Saturday, September 24, 2011

Religious Terminology Part 2 - Justification


Or should I say, “Justification By Faith”

This past Wednesday evening we discussed a religious term called sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we are cleansed and made holy before God on a continual basis by the washing of the pure water of His Word of Truth. We discovered:

Relationship is God’s purpose, forgiveness is His character – salvation is His plan – repentance is man’s opportunity to participate in God’s plan.

This morning we will continue our review of Religious Terminology by discovering what it means to be “Justified”. Sounds like a legal term doesn’t it … well it kind of is. To begin this morning turn with me to:

Romans 3

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The Apostle Paul confirms that the law was, is, and always will be insufficient to bring peace of mind and right relationship to a troubled sinner. It uniformly fails to act peacefully whether upon a sinner or upon a saint … the law condemns everyone alike -Jew, Gentile, lost and saved, sinner or saint – the law condemns everyone alike straight to hell.

Therefore by the deeds of the law no man will be justified in God’s sight.

This was also so in Jesus’ day. Remember the young rich ruler who came to Jesus, (Mark 10:17ff), and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life? He was filled with “self-righteousness”, but he was still troubled in his mind. He had no peace even though he admitted to piously keeping the law virtually all of his life. The law did not produce a right relationship with God because righteousness only comes by faith and the law brought him only fear.

The law demands we continue to think about sin, (Hebrews 10), while the Gospel creates a righteousness consciousness. How - Through justification by faith in God’s Word and finished Work of Jesus. This is the Gospel!

Justification comes only by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it cannot come by works of the law – for by the law all the world becomes guilty before God. (Romans 3:19) But under the grace of the Gospel, even God forgets sin. The law was incapable of bringing about justification.

This is no fault of the law – the law is good and holy, perfect and true - but rather the fault lies with sin. Sin found an opportunity and took advantage of the law hoping to destroy life as God intended.

Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

Not the law itself, but sin taking occasion by the law - “it killed me”

The law fails to produce peace, sanctification and justification but rather leaves condemnation, guilt and punishment in its wake all because of sin.

The Gospel has however, made us free from the law as a matter of obligation. Free from sin but not free to sin, (Romans 6), – free from sin so that we might serve God with a clean conscious by the faith which is in Christ Jesus, Messiah of the Jews, Savior of the World, Son of God and Son of Man – the Mediator between God and man, the perfect sacrifice, a spotless Lamb, who took away the sins of the world.

The Apostle Paul penned the 7th chapter of Romans to reveal the nature of man and the nature of the law acting upon man’s imperfections. Regardless of whether the man is unregenerate or born again – no man can be perfect in the eyes of the law. If that were possible, Christ would have died in vain.

Galatians 2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

The nature of the law is to judge, condemn and punish imperfection – unrighteousness – whereas, the nature of the Gospel is to forgive, encourage and reward faith which covers imperfection by the grace of God’s love and forgiveness. Love covers the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

This then is our hope? We are delivered from all the evils of sin and judgments of the law in accordance with the Gospel, only by Jesus Christ!

To amplify this truth, the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 7 as a testimony to the continued wretchedness of man in the eyes of the law. Temptations and failures, disappointments and sin continued to plague even this saintly Apostle. He recognized that when he wanted to do good, evil was always present tempting him to do those things which he should not. He concluded his thoughts in chapter 7 with this exclamation:

Romans 7

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Paul taught that although the law brought the knowledge of sin, it provided no power over sin. The power over sin comes through Jesus Christ and the Gospel of God’s grace.

Knowledge of sin comes by the law but power over sin comes only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 7 reveals that equally, both before salvation and afterwards, the law is incapable of producing peace and holiness. Romans 8 is a continuation of Romans 7. It continues the thought by bringing remedy to the problem the law faces when dealing with the our sins.

The Gospel explains that it is impossible for the law to give life, much less eternal life, because of sin. Man cannot rid himself of sin by keeping the law. If the law could have produced the relationship God wanted between Him and mankind, then the blood of bulls and goats would not have ceased to have been offered. However, to settle the question of the law and close the books on eternal judgment and damnation, God opened a new door of justification which He made available to mankind. God called this new door, “Good News” – the Gospel.

Now every person regardless of their condition or situation of life can come into Christ and escape judgment all by faith. This is the Gospel message.

This is the heart of the message of Romans and specifically Romans 8.

What was impossible to be accomplished by the law of sin and death was done through the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The law’s office is to judge, the Gospel’s office is to pardon – not excuse, but to provide forgiveness to the one who is without perfection.

The law accomplished what it was established to accomplish however, God wanted more. The law pointed out sin – the gospel pointed the way to salvation. The result of the law was judgment, the fruit of the gospel is forgiveness. The effect of the law was separation, the culmination of the gospel is restoration.

God wants relationship – a right relationship with mankind. If the devil cannot keep a person from being saved then he will do his best to bring that person under the law so that they will continue to live in condemnation and fear of separation, feeling guilty before God, only waiting for the hammer to fall and expose their imperfections.

Galatians 3 (Condensed)

O foolish Galatians – Having begun in the spirit will you now be made perfect by the flesh? – Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness – No one is justified by the law in the sight of God, that is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul called the Galatians foolish to have been made free from the law through Jesus Christ and then to allow someone else to put them under another set of ridged rules to live by as though they were still trying to please God with their self righteous acts. The just shall live by their faith, both Old and New Testament saints were justified by faith in God’s Word looking either forward in time or back in time to the Messiah God promised would come as a Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

By this we are justified – what does justified actually mean?

We are justified by faith – J U S T - I F - I E D – “Just if I’d never sinned!”

No one is without sin however, when we come to Christ by faith in His finished work, we are saved and it is just as if we had never sinned. Our conscious can be clear and clean because we believe in Jesus. This is a new law God enacted through Jesus called the law of the spirit of life.

Romans 8

1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The whole chapter is an affirmation of the Gospel … The Gospel

1. Does what the law could never do – Romans 8:1-13

a. The Gospel gives life

b. The Gospel frees from condemnation

2. Produces a spirit of adoption – Romans 8:14-17

a. The Gospel provides leadership

b. The Gospel creates relationship

c. The Gospel affirms identity

d. The Gospel assures inheritance

3. Gives hope to the weary soul – Romans 8:18-25

a. The Gospel promises greater glory

b. The Gospel rewards perseverance

4. Sustains our weaknesses – Romans 8:26-27

a. The Gospel understands our trials

b. The Gospel provides an Intercessor Who ever with us

5. Assures our good – Romans 8:28-29

a. The Gospel works all things together for both our good and God’s purpose

b. The Gospel conforms us to God’s will

c. The Gospel confirms us as God’s kids

6. Secures the Believer – Romans 8:30

a. The Gospel identifies every Believer

b. The Gospel calls every Believer

c. The Gospel justifies every Believer

d. The Gospel glorifies every Believer

7. Wins and makes us winners! – Romans 8:31-39

a. The Gospel assures victory

b. The Gospel freely gives us all things

c. The Gospel discharges every accusation against you

d. The Gospel invalidates separation

e. The Gospel empowers super overcomers

f. The Gospel persuades everyone

Galatians 3

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),

14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Religious Terminology


One Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago I got wound up while I was preaching and began passionately verbalizing some of my deeply held convictions. Although I was speaking honestly, right from my heart, I realized during the middle of the discourse that I was using some religious terms with which I am very familiar, but nonetheless terms which are for the most part religious in nature and perhaps everyone listening did not know exactly what I was talking about.

Let’s take a look at a clip of about 25 seconds worth of that sermon where I use another religious term.

Production Note: (Clip from Sunday, 9-11-11, “Lest We Forget”, Time Mark: 38:05 thru 38:30 ~ “I want you to know … filled with the power of the Holy Spirit”)

You may have noted that I used the word, “Sanctified”. Religious terms such as redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, justification, glorification, and the like have gone aside from the modern church language used in many pulpits today.

Tonight, I want to bring us up to date on the three main terms I used on that Sunday in hopes that I can explain these doctrines in an understandable way this evening.

My familiarity and comfort ability with religious terms began over 40 years ago when at the age of 14 I decided that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. My uncle, Travis Hammonds, whom many called Preacher Hammonds, was a Church of God pastor in a small country church of about 20 people. He and his wife Beatrice had 5 boys, 3 of whom were about my age so we hung out together. Uncle Travis played the guitar in the church and led most of the singing. He wanted more musicians so he decided to give guitar lessons.

Well it wasn’t very long until I started attending church there so I could practice what I was learning. Marshall, James Ray, Mack and me would often be the backup music, all playing guitar, using all three chords, listening for the changes, while most of the people in the church stood on the small platform leading singing to a handful of people sitting in the congregation. The songs we sang came right out of the little brown paperback, “Heavenly Highway to Hymns” book. I’ll fly away, By and By and The Old Rugged Cross were some of the favorites.

Playing guitar in that Pentecostal, Holiness, Church of God meant that I had to stay for the preaching and man could my uncle preach. Wow … usually he’d preach himself into a sweat and such a fervor that he would begin to jerk a bit and take two or three high steps, throw up a hand and began dancing a jig and speaking in tongues. At that time I wasn’t sure what it was but I knew about when it was going to happen and it sent chills up and down my spine.

Sometimes other people would jump up and run or get out into the aisle and begin to dance around or kind of cramp up, hold their stomach with one hand, lift the other and start shouting often repeating the same thing over and over, words I could not make out. When it caught on, there might be 5 or 7 or as many as 10 people doing it all at the same time like a chain reaction.

Although it unsettled me most of the time I never felt afraid. But, that was not the testimony of my girlfriend that I wanted to impress with my guitar playing the first, and the only, time I took her to church with me. Right smack dab in the middle of my uncle Travis preaching he got touched by the spirit and when he began it caught on pretty quick. Since there was a new girl visiting in the congregation that night, and since that new girl was wearing make-up, jewelry and a short blue dress, one of the ladies of the church thought that the girl might need to go to up to the altar and pray through.

That lady, a wonderful woman whom I had known all of my life and knew till she died, a precious lady who meant well, came from dancing under the power of the spirit around the altar and tried her best to get, or shall I say – drag – that girl up to the altar for some serious laying on of hands and prayer.

Well, if you want to know how that 17 year old girl felt that night, you can ask her – she is sitting right here on the front row. I ended up marrying her a couple of years later but it was after the conversation where she made me swear that I’d never take her to another church like that ever again. And … I did not, not at least until she got born again some half dozen years later. Looking back on it now – I wish God had sent a bigger lady to drag here up there and get her prayed through before I married her. It would have saved several years of fussing and fighting.

Well, it was those early years sitting there hearing my uncle Travis preach the Holy Word of God that I first got introduced to these timeless and powerful words – religious words – words such as sanctification.

I can still hear him say, “I’ve been saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost – and that with fire!”

I heard him say it so much that I started saying it myself, only now in my sophisticated, polished approach to help create the image that I am somewhat educated and perhaps a little less scary, I have learned to say it in more a more palatable way.

Now don’t be thinking that I am making fun of those days or those powerfully precious people – I am fondly reminiscing of a time gone by in my life, a day I wish I could revisit, a life and ministry I only hope I can one day measure up to.

In the clip we just reviewed, the whole time I was preparing in my head what was going to come out of my mouth, I was hearing my uncle say, “I’ve been saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost – and that with fire!” On the inside I was thanking God for such men who helped to shape the man I now am.

In case the anointing of the Holy Spirit ever moves me to say that phrase again, I want you to know what it means. So let’s look at it now:


Comes from the Greek word: Sozo – to be made completely whole

Ephesians 2

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Salvation is a spiritual re-birth which makes us a new creation in Christ Jesus and we become a Child of God.

How does a person get saved?

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Relationship is God’s purpose, forgiveness is His character – salvation is His plan – repentance is man’s opportunity.

Salvation is great … the greatest … but there is so much more.

1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

We have been saved and called – saved to come to the knowledge of the truth. We have been saved and called to a sanctified life.


John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Ephesians 5

26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

The Word of Truth is a cleansing agent, a spot, wrinkle and blemish remover. When we wash ourselves with the pure water of the Word, we are made clean.

Just as salvation is a birth, sanctification requires a death - death to self – carnality – the old way

This is an ongoing process where we put off the old man and put on the new so that we continue to be renewed in our minds as we embrace the word of God, obey Him and walk sanctified, separated, holy and dedicated in His will.

Holiness is God’s purpose, truth is His character – sanctification is His plan – obedience is man’s opportunity.

Filled with the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit if you prefer, is all about ‘Power’.

Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

(Quote the Acts trail concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – Acts 2:1-4; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:1-6; Acts 5:32; Luke 11:13)

The Baptism is an activation of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12.

Just as salvation is a birth and sanctification requires a death, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a resurrection. In these things we follow Christ in birth, death and resurrection. These are not the only things we do, but these are important and symbolic of our oneness with Christ.

Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Power is God’s purpose, charity is His character – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is His plan – submission is man’s opportunity.

Suffice it to say that God wishes all men to be saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Born again, dead to this world and manifesting resurrection power as a witness to the Gospel of the eternal Kingdom of God.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Confident, Courageous & Committed


Have you ever noticed that someone has to make decisions? Decision making is a part of life and sometimes life positions us where either we are responsible to make decisions concerning others or others become responsible to make decisions which affect us.

We have all experienced the effects of being blessed by people who make the right decision and as well the ill effects of those who make the wrong decision. Right or wrong, decisions still belong to those who occupy positions which demand decisions. And, there are some things which only you can decide.

This morning we are not going to look at the decisions which are made by others but rather those decisions which we are responsible to make, decisions which may affect others, but are nonetheless our individual responsibility because of our position in life.

Today we will discover how we can make decisions with confidence, courage and commitment. To begin our journey, let’s look at

Joshua 1

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:

2 "Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them — the children of Israel.

3 "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.

4 "From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.

5 "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

This passage of scripture leads us to three basic conclusions when it comes to God placing any person in a position to make decisions.

1. God is committed to His model.

2. We must have confidence in God and His plan.

3. God has made each person perfect for the position to which they are appointed.

Does this mean that a person in position to make decisions cannot be wrong? No … not by any means. Every person however must needs be deeply dependent on God, prayerfully connected and fully committed to God’s will and not their own agenda in order to have confidence in the decisions which they are appointed and positioned to make.

Throughout history, ancient biblical history as well as modern world history, success in life has catered to men and women who exhibit courage, confidence and commitment when it comes to making decisions.

Both heaven and earth choose aggressive, decisive and determined individuals to lead the defining battles of life … and often the greatest battles we face deal with having confidence in our own decisions.

During the US Civil War President Abraham Lincoln wrestled with his decisions. Our nation was deeply divided and the Republic stood on the brink of destruction. Even though he had many advisors and counselors on every side, he was nonetheless responsible for each decision because the presidency rested squarely upon his shoulders. If he had allowed any other person to assume that mantle or have final say, he would have ceased to be the leader of our nation and would have been president in name only.

It is certain that in many instances he was torn as to what direction to take. He knew the overriding goals but how to achieve them was another matter. However, he realized the power of bold and confident leadership. He listened to his advisors but he also had a confidence beyond their counsel. A survey of his writings during this crucial time of our nation reveals his heart and his habit. He said:

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

We have confidence because we have faith – faith not in ourselves, but faith in God … Faith that the God who appoints and positions will also provide in times of decisions.

400 years after Joshua led the Children of Israel into the Land of Canaan to possess it, the people still had no king but were guided by prophets, priests and judges. At times Israel followed God’s will and at times their own. It was during a very difficult time that God began to favor a young boy named Samuel. The scriptures say:

1 Samuel 3:19 So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

No doubt it was God who gave Samuel a chance but it was Samuel’s choice as to what he would do with that chance. When Samuel proved to be someone who would listen to and obey God, God responded and it is declared that God let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.

The Bible says that there was no open revelation, no widespread knowledge of God in those days. However, when God found that He could speak to Samuel in a still, small voice in the middle of the night and Samuel would obey … God opened heaven and began to use Samuel to lead His people. Samuel was the perfect choice. Of course, God’s choice is always the perfect choice … only many times people don’t realize that they are God’s choice. God has surely appointed and positioned even you.

Just like Samuel, Joshua and Abraham Lincoln, our confidence will come from the fact that we choose God and are wholly sold out to do His will. Our confidence is but a reflection of the Word of God in action. When we hold the principles of God’s Word as a guiding light and do not stray into darkness, we can trust our heart.

1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

However, if our heart convicts us, or if the Holy Spirit brings a scripture or principle to bear or we hear that still small voice say, “That’s not right”, we lose our confidence in God’s approval and then we are left only to proceed with our own agenda. (Romans 14:23)

God’s plan has chosen you to play your part for His glory. You may not be at the best place in life but there is a best way you can go from here.

What is God’s will? Joshua 1:7 says it best – allow me to conclude:

1. Be Strong – Confident

2. Be Courageous

3. Be Committed – To Do God’s Will

… in the position of life to which He had divinely appointed and positioned you. Perhaps you are not the President, a Prophet or King, but you are someone of importance … important to the will and the process of God. And, many decisions you make have far reaching and eternal implications.

We need realize that God is committed to His model and since He has divinely appointed and positioned you to whatever level of decision making you face, He has therefore obligated Himself to speak to you and guide your every step. Certainly, He will let none of your words fall to the ground if you will only hear His Word and do His will.

Follow this guide and you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.

However, we cannot have confidence in God if we do not know God or if we have been distanced from God by neglect of our spiritual responsibilities or by the decisions we have made to stray into darkness.

The first order of the day is to repent and acknowledge our need for a Lord and Savior.

Abraham Lincoln said it best when he realized that truly, he had absolutely no other place to go.

Remember, you are the perfect person to play the part God has positioned you to fill: Husband, wife, son, daughter, parent, employer, employee, supervisor or friend. Have confidence that God is speaking to you and be courageous and committed to do play your part.

No one else but you can be you and that’s why God is speaking to you about what you should do! Be strong, courageous and committed.

God is committed to His model and He is committed to you. There is an open heaven waiting for you to hear and obey with confidence.

How can we have confidence, courage or be committed when we have no confidence in our relationship with the Lord?

Close … with real life application.