The Master’s Class, Summit Church
A FAITH BASED ON EXPERIENCE (1 Peter 1:5-7)

A FAITH BASED ON EXPERIENCE (1 Peter 1:5-7)

February 14, 2016
When I was a child and my Father wanted me to learn something that I would remember, he often had me experience it first, and then explain how important that concept could be in my life.  He called it character building and it usually involved me doing some type of work around the house.  For example, when he wanted me to learn that it is better to earn what you have in this world, than to steal it from somebody else who had worked for it, either by outright theft or by getting the government to steal it for you, he would put me to work.  He taught me that a benefit of hard work is the payment of something you want in return, be it money, or something else.

Learning from experience can come in a couple of ways, we can learn from our own experience, or we can learn from the experience of watching or listening to others.  For instance, I don’t have to jump from the top of a tall building to know that this is not something I want to do.  I have seen what happens to others when they contact the ground at a high rate of speed, and it is not pretty.  I learned this lesson from the experience of others.  

When we learn from our own experience, we often have a deeper understanding of what it takes to get through this type of trial.  I know that I never had a true appreciation for what a person goes through when they lose a very close loved one until I lost my father, and then my mother.  There is a deep feeling of anguish that does not come from watching others.  I have a much deeper sense of empathy for others now and it is because God allowed me to experience this trial myself.  

One of the key concepts that Peter is trying to teach us in the very first verses of this book is how certain our faith is, and how it is not based on a hope-so type of knowledge, but it is based on a know-so type of knowledge.  

When he talks of having hope, it is not a vague type of hope in the things that are to come, it is a know-so type of hope, an expectant hope, and a certain hope.  We know that Jesus is alive today because we know that He rose from the grave.  The Bible tells this is true, and secular history tells us that this is true.

We know for a fact that Jesus is coming again to reign as Lord of lords and King of kings, and we are absolutely certain that Jesus has prepared for us a place in heaven where we will spend eternity living with Him.  This is our know-so, expectant, hope.  

Peter now moves from the certain hope we have in Christ, to our faith based on experience and substance.  Faith is another weak word in the English language, but in the Bible our faith is based on the promises of God, the certainty of Christ, and the experiences we have in times of trial, and through watching others go through trials.  It is a faith based on the experience we have in Christ.  
WE HAVE AN EXPECTANT HOPE (1 Peter 1:3a)

WE HAVE AN EXPECTANT HOPE (1 Peter 1:3a)

February 1, 2016
What do you worry about most when you face a difficult hardship?

Being physically harmed?  Ridiculed?  The loss of a job and the financial problems that follow?  The loss of your health?  The loss of a loved one?  Loneliness? Your own death?

The word hope is commonly defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  We say things like “I hope we have something good to eat tonight,” or “I hope my boss is in a good mood today.”  Hope is always looking forward and it is important to have hope, or a positive outlook on life, to hope that better things are coming our way.  To not have any hope during difficult times can make recovering that much more difficult or even impossible.  

The amount of hope a person has is often based on those people around them who can help them, to provide comfort, and assistance.  When you are alone, without help, it is hard to find hope.  Our hope is also based on the certainty, or uncertainty, of the future we see for ourselves.  When good things are coming in our lives it is easy to have hope.  It gets much more difficult when we see nothing but dark clouds or hardship in front of us.  This is the way the world generally thinks of the world hope.  It is a wishful desire for better things to come.

How does the meaning of the word hope change when you become a believer in Jesus Christ?  Instead of simply having a wish or desire for a certain thing to happen, the word hope means certainty for a believer in Jesus Christ.  A believer never has to worry about who will be around to provide support, for they have the certainty of the Holy Spirit living within their heart to provide strength, wisdom, power, and comfort.  This is not just a feeling, but an absolute certainty of His presence and power in their lives.  

The believer also knows with total certainty that there is eternal life in heaven that follows this temporary life on earth.  Imagine the hope that comes from knowing without a doubt that you will have endless thousands upon thousands of years of living without old age, hunger, persecution, disease, or death.  A believer knows that heaven is real and, therefore, hell is real, but this is not a concern to the believer, for they have absolute certainty that living in heaven with Jesus Christ is their next destination.   

A born again, child of God, a true believer in Jesus Christ, who has Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master, looks at difficult times with an expectant hope.  The word expectant means that they are eager for the future to come, and they are excited about what is coming.  They can be expectant because they have absolute certainty in the promises that God has provided for them.  

They can easily ask themselves, how can I fail to overcome the problems of this world with the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ in my heart.  How can death harm me, if I know what is going to happen next?  Death is nothing more than a weigh station to eternity. 

In his final words to Timothy, Paul expressed this expectant hope eloquently.

2 Tim 4:6-8
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
KJV

There was no doubt in Paul’s mind what laid beyond the grave.  He was absolutely certain of his eternity with Jesus.  He knew that Jesus would be waiting for him, ready to say, welcome home thou good and faithful servant.  This is the expectant hope of the believer.  Listen to this podcast to learn how you can have an expectant hope.
REDEMPTION THROUGH GRACE (1 Peter 1:2c-d)

REDEMPTION THROUGH GRACE (1 Peter 1:2c-d)

January 24, 2016
So when we are facing times of terrible persecution, or difficult trials, when things are so bad that they are out of our ability to control, what are you most grateful for?

Certainly, I am grateful for a loving God who cares for me, watches over me, and provides for me.  I am grateful for the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  I am grateful for the promises of God that we find in His word, such as, that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So this verse is interesting because it doesn’t promise that all things work together for the good of all men, it puts a qualifier on this promise.  What is that qualifier?

You have to be someone who loves God, and someone who is called according to His purpose.  This means that if you want to claim the promise of this verse, that no matter what you are going through, that it will work out for your good, then you must meet the requirements of this promise.  And in order to meet those requirements you must be saved, a born again child of God.  

So, the first thing that you need to have in order to face persecution, trials, or difficult times in your life, is the certain knowledge that you have been redeemed by God, and that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Master.  This is the basic minimum for this promise to be true.   

The next most important thing that I believe we need is the grace of God.  When I am facing a difficult time, the one thing that I cherish most from God is His grace.  It is His grace that allows me to be forgiven.  It is His grace that allows me to be justified freely before God.  It is His grace that allows the blood of Christ to wash my sins away, in spite of the sin in my life.  That is God’s grace.  

This leads us to the third thing that we must have to face persecution.  The result of knowing that we are saved, and that God’s grace has been bestowed on us, is the peace of God in our hearts.  When we have God’s peace in our heart, we have comfort in the knowledge of God’s provision for us.  

So salvation, grace, and peace, are what I consider the three most important things that I must know, claim, and be sure of, when I have hard times.  Everything else that God is going to do for me flows from these three Biblical truths.  The presence and power of the Holy Spirit resides in my heart because of the redemption and grace that God has given me, and it is because I am redeemed, and that I am the recipient of God’s grace, that God’s peace is there, as well.   

Listen to this podcast to learn what it means to be redeemed by God, and to have God’s grace and peace, to give us comfort during times of persecution. 
TO BE ELECTED BY GOD (1 Peter 1:1b to 2a)

TO BE ELECTED BY GOD (1 Peter 1:1b to 2a)

January 10, 2016
The Bible emphatically teaches the doctrine of election, and this is a doctrine that has caused endless debates and disputes throughout the ages.  People will either go off the deep end into hyper-Calvinism with this doctrine, or they avoid it like the plague because they don’t understand it.  When it really is quite simple to understand.  Man complicates it by assuming that God cannot know anything that man does not know.  That really is the heart of the problem for man in understanding this doctrine.  

However, the truth is that man’s mind is limited, and God’s mind is unlimited.  Man’s capacity to know things is finite, and God’s knowledge is infinite.  Man’s knowledge is bounded by the constraints of time, it encompasses what has happened in the past and what is happening right now.  Man can only guess at the future.  

God created the concept of time so His knowledge is unconstrained by time.  He knows all things from before time began until well past the day when eternity makes time irrelevant, and He knows it all at the same time.  God cannot learn anything, since by definition He already knows it all.  

In today’s lesson, Peter gives us his own inspired insight into the subject.  He bluntly declares that our election is based on God’s foreknowledge.  Without hesitation, or qualification, Peter says that God has elected a certain company to become members of the royal family of heaven.  However, God does this and never violates our own volition, or our own right to choose.  God woos, He does not ravage.  He does not endow His creations with wills of their own, with the power of choice and personal accountability for their behavior, and then act as though they had no such thing.  

God’s election of certain members of the human family to become members of the royal family takes into account the response of each individual when confronted by the Holy Spirit with the offer of salvation.  While this may sound difficult to understand, the simple truth of it is that if you want to be a part of the elect of God, then choose Christ when the Holy Spirit presents salvation to you.  

Salvation boils down to one question, will you accept or reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master.  

If you say yes, then you will become part of the elect of God, and you will spend eternity in heaven with Christ.  

If you say no, then you will not be part of the elect of God, and you will spend eternity burning in the fires of Hell, forever without the light of God.  

Listen to this powerful Biblical doctrine of God’s foreknowledge and how it can bless you because God knows who you are, where you are, what you are going through, and He has a plan for you.  If you are believer, then God will empower you to deal with any persecution or trial that you may be going through.  He knew about this before it ever occurred and He has prepared you for it, and He is with you every step of the way.  
THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING GOD (Romans 5:1-5)

THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING GOD (Romans 5:1-5)

November 2, 2014
We live in a world where the predominant thought in a person’s mind when confronted with a decision is What’s in it for me?  Quite naturally, if they are going to buy something, they want to know the benefits of owning that item.  For instance, owning a home provides shelter and security, stability in that your lease won’t run out and you have to move.  The down side is ownership.  Anything that goes wrong you own the problem.

This is the same way that most people approach a decision about accepting Jesus as their Savior.  They think they know all of the benefits and downsides, but do they really?  

They look at what most people think of when they consider the benefits of knowing God, which is eternal life in heaven, and then they look at the perceived downside of having to change their lifestyles.  

They ask themselves, is a life in an eternity that they cannot see right now, worth giving up whatever they are doing today that they know is not right under the rules of God.  They are asking what is in this for me right now, not later, but right now?

This is the problem that we face as we try to explain the benefits of knowing God.  They see the persecution of Christians in today’s society, so it can easily appear as if all of the benefits are out in some unknown future.  So the task that we face as Christians is what can we tell them about the benefits of knowing God right now, in our lives today?  

Listen to this podcast as we learn that it is because we know Christ as our Savior that we have peace with God, we have access to the constant presence of God, we have the patience and endurance to face trials and tribulations in our lives through the power of God, and most of all we have hope.  

Do you have hope in your life today?  For the believer, God is our hope, our hope is in God. That is the benefit of knowing God.  
TEMPTATIONS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?  (James 1:12-15)

TEMPTATIONS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? (James 1:12-15)

January 6, 2014

Life is full of temptations.  Good food is a temptation.  Sweet drinks are a temptation.  Sex is a temptation.  The perfect life that is presented to us in the media involves fast cars, fast women, and an even faster lifestyle and it represents the ultimate temptation for many. 

Have you ever wondered where these temptations come from?  Does God tempt man to do evil? Does Satan tempt man to do evil in order to destroy him?  Do we create our own temptations?

A basic Biblical truth that we need to keep in mind is that God will never entice you to do evil.

God wants only what is good for you, and Satan wants only what is bad for you.  

God will never lead you into sin.  Yet, that is all Satan will ever do.

God wants to grow you spiritually.  Satan wants to destroy your spirit. 

God will test you to grow your faith.  Satan will tempt you to destroy your faith. 

So the question becomes, how do you know which is which?  

Listen to this podcast to learn that for the believer the answer comes from the Holy Spirit that lives within your heart. 

STORMS AND CHRISTIANS (James 1:2-5)

STORMS AND CHRISTIANS (James 1:2-5)

December 9, 2013
Have you ever asked the question why a loving God would allow storms into the life of a Christian?  What could possibly be the purpose for God to allow such things to happen to those people who are trying to be good?

In our new study of the Book of James, we learn that God wants each believer to grow spiritually.  And if we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we grow more in the times of trials that we face, than we do when everything is going great.  

It is in a time of trial that God teaches us patience, or to abide, in handling the trial.  It is in a time of trial that God moves us out of the ruts that we so easily fall into.  He mellows us out, and He matures us.  He strengthens our faith in Him, and He teaches us to become fully reconciled to His will.

Listen to this podcast to learn that these storms are permitted in our lives by a wise and loving heavenly Father, who is too caring to be unkind and too wise to make any mistakes.  These trials will always have a divine purpose and they will be for our good.

God loves you, and He wants only what is best for you.  The question is are you willing to trust God in the time of trial?

Play this podcast on Podbean App