Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: James 2

“Faith Works”
James 2

Introduction:  James 1:2, 12; 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

I.  Favoritism  vs. 1-13

     A. Evil Motives vs. 1-7
     “[1] My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. [2] For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, [3] and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” [4] have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [5] Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? [6] But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? [7] Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?”

2 Timothy 4:8; Isaiah 60:10; 1 Corinthians 10:21; Colossians 1:10 

     B. Eternal Mercy vs. 8-13
     “[8] If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. [9] But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [10] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. [11] For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. [12] So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. [13] For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Romans 11:32; John 7:24

II. Faith  vs. 14-26

     A. Faith Without Works vs. 14-17
     “[14] What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, [16] and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? [17] Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

Luke 6:45; Matthew 7:15-16

     B. Faith With Works vs. 18-26
     “[18] But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” [19] You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. [20] But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? [22] You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; [23] and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. [24] You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. [25] In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? [26] For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

Hebrews 2:9

Conclusion: Titus 1:13; 1 Timothy 4:6; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Jude 3; John 3:7; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; James 1:21-22; Hebrews 2:3; Matthew 21:43


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: James 1

“Consider It All Joy!”
James 1

Introduction: Jeremiah 6:13-14

James 1:1, "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings"

Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19; 1 Peter 1:1

I.   Dealing with trials  vs. 2-4 
     “[2] Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, [3] knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. [4] And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

II.  Asking for wisdom in dealing with trials  vs. 5-8
      “[5] But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. [6] But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. [7] For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, [8] being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

1 Corinthians 3:3

III. Considering our position in light of trials  vs. 9-11
      “[9] But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; [10] and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. [11] For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”

Matthew 19:24; Luke 18:25; 1 Timothy 6:9

IV.  Understanding the purpose of trials  vs. 12-18
      “[12] Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. [13] Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. [14] But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. [15] Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. [16] Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. [17] Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. [18] In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”

1 Peter 4:12; 1 John 5:4; Ephesians 4:4-6; Philippians 3:19-21; Matthew 25:1-13

V.   Speaking and doing right while under trials  vs. 19-27
      “[19] This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; [20] for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God [21] Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. [22] But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. [23] For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; [24] for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. [25] But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. [26] If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. [27] Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Ephesians 4:4-6

Conclusion: 2 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 10:4; John 3:19; Matthew 6:19-20, 31-33


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: 2 Samuel 21:1-14

“Rizpah, A Mother of Example”
2 Samuel 21:1-14

Introduction: 2 Samuel 21:1-9

“Rizpah … took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock.”

1 Kings 21:27, 29; 1 Chronicles 21:16; Matthew 11:21

“Rizpah ... took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; …”
Luke 18:1, 5; John 16:33; Romans 6:4-5; James 1:12

“Rizpah ... took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night.””
Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:5; Hebrews 13:5-6

Conclusion: 2 Samuel 21:11-14; 1 Peter 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 10:26-31; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Romans 12:1; Revelation 2:10


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday Sermon Outline: Hebrews 13:15-21

“Continuous Christianity”
Hebrews 13:15-21

Introduction: Hebrews 13:12-14 

I. Continual Sacrifices vs. 15-16
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. [16] And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Matthew 12:34; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:4; Romans 12:1-2; Romans 2:6-8; Matthew 25:21; Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 10:24-25

II. Continual Submission vs. 17-19
“[17] Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. [18] Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. [19] And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.”

Hebrews 13:7; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 4:11-12; Ezekiel 3:17-21; Jeremiah 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 

III. Continual Service vs. 20-21
“[20] Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, [21] equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 1:9-10; 1 John 3:21 – 4:1; Hebrews 13:8; 1 Corinthians 3:19; 4:2


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Imperative of the Church

The Christian Churches/churches of Christ have long been established as a vehicle fueled by the Great Commission.

“Our job is to make disciples!”

But what if that's not our job? What if we've been putting the wrong gas in the tank all these years? What if instead of getting 10 mpg, we should be getting 100 mpg, spiritually speaking?

Yes, the Lord did indeed offer a commission to the apostles at the end of each of the gospels (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21), and again at the beginning of the book of Acts (Acts 1:7-8). But if those verses were to be intended as the rallying call for the New Testament Church, then why doesn't even one of the epistles from Romans to Revelation repeat said commission? Why do we not find in even one book a reminder to the church to go “make disciples”?

In fact, the word “disciples” is never again even used beyond the book of Acts. Kind of a weird omission if that is in fact the church's primary directive. That Great Commission is at the heart and soul of almost everything we do ... our evangelistic outreach, our missionary programs, and our church planting societies. If it were ever recognized that the Great Commission was addressed to the apostles and NOT to the church as a whole, then 1) we would have to determine Christ's real purpose for the church, and 2) how to rebuild the entirety of our brotherhood once the missionary impetus has been removed.

Answering point #2 is beyond the scope of this article. For now, let's just focus on the main thing. If not evangelism, then what is the imperative of the New Testament Church? If would have to be something that – unlike the so-called Great Commission – is addressed to the entirety of the church, and not just to a select few. One would assume it would be oft-repeated. And it would be something foundational that would then affect everything else that follows after it. That foundation … that driving force … that REAL Great Commission … that which would exponentially increase the effectiveness of the Church … is holiness.

Consider the following Scriptures closely:
  • “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
  • “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Corinthians 3:17).
  • “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
  • “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him(Ephesians 1:4).
  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, [26] so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).
  • “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, [22] yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach(Colossians 1:21-22).
  • “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; [13] so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
  • “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
  • “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, [15] but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; [16] because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY”” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
  • “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
  • “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
  • “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness (2 Peter 3:11)?
How would the Church change if we were focused on holiness, rather than evangelism? We would no longer be concerned with attendance numbers, but with training those who are really hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Quantity would be exchanged for quality. We would no longer place before us as shepherds and leaders those who are good men, but those who are godly men. We would be less focused on the church buildings and more focused on building up the church, which is the body of Christ. Willful and continued sin in the camp would no longer be tolerated, for the good of the whole.

Haven't you ever wondered why modern statistics show that sinful behaviors are just as high – if not, at times, even higher – among those who attend church as with those who do not? It's because we're building on the wrong foundation. “If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too” (Romans 11:16).

“But what about evangelism? Are you saying we shouldn't win people to Christ?”

To answer that question, let's utilize the analogy that the Scriptures consistently offer of the Lord's people as sheep. Does a real shepherd have to tell real sheep how to procreate? Do those sheep have to form societies through which reproduction takes place? Do they need constant seminars on the most effective breeding techniques? Or are some things just basic Biology 101?

The shepherds of the flock (the elders) have two main tasks: To feed and protect the sheep. According to Titus 1:9, they are responsible for “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine (feed the flock) and to refute those who contradict (protect the flock).” If a real shepherd protects and feeds real sheep, they will reproduce all on their own.

I believe that for too long now Christians have been focusing all their attention upon that which should come naturally and take no effort, and not spending any discernible time in “perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1) … which takes a supreme effort, because sin “so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1). “IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?” (1 Peter 4:18).

Yes, I know … in accepting what I'm saying as truth, you will have to set aside centuries of tradition. But don't take my word for it. Do your own research. Examine the letters written to the churches. Look for the apostolic focus upon evangelism and missions … give your head a good scratch, wondering why there's so little to find … and then start researching the abundance of Scriptures turning the churches attention to holiness, righteousness, perfection and “the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Then, as a conclusion to your study, reread the letters to the seven churches from Revelation 2-3, which form a symbolic 'last word' to the church. Not one word is spoken concerning their evangelistic outreach, whether positive or negative. The only notes of praise or condemnation are reserved for the behavior of those who call themselves Christians.

Therefore, based on the evidence of Christ's New Covenant, I believe we must reexamine the imperative of the church and refuel the body with that which will bring about real spiritual growth and productivity, which is holiness. “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).