Glory to God Alone – Episode 32

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:13-14

Soli Deo Gloria or to the glory of God alone, the last of the five sola statements of the Protestant Reformation. This is a concept that on the surface is instilled into many Christians. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is what is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Paul in his writings alludes to the fact that our lives and actions should be bringing glory to God, in fact he is the one that penned the verse, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Although I might mention that while a good application of this verse that use does take it a bit out of context, and I would feel uncomfortable applying it in such a way, I blame my seminary professors that hammered in good hermeneutics through exegesis.

So on this fine Christmas day, I figured what better verse to use for talking about to the glory of God alone than the proclamation of the heavenly host to the shepherds that first Christmas morning. You see in God’s plan for salvation the purpose was for His glory. You see this proclamation comes right after the first angel gives the shepherds the good news that a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord. This good news is why glory is to go to God, as some might say glory goes to the victor, and since the garden of Eden and the first sin man has been at war with God. It is funny that the Jews in Jesus’s day were looking for a conquering king for a Messiah and got instead a suffering servant. I however believe Jesus did come as a conquering King, it is just he didn’t conquer in the sense they were looking for. They wanted a king that would defeat Rome and reestablish an earthly kingdom for Israel, Jesus is a King that came and defeated sin and brought forth peace between man and God.

Glory is not only a form of honor but also praise and worship. You see in Christ coming as our Savior, he came not to defeat Rome but to bring peace between man and God, before this all mankind was at enmity with God. We were in all out rebellion and wanted nothing to do with Him. Christ’s actions on the cross reconciled the world to God. It opened the door to allow God to offer us grace which we respond to in faith, which without grace we would be unwilling to do. It is once we understand that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and due to the work of Christ alone, that we then realize that our praise and worship, all of the glory, goes to God alone. So remember, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Scripture Alone – 2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone, this is one of the foundational statements of the Protestant Reformation. It is the concept that Scripture is the ultimate authority on how a Christian should live and believe. The Bible is the measuring stick by which we are to measure all of our beliefs as well as what we are told. It is to be the final say in our moral compass directing our paths and actions. You see the reformers and even some of those that came before them such as Wycliffe and Huss saw a discrepancy between what Rome was saying and what the Bible stated and rather than side with the pope and the church they took the stance that the Bible should have the final say.

This verse explains precisely why the Bible is important. The first thing that Paul mentions in this verse is the importance of the source of Scripture. I know when writing research papers there are different types of sources, where the professors want you to use as many quality sources as possible, sources that are accurate and reliable as opposed to the random rants of someone on the internet. What he points out is that Scripture was inspired by God, or as we see in some translations that it was God breathed. What this means is that what we see in the Bible was in a way dictated to the authors by God; but in a way that was more in terms of thoughts and concepts, as God’s truth flowed through the minds, souls, hearts, emotions, and personalities of the various authors. This is seen by each writer having their own style and presentation; Paul uses a different vocabulary than James, and Luke writes to the Greek mind while Matthew speaks more to the Jews. It all however, is God’s truth breathed into the writers.

The next thing we see is that not only is the source of Scripture important, but the uses of Scripture is important. Paul gives a list of ways that the Bible is to be used by stating that in each of these areas Scripture is profitable, it brings about the best results. The four areas in which Paul lists Scripture as being profitable all work together in helping the believer grow. First is that of teaching or in fancy terms doctrine, it is learning what is right. That is followed up by reproof, or telling us what is not right. So with these first two aspects Scripture tells us what we should be doing and what we should not be doing; what our goals should be and what we should try to avoid. Then there comes correction, this is where Scripture helps to tell us how to get right; especially when we fail, as we all will do at one point or another. Finally Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness, or how we are to stay right. These last two go together because as we are shown how we have failed and how to get right with God, we then are shown how to remain that way. This is not a one time deal, it is a lifelong process that we must all endure; and that is what Paul is getting at with how Scripture is profitable to us. It brings us to salvation, to faith in Christ, but then leads us through maturing in our faith.

If you have any other questions about why Scripture alone remember that Scripture is the Word of God, and as John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Why Are We Scared To Share? – Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 HCSB

How often are you scared to share your faith? Do you often make up excuses for not going out and sharing the Gospel with others? I will admit I am the type of personality that often worries about how others think of me and at times I think that keeps me from sharing about my faith like I should. How strange it is that in a country where we can proclaim our beliefs without fear or penalty of imprisonment or death are often scared to proclaim the Gospel because of worry that someone may form a negative opinion about us.

We can oftentimes claim we are not ashamed of the Gospel, yet act in the complete opposite way in order to “not offend” someone. The problem is when you look at this verse think of what Paul was stating. Just before he wrote this, Paul was talking about wanting to come to Rome to teach the Gospel; this was Nero’s Rome a Rome known for its persecution of Christians. Paul here is stating that he didn’t care that preaching the Gospel was a death sentence waiting to happen, because when people hear the Gospel it has the power to bring about salvation.

So now the question is if Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel and willing to proclaim it with the threat of death for doing so, why don’t we share with the same boldness?

Stop the Spiritual Fluff – 1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV

Who are you listening to? What preachers and speakers do you regularly follow? Do you take what they tell you as gospel truth or do you regardless test what they are teaching against the Word of God? John wrote to the early church warning them about false teachers and he wasn’t the only person to warn the church. Paul in his farewell address as well as when writing to Timothy warned against those that would come in teaching what people want to hear rather than teaching the Truth.

Today in the world of televangelists and mega churches we find ourselves in a similar situation. Crowds gather more to where they are being told what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They want the what amounts to being spiritual sweets while neglecting the spiritual nutritional substances. The problem is much like with our own diet we cannot live on only cakes, pies, and ice cream as our nutritional intake, a spiritual diet of nothing but spiritual fluff is also unhealthy.

That is why we need to test the spirits. We need to be sure that our spiritual diet is healthy. We do this by making sure that the teaching we listen to is firmly grounded in the Bible and not taken out of context. We need to remember that just because it sounds good doesn’t make it true. So let me leave you with this, what does your spiritual diet look like? Do you test the spirits to make sure what you are taking in is healthy or do you just settle for spiritual junk food?

What Really is our Welfare? – Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

This is one of those verses we often look to when we feel to be facing hard times. We look at verses such as this and believe God will never let us suffer, in fact doesn’t this verse indicate that God will help us to prosper? So is this what this verse is actually telling us or is it something more? Is this even a promise that is universal that can be applied to all believers or was it given to just a specific group or person?

When we look at verse 10 we see that this promise was given to the Israelites during the Babylonian Exile. This promise was made to them for after being in exile for 70 years and then being allowed to return to the Promised Land. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God was telling the Israelites that no matter how it may seem, He was not done with them. There would always be a remnant as He had plans for salvation to come through them, specifically through the line of David.

So does this verse have any application for us today? Well we can still gain some insight and value from it. The problem is when we try to put our desires into the meaning of this verse, for you see as a believer sealed by the Holy Spirit we can apply this promise to us. The problem is when we use our desires and understanding for welfare into the verse. We often want it to mean we will be financially stable, never face any hardships, and never suffer in any way. Our welfare is something completely different, it is our salvation and restored relationship with God. It is the offer of everlasting life provided to us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. You see our future and hope is not something in the here and now, but rather it is in spending eternity in the presence of God.

Healing Our Hearts – 2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

If you have gone to any of our Becoming God’s Man conferences or remember the six month radio show we had at one time you are know this is a verse we use a lot, and there is a reason for that. This is one of those verses that says many things in a compact little package. Think of it as one of those little pills that you can get at the dollar store that when put in a glass of water turns into a sponge dinosaur.

So what is so significant about this verse, well if you look at it there is a promise from God, the only thing is that the promise is conditional. While originally written in context regarding the ancient nation of Israel the principles of this verse are just as applicable to today’s Christians. The first thing we need to take notice is that this promise is for the believer, whether it was the Jew back in the days of Solomon when the promise was given or a Christian today, we are all those people called by God’s name.

So what must we do in regards to this promise? The first thing is that we need to humble ourselves. This means we need to realize we are not the most important thing and place our focus rather than on ourself or our situation but rather focus on God. Then once we focus on God we can in fact fulfill the other conditions. That is because we won’t truly be praying or seeking God’s face if we are self absorbed. We also aren’t able to turn from our wicked ways either, as we usually fall into those ways because we are focused on self and how to best please ourselves rather than how to please God. In essence it is once we humble ourselves that the other conditions we need to fulfill will just naturally start to fall into place.

So what is being promised? God’s part of this promise is that He will forgive our sins and heal our land. What all does this mean, well with the second part in the times of Solomon agriculture was the source of income for many and if crops couldn’t grow financially many were hurt; but this is not saying that God will make you rich in material means if we fulfill our part. What it does mean is that God will make sure our needs are met, with the most important need being that of our salvation. You see the land that we need healed is none other than our hearts.

Does your heart need healing? Have you surrendered your life to Christ? We all need both, so what is keeping you from humbling yourself and turning to God in order to bring healing to your heart?

Are You Looking For Your 15 Seconds of Fame? – John 3:29-30

He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:29-30

How often do we want to find greatness, or to be the center of attention? How often do we get into the mindset of thinking that everything should revolve around us? We often look for what can put us into the spotlight, to have that next viral video or post on Facebook; to be the next chicken nugget tweet, which if I remember right that was one of the most retweeted tweets on twitter. In this world of reality TV and social media, where anyone with a camera has the potential to become a star, that is what many people focus on. They ask how can I become greater, how can I get more likes, more retweets, more followers; they fall into the trap of pride, where all of their focus is on themselves.

Here we see John the Baptist talking to his disciples when they came to him complaining about Jesus becoming more popular than John. You see John had no problem with this as he knew who Jesus was and that he was only there to prepare the people for Jesus, much like an opening act preparing the crowds at a concert for the headline band. John understood that his role was fulfilled once Jesus started His ministry and thus needed to diminish while Jesus’ ministry was to become greater.

In this time of YouTube and Instagram stars, and everyone looking for their 15 seconds of fame we need to take a page from John the Baptist’s playbook and realize that it is not about us. We need to look less at how we can bring ourselves fame and glory and look at how we can point people to the one who deserves all glory. We need to decrease while God must increase. In other words we need to tell ourselves that “I got nothing.”

Psalm 119:9 – Why is Bible Study Important?

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

Why is it important to study the Bible? Well if you were to ask the psalmist, he would tell us that it is to keep us focused on God and to help keep us from falling into sin. The more time we spend in the Word the more we see how we should be living and acting. We see how we should keep our focus on God as He is the only one worthy of our worship; and whatever has our focus, whatever takes our priority is that which we worship. Spending time in the Word keeps our mind and hearts centered on God, guarding our way and keeping it pure.

The best illustration of this in practice is when we look at the temptation of Christ. After Christ was baptized He went into the wilderness for forty days at the end of which Satan came and tempted Him. We see in the narrative that with each temptation Christ countered Satan by quoting Scripture.. But now here is the thing, it is not just enough to know Scripture, we can’t just memorize verses and just quote them at times of temptation; we need to understand what the verse actually means so we can use them appropriately. We even see this with Christ’s temptation, in one instance Satan, seeing Christ countering him with Scripture, used Scripture to try to get Christ to sin by twisting the intended meaning of the verse to suit his purpose. Someone not grounded in Scripture might look at it and think, “you know you’re right,” but because Christ knew His Scripture, He was able to say, “you’re wrong and according to Scripture here’s why.”

So have you been finding it hard to stay on track in your faith? The first thing to do is look to see if you have been neglecting your Bible, and start digging into His Word.