Doctrine is good!

1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 4:13-16, Titus 1:9

We teach in order to maintain good doctrine.  Not everyone believes this.  It is popular to say things like, “don’t worry about doctrine, just teach the Bible.”  Of course along with that comes the ever dangerous question, “What does this text mean to you?” Both are problematic and we need never to buy into them. The author of every passage, along side the Holy Spirit who inspired them, when writing any and ever part of scripture had a defined point and intent that He was and is communicating.  The author was not confused thinking, well maybe I mean this or maybe I mean that, but it sounds good, so I’ll let someone else figure out what I mean.  No.  Every text in the bible has a specific meaning.

So our doctrine is not a matter of how we prefer to understand scripture. Rather as we read scripture and understand the context, we seek to identify exactly what the author was conveying and that point, that intent, is the truth that we seek to observe, practice and obey.

Now we see doctrine is a good thing.  Here are some examples:

  • Doctrine is the difference between Jesus is God and Jesus became like God.
    • One is Christian, the other is the foundation for the cults.
  • Doctrine is the difference between you pray to God or you pray to someone else.
    • One biblical, the other is superstition.
  • Doctrine is the difference between Justification by Grace alone through faith alone, and believe in Jesus and if you do enough good things you will be allowed in as a child of God.
    • One is the Salvation of God, the other is trust in your own works.
    • So, as Paul tells timothy to prevent the teaching of strange doctrine, we too work to that end.

So as Paul tells Timothy to prevent the teaching of strange doctrine and to pay close attention to his own understanding of doctrine, so wee too must work to that end.  This is how we value and respect the scriptures.

Am I really saved if I keep sinning?

Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will obey Him.  But then each of us find ourselves still struggling with sin in some way.  Does that mean that we are not really followers of Christ?  Does it mean that we are not saved?

The real question here is a matter of the heart.  But if we are talking about a person who rely has given their hearts and lives to Christ, the answer is then – no.  The truth is that God knows that each of us will struggle with sin even after coming to faith.  God knows we begin as sinful people, we repent of sin after we believe, and we struggle against sin all our days.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  – 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)

This does not mean that we do not pray and seek God’s strength and deliverance from sin in our lives.  But it does mean that just because sin exists, this is not the essential matter that determines if we actually belong to Christ.

Jesus was clear in the Sermon on the Mount that the essential question is not do we know about Him, nor is it do we do good stuff for Him, but do we know Him.  So do you know Christ?  Is He a friend?  Do you trust Him?

Sin is a battle we face our whole lives.  But in the end, it is only overcome by the grace of Christ.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.  For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.   Now if I do what I do not want, I agree withthe law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.   For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  – Romans 7:14-25 (ESV)

Read and Believe Romans

I will begin Monday 3-31-14 to read Romans.  Please feel free to offer commentary or questions on Romans as we go in the comment section below.  The way the site is set up, I must approve all comments so don’t worry if it doesn’t show immediately.  You can also private message me on Facebook or email me at if you desire.

Monday – Romans 1 through 3
Tuesday – Romans 4 through 6
Wednesday – Romans 7 through 9
Thursday – Romans 10 through 12
Friday – Romans 13 through 15
Saturday – Romans 16

Martin Luther once commented concerning Romans:

“This Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul.  It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

The Old Testament Law and You

There are literally hundreds of laws found in the Old Testament.  For a person wanting to obey God, this work is actually insurmountable.  For people who have trusted in Christ, this law is still a picture of the holiness of God.  And we have come to accept that we are unable to live up to His perfect standard.  The redeeming part (literally) of it is that Christ has fulfilled all this law for us.  We only trust in Him.

But what many people fail to remember is that without without trusting in Christ, all that law still applies to the individual.  God is still God, even to those who do not acknowledge He exists.  He is not a fairy that lack of belief would cause Him to disappear.  Regardless of individual belief, God is there.  And the fact that He is Holy and Just reminds us that His Holy Law had to be, or will be, fulfilled.

The question for the individual is not whether God will ‘let them off’ because they didn’t know any better.  But the question is how will you fulfill God’s Holy Law?  Jesus knew that to be brought into the family of God, someone would have to fulfill the Law in your place.  That is what He did.  He, being God Himself, left heaven, came to earth and lived a sinless life (fulfilled the Law), and then took the sinners (the one who violated the Law) place by taking the scourges of a rebel and the death of a criminal on a cross.  But because He was sinless, and being God Himself, He rose from the dead and lives.  Death no longer has any affect on him.  Because the wages of sin is death, and He has no sin.

“17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20

“the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Jesus in Matthew 20:28

The only one who can fulfill the Law and live, is Jesus.  So who will fulfill the law for you?  Will you pay the price, or will you trust Jesus?

Why Pastor Friendship?

A little background first.  I am not going to attempt to give all the theological ideas behind the call of God to a place of ministry.  Rather, I will share the heart attitude I had, and the things about Friendship that soothed those concerns.

I had been out of a traditional church for almost a year.  We had been working with a church plant effort in Louisville, KY.  I was just beginning to warm-up to returning to the existing church when a few churches began to contact me about open pastorates.   The first four or five churches that called I knew almost immediately that the answer was no.  But something was different with Friendship.

First:  I was thrilled to see that Friendship had a new building.  Yes, it matters.  Why?  Because it meant they were no longer married to or busy worshiping the old one.  This is a major problem in many churches.  “My granddaddy built that church [building].  There is no way we are changing a thing!”  Ut-oh….  This line, or any version there of, is a sign that the building and probably the institution (or by-laws) have taken a higher priority in the church than glorifying Christ and reaching the people.

Second: It was the worship leader (in his 30’s) who was on the pulpit committee who first called me.  The value here is that it was a young man who called me (something largely absent in the church today.)  The pulpit committee from Friendship had a variety of people.  Ages in their 20’s, 30’s, 50’s and 60’s.  There were men and women, singles, parents, grandparents, entrepreneurs, businessmen, farmers, two retirees, and a state worker.  The cross section of people showed that the church had and would allow people from different groups to work together and have a say.

Third: They were not surprised when I asked about how the church handled conflict.  Rather, I got real and honest answers about conflicts.  Where they were now and mistakes of the past.  And a desire not to repeat them.

Forth: The committee wanted me and my family to be available to the general church prior to the time for the vote to call me as their pastor.  I loved this.  It meant I was going to get to really answer the questions for all who were interested.  We were all going to get to know and see and experience one another.  There would be no surprises about who we were to the congregation.  (At least not in my mind.)

Fifth (and last):  Friendship was honest about who they were.  And in that honesty we saw both confession of wrongs in the past and a sincere desire to love God, love one another, and reach the community.

The people of Friendship may be surprised to hear it, but I was in tremendous conflict  when we went to the first interview.  Inside I knew I was about to move my family to Breckenridge Co.  But for some reason I was telling myself no.  The no disappeared when I met them.  They ‘sold’ me on Friendship if you will.

Now in hind sight, if we would put forth the same effort on new members, they will be here.  They will be a part of Friendship for a long, long time.

Women Deacons

Yes, it is a biblical idea.  David Platt, a well respected pastor from Birmingham, AL recently took on the question.  Click here to read about it or Here to watch it.

I have long wondered how we miss the word used in Romans 16:1 to describe Phoebe.  Deaconess is the word.  It’s not a translation of the word, it is the word.  (Words matter.)

There are many women who serve in great ways in the church today.  Some churches may not be interested in this, but it is no reason to disassociate with those who embrace this fact.  If we are going to be honest about the Bible… women can be deacons.

Some may naively claim that we must respect the tradition of the church not allow women deacons.  We in the protestant church need to remember here that this is the very heart of the issue we have long had with the Roman Catholic church.  We do not respect church tradition as being equal with or superior to the Bible.

As for the argument that says that deacons often serve as elders and that office is clearly an office reserved for men… It is a weak argument that has nothing to do with whether or not a woman can serve; but rather it teaches us that if the church is utilizing the offices of the church incorrectly, that church needs to surrender themselves and start managing the offices of the church in the way the Bible teaches.

I’d love to tell you this is not a hill on which to die… I’d love to tell you it is a secondary issue… and it some ways it is.  It is secondary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Authority and inerrancy of the Bible for example.  But if the Bible is innerant, then this is just one of many issues we need to be aware of and address as we mature in the faith and grow in our obedience to His word.

Christmas thoughts

Christmas is about Christ

  • Claims that Christmas finds its roots in a Roman or Pagan holiday are a manipulation of the truth.  It is true that Constantine sought to replace a Roman Holiday with the celebration of the Birth of Christ with little to no basis for situating the date of His birth on December 25th.  But that does not mean that the idea of remembering the birth of Christ started at this point. In fact, as we read in the Bible books Mathew and Luke, the recognition of the Birth of Christ as a miraculous and special event was a part of the very earliest Christian beliefs and traditions.  So the only thing that has any connection to a Roman holiday is the date, not the event.
  • Gifts are an obvious part of the Christmas story.  You have only to look at God’s gift of Christ to the world and the gifts of the wise men to Jesus to see that gifts are clearly part of Christmas.  Even if the Romans gave gifts to one another at that same time of year, it shows nothing more than a clear example of why Constantine would choose that time of year as opposed to another.  Even if Christians did not give gifts to each other for the purpose of remembering the birth of Jesus (which I have not researched) it would show nothing other than the adoption of a practice that could easily be used to give glory to God.
  • Christmas in what we know in western culture has always been about Christ.  Even among those who do not believe in Jesus, the practices of love and generosity that are so often shown at Christmas time are glorifying to God no matter who shows them.

A note to Christians

  • If there is an offense that Christians may feel about what I have just said, remember God’s common grace.  We are all created in the image of God and in the book of James we learn that all good things come from the Father above.  In short, good things can and do come from non-believers the same as believers.
  • Remember that the only people Jesus ever used the word hypocrite towards were the religious people.  Those who were anxious to point out the flaws of all those around them and slow to admit, or even denying, their own short comings.  (See Romans 3:23)
  • Jesus was patient and kind with those who did not know or follow Him.  Remember the words ‘Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.’  Only those who claimed to know God did He call out specifically.  Beyond that He simply called all people to repent of their sins and come follow Him.
  • Lets try to live out 1 Peter 3:15.  Don’t just read it.  Live it… Gentleness and Respect.
A note to Non-Christians
  • First, I apologize for anytime someone has mistreated you.  Most of the believers in the world catch only parts of the faith and think they know far more.
  • They honestly do feel that their faith is under attack and most don’t know how to evaluate or respond to that.  Anytime a phrase involving Christ is not welcome, they feel they are not welcome either.  Anytime Christ himself or what He represents would not be welcome, they feel an outright rejection of the very thing that defines who they are.  Its not that they behave correctly at these points, but just like you want to be respected about who you are and what you hold dear… so do they.
  • Lastly, If Christmas really is about Christ and you are willing to accept that not all Christians accurately represent who Christ is, then please don’t judge Jesus based on those who claim to know Him.  Read about Him yourself.  Pick up a bible.  Read any of the four books found in that 66 book volume that are biographies of Jesus.  Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.  All four of these books were written by different men who lived during the life of Christ.  In short, judge Jesus by Jesus.  Just like you would not want to be judge by what someone else said about you, give Jesus the same respect you would want to receive yourself.

God is good, so what about Jesus?

And as He was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'”  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
– Mark 10:17-21

Sometimes people like to point to this exchange and say that Jesus never claims to be God.  That is far from what is happening here.  Jesus recognizes the mans heart.  He is looking for that self assurance that we all want.  So He comes to Jesus hoping that he will be justified.  But Jesus sees that there is more to the situation than just the mans question.

The man wants eternal life, and once Jesus answers Him with some of the commandments, the man confidently says he has obeyed them.  Notice how Jesus only lists the commands that have to do with our relationships with other people.  He does not mention the commands that speak directly to our relationship with God.  This tells me that Jesus knew which commands were a struggle for the man.

Then we actually see a claim to deity.  After the man says that he has followed all the commands that Jesus has spoken, Jesus tells him to sell all He has, that he will have treasure in heaven and tells him to come follow Him.  These statements are ludicrous without the authority to back them up.   First, What gives Jesus the authority to tell the man to sell his property?  The fact that He is God and all things were created and given through Him to begin with.  What gives Jesus the authority to assure this man that He will have treasure in Heaven?  The fact the He is God and all things were created and given through Him to begin with.  And what gives Jesus the authority to tell this man to come and follow Him?  The fact that He is God and all things were created and given through Him to begin with.

This passage is actually a very strong case for the evidence of the deity of Jesus Christ.  So when Jesus says that only God is good, he is actually pointing out that this man has not come to grips with the fact that Jesus is indeed God.

The question is, have you?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And the Word become flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  – John 1:1-5 & 14

Bible Translation Chart

We live in a time, just like hundreds of years prior, where Bible translation is a sensitive issue.  I encourage you to consider the page below for info on current Bible translations.

– update 8-21-13 –

Consider these words from Spurgeon (largely considered the last of the puritan preachers.) spoke Sept. 27 1857 and think about how long we have been arguing over whether or not it is good to update translations of the Bible.

The gospel! oh, that must not be preached to the poor! “The Bible,” says the Church of Rome, “must not be read by the vulgar crowd! How can they understand it? It is a thing too sacred for the common people to see! No, wrap up the brazen serpent; wrap it up in a cloth, do not let it be exhibited.” “No,” say our Protestant ministers, many of them, “the Bible must he given, but we must never alter the translation of it!” There are some passages in the present translation that are so dark, that no man can understand them without an explanation. “But no,” say the divines of this age, “we will not have the Bible translated properly, the people must always put up with a faulty translation. The brazen serpent must be wrapped up, because it would a little unsettle matters, if we were to have a new translation!” “No,” say others, “we will have a new translation, if need be; but there are some parts of the truth that ought not to be preached!”

These arguments may always be with us.  But I urge you not to fall subject to them.


The Omni-presence of Christ

Omni-present = to be present in all places at all times.

In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” And again in Matthew 28:20 he says, “… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

But Jesus was born fully human. He was killed and resurrected fully human. He ascended into Heaven and remains there… fully Human. (John 1:1-4&14, John 19:16-30, John 20:1-18, Acts 1:9, Revelation 5:5-14) So how can anyone, even God the Son be Omni-present and in a human body at the same time?

Is this a question of the deity of Christ? Yes, but there is more. It is a question of the Trinity and the relationship between the three who are one. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father is spirit, Jesus is clear about that in John 4:24. God the Son became one of us, human and God at the same time. In Colossians 1:15-19 we see Christ as both God and Man. Then we look at God the Holy Spirit. He is active in the world throughout time and present in all believers since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. But the promise of the Spirit is not about flaming tongues. It is about God’s presence in our lives all the time. In John 14:16-28, Jesus explains the role of the Holy Spirit.

Notice in John 14 how Jesus explains to us that He will not leave us… (seemingly even though he is…???) First, His promise in v.18, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” But in verse 28, He tells them to rejoice for Him because He is going to The Father. How is He going to remain with them? Through the Holy Spirit. In v.28 he reminds them that he has said, “I will come to you.” And in verses 16 and 17 He tells them how the Spirit will come and dwell with them and be in them. So Jesus is teaching that He is present through the Holy Spirit. His promise not to leave us as orphans combined with the presence of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment and actuality of the omni-presence of Christ.

If anytime we doubt his presence or simply feel alone, we must remember these promises and how they have been fulfilled. Christ is always with us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. You are never alone.

For additional reading on the Trinity: