The Master’s Class, Summit Church
GOD’S PLAN WILL BE DONE (Romans 16:21-27)

GOD’S PLAN WILL BE DONE (Romans 16:21-27)

December 13, 2015
One of the great Biblical promises that we have as believers is that God’s plan will be done.  No matter what man does to mess things up in this world, no matter what schemes and plots that Satan has for this world, God’s plan will be done.  It will be done just like He set it up to be done before He created the universe and everything in it.  Nothing has changed in this plan, and nothing will change.  God’s plan will be done, period.  

The fact that I know this promise of God to be true is comforting to me, and that is why God gave us this promise, so that we could be comforted knowing that God was in control.  Paul closes out this epistle with a declaration of this promise.  The almighty God of the Bible is the everlasting God, and His purposes and His goals are pursued by Him from age to age.  Christians may be feeble and frail, but God is strong.  The church may look like it is weak and divided, but it is the body of Christ and therefore it is linked to Omnipotence.  Whatever else may fail, the work of God cannot.  

Paul draws our thoughts to Him whose loving counsels foresaw the fall of man, provided for it before the foundation of the world, foreknew us, foreknew you and me, loved us into the kingdom, and who arranges for all things to work together for our good and His eternal glory.  Paul also draws our thoughts to the Son of His love, our blessed and glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And having filled our hearts and mind with these thoughts, Paul says a final Amen to this great epistle.
TO BE OBEDIENT TO GOD (Romans 16:19-21)

TO BE OBEDIENT TO GOD (Romans 16:19-21)

December 6, 2015
The word obedience is a great Biblical word in the life of the believer.  It is at the very heart of our service, our salvation, and our sanctification.  Many an invitation call has been made with these words. 

Trust and obey,
For there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus, 
But to trust and obey.

In our lesson today, we learn that to be obedient to the Word of God we must be skillful and intelligent in the truths and ways of God. 

Matthew 10:16
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
KJV

We are to be wise in the Word of God so that we can determine that which is really good, from that which is counterfeit; wise so that we can distinguish things that are untrue, in order to improve our opportunities to serve.  All the while knowing that we remain surrounded by those who would deceive us, and therefore take us away from God’s work.

Proverbs 14:8
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
KJV

We talked last week about how the believer is to recognize the truth among a sea of counterfeit.  You learn to tell the difference by diligent study of the real thing.  To rightly divide the word of truth requires meticulous, constant, study, an open heart to the words of the Holy Spirit, and simplicity in our faith in Christ.

We are to be wise enough not to be deceived, and yet so simple that we will not be deceivers.  It is a Holy simplicity that Paul describes here.  To have a holy simplicity means that you are someone who does not contrive, or have evil intentions.  We are not to be sophisticated in the ways of evil, we are to be simply faithful in our knowledge of the Lord.  

An obedient believer is to recognize wisdom, recognize evil, and recognize that both can be found in the church.  To believe otherwise is to be naive and foolish.  To be obedient to God requires that we know the truth of what God says so that we will not be deceived by the lies of Satan.  
DEALING WITH FALSE TEACHERS (Romans 16:17-18)

DEALING WITH FALSE TEACHERS (Romans 16:17-18)

November 30, 2015
How do you deal with those who deliberately, not accidentally, teach a doctrine that is different from what is found in the Bible?

When a Jehovah’s Witness comes to your door, what do you do?  Do you engage in a debate with them, or do you shut the door?

How do you identify what is true and what is false in the teachings of people who profess to be Bible believing Christians?  They may even be in the leadership of the church as the pastor, or a deacon, or a Bible teacher.  How do you know when they begin to teach something that is false?

Many of these people will use the same words that we use, but they use a different dictionary to define them.  They say they believe in Jesus as the Christ, but they mean a Christ who was not the Son of God.  They say they believe in the resurrection, but they mean a spiritual resurrection, not the physical, bodily resurrection that the Bible declares occurred.  

The subtlety of these teachings is that they use a paraphrased truth from the Bible and then mix it with a lie, for the very best lies are based on a fragment of truth.  Just enough truth to seduce you, but filled with the lies of a false religion.  

Our lesson today is on how to deal with false teachers in the church and on your doorstep.  Today, as Christians we have two weapons to combat Satan and his disciples which are sufficient for our victory in spiritual warfare: the Spirit of God and the Word of God.  Filled with the Spirit, we can unsheath the Word of God to answer every devilish challenge that Satan and his demons can make.  All the craft and subtlety that Satan can muster is useless if the believer can began every statement with the words “Thus saith the Lord”.  

If there comes among you a teacher who knowingly and willfully does not teach the truth about Jesus Christ as He is defined in the Bible, then Paul says that we are to mark them, to shun them, and to avoid them.  We are to correct them under the leading of the Holy Spirit, but if that fails, then they are to be removed from the body of believers just as you would a ravening wolf that was prowling among you.
A CLOUD OF SAINTS (Romans 16:1-16)

A CLOUD OF SAINTS (Romans 16:1-16)

November 22, 2015
Why do you work for the Lord? For me, it is because I love the Lord and because I know that I know that I will have eternal life with the Lord, but it is also because of the many saints who have come before me.  In the book of Hebrews, the Lord tells us of the many saints who have labored for the Lord.  He says, 

Heb 11:13-16
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
KJV

This is why we work for the Lord, because we desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

All of these saints came before us, each having faithfully run the course of the race that was laid out before them, and I know that they are now watching us from heaven cheering us on as we run the same race that God has laid out before us.  

Heb 12:1
12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
KJV

You may not have thought of this, but Paul is with the Lord and he is one of those witnesses that are watching us, and today we are going to learn the names of a few more saints who are standing with Paul, and with Jesus, watching us as a cloud of saints, witnessing us as we run the race that is set before us.  

Without a doubt this is a lesson that, just like with the begats and the begots at the beginning of Matthew, there is a list of names that is so easy just to pass by without reading.  But as I sat there this week trying to figure out whether I should spend much time on this list or not, I told myself that God has put this list in His Word for a reason, so I committed myself to studying it, and learning what God has for us here.  

Even after spending the week with these names, I don’t know if this list is here just so we have a list of saints who we can be sure are in that cloud of witnesses watching us, or if it is to assure us that there have been those who came before us, and God was glorified by their work just as He is by our own work.  Either way, I just want God to be glorified by this study.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF A MISSIONARY (Romans 15:19-33)

THE PHILOSOPHY OF A MISSIONARY (Romans 15:19-33)

November 15, 2015
When you think of the term missionary, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Merriam-Webster defines the term missionary as: a person undertaking a mission and especially a religious mission

Certainly, the contemporary definition of the word missionary would be somebody sent out by a Christian church to spread the gospel message of Christ.  When we think of famous Christian missionaries we think of names like Eric Liddell, David Livingstone, Lottie Moon, George Muller, or Hudson Taylor.  These are people who spent much of their lives sharing the Word of God by undertaking the mission given to them by Christ.

Without a doubt, the apostle Paul was one of the most influential missionaries that God has ever put in the field to share God’s Word.  It was as a result of Paul’s three major missionary journeys, as described in the book of Acts, that the gospel message was spread throughout the Middle-East and Europe.

Our lesson today gives us Paul’s philosophy on missions.  He was never one to sit in a church, whether it was a beautiful church or simply a barn somewhere, and wait for people to come to him.  Paul was tasked to be Christ’s minister to the Gentiles, so he went out into the world preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ where it had never been taught before.  

Paul’s undying vision of missions was to evangelize to the lost, to pioneer new fields, to plan strategically, to go by the Spirit’s leading, to be independent of the financial support of the home church, and, on the contrary, to teach his converts the joy of giving, and, above all, to be a constant source of blessing.  These were the things that comprised the missionary philosophy of Paul.  It is no wonder that he turned the world upside down.  
ONE LORD, ONE SPIRIT (Romans 15:13-18)

ONE LORD, ONE SPIRIT (Romans 15:13-18)

November 8, 2015
The way to happiness and harmony between God’s people is not always easy, for people are different.  Imagine that, I am different from you, and you are different from me.  In fact, praise God that we are different, for it shows that we are a unique creation of God, with a unique task to perform for the Lord.

We are different because we are saved from a multitude of backgrounds including, racial and religious differences, and even social and educational differences.  It is inevitable that people of different ages and temperaments, abilities and drives, concepts and natures should have trouble adjusting one to another within the fellowship of a local church.  But it can be done.  It cannot be done by our nature, nor can it be done by our own self-will, but it can be done through the grace of God working in us. 

When you think about it, the things that unite us are far stronger than the things that divide us.  We are united in Christ by a common birth, by precious blood, and by one belief.

Eph 4:4-7
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
KJV

Certainly, it is true that the things that bind us are far stronger than the things that divide us, and it is the fact that these things are true, that we have only One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all, and it this truth that makes it possible for us to make sure that we are…

Eph 4:3
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
KJV

When our eyes are on the Lord, when we remember that our love of Christ is the tie that binds us and it is far stronger than the things that divide us, then our ability to get along is simple and assured.  
WE HAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD (Romans 15:8-12)

WE HAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD (Romans 15:8-12)

November 1, 2015
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message just for the few, or the select.  It is a message for the world.  It is a message of God’s grace, God’s love, God’s truth, God’s sacrifice, and ultimately God’s judgment.  

As Christians, we are the ambassadors for Christ on this earth.  Our home is in heaven and our eternal destiny is secure resting safely in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We do not have to be good to get into heaven, for we are already citizens in heaven.  Christ has paid the price for our sins, and our faith in Him has made us the adopted sons and daughters of the almighty God.  I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I will be greeted and welcomed by my Lord Jesus in heaven when I leave this life.  

We are sojourners on the earth, with a message of the good news of God’s grace to declare.  Part of that message is how we embrace and accept our fellow believers in Christ.  This is what our lessons have been about over the last several weeks, for we are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that will build them up, and that will be for their lasting benefit.  

In areas where we have the flexibility to accommodate a weaker brother’s beliefs in debatable issues, we are to accommodate them.  Our guide is to never be a stumbling block, but to always be a stepping stone in our brother’s spiritual growth.  In all things we are to love our God with all of our heart, mind, spirit, and soul, and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

This is the witness that we are to have to the outside world, one of compassion and love for one another.  As a body of believers, we are to have unity in essential beliefs, and we are to have liberty in non-essential beliefs.  

Yet, there is also a time when we are to stand up for what is God’s truth.  There can be no compromise in the areas of vital truth.

This is what our lesson is about today, how the believer is to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ to the world. 
HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

October 25, 2015
Over the last two chapters of our study, Paul has certainly made it clear that part of lovingly exercising our religious liberty to do the debatable things, the things not clearly defined as wrong in the Bible, is knowing when not to do something, or knowing when it might cause harm to someone else.  

I believe Paul would sum up his argument in this chapter by saying the spirit of charity, or the spirit of love, outweighs all of our other concerns.  If we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will not do anything that will harm them.  Just as we would not do anything to harm ourselves.  

Paul has told us that in the area of essential beliefs, or the things clearly defined in the Bible, we are to have unity.  How do we have that unity?  By moving closer to Christ.

In the area of non-essential beliefs, or the debatable issues, we are to have liberty.  How do we express and enjoy that liberty?  By moving closer to Christ.

In all things we are to have charity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  How are we to show this charity?  By loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  How do we show God that we love Him this much?  By moving closer to Christ.  

If we do the first commandment, the second commandment will take care of itself.  

If we do the second commandment, then we will be our brother’s keeper, and we will do, or not do, what it takes to help build our brother and sister in Christ, spiritually.  

So this is the spirit of charity, or love, that we are to have towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But Paul has not finished yet.  I think he knew that if he left it here, depending only on our love for our neighbor, we would respond as we have.  So, he has an even higher ground to map out for us.  It is a great thing to treat a weaker brother in the spirit of charity, or love.  It is a far greater thing to treat them in the spirit of Christ. 

In this lesson, Paul will basically ask the question of how far would Christ go in building up a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and then he will tell us that is how far we should go.  
HOW FAR SHOULD WE GO?  (Romans 14:22-23)

HOW FAR SHOULD WE GO? (Romans 14:22-23)

October 18, 2015
We spent a lot of time last week asking the question of whether or not we are to be our brother’s keeper, and we said that Paul would tell us that yes we should be.  We defined the term my brother’s keeper from a Biblical perspective as generally meaning to be responsible for the care of someone.  We said to think of the roles of a shepherd or a vine keeper.  That our role was to edify our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ.

So let me ask the question, how far are we to go to edify our brother or sister in Christ?

If your brother in Christ believed that handling snakes was a testament of the power of the Holy Spirit in you, in other words, it proved that you were saved, would you go up front in the church and handle a deadly snake so as not to offend them?

If your sister thought that wearing slacks to church was disruptive to the service, would you stop wearing slacks?

If a brother and sister couple that you did a lot of things with thought going to the movies was a sin, would you stop going to the movies?  Would you stop, only with them, or all together?

Is there anything that you would say, No, that is just too far for me to go to help my brother or sister in Christ out?

So let me change the question, and you knew this was coming, how far do you believe Jesus would go to help you?  Is there anything, like dying on a cross for you, that Jesus would not do for you? 

Paul is going to tells us in our lesson today that selfishness has no part in the Christian life.  Yet, Paul is going to tell us that we do not have to continually modify our behavior just to satisfy the weaker brother’s desires.  Rather, we are to act in a way which will be to his lasting benefit.  We are to help him carry the cross of his weakness until he has matured spiritually as a Christian.  

We are our brother’s keeper and, in the spirit of love, we are to look to Christ to determine how far we are to go in order to ensure the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The question becomes, not how far will you go for them, but how much do you love them, and what does that love tell you to do?  Is there anything too far for someone you love as much as you love yourself?
ARE WE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER?  (Romans 14:15-22)

ARE WE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER? (Romans 14:15-22)

October 11, 2015
Where does the phrase my brother’s keeper come from, and what does it mean?  We see the first Biblical use of the phrase in:

Gen 4:9
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
KJV

Now, when Cain gave this reply to God, he was clearly trying to be sarcastic to God, which is never a really good thing to do.  But Cain was essentially telling God, How should I know where my brother is, is he my responsibility?

From a Biblical perspective the phrase generally means to be responsible for the care of someone, think of the roles of a shepherd or a vine keeper.  But does that mean that we are responsible for the sin that others do?  No, the Bible is clear that we have no excuse for our own sin.  So with this said, when it comes to the debatable issues that we have been talking about, those not clearly defined in the Bible, are we our brother’s keeper?

Is the answer the same towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as it is towards a lost person?

Did Christ live a life here on earth that could be described as being His brother’s keeper?

What does Christ mean when we say that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and how does that fit in with the concern that Christ would say that we need to have about our brothers and sisters in Christ’s walk in faith?

How far are we to go before we say, well I have tried to tell him and show him what is right, but eventually he has to make his own decision?

How do we know that whatever we are doing will not be a stumbling block to someone, but will be a stepping stone, because really anything we do might offend somebody else?  We see it everywhere in our politically correct world today, somebody is offended by anything related to Christianity.  So should we just totally shut down any outward religious activity in the fear that it might offend somebody?

The answer to all of these questions is to move closer to Christ.  The more we conform our mind and spirit to the will of Christ and fully surrender our lives to Christ, then He will control our lives, and we will be our brother’s keeper.  

The more we move toward Christ, the less we will have to worry about offending a brother or sister in Christ.  

How do we enjoy our full liberty in Christ?  By moving closer to Christ.  

How do we educate our conscience about what the word of God says about certain activities?  By moving closer to Christ.

How can we truly be our brother’s keeper in the way that Christ would have us do?  By moving closer to Christ.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY (Romans 14:13-14)

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY (Romans 14:13-14)

October 4, 2015
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY

We live in a country where our liberty to pursue our lives as we choose is a cherished right.  It is such a cherished right that many of our men and women have fought and died so that we could keep that right.  Yet, that same liberty requires that we regulate our own behavior in a manner that does not harm others.  Self-government requires self-regulation.

For example, I have the liberty to purchase the car of my choice.  I could buy a convertible Honey Bee yellow 1970 Hemi Plymouth Cuda that can go from 0-60 in less than 5.8 seconds or top out at a speed of 160 mph, but if I want to drive that vehicle on the road with others there are limits to what I can do with that liberty of owning such a powerful vehicle.  Our traffic laws have been put in place to help me from doing something that might harm someone else, but even acting within these laws my behavior can potentially harm others.  

We choose to limit our liberty because we value the lives of others and we protect their rights to choose how they want to live their lives.  

We also have to be careful how others see us and what we do.  I used to ride motorcycles when I was 15 to about 17.  I really enjoyed it, in fact, I still have a motorcycle designation on my driver’s license just in case I ever get a wild feeling and decide to ride again.  So why haven’t I ridden a motorcycle since I was young?

It is because I got married, and had then I had two boys who watched everything that I did.  Getting married meant that I had someone else depending on me to go to work every day to provide a place for us to live.  Having sons meant setting an example of the kinds of behavior that would keep us, and them, safe.  It is not that riding a motorcycle is bad or evil, in fact, it is a lot of fun, nor, am I concerned with my own ability to ride safely.  What I am concerned about is riding on a small, two wheel, fully exposed vehicle, in amongst a bunch of 2,000 lb. heavy metal vehicles driven by people who do not even see a motorcycle rider coming down the road, and hit them on a regular basis.  

So I have the full liberty to do something that is not evil, yet I choose not to do that activity because of what the impact may be on those around me.  I choose not to exercise my liberty because it may impact my ability to be a good provider, and it might set an example that would cause someone else around me to stumble, or to get hurt, just because they saw me doing something.  

We choose to do, or not do, certain things because we love Christ and we want to be more like Him.  We also choose to do, or not to do, certain things because we are to love our neighbors as we do ourselves and we do not want to be a stumbling block to them. 

This is what our lesson is about today, being, or not being, a stumbling block to others. 
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU? (Romans 14:7-12)

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU? (Romans 14:7-12)

September 27, 2015

So if I were to ask the question, what are the important things in the life of a believer, what would you say?

Is it the church that they go to?

Is it the type of worship service they have on Sunday mornings? Whether it is contemporary in style or traditional?  Does the preacher teach the whole word of God vs. just the gospels?

Is it the witness the believer has before the world, is that important to you?  What about how they live before their brothers and sisters in Christ?

What if I were to change the questions and ask what are the things that Christ would judge as important in the life of the believer, would they be the same things?  Are the things you have done in your life, worthy of being judged by Christ?  Would they be considered important to Christ?

The fact is that we as Christians cannot live our lives apart from Christ.  Whether you live, you will have to live to Him; whether you die, you will have to die to Him.  To live to Christ means that it is how Christ looks at our lives that is most important to how we live.  What is important to Christ is what should be important to us, and nothing else.  Our Christian conduct is not gauged by the foods spread out on the table, but by the fact that our lives are spread out before Christ.  That is the important thing.  

All of these differences of opinions on debatable things, which seem so important to us now, will fade into insignificance when death enters the picture. There are those who doubt the Lordship of Christ before they die, but beyond the grave the Lordship of Christ will not be in debate at all.  

As a believer, Christ will judge the things we have done and give us rewards or loss, and as believers, it will be our greatest joy to cast the crowns of our rewards at the Lord’s feet.  Paul’s message to us is that if every believer maintains in his own life the Lordship of Christ, if it is Christ that we look to for approval, and not man, then true unity will not be impossible, in fact, it will happen without us even having to worry about it.  

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH DEBATABLE ISSUES (Romans 14:5-12)

HOW TO DEAL WITH DEBATABLE ISSUES (Romans 14:5-12)

September 20, 2015
Last week we began a section of study on how to handle debatable issues, and we said that there are going to be issues of Christian behavior where the Bible does not specifically say you must do it, nor does it clearly prohibit that activity either.  We asked the question about whether or not uniformity in thought about these debatable issues was imperative within the membership of a church, and Paul has advised us that, no it is not.  

In fact, while a lack of complete uniformity on debatable issues can be frustrating, Paul has told us to welcome the Christian brother and sister with various ideas.  He encouraged the brother who is stronger in the faith to embrace the weaker brother.  

Now, just to be clear, I will state that on issues where the Bible is clear, the church must not allow intentionally false doctrines to exist in the church.  People may have differing opinions even on these issues, but the Bible is to be final arbitrator on such an issue.  

If the Word of God proclaims homosexuality to be a sin, and it does, then it is a sin. Period. 

If the Word of God says that salvation is by grace alone, and it does, then salvation is by grace alone.  Period.  

God’s Word is final.  

But on issues that are not clearly defined in the Bible, such as some of the social issues, diets, and special worship days, we can disagree on things and remain in fellowship together. This is what our lesson is about today, how to deal with debatable issues and have unity in the church.
THE CHRISTIAN AND DEBATABLE ISSUES (Romans 14:1-4)

THE CHRISTIAN AND DEBATABLE ISSUES (Romans 14:1-4)

September 13, 2015
THE CHRISTIAN AND DEBATABLE THINGS

Without question, there a certain issues in our faith that are non-negotiable.  An example is the inerrancy of the Bible, for if the Bible is not true in every respect, then it is false in every respect and our faith is worthless.  

Another example is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He was born of a virgin, He died on the cross, He was buried in the tomb and He physically, bodily, rose from the grave on the third day, just like He said He would.  These truths are non-negotiable.  To be a born again believer, you must believe these things.  Uniformity in thought is demanded by God on these issues if you want to be a child of God.  

However, are there issues in the Christian life where uniformity in thought is not necessary?  In other words, are there issues about our faith that we can disagree on and it is ok?

What about eschatology?  The fact that certain events are going to occur, like the second coming of Christ, is not debatable.  The Bible is clear that Jesus is coming again.  However, the order of certain events, and various details about each event, while I may feel it is important, is it ok to have different opinions on these things?

What about social issues?  Like drinking, dancing, or the clothes we wear and how we wear them?  I remember when if a woman wore slacks to church she would likely be asked to leave.  I can also remember when wearing shorts in the sanctuary was not allowed.  Is it ok to disagree on these issues and it not become a faith issue between believers?

The answer to these questions is what our lesson is about today.  
HOW CHRISTIAN LOVE BEHAVES (Romans 13:12-14)

HOW CHRISTIAN LOVE BEHAVES (Romans 13:12-14)

September 8, 2015
So, if God decided to paint a big sign in the sky and say tomorrow is the day that Jesus is coming for the Rapture.  How would that change your behavior today?

Is there anyone you love that you would make a beeline to and say, “Listen to me, this is really important, time is short, look up in the sky at that sign and let me tell you again about Jesus?”  

Is there anything in your life that you want to confess before Jesus came?  Some hidden sin that nobody knows about, but now everyone is getting ready to know about, as you stand before your Lord?

Or would you simply start putting on your rapture shoes and say, “Hallelujah Lord Jesus, I am ready, come take me away!”

Do the answers to these questions tell you how seriously you believe that the Lord Jesus could come at any minute, or, are you saying in the back of your mind, “but Keith, aren’t there some things that must happen before the Lord comes again?  Don’t we have time for them to happen before we have to get serious?”

Let me say this real slow, and real clear, just so there is no misunderstanding.  There is nothing in Bible prophecy that must happen before the Rapture occurs.  Nothing.  Are there things that must occur before Christ comes to set up His Millennial Kingdom? Of course.  But nothing must happen before the Rapture can occur.  It can happen in the next moment and not one prophecy will have failed to be fulfilled.  

So the question is, just how serious do you believe that the Lord Jesus could come at any moment, and does your life show it?  This is what our lesson is about today.
A CHRISTIAN’S LOVE (Romans 13:8-11)

A CHRISTIAN’S LOVE (Romans 13:8-11)

September 1, 2015
Why do you obey the commandments of God?

It is because you are afraid of God?  Certainly, there have been times when somebody says something particularly stupid about God that I have said, “Wait just a minute while I step over here so that I will not get in the way of the lightning bolt that is getting ready to come down upon you.”  And I certainly believe that for God’s love to be real, so must His wrath be real.  

But, as believers, we obey the commandments of God because we love God and we want to please Him, and we can do that because the question of our salvation, or eternal life, has already been settled by our faith in Christ.  This means that our obedience is because we love God. 

Why do you obey the laws of the various governments and employers that God has placed in authority over you?

Because you are afraid of the consequences?  Perhaps, but our lessons over the last several weeks would say that the believer is to obey the laws of man because we love God, and we want to please Him.  Right?

Why are you committed to being faithful to your spouse?  Certainly it is because we love them, but more importantly, we love God, and we want to glorify Him by the way that we love our spouse.   

So in each case, it is our love of God that is the motive behind our obedience.  Not fear, but love.  

So how do we show the people who we meet in the world around us that we love them?  

The answer is the same as it was for the other three questions I just asked, we show our neighbors that we love them by obeying God’s commandments.  The Lord Jesus simplified this for us by saying that if we obeyed just two commandments, all of the others would just fall into place.  

The first was to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength, and the second was to love our neighbor as ourselves.

This is what our lesson is about today, our love of God, and how we show that love.  
THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF GOVERNMENT (Romans 13:3-7)

THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF GOVERNMENT (Romans 13:3-7)

August 23, 2015
When you think of what the government is responsible for doing, what is it that comes to mind?

Certainly our world today has come to believe that the government is responsible for the success of every citizen.  The government is to assure that all of our needs are met from cradle to grave.  If you are hungry, don’t worry about working or finding a job, any job, to feed yourself or your family, the government will feed you.  

If you don’t have a home, don’t worry, the government will make sure you have the money to buy that home.  The government will even make sure you have a cell phone, a college education, transportation to get where you need to go, and all of your medical bills are paid.  No job required, in fact, if you do get a job, the government will stop paying you and take money away from you to give to those that don’t have a job.  Kind of makes you wonder why people go to work at all, doesn’t it?

The people of our nation have come to believe that the government is to cover your losses if your business fails, or if you can’t pay back your student loans.  The government chooses to do this because it knows that it is the most efficient and cost effective agency that can meet everyone’s needs.  Right?  Every social welfare program we have is run effectively by the government.  There is no waste, or fraud, or people taking advantage of the system.  

If this is not true, then why do we keep asking the government to do more of it?  If every time you went to the doctor, he failed to treat you, wouldn’t you stop going to that doctor?

But is any of this part of the role that God wants the government to do for its citizens?  That is what our lesson is about today, what the government’s responsibilities are, as intended by God.  
SHOULD A CHRISTIAN SUBMIT TO A GOVERNMENT THAT REJECTS GOD? (Romans 13:1-2)

SHOULD A CHRISTIAN SUBMIT TO A GOVERNMENT THAT REJECTS GOD? (Romans 13:1-2)

August 16, 2015
Now, I have to admit that this is an interesting question as we see the political races begin to escalate.  Without question, our current government, including the democrats and most republicans, have rejected the role that God has played, is currently playing, and will play in our nation and our world.  

So, the question is, should a Christian submit to a government that rejects God?

What role should the believer play in fighting against this type of lawlessness?

Do we stand by and do nothing, or actively fight against it?

Paul is going to tell us in our lesson today that human government derives its authority from God, and that governments are appointed by God.  Evil men may be elected to power or they may seize power.  They may have no thought of God at all, but the very fact that God permits them to seize the reins of power means that God has a purpose to fulfill even in their cruel and evil ruling.  

It is a saying well worth considering that people get the kind of government they deserve.  If you vote in a socialist tyrant, then you are going to get a socialist tyrant as your leader.  If you reject God’s truths about right and wrong in your lives, then you are going to have a government that rejects God’s truths about right and wrong, and that means the concepts of greed, corruption, dishonesty, cruelty, and lawlessness will control your government.

Governments may be weak or strong, just or oppressive, benevolent or cruel, wise or foolish, but in each case God has His way and moves His own plans forward.  We may not see God’s plan and purposes in an evil government, but God has a plan nonetheless, for God is in control.

Paul is going to tell us in our lesson today that disobedience to governmental authority is disobedience to God and will be judged accordingly.  We are going to see that the believer has their citizenship in heaven, but they are also a resident in the world down here, which gives them a twofold responsibility.  If there is a conflict between the two, then our first responsibility is always to our Lord in heaven.  We have a responsibility to human government, but our first responsibility is to always obey the law of God.  

I don’t believe that the Word of God declares the role of the believer is to fundamentally change our nation.  It is to preach a gospel that is the power of God unto salvation which will bring into existence individuals like the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and gave us a government of laws.  If there is to be a fundamental change in this country, then it will be God that will bring it about by working in the hearts of man.

The truth is that there is nothing is wrong with our form of government; there is something wrong with the individuals who are in positions of power.  We need to remember this as we choose the people who will fill these positions in the next election.  

Should we as believers run for political office?  Absolutely, we need people in these offices that understand the spiritual heritage of our founders.

Should we as believers support those candidates that respect the Word of God and the role that God plays in our society?  Absolutely, we need to discern what the true beliefs of a candidate are and support those who respect the will of God.

Should we as believers, lawfully, and actively, stand against the murder of innocent children, and the corruption of the God instituted concept of marriage?  Absolutely, we need to stand against lawlessness in the world.

Should we as believers submit to a government that is corrupt and rejects God?  The Bible says that we must, and my prayer is that God will grant us the power and the wisdom to do as the Word of God demands that we do.  
HOW TO BE A LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD (Romans 12:17-21)

HOW TO BE A LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD (Romans 12:17-21)

August 14, 2015
It is a fact that God has placed us in a world full of darkness and He expects us to be a light in that dark world.  

Matt 5:14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
KJV

We are to be a light in a dark world.

When Jesus walked on the earth, people were drawn to Him.  They wanted to be near Him.  Certainly, they wanted to hear Him speak, and to watch Him perform miracles, but there was just something different about Jesus that drew people to Him.  Not a weird difference, for that would have pushed people away, but a good, calm, inviting, type of difference from the normal attitude that people put on in our world.  

Jesus had compassion on the poor, and the outcasts.  He had kindness for the children, and He had absolute integrity in all of His dealings with people around Him.  Try as hard as they could, the Pharisees and the Sadducees could not find anything to legitimately accuse Jesus of.  He meticulously kept the Law as it was originally written and He hated the man-made religious traditions and rabbinical writings the scribes and burdened the people with.  

He stood for what was right in the eyes of God and He condemned what was wrong.  Christ lived the perfect example of the life that we as Christians should be living today.  In our lesson today, Paul is going to describe what our behavior ought to be like.  He is going to tells us in our relationships with the world the Christian is to follow the example that Christ laid out for us in the Sermon on the Mount.  
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN LIVE IN A NON-CHRISTIAN WORLD? (Romans 12:14-16)

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN LIVE IN A NON-CHRISTIAN WORLD? (Romans 12:14-16)

August 11, 2015
Over the last several weeks, Paul has been discussing with us how the believer is to work together with his fellow believers.  What is it that we are to be working together toward?  The kingdom work of God, or the sharing of the light of the gospel with a dark world.  

There are those that feel it would be nice to seclude themselves in a monastery and not have to deal with the secular world, but that is not why God has sent us on this journey.  It is important to understand that, as believers, we are not working our way to get to heaven, we are working to go to our home in heaven.  This earth is not our home, it is our workplace.  

When I go to work in the morning, it is with anticipation that I will be able to come home when I have completed my work for the day.  Returning home is not something I have to earn, it is something I already have.  It is my place of rest.  As believers, this earth is our workplace, and we come to it with the anticipation of being able to go to our home in heaven when we have completed the tasks that God has for us to do.  I do not have to earn my place in heaven, for I already own that place.  It is my place of rest when I am finished doing the kingdom work of God. 

In order to accomplish that kingdom work of sharing the gospel message of Christ, I need to go to where the people are that need to hear that message.  I need to relate with a lost world.  

So Paul tells us that the laws of Christian life deal not only with the spiritual life of the Christian, but with his social life as well.  As believers, we must sustain relationships in the world as well as in the church.  

Listen to this podcast to learn that Paul has three things to say about our daily contacts with those outside of Christ.  We are to show the unbeliever compassion and understanding, we are to take care with our attitude, and we are to live before men unimpeachable and exemplary lives.