Tuesday, 11/16/21 – Pressing on… Unity of Spirit – Abiding in Christ

Unity of Spirit – Abiding in Christ

So much disunity in this sad and broken world. It’s enough to cause one to throw up one’s hands and simply surrender – and that is exactly what our Maker has longed we would do all these many maimed years of human history!

Unity is like ministry. It kinda flows along. One can’t say, “Today I’m going to go and do some unity” just as one can’t really say “Today I’m going to go and do some ministry.” Unity and ministry are both by-products. They are by products just as the fruits of the Spirit are by-products. By-products of what? They are by-products of doing that one simple thing Christ asked of us: they are by-products of abiding in Him.

For the past few days now I have been contemplating much these insights of Oswald Chambers:

“If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?” And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose.”

God is divinely shaping us into oneness,” Chambers writes. You see, the purposes of God have much more to do with changing us into the image of Christ – “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19) — than they do with the surface purposes we imagine. That abrasive brother who sits beside you every Sunday may be there in the purposes of God not as your evangelism target, but to teach you longsuffering. Your loss of your job may not be so that God will lead you to a better job, but that you may grow in your faith in God’s provision. Those in your circle of friends who believe differently on some disputable matter may in God’s purposes not be there for you to persuade to your views but for you to develop respect of another’s conviction.

This kind of “resting in God,” of “abiding in Him,” requires the abandonment of trying to scrutinize His purposes — lest we find ourselves maneuvering to manipulate His purposes for Him. It requires complete trust in Him… a simple, daily walk of faith. How long? “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13).

Chambers concludes…

“A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.”

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 7/9/21 – Tough Question: Could Jesus have sinned?

Could Jesus have sinned?

I think this is such a difficult question for us because it is finite and fallen minds that are trying to grasp it. But I’ll give it a try…

At the outset, there are a few things that scripture identifies as certain.

  1. Jesus was genuinely tempted: “ …for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:2). “[Christ] …was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).

  2. Jesus never actually sinned: “[Christ] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…” (2 Cor. 5:21a). “…tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). “…in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5b).

But the question is, Could Jesus have sinned? Was Jesus impeccable (unable to sin), or was He peccable (able to sin)?

The temptations Christ experienced were indeed very real, although of necessity a bit unique. For example, have you ever been tempted to turn rocks into bread? To leap off a tall building forcing angels to your rescue? To kneel before Satan to close a deal for all the kingdom’s of the world?

Similarly it is pretty safe to assume Jesus was never tempted to cheat on His Income Tax, envy or steal another person’s possessions (He owned all things anyway), or lust after a woman. In Christ God indeed became a very real man, but not a fallen man. Having no fallen nature which the devil might entice “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13b).

Yet still, He was tempted.

But could He have sinned? Could He have opted to turn a few stones to bread? Perhaps we find a clue in part of last Sunday’s message. If you recall, I mentioned how Christ acknowledged “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…. By myself I can do nothing” (John 5:19, 30a).

And don’t we all feel that way when we are facing temptations? The flesh wants to say ‘yes’ and by itself it can do nothing to stop itself from yielding; but the spirit says ‘no’ and when we choose it we find victory!

John notes something interesting regarding this. He says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” (1 John 3:9). And “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18).

When God is in full control of us, we cannot sin either! And in Christ incarnate, God was in control at all times! What an example for us to strive to emulate!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Wednesday, 7/7/21 – Pressing on… Abiding in the Unchanging Christ

Abiding in the Unchanging Christ

As has been said, the Greek word translated “abide” has meaning in several ways: In reference to place, in reference to time, and in reference to state.

Monday and Tuesday we looked at the first two ways in which the Christian may abide in Christ. Today we will look at our abiding in Christ in reference to state

When we speak of God’s “state” we are speaking of the nature of His properties, attributes, and manner of relations with Creation and with mankind. H2O we know may exist in any of three states: liquid, solid, or vapour. But God is constant. He is the Immutable One, the Unchanging God.

Through Malachi the Lord says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Mal 3:6). James warns his readers not to be deceived and calls God “the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17). The author of Hebrews speaks of God’s promise and oath to Abraham as “two immutable things” (Heb. 6:18) unchanging things, consistent with all the divine attributes. He calls the Holy Spirit “the eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14) and says of Jesus, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, forever” (Heb. 13:8).

When we abide in this unchanging God we can be confident of many things. For example…

  • He is ever eager to hear from us (1 John 5:14-15).
  • If we have sinned He will forgive us (1 John 1:9).
  • If we need wisdom He will give it to us (James 1:5).
  • If we suffer, He suffers with us (2 Cor. 1:3).
  • If we need comfort He will embrace us (Isa. 66:13; Ps. 119:76).
  • and always, always, always He will love us. (Eph. 3:18-19; Ps. 36:5-7; John 3:16).

When Jesus says, “Abide,” He says a lot…. AND When Jesus says, “Abide,” He says a enough.

ABIDE in Him at all times.

Press on…

To hear Pastor John’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 7/6/21 – Pressing on… Abiding in the Eternal Christ

Abiding in the Eternal Christ

As stated yesterday, the Greek word translated “abide” means to remain, and to remain in several ways…

  • In reference to place: to sojourn, tarry – not to depart… to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually
  • in reference to time: to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure… of persons, to survive, live
  • in reference to state or condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different, to await one

Yesterday we began to look at the above three ways in which the Christian may abide in Christ. Today we will look at our abiding in Christ in reference to time

When God called Moses from the burning bush and commissioned him to be his agent to free the enslaved Hebrews, Moses asked God Whom he should say had sent him. The Lord replied, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” And God added, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” (Exod. 3:13-15).

With these words God identifies Himself as One existing through all ages. Jesus also identifies His divinity and timelessness with similar words, “’…before Abraham was, I AM.’ said Jesus” (John 8:58). And in Hebrews we read, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8).

As we look into eternity in the Revelation we find multiple references to the Eternal Christ — “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…. the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8). See too Rev 1:11; 21:6 and 22:13.

This brings the believer assurance that, better than any 24hr 911 emergency call centre, Jesus is on the job and available to us at any time of the day or night. Even in our youth though our thoughts and interests may have been far from Him, still He was there, then, also, observing, watching over us… watching over you… knowing then the plans He had for you, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11).

Also, in all our uncertain futures, Christ is there! He is there waiting for us, ready and willing for us to yet abide in Him.

The psalmist also took confidence in this, and Christ Himself assures us…

For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Ps. 48:14).

“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20).

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor John’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 7/5/21 – Pressing on… Abiding in the Ever-present Christ

Abiding in the Ever-present Christ

The Greek word translated “abide” is “μένω,” transliterated “menō.” It means to remain, and to remain in several ways…

  • In reference to place: to sojourn, tarry – not to depart… to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually
  • in reference to time: to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure… of persons, to survive, live
  • in reference to state or condition: to remain as one, not to become another or different, to await one

Strong defines “μένω” as a primary verb meaning to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) — A good husband has learned to do a lot of abiding! 😄 (oops! sorry! 🙃)

Over the next three days we’ll look at the above three ways in which the Christian may abide in Christ. Today we will look at our abiding in Christ in reference to place

The theological term for the ever-present-ness of God is omnipresence. It simply means That there is no place where God is not. David pondered this and wrote,

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Ps. 139:7-12).

This is a terrible truth for those who are running from God, trying to hide from Him. Rev. 6:15-16 tells how in the end times many will try to escape God and “hid[e] in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They [will call] to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’” Unable to hide they will prefer death, but even there they will find no escape!

But for the child of God the omnipresence of the Lord is a wonderful comfort. The believer can know that no matter where they find themselves, no matter how horrible or difficult, God is there! The Holy Spirit is there! Jesus is there! We can turn to Him, focus our minds and prayers and spirits upon Him, and stay in Him…  abide in Him.

Did he not say,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).

“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20).

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor John’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Thursday, 4/23/20 – Discipleship – Priorities (& COVID-19)

Priorities (& COVID-19)

20200420_143646“Abide in Me,” said Jesus to His disciples then, and to all believers since (John 15:4). “We walk by faith,” wrote Paul, (2 Cor. 5:7) and to have “faith” in someone requires having known them, having seen their past faithfulness. The friendship and confidence is proven by time and consistency, intimacy and reliance.

So it is with Jesus. He has called His own His ‘friends’ and ‘siblings’…

“You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (Heb. 2:11).

John The Baptist personified Christ as the Bridegroom and himself as the Bridegroom’s “friend.” (John 3:29).

Oswald Chambers writes about this friendship the believer is privileged to have with the Lord… it is a friendship which grows from the habit of abiding… of remaining in Christ as He is in the believer.

To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (March 25 entry)

silhouette of man on the edge of a rock during night time

Unshakable faith, writes Yancey, “is the result of faith having been shaken.” – Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God.

Those who have walked long and abide in Christ have found Him faithful. Those who have not, but will trust Him now as their faith is shaken indeed will find Him faithful. Even to the faithless, Christ is ever faithful (2 Tim. 2 13). He cannot be otherwise.

So what is our priority amid the COVID-19 crisis? It is simply this: to remain in Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Press on…

white printer book page

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Monday, 3/2/20 – Pressing on…

Roadsigns

action asphalt automobile automotive

I can’t remember where exactly it was that we were headed but I do remember the journey. We were following along the prescribed route on, lets say highway 550 (I don’t remember). Anyway, we kept going many kilometers then realized the far too sparsely placed highway signs were indicating something quite different, highway 675 we’ll say.

assorted color signages

But, since we had entered on highway 550 and driven on the same roadway all along, we took confidence in this and pressed on. It was not till we reached a town obviously a significant distance apart from our true destination that we realized somehow, somewhere, we had strayed! Tracing back we discovered that indeed for a while highways 550 and 675 shared the same roadway but farther down the true highway 550 veered right while the 675 slowly veered left.

You see my point: the fact that you intend to get to a certain destination is not enough, nor is it sufficient that you began on the correct roadway. What is essential is that you stay on the correct path… the narrow one of course, which by now I’m sure you’ve figured out!

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Paul marveled at the Galatians, “I am surprised you are leaving Christ so soon. You were chosen through His loving-favor. But now you are turning and listening to another kind of good news. No! There is not another kind of good news.” (Gal. 1:6-7 NLT).

two persons standing on road surrounded by trees

Abide in Me,” says Jesus. That means “stay put!” Don’t waver. Keep checking your heart.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” (2 Cor. 13:5) writes Paul “Make every effort to confirm your calling and election…” echoes Peter (1 Pet. 10:10).

The essential thing is not what you once ‘did.’ The essential thing is where are you now?

Actually, on the path to heaven none of us can be the driver. We must give the wheel to Jesus… surrender it all. It’s His car now anyway. I know you can do this. As the unknown author of Hebrews states, “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case…” (Heb. 6:9).

Listen to your heart. Whatever Christ is telling you to do, do it.

“The symbol of the Christian Church is not a burning bush, nor a dove, nor an open book, nor a halo round a submissive head, nor a crown of splendid honour. It is a cross.” – C.M. Clow

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Mar. 1 message.

Wednesday, 2/26/20 – Pressing on…

Putting your ‘Self’ to Sleep…

gold crucifix

Today many Western Christian churches distinguish as ‘Ash Wednesday,’ the start of Lent*, a time of penitence and preparation leading up to Easter. During this time many individuals practice a form of self-denial on the 40-days (excluding Sunday’s) which compose the Lenten period.

Philosophically, self-denial is an interesting concept. It is like humility, or falling asleep, or seeking happiness. You cannot ‘accomplish’ any of these by trying. C. S. Lewis notes, “Many things—such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly–are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”

“You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly; while you are making them you cannot see them. Good people know about both bad and evil; bad people do not know about either.” – C.S. Lewis

“A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright. This is common sense really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping.” – C.S. Lewis

To deny self by thinking about denying self is impossible, yet the Christian must die to self. L.E. Maxwell in Born Crucified explains, once again using a tree analogy.**

“Unless we die to self, we shall die of self.”

“…denial of self is no mere severing of this or that indulgence, but putting the axe of the Cross to the very root of the tree of self….To trim it back only means that the very life of self is thrown back into other more rugged roots to develop the Pharisee into a more vigorous tree.”

selective focus photography of white magnolia flowers

So, what are we to do? Just as we have been exhorted last Sunday, “Abide in Christ,” be ‘grafted’ into Him… allow His productive, transformative sap and nourishment to push through you, surrender your reach to blossoms and thereby bear much fruit.

Self-denial happens when you awake one day to this realization,

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

Self-denial best accomplished not merely by saying ‘no‘ to self, but by saying an all the more emphatic ‘yes‘ to Christ.

Press on…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 23 message.

* “In Eastern churches Lent begins on the Monday of the seventh week before Easter and ends on the Friday that is nine days before Easter. This 40-day “Great Lent” includes Saturdays and Sundays as relaxed fast days.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica
** see yesterday’s blog.