Confession - Justification - Sanctification

by Aaron
in FAQ

There are many people out there called "grace teachers." There are also many things they teach which bother me like ‘as believers we do not need to confess our sins,’ and sanctification being a one time process at salvation (putting justification and sanctification all into one basket). Another weird teaching would be that we do not need to repent.  Could I have your thoughts?

I don’t know if this will make sense…but much of this can be found in our Gospel Class Lesson 3 about salvation.

I believe that all of our sins have already been forgiven at the moment of the cross, so in one sense asking for forgiveness doesn't make sense, but confession does. 2 Cor 7:10 tells us that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Many of these teachers see repentance too closely resembling guilt (I believe) and misrepresent it...repentance is stepping away from what drug us into sin in the first place. We are to confess our sins to each other, as it will keep us accountable and help us to grow. Repentance is what we then do in our remorse for our sin...walk away from it. Because we have been forgiven doesn't give us the right to live as antinomians (those who believe everything is OK to do because we have been forgiven).

Element holds the position that sanctification could be defined as "salvation in present time." We are saved positionally, but are being made daily more into the likeness of Christ. Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Through the blood of Christ we ARE holy, but are being remade and renewed, so to speak, everyday to be conformed to the likeness of the Son. God initiates, marks out, and secures our salvation, and it cannot be broken. What He begins, He is sure to end (bring to completion). 

We also hold that sanctification fuses man’s responsibility, God’s work, and the church’s equipping in the process of a believer’s growth in Christ.

  • Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
     
  • Philippians 2:12-13Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
     
  • Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”


The chain of salvation works like this:

  • Foreknowledge is God’s intimate knowledge of events and His people –before the foundation of the world He predestined, He knew us. This causes much controversy.
  • Called has to do with conversion or bringing of one to faith.
  • Justified means to be legally acquitted from wrongdoing (this is past tense for those in New Covenant relationship with Jesus).
  • Sanctification (salvation in present time) is the process of maturity as God conforms us to His Son’s image. As I said, sanctification fuses man’s responsibility, God’s work, and the church’s equipping in the process of a believer’s growth in Christ.
  • Glorification is the final completion of God’s purpose in salvation, which includes our death and resurrection.

Sacrifice Today

by Aaron
I had a friend recently send me a question that one of their friends asked them, here it is:
You look over your fence, only to see that your neighbor has his son tied down on a table, and is standing over him with a knife. You ask the neighbor what he is doing, to which he replies, "God told me to sacrifice my child."

1.     What would you think, say, and/or do?
2.     Would the neighbor's religion change your answer to #1? How would you respond if you knew he was Jewish/Christian/Muslim etc...?"


My friend answered the question and it went further into details about today's world verses the world of Abraham. The person they were talking to asked "if God never changes, why wouldn't He ask someone to do this today." In the end she asked me what I thought and this is what I said, I hope it helps if anyone ever asks you this question:
 
God doesn't change, but people do. He grows us each and every day.

The scriptures are all about Jesus, the story of Abraham sacrificing his son is all about Jesus. Did God ever have any intent to let Abraham kill his boy? No. Did Abraham think for a moment he would not come back down from mount Moriah with his boy? No. He wasn't lying to his men when he says (Gen 22:5) “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham wasn't lying to his son when he said (Gen 22:8) "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

And, on the mountain, God did provide a sacrifice.

 
Would Abraham have sacrificed his son? Yes...but I think he believed no matter what, God would have raised his son from the dead because God had been true to His promises of THIS promised boy all along. AND IT WAS ON THAT MOUNTAIN THAT THE TEMPLE WAS EVENTUALLY BUILT! All of it was pointing to God's son who would actually die, and be resurrected, for His people.

It is not a random event, all of it has purpose, because all of it is about Jesus.

The problem comes when we think of ourselves as sophisticated moderns and the scriptures, and the people in them, as idiots who blindly followed a voice in their head they called "god." We think we are so much smarter and yet there is no outcry that 1/3 of all conceptions in America today are aborted...no one is jumping over a fence to hold back the knife from those kids. Today we worship at the altar of comfort, security, and our own (over-inflated) opinion of our intellect. If only we were as trusting as Abraham, things could be much different.

And, as far as God asking someone to do this today...it's not a valid question. OF COURSE God would not have someone do this today, the point was Jesus, and Jesus came just as God foreshadowed and promised throughout the scriptures. It is why there is no sacrificial system today (or a temple), Jesus was the sacrifice, He was the temple.

It's all about Jesu
s (I think it is appropriate to add a "WOOT WOOT" right here).

Sanctity of Women

by Aaron
Please elaborate on what you mean by this phrase (context: Genesis 19, Week 31, Like Salt in the Water): "Men, if you don't get your head straight about the sanctity of women it will corrupt your relating to the opposite sex?"
 
Usually when I make a comment like the one listed above I have a million other things swirling in my head about it as well. Let me try to give a whittled down version of all that was in my head.
 
Our society today has completely missed the ideal that God intended when He made us male and female. Feminism and chauvinism are simply two sides of the same coin that seeks to pit men and women against each other, rather than understand the biblical truth that we are equal because we were created equal. Today, equality has become a fight, when it was never intended to be.
 
Feminism, as much as it claims to be about empowering women, also pushes women to be as much like men as possible. Women shouldn't have to be men, they should not have to be just as nasty, vulgar, or rude, they need to instead be distinctly women. Many men buy into feminism and support it because it is an easier way to get what they want, sex without commitment; all it serves to do is actually further chauvinism.
 
So men must get their head straight about the sanctity of women, those women who desire it and those who don't. Men must become the cultivators (of our jobs and families), the warriors (protecting those who need it and fighting against God's enemies), and the sages (those who live and breathe God grace) that God intends.
 
How do we BEGIN to do this? I think it will start with making covenantal promises where we struggle most. Job 31:1 Job saysI have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? The word virgin means "young woman." Job recalls a personal commitment he had made regarding what he would and would not gaze at in seeking purity. He professes purity in avoiding sexual lust, Jesus even reinforced this idea for His people in Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
 
Pornography is like the enemy’s nuclear bomb that takes out almost every guy today. I think our commitment to sexual purity must be the place we begin in order to get our "head straight about the sanctity of women." For many guys this would include accountability with other men, the ability to speak openly about it to those we trust, and the freedom to call (or text) the moment temptation rears its ugly head.
 
There are many more steps in getting to the place where men and women value the sanctity of each other, but this, for men, is the best place to start. If we could get men to live this way I believe the tone and tenor of the debate about equality, sanctity, and value would completely change.

Baptism Stories - September 2, 2012

by Element Christian Church

 Baptism 2012 wide shot

Last Sunday was our Labor Day BBQ and Baptisms. If you didn't make it, or missed reading the stories, this weeks blog is simply a link to them. Please read them, be excited for them, and always stand amazed at the goodness of our great God.

Who Stinketh? We Stinketh!

by Aaron

Last night my dog was sprayed in the face by a skunk. I didn't know it, as she didn't freak out, she just became MORE excited about chasing her new friend in the back yard. I didn't know what the commotion was, so I told her to get in the house and go lay down. As soon as she came inside the entire house stunk, or stank, or (if you are King James) Stinketh.
 
It still even stinketh today after I left the windows open all night. The dog got 3 baths, not a pleasant experience for either of us, and all of her bedding, collar, and toys have been thrown away.
 
As I was lamenting the smell in my house, I started to realize that I had another great experience for a blog…skunks and sin. My dog does what we all do in regard to sin, play with it. When she got sprayed in the face by the odorous concoction of death she didn't stop, she kept thinking it was part of the game. Eventually everything she came into contact with began to stinketh, and she had the very unpleasant experience of 2 full body washes and three face washes.
 
Sometimes we think sin is so interesting and go headlong right into it. Look at how scripture speaks of sin:

  • Genesis 4:7 sin is crouching at the door…Its desire is for you…
  • Proverbs 13:6 sin overthrows the wicked
  • Luke 17:1 Temptations to sin are sure to come
  • Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin

And then in Psalms it reminds us:

  • Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

Sin is spoken about as an entity that almost seems to have a will of its own, but truthfully, its will is ours. We are the ones who run after it, embrace it, and stink everything up in our lives because of it. Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…The beauty is the "BUT GOD."
 
God has saved us from sin, washed us clean, and (as the book of revelation says) given us new and fine clothes to wear. Yes, we chased the skunk, got sprayed, and stunketh…but God, who is ever rich in mercy, saved and washed us.

Beautiful.

Your Questions - God is Love?

by Aaron
Aaron answers the question: "Since God is god, I accept He can harden somene's heart and punish him while on earth, but to also give him eternal punishment for a choice he didn't make seems to fly in the face of 'God is love'."

 

Everyone's A Critic

by Aaron

At a recent Gospel Class I was asked what I thought about “textual criticism.” I gave a short, some would say dismissive, answer because textual criticism has been used as an excuse in recent decades to try and destroy our faith in the reliability of scripture and it irritates me.  All the way back in the 1800’s Charles Spurgeon had to deal with it in what was known at the time as the “downgrade controversy.”
 
The reason someone asked the question at the Gospel Class was not to cause problems, it was simply that they heard about it and wanted to know what it was/is. I thought I would write up this short blog post so you all could have a better understanding of definitions and terms.
 
First, textual criticism is not just aimed at the scriptures, but any work of antiquity; it simply seems much more focused and pronounced in our day towards the scriptures.
 
Textual criticism is also called "lower criticism" and it is supposed to mainly concern itself with the identification and removal of what are known as "transcription" errors in the texts of manuscripts. Essentially, at times, ancient scribes would make errors, or alterations, when copying manuscripts by hand. A textual critic should seek to reconstruct the original text (the "autograph") as closely as possible. The objective would be a manuscript that most resembles the original.
 
Historical criticism is also called "higher criticism" and it is supposed to establish the authorship, date, and place of composition of an original text. It is also supposed to investigate the origins of ancient texts in order to understand the world behind the texts.
 
In the 18th century these criticisms came together and formed "Biblical criticism." Historical criticism began in the 17th century and gained popular recognition in the 19th and 20th centuries. The perspective of the early historical biblical critic was rooted in the Magisterial Reformation. At that time their studies were free from the influence of traditional interpretation.
 
But instead of seeking truth, as originally intended, most criticisms today seek to destroy the word of God for no seeming purpose except to try and discredit it. Today many people who are claiming to be scholars are simply skeptics with axes to grind because they refuse to believe in the supernatural as revealed by the scriptures. Today, in regard to the bible, we have source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, tradition criticism, canonical criticism, and dozens of other "isms" all trying to destroy the word of God as we know it.
 
The criticisms today have gone beyond wanting to know the context of a text or the most reliable text, they have gone to trying to discredit a text. Honestly, the scriptures we have today are the most reliable of any document known to man. We can trust the transcription, translation, and transmission. The question is, do we trust the God who gave them to us?

Your Questions - Free Will & Predestination

by Aaron
Well, finally. The answers to your video blog questions from a couple weeks ago are starting to go live. Here is the first one about free will and predestination. I am going to warn you, it is long with a lot of information. If you get lost, feel free to watch it again. Most of our other answers are NOT this long (I promise).

Enjoy,
Aaron

 

An Urgent Message About Division

by Aaron

Last Sunday morning in our message about Abraham riding in to save Lot, like an old William Wallace on a camel, I mentioned how Abraham brought rescue and redemption by setting the captives free. I then showed how it all relates to our Great God coming to rescue us. I closed the message with a quote from John Piper that said that there were six reasons for Jesus coming:

  1. To ransom many,
  2. To call sinners,
  3. To give sight to the morally blind,
  4. To divide households,
  5. To save from divine condemnation,
  6. To give eternal life.

I have had someone in my own GC ask about number 4: To Divide Households. After my GC left for their homes I checked my email and another GC leader had emailed me the same question. I thought I should/could briefly answer it to clear up any confusion.
 
There are a couple places where Jesus talks about division, such as Matthew 10:34-35, but let’s use Luke 12:49-53 because it adds a few dynamics.
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Fire refers to judgment…so there is a judgment coming.
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  This is referring to his death on the cross for our sins.
51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
 
First, notice the “on earth” part from verse 51. He did not come to bring peace on this earth as we understand it. He did not come to change the social structure of this world, He came to change His people and bring peace (reconciliation) between God and us again. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came there would be a time of world peace. But Jesus is clearly showing how following Him, though it brings peace between God and us, usually brings division to relationships around us.
 
Simply preaching a social gospel that tries to get people to change their behavior misunderstands the nature of sin and what it has done, and continues to do, to people. Every time the Bible speaks about offering peace to humans (Luke 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5-6; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17), we have to understand that peace comes to those who have responded to God’s call of salvation.
 
A sword divides and exposes as it cuts. When people respond to Christ’s call it typically brings division to families. I know young men whose fathers will not even speak to them because the sons follow Jesus. I know children who stop speaking to their parents because the parents followed Jesus later in life and are now preaching the gospel to their kids who want nothing to do with Jesus. I know Muslims, Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses who now follow Christ and the rest of their family will no longer even speak to them.

The sword Jesus brings exposes the true love of our hearts, whether it is Jesus or someone (or something else).  In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of the cross being folly to most of the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where we should be a people who strive for reconciliation, the cross, by its nature, will divide the proud and arrogant from the broken and humble.
 
The peace on earth that Jesus brings, from being born in a manger, is a peace that is extended to those who love God. That peace is then extended through us, as God's ambassadors, and flows out from us by preaching the gospel. Jesus came to change us, and through us partnering with Him, just like in Genesis 1-2, to change and shape the world into a place that truly reflects the greater glory of God.

An Urgent Message About Division

by Aaron

Last Sunday morning in our message about Abraham riding in to save Lot, like an old William Wallace on a camel, I mentioned how Abraham brought rescue and redemption by setting the captives free. I then showed how it all relates to our Great God coming to rescue us. I closed the message with a quote from John Piper that said that there were six reasons for Jesus coming:

  1. To ransom many,
  2. To call sinners,
  3. To give sight to the morally blind,
  4. To divide households,
  5. To save from divine condemnation,
  6. To give eternal life.

I have had someone in my own GC asked about number 4: To Divide Households. After my GC left for their homes I checked my email and another GC leader had emailed me the same question. I thought I should/could briefly answer it to clear up any confusion.
 
There are a couple places where Jesus talks about division, such as Matthew 10:34-35, but let’s use Luke 12:49-53 because it adds a few dynamics.
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Fire refers to judgment…so there is a judgment coming.
50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!  This is referring to his death on the cross for our sins.
51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
 
First, notice the “on earth” part from verse 51. He did not come to bring peace on this earth as we understand it. He did not come to change the social structure of this world, He came to change His people and bring peace (reconciliation) between God and us again. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came there would be a time of world peace. But Jesus is clearly showing how following Him, though it brings peace between God and us, usually brings division to relationships around us.
 
Simply preaching a social gospel that tries to get people to change their behavior misunderstands the nature of sin and what it has done, and continues to do, to people. Every time the Bible speaks about offering peace to humans (Luke 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5-6; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17), we have to understand that peace comes to those who have responded to God’s call of salvation.
 
A sword divides and exposes as it cuts. When people respond to Christ’s call it typically brings division to families. I know young men whose fathers will not even speak to them because the sons follow Jesus. I know children who stop speaking to their parents because the parents followed Jesus later in life and are now preaching the gospel to their kids who want nothing to do with Jesus. I know Muslims, Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses who now follow Christ and the rest of their family will no longer even speak to them.

The sword Jesus brings exposes the true love of our hearts, whether it is Jesus or someone (or something else).  In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of the cross being folly to most of the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Where we should be a people who strive for reconciliation, the cross, by its nature, will divide the proud and arrogant from the broken and humble.
 
The peace on earth that Jesus brings, from being born in a manger, is a peace that is extended to those who love God. That peace is then extended through us, as God's ambassadors, and flows out from us by preaching the gospel. Jesus came to change us, and through us partnering with Him, just like in Genesis 1-2, to change and shape the world into a place that truly reflects the greater glory of God.

Military Family Appreciation Day - July 28th

by Element Christian Church
July 28th, 1-5pm

All month our eKids! children's ministry are saying a big Thank-You to all the military families in our community. Each week during Sunday School, they will making crafts to show their appreciation. The last Saturday of July we are hosting a MILITARY FAMILY APPRECIATION DAY! This family carnival will be a great afternoon of games, food, prizes and much more! We invite you to join us, and invite those families you know who has a loved one who is serving or has served!

The carnival will be July 28th from 1-5pm at Element Christian Church: 3596 Skyway Drive!

Download Poster or Postcard here to send to your friends!

We also need anybody who is able to help build the carnival booths and other activities, as well as volunteers to help run the carnival! Email christie.marangi@ourelement.org to sign up.

Child Salvation

by Element Christian Church

I would like to know if you believe that young children (like age 4) can be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? What are your thoughts on it? My family and I are currently attending a church that believes that it is very rare and that it is too hard to tell if a child really gets what is happening. My family and I are under the belief that it is possible and that we need to teach them about what Jesus did for us and about the free gift of salvation He is giving to us through the shedding of His blood. I would really appreciate your opinion on this subject matter.

Answer:
Elements position is that all children are unique.

We have had parents who have expressed that their 4 your old(s) want to be baptized. We meet with the parents and the child to ascertain if they understand what they are committing to (some we have said yes, and some we have said no). I, personally, have a friend who was 4 when they started to follow Jesus and they are one of the most amazing people I know.

While we too find it is rare that a very young child fully understands Christ and His atoning work, it is not impossible. We also believe that, in the end, you as a parent will be the best judge of that, as you live with your child every day. It is also one of the reasons we meet with the parents in the process of baptism.

I think you will know if your child "gets it." That it is more than just words regurgitated from a teacher or class...but an actual love for Christ deep in their soul. Besides, I think the gospel is perfectly suited for young hearts and minds and we should be teaching and telling them about Jesus even when they are in the womb (reading theology and scripture to the growing belly). We tell them they have a mother and father who love them, but also a great God, who calls himself Father as well and sent His son as our great propitiation.
 
Jonathan, one of our Elders added this as well.
 

Lauren, our 5 1/2 year old is saved, I have no doubt.  She has even begun the sanctification process and has inquired on her own initiative about Baptism.  The need for salvation is, for some reason, not that big of a mystery to a child.  A child that is shown both love and discipline on a regular basis by their parents can readily understand the love and discipline God gives to believers.

Lauren knew that she was a sinner because she did wrong things.  She believes in God, because Jennifer and I don't talk about God like he is make believe, but talk to Him, and about Him, as if he is tangible and in the room.  She knows mommy and daddy have a relationship through prayer with God, so she is naturally inclined to pray.  She hears us regularly acknowledge God's provision of our family resources and income.

She knows that God created her and saved her mommy and daddy.  When she realized that sin prevents you from being with God, and by extension her mommy and daddy in heaven, she wanted to fix that problem.  She knows that Jesus fixed that problem and so she believes in Him and trusts His sacrifice.  To hear her explain her salvation in her own words; would leave you with no doubt of its validity.  She was four years old when she "accepted" Christ, after watching a children's movie that depicted Christ ministry, death and resurrection.

How The Tamar Center Is Living Missionally

by Element Christian Church
Along the eastern banks of the Gulf of Thailand, you can find a small city called Pattaya. It is about the size of Santa Maria and has nearly a hundred thousand people who claim residency there. Pattaya is primarily known for being the sex destination of Asia. It is especially known for its large gay community in an area of Pattaya known as Boyztown and Sunee Plaza. As a result, the nightlife is consumed by gogo bars, massage parlors and hourly rate hotels. While there are only those hundred thousand or so people who claim residency within Pattaya, it is estimated that there are an additional two hundred thousand people living there periodically throughout the year working in the sex industry in one form or another. To give you an idea of how well known it is for its night life and sex trade, the New York Times says, “If Las Vegas is Sin City, then Pattaya is a bear hug from Lucifer himself.”

Stats:

Thailand. Pattaya. Sex Trade. 

In the midst of such an oppressive city, there is a group of Christians working to show there is a better way...A better way to live, and to survive. They are revealing Jesus to the people of Pattaya by building relationships and equipping them with skills for a better way to provide for their families.

Founded in 1999, the Tamar Center is located in the midst of Pattaya directly helping these women get off the streets and out of that lifestyle. Their goal is to give them new job skills so they don’t have to rely on prostitution for income. They are given courses in card-making and English. They are taught skills in a hair salon or in a bakery or other income-earning activities. Most importantly, thousands of women have been given the opportunity to see Christ’s love through the women who are there to help them.

Continue reading on page 5 of Element Dispatch

 

The Shocking Truth

by Aaron

Well, it's NOT an electric chair, but it may as well be when it comes to killing flies.
 
My wife is forever trying to find me toys I will like, because I am a big kid and I like to play with things. Christmas this year she gave me one of those electric flyswatters, the one where you push the button and you can fry flies (yes, it is seriously awesome). I thought I had lost it, as I do most things, until we were moving our old ottoman and it was inside of it.
 
I pulled it out and set it next to the couch hoping a fly would find its way in the house. When one did, I started trying to kill it and nothing happened. I then decided to see if the swatter even worked. I grabbed both sides of it and pressed the button and SNAP, sizzle, sparks, and pain as an electric shock traveled through my hand. I was woefully unprepared for the amount of juice a couple of batteries can produce.
 
My wife thought it was funny; I thought it was painful.
 
Sometimes I think this is how our lives are lived before God. We don’t think something is working quite right, the right timing or the right way, and we go to try and “fix it” and get a shock in the process. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. God calls people to live a certain way because He made us and knows how we were designed.
 
May we be a people who wake up and simply trust God to be God and live how He designed us. May we stop fighting His written word and trust it for the fullness it contains. May we stop being so ‘shocked’ when all that Jesus has said, is actually true and right.

Justifiable Propitiation

by Aaron
Yesterday was our Mom's Day Off event and I was helping out at it; it was at my house so I didn't really have a choice. One of the guys in the Gospel Community who put on the event asked me a question about a recent message I gave. In the message I had a long discussion about propitiation, expiation, and grace. He asked me about justification and propitiation and if they were the same thing.
 
I explained the difference to him and told Michael Reed, the guy that keeps our website site up to date and running smoothly, about the conversation. Michael says to me, "you should put that on the website because that makes way more sense that your 20 minute explanation during your message." Then he laughed at me.
 
So, here is what I said (basically).
 
Justification works like this. If someone broke into my house and threatened my family and I shot them, I would be justified in my action. Even though I would be justified, that guy’s family would probably not like me very much. In justification, before God, He has taken our lives and justified us by his blood (every action that is not justifiable, He has paid for). But more than that, propitiation means He actually likes us again.  
 
Romans 3:22-26 For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
 
Propitiation includes all of expiation and justification. It is summed up all together by our word: Grace
 
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
 
We have a truly amazing God.

A Story of Animal Cruelty

by Aaron

I hate animal cruelty. I think animals are cute, cuddly, furry, and fun. I want you to know that before I tell you my story.

Last week I had my back office door (read: exterior) open so my dog could run around and play. While it was open a bird flew into my office, but I didn't know it. My interior office door is a French door with lots of windows, I only knew the bird was in my office when it slammed into it trying to get back outside. It was squawking and making all sorts of scary fluttering noises. 

I proceeded to spend the next hour trying to capture it with rubber gloves and a T-shirt so as not to hurt it…it was cute after all. After chasing it from behind every piece of furniture, guitar amp, guitar case, and desk, I finally got it and took it outside. I opened the T-shirt for it to fly away and…it flew about 5 feet and landed (I assumed to get its bearings).

It was at this point my dog came out of nowhere (read: lurking in the shadows), stepped on it, and proceeded to put it in her mouth and chew on the poor bird before running off to play with her new toy (read: bird) that God had delivered to her from the heavens. 

I thought "bad dog" and was about to yell at her, but she was just doing what came natural. The same way she rolls in dirt, licks her…uh, hind parts, and eats her own vomit. There is even a proverb about that in the bible, Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

I also started to think about how most Christians treat non-Christians the way my initial reaction was with my dog. We hold them to a standard that they do not comprehend or believe in, so we start to preach morality and not Jesus. First and foremost we must always speak of Jesus because He brings change. It's that old adage, "morality doesn't bring Jesus, but Jesus will bring true morality."

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul gives a list of vices and sins, trying to give the Corinthians a proper perspective. He rounds it off by saying in 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God

It is Jesus who brings this to us. We all walked in ways that dishonored God, but Jesus has come to redeem and restore us. I say we lift up THAT Jesus so all men will know true grace.

As far as the bird goes, I'm OK with it. Easy prey or culling the herd, whatever it was, I tried.

A Wide Place

by Aaron

The other day my wife was very gracious to me. We were running errands most of the day and I was getting very hungry. I asked if she had any place she would like to stop to grab a bite to eat and she responded with the most glorious words she has spoken to me in a whole week. She said, "you can go anywhere, even El Postino."

Sweet Jesus, it was amazing. El Postino is the name of this hole in the wall Mexican Food place I like, but I can never remember it's name, so I call it El Postino (it's by the post office…NOT CASA MANANA).

I got a chicken burrito (no beans), some homemade chips, and some salsa.  As soon as we left though she said, "hey McDonalds is right there, I want some fries." So I got her fries…and I also ate them.

As I was driving home and thinking about my great wife, my yummy burrito, and my breath defying salsa, I became a little giddy. I realized that this is how God originally intended man to live (no, not on McDonalds and burritos), in freedom.

As we have been looking through Genesis, we see that God gave man great freedom. Gen 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…Even the El Postino Tree? Yes, anything. Our freedom was great and broad. God simply gave one admonition in this Gen 2:17… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” In simple terms God says, "trust me to know what is good. I made you, designed you, and love you…honor me." We were free to do anything except dishonor Him.

Unfortunately, you know the story, you are living it now…all of us have dishonored Him and tried to do our lives our own way. But the great freedom of God still exists to this day. As we spoke about Sunday (Genesis week 17), following God and His decrees means we get to walk in a "wide place," meaning freedom (Psalm 119:44-45).

Let's live a life that more properly honors and glorifies Him by living free for Him, but never free from Him. Lives as they were intended, with great freedom.