liar (v. 10), for God’s message is that he sent his Son to die for man’s sin. To call oneself a Christian and deny one has sin is to call God a liar, for He has said that all men are sinners.
The real evidence someone is a believer is continual, life-long response to sin with confession—having God’s opinion and reaction toward sin. The one whose life is characterized by such habitual turning from sin shows himself to be a genuine believer, one whose sins are cleansed through Christ’s blood.
When the Lord makes a believer aware of sin in his life, the response that genuine believer will have toward that sin is repentance, confession, admission, and forsaking it.
How does God make you aware of sin in your life? The Spirit convicts you of such through the Word. As you are brought face to face with Who God is and how He wants you to live, if you are a believer the Holy Spirit will help you see such sin and agree with Him about it’s true character.
How are you responding to sin in your life now?
Study these other passages on how true believers respond to sin in their lives: Psa 32:3-5; 38:18; Prov 28:13
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Wednesday evening, March 28, 2007
The End Is Near!–1 Peter 4:7-11
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, March 5, 2007
If you had one month to live, how would that knowledge change your life? In this letter Peter writes to believers who were experiencing a fiery trial of their faith (1:6-7; 4:12-13) to encourage them to “stand firm in the true grace of God” (5:12). In 4:7 he says “the end of all things is near.” Too often believers either entirely ignore or are consumed solely with eschatology (what the Bible teaches about the end times). All throughout Scripture eschatology is given to encourage godly living.
After hearing Peter say “the end of all things is near” (4:7), we may expect a call to engage in some extraordinary act. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was once asked what he would do if he knew the end were today. He said, “I’d plant a tree and pay my taxes.” He meant this—I will live every day as if it were the end!
Peter tells believers “the end of all things is near”—that means it is imminent, it could happen now, at any time. Because Christ is coming, you must do God’s will! What does God want you to do?
Because Christ Is Coming You Must Pray! 4:7
Prayer is central to doing God’s will. It is essential for resisting temptation and sin (Matt 26:41), glorifying God (John 14:13), dealing with worry (Phil 4:6-7), obeying God (1 Thess 5:17), and for the rapid spread of the gospel (2 Thess 3:1ff).
Because prayer is so important, prayer requires a sound mind. Peter says you must have “sound judgment.” This word was used to describe the Gadarene demoniac after the Lord Jesus cast the demons out of him (Mark 5:15). To be of sound judgment is to be in your right mind, and is the opposite of ignorance and frivolity—you have a biblically serious approach to life because “the end is near.”
Praying with a sound mind involves having a “sober spirit.” When you are consumed and controlled by something you want, that is the thing that occupies your mind. It is so easy to be consumed by any number of things—good or bad—that it can be difficult to “wake up” or “get sober.” Detoxification is never easy or fun, but it is worth it. Peter also says to “be of sober spirit” because “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (5:8). Satan looks for easy prey—if you’re alert and praying he will have a more difficult time.
The call to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” is the same thing as being controlled by the Spirit (cf. Eph 5:18). Christ is coming, and it could be very soon! The end is near! Keep your head, have a right focus, have right priorities—prayer should be at the top! Peter points you to a second activity essential to doing God’s will because “the end of all things is near”:
Because Christ Is Coming You Must Love! 4:8-9
Jesus warned that at the end of the age the love of many will grow cold (Matt 24:12). Since “the end of all things is near,” we need to stoke the fires of Christian love and keep them hot! How important is it to love other believers?—“Above all.” You are commanded to love; this means biblical love is a decision of the will that does something. It does involve feelings, but is not just frothy emotion.
How should you love since the end is near?—“Fervently.” Your whole soul and being is in it, you are genuinely and fully committed to doing whatever it takes to help other believers. How should you fervently love one another since the end is near?
You must forgive—“love covers a multitude of sins” (4:8). This does not mean that love atones for sin (cf. 1:18-19; 2:24-25). Only Jesus Christ can do that. This refers to Proverbs 10:12 and means that love does not “stir up” sins or broadcast them. Biblical, Christ-like love forgives, willingly puts up with, and bears all things (Eph 4:32; 1 Cor 13:4-7). It does not hang someone out to dry. This does not ignore biblically dealing with sin (cf. Matt 18:15-18), but it involves the readiness to accept others rather than grow bitter and cause division.
You must fervently love others sacrificially—“be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Pet 4:9). In New Testament times hospitality was necessary for traveling missionaries (3 John 5-8) and the regular meeting of the church for worship (Rom 16:5). If a family wasn’t used to such a sacrificial upheaval of their home for the sake of others, they had to overcome whatever kept them from doing this to show fervent love. “Without complaint” shows that this can be difficult and challenging and involve serious sacrifices; but, in light of the fact that Christ is coming and the end is near, you must sacrificially love one another.
This is a radical idea in our prosperous society, but when you demonstrate such love for one another you show yourself to be a true follower of Christ (John 13:34-35). The last activity Peter says you must give yourself to because the end is near is this:
Because Christ Is Coming You Must Serve! 4:10-11
Peter clearly says that God has enabled you to serve others—“as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (4:10). Every believer has at least one God-given ability to serve other believers in the local church. Believers have different gifts for the purpose of meeting the different needs of believers, just as Paul teaches (1 Cor 12:4-26).
God does not give these gifts to make you proud but so that you will serve and help other believers and strengthen them in the faith. They are given for ministry, not to enhance self-esteem. Note that Peter says you are a “steward”—the ability God has given you to serve other believers is more a responsibility than a privilege. When you use your gift to strengthen others, you are being a “good steward of the manifold grace of God.”
As you serve the Lord through the ability he has given you, you must rely on Christ as you minister to other believers (1 Pet 4:11). Here Peter classifies spiritual gifts into two classes. First, if you “speak”—teaching or preaching—you are “to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.” You are not to rely on your own “words of wisdom” but teach and preach the whole counsel of God’s Word.
The second class of gifts involve “serving”—any number of ways you help other believers. If God has equipped you to “serve,” you are “to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.” You are not to rely on your own strength or ability, but God’s, especially through prayer.
These gifts and abilities are given to Christians to serve Christians, and that happens in the area, realm, and context of the local church. When you serve others God’s way and in God’s power, this will result in glory given to God—“so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
What would you do if you knew the end would come in one month? How would you change your life? Why? What does that say about how you’re living now? You need to examine your life about:
- Heart issues that have clouded your consecration to Christ, especially in your praying
- The fervency of showing love toward other believers with the same forgiveness and sacrifice as Christ
- How faithfully you serve each other as God has enabled you for Christ’s glory
The end is near! Pray! Love! Serve!
How Should the Whole Bible be Interpreted?
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15)
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different views and opinions about what the Bible says will happen in the future, or any other doctrine for that matter? How one interprets the Bible will affect what is believed. Different interpretations will yield different beliefs.
The fundamental issue when coming to Scripture’s prophecies is how one interprets them. The various ways that the Bible is interpreted can be summarized under two categories:
- All the Bible must be consistently interpreted in a literal, normal way
- All the Bible cannot be consistently interpreted in a literal, normal way
From the following four points it will be shown that the only way all of Scripture should be interpreted is through a consistently literal or normal method of interpretation.
Communication Depends On Words Having One Meaning In A Given Context
In a single context the words can only have one meaning—they cannot have two or more meanings. If this were not the case, communication be impossible and would be nothing but gibberish and nonsense!
There is a world of difference between a word being able to be used a number of different ways and a word in a single context have multiple meanings. Take the follow sentence as an example:
After John passed third base, he slid safely into home.
You probably know that this sentence is in the context of a baseball game. Because of this, you would not understand “passed” in the sense of John dying, though “passed” can be used that way. You also would not understand “home” as referring to where John lived, though it can be used that way. You understood “passed” and “home” as having only one meaning because of their use in this context.
The languages the Bible was originally written in (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) were human languages, having human grammar (what the words mean) and syntax (how the words function in a sentence). The authors were genuine, human authors, having individual personalities, cultures, and language backgrounds. If this were not the case, we as human beings would not be able to understand their figures of speech.
Because words only have one meaning in a given context, a passage in the Bible cannot have a “deeper” meaning or more than one meaning.
The Author Determines Meaning
When interpreting the Bible—regardless of whether it is poetry, history, epistle, gospel, or prophecy—the goal is to find out what the biblical author meant by a particular statement. A helpful, guiding principle is found in Fee & Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, p. 27—
“A text cannot mean what it never meant.”
This principle will help you understand what a biblical passage did mean and what it did not mean. When weighing someone’s interpretation of a biblical passage ask “Is this what the biblical author wanted to get across?”
If someone does not accept the literal or normal interpretation of a passage it is usually because he or she has an agenda that must be proven or upheld. Their beliefs do not come directly from Scripture and they make the Bible’s statements fit into their system.
The Unitary Authorship of Scripture
A third principle that must guide how all the Bible is to be consistently interpreted focuses on who wrote the Bible. Many people say that the Bible has a “dual authorship”—a human author and God. The problem here is that when you have two authors, you end up with two different messages! So instead of “dual authorship,” it is more biblically correct to think in terms of a united authorship.
How could Amos the sheepherder and God be unified in the production of a written message? The answer is the doctrine of inspiration. Consider these two important passages:
2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God”
2 Pet 1:21 “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”
When the Holy Spirit moved Amos to write a message to Israel, God guided him to write exactly what God wanted him to write and protected him from making any errors. God guided Amos the sheepherder to write a message that used all of Amos’s personality and way of writing (grammar and syntax), yet protected Amos from making any errors. The result of this united authorship was a single message given to and understandable by human beings that is absolutely true because of God’s guidance and protection.
The result of inspiration is a single message: What God said, the human author said; what the human author wrote, God wrote. The only way we can know what God meant is through the human author’s words. Because of this, no one can say that Amos meant one thing, but God meant another. What the human author meant is what God meant.
The Meaning is Based in the Text
Where can we find what the biblical author meant? Only in the text. There is only one correct interpretation and meaning of a passage, and that is the one that the biblical author intended. How can we find out what the author meant? Through consistently interpreting Scripture with a grammatical-historical method of interpretation. What does that mean?
Grammatical: what the words mean and how they function
Historical: the setting of a biblical book (culture, geography, etc)
In order to find out what an author meant, you have study the meaning and use of words in a given text and understand the important historical and cultural factors of the time they were written in. If you cannot get a meaning from a text, it is because it is not there! The only way you will get a meaning foreign to a biblical text is by putting it in there.
If the Bible is not consistently interpreted in a literal, normal way, what will the result be? Interpreters will find more than one meaning or say that a passage can have “multiple fulfillments” or a “fuller sense.” This raises a problem: where do you stop? If a passage can have two legitimate meanings, why stop there? Why not 3? Or 7? Or 70? Another problem is the issue of controlling interpretation—if the text does not control interpretation, then what does? Your imagination?
All of Scripture must be consistently interpreted in a literal, normal manner using a grammatical-historical method. That is the only way to learn what the Bible says.
Pastor Greenfield brought this message Sunday evening, February 18, 20007.
In addition to Fee & Stuart’s book quoted above, material was also gleaned from Rolland McCune’s syllabus on Dispensationalism from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, pp. 47-51.
Ministry In The End Times–2 Timothy 4:1-5
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, February 18, 2007
The Bible has a lot to say about the end times, but it can be possible to wonder, “Well, that’s great, but what does that mean for us now?” Christians and churches should learn from Scripture what God wants and expects of them in these times, especially what he expects of the man who feeds, leads, and protects the flock—the pastor. God’s Word provides pastors with four important truths that give guidance on how they must minister in these last days.
A Pastor Will Answer For His Ministry, 4:1
Paul is addressing Timothy for the last time, and for that reason these words have special significance. Timothy receives a serious call by the words “I solemnly charge you.” What Paul tells Timothy isn’t merely a good idea or nice suggestion—this is a momentous, somber charge. Pastors today need to see the seriousness of their calling and reflect that in their fulfillment of it. This isn’t a matter of fun and games.
This serious call is made in the presence of a solemn court, made up of “God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead.” The preacher’s life is continually under the gaze of God and Christ—24 hours a day, seven days a week—not just for a few hours on Sundays and mid-week meetings. The day will come when pastors will stand before Jesus Christ and give an account for how they have fed, lead, and protected the flock entrusted to their charge.
Paul gives this serious call before a solemn court in light of Christ’s sure coming, “by His appearing and His kingdom.” Jesus is coming, and when he does, the truth Timothy must proclaim will be clearly seen and false teaching will be exposed for what it really is. Jesus will reign, and when he does, believers will faithfully serve him. These are definite, future realities that have significant, practical importance now! They demand that God’s work be done God’s way until Christ returns.
Since a pastor will answer to the Lord Jesus Christ, he had better do what is expected of him! What does Christ expect?
A Pastor Must Preach the Word, 4:2
Here Paul gives four essential aspects of the ministry Timothy and today’s pastor must fulfill in these last days. First, he must preach the Word. The activity is clear—preach, proclaim, herald. It is not the pastor’s place to harmonize God’s Word with culture or science, to philosophize, or debate. He must preach the Word—all of it, not just pick out some things and ignore others. This is what Jesus wants for his church, and this is what the church needs!
Second, today’s pastor in the last days must always preach the Word—“be ready in season and out of season.” His ministry of the Word is not to be conducted by taking polls to find out whether people are ready to hear the Word or what they want to hear. It doesn’t matter if the times are “good” or “bad”—God’s message must be proclaimed! The call is not to “impact the culture for Christ” or to “bring in the kingdom.” The call is to preach the Word.
Third, pastors must preach to save souls—“reprove, rebuke, exhort.” Earlier Paul told Timothy “pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16). The salvation of people’s souls depends on the faithful ministry of the Word. To “reprove” is to point out sin. To “rebuke” is to tell people to stop sinning. To “exhort” is to urge people to live for the Lord. These essential activities of preaching are hard to do if the pastor only speaks in generalities or ‘positive’ themes. Preaching in the end times won’t seek to bring a stop to specific aspects of sinfulness but will focus on making the hearers feel good about themselves, to “live their best life now.” Such preaching will not save souls.
Fourth, pastors must preach with compassion and conviction—“with great patience and instruction.” When preaching the whole counsel of God, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, pastors cannot lose their temper—they must reflect God’s attribute of patience and forbearance. The soil out of which true Christian living grows is doctrinal, theological, and biblical in content. Pastors are not told to merely encourage moral living; they must give the doctrinal foundation on which a truly Christian life can only be built.
A pastor has a solemn calling: always preach the whole counsel of God for the salvation of his hearers. While engaged in this ministry, he must remember Paul’s third truth to Timothy:
A Pastor Must Understand The Times, 4:3-4
There are three important facts the pastor needs to know. First, people will not want sound doctrine—“the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” This world is not going to get better; evil is going to increase! The fact that people will not want true doctrine does not give the pastor the right to give them what they want or change the message so it is acceptable to them. Pastors must continue to preach the Word!
Second, the pastor needs to understand that people will only hear what they want—“wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” Note where the blame lays—the hearers! Aaron made a golden calf because the Israelites demanded it (Exod 32:1). More often than not, people measure and evaluate a pastor by their own sinful feelings and desires. It should not be surprising that churches are formed on the basis of hip-hop music, beer, improving self-image, and thinking positively about oneself. That’s what people want!
Third, the pastor must know that people will reject God’s truth for lies—“they will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths.” They will actively reject God’s truth because their sin is reproved and rebuked. Refusing to listen to God’s truth, they will then invent a substitute that matches and supports their lifestyle.
By understanding the character of the times—that these last days will grow more difficult and sinful—a pastor must see the great need there is for preaching the Word of God in its fullness. The greater the darkness grows, the greater need there is for light. Pastors must not give people what they want; they must give them what they need—God’s Word!
There is one last truth a pastor in the last days must take to heart:
A Pastor Must Finish His Course, 4:5
The pastor in the end times must keep his head—“be sober in all things.” He must not be influenced by things that will divert and distract him from his holy calling of preaching the word. The pastor must not give up—“endure hardship.” The more evil these days grow (cf. 3:13) the stronger the current pastors must swim against. Pastors must win the lost to Christ—“do the work of an evangelist.” Sinners are saved through believing in Jesus Christ. How will they believe if they have not heard of Christ? How will they hear without a preacher? Pastors must finish the course—“fulfill your ministry.” They cannot go about their work in an uncaring manner. Pastors must throw themselves completely and fully into every aspect of their calling.
The kind of pastor a church needs in these end times is one who:
- Recognizes the seriousness of his calling
- Faithfully proclaims all of God’s Word
- Does not bend to the times but faithfully ministers God’s Word in it
- Devotes his life to doing God’s work God’s way
How To Live, Colossians 3:17
This message was given by Pastor Greenfield Sunday morning, July 23, 2006.
Christians in the city of Colossae were wrongly being taught that they needed to keep a detailed code of rules in order to be right with God (read Colossians 2:8-23). The New Testament does not teach this though. Does this mean that believers have no authority over their lives? If you are a Christian, are you free to live however you want?
While the NT does not give a detailed code of rules necessary for being right with God, you are not free to live according to your own opinions, feelings, wishes, or desires (read Colossians 3:1-4). As a Christian Christ lives in you, and you must therefore live for Christ. In Colossians 3:17 the Lord tells us through the apostle Paul that every believer must live a Christ-honoring life. What’s involved in living a Christ-honoring life?
Living a Christ-Honoring Life Involves Everything You Say and Do
Language is a gift of God, one of the greatest evidences of being made in His image. It involves the ability to think about a subject, assert something about that subject, and then express that thought intelligibly and understandably to others.
I can say “Boy, that was smart” either as a complement or as an insult. The words are the same, but the meaning and intention are entirely different. God tells us that your communication must be honorable to Christ, whether done through talking, writing, or sign language!
Your actions are the result of considering what you would like to see happen. You can do a lot of things with a rubber-band—hold things together, play with it when bored, straighten teeth, put hair in a pony tail, or shoot it at someone! 🙂
When God tells us how we should live, the scope of His meaning involves every aspect of your life.
Living a Christ-Honoring Life is Consistent with Who Christ is
Every aspect of your communication and actions must be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Name signifies everything that a person is known for and by. Jesus is the Savior of sinners and He is also Lord. For the Lord to save a sinner from sin, the sinner must repent of his sin and trust Jesus Christ alone as His Savior and Lord (read Romans 10:9-10). Jesus as Savior and Lord cannot be separated.
The Lord Jesus must be the one who controls every aspect of your life. Everything you communicate and accomplish must be done in a manner that reflects Christ’s character. In a word, your entire life must be a Christian life. Everything you communicate and do must scream out “I’m under the Lordship of Christ!!!”
Living a Christ-Honoring Life Gives God the Glory for Everything
The only Person through whom the one true God can legitimately be thanked is the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything you say and do must reflect and express your genuine, total, and complete gratitude through the only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the one true and living God for saving your sinful soul.
Colossians 3:17 summarizes the result of Paul’s previous words (Colossians 3:10-16). The new life you have in Christ is seen in every aspect (3:10). The new “clothes” you “wear” are clearly evident (3:12). Longsuffering and love are visibly displayed (3:13-14). Christ’s peace and Word control your entire life (3:15-16).
What do your communication and actions say about who you’re living for? How are you living?
God Saves Believers to Serve Him and Minister to His People
Before our time of prayer on Wednesday evenings, we have been going through various New Testament passages that deal with every Christian’s ministry to the Lord and His people. Here is a summary of what we’ve learned:
God’s Plan And Expectation For All Christians
When God saves a sinner He adopts him into His family. This adoption gives the believer all the rights and privileges that come with being a member of God’s family. There are also responsibilities involved with being in God’s family! God saves and sanctifies Christians to zealously do good works by ministering to God’s people (Eph 2:10; 4:12; Titus 2:11-14).
Why We Minister For God
Why does God want every believer to minister to other believers? The primary reason is that God is glorified when every believer is ministering (1 Pet 4:11). Second, God’s intention for each local church involves every believer ministering to one another so the body is strengthened and unified (1 Cor 12:15-26; Eph 4:12-16; Heb 3:13; 1 Pet 4:10). Third, God wants every believer ministering as this helps them be faithful to the Lord and bear fruit for Him (Titus 3:14; Heb 6:11-12).
How We Are Prepared And Equipped To Minister?
Effective ministry that glorifies God, strengthens and unifies the local assembly, and helps believers’ own spiritual walk doesn’t just happen automatically. Each believer can minister to the body through a special gift or ability the Spirit gives at salvation (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:7). As believers learn from and follow their pastors and teachers, they are equipped to minister effectively (Eph 4:12; Heb 13:7). Christians must let God’s Word control their lives in order to live a Christ-honoring life (Col 1:9-10) that is characterized by holiness (2 Tim 2:20-22).
How We Are To Minister
Believers must minister the way God wants them to minister to other members of His family. The only effective ministry is an obedient ministry. Believers’ obedient ministry to one another involves self-sacrifice (Phil 2:1-8; 1 John 3:16), conscious effort and faithful attention (Titus 3:8, 14), encouraging and building each other up (1 Thess 5:11), and prodding one another to love and service (Heb 10:24). Such ministry occurs through regularly assembling together (Heb 10:25) and tireless service (2 Thess 3:13; Gal 6:9-10).