Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: The number “3” is an important number in the Bible. The one God is revealed as three persons. The temple and tabernacle had three basic parts: the outside court, the inside Holy Place, and the innermost Holy of Holies. In Genesis 1:26, what did God mean when He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (NASB)? We know that we are not divine. We are the creature, not the Creator. The number “3,” however, is significant for us. I am a trichotomist, not a dichotomist, and I thus believe that each of us has three parts, not two. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul asked, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I believe that an analogy can be drawn between the temple/tabernacle and the human being. The outside court, like the human body, could be seen by anyone. The inside Holy Place, like the human soul, could be seen by a few people. The innermost Holy of Holies, like the human spirit, could only be seen by one man/Man. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul used the Greek optative mood to express his wish, “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Deuteronomy 6:5 also affirms three parts: the heart (spirit), the soul, and might (body). Let’s examine each of the three parts:

1. The Human Spirit – Both the Hebrew word “ruah” and the Greek word “pnooma” can mean breath, wind, or spirit/Spirit. We get our English words “pneumonia” and “pneumatic” from the Greek word. The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian's human spirit. Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The word “sealed” here does not refer to a seal that holds things together to prevent leakage; rather, it refers to a seal that is stamped on something as a sign of approval like the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval or the seal on a signet ring. We can grieve the Spirit Who dwells in us. The spirit is an invisible part of us, and the conscience is part of the human spirit. Notice what Romans 2:15 says about the conscience: “They know the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternatively accusing or else defending them.” The conscience can accuse or defend. It needs to be enlightened by the word of God. Some new Christians feel guilty about things about which they should not feel guilty, and the Bible says that they have weak consciences. The consciences of non-Christians can become seared and corrupted.

2. The Human Soul – From the Greek word “psuche” we get our words “psyche” and “psychology.” Freud is considered to be the father of psychology. He had a Jewish background and believed that human beings have three parts: the id (bodily impulses), the superego (high moral impulses), and the ego (the mediator between the often conflicting bodily impulses and high moral impulses). Perhaps Freud was influenced by Deuteronomy 6:5, a verse which affirms three parts. The soul is at the intersection between our visible (body) and invisible (spirit) parts. We can make both freewill and non-freewill decisions. When we make freewill decisions, the soul will be influenced by both physical impulses and spiritual impulses. Hebrews 4:12 states, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit.” The word of God is used like a scalpel to deal with sin and to help the soul separate spiritual impulses from physical impulses.

3. The Human Body – From the Greek word “soma” we get our word “somatic.” Paul in Romans 12:1 urged Christians to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Remember that the place of sacrifice in temple/tabernacle worship was the altar in the outside court. We should be willing to sacrifice our bodies for God anywhere and anytime. Our bodies should be kept holy. We should be good stewards of our bodies by being careful about our diets and exercise regimens.

Conclusion: At the time of conversion, the Holy Spirit will move into the human spirit and begin to change the soul and body in the process of sanctification (spiritual growth). We should desire to grow spiritually as much as we can in our lifetimes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tuesday Night’s Sermon Outline
(I preached this message at a Community Thanksgiving Service.)

Introduction: In a letter to his daughter in 1784, Benjamin Franklin seemed to prefer the turkey over the eagle as a national bird for America. He said that the turkey is a courageous bird; however, he also admitted that the turkey is “a little vain and silly.” In our country there now seem to be two distinct groups. One group is distinctly Christian, but the second is not and seems to hold values that are far from being Christian values. The same situation existed in ancient Rome. Many historians think Christians played a major role in the fall of the Roman Empire. Christians spread their influence in Rome, and they even appeared in the household of Caesar (Philippians 4:22). Paul’s letter to the Romans was written sometime between 54 and 58 BC. Nero became emperor in 54 BC. His vanity and silliness influenced Rome in a bad way. The two groups in Rome are clearly contrasted in chapter one of Romans.

1. Paul thanked God through Jesus Christ, and he was ready to preach the gospel unashamedly in Rome (Romans 1:8, 15-16). We too, can be thankful “through Jesus Christ.” All truly good things come to us through Jesus. Paul was thankful for the faith of the Roman Christians. Their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. We too can share the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God for salvation. We can demonstrate our thanksgiving to God by sharing the good news about His son.

2. The non-Christian group in Rome was not thankful to God; rather it was an idolatrous group of people (Romans 1: 21-25). The members of this group knew about God but did not really know God in terms of having a personal relationship with Him. They became futile in their thoughts—vain and silly, and their foolish hearts were darkened. They worshiped birds, four-footed animals, and creeping things. Do any people in America do such things? Yes, when Americans put tigers, bulldogs, razorbacks, panthers, etc. before God in priority, then they are guilty of such idolatry. Sports fans can become idolatrous if they elevate their teams above God. Some Americans put spotted owls, snail darters, etc. before God. Environmentalists can become idolatrous if they elevate the environment above God. Some Americans put Ford Mustangs before God. Car lovers can become idolatrous if they elevate cars above God. Idolatry occurs when people worship the creature rather than the Creator (verse 25). Idolatrous people cannot be truly thankful to God. Many Americans worship created people (self, celebrities, family, and friends) or created things rather than God. Such people need to be evangelized.

Conclusion: After the Pilgrims survived their first year, Governor William Bradford called for a celebration. We know that they ate venison and fowl at that time. Edward Winslow described his feelings at the celebration: “Although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” He had experienced famine in the new colony, but he was willing to share what he had received through the goodness of God.” As Christians who have previously known spiritual famine, we should be willing to share the gospel with those who are now spiritually hungry.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: All of us have limited time and resources. We must choose carefully how we will use our time and resources as we make daily decisions.

1. We must determine what is good, better, and best (Luke 10:38-42). Martha had a problem with the tyranny of the urgent during Jesus’ visit to her home. She was doing a good thing, but not the best thing. Mary had chosen the best thing (verse 42). The Bible contains both rules and principles. Sometimes these rules and principles seem to conflict. For example, Rahab thought that she had to choose between lying or telling the truth, and she assumed that telling the truth would cost the lives of the two spies she was hiding (Joshua 2:4). We need spiritual maturity to choose the better or best instead of the merely good. When the time comes for us to make a decision, it helps if we have our priorities firmly established in our minds. As individuals we should put our relationship with God first, our families second, and our careers, hobbies, etc. down the list.

2. We must accept God’s perspective on what is best (John 11:1-6). We discover in verse five that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus with “agape” love. When Jesus heard about Lazarus being sick, however, He stayed another two days where He was instead of leaving immediately to visit Lazarus. Raising Lazarus from the dead was better than merely healing him before he died. God loves us, but He sometimes allows evil things to happen to us. We must understand that a greater good will eventually come, and God will be glorified as good ultimately triumphs over evil. The crucifixion of Christ was a horribly evil event in one sense. It was a sin to put the sinless Son of God on a cross, and He asked the Father to forgive those who did it (Luke 23:34). From our perspective, however, we can see that a greater good occurred—the atonement.

Conclusion: Because of the greater good that was accomplished on the cross, salvation is now available.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: We can learn about the things that a local church must do when we look at the early Jerusalem church.

1. We must testify about Jesus and invite people to surrender their lives to Him (Acts 2:37-41). After the people were “pierced to the heart” (verse 37, NASB), they wanted to know what they should do. Peter told them to repent and be baptized “for” the forgiveness of their sins. Did their baptism lead to forgiveness, or was their baptism because of forgiveness? The Greek preposition (like its English translation “for”) can be translated either way depending on the context. For instance, we can say that we are taking medicine “for” (leading to) relief, or we can say that we are taking medicine “for” (because of) an upset stomach. In the broadest context of Scripture, it is clear in both the Old Testament and New Testament that people are justified by faith, not by a physical work such as physical baptism (Romans 4). In the narrower context of Scripture, it is clear in the New Testament that physical baptism is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:4). Physical immersion is the first step of obedience after conversion. The word for “exhorted” in verse 40 can also mean “invited.” Peter invited people to be saved.

2. We must continue in the faith by doing the following (Acts 2:42-47):
Studying doctrine – As iron sharpens iron, Christians should sharpen one another.
Fellowshipping – This word refers to participating together in God’s work.
Breaking bread – Christians should spend time together on social occasions.
Praying – This activity involves a group in this context.
Sharing possessions – Christians should be good stewards and minister to others.
Praising God – Christians should participate joyfully in group worship.
Having favor – A local church should maintain a pure image in the community.
Witnessing – Christians should work together to lead the lost to Christ.

Conclusion: Local churches that fail to engage in these activities will fail as local churches.