Friday, July 31, 2009

Here is my beautiful wife. Enough said.

Four generations together in this shot! Praise God!

My beautiful wife and my handsome son together in my parent's front yard!

My grandma together with her great grandson, Kiah!

Elizabeth and I with one of our most favorite couples--Jarett and Jaime!

Here we are again in St. Louis!
This is a shot of the beautiful land of Missouri! This is where the summer retreat was last week.

We did have a great time rock-climbing too!

We had an evening and a morning chapel every day learning about "radical discipleship."

Here is the Kirkland family!

Daddy and son hanging out before Daddy goes to preach!

This is what we woke up to each morning!

Here is the fabulous retreat center dining hall where we were! Absolutely beautiful!

The Privilege of Being with Jesus

It is an amazing thought to consider that people can be with Jesus and live life with Jesus! This is precisely the call that Mark gives in chapter 3 of his gospel when speaking of Jesus’ call of the Twelve as His appointed apostles. He writes:

Mark 3:14-15 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.

The three noteworthy points to mention in these verses consist of:

1. The apostles of Jesus Christ were with Jesus. What an amazing thought! They were appointed to live with Him, to be with Him, to watch Him, to learn from Him, to be His ambassadors and His witnesses. By way of application, how imperative it is for us—His servants—to be those who are with Jesus on a daily basis as we spend time in the Christian disciplines of Bible reading and prayer.

2. The apostles of Jesus Christ were preachers of the Gospel. Again, Jesus appointed twelve men to be those who would be His heralds—His proclaimers! They were to permeate the land—yes, even the world!—with the gospel of Jesus Christ! The good news that Jesus has come offering salvation and complete and total forgiveness of sins to sinners deserving hell who believe and place their saving faith in Him was the theme of their message! What a fitting reminder for us! We are also to be preachers of the gospel! We have a message that we are to bear and hold high as we live life wherever God places us.

3. The apostles of Jesus Christ were able to cast out demons. The authority of God here is so clearly revealed that one could hardly overlook this simple truth. God has absolute authority over Satan and his minions. Jesus Christ entrusted this same authority to His twelve apostles so that they could also cast out demons to heal and to verify the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though Jesus may not have specifically entrusted all of His followers with this same call and responsibility, we as God’s witnesses today are mandated to pray when hardships come; we are commanded to trust God and let our requests be made known to Him; we are to surrender to and submit to the all-powerful authority of God over everything—even Satan and demons. Therefore, let us as God’s servants take courage and take heart: God has absolute authority and nothing can thwart His perfect will!

May we learn from these concise phrases as we endeavor to be better servants of Christ and better witnesses of the gospel as we live our lives to please our commanding Officer!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This morning in my quiet time I came across these magnificent verses in the Psalms:

Psalm 50:10-12, 21 "For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. "I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. "If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains. . . . You thought that I was just like you.

The notion of God controlling absolutely everything fills the Scriptures! Specifically, here God speaks and says that every beast of the forest is His. The cattle--every single one of them--on a thousand hills also belongs to God. God finally notes that the world is His and all it contains. This all-inclusive statement brings everything together under the sovereign reign and dominion of Yahweh! To state it negatively, there is nothing that is not under the sovereign reign of God. His sovereign and determined will is unchanging and cannot be thwarted. And lest believers think that God is "one of us" or "just like us", this verse quenches that thought immediately. God certainly is lofty, sovereign, perfect, immovable, powerful, and majestic. His transcendence is incomprehensible to us frail and finite beings. Yet the magnificent truth of this psalm is that though God is transcendent and glorious, He condescends and stoops to be actively involved in every aspect of life. What a tremendously good, loving, and holy God we serve!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pray for me this week. I'm preaching the following sermons:

Tuesday - the Sovereignty of God (selected Scriptures)
Wednesday - Psalm 30 - Thankful Worship
Friday - Ephesians 5:1-5 - Live like Christ!
Saturday - Acts 4:32-5:16 - Church Ministry!
Saturday - 2 Chronicles 24 - Christian Accountability
Sunday - Psalm 27 - Confident Trust in God!
Monday - Psalm 24 - How to Respond to the Sovereign King!

God is good and He gives strength to those who are weary (Isa 40:28). I'd covet your prayers this week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The security of the believer’s salvation—part 5.

Paul continues to lay forth the dazzling pearls in the discourse chain arguing in favor for the believer’s eternal security. Quite simply, the security of the believer’s salvation means that a person, dead in sin and totally helpless and lost, who believes in Jesus Christ and confesses Him as LORD is justified (Rom 5:1) and is totally safe and secure for that final day when the individual is glorified (=made perfect) in heaven beholding Jesus Christ face to face (1 John 3:2-3). To review briefly, we have observed Paul’s argument in Romans 5 proving without a shadow of a doubt that the believer in Jesus Christ who has been justified will most definitely be glorified and can never lose that salvation. In a word, a true Christian will not—indeed, he can not—lose his salvation!

To the matter at hand, the fifth proof that the believer cannot lose his salvation is because of the clear statement Paul makes in Romans 5:9:

Romans 5:9 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

In this verse, Paul speaks in no uncertain terms and affirms that those who have been justified (action that proves the right and gracious standing of the Christian before an infinitely Holy God) will be saved from the wrath of God.

The wrath of God is a prominent theme in the Scriptures—both OT and NT. Contrary to what many preach in pulpits today or what many may read on the NYT best-sellers at Borders, the wrath of God is being kindled and infuriated to be poured out without restraint and without a drop of mercy upon those impenitent on the final day of judgment. God’s wrath is disclosed clearly and undeniably in such Scriptures as:

Psalm 5:5 5 The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.

Psalm 9:7-8 7 But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, 8 And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

Psalm 11:5-6 5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.

Psalm 60:1-2 O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us; You have been angry; O, restore us. 2 You have made the land quake, You have split it open; Heal its breaches, for it totters.

Isaiah 63:3-6 3 "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. 4 "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come. 5 "I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me. 6 "I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

Revelation 14:10-11 10 he [the Non-Christian] also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

These are just a few of the many Scriptures affirming the wrath of God that will be revealed against sinners who have no Advocate—that is, no one to plead their case before an infinitely Holy and Righteous God. All are found to be guilty and worthy of the eternal, conscious, unmerciful, hateful, angry wrath of God.

But note, Paul affirms in Romans 5 that for those who have been justified, they are saved from the wrath of God. This refers not only to (1) the eternal wrath in hell and eternally in the Lake of Fire being judged by God Himself (Rev 20:11-15); but also (2) it refers to the future coming wrath of God where He will pour out His anger upon a humanity that has rejected His Son in the future time. This seven-year period is known as the Tribulation (cf. Matt 24; Rev 4-19). And for those who are justified, there is the promise from God Himself that he will be spared from ALL divine wrath! Why? Because Jesus bore it in full on the cross at Calvary. This is what the phrase “it is finished” means! The debt has been paid. The wrath of God has been satisfied in place of the sinner who believes because Jesus bore it in their place!

If we were at one time reconciled to God while being enemies, how much more shall we, who are NOT enemies any longer but are children and sons of the Living God, be saved from His angry wrath!

Therefore, take note that in Romans 5:9, again, it says that we are saved from the wrath of God through Him referring to Jesus Christ! The only remedy for man’s plight is the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ! And once a person believes and is saved—and declared right with God (=justification)—this person is saved, secure, and surely to receive eternal life with His Savior, Jesus Christ, for all of eternity!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The security of the believer’s salvation. part 4

The one who recognizes his sinfulness and utter depravity, who thrusts himself at the mercy and grace of God for forgiveness, and proves his genuineness by a radical life-change is, in the language of the New Testament, a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). This defines what it means to be a Christian—a Christ-follower.

The question Paul raises in Romans 5, which logically follows after the lengthy discourse of Romans 3:21 continuing through the end of chapter 4 is this: “If a person receives such a glorious salvation, can it ever be lost?” And to his question, Paul now turns to answer. He upholds the thematic thread which winds all the soteriological (“salvation”) Scriptures together by affirming that the believer in Jesus Christ will never (yea—he can never) lose his salvation!

In Romans 5 Paul states that the believer cannot lose his salvation because the new, regenerate person has peace with God (v.1), stands within the sphere of God’s grace (v.2a), and the believer holds and possesses the sure hope of glory (v.2b-4). Here, Paul continues in v.5 by affirming that the believer’s hope does not disappoint because the “love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.”

In verse 5, Paul regards the love of God as the secure guarantee of the believer’s salvation. He notes that this love is from God and sourced in God and this all-powerful and self-giving love from God has been poured out into the hearts of true believers. Interestingly, the verb referring to God’s love being “poured out” is in an emphatic tense bringing the idea to the foreground with all the spotlights shining upon it! In other words, God’s salvation is so certain and so sure to finally and fully happen in the future because God loves His own children eternally. This love from God has been poured out full into the hearts of believers.

Amazingly, v.6 says that while we were weak, at the very right time, Christ died for the ungodly! If we were the ungodly sinners , hating God, and fleeing from Him and He loved us enough to die for the ungodly, how much more can God love and keep those who are His very own sons and daughters! Again in v.8 the same thought is reiterated: God demonstrates His love towards us, that while we were still sinning, Christ died for the ungodly. The point is unmistakable, if while we were God’s enemies, sinning and spitting upon God and His glory, if He loved us enough to send Christ to die for wretched sinners, how much more can God’s love save, guard, keep, and perfect those who are in His family!

This verse guarantees that for the true and genuine child of God, he cannot do anything bad enough to “fall out” of God’s love. If God loved us when we were His enemies, He can certainly love us when we are His sons! If God loved you like this when you were ungodly, He can certainly love you now that you are His cherished possession. We were once enemies and God loved us; we recognize that we will never be there again as God’s enemies, so certainly God can love us the same now as His saints just as He did before when we were His enemies! This is Paul’s logical argument in Romans 5.

Take encouragement and believe that your salvation is secure and safe because it is anchored in the unchanging and sovereign character of God! However, it behooves you to examine yourself and see whether you are even in the faith (2 Cor 13:5)!

Monday, July 6, 2009

the security of the believer’s salvation, part 3.

Continuing our study on the security of the believer’s salvation leads us to the third proof that the sinner who has been saved is absolutely secure is that the believer has the hope of glory.

Note Romans 5:2b-5a “and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint…”

These verses declare in no uncertain terms that the believer who has been justified by faith (5:1), and who has peace with God (v.2), now exults in the hope of the glory of God. The believer can—and should!—exult in the hope of seeing the glory of God fully revealed in the beatific vision in heaven (1 John 3:2).

The verb “we exult” in 5:2b signifies an ongoing and emphatic exulting or boasting in that future day of beholding the glory of God! And because of this unshakable hope that the believer in Jesus Christ possesses, he can withstand and persevere through any—any!—trial that may arise in life regardless of its severity (cf. 5:2-4).

Paul concludes this by stating that all the persevering through trials, and the proven character that comes, and the hope that results is NOT in vain. It is not worthless. Rather, biblical hope does not disappoint. Indeed, this hope cannot fail. The believer in Jesus Christ has the confident joy and boast that the glory of God will be seen for all eternity—in perfection!

And note, this hope of the glory of God is not a mere wish. It is not something that can ever be lost. When God elects and saves a sinner, He does not save that sinner only to justification, or even to sanctification. Rather, God saves that sinner all the way to glorification. There is no break in the chain of salvation from the moment of conversion till that day when the believer stands face to face glorified and like the Savior!

Salvation must include a living hope. Peter affirms this when he writes:

1 Peter 1:3-4 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

This is a living hope. The hope of glory is a certain hope. The glorious day of being made like Jesus Christ is most certain to happen and, in fact, it must happen if God is true—and He is (Rom 3:4)! Therefore, the hope that the believer has is not one that fades away, nor is it one that may be lost. It is a sheer impossibility. The salvation that the penitent sinner has received by means of faith in Jesus Christ is so absolutely certain and sure to reach glorification in heaven that Paul writes in Romans 5 that “we exult (“boast”) in the hope of glory!”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Security of the believer’s salvation—part 2.

We saw last week that from Paul’s glorious epistle to the Romans that the believer in Jesus Christ is absolutely secure and safe after having been justified (5:1). The first proof that we saw which guarantees the believer’s salvation is that the justified sinner now has peace with God. There is no longer enmity. God is no longer at odds with the person. The person is no longer under God’s wrath. He has transferred from being under the wrath of God to under his loving mercy. Therefore, all enmity, war, anger, and hatred has been removed in Jesus Christ.

The second proof that shows why the believer’s salvation is secure is because the believer stands in grace. Hear what Paul says:

Romans 5:2 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;

Romans 5:2 simply states that the believer, who has been justified and who now has peace with God, has obtained an “introduction” (better translation is “access”)—by faith—into this grace in which we stand.

It is only by the instrument of faith that the believer now transitions into the realm and sphere of grace. Once the sinner has repented and believed upon Jesus Christ, he is now standing in grace. It is absolutely impossible to go from standing in grace back to standing under God’s judgment and wrath.

One of the reasons it is impossible for the believer to lose his salvation is because the word in Romans 5:2 for “obtained” is a perfect indicative signifying emphasis. This verb is in the foreground and all the spotlights are shining on it. It signifies a past action with ongoing (and continuous) results lasting even to the present. This, then, would show that through Him (Christ, v.2), we who have been justified by grace (v.1) have obtained and will continue to obtain forever our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand. Do you see the emphasis on the verb?

It is absolutely impossible after the wretched sinner who has come to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, who has also received access by faith into the realm and sphere of grace to ever revert back to the unsaved, graceless state of being under God’s wrath and judgment. It is utterly impossible for God to do this. For then, he would be a faithless father and an impotent father who cannot save and secure His children. What a diminished, distorted, and unbiblical view!

Furthermore, I leave you with one final Scripture which, in my mind, seals the deal in allowing no exceptions to this clear affirmation that we as believers are secure:

Hebrews 7:25 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

The phrase “he is able to save forever” comes from a Greek phrase which could be literally translated “unto the completion” or “unto the perfection.” Obviously, Scripture shows that believers will never be complete or perfect until we arrive at heaven where we are made like our Savior. Thus, Christ, as our High Priest, saves forever, that is, until those who believe are made perfect and made complete in heaven! What a glorious verse! Therefore, I propose again that it is impossible for the individual, after having been justified and who has transferred out of the realm of darkness into the realm/sphere of God’s grace in which he stands to ever lose that solid footing in grace! It simply cannot happen. Scripture cannot allow for this. And certainly the character of God cannot allow this to happen.

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