Istrouma Baptist Church Podcast

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 26, 2020

==========
July 26 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577574?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Connection Card
https://istrouma.org/myinfo

July 26, 2020  | Dwayne Pitre
"Letting Go of Hopelessness"
1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1. Hope is God’s _______ (v3)
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope.
a. _______ by Him
b. _______ by Him

2. Hope is a _______ (v3)
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
a. Know _______, know _______
b. New _______ brings new _______

3. Hope is a _______ (v5)
Who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
a. His _______
b. Our _______

Pastor Updates
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Direct download: IBC_20200726.mp3
Category:Travel Light! -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 26 – 27, 2020

==========
Julio 26, 2020
Esperanza en tiempos de crisis.
==========

1 Pedro 1:3-9
Bendito sea el Dios y Padre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, quien según su gran misericordia, nos ha hecho nacer de nuevo a una esperanza viva, mediante la resurrección de Jesucristo de entre los muertos, para obtener una herencia incorruptible, inmaculada, y que no se marchitará, reservada en los cielos para vosotros, que sois protegidos por el poder de Dios mediante la fe, para la salvación que está preparada para ser revelada en el último tiempo. En lo cual os regocijáis grandemente, aunque ahora, por un poco de tiempo si es necesario, seáis afligidos con diversas pruebas, para que la prueba de vuestra fe, más preciosa que el oro que perece, aunque probado por fuego, sea hallada que resulta en alabanza, gloria y honor en la revelación de Jesucristo; a quien sin haber le visto, le amáis, y a quien ahora no veis, pero creéis en Él, y os regocijáis grandemente con gozo inefable y lleno de gloria, obteniendo, como resultado de vuestra fe, la salvación de vuestras almas.

1. Las pruebas tienen un propósito.
   Existe una recompensa, una promesa. v. 7-8.

2.  No nos vamos a hundir, Dios nos sostiene.
   Una actitud activa en medio de las dificultades. v. 5-6.

3.  La esperanza no es una imaginación.
   Jesucristo es nuestro ejemplo. v. 3-4.

4.  El me aliviara,
Vengan a mí todos los que están cansados y llevan cargas pesadas, y Yo los aliviare. Mateo 11:28.

Anuncios para esta semana:
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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200726.mp3
Category:Viaje Ligero -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 19 , 2020

==========
Julio 19, 2020
Cómo dejar ir la culpa
==========

Romanos 8:1-6
Por consiguiente, no hay ahora condenación para los que están en Cristo Jesús, los que no andan conforme a la carne sino conforme al Espíritu. Porque la ley del Espíritu de vida en Cristo Jesús te ha libertado de la ley del pecado y de la muerte. Pues lo que la ley no pudo hacer, ya que era débil por causa de la carne, Dios lo hizo: enviando a su propio Hijo en semejanza de carne de pecado y como ofrenda por el pecado, condenó al pecado en la carne, para que el requisito de la ley se cumpliera en nosotros, que no andamos conforme a la carne, sino conforme al Espíritu. Porque los que viven conforme a la carne, ponen la mente en las cosas de la carne, pero los que viven conforme al Espíritu, en las cosas del Espíritu. Porque la mente puesta en la carne es muerte, pero la mente puesta en el Espíritu es vida y paz;

1. El hecho de la culpa (v1)
“Por lo tanto, ahora no hay condenación para aquellos que están en Cristo Jesús…” (v.1)

a.    Somos culpables por el pecado
b.    No somos condenados por gracia

2. El sentimiento de culpa (13)
“porque si vivís conforme a la carne, moriréis; mas si por el Espíritu hacéis morir las obras de la carne, viviréis.” (v.13)

a.    Culpa Verdadera
b.    Culpa falsa

3. La función de la culpa (v6)
“Porque poner la mente en la carne es muerte, pero poner la mente en el Espíritu es vida y paz.” (v.6)

a.    Prepara tu mente en el Espíritu
b.    Prepara tu corazón para confesar

Anuncios para esta semana:
Catch up on this week's announcements here:
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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200719.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:10pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 19, 2020

==========
July 19 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577550?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Connection Card
https://istrouma.org/myinfo

July 19, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Guilt"
Romans 8:1-4

Guilt is an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes - accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
(Source is great theological resource...wikipedia)

How do we cope with guilt?
Ignore
Rationalize

The facts of guilt. There is a...
Debt
Debtor

Romans 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

You are guilty but not condemned
When I see you I don’t see that

Confess it.
Receive it.
Walk in it.

Pastor Updates
For all pastor updates and information go to:
https://istrouma.org/pastor

Want to receive weekly announcements in your inbox each week?
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Give Online
Text ISTROUMA IBC to 73256 or go to:
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Direct download: IBC_20200719.mp3
Category:Travel Light! -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 12, 2020

==========
July 12 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://us10.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/show?id=577534

Connection Card
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July 12, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Envy"
Ecclesiastes 4:4, 6-8

Ecclesiastes 4:4, Ecclesiastes 4:6-8
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Envy is about me and what I want

When envy rules my heart what I have is never enough

Proverbs 14:30
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

When envy rules my heart I am constantly examining, comparing and wanting what others have.

You cannot fulfill Gods purpose for your life while you are distracted by Gods purpose for someone else

Pastor Updates
For all pastor updates and information go to:
https://istrouma.org/pastor

Want to receive weekly announcements in your inbox each week?
Click here to add your name to our mailing list:
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Give Online
Text ISTROUMA IBC to 73256 or go to:
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Our Website
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Direct download: IBC_20200712.mp3
Category:Travel Light! -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Jul 12 – 13, 2020

==========
Julio 12, 2020
“Dejando ir la envidia"
==========

Salmo 73:1-5
Ciertamente Dios es bueno para con Israel, para con los puros de corazón. En cuanto a mí, mis pies estuvieron a punto de tropezar, casi resbalaron mis pasos. Porque tuve envidia de los arrogantes, al ver la prosperidad de los impíos. Porque no hay dolores en su muerte, y su cuerpo es robusto. No sufren penalidades como los mortales, ni son azotados como los demás hombres.

1. Mirando a los demás.
"Pues tuve envidia al ver cómo prosperan los orgullosos y malvados.” (v3)

a.Indignado por su prosperidad.
b.Irritado por su falta de problemas.

“No puedes cumplir el propósito de Dios para tu vida mientras
estás distraído por el propósito de Dios para otra persona.”

2. Mirándonos a nosotros mismos.
“¡De nada me sirve tener limpio el corazón y limpiarme las manos de toda maldad!” (13)

a.Somos autosuficientes
b.Somos autocompasivos

“Cuando la envidia gobierna mi corazón,
lo que tengo nunca es suficiente.”

3. Mirando al Señor.
“…hasta que entré en el santuario de Dios; allí comprendí …” (17a)

a.Su fidelidad.
b.Su presencia.

“Podemos “saber” de Dios, pero “entenderlo”…
solo cuando hay comunión”.

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Direct download: IBC_ESP_20200712.mp3
Category:Viaje Ligero -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jul 5, 2020

==========
July 5 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577518?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Connection Card
https://istrouma.org/myinfo

July 5, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"I Can’t Believe It"
Mark 9:14-29

What we believe is influenced by our intelligence and our emotions

Mark 9:14-29
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Life circumstances brought this father to a place of desperation

His belief was grounded in His need for Jesus.
He was strong enough to look for Jesus

His unbelief was marked by honesty.
He was humble enough to admit that his faith was weak

How do we attack our doubt?
Obedience - do whatever Jesus says

Steps of Faith - jump into the deep end

Pastor Updates
For all pastor updates and information go to:
https://istrouma.org/pastor

Want to receive weekly announcements in your inbox each week?
Click here to add your name to our mailing list:
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Give Online
Text ISTROUMA IBC to 73256 or go to:
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Direct download: IBC_30300705.mp3
Category:Travel Light! -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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"Dejar ir el peso de la duda"

Mateo 11: 2-6

“ Juan estaba en la cárcel, y al enterarse de lo que Cristo estaba haciendo, envió a sus discípulos a que le preguntaran:—¿Eres tú el que ha de venir, o debemos esperar a otro? Les respondió Jesús:—Vayan y cuéntenle a Juan lo que están viendo y oyendo: Los ciegos ven, los cojos andan, los que tienen lepra son sanados, los sordos oyen, los muertos resucitan y a los pobres se les anuncian las buenas nuevas. Dichoso el que no tropieza por causa mía.”

 

 

  1. Admitamos nuestras dudas.

Juan estaba en la cárcel, y al enterarse de lo que Cristo estaba haciendo, envió a sus discípulos a que le preguntaran.” (V2)

 

  1. Cuando estamos solo.
  2. Cuando estamos en aflicción.

 

 

  1. Ataquemos nuestras dudas.

“—¿Eres tú el que ha de venir, o debemos esperar a otro? (v3)

 

  1. Definamos las dudas.
  2. Dudemos de las dudas.

 

 

  1. Aceptemos Su respuesta.

Jesús les dijo: —Regresen a Juan y cuéntenle lo que han oído y visto: los ciegos ven, los cojos caminan bien, los leprosos son curados, los sordos oyen, los muertos resucitan, y a los pobres se les predica la Buena Noticia. Y díganle: “Dios bendice a los que no se apartan por causa de mí” (4-6)

 

  1. Jesús nos responde desde las Escrituras.
  2. Jesús nos responde con una bendición.

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200705.mp3
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Istrouma en Español
Jun 28 – 29, 2020

==========
Junio 28, 2020
Soltando la falta de perdón,
Una Carga Innecesaria
==========

Mateo 18:21-35
Entonces se le acercó Pedro, y le dijo: Señor, ¿cuántas veces pecará mi hermano contra mí que yo haya de perdonarlo? ¿Hasta siete veces? Jesús le dijo*: No te digo hasta siete veces, sino hasta setenta veces siete. Por eso, el reino de los cielos puede compararse a cierto rey que quiso ajustar cuentas con sus siervos. Y al comenzar a ajustar las, le fue presentado uno que le debía diez mil talentos. Pero no teniendo él con qué pagar, su señor ordenó que lo vendieran, junto con su mujer e hijos y todo cuanto poseía, y así pagara la deuda. Entonces el siervo cayó postrado ante él, diciendo: «Ten paciencia conmigo y todo te lo pagaré». Y el señor de aquel siervo tuvo compasión, y lo soltó y le perdonó la deuda. Pero al salir aquel siervo, encontró a uno de sus consiervos que le debía cien denarios, y echándole mano, lo ahogaba, diciendo: «Paga lo que debes». Entonces su consiervo, cayendo a sus pies, le suplicaba, diciendo: «Ten paciencia conmigo y te pagaré». Sin embargo, él no quiso, sino que fue y lo echó en la cárcel hasta que pagara lo que debía. Así que cuando vieron sus consiervos lo que había pasado, se entristecieron mucho, y fueron y contaron a su señor todo lo que había sucedido. Entonces, llamándolo su señor, le dijo*: «Siervo malvado, te perdoné toda aquella deuda porque me suplicaste. ¿No deberías tú también haberte compadecido de tu consiervo, así como yo me compadecí de ti?». Y enfurecido su señor, lo entregó a los verdugos hasta que pagara todo lo que le debía. Así también mi Padre celestial hará con vosotros, si no perdonáis de corazón cada uno a su hermano.

1.-Todos nos encontramos en la vida en uno de los personajes involucrados:

a.  el Ofendido
b.  el Ofensor

2.- La Palabra de Dios tiene al “PERDON” dentro de esa lista de demandas.

Como son:
a. Amad a vuestros enemigos.
b. Haced bien a los que os aborrecen.
c. Bendecir a los que os maldicen.
d. Orar por los que os calumnian.
e. Al que te hiera en la mejilla, preséntale también la otra.
f. Al que te quitare la capa, ni aun el sayo le defiendas.
g. (37)…perdonad y seréis perdonados

3. La Falta de Perdón es una Carga Innecesaria.

a.  Cuando no perdonamos hacemos lo mismo que el deudor de  la Historia.
b.  Cuando no perdonamos estamos aumentando nuestra carga.
c.  Cuando no perdonamos abrimos puertas al enemigo para que nos saque del camino correcto. 2 Corintios 2:4-11.

Conclusión:
Antes sed benignos unos con otros, misericordiosos, perdonándoos unos a otros, como Dios también os perdonó a vosotros en Cristo. Efesios 4:32.

Perdonar es: disculpar a alguien la deuda, dejar pasar, cancelar una deuda, liberar, dejar ir, eximir.  

a. El perdonar nos Libera a nosotros mismos.
b. El Perdonar nos hace mejorar personas.
c. Él perdonar traerá salud y paz.

Anuncios para esta semana:
Catch up on this week's announcements here:
https://mailchi.mp/66e42b29a243/istrouma-en-espaol-4001113

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200628.mp3
Category:Viaje Ligero -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 28, 2020

==========
June 28 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577502?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Connection Card
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June 28, 2020  | Micah Cating
Hurt & Forgiveness
Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

#1 – FORGIVENESS IS GENEROUS

#2 – FORGIVENESS DEMONSTRATES OUR FAITH

#3 – EMPATHY & COMPASSION LEAD TO FORGIVENESS

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 21, 2020

==========
June 21 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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June 21, 2020  | Jeff Williams
The Weight of Pride
Philippians 2:3-11

Philippians 2:3-11
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Pride weighs us down, destroys relationships and leaves us feeling empty and alone

Pride is rooted in a ...
Pursuit of what I
“deserve”

Focus on how others
see me

The cure for pride is a proper view of ourselves and a proper view of God

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 21, 2020

==========
Junio 21, 2020
Dejando ir el orgullo.
==========

Santiago 4:5-10
¿O pensáis que la Escritura dice en vano: El celosamente anhela el Espíritu que ha hecho morar en nosotros? Pero Él da mayor gracia. Por eso dice: D IOS RESISTE A LOS SOBERBIOS PERO DA GRACIA A LOS HUMILDES. Por tanto, someteos a Dios. Resistid, pues, al diablo y huirá de vosotros. Acercaos a Dios, y Él se acercará a vosotros. Limpiad vuestras manos, pecadores; y vosotros de doble ánimo, purificad vuestros corazones. Afligíos, lamentad y llorad; que vuestra risa se torne en llanto y vuestro gozo en tristeza. Humillaos en la presencia del Señor y Él os exaltará.

1.    Nuestra p_______ del orgullo,

a.    Lo vemos en otros.
b.    No lo vemos en nosotros.

2.    La p_______ de Dios sobre el orgullo.

a.    Dios odia el orgullo.
b.    Dios castiga el orgullo.

3.    P___ para dejar ir al orgullo.

a.    Someternos a Dios.
b.    Acercarnos a Dios.
c.    Humillarnos ante Dios.

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Jun 21 – 22, 2020

==========
Junio 21, 2020
Dejando ir el orgullo.
==========

Santiago 4:5-10
¿O pensáis que la Escritura dice en vano: El celosamente anhela el Espíritu que ha hecho morar en nosotros? Pero Él da mayor gracia. Por eso dice: D IOS RESISTE A LOS SOBERBIOS PERO DA GRACIA A LOS HUMILDES. Por tanto, someteos a Dios. Resistid, pues, al diablo y huirá de vosotros. Acercaos a Dios, y Él se acercará a vosotros. Limpiad vuestras manos, pecadores; y vosotros de doble ánimo, purificad vuestros corazones. Afligíos, lamentad y llorad; que vuestra risa se torne en llanto y vuestro gozo en tristeza. Humillaos en la presencia del Señor y Él os exaltará.

1.    Nuestra p_______ del orgullo,

a.    Lo vemos en otros.
b.    No lo vemos en nosotros.

2.    La p_______ de Dios sobre el orgullo.

a.    Dios odia el orgullo.
b.    Dios castiga el orgullo.

3.    P___ para dejar ir al orgullo.

a.    Someternos a Dios.
b.    Acercarnos a Dios.
c.    Humillarnos ante Dios.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Jun 14, 2020

==========
June 14 | Travel Light (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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June 14, 2020  | Micah Cating
Anxiety
Philippians 4:4-9 ESV

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

#1 - FIND YOUR JOY IN THE LORD
“Rejoice in the Lord always…”

#2 – PRAYER RELIEVES ANXIETY
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

#3 – THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 14 – 15, 2020

==========
Junio 14, 2020
“La Ansiedad ¡Déjala ir!”
==========

Mateo 6:25-34
Por eso os digo, no os preocupéis por vuestra vida, qué comeréis o qué beberéis; ni por vuestro cuerpo, qué vestiréis. ¿No es la vida más que el alimento y el cuerpo más que la ropa? Mirad las aves del cielo, que no siembran, ni siegan, ni recogen en graneros, y sin embargo, vuestro Padre celestial las alimenta. ¿No sois vosotros de mucho más valor que ellas? ¿Y quién de vosotros, por ansioso que esté, puede añadir una hora al curso de su vida? Y por la ropa, ¿por qué os preocupáis? Observad cómo crecen los lirios del campo; no trabajan, ni hilan; pero os digo que ni Salomón en toda su gloria se vistió como uno de estos. Y si Dios viste así la hierba del campo, que hoy es y mañana es echada al horno, ¿no hará mucho más por vosotros, hombres de poca fe? Por tanto, no os preocupéis, diciendo: «¿Qué comeremos?» o «¿qué beberemos?» o «¿con qué nos vestiremos?». Porque los gentiles buscan ansiosamente todas estas cosas; que vuestro Padre celestial sabe que necesitáis de todas estas cosas. Pero buscad primero su reino y su justicia, y todas estas cosas os serán añadidas. Por tanto, no os preocupéis por el día de mañana; porque el día de mañana se cuidará de sí mismo. Bástele a cada día sus propios problemas.

1.    R_______ nuestra identidad
Miren los pájaros. No plantan ni cosechan ni guardan comida en graneros, porque el Padre celestial los alimenta. ¿Y no son ustedes para él mucho más valiosos que ellos?
30 Si Dios cuida de manera tan maravillosa a las flores silvestres que hoy están y mañana se echan al fuego, tengan por seguro que cuidará de ustedes. ¿Por qué tienen tan poca fe? (26,30)

a.    Somos sus creación

b.    Somos sus hijos

2.    R_____ nuestra perspectiva
Miren los pájaros. No plantan ni cosechan ni guardan comida en graneros, porque el Padre celestial los alimenta. ¿Y no son ustedes para él mucho más valiosos que ellos?
30 Si Dios cuida de manera tan maravillosa a las flores silvestres que hoy están y mañana se echan al fuego, tengan por seguro que cuidará de ustedes. ¿Por qué tienen tan poca fe? (26,30)

a.    Dios provee

b.    Dios es fiel

3.    R______ nuestras prioridades
33 Busquen el reino de Dios por encima de todo lo demás y lleven una vida justa, y él les dará todo lo que necesiten. 34 »Así que no se preocupen por el mañana, porque el día de mañana traerá sus propias preocupaciones. Los problemas del día de hoy son suficientes por hoy. (33,34)

a.    Algo que debemos hacer
b.    Algo que debemos dejar de hacer

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Istrouma en Español
Jun 7 – 8, 2020

==========
Junio 7, 2020
Luz en la oscuridad
==========

Ester 9:18-28
Pero los judíos que se hallaban en Susa se reunieron el trece y el catorce del mismo mes, y descansaron el día quince y lo proclamaron día de banquete y de regocijo. Por eso los judíos de las áreas rurales, que habitan en las ciudades abiertas, proclaman el día catorce del mes de Adar día festivo para regocijarse, hacer banquetes y enviarse porciones de comida unos a otros. Entonces Mardoqueo escribió estos hechos, y envió cartas a todos los judíos que se hallaban en todas las provincias del rey Asuero, tanto cercanas como lejanas, ordenándoles que celebraran anualmente el día catorce del mes de Adar, y el día quince del mismo mes, porque en esos días los judíos se libraron de sus enemigos, y fue para ellos un mes que se convirtió de tristeza en alegría y de duelo en día festivo. Los harían días de banquete y de regocijo, para que se enviaran porciones de comida unos a otros e hicieran donativos a los pobres. Así los judíos llevaron a cabo lo que habían comenzado a hacer, y lo que Mardoqueo les había escrito. Pues Amán, hijo de Hamedata, agagueo, enemigo de todos los judíos, había hecho planes contra los judíos para destruirlos, y había echado el Pur, es decir, la suerte, para su ruina y destrucción. Pero cuando esto llegó al conocimiento del rey, este ordenó por carta que el perverso plan que había tramado contra los judíos recayera sobre su cabeza, y que él y sus hijos fueran colgados en la horca. Por eso estos días son llamados Purim, por el nombre Pur. Y a causa de las instrucciones en esta carta, tanto por lo que habían visto sobre este asunto y por lo que les había acontecido, los judíos establecieron e hicieron una costumbre para ellos, para sus descendientes y para todos los que se aliaban con ellos, de que no dejarían de celebrar estos dos días conforme a su ordenanza y conforme a su tiempo señalado cada año. Así estos días serían recordados y celebrados por todas las generaciones, por cada familia, cada provincia y cada ciudad; para que estos días de Purim no dejaran de celebrarse entre los judíos, ni su memoria se extinguiera entre sus descendientes.

1.  El poder del odio y del prejuicio

2.    El creciente deseo de venganza

3.    La Salvación demanda Celebración

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Light in the Darkness

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Kingdom of this world is temporary and will be destroyed

 

Kingdom of God is eternal and victorious

 

Matthew 6:33

 

Do what pleases the King

 

Do what grows the Kingdom

 

John 17:15-18

 

Matthew 5:14

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 31, 2020

==========
May 31 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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May 31, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Promise Keeper
Esther 8-10

Esther 8:3-11
Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.” The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods,

Esther 9:1
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

Boldness comes in promise of eternal life

Confidence comes in the promise that God has already been wherever I am going

Joy comes in the promise that God is with us

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Category:Esther -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
May 31 – Jun 1, 2020

==========
Mayo 31, 2020
Dios Cumple sus Promesas
==========

Ester 9:1
En el mes doce (es decir, el mes de Adar), el día trece cuando estaban para ejecutarse el mandato y edicto del rey, el mismo día que los enemigos de los judíos esperaban obtener dominio sobre ellos, sucedió lo contrario, porque fueron los judíos los que obtuvieron dominio sobre los que los odiaban.

La valentía viene de la promesa de la vida eterna.

La confianza viene de la promesa de que Dios ya estaba allí.

El gozo viene de la promesa de que Dios está con nosotros.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 24, 2020

==========
May 24 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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May 24, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Miracle Worker
Esther 3-7

Esther 4:12-16
And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 6:1-10
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.”

Esther 7:10
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.

This moment in time does not define you.

This moment in time is a part of God’s story

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and watch God work

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Category:Esther -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
May 24 – 25, 2020

==========
Mayo 24, 2020
De las cenizas a la Victoria
==========

Ester 4:12-16
Y contaron a Mardoqueo las palabras de Ester. Entonces Mardoqueo les dijo que respondieran a Ester: No pienses que estando en el palacio del rey solo tú escaparás entre todos los judíos. Porque si permaneces callada en este tiempo, alivio y liberación vendrán de otro lugar para los judíos, pero tú y la casa de tu padre pereceréis. ¿Y quién sabe si para una ocasión como esta tú habrás llegado a ser reina? Y Ester les dijo que respondieran a Mardoqueo: Ve, reúne a todos los judíos que se encuentran en Susa y ayunad por mí; no comáis ni bebáis por tres días, ni de noche ni de día. También yo y mis doncellas ayunaremos. Y así iré al rey, lo cual no es conforme a la ley; y si perezco, perezco.

La providencia de Dios
1.    No podemos comprenderla

2.    Nada sucede sin que Dios lo permita

3.    Incluye a todos por igual

4.    No nos libra de nuestras decisiones

5.    Nos anima en situaciones difíciles

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
May 17, 2020

==========
Mayo 17, 2020
Dios abre caminos
==========

Ester 2:2-21
Entonces los cortesanos al servicio del rey, dijeron: Búsquense para el rey jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer. Y que el rey nombre oficiales en todas las provincias de su reino para que reúnan a todas las jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer en la fortaleza de Susa, en el harén, bajo la custodia de Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres, y que se les den sus cosméticos. Y la joven que agrade al rey sea reina en lugar de Vasti. Y esto le pareció bien al rey, y así lo hizo. Y había en la fortaleza de Susa un judío que se llamaba Mardoqueo, hijo de Jair, hijo de Simei, hijo de Cis, benjamita, que había sido deportado de Jerusalén con los cautivos que habían sido deportados con Jeconías, rey de Judá, a quien había deportado Nabucodonosor, rey de Babilonia. Y Mardoqueo estaba criando a Hadasa, es decir, Ester, hija de su tío, pues ella no tenía ni padre ni madre. La joven era de hermosa figura y de buen parecer, y cuando su padre y su madre murieron, Mardoqueo la tomó como hija suya. Y sucedió que cuando el mandato y el decreto del rey fueron oídos, muchas jóvenes fueron reunidas en la fortaleza de Susa bajo la custodia de Hegai; y Ester también fue llevada al palacio del rey, bajo la custodia de Hegai, encargado de las mujeres. La joven le agradó y halló favor delante de él, por lo que se apresuró en proveerle cosméticos y alimentos; le dio siete doncellas escogidas del palacio del rey, y la trasladó con sus doncellas al mejor lugar del harén. Ester no dio a conocer ni su pueblo ni su parentela, porque Mardoqueo le había mandado que no los diera a conocer. Y todos los días Mardoqueo se paseaba delante del patio del harén para enterarse de cómo estaba Ester y qué le sucedía. Cuando le tocaba a cada joven venir al rey Asuero, al cumplirse sus doce meses, según las ordenanzas para las mujeres, pues los días de su embellecimiento se cumplían así: seis meses con óleo de mirra y seis meses con especias y cosméticos para las mujeres, entonces la joven venía al rey de esta manera: cualquier cosa que ella deseaba se le concedía para que la llevara consigo del harén al palacio del rey. Ella entraba por la tarde y a la mañana siguiente volvía al segundo harén, bajo la custodia de Saasgaz, eunuco del rey, encargado de las concubinas. Ella no iba otra vez al rey a menos que el rey se complaciera en ella y fuera llamada por nombre. Cuando a Ester, hija de Abihail, tío de Mardoqueo, que la había tomado como hija, le tocó venir al rey, ella no pidió cosa alguna sino lo que le aconsejó Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres. Y Ester hallaba favor ante los ojos de cuantos la veían. Ester fue llevada al rey Asuero a su palacio real el mes décimo, que es el mes Tebet, en el año séptimo de su reinado. Y el rey amó a Ester más que a todas las otras mujeres, y ella halló gracia y bondad con él más que todas las demás vírgenes, y él puso la corona real sobre su cabeza y la hizo reina en lugar de Vasti. Entonces el rey hizo un gran banquete para todos sus príncipes y siervos, el banquete de Ester. También concedió un día de descanso para las provincias y dio presentes conforme a la liberalidad del rey. Cuando las vírgenes fueron reunidas por segunda vez, Mardoqueo estaba sentado a la puerta del rey. Ester todavía no había dado a conocer ni su parentela ni su pueblo, tal como Mardoqueo le había mandado, porque Ester hizo lo que le había dicho Mardoqueo, como cuando estaba bajo su tutela. En aquellos días, estando Mardoqueo sentado a la puerta del rey, Bigtán y Teres, dos eunucos del rey, guardianes del umbral, se enojaron y procuraban echar mano al rey Asuero.

1.    Asuero: Rechazar el camino de Dios lleva a una sociedad enferma.

“Y que el rey nombre oficiales en todas las provincias de su reino para que reúnan a todas las jóvenes vírgenes y de buen parecer en la fortaleza de Susa, en el harén, bajo la custodiade Hegai, eunuco del rey, encargado de las mujeres…” (Ester 2.3)

2.    Ester: Tu pasado no determina tu futuro.

“…La joven era de hermosa figura y de buen parecer, y cuando su padre y su madre murieron, Mardoqueo la tomó como hija suya. (Ester 2.7)

3.    Mardoqueo: La persona correcta, en el lugar correcto, en el momento correcto.

“Y había en la fortaleza de Susa un judío que se llamaba Mardoqueo…7 Y Mardoqueoestaba criando a Hadasa… 21En aquellos días, estando Mardoqueo sentado a la puerta del rey...” (Ester 2.5,7,21)

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Category:Ester -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Istrouma Baptist Church
May 17, 2020

==========
May 17 | Esther
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577405

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May 17, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Waymaker
Esther 1 - 2

Esther 2:1-23
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so. Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

God is not always seen but He is always working

God chooses to use us to make His story come to life

God works through our gifts, passions, and experiences

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Direct download: IBC_20200517.mp3
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Istrouma en Español
May 10 – 11, 2020

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Mayo 10, 2020
Una madre llamada por Dios
==========

Lucas 1:34-38
Entonces María dijo al ángel: ¿Cómo será esto, puesto que soy virgen? Respondiendo el ángel, le dijo: El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti, y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra; por eso el santo Niño que nacerá será llamado Hijo de Dios. Y he aquí, tu parienta Elisabet en su vejez también ha concebido un hijo; y este es el sexto mes para ella, la que llamaban estéril. Porque ninguna cosa será imposible para Dios. Entonces María dijo: He aquí la sierva del Señor; hágase conmigo conforme a tu palabra. Y el ángel se fue de su presencia.

1.    Una madre llamada por Dios ________________

“María respondió: —Soy la sierva del Señor. Que se cumpla todo lo que has dicho acerca de mí...” (Lucas 1.38)

2.    Una madre llamada por Dios _______________

“Mujer, ¿eso qué tiene que ver conmigo? —respondió Jesús—. Todavía no ha llegado mi hora…” (Juan 2.4)

3.    Una madre llamada por Dios ________________

“Junto a la cruz de Jesús estaban su madre, …”. (Juan 19.25)

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Category:general -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
May 10, 2020

==========
May 10 | Mother's Day
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

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May 10, 2020  | Micah Cating
"We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you"
2 Chronicles 20:1-30

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
- 2 Chronicles 20:12b

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NEED
“We don’t know what to do.”

2. RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU PLACE YOUR TRUST
“But our eyes are on..."

3. DECLARE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD
“Our eyes are on you”

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Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT

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Open the Door

 

Revelation 3:14-22

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

 

 

Jesus is paying attention

15 “‘I know your works…”

 

What He sees…

            Activity that has no purpose

            15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!

16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

 

            Success that has no value

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

 

What He wants to see…

 

            Trusting in what He provides

            18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white

garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen,

and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

 

            Pursuing Him as Father

            19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

 

Direct download: IBC_20200503.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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==========
Mayo 3, 2020
Lo que enferma a Dios
==========

Apocalipsis 3:14-22
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Laodicea: « E l Amén, el Testigo fiel y verdadero, el Principio de la creación de Dios, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, que ni eres frío ni caliente. ¡Ojalá fueras frío o caliente! Así, puesto que eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca. Porque dices: ‘Soy rico, me he enriquecido y de nada tengo necesidad’; y no sabes que eres un miserable y digno de lástima, y pobre, ciego y desnudo, te aconsejo que de mí compres oro refinado por fuego para que te hagas rico, y vestiduras blancas para que te vistas y no se manifieste la vergüenza de tu desnudez, y colirio para ungir tus ojos para que puedas ver. Yo reprendo y disciplino a todos los que amo; sé, pues, celoso y arrepiéntete. He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré a él, y cenaré con él y él conmigo. Al vencedor, le concederé sentarse conmigo en mi trono, como yo también vencí y me senté con mi Padre en su trono. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El P______ de la iglesia.
“15 Yo conozco tus obras, que ni eres frío ni caliente. !!Ojalá fueses frío o caliente! 16 Pero por cuanto eres tibio, y no frío ni caliente, te vomitaré de mi boca. 17 Porque tú dices: Yo soy rico, y me he enriquecido, y de ninguna cosa tengo necesidad; y no sabes que tú eres un desventurado, miserable, pobre, ciego y desnudo. (3.15-17)

a.    Como nos vemos _______
b.    Como nos ve el _____

2.    El P___ para la iglesia.  
18 Por tanto, yo te aconsejo que de mí compres oro refinado en fuego, para que seas rico, y vestiduras blancas para vestirte, y que no se descubra la vergüenza de tu desnudez; y unge tus ojos con colirio, para que veas. 19 Yo reprendo y castigo a todos los que amo; sé, pues, celoso, y arrepiéntete. (3.18-19)

a.    El _____ del Señor
b.    El _____ del Señor

3.    La P______ para la Iglesia.
20 He aquí, yo estoy a la puerta y llamo; si alguno oye mi voz y abre la puerta, entraré a él, y cenaré con él, y él conmigo. 21 Al que venciere, le daré que se siente conmigo en mi trono, así como yo he vencido, y me he sentado con mi Padre en su trono. 22 El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias.(3.20-22)

a.    La ________ del Señor
b.    El ________ del Señor

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Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Apr 26, 2020

==========
April 26 | The Seven Churches
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
Update:
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April 26, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"An Open Door"
Revelation 3: 7-13

Revelation 3:7-13
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

God’s promise...
God has not forgotten you
The future is bright
Don’t give up

My response...

I am Surrendered to the King
--------------------------------------------------
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

My Confidence is in the Lord
--------------------------------------------------
And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening,
1 Chronicles 23:30

I will Wait for my Provider
--------------------------------------------------
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?
2 Samuel 7:18

I am Desperate for the Savior
--------------------------------------------------
Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them,
Numbers 20:6

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Direct download: IBC_20200426.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 26, 2020

==========
Abril 26, 2020
Filadelfia: La Iglesia con el verdadero poder.
==========

Apocalipsis 3:7-13
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Filadelfia: « E l Santo, el Verdadero, el que tiene la llave de David, el que abre y nadie cierra, y cierra y nadie abre, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras. Mira, he puesto delante de ti una puerta abierta que nadie puede cerrar, porque tienes un poco de poder, has guardado mi palabra y no has negado mi nombre. He aquí, yo entregaré a aquellos de la sinagoga de Satanás que se dicen ser judíos y no lo son, sino que mienten; he aquí, yo haré que vengan y se postren a tus pies, y sepan que yo te he amado. Porque has guardado la palabra de mi perseverancia, yo también te guardaré de la hora de la prueba, esa hora que está por venir sobre todo el mundo para poner a prueba a los que habitan sobre la tierra. Vengo pronto; retén firme lo que tienes, para que nadie tome tu corona. Al vencedor le haré una columna en el templo de mi Dios, y nunca más saldrá de allí; escribiré sobre él el nombre de mi Dios, y el nombre de la ciudad de mi Dios, la nueva Jerusalén, que desciende del cielo de mi Dios, y mi nombre nuevo. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El Dios de las puertas abiertas.
“Yo se todo lo que haces y te he abierto una puerta que nadie puede cerrar. Tienes poca fuerza…” v. 7-8.

a.    Fe y Firmeza.
b.    Es Dios quien me fortalece.                                            
       2corintios 12:10.

Para nuestro Dios, el “poco poder” y los “muchos adversarios” no son mas que puertas abiertas para manifestar su gloria.

2.    Hay que leer la Palabra Cristocéntricamente.
“…has obedecido mi palabra y no negaste mi nombre” v. 8.

a.    La palabra nos lleva a Cristo.
b.    Cristo nos envía al mundo para mostrar fidelidad.

Si alguien quiere sentirse orgulloso de algo, que sea de conocerme. 1corintios 1:31.

3.  Hay una recompensa: Un lugar en el Reino de Dios.

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Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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April 19, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Dead or Alive"
Revelation 3:1-6

Revelation 3:1-6
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

'...I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead

Dead: /ded/
separated; having no ability

The church at Sardis...
• Overestimated their significance
• Had more memories than dreams

Istrouma's impact depends on my commitment to the mission

Are you passionate about the mission or thankful for the institution?

Pay attention to the warning signs
---------------------------------------------
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Remember who you are
---------------------------------------------
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.

Don't be afraid to change
---------------------------------------------
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 19 – 20, 2020

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Abril 19, 2020
Viva o Muerta
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Apocalipsis 3:1-6
Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Sardis: « E l que tiene los siete Espíritus de Dios y las siete estrellas, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, que tienes nombre de que vives, pero estás muerto. Ponte en vela y afirma las cosas que quedan, que estaban a punto de morir, porque no he hallado completas tus obras delante de mi Dios. Acuérdate, pues, de lo que has recibido y oído; guárda lo y arrepiéntete. Por tanto, si no velas, vendré como ladrón, y no sabrás a qué hora vendré sobre ti. Pero tienes unos pocos en Sardis que no han manchado sus vestiduras, y andarán conmigo vestidos de blanco, porque son dignos. Así el vencedor será vestido de vestiduras blancas y no borraré su nombre del libro de la vida, y reconoceré su nombre delante de mi Padre y delante de sus ángeles. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

1.    El elogio a la iglesia
“Yo conozco tus obras…”
…¡No hay elogio!

2.    El Problema de la iglesia.
“Conozco tus obras; tienes fama de estar vivo, pero en realidad estás muerto.”(3.1b) …”pues no he encontrado que tus obras sean perfectas delante de mi Dios” (3.2b)

a.    Viva a los ojos de la gente
b.    Muerta a los ojos de Dios

3.    El Plan para la iglesia.  
“¡Despierta! Reaviva lo que aún es rescatable, … Así que recuerda lo que has recibido y oído; obedécelo y arrepiéntete.” (3.2-3ª)

a.    Despierta
b.    Reaviva
c.    Recordar
d.    Obedece
e.    Arrepiéntete

4.    Las Promesas para la Iglesia.
a.    Hay una advertencia
“Si no te mantienes despierto, cuando menos lo esperes caeré sobre ti como un ladrón…” (3b)

b.    Hay una recompensa
“Sin embargo, tienes en Sardis a unos cuantos que no se han manchado la ropa. Ellos, por ser dignos, andarán conmigo vestidos de blanco. El que salga vencedor se vestirá de blanco. Jamás borraré su nombre del libro de la vida, sino que reconoceré su nombre delante de mi Padre y delante de sus ángeles. El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” (3.4-5)

“El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” (3.7)

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Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Apr 12, 2020

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April 12 | Easter
We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Coronavirus Update
Update:
https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istrouma-update-april-577297

Connection Card
https://istrouma.org/myinfo

April 12, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Good News"
Romans 5:7-8

Romans 5:7-8
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s love is not based on how good you are

God’s love is because of how good He is

There is nothing He ______ do
There is nothing He ______ do

What should be my response?
______
______

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Istrouma en Español
Apr 12, 2020

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Abril 12, 2020
Easter / Pascua
Fe en tiempos de confusión
==========

Juan 20:11-18
Pero María estaba fuera, llorando junto al sepulcro; y mientras lloraba, se inclinó y miró dentro del sepulcro; y vio* dos ángeles vestidos de blanco, sentados donde había estado el cuerpo de Jesús, uno a la cabecera y otro a los pies. Y ellos le dijeron*: Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? Ella les dijo*: Porque se han llevado a mi Señor, y no sé dónde le han puesto. Al decir esto, se volvió y vio* a Jesús que estaba allí, pero no sabía que era Jesús. Jesús le dijo*: Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? ¿A quién buscas? Ella, pensando que era el hortelano, le dijo*: Señor, si tú le has llevado, dime dónde le has puesto, y yo me lo llevaré. Jesús le dijo*: ¡María! Ella, volviéndose, le dijo* en hebreo: ¡Raboní! (que quiere decir, Maestro). Jesús le dijo*: Suéltame porque todavía no he subido al Padre; pero ve a mis hermanos, y diles: «Subo a mi Padre y a vuestro Padre, a mi Dios y a vuestro Dios». Fue* María Magdalena y anunció a los discípulos: ¡He visto al Señor!, y que Él le había dicho estas cosas.

1.    Jesús es la respuesta para nuestra ______

a.    Jesús nos c______
b.    Jesús nos c______

2.    Jesús es la respuesta a nuestra _______  

a.    Debe ser p______
b.    Debe ser p______

3.    Jesús es la respuesta para nuestra ________  

a.    Debemos a_____
b.    Debemos a_____

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Istrouma en Español

Apr 5 – 6, 2020

 

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Abril 5, 2020

UNA IGLESIA BAJO LA MIRADA DEL SEÑOR

==========

 

Apocalipsis 2:18-29

Y escribe al ángel de la iglesia en Tiatira: « E l Hijo de Dios, que tiene ojos como llama de fuego, y cuyos pies son semejantes al bronce bruñido, dice esto: “Yo conozco tus obras, tu amor, tu fe, tu servicio y tu perseverancia, y que tus obras recientes son mayores que las primeras. Pero tengo esto contra ti: que toleras a esa mujer Jezabel, que se dice ser profetisa, y enseña y seduce a mis siervos a que cometan actos inmorales y coman cosas sacrificadas a los ídolos. Le he dado tiempo para arrepentirse, y no quiere arrepentirse de su inmoralidad. Mira, la postraré en cama, y a los que cometen adulterio con ella los arrojaré en gran tribulación, si no se arrepienten de las obras de ella. Y a sus hijos mataré con pestilencia, y todas las iglesias sabrán que yo soy el que escudriña las mentes y los corazones, y os daré a cada uno según vuestras obras. Pero a vosotros, a los demás que están en Tiatira, a cuantos no tienen esta doctrina, que no han conocido las cosas profundas de Satanás, como ellos las llaman, os digo: No os impongo otra carga. No obstante, lo que tenéis, retenedlo hasta que yo venga. Y al vencedor, al que guarda mis obras hasta el fin, LE DARÉ AUTORIDAD SOBRE LAS NACIONES; Y LAS REGIRÁ CON VARA DE HIERRO, COMO LOS VASOS DEL ALFARERO SON HECHOS PEDAZOS, como yo también he recibido autoridad de mi Padre; y le daré el lucero de la mañana. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias” ».

 

1.- LA IGLESIA RECIBE UN RECONOCIMIENTO.

 

A. DIOS CONOCE SUS _______

B. DIOS CONOCE CUANTO LE ______

C. DIOS CONOCE CUANTO _______

D. DIOS CONOCE HASTA DONDE PODEMOS ________

E. DIOS CONOCE NUESTRO NIVEL DE _______

 

2.- LA IGLESIA TAMBIEN PUEDE RECIBIR REPRIMENDAS COMO EN ESTE CASO.

 

A. TOLERAMOS LAS ACCIONES ________

B. RECIBIMOS TODA CLASE DE ________ SIN ESCUDRIÑAR.

C. NOS INVOLUCRAMOS EN ________ CULTURALES QUE PUEDEN    SER PER JUDICIALES.

 

3.- PROMESA Y PETICION DE DIOS PARA LA IGLESIA.

 

LIBERTAD DE _____ DE OPRESION.                   

AUTORIDAD PARA ______ A OTROS.

LUZ EN MEDIO DE LAS _______ DIFICILES.

 

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200405.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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DON’T BE MORE TOLERANT THAN JESUS (that’s the title)

     - Rev 2:18-29 (ESV - all the text)
 
CHRIST

     - Colossians 2:6-8 (ESV)

COMMENDATION
 
CORRECTION
 
CHRISTIAN TOLERANCE
 
CONSEQUENCE
Direct download: IBC_20200405.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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OUTLINE FOR WORSHIP GUIDE

March 29, 2020

Micah Cating, Student Pastor

Title: The Church in Pergamum

Revelation 2:12-17 ESV

 

Circumstance (Revelation 2:13a)

  • Pagan city

 

Conviction (Revelation 2:13b)

  • Courage to stand

 

Compromise (Revelation 2:14-15)

  • Core doctrine
  • Crumbling morality

 

Change (Revelation 2:16-17)

  • Repent
  • Reward
Direct download: IBC_20200329.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Las 7 cartas del Apocalipsis

El virus en la iglesia

Apocalipsis 2.12-17

 

 

  1. Elogio para la iglesia (2:13 )

“Yo conozco tus obras, y dónde moras, donde está el trono de Satanás; pero retienes mi nombre, y no has negado mi fe, ni aun en los días en que Antipas mi testigo fiel fue muerto entre vosotros, donde mora Satanás.” (2:13 )

 

  1. Jesús conoce sus Circunstancias (2.13ª)

 

  1. Jesús Conoce sus Convicciones (2.13b)

 

  1. Exhortación para la iglesia. (14-15)

Pero tengo unas pocas cosas contra ti: que tienes ahí a los que retienen la doctrina de Balaam, que enseñaba a Balac a poner tropiezo ante los hijos de Israel, a comer de cosas sacrificadas a los ídolos, y a cometer fornicación. 15 Y también tienes a los que retienen la doctrina de los nicolaítas, la que yo aborrezco.  ” (2.14-15)

 

  1. La iglesia en el mundo (2.14ª)

 

  1. El mundo en la iglesia (2.14b-15)

 

  1. Estimulo para la Iglesia. (2:16-17)

Por tanto, arrepiéntete; pues si no, vendré a ti pronto, y pelearé contra ellos con la espada de mi boca.  17 El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias. Al que venciere, daré a comer del maná escondido, y le daré una piedrecita blanca, y en la piedrecita escrito un nombre nuevo, el cual ninguno conoce sino aquel que lo recibe.” (2:16-17)

 

  1. Hay un precio (2.16-17a)

 

  1. Hay una promesa (2.17b)

 

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200329.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Mike Holmes, Executive Pastor

Direct download: IBC_20200223.mp3
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Dwayne Pitre

The Seven Churches 

"The Church in Smyrna"

Revelation 2:8-11

 

  1.    He knows their condition
  2.    Their pain
  3.    Their poverty

 

  1.    He gives them counsel
  2.    Do not fear
  3.    Be faithful

 

  1.    He rewards their commitment
  2.    There is a reward
  3.    There is a promise
Direct download: IBC_20200322.mp3
Category:The Seven Churches of Revelation -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español

 

Las 7 cartas del Apocalipsis

Firmes en la Fe

Apocalipsis 2.8-11

 

  1. Elogio para la iglesia

“Conozco tus sufrimientos y tu pobreza. ¡Sin embargo, eres rico! Sé cómo te calumnian los que dicen ser judíos, pero que, en realidad, no son más que una sinagoga de Satanás.” (2:9 )

 

  1. Por su tribulación y calumnias
  2. Por su pobreza y riqueza

 

  1. Exhortación para la iglesia.

“No tengas miedo de lo que estás por sufrir. Te advierto que a algunos de ustedes el diablo los meterá en la cárcel para ponerlos a prueba, y sufrirán persecución durante diez días. Sé fiel hasta la muerte…” (2.10)

 

  1. Debemos ser firmes
  2. Debemos ser fieles

 

  1. Estímulo para la Iglesia.

“…y yo te daré la corona de la vida. El que tenga oídos, que oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias. El que salga vencedor no sufrirá daño alguno de la segunda muerte.” (2:10b, 11)

 

  1. Hay un premio
  2. Hay una promesa
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200315.mp3
Category: Las siete iglesias de la revelación -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Faith Not Fear

 

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Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses. Bach’s compositions are brilliant works of musical innovation and complexity.

 

His father taught him to play the violin and harpsichord at a very early age. Orphaned at the age of ten, he went to live with his older brother who was a church organist who continued tutoring Bach. He grew to love the Lord and the scriptures. Proof of this is in the fact that he had some 80 theological volumes in his library (quite a trove in those days).  He also had a three-volume personal study Bible.  His hand written notes attest to his appetite for and love of the Word of God.

 

Music’s highest purpose for Bach was to glorify God. He attempted to please God in everything he did.

 

Before composing a single note, he would pen JJ at the top of the page. JJ is Latin for Jesu Juva which means “Jesus help.” Then he would pray, “Jesus, help me show your glory through the music I write. May it bring you joy even as it brings joy to your people.” 

 

When he completed the final note of a composition, he would then write SDG at the bottom of the page, SDG is Latin for Soli Deo Gloria, for the Glory of God Alone. His aim was that his music when played would point people to God and that God would get the glory. He once said, “My music comes from my heart as a humble offering to God.”

 

He was devoted to Christ, loved the scriptures and recognized that both life and music had a higher purpose. He said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

 

Bach’s life is an example of what it means to live for the glory of God. It is an example that we all should follow.  That will be our theme this coming Sunday at Istrouma.  Please join us!

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Solas

"Soli Deo Gloria"

Romanos 11: 36-12: 2

 

  1. Doctrina de la gloria de Dios.

               "Porque de él y por él y para él son todas las cosas" (11: 36a).

  1. Todas las cosas son de él
  2. Todas las cosas son a través de él
  3. Todas las cosas son para él

 

  1. Doxología para la gloria de Dios.

               “A él sea la gloria por siempre. Amén ”(11: 36b).

  1. La dirección de nuestra alabanza
  2. La duración de nuestra alabanza

 

  1. Devoción hacia la gloria de Dios.

"Por lo tanto, les pido, hermanos, por la misericordia de Dios, que se presenten ustedes mismos como un sacrificio vivo, santo y aceptable para Dios. ¡Así es como se debe adorar a Dios! No se adapten a este mundo, sino sean transformados mediante la renovación de vuestro entendimiento, Entonces aprenderán a conocer la voluntad de Dios para ustedes, la cual es buena, agradable y perfecta.” (12: 1-2).

 

  1. Comprometido con el Señor
  2. Cambiado por el señor
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200219.mp3
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Direct download: IBC_20100126.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Sola Gratia”

Sermon Series: Solas

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon January 19, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. Saved by grace

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1.    We have a problem

 

  1. We have a provision

   

           

  1. Saved through faith

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1. Faith is a response

 

  1.    Faith is a requirement

       

 

  1. Saved for works

 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

           

  1. God works in us

 

  1. God works through us

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

 

 

 

“Amazing Grace” is, perhaps, the best-known and best-loved hymn of all time.  The beauty and simplicity of its melody (which you just heard played) is only eclipsed only by the hope and depth of its lyrics. 

 

Listen to the first stanza: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.”

 

The author of these words, John Newton, was, by his own admission, a “wretch.”  Now, that’s not a word we use every day. It means, “a miserable person; one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune; a base, despicable, or vile person.”  You may think that’s an exaggeration on his part.  But he was a wretch.  He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, and a rebel.

 

You know the song, I trust, but you may not know the story of the author. So I want to tell you a little bit about the life of the man who wrote that song. John grew up in a home where his mother was an instrument maker and his father was a sea captain. His mother passed away when he was about 7 years of age, and so he was reared in those later childhood years by his father. He loved his father. He looked up to his father. His father was a sea captain, and so, get this, when he was 11 years old, John Newton went to sea. He made his six voyages across the oceans with his father before his father finally retired as a sea captain. Well, he had not gotten enough. He dreamed about the adventures of life on the open seas, but his dream was soon turned into a nightmare, and I want to tell you about it. 

 

He boarded a merchant ship and plied that trade for a while. But one day, he was in a port and he was pressed into naval service. We don't understand that term because we have an all-volunteer military. There's no draft. You volunteer if you want to serve. But back in those days in Jolly Old England, you could be pressed into service; that is, basically, you’d be captured and you would be forced to serve in the military, and so it was with John Newton. So now, he's no longer living a carefree life of a sailor aboard a merchant ship. He is now in the Royal Navy.  He kind of chafed under the regimen of that life. He ran afoul of his captain and was whipped, humiliated and demoted. He contemplated either murder of the captain or suicide. Before that could happen, he was able to escape and got aboard a slave trading ship called the Pegasus. He did not get along with the crew and was cast off in Africa. He was picked up by a slave trader, and became a slave himself in Africa until he was rescued. He said of that period that he was “a servant to slaves.”

 

Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with equally harsh consequences.

 

God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm.  Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of the souls on board, John fell to his knees and pled for grace. He was born again on board that ship that tempestuous night. 

 

He comes to know Christ and begins to learn of the word of God and how to live as a Christian, but he's still a slave trader himself. He captains a slave trading ship. He hauls many a slave across the oceans into slavery, but God begins to convict him about the wickedness of that. He becomes friends with a man named William Wilberforce who was the primary advocate in England for the abolition of slavery. John Newton became an ally in that cause, and of all things, this once slave trader, blasphemer, rebel, becomes a pastor of a local Baptist Church there in England. He began to be hymn writer, and he wrote those lyrics that we know and love, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  

 

God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton—not just from the terror of that storm but from the grip and guilt of his sins. Newton wrote the song now known as “Amazing Grace” years later, while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. 

 

Today, his lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.  It makes blind people like us see. And that is amazing! Only grace—sola gratia—is able to save sinners. For him, grace was amazing. 

 

God help us if we ever get to a point where we're not just astounded by grace, that it would redeem wretches like you and me, friend. But that's the nature of his grace; it is amazing. We're going to look at that theme this morning in a message entitled, Sola Gratia, the Latin phrase which means “grace alone.” I'm going to base the message today out of; really, I think the classic passage in the Bible about grace. Open your Bible please to Ephesians chapter 2, and we're going to begin reading in verse 8 and carry it through to verse 10. I’d like us all as a sign of our respect for God's Holy Word to please stand as its read. Precious words are these. Give it your very best hearing.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

We're celebrating 100 years here at Istrouma this month, and as we thought about this wonderful season of our church’s life, we thought we’re going to go back to some of the foundational principles upon which this great church has been built. Jesus himself, of course, is the Cornerstone. We're going to come to him in the next Sola series message. But we're looking at some of the great foundational principles, and among them are things like Sola Scriptura, which was our opening message in the series. There, I talked about how the word of God, scripture, is our only sure and sufficient guide to all matters of faith and practice, scripture. Then, last week, we took up the theme of Sola Fide, which is the Latin phrase for “faith alone.” Remember, we talked about the Philippian jailer who was terrified, near death. He fell down and he cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” The Apostle Paul answered him with words as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household.” Believe. That's how we're saved, Sola Fide.

 

Now, today, we're taking up the third of these messages, and it's entitled Sola Gratia, which is the Latin for “grace alone.” By the way, if you're new to Istrouma, we don't usually work in Latin here but this is an exceptional season of our church’s life, and it's fun for you to know these terms, even if we never revisit them again in terms of the Latin terminology. But bear with us; here it is, Sola Gratia, grace alone.

 

I want to begin in verse 8 and say that we are saved by grace. That's the first point, Sola Gratia. We are saved by grace. Look at the opening words to verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved.” You'll notice Paul is actually talking about something in the past, right? He says, “You have been saved,” not “You will be” or “You are being.” He uses the past tense because he's addressing this letter to the church at Ephesus. He's talking to believers. He says if you want to know how it is that you came to have life, it's by grace that you came to this life. It's by grace you have been saved. I know I'm talking to a lot of folks here that by grace you’ve been saved. But I am talking to some, and I don’t know who you are, but I'm talking to some who will be saved by grace. I pray that even this day you'll come to know the grace of God in truth.

 

What is grace? It is one of those church words. If I were to ask you to define grace, how would you do it? What is grace? A lot of people will define it in this way, two words: “unmerited favor.” What does that mean? “Unmerited” means you don't deserve it, and grace is God's unmerited favor to us. He loves us in spite of our sin. He forgives us in spite of our rebellion. He takes us to heaven though sin once stained us. It is unmerited favor shown us because of what Christ has done.

 

I'll give you an acrostic that I learned as a kid. I've always remembered it, and I think it's very helpful. If you'll take the letters of the word “grace,” I’m defining it for you, what is Grace? G-R-A-C-E. Write down beside each letter these terms:

            G          God’s

            R          Riches

            A          At

            C          Christ’s

            E          Expense

 

Did you get that? Grace. God's riches at Christ's expense. That's what grace is. What are God's riches? God's riches would be his forgiveness; his patience with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; it’s heaven as our eternal home; it's abundant life, joy-filled life, peace, here and now. Those are God's riches, and they come to us at Christ's expense. In other words, those great gifts that I've named were not free. Someone paid for them that they might be ours, and it was at Christ's expense that they come to us. So that is grace. We are saved by grace.

 

I want to say two things about this. Number one, we have a problem. Houston, Baton Rouge, Luling, Lafayette, Monroe, South America, Africa, Asia, we have a problem. What's our problem? Our problem is, in a word, sin. I want to refer to jewelers for just a moment. I know we've got a couple of jewelers in our church, and I appreciate them so much, and I hope you’ll frequent their business. But these jewelers are very ingenious. If you say “I want to buy a diamond,” you know what a jeweler will often do? They'll take out a piece of black velvet fabric, and they’ll lay that black fabric down, and then upon that black fabric they’ll place the diamond or diamonds. Then they'll put a large spotlight shining down on those diamonds. Why do you think they put the diamonds against that black backdrop? It is so that you will be able to appreciate in all of their brilliance the beauty of the diamond. A diamond against a white counter may not glisten and shine as well as that diamond against a black backdrop. What's the point? You'll never fully appreciate the brilliance and beauty of grace until you see it against the black backdrop of our sin. That's why we're amazed by grace, that we, though sinners, can be forgiven and accepted by a holy and righteous God. When I see his grace against the backdrop of our filth and sin I'm amazed by it. Yes, our problem is our sin. 

 

Let me show you this in the text. If you’ll look to verse 1 of this very same chapter it'll be very clear. Let me begin reading there in Ephesians 2, verse 1: 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked [that’s describing us, folks], following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

 

Now, let me pause right there. He's describing humanity. You might be tempted to think that because we’re Christians we are above what he calls the “sons of disobedience.” You know, we can look down our spiritual noses at those “lesser humans.” We’re the Christians. But look at what verse 3 says. I love this. He says:

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh…

 

Folks, look. I once walked in the passions of the flesh. I did things of which I am ashamed. Just like John Newton; he didn't have much on me, if any. I, too, am a wretch, a sinner, and when I see God's grace given me against the backdrop of my past, and how I lived in the passions of my flesh, I'm amazed and I hope you are as well. Now, that's our past. That's our problem, right? But I've come to tell you good news, not bad news. That's bad news. Let me give you some good news. Though we have a problem, it is answered by God's provision, and that's the next sub point. We have a provision. You’ll see this as we continue reading this very passage. It says, Ephesians 2 verses 4 and following:

4 But God, being rich in mercy...

 

Let me pause to ask you to do something. As I'm reading this, I want you to watch for the word “grace,” and when it occurs, I want you to count it. All right, let’s see how many times it occurs in these verses. We are sinners. We once walked in the passage of our flesh. He says, 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses [even then, he loved us, yes, he], made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and [he] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [And then verse 8, our key verse] 8 For by grace you have been saved... 

 

How many times in what I just read, including verse 8, does the word “grace” appear? Three. Exactly right. Not once, not twice, but three times over he is stressing to us God's provision for our problem. Sin is addressed by grace, and by grace we are saved. 

 

I want to give you an illustration that I hope will help turn the light on in your understanding of this. I'm going to tell you a make-believe story. It's the story of a father. This father had an only son, and he loved his boy as fathers do. The boy got old enough to go out on his own. One day the boy was out, and he was attacked by some thugs. They beat him and they robbed him, and in the course of their attack the young son was killed. It was a brutal murder, and the father was heartbroken, as you can imagine. 

 

The father considered how he might deal with those who had murdered his son. He thought of four possible responses he could make. First of all, he could seek vengeance. Do you know what vengeance is? Vengeance is when you take the law into your own hands. Without police, without courts, without law, he would go and he would execute those that had killed his son. In vengeance the criminals would get worse than they deserve, because really, everybody has a right to a fair trial. Everybody has their day in court. Vengeance is inappropriate. God says, “Don't seek vengeance. Leave that in my just hands,” right? “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord's says. But he considered vengeance.

 

Secondly, he said there's another option. I could seek justice. That could be my response. Leave it to the police to find the criminals; leave it to the court to try them; the jury to decide on their guilt or innocence; and the judge to declare the sentence. Now if vengeance giving them worse than they deserve, justice is giving them straight-up what they deserve. 

 

But then he thought of a third possible response. He thought, I could show them mercy and forgive them for what they've done and plead mercy in the court on their behalf. That would be unbelievable, would it not? I think it's beyond most of us to respond in that way. If vengeance is getting worse than what they deserve, and justice is getting what they deserve, mercy would be not getting what they do deserve. Yes, they deserve a sentence. They deserve prison. They deserve punishment. Perhaps they deserve execution. But mercy would say, “No.” 

 

Then, there remained one possible response. Not vengeance; not justice; not even mercy, as great as it is. There remained the option of grace. Now if vengeance is getting worse than you deserve, and justice is getting what you deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve, what would grace be? Grace would be getting what you don't deserve. What if in that story the bereaved father looked with pity upon the criminals and said, “Not only do I forgive you, I want to adopt you into my family, and I want you to inherit the riches that would have been my son’s. You say, “Preacher I can't stand the thought of that. That's unbelievable that anyone would respond in that way.” and I would say, “Yes, wouldn't it be amazing? It would. And that's why we refer to it as “amazing grace.” 

 

Friend, we are those criminals. Do you not see that? It was your sin and my sin for which Christ was nailed to the cross, not for any guilt of his own. God in love looked down at his only beloved there. God could have sought vengeance upon us. He certainly could have executed justice or stopped short at mercy, but he went all the way, and he would adopt us into his family. Are you a part of God's forever family? Friend, if you're not, you may be this very day. How do you get into his family? You’re saved by grace.

 

Now, number two. Not only are we saved by grace, but, number two, we’re saved through faith. When you read your Bible, I think you know this now, but let me just say it, every word in the Bible matters. Every word. You can't even change the prepositions. You can't say you’re saved by faith. You're not saved by faith, you’re saved by grace, but you’re saved through faith. 

 

Now, let's explore this just for a moment. Because God has been gracious in giving his son, you might be tempted to think that everybody's going to be saved. We’re saved by grace, and that's God's action in Christ on our behalf. He died for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2 says. Well, if he died for everyone, and grace is available to everyone, then won’t everyone be saved? There are those who hold that position. It's called “universalism,” that everyone, universally, will be saved. Many of them will even say it’s because of Christ and his death on the cross that redeems everybody regardless of their response. But friend, I'll just say in response to that, and I don't have time to address it fully, I’ll just say they didn't get that idea from the Bible. The Bible teaches that there are two destinies, heaven and hell, and there are people who will spend eternity in heaven or in hell. So no, not everyone is saved, even by the grace of God, because you see, there is a response that is required of us, and faith is a response to God's grace. Now, if you would look there again at verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved [and we’re emphasizing those two words in bold] through faith.” Grace precedes faith, and that's very important, folks. Listen. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh, it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe.” It's as though if you had faith, regardless of in whom you put your faith or in what you put your faith, just believe, and you will be saved. You can believe in Muhammad, you can believe in Confucius, you can believe in naturalism and you can believe in pantheism and worship the trees and the rocks and the lakes, it doesn't matter what you believe; just believe. We’re saved by faith. No, friends, we're not saved by faith; we’re saved by grace, the act of God in Christ, but it comes to us through faith. That's the means by which we make it our own.

 

God alone saves, and it is through faith that that salvation comes to us. Our faith, I'll say it this way, our faith has a focus, and that focus is Christ. Remember last week when we were talking about sola fide, only by faith are you saved, and we were talking about the story of the Philippian jailer who was terrified that he might die. An earthquake had shaken the prison where he was responsible for the prisoners, and in his terror he asked this point-blank question, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer was as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Notice the answer was not, “Believe and you will be saved.” No, that would be to truncate the answer. It would be to omit the central part. It is not “Believe and you will be saved.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Take out Christ, take out his grace, his atoning death on the cross, and we will all be lost. It is grace that saves us through faith. Faith is our response to God's grace. I think of it this way, and perhaps this will be helpful to you. I think of grace as God reaching down from heaven to save a drowning world, drowning in our sins, and grace is him extending his hand to save us. I view faith as the response. Faith would be us looking heavenward and extending our hand to take the hand of grace. Here's the thing, folks, listen. When God's hand of grace is clasped by your hand of faith, salvation comes to you. His hand is extended. The only question that remains is, “Have you responded? Have you taken hold of that grace?” And you do so by faith, by entrusting yourself to him who died for your sins. That's how we get saved, by grace through faith. 


Faith is a response, and second here, faith is a requirement. You must believe. When I say sola gratia, only grace, some might misunderstand and think we're saying you don't even have to believe. Sola gratia, only grace, that's all that's needed. No, it's “only grace” in a special sense. When the reformers like Martin Luther used that term, they were referring to salvation coming to us by grace apart from works. Would you look at these verses again? Look with me. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast

 

It's in that sense that it’s sola gratia. It's not God’s grace plus your good works. You know, there are a lot of people who think that God admits people or rejects people into heaven on this basis. Watch. They think that God has this big scale in heaven, and on one side God's going to stack up the bad things you've done, the lies you’ve told, the lust you’ve felt, the immorality of your life, the dishonesty and the pride and the prejudice. He's going to stack all that up on one side. Then, bless your heart, he's going to come over here and he's going to stack up the good things you've done, and it's going to teeter. If you've done more good than bad, whew! You made it in. But if you did more bad than good, uh-oh, you’re lost. That's how most of the world thinks. The problem is, that is not what the Bible teaches. Sola scriptura teaches that it’s sola gratia, only grace through faith. We're not saved by our works. You see, if you were saved by the good things that that you did, when you get to heaven you be like this. You’d put your thumbs under your suspenders and you’d be like, “Hey, Lord. Good to see you. I got here because of the good things I did. You know, I was a good guy. I was faithful to my wife. I gave money. I was sweet to the little old lady down the street. I never robbed a bank. I'm good.” 

 

When we get to heaven, nobody's going to have their thumbs under their suspenders. You know what we're going to do? We're going to fall on our faces, and we're going to say, “God, how could you save a wretch like me? How great you are. How gracious you are that you would forgive me and save me.” It's all of grace, but it does require faith.  

 

Let me give you an illustration. I hope this will help. Can you see what this is? I got this in the mail this week from some sweet church members. They sent me this as a gift. It's a gift card for $200 to Fleming's Steakhouse. I’ll get a filet mignon with that. They sent this to me. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't my wife's and my anniversary. I had not mowed their yard. Just out of love, they sent this to us. Do you know what you call that? Grace. You see, I have something that's valuable here and I didn't pay one red cent for it. It's grace. But is my belly full? And do you know why my belly isn't full? It’s because I have to redeem this. The way it gets redeemed is through faith. You see, I have to believe that this is not a gimmick that this is not a fake gift card. I have to believe that it’s real. I have to believe that the magnetic strip on the back is still good. I have to believe that they haven't already spent the $200 and just sent it to me as a gag. A curse upon them if they did that! No, I know, I know. I believe this is real, and as soon as my wife and I can carve out the time, we're going to go redeem this. We're going to sit down. I think I'm going to get a filet mignon. Could I get an “Amen”? Wrapped in bacon! With a baked potato, lots of butter, lots of sour cream – and no scallions. And I'm going to eat that. My wife, she’s going to get whatever she wants. In fact, I think we may even take a couple with us. Haven't chosen who it is yet; we've got $200! And I'm going to eat that meal, and they're going to bring a bill. You know what I'm going to do when they bring that bill? I'm going to slap that card down on that bill – paid in full by the merits of another!  Now, what's the point? This is grace, but I must exercise faith. I must possess it. I must make it mine, and I have to exert faith to do so. Christ offers you something much more than a gift card to Fleming's Steakhouse. In fact, I would just say pitiful in comparison. Pitiful in comparison. 

 

He offers us eternal life, and you don't pay a red cent for it. But somebody paid for it, and he didn't spend his money to do it; he did it with his blood. We were not redeemed with things such as silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ as of the spotless lamb of God. We’re saved by grace through faith. Faith is often expressed just through prayer. “Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Lord, I call on you to forgive me. I believe Christ died on the cross for me.” We make that profession through prayer and we acknowledge it and we receive by faith the gift he offers. 

 

That brings me to the last point. Sola gratia, only Grace? There are going to be a couple of people that protest what I'm preaching, and here's the way the protest goes; I know how this goes. There's going to be one group, and I'll call them legalists. They're going to say, “You mean I can be saved just by the grace of God, by putting my faith in him? You mean I don't have to do good works to save myself? That's too easy. No, no, no, they say.” They reject it. They say it's faith and works that redeem. That's the legalist. And there's another category over here, and they're going to say, “Oh, I'm saved by grace through faith and I don't have to do good works? Awesome! I'll walk an aisle, I'll pray a prayer, and then I'll just live like the devil until I get to heaven, and then I'm in by the grace of God.” That's wrong too. It’s the legalist and it’s the lawless. I'm going to do what I want.

 

How would the Bible answer the legalist and the lawless? He does it perfectly, right here in this text. Now, look at verse 10, “We're saved by grace through faith for good works.” We’re saved for works. Folks, look up here. Remember I told you every word in the Bible matters, every word? It’s not just big words like “grace, faith, works.” Those are big, momentous, weighty words. Even the little words matter – “by, through, for.” They're called prepositions. Little bitty words, but they matter. You can't switch them and have the truth. Like you can't say, “I'm saved by works unto faith or unto grace. No, you can't invert them. They are just as God gave them. So while I'm not saved by good works, I am saved for good works. 

 

Two things about this I want to stress: Number one, God works in us. I love this. This is so good! The Bible calls us his workmanship. You know, we've got some guys in our church who are craftsman. I can think of a couple of guys who do woodworking. They do some pretty exquisite work; I’ve got some of their crafts in my home. I think of some painters that we have in our church, great artists, and you know some of them. Well, did you know, we are God's work of art? The word here “workmanship” is the word poiema in Greek, and from it we get our English word “poem.” Listen, friend, listen. You are God's poem. They used it back in those days for a work of art. It could be a piece of poetry. It could be a song. It could be a painting. It could be a sculpture. We are God's – I put it to you this way – we are God's masterpiece. You’re not unimportant. You’re not without value. You’re not without gifts and talents. No, you’re the creation of God. And could I just say, we’re twice over the creation of God. I was his by virtue of creation, and now I'm his by virtue of salvation. I was a creation of God; he knit me together in my mother's womb, but I'm a new creation by means of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man, boy, woman or girl is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I've been made new in Christ. I am his creation and I am his re-creation. You’re God's masterpiece. You're his poem. You’re his painting. You’re his sculpture. 

 

This isn’t so that we can look in the mirror and admire ourselves.  Wow, aren't I amazing! I am God's masterpiece; I'm God's workmanship! No. Notice we’re created in Christ Jesus unto, or for, good works. You were created for a purpose. You were created with a plan in mind. Listen, I've been living out the plan of God in my life for many decades now, and the journey following Christ is tremendous. Oh, the things God has done. And my task in life is to listen for the voice of God and follow the Spirit’s leading, and it's your job as well. He wants to use you to change this world. 

 

I want to stress to you an opportunity coming next Sunday night. Folks, I know we normally only come here on Sunday mornings, but look at me and listen to me please, okay? I don't often ask you guys to go over and above, but I'm asking you to do it this coming Sunday. Come back to church Sunday night. Let's just repeat that together. Come back to church Sunday night. All right? 6 PM. Here's why. You're going to be equipped to do the good work of being an ambassador of the King. That's we’re made new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is followed by 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors of Christ, and we’re making an appeal that you'll be reconciled to God.” And God wants to use you to help this world come to Christ, to know the grace of God through faith. 


I'm going to tell you one last story. There's a great preacher, and I'm going to recommend him to you. He's a black preacher. His name is H. B. Charles, Jr., and if you like good preaching, look him up on YouTube. He told a story about a lady who was heartbroken. The reason she was heartbroken was she had received an heirloom from her grandmother. It may have even been passed down from a previous generation, but what it was was very simple. It was a handkerchief, and it had been passed down to her. It was a keepsake and she treasured it. But one day, she spilled a bottle of ink and stained that handkerchief. She was really sad and she was talking to a friend of hers telling what had happened. The friend said, “Send me the handkerchief.” It happens that her friend was an artist. He got the handkerchief, and he didn't tell her what he was going to do. He got the handkerchief, and using the stain of the ink as the starting point, he painted onto the face of that napkin a beautiful image. He made it a work of art. Now, H. B. didn't say what the work of art was, but I'd like to think it was the face of her grandmother. There was a face on the face of that napkin, and what was a mess became a masterpiece. She treasured that now that the stain, the mess, had become a masterpiece.

 

Why do I tell that story? You know why? You and I are like that handkerchief. The bottle of ink has been spilled on us by our sin and our disobedience, our trespasses. We look up, despairing because of the stain, and God in grace looks down and he actually takes those stains and he covers them, and he makes a masterpiece out of our mess. And the name of that is grace. Amazing grace.

 

Would you stand? Let’s sing together. 

Direct download: IBC_20200119.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Sola Gratia”

Sermon Series: Solas

Ephesians 2:8-10

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon January 19, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. Saved by grace

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1.    We have a problem

 

  1. We have a provision

   

           

  1. Saved through faith

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

  1. Faith is a response

 

  1.    Faith is a requirement

       

 

  1. Saved for works

 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

           

  1. God works in us

 

  1. God works through us

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

 

 

 

“Amazing Grace” is, perhaps, the best-known and best-loved hymn of all time.  The beauty and simplicity of its melody (which you just heard played) is only eclipsed only by the hope and depth of its lyrics. 

 

Listen to the first stanza: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see.”

 

The author of these words, John Newton, was, by his own admission, a “wretch.”  Now, that’s not a word we use every day. It means, “a miserable person; one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune; a base, despicable, or vile person.”  You may think that’s an exaggeration on his part.  But he was a wretch.  He was a slave trader, a blasphemer, and a rebel.

 

You know the song, I trust, but you may not know the story of the author. So I want to tell you a little bit about the life of the man who wrote that song. John grew up in a home where his mother was an instrument maker and his father was a sea captain. His mother passed away when he was about 7 years of age, and so he was reared in those later childhood years by his father. He loved his father. He looked up to his father. His father was a sea captain, and so, get this, when he was 11 years old, John Newton went to sea. He made his six voyages across the oceans with his father before his father finally retired as a sea captain. Well, he had not gotten enough. He dreamed about the adventures of life on the open seas, but his dream was soon turned into a nightmare, and I want to tell you about it. 

 

He boarded a merchant ship and plied that trade for a while. But one day, he was in a port and he was pressed into naval service. We don't understand that term because we have an all-volunteer military. There's no draft. You volunteer if you want to serve. But back in those days in Jolly Old England, you could be pressed into service; that is, basically, you’d be captured and you would be forced to serve in the military, and so it was with John Newton. So now, he's no longer living a carefree life of a sailor aboard a merchant ship. He is now in the Royal Navy.  He kind of chafed under the regimen of that life. He ran afoul of his captain and was whipped, humiliated and demoted. He contemplated either murder of the captain or suicide. Before that could happen, he was able to escape and got aboard a slave trading ship called the Pegasus. He did not get along with the crew and was cast off in Africa. He was picked up by a slave trader, and became a slave himself in Africa until he was rescued. He said of that period that he was “a servant to slaves.”

 

Later in life he wrote, “I sinned with a high hand, and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Newton lived a hard life with equally harsh consequences.

 

God got his attention though. In 1748, Newton’s slave ship was nearly wrecked by an intense storm.  Surrounded by crashing waves, ferocious winds, creaking timbers, and the cries of the souls on board, John fell to his knees and pled for grace. He was born again on board that ship that tempestuous night. 

 

He comes to know Christ and begins to learn of the word of God and how to live as a Christian, but he's still a slave trader himself. He captains a slave trading ship. He hauls many a slave across the oceans into slavery, but God begins to convict him about the wickedness of that. He becomes friends with a man named William Wilberforce who was the primary advocate in England for the abolition of slavery. John Newton became an ally in that cause, and of all things, this once slave trader, blasphemer, rebel, becomes a pastor of a local Baptist Church there in England. He began to be hymn writer, and he wrote those lyrics that we know and love, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”  

 

God’s grace, which reaches anyone, anywhere, saved a wretch like John Newton—not just from the terror of that storm but from the grip and guilt of his sins. Newton wrote the song now known as “Amazing Grace” years later, while serving as a pastor in Olney, England. 

 

Today, his lyrics still inspire, encourage, and instruct people about the radical reality of God’s amazing grace. It gives “wretches” like us hope.  It makes blind people like us see. And that is amazing! Only grace—sola gratia—is able to save sinners. For him, grace was amazing. 

 

God help us if we ever get to a point where we're not just astounded by grace, that it would redeem wretches like you and me, friend. But that's the nature of his grace; it is amazing. We're going to look at that theme this morning in a message entitled, Sola Gratia, the Latin phrase which means “grace alone.” I'm going to base the message today out of; really, I think the classic passage in the Bible about grace. Open your Bible please to Ephesians chapter 2, and we're going to begin reading in verse 8 and carry it through to verse 10. I’d like us all as a sign of our respect for God's Holy Word to please stand as its read. Precious words are these. Give it your very best hearing.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

We're celebrating 100 years here at Istrouma this month, and as we thought about this wonderful season of our church’s life, we thought we’re going to go back to some of the foundational principles upon which this great church has been built. Jesus himself, of course, is the Cornerstone. We're going to come to him in the next Sola series message. But we're looking at some of the great foundational principles, and among them are things like Sola Scriptura, which was our opening message in the series. There, I talked about how the word of God, scripture, is our only sure and sufficient guide to all matters of faith and practice, scripture. Then, last week, we took up the theme of Sola Fide, which is the Latin phrase for “faith alone.” Remember, we talked about the Philippian jailer who was terrified, near death. He fell down and he cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” The Apostle Paul answered him with words as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household.” Believe. That's how we're saved, Sola Fide.

 

Now, today, we're taking up the third of these messages, and it's entitled Sola Gratia, which is the Latin for “grace alone.” By the way, if you're new to Istrouma, we don't usually work in Latin here but this is an exceptional season of our church’s life, and it's fun for you to know these terms, even if we never revisit them again in terms of the Latin terminology. But bear with us; here it is, Sola Gratia, grace alone.

 

I want to begin in verse 8 and say that we are saved by grace. That's the first point, Sola Gratia. We are saved by grace. Look at the opening words to verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved.” You'll notice Paul is actually talking about something in the past, right? He says, “You have been saved,” not “You will be” or “You are being.” He uses the past tense because he's addressing this letter to the church at Ephesus. He's talking to believers. He says if you want to know how it is that you came to have life, it's by grace that you came to this life. It's by grace you have been saved. I know I'm talking to a lot of folks here that by grace you’ve been saved. But I am talking to some, and I don’t know who you are, but I'm talking to some who will be saved by grace. I pray that even this day you'll come to know the grace of God in truth.

 

What is grace? It is one of those church words. If I were to ask you to define grace, how would you do it? What is grace? A lot of people will define it in this way, two words: “unmerited favor.” What does that mean? “Unmerited” means you don't deserve it, and grace is God's unmerited favor to us. He loves us in spite of our sin. He forgives us in spite of our rebellion. He takes us to heaven though sin once stained us. It is unmerited favor shown us because of what Christ has done.

 

I'll give you an acrostic that I learned as a kid. I've always remembered it, and I think it's very helpful. If you'll take the letters of the word “grace,” I’m defining it for you, what is Grace? G-R-A-C-E. Write down beside each letter these terms:

            G          God’s

            R          Riches

            A          At

            C          Christ’s

            E          Expense

 

Did you get that? Grace. God's riches at Christ's expense. That's what grace is. What are God's riches? God's riches would be his forgiveness; his patience with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; it’s heaven as our eternal home; it's abundant life, joy-filled life, peace, here and now. Those are God's riches, and they come to us at Christ's expense. In other words, those great gifts that I've named were not free. Someone paid for them that they might be ours, and it was at Christ's expense that they come to us. So that is grace. We are saved by grace.

 

I want to say two things about this. Number one, we have a problem. Houston, Baton Rouge, Luling, Lafayette, Monroe, South America, Africa, Asia, we have a problem. What's our problem? Our problem is, in a word, sin. I want to refer to jewelers for just a moment. I know we've got a couple of jewelers in our church, and I appreciate them so much, and I hope you’ll frequent their business. But these jewelers are very ingenious. If you say “I want to buy a diamond,” you know what a jeweler will often do? They'll take out a piece of black velvet fabric, and they’ll lay that black fabric down, and then upon that black fabric they’ll place the diamond or diamonds. Then they'll put a large spotlight shining down on those diamonds. Why do you think they put the diamonds against that black backdrop? It is so that you will be able to appreciate in all of their brilliance the beauty of the diamond. A diamond against a white counter may not glisten and shine as well as that diamond against a black backdrop. What's the point? You'll never fully appreciate the brilliance and beauty of grace until you see it against the black backdrop of our sin. That's why we're amazed by grace, that we, though sinners, can be forgiven and accepted by a holy and righteous God. When I see his grace against the backdrop of our filth and sin I'm amazed by it. Yes, our problem is our sin. 

 

Let me show you this in the text. If you’ll look to verse 1 of this very same chapter it'll be very clear. Let me begin reading there in Ephesians 2, verse 1: 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked [that’s describing us, folks], following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

 

Now, let me pause right there. He's describing humanity. You might be tempted to think that because we’re Christians we are above what he calls the “sons of disobedience.” You know, we can look down our spiritual noses at those “lesser humans.” We’re the Christians. But look at what verse 3 says. I love this. He says:

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh…

 

Folks, look. I once walked in the passions of the flesh. I did things of which I am ashamed. Just like John Newton; he didn't have much on me, if any. I, too, am a wretch, a sinner, and when I see God's grace given me against the backdrop of my past, and how I lived in the passions of my flesh, I'm amazed and I hope you are as well. Now, that's our past. That's our problem, right? But I've come to tell you good news, not bad news. That's bad news. Let me give you some good news. Though we have a problem, it is answered by God's provision, and that's the next sub point. We have a provision. You’ll see this as we continue reading this very passage. It says, Ephesians 2 verses 4 and following:

4 But God, being rich in mercy...

 

Let me pause to ask you to do something. As I'm reading this, I want you to watch for the word “grace,” and when it occurs, I want you to count it. All right, let’s see how many times it occurs in these verses. We are sinners. We once walked in the passage of our flesh. He says, 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses [even then, he loved us, yes, he], made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and [he] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [And then verse 8, our key verse] 8 For by grace you have been saved... 

 

How many times in what I just read, including verse 8, does the word “grace” appear? Three. Exactly right. Not once, not twice, but three times over he is stressing to us God's provision for our problem. Sin is addressed by grace, and by grace we are saved. 

 

I want to give you an illustration that I hope will help turn the light on in your understanding of this. I'm going to tell you a make-believe story. It's the story of a father. This father had an only son, and he loved his boy as fathers do. The boy got old enough to go out on his own. One day the boy was out, and he was attacked by some thugs. They beat him and they robbed him, and in the course of their attack the young son was killed. It was a brutal murder, and the father was heartbroken, as you can imagine. 

 

The father considered how he might deal with those who had murdered his son. He thought of four possible responses he could make. First of all, he could seek vengeance. Do you know what vengeance is? Vengeance is when you take the law into your own hands. Without police, without courts, without law, he would go and he would execute those that had killed his son. In vengeance the criminals would get worse than they deserve, because really, everybody has a right to a fair trial. Everybody has their day in court. Vengeance is inappropriate. God says, “Don't seek vengeance. Leave that in my just hands,” right? “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord's says. But he considered vengeance.

 

Secondly, he said there's another option. I could seek justice. That could be my response. Leave it to the police to find the criminals; leave it to the court to try them; the jury to decide on their guilt or innocence; and the judge to declare the sentence. Now if vengeance giving them worse than they deserve, justice is giving them straight-up what they deserve. 

 

But then he thought of a third possible response. He thought, I could show them mercy and forgive them for what they've done and plead mercy in the court on their behalf. That would be unbelievable, would it not? I think it's beyond most of us to respond in that way. If vengeance is getting worse than what they deserve, and justice is getting what they deserve, mercy would be not getting what they do deserve. Yes, they deserve a sentence. They deserve prison. They deserve punishment. Perhaps they deserve execution. But mercy would say, “No.” 

 

Then, there remained one possible response. Not vengeance; not justice; not even mercy, as great as it is. There remained the option of grace. Now if vengeance is getting worse than you deserve, and justice is getting what you deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve, what would grace be? Grace would be getting what you don't deserve. What if in that story the bereaved father looked with pity upon the criminals and said, “Not only do I forgive you, I want to adopt you into my family, and I want you to inherit the riches that would have been my son’s. You say, “Preacher I can't stand the thought of that. That's unbelievable that anyone would respond in that way.” and I would say, “Yes, wouldn't it be amazing? It would. And that's why we refer to it as “amazing grace.” 

 

Friend, we are those criminals. Do you not see that? It was your sin and my sin for which Christ was nailed to the cross, not for any guilt of his own. God in love looked down at his only beloved there. God could have sought vengeance upon us. He certainly could have executed justice or stopped short at mercy, but he went all the way, and he would adopt us into his family. Are you a part of God's forever family? Friend, if you're not, you may be this very day. How do you get into his family? You’re saved by grace.

 

Now, number two. Not only are we saved by grace, but, number two, we’re saved through faith. When you read your Bible, I think you know this now, but let me just say it, every word in the Bible matters. Every word. You can't even change the prepositions. You can't say you’re saved by faith. You're not saved by faith, you’re saved by grace, but you’re saved through faith. 

 

Now, let's explore this just for a moment. Because God has been gracious in giving his son, you might be tempted to think that everybody's going to be saved. We’re saved by grace, and that's God's action in Christ on our behalf. He died for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2 says. Well, if he died for everyone, and grace is available to everyone, then won’t everyone be saved? There are those who hold that position. It's called “universalism,” that everyone, universally, will be saved. Many of them will even say it’s because of Christ and his death on the cross that redeems everybody regardless of their response. But friend, I'll just say in response to that, and I don't have time to address it fully, I’ll just say they didn't get that idea from the Bible. The Bible teaches that there are two destinies, heaven and hell, and there are people who will spend eternity in heaven or in hell. So no, not everyone is saved, even by the grace of God, because you see, there is a response that is required of us, and faith is a response to God's grace. Now, if you would look there again at verse 8, “For by grace you have been saved [and we’re emphasizing those two words in bold] through faith.” Grace precedes faith, and that's very important, folks. Listen. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Oh, it doesn't matter what you believe, just believe.” It's as though if you had faith, regardless of in whom you put your faith or in what you put your faith, just believe, and you will be saved. You can believe in Muhammad, you can believe in Confucius, you can believe in naturalism and you can believe in pantheism and worship the trees and the rocks and the lakes, it doesn't matter what you believe; just believe. We’re saved by faith. No, friends, we're not saved by faith; we’re saved by grace, the act of God in Christ, but it comes to us through faith. That's the means by which we make it our own.

 

God alone saves, and it is through faith that that salvation comes to us. Our faith, I'll say it this way, our faith has a focus, and that focus is Christ. Remember last week when we were talking about sola fide, only by faith are you saved, and we were talking about the story of the Philippian jailer who was terrified that he might die. An earthquake had shaken the prison where he was responsible for the prisoners, and in his terror he asked this point-blank question, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer was as clear as a bell, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Notice the answer was not, “Believe and you will be saved.” No, that would be to truncate the answer. It would be to omit the central part. It is not “Believe and you will be saved.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Take out Christ, take out his grace, his atoning death on the cross, and we will all be lost. It is grace that saves us through faith. Faith is our response to God's grace. I think of it this way, and perhaps this will be helpful to you. I think of grace as God reaching down from heaven to save a drowning world, drowning in our sins, and grace is him extending his hand to save us. I view faith as the response. Faith would be us looking heavenward and extending our hand to take the hand of grace. Here's the thing, folks, listen. When God's hand of grace is clasped by your hand of faith, salvation comes to you. His hand is extended. The only question that remains is, “Have you responded? Have you taken hold of that grace?” And you do so by faith, by entrusting yourself to him who died for your sins. That's how we get saved, by grace through faith. 


Faith is a response, and second here, faith is a requirement. You must believe. When I say sola gratia, only grace, some might misunderstand and think we're saying you don't even have to believe. Sola gratia, only grace, that's all that's needed. No, it's “only grace” in a special sense. When the reformers like Martin Luther used that term, they were referring to salvation coming to us by grace apart from works. Would you look at these verses again? Look with me. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast

 

It's in that sense that it’s sola gratia. It's not God’s grace plus your good works. You know, there are a lot of people who think that God admits people or rejects people into heaven on this basis. Watch. They think that God has this big scale in heaven, and on one side God's going to stack up the bad things you've done, the lies you’ve told, the lust you’ve felt, the immorality of your life, the dishonesty and the pride and the prejudice. He's going to stack all that up on one side. Then, bless your heart, he's going to come over here and he's going to stack up the good things you've done, and it's going to teeter. If you've done more good than bad, whew! You made it in. But if you did more bad than good, uh-oh, you’re lost. That's how most of the world thinks. The problem is, that is not what the Bible teaches. Sola scriptura teaches that it’s sola gratia, only grace through faith. We're not saved by our works. You see, if you were saved by the good things that that you did, when you get to heaven you be like this. You’d put your thumbs under your suspenders and you’d be like, “Hey, Lord. Good to see you. I got here because of the good things I did. You know, I was a good guy. I was faithful to my wife. I gave money. I was sweet to the little old lady down the street. I never robbed a bank. I'm good.” 

 

When we get to heaven, nobody's going to have their thumbs under their suspenders. You know what we're going to do? We're going to fall on our faces, and we're going to say, “God, how could you save a wretch like me? How great you are. How gracious you are that you would forgive me and save me.” It's all of grace, but it does require faith.  

 

Let me give you an illustration. I hope this will help. Can you see what this is? I got this in the mail this week from some sweet church members. They sent me this as a gift. It's a gift card for $200 to Fleming's Steakhouse. I’ll get a filet mignon with that. They sent this to me. It wasn't my birthday. It wasn't my wife's and my anniversary. I had not mowed their yard. Just out of love, they sent this to us. Do you know what you call that? Grace. You see, I have something that's valuable here and I didn't pay one red cent for it. It's grace. But is my belly full? And do you know why my belly isn't full? It’s because I have to redeem this. The way it gets redeemed is through faith. You see, I have to believe that this is not a gimmick that this is not a fake gift card. I have to believe that it’s real. I have to believe that the magnetic strip on the back is still good. I have to believe that they haven't already spent the $200 and just sent it to me as a gag. A curse upon them if they did that! No, I know, I know. I believe this is real, and as soon as my wife and I can carve out the time, we're going to go redeem this. We're going to sit down. I think I'm going to get a filet mignon. Could I get an “Amen”? Wrapped in bacon! With a baked potato, lots of butter, lots of sour cream – and no scallions. And I'm going to eat that. My wife, she’s going to get whatever she wants. In fact, I think we may even take a couple with us. Haven't chosen who it is yet; we've got $200! And I'm going to eat that meal, and they're going to bring a bill. You know what I'm going to do when they bring that bill? I'm going to slap that card down on that bill – paid in full by the merits of another!  Now, what's the point? This is grace, but I must exercise faith. I must possess it. I must make it mine, and I have to exert faith to do so. Christ offers you something much more than a gift card to Fleming's Steakhouse. In fact, I would just say pitiful in comparison. Pitiful in comparison. 

 

He offers us eternal life, and you don't pay a red cent for it. But somebody paid for it, and he didn't spend his money to do it; he did it with his blood. We were not redeemed with things such as silver and gold, but with the blood of Christ as of the spotless lamb of God. We’re saved by grace through faith. Faith is often expressed just through prayer. “Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Lord, I call on you to forgive me. I believe Christ died on the cross for me.” We make that profession through prayer and we acknowledge it and we receive by faith the gift he offers. 

 

That brings me to the last point. Sola gratia, only Grace? There are going to be a couple of people that protest what I'm preaching, and here's the way the protest goes; I know how this goes. There's going to be one group, and I'll call them legalists. They're going to say, “You mean I can be saved just by the grace of God, by putting my faith in him? You mean I don't have to do good works to save myself? That's too easy. No, no, no, they say.” They reject it. They say it's faith and works that redeem. That's the legalist. And there's another category over here, and they're going to say, “Oh, I'm saved by grace through faith and I don't have to do good works? Awesome! I'll walk an aisle, I'll pray a prayer, and then I'll just live like the devil until I get to heaven, and then I'm in by the grace of God.” That's wrong too. It’s the legalist and it’s the lawless. I'm going to do what I want.

 

How would the Bible answer the legalist and the lawless? He does it perfectly, right here in this text. Now, look at verse 10, “We're saved by grace through faith for good works.” We’re saved for works. Folks, look up here. Remember I told you every word in the Bible matters, every word? It’s not just big words like “grace, faith, works.” Those are big, momentous, weighty words. Even the little words matter – “by, through, for.” They're called prepositions. Little bitty words, but they matter. You can't switch them and have the truth. Like you can't say, “I'm saved by works unto faith or unto grace. No, you can't invert them. They are just as God gave them. So while I'm not saved by good works, I am saved for good works. 

 

Two things about this I want to stress: Number one, God works in us. I love this. This is so good! The Bible calls us his workmanship. You know, we've got some guys in our church who are craftsman. I can think of a couple of guys who do woodworking. They do some pretty exquisite work; I’ve got some of their crafts in my home. I think of some painters that we have in our church, great artists, and you know some of them. Well, did you know, we are God's work of art? The word here “workmanship” is the word poiema in Greek, and from it we get our English word “poem.” Listen, friend, listen. You are God's poem. They used it back in those days for a work of art. It could be a piece of poetry. It could be a song. It could be a painting. It could be a sculpture. We are God's – I put it to you this way – we are God's masterpiece. You’re not unimportant. You’re not without value. You’re not without gifts and talents. No, you’re the creation of God. And could I just say, we’re twice over the creation of God. I was his by virtue of creation, and now I'm his by virtue of salvation. I was a creation of God; he knit me together in my mother's womb, but I'm a new creation by means of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man, boy, woman or girl is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I've been made new in Christ. I am his creation and I am his re-creation. You’re God's masterpiece. You're his poem. You’re his painting. You’re his sculpture. 

 

This isn’t so that we can look in the mirror and admire ourselves.  Wow, aren't I amazing! I am God's masterpiece; I'm God's workmanship! No. Notice we’re created in Christ Jesus unto, or for, good works. You were created for a purpose. You were created with a plan in mind. Listen, I've been living out the plan of God in my life for many decades now, and the journey following Christ is tremendous. Oh, the things God has done. And my task in life is to listen for the voice of God and follow the Spirit’s leading, and it's your job as well. He wants to use you to change this world. 

 

I want to stress to you an opportunity coming next Sunday night. Folks, I know we normally only come here on Sunday mornings, but look at me and listen to me please, okay? I don't often ask you guys to go over and above, but I'm asking you to do it this coming Sunday. Come back to church Sunday night. Let's just repeat that together. Come back to church Sunday night. All right? 6 PM. Here's why. You're going to be equipped to do the good work of being an ambassador of the King. That's we’re made new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is followed by 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors of Christ, and we’re making an appeal that you'll be reconciled to God.” And God wants to use you to help this world come to Christ, to know the grace of God through faith. 


I'm going to tell you one last story. There's a great preacher, and I'm going to recommend him to you. He's a black preacher. His name is H. B. Charles, Jr., and if you like good preaching, look him up on YouTube. He told a story about a lady who was heartbroken. The reason she was heartbroken was she had received an heirloom from her grandmother. It may have even been passed down from a previous generation, but what it was was very simple. It was a handkerchief, and it had been passed down to her. It was a keepsake and she treasured it. But one day, she spilled a bottle of ink and stained that handkerchief. She was really sad and she was talking to a friend of hers telling what had happened. The friend said, “Send me the handkerchief.” It happens that her friend was an artist. He got the handkerchief, and he didn't tell her what he was going to do. He got the handkerchief, and using the stain of the ink as the starting point, he painted onto the face of that napkin a beautiful image. He made it a work of art. Now, H. B. didn't say what the work of art was, but I'd like to think it was the face of her grandmother. There was a face on the face of that napkin, and what was a mess became a masterpiece. She treasured that now that the stain, the mess, had become a masterpiece.

 

Why do I tell that story? You know why? You and I are like that handkerchief. The bottle of ink has been spilled on us by our sin and our disobedience, our trespasses. We look up, despairing because of the stain, and God in grace looks down and he actually takes those stains and he covers them, and he makes a masterpiece out of our mess. And the name of that is grace. Amazing grace.

 

Would you stand? Let’s sing together. 

Direct download: 03.__Sola_gratia.__Transcript_20200119_.pdf
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

What would you say is life’s most important question? 

 

Someone might say that life’s most important question is, “Does God exist?”  That’s certainly important.  Another might suggest, “How did the world come into being?” Still another might get a tad more personal and ask, “How did mankind come to be?”  One immediately pressing question is, “Will LSU defeat Clemson on Monday night for the national championship?”  O.k., so maybe that one doesn’t make the cut.

 

The interesting thing is this: the Bible (and the Bible alone—sola scriptura) answers all of these questions.  Does God exist?  Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God.”  Yes he exists.  How did the world come into being? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” How did mankind—you and I—come to be?  Genesis 1:2, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Isn’t that great?  God’s word alone answers the deepest questions of our existence.

 

But there is another question that is, arguably, life’s most important question. It is this: “What must I do to be saved?”  It is imminently personal and the stakes could not be higher. If there is a God (and we believe that there is), and, if there is an eternity awaiting (and we believe that there is), how can I gain that eternal life?

 

Jesus said that this is a supremely important issue.  He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In other words, if you could gain the whole world—all its riches and all its pleasures, yet you lost your own soul, what have you gained?  Nothing. All the world pales in comparison to your soul.  You must know the answer to this question: “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Here’s the good news: God’s word gives us the answer to that question as well.  Our aim this Sunday is to answer that question for everyone so that we can have eternal life and abundant life.

 

Solas

“Sola Fide”

Acts 16:25-34

 

  1. The context of life’s most important question

 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25)

 

  1. Undeserved prison

 

  1. Undeterred praise

 

  1. The conversation about life’s most important question

 

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

 

  1. Anxious question

 

  1. Answered question

 

  1. The change after life’s most important question

 

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God (Acts 16:33-34).

 

  1. Produced by faith

 

  1. Proven by fruit

 

[BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]

Turn in your Bibles to Acts 16:25-34 to discover this.  Would you stand in honor of God’s word as it is read:

Acts 16:25-34

25 About midnight Paul and Silas [Now, I would interject, if you don’t know those names, Paul and Silas were early church leaders, and more particularly, they were missionaries taking the gospel where it had never been known. So, Paul and Silas] were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them [Again, I’ll interject, yes, they were in jail, and I'll tell you how they ended up there in just a moment, but Paul and Silas are in jail. They’re singing praises to God; the prisoners are listening to them. Now, verse 26], 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” [Now, again, I am suggesting, that that is life's most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now here comes the answer, verse 31] 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

 

Let's pray.

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

As a church, we are celebrating 100 years of shared life. As an element of that celebration, we're revisiting some of the bedrock principles upon which this church is founded, and it's in a sermon series called “Solas.” Now that is a Latin word. Really, it's an anglicized version of it, and the word sola means “only.” There are some solas in the life of the Christian church that stand preeminently. We looked last week at the first of them, sola scriptura. Today, we're going to learn about sola fide. Sola scriptura, only scripture, is our guide to faith and practice. And now today, sola fide, only faith, brings salvation; faith in Christ. Sola scriptura teaches that sola fide is the only way to be saved. These two principles, Sola scriptura and sola fide, are intimately related to one another, and I want to demonstrate this by reminding you of the text we looked at last week, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. You'll remember this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired by God] and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [the people of God, if I could extend it in that way, that all of us] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

 

This was our passage last week, and it establishes the principle of sola scriptura. Now, I want you to see the verse that immediately precedes these two. Look at verse 15. Notice that it teaches that sola scriptura leads to sola fide. It says, verse 15, Paul speaking to Timothy, his young protégé, he says: 

[Timothy], from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [sola scriptura, the sacred writings, and notice what they have done. He says, so, the sacred writings] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  

 

Do you follow that? There it is in verse 15, sola scriptura; sola fide. You have known the sacred writings; that is, God's word, and they have led you to have faith, sola fide, in Jesus for salvation. So, there are the two principles related closely to one another. Salvation comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus. That's the answer to life's most important question. No passage makes this any clearer than Acts chapter 16 where we find ourselves this morning.


I want us to consider life’s most important question in three steps. Number one, we're going to look at the context in which life's most important question was asked. Secondly, we're going to listen in on the conversation where life's most important question was asked and answered. And then, finally, I want to show you the change that knowing the right answer to life's most important question brings, the change in life that it brings. 

 

All right, so let's go back to the first of these points, the first step. I want you to see the context in which this question was first posed. Here in Acts 16, Paul and a group of his coworkers are on a missionary journey. Things are going well. People are saving saved. They’re following the Lord in believer's baptism. A church is being planted there in Europe for the very first time. Paul and his team are experiencing the joy of seeing God at work. There's one particular life to which I want to allude that plays into our passage this morning. It's the story of a little girl. I call her little; she was probably a teenager. This girl had an unusual power. This girl could tell foretell the future, and the Bible explains how it is that she could foretell the future. She was actually possessed by a demon, and by virtue of this supernatural power, she could foretell the future. 

 

Paul and his partners met up with this young girl. I won't tell the whole of the story, but I'll just say this. By the power of the gospel, this young girl was set free. I mean that in two senses. First of all, she was a slave to masters who were using her for their own profit. You see, people would pay to have their fortune told, and the slave masters had this girl in captivity, and were using her for their own profit. Again, I say that. This leads me to say a couple of things by way of lagniappe. First of all, fortune-telling is not just a thing of the ancient past. I could wish that it were so, but there still are fortune tellers in our day. I think most of these are just flat-out charlatans. They're just putting on a charade, a show. Perhaps some are demon-possessed, and they may have some capacity given them by spiritual forces.

 

I actually went on the web out of curiosity, and typed into a Google search engine “Fortune tellers, Baton Rouge.” I was curious to know, are there fortune tellers in our city today? What do you think the answer to that is? One of the responses was, “The 30 best fortune tellers in Baton Rouge.”  I clicked on it. There was a list of fortune tellers in our fair town. It included people who did things like fortune-telling, tarot card reading. There were mediums, self-identified. Some could cast spells including love spells, etc. No, this is not just something that's from ancient history. Even in our own day, there are people who dabble into these things. So it gives me a good opportunity to let you know what God thinks of these things. I want to read from the Bible, Deuteronomy 18 beginning in verse 10: 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer [that is, one who calls up the dead to speak with them] or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. . . .

 

This is from the Bible. Folks, we ought to have nothing to do with these works of darkness. Even something as what seems to be innocuous as horoscopes. I think it's terrible that papers will often include horoscopes. Worse yet, they put them next to the comics in the newspaper. It doesn't belong there, and I would encourage you not to read that. Astrology; anything of the sort, God says that is all an abomination. The work of the gospel is to set people free from these things. God doesn't want us to consult with the dead or with spiritists or with mediums. No, He has given us his word, sola scriptura. He has given us his indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine our minds to understand the things that are in the word of God. I don't need a fortune teller. I don't need a necromancer. I have all that I need, sola scriptura, to be a guide by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who illumines these truths to our lives. Now, I told you, that's just lagniappe. I just gave you that for extra.

 

I'm also reminded to say this: This poor young girl was a slave to her masters. It's very evident to me they didn't care one whit about that little girl. They only used her for their own purposes. You know, you hear a lot today about sex trafficking, pornography. Could I just remind us all, those who peddle that, who push that, they care nothing for the boys and girls whose lives they wreck. They domineer them and they own them, and anyone who participates in these things supports it. God sees it equally as an abomination. We as God's people ought have nothing to do with it. Instead of abusing people, we ought to love them and want them to be free. It's exactly what the Apostle Paul and his team were doing. They were setting people free by the good news of Jesus, and this little girl among them.

 

Now, you would think, would you not, that everyone is going to be ecstatic that this little girl has been set free. Oh, that it were so. It wasn't so. Her masters see that their means of ill gain is gone, and so they haul up Paul and Silas on false charges. Two things result, and I want to mention them to you. One, undeserved prison time. Undeserved prison. Paul and Silas, if you can imagine this, were cast into prison. It's worth noting, friend, that if we stand for the Lord, we're going to face opposition in this world. Not everyone is going to pat you on the back. Now you may get a fair amount of that; certainly here at church, I trust that you’re encouraged as you follow Christ. We want to do that. But it won't be so with everyone. There will be those who will oppose. I, myself, have faced occasions of great opposition. The Bible says; this is 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus was crucified. John was beheaded. Luther, of whom I spoke last week, was excommunicated. Jan Hus, the great Czech reformer, was burned at the stake. William Tyndale, who for the first time translated God's word into English so that all English speakers could hear the word of God in their heart language, he was burned as a heretic. Later he was exhumed and his ashes were sprinkled on the Thames River.

 

You come forward into our own day, I think about those believers in Libya not so long ago that were beheaded by ISIS because they believed in Christ. There will be opposition; there always has been, there always will be. Now it may not be as serious as these cases that I've named. Perhaps not even as serious as Paul and Silas, beaten now and imprisoned in stocks. But perhaps you'll be passed over for a promotion, or perhaps others will belittle you for your faith or some stance that you take on a moral issue, but I want to encourage us all as Paul and Silas did to remain faithful to the Lord despite the opposition that arises. 

 

So, prison is really not a surprise. But do you know what is a surprise? It's that, though they are imprisoned, undeservedly so, there arises their undeterred praise to the Lord. How do they answer the stripes that were put upon their back and their stocks in which they were bound and the prison in which they were jailed? They answered their prison with praise. You know, it's one thing to praise the Lord when the prison doors swing open and the shackles fall from our wrists. But I want you to take note, Paul and Silas were not praising the Lord after they'd been liberated, after their shackles had fallen from them. No, they are praising the Lord in the midst of their suffering, unjust though it was. No wonder, then, the Bible says that the prisoners heard them. Don't you know the prisoners heard them? Don't you know the jailer himself heard them? They were listening to them. Of course they were, because there is power in our praise, particularly when it’s in the face of hardship and difficulty. I know I'm preaching to many of you who, even today, sang songs of praise to the Lord in the midst of your trial. I want to say God is honored by that. Your witness is never more powerful than when you gladly praise Him in the midst of your trial, and Paul and Silas did. So, that is the context in which life’s most important question arose.

 

Now, secondly, I want to take you to the actual conversation in which life's most important question is both asked and answered. First, let's look at the asking of this question. The jailer discovers that Paul and Silas have been set free. They are singing, and someone said that as they sang, God took such pleasure in their song that God was tapping his foot along with the beat of their song, and it caused the earthquake. That's a little bit fanciful, but I like it, still. God sent an earthquake to that jail. The jailhouse rocked, for all of you 1950s folks. As the jailhouse rocked, the prison doors swung open. The shackles fell from their hands and their feet, if, in fact, they were shackled at both of those extremities. The shackles fell, and the jailer, realizing that the prison doors have swung open and that the prisoners have been set free, presumes that they've all escaped. You have to know that in that day, if you were the jailer, and your prisoners escaped, you would be executed for having failed at your duty. He sees this, is terrorized by it, and he draws his sword and intends to kill himself. 

 

Here's another point where I want to interject a thought. It's never right to take your own life; it's never right to take your own life. He's going to commit suicide. I may be speaking to someone this morning who is contemplating ending your own life. Maybe you're in a valley, a deep, deep valley, and it seems there's no escape from it. Could I just encourage you that suicide is never the answer? Paul and Silas, to their credit, step in and they tell the man, “Don't harm yourself. We’re all here.” Now, let's be frank. Here's the jailer who has put them into the deepest part of the prison. Perhaps he's even taken some joy in shackling them and in seeing their wounds from the beating that they took. You couldn't blame Paul and Silas if they just stood aside as the jailer killed himself, but motivated by Christ's love, they intervene and they say, “Don't harm yourself.” I'm reminded to challenge all of us, if you know of someone who is wrestling with deep depression, intervene. Speak to them. We have a counseling ministry here at Istrouma, and we can get help. There is help, and there is hope in Christ. Paul and Silas say, “Do yourself no harm.”

 

Upon their kindness, this jailer runs in before Paul and Silas and the Bible says that he falls down at their feet. You see, he's been impacted by what he's observed. He has seen Paul and Silas singing praises to God. He's heard that song. He's personally experienced their mercy when they defend him who once oppressed them. Paul and Silas could easily have escaped, but they haven't. They’re remaining there. So, impacted by what he has heard and seen, he asks life's most important question. It’s in verse 30:

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 

Now, some might suggest that this question is related to the temporal crisis. He knows that the prisoners might escape, that the wrath of Rome is going to fall upon him; he's going to be executed, so he's asking, “Sirs, how can I escape my impending doom?” But I don't believe that's the real heart of his question, because the prisoners have not escaped. They’ve remained. His life has been spared. There is hope temporally. No, I believe he is asking an eternal question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins? What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I believe that's the heart of his question. And I love this question. I see in it his humility. He doesn't think he has all the answers, and I tell you, that's a healthy thing. Maybe you've come in today quite confident in yourself, presuming that you have all of the answers both to life and eternity. But have you ever come in humility to ask this simple question, “What must I do to be forgiven; what must I do to be saved? I want to be instructed. I want to be taught. I want God's answer to life's most important question.” I see his humility. I see his hunger. He rushes in. He falls at their feet. He is desperate. I don't know that anyone comes to salvation apart from desperation, hunger, and humility. This man has all of those traits, and for that reason, he asks life's most important question, “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Not only is the question asked, the question is answered. For all time, we know the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Point-blank question; point-blank answer. What must I do to be saved? What must you do to be saved? What must all humans do if they are to be saved? The apostle’s answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

I want us to think about that answer just for a moment. I want us to think of what the answer was not. What must I do to be saved? Notice that he did not say, “Join the church and you will be saved.” There are a lot of people that think that. They think, “Well if I'm going to go to heaven, I've got to be a member of some church or some faith. If I have my name on a church roll somewhere, then I'm good.” No. Joining a church of any stripe does not save you. It's not the answer to the question. He did not say, “Get baptized and you will be saved.” There's nothing wrong with getting baptized. In fact, he's about to get baptized. There's nothing wrong with joining a church. He's going to become a part, I believe, of the Philippian church that started with Lydia, was joined by the slave girl who was now set free. He's going to be, I'll just say, the third member of the church at Philippi. Nothing wrong with these good deeds, but it's not by good deeds that you are saved. Good deeds are the fruit of salvation in you, not the root of it, not the source of it. How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.

 

This answer is in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Listen to John 1:12:

But to all who did receive him [that is, speaking of the incarnate Christ], who believed [there it is, who believed] in his name [What is it to receive Christ? It’s to believe in him...to all who did receive him, who believed in his name], he gave the right to become [the] children of God.

 

How do you become a child of God? How do you get saved? How do you have your sins washed away? How do you go to heaven? You believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You trust in him. You receive him. 

 

John 3:16, the most famous verse in all of the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 

How do you get everlasting life? How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus. 

 

Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [unto] salvation to everyone who believes...

 

Eph. 2:8-9:

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast

 

The way to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There are basically two systems that are put forward as answers to this question. One is faith alone, sola fide, our theme for today. The other is that you’re saved by faith and works. They often will cite, those who hold the latter position, they’ll cite James 2:24. There the Bible says:

...a person is justified by works and not by faith alone

 

So now, we’re in a quandary. Are we saved by faith alone apart from works, or are we saved by faith and works? That's a pivotal question, and we must know the answer to it. I believe that the Bible is clear that salvation comes by faith alone. How then is it that James can say that you’re saved not by faith alone but also by the works that you do? How can we reconcile these two passages of scripture?

 

James, if you read the broader text there, is talking about the faith that saves. He says, “Show me your faith without works, and I'll show you my faith by my works.” James knew well that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone. I'll say it again. Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone, and that our works show the reality of our faith. If you have no works to demonstrate your faith, then what kind of faith do you have? James says that you have a dead faith, and he asks, “Can that faith save?” I'll answer the question, No, that faith can't save. Someone can say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but they never go to church, they never follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, they have no heart for generosity, they curse, they swear, they sleep around, they rebel and break God's law. There's no fruit. There's no demonstration of a real faith. Can that type of faith, just verbal in nature, save? No it cannot. It has to be a genuine and real faith that is demonstrated in the life that ensues.

 

That brings me, then, to the last point, and that is the change that comes to the life that answers rightly life’s most important question, when the person knows the answer, and I'll put a capital “A” on it, the Answer to life's most important question. The Answer to life's most important question is a person, the Lord Jesus, and when you put your faith and trust in him and his atoning death on the cross, you are saved. 

 

Now listen, it brings change. Would you look in your Bible again, now, to verse 33?

And he [that is, the jailer] took them [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God

 

What a tremendous paragraph that is! You see, the change in his life was produced by faith. He embraced the gospel proclaimed to him, and the change was produced by that faith. Now, that faith is proven by the fruit of good deeds. You see his baptism. Listen; if you’ve given your life to Christ, and you've come to saving faith, you ought to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. I'm probably talking to some folks in here that have not yet let your faith be made known through baptism subsequent to your salvation. I just want to challenge you to take that step of faith and demonstrate by it that you’ve put your trust in Christ. I may be speaking to some who’ve not yet committed to fellowship in a local church. We want to challenge you to not only believe but belong. Commit yourself to membership and service in a local church. I note this man's generosity. He set food before them. I note his joy; he is rejoicing now. He went from desperation and suicidal thoughts to great joy, and what made the difference? It was Christ in him that made the difference. 

 

Have you been changed? Is your life radically different because Christ indwells you? If not, this very morning I'm going to challenge you to give your life to Christ. 

 

I'm going to tell you one last story. I’m going to put on the screen a picture of a fellow whose name is John Harper. Some of you may know his name. John Harper was born into a Christian family May 29, 1872 in Scotland. He became a Christian 13 years later and had already started preaching by age 17. He received training at the Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, and in 1896 he founded a church, now known as Harper Memorial Church in Glasgow, which began with 25 worshipers but had grown to 500 members by the time he left 13 years later. 

 

In 1912 Harper, the newly-called pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, was traveling on the Titanic with his 6-year-old daughter. After the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink, he got Nana into a lifeboat but apparently made no effort to follow her. Instead, he ran through the ship yelling, "Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!" Survivors report that he then began witnessing to anyone who would listen. He continued preaching even after he had jumped into the water and was clinging to a piece of wreckage (he'd already given his lifejacket to another man).

 

Harper's final moments were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, by a man who said “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’

 

“The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ [quoting the very verse I preached to you today]. Shortly after, he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert.”

 

He was also one of only six people picked out the water by the lifeboats; the other 1,522, including Harper, were left to die.

 

You know, it's interesting. There were only two kinds of people after the Titanic sank – those who were saved, and those who were lost. There were no other kind of passengers aboard the Titanic; those who were saved, and those who were lost. Could I just say on the ship of earth on which we sail, there are only two kinds of people – those who are saved, and those who are lost. That's why I say life's most important question is this: “What must I do to be saved?” Friend, the gospel message is this, believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

 

You say, “Man, is that all?” Yes, that’s all. That is all, because once you believe, it transforms life. I want to challenge you this morning to believe on the Lord Jesus.

 

Let’s stand. 

 

[Invitation]

 

[Prayer] 

 

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20200112.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Sola Fide”

Sermon Series: Solas

Acts 16:24-34

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

AM Sermon January 12, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. The context of life’s most important question

 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25)

 

  1.    Undeserved prison

 

  1. Undeterred praise

   

           

  1. The conversation about life’s most important question

 

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

 

  1. Question asked

 

  1.    Question answered

       

 

  1. The change after life’s most important question

 

And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God (Acts 16:33-34).

           

  1. Produced by faith

 

  1. Proved by fruit

 

 

 

 

 

What would you say is life’s most important question? 

 

Someone might say that life’s most important question is, “Does God exist?”  That’s certainly important. 

 

Another might suggest, “How did the world come into being?”

 

Still another might get a tad more personal and ask, “How did mankind come to be?” 

 

One immediately pressing question is, “Will LSU defeat Clemson on Monday night for the national championship?”  O.k., so maybe that one doesn’t make the cut.

 

The interesting thing is that the Bible (and the Bible alone—sola scriptura) answers all of these questions. 

 

Does God exist?  Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God.”  Yes, he exists. 

 

How did the world come into being? Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

 

How did mankind—you and I—come to be?  Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” 

 

From the Bible, we get the answer to all of life’s most important questions.

 

But I want to make the case this morning that there is another question that is, arguably, life’s most important question. It is this: “What must I do to be saved?”  It is imminently personal, and the stakes could not be higher. If there is a God (and we believe that there is), and, if there is an eternity awaiting all of us (and we believe that there is), how can I gain that eternal life?

 

Jesus taught that this is a supremely important issue.  He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In other words, if you could gain the whole world—all its riches and all its pleasures, yet you lost your own soul, what have you gained? Nothing. All the world pales in comparison to your soul.  Therefore, you and I must know the answer to this question: “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Here’s the good news: God’s word gives us the answer to that question as well.  Our aim this Sunday is to answer that question for everyone so that we can have both eternal life and abundant life.

 

Turn in your Bibles to Acts 16:25-34 to discover this.  Would you stand in honor of God’s word as it is read:

Acts 16:25-34

25 About midnight Paul and Silas [Now, I would interject, if you don’t know those names, Paul and Silas were early church leaders, and more particularly, they were missionaries taking the gospel where it had never been known. So, Paul and Silas] were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them [Again, I’ll interject, yes, they were in jail, and I'll tell you how they ended up there in just a moment, but Paul and Silas are in jail. They’re singing praises to God; the prisoners are listening to them. Now, verse 26], 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” [Now, again, I am suggesting, that that is life's most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now here comes the answer, verse 31] 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

 

Let's pray.

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated. 

 

As a church, we are celebrating 100 years of shared life. As an element of that celebration, we're revisiting some of the bedrock principles upon which this church is founded, and it's in a sermon series called “Solas.” Now that is a Latin word. Really, it's an anglicized version of it, and the word sola means “only.” There are some solas in the life of the Christian church that stand preeminently. We looked last week at the first of them, sola scriptura. Today, we're going to learn about sola fide. Sola scriptura, only scripture, is our guide to faith and practice. And now today, sola fide, only faith, brings salvation; faith in Christ. Sola scriptura teaches that sola fide is the only way to be saved. These two principles, Sola scriptura and sola fide, are intimately related to one another, and I want to demonstrate this by reminding you of the text we looked at last week, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17. You'll remember this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired by God] and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [the people of God, if I could extend it in that way, that all of us] may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

 

This was our passage last week, and it establishes the principle of sola scriptura. Now, I want you to see the verse that immediately precedes these two. Look at verse 15. Notice that it teaches that sola scriptura leads to sola fide. It says, verse 15, Paul speaking to Timothy, his young protégé, he says: 

[Timothy], from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [sola scriptura, the sacred writings, and notice what they have done. He says, so, the sacred writings] are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  

 

Do you follow that? There it is in verse 15, sola scriptura; sola fide. You have known the sacred writings; that is, God's word, and they have led you to have faith, sola fide, in Jesus for salvation. So, there are the two principles related closely to one another. Salvation comes to us through faith in Christ Jesus. That's the answer to life's most important question. No passage makes this any clearer than Acts chapter 16 where we find ourselves this morning.


I want us to consider life’s most important question in three steps. Number one, we're going to look at the context in which life's most important question was asked. Secondly, we're going to listen in on the conversation where life's most important question was asked and answered. And then, finally, I want to show you the change that knowing the right answer to life's most important question brings, the change in life that it brings. 

 

All right, so let's go back to the first of these points, the first step. I want you to see the context in which this question was first posed. Here in Acts 16, Paul and a group of his coworkers are on a missionary journey. Things are going well. People are saving saved. They’re following the Lord in believer's baptism. A church is being planted there in Europe for the very first time. Paul and his team are experiencing the joy of seeing God at work. There's one particular life to which I want to allude that plays into our passage this morning. It's the story of a little girl. I call her little; she was probably a teenager. This girl had an unusual power. This girl could tell foretell the future, and the Bible explains how it is that she could foretell the future. She was actually possessed by a demon, and by virtue of this supernatural power, she could foretell the future. 

 

Paul and his partners met up with this young girl. I won't tell the whole of the story, but I'll just say this. By the power of the gospel, this young girl was set free. I mean that in two senses. First of all, she was a slave to masters who were using her for their own profit. You see, people would pay to have their fortune told, and the slave masters had this girl in captivity, and were using her for their own profit. Again, I say that. This leads me to say a couple of things by way of lagniappe. First of all, fortune-telling is not just a thing of the ancient past. I could wish that it were so, but there still are fortune tellers in our day. I think most of these are just flat-out charlatans. They're just putting on a charade, a show. Perhaps some are demon-possessed, and they may have some capacity given them by spiritual forces.

 

I actually went on the web out of curiosity, and typed into a Google search engine “Fortune tellers, Baton Rouge.” I was curious to know, are there fortune tellers in our city today? What do you think the answer to that is? One of the responses was, “The 30 best fortune tellers in Baton Rouge.”  I clicked on it. There was a list of fortune tellers in our fair town. It included people who did things like fortune-telling, tarot card reading. There were mediums, self-identified. Some could cast spells including love spells, etc. No, this is not just something that's from ancient history. Even in our own day, there are people who dabble into these things. So it gives me a good opportunity to let you know what God thinks of these things. I want to read from the Bible, Deuteronomy 18 beginning in verse 10: 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer [that is, one who calls up the dead to speak with them] or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. . . .

 

This is from the Bible. Folks, we ought to have nothing to do with these works of darkness. Even something as what seems to be innocuous as horoscopes. I think it's terrible that papers will often include horoscopes. Worse yet, they put them next to the comics in the newspaper. It doesn't belong there, and I would encourage you not to read that. Astrology; anything of the sort, God says that is all an abomination. The work of the gospel is to set people free from these things. God doesn't want us to consult with the dead or with spiritists or with mediums. No, He has given us his word, sola scriptura. He has given us his indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine our minds to understand the things that are in the word of God. I don't need a fortune teller. I don't need a necromancer. I have all that I need, sola scriptura, to be a guide by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who illumines these truths to our lives. Now, I told you, that's just lagniappe. I just gave you that for extra.

 

I'm also reminded to say this: This poor young girl was a slave to her masters. It's very evident to me they didn't care one whit about that little girl. They only used her for their own purposes. You know, you hear a lot today about sex trafficking, pornography. Could I just remind us all, those who peddle that, who push that, they care nothing for the boys and girls whose lives they wreck. They domineer them and they own them, and anyone who participates in these things supports it. God sees it equally as an abomination. We as God's people ought have nothing to do with it. Instead of abusing people, we ought to love them and want them to be free. It's exactly what the Apostle Paul and his team were doing. They were setting people free by the good news of Jesus, and this little girl among them.

 

Now, you would think, would you not, that everyone is going to be ecstatic that this little girl has been set free. Oh, that it were so. It wasn't so. Her masters see that their means of ill gain is gone, and so they haul up Paul and Silas on false charges. Two things result, and I want to mention them to you. One, undeserved prison time. Undeserved prison. Paul and Silas, if you can imagine this, were cast into prison. It's worth noting, friend, that if we stand for the Lord, we're going to face opposition in this world. Not everyone is going to pat you on the back. Now you may get a fair amount of that; certainly here at church, I trust that you’re encouraged as you follow Christ. We want to do that. But it won't be so with everyone. There will be those who will oppose. I, myself, have faced occasions of great opposition. The Bible says; this is 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus was crucified. John was beheaded. Luther, of whom I spoke last week, was excommunicated. Jan Hus, the great Czech reformer, was burned at the stake. William Tyndale, who for the first time translated God's word into English so that all English speakers could hear the word of God in their heart language, he was burned as a heretic. Later he was exhumed and his ashes were sprinkled on the Thames River.

 

You come forward into our own day, I think about those believers in Libya not so long ago that were beheaded by ISIS because they believed in Christ. There will be opposition; there always has been, there always will be. Now it may not be as serious as these cases that I've named. Perhaps not even as serious as Paul and Silas, beaten now and imprisoned in stocks. But perhaps you'll be passed over for a promotion, or perhaps others will belittle you for your faith or some stance that you take on a moral issue, but I want to encourage us all as Paul and Silas did to remain faithful to the Lord despite the opposition that arises. 

 

So, prison is really not a surprise. But do you know what is a surprise? It's that, though they are imprisoned, undeservedly so, there arises their undeterred praise to the Lord. How do they answer the stripes that were put upon their back and their stocks in which they were bound and the prison in which they were jailed? They answered their prison with praise. You know, it's one thing to praise the Lord when the prison doors swing open and the shackles fall from our wrists. But I want you to take note, Paul and Silas were not praising the Lord after they'd been liberated, after their shackles had fallen from them. No, they are praising the Lord in the midst of their suffering, unjust though it was. No wonder, then, the Bible says that the prisoners heard them. Don't you know the prisoners heard them? Don't you know the jailer himself heard them? They were listening to them. Of course they were, because there is power in our praise, particularly when it’s in the face of hardship and difficulty. I know I'm preaching to many of you who, even today, sang songs of praise to the Lord in the midst of your trial. I want to say God is honored by that. Your witness is never more powerful than when you gladly praise Him in the midst of your trial, and Paul and Silas did. So, that is the context in which life’s most important question arose.

 

Now, secondly, I want to take you to the actual conversation in which life's most important question is both asked and answered. First, let's look at the asking of this question. The jailer discovers that Paul and Silas have been set free. They are singing, and someone said that as they sang, God took such pleasure in their song that God was tapping his foot along with the beat of their song, and it caused the earthquake. That's a little bit fanciful, but I like it, still. God sent an earthquake to that jail. The jailhouse rocked, for all of you 1950s folks. As the jailhouse rocked, the prison doors swung open. The shackles fell from their hands and their feet, if, in fact, they were shackled at both of those extremities. The shackles fell, and the jailer, realizing that the prison doors have swung open and that the prisoners have been set free, presumes that they've all escaped. You have to know that in that day, if you were the jailer, and your prisoners escaped, you would be executed for having failed at your duty. He sees this, is terrorized by it, and he draws his sword and intends to kill himself. 

 

Here's another point where I want to interject a thought. It's never right to take your own life; it's never right to take your own life. He's going to commit suicide. I may be speaking to someone this morning who is contemplating ending your own life. Maybe you're in a valley, a deep, deep valley, and it seems there's no escape from it. Could I just encourage you that suicide is never the answer? Paul and Silas, to their credit, step in and they tell the man, “Don't harm yourself. We’re all here.” Now, let's be frank. Here's the jailer who has put them into the deepest part of the prison. Perhaps he's even taken some joy in shackling them and in seeing their wounds from the beating that they took. You couldn't blame Paul and Silas if they just stood aside as the jailer killed himself, but motivated by Christ's love, they intervene and they say, “Don't harm yourself.” I'm reminded to challenge all of us, if you know of someone who is wrestling with deep depression, intervene. Speak to them. We have a counseling ministry here at Istrouma, and we can get help. There is help, and there is hope in Christ. Paul and Silas say, “Do yourself no harm.”

 

Upon their kindness, this jailer runs in before Paul and Silas and the Bible says that he falls down at their feet. You see, he's been impacted by what he's observed. He has seen Paul and Silas singing praises to God. He's heard that song. He's personally experienced their mercy when they defend him who once oppressed them. Paul and Silas could easily have escaped, but they haven't. They’re remaining there. So, impacted by what he has heard and seen, he asks life's most important question. It’s in verse 30:

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

 

Now, some might suggest that this question is related to the temporal crisis. He knows that the prisoners might escape, that the wrath of Rome is going to fall upon him; he's going to be executed, so he's asking, “Sirs, how can I escape my impending doom?” But I don't believe that's the real heart of his question, because the prisoners have not escaped. They’ve remained. His life has been spared. There is hope temporally. No, I believe he is asking an eternal question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins? What must I do to inherit eternal life?” I believe that's the heart of his question. And I love this question. I see in it his humility. He doesn't think he has all the answers, and I tell you, that's a healthy thing. Maybe you've come in today quite confident in yourself, presuming that you have all of the answers both to life and eternity. But have you ever come in humility to ask this simple question, “What must I do to be forgiven; what must I do to be saved? I want to be instructed. I want to be taught. I want God's answer to life's most important question.” I see his humility. I see his hunger. He rushes in. He falls at their feet. He is desperate. I don't know that anyone comes to salvation apart from desperation, hunger, and humility. This man has all of those traits, and for that reason, he asks life's most important question, “What must I do to be saved?”

 

Not only is the question asked, the question is answered. For all time, we know the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Point-blank question; point-blank answer. What must I do to be saved? What must you do to be saved? What must all humans do if they are to be saved? The apostle’s answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

I want us to think about that answer just for a moment. I want us to think of what the answer was not. What must I do to be saved? Notice that he did not say, “Join the church and you will be saved.” There are a lot of people that think that. They think, “Well if I'm going to go to heaven, I've got to be a member of some church or some faith. If I have my name on a church roll somewhere, then I'm good.” No. Joining a church of any stripe does not save you. It's not the answer to the question. He did not say, “Get baptized and you will be saved.” There's nothing wrong with getting baptized. In fact, he's about to get baptized. There's nothing wrong with joining a church. He's going to become a part, I believe, of the Philippian church that started with Lydia, was joined by the slave girl who was now set free. He's going to be, I'll just say, the third member of the church at Philippi. Nothing wrong with these good deeds, but it's not by good deeds that you are saved. Good deeds are the fruit of salvation in you, not the root of it, not the source of it. How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.

 

This answer is in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Listen to John 1:12:

But to all who did receive him [that is, speaking of the incarnate Christ], who believed [there it is, who believed] in his name [What is it to receive Christ? It’s to believe in him...to all who did receive him, who believed in his name], he gave the right to become [the] children of God.

 

How do you become a child of God? How do you get saved? How do you have your sins washed away? How do you go to heaven? You believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. You trust in him. You receive him. 

 

John 3:16, the most famous verse in all of the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

 

How do you get everlasting life? How do you get saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus. 

 

Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [unto] salvation to everyone who believes...

 

Eph. 2:8-9:

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast

 

The way to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There are basically two systems that are put forward as answers to this question. One is faith alone, sola fide, our theme for today. The other is that you’re saved by faith and works. They often will cite, those who hold the latter position, they’ll cite James 2:24. There the Bible says:

...a person is justified by works and not by faith alone

 

So now, we’re in a quandary. Are we saved by faith alone apart from works, or are we saved by faith and works? That's a pivotal question, and we must know the answer to it. I believe that the Bible is clear that salvation comes by faith alone. How then is it that James can say that you’re saved not by faith alone but also by the works that you do? How can we reconcile these two passages of scripture?

 

James, if you read the broader text there, is talking about the faith that saves. He says, “Show me your faith without works, and I'll show you my faith by my works.” James knew well that faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone. I'll say it again. Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone, and that our works show the reality of our faith. If you have no works to demonstrate your faith, then what kind of faith do you have? James says that you have a dead faith, and he asks, “Can that faith save?” I'll answer the question, No, that faith can't save. Someone can say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but they never go to church, they never follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, they have no heart for generosity, they curse, they swear, they sleep around, they rebel and break God's law. There's no fruit. There's no demonstration of a real faith. Can that type of faith, just verbal in nature, save? No it cannot. It has to be a genuine and real faith that is demonstrated in the life that ensues.

 

That brings me, then, to the last point, and that is the change that comes to the life that answers rightly life’s most important question, when the person knows the answer, and I'll put a capital “A” on it, the Answer to life's most important question. The Answer to life's most important question is a person, the Lord Jesus, and when you put your faith and trust in him and his atoning death on the cross, you are saved. 

 

Now listen, it brings change. Would you look in your Bible again, now, to verse 33?

And he [that is, the jailer] took them [Paul and Silas] the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God

 

What a tremendous paragraph that is! You see, the change in his life was produced by faith. He embraced the gospel proclaimed to him, and the change was produced by that faith. Now, that faith is proven by the fruit of good deeds. You see his baptism. Listen; if you’ve given your life to Christ, and you've come to saving faith, you ought to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. I'm probably talking to some folks in here that have not yet let your faith be made known through baptism subsequent to your salvation. I just want to challenge you to take that step of faith and demonstrate by it that you’ve put your trust in Christ. I may be speaking to some who’ve not yet committed to fellowship in a local church. We want to challenge you to not only believe but belong. Commit yourself to membership and service in a local church. I note this man's generosity. He set food before them. I note his joy; he is rejoicing now. He went from desperation and suicidal thoughts to great joy, and what made the difference? It was Christ in him that made the difference. 

 

Have you been changed? Is your life radically different because Christ indwells you? If not, this very morning I'm going to challenge you to give your life to Christ. 

 

I'm going to tell you one last story. I’m going to put on the screen a picture of a fellow whose name is John Harper. Some of you may know his name. John Harper was born into a Christian family May 29, 1872 in Scotland. He became a Christian 13 years later and had already started preaching by age 17. He received training at the Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, and in 1896 he founded a church, now known as Harper Memorial Church in Glasgow, which began with 25 worshipers but had grown to 500 members by the time he left 13 years later. 

 

In 1912 Harper, the newly-called pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, was traveling on the Titanic with his 6-year-old daughter. After the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink, he got Nana into a lifeboat but apparently made no effort to follow her. Instead, he ran through the ship yelling, "Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!" Survivors report that he then began witnessing to anyone who would listen. He continued preaching even after he had jumped into the water and was clinging to a piece of wreckage (he'd already given his lifejacket to another man).

 

Harper's final moments were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, by a man who said “I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. Harper of Glasgow, also on a piece of wreck, near me. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’

 

“The waves bore him away, but, strange to say, brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ [quoting the very verse I preached to you today]. Shortly after, he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert.”

 

He was also one of only six people picked out the water by the lifeboats; the other 1,522, including Harper, were left to die.

 

You know, it's interesting. There were only two kinds of people after the Titanic sank – those who were saved, and those who were lost. There were no other kind of passengers aboard the Titanic; those who were saved, and those who were lost. Could I just say on the ship of earth on which we sail, there are only two kinds of people – those who are saved, and those who are lost. That's why I say life's most important question is this: “What must I do to be saved?” Friend, the gospel message is this, believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

 

You say, “Man, is that all?” Yes, that’s all. That is all, because once you believe, it transforms life. I want to challenge you this morning to believe on the Lord Jesus.

 

Let’s stand. 

 

[Invitation]

 

[Prayer] 

 

 

 

Direct download: 02.__Sola_fide.__Transcript_Only.pdf
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español

Solas

“Sola Fide”

Hechos 16:25-34

 

 

  1. El contexto de la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Alrededor de la medianoche, Pablo y Silas estaban orando y cantando himnos a Dios, y los demás prisioneros escuchaban.” (Hechos 16:25).

 

  1. Prisión injusta
  2. Adoración inquebrantable

 

  1. La conversación sobre la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Después los sacó y les preguntó: —Señores, ¿qué debo hacer para ser salvo?

31 Ellos le contestaron: —Cree en el Señor Jesús y serás salvo, junto con todos los de tu casa.” (Hechos 16: 30-31)

 

  1. Pregunta ansiosa
  2. Respuesta acertada

 

  1. El cambio después de la pregunta más importante de la vida.

 

“Aun a esa hora de la noche, el carcelero los atendió y les lavó las heridas. Enseguida ellos lo bautizaron a él y a todos los de su casa. 34 El carcelero los llevó adentro de su casa y les dio de comer, y tanto él como los de su casa se alegraron porque todos habían creído en Dios.” (Hechos 16: 33-34).

 

  1. Producido por la fe
  2. Probado por los frutos

 

 

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Solas

“Sola Scriptura”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

  1. The production of scripture

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16a)

 

  1. Its inspiration

 

  1. Its implications

 

  1. The practicality of scripture

 

And profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16b).

 

  1. Our beliefs

 

  1. Our behaviors

 

  1. The purpose of scripture

 

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

 

  1. Our maturity

 

  1. Our ministry

 

[BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]

There's a towering figure in the history of Christianity whose name you need to know. His name is Martin Luther. I want to tell you a little bit about his story. Martin Luther was born back in the 1400s, more than 500 years ago, and he was a very devout young man. He loved the Lord, and as a result, he eventually became a monk, a priest, even a professor of theology. As those callings demand, he was a student of the scripture. He loved the word of God and he voraciously and ardently studied it. In the course of studying the Bible, the scripture, he became concerned about the discrepancy, or the chasm, that existed between what the scriptures taught and what the dominant church of that age was doing. He saw errors, he believed, and he saw abuses. I'll mention one. There was the practice back in those days of selling indulgences. Let me explain this. An indulgence was a forgiveness of sins. You've done something wrong and you want to be forgiven. Well, the church taught at that time that they had the power to forgive sin, and if you would give an offering, you could, by means of that offering, purchase an indulgence.  There was a guy who was traveling around Europe selling these indulgences. His name was Tetzel, and he had a little song that he sang, and it roughly went like this: “When the coin into the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

 

In other words, if you’ll give an offering big enough, your mother who’s suffering in purgatory can get out. Luther was troubled, to put it lightly, by these things because you don't see any of that in the Bible. It’s like, “Where do you get this, and why are you teaching that?” He viewed it as abusing the people. He said if the pope wants to build a new building in Rome, why doesn't he just do it out of his own treasury? He's fabulously wealthy. Why is he doing it on the backs of the peasants? So, Luther was upset. 

 

I will say, Luther loved the church, and Luther wasn't looking to be a rebel or to rebel or to get out of the church. He wanted to reform it. He wanted a renewal. He wanted to take the church back to its origins, to its roots in scripture. So, he set about one day to write down some of his concerns. He did them, and when they were numbered, they were 95 in number. They are known to history by this phrase, “The 95 Theses.” You know what a thesis is, like a thesis statement in your term paper, or you write a thesis for your master's degree. The plural form of thesis is “theses.” 95 theses. There were 95 points of concern, and he took those 95 theses that he'd written out and he nailed to the door of the church where he was like the parish priest. I know that sounds like he was defacing the property; he was not. In those days, the church door functioned like a bulletin board, and if you wanted to announce something, you could tack it to the church door and it would be seen by all. So, he tacked to the door of the church his points of concern. He sent out an invitation. He said, “If you want to discuss these things, then I want to invite you to a dialogue. Let’s talk about these things, and if there needs to be change, let's make the changes.

 

Well, it caused a furor all across Europe because the church was in league with the Holy Roman Emperor. And they held the reins of power and wealth, and Luther was like a bee in the bonnet. It caused a furor. Word got all the way to Rome about what Luther had done, and so the pope initiated a church council, called together leaders from across the empire, and the emperor himself sat presiding over this gathering. They were going to discuss the points of concern that Luther had raised, and Luther had raised many significant theological points of concern. At stake was Luther's life. You know, in our culture today, it’s hard to appreciate this because in our day if we have different viewpoints, it's no big deal. It's no skin off your nose. You believe one thing, I believe another; we just live in peace with one another. We have religious liberty. It wasn't so in those days. If you took issue with the church, you would face the wrath of the empire, and Luther’s life was at stake; certainly his career and livelihood. So he was on trial, and as the trial grew to its climax, Luther was asked if he would recant what he had written. To recant means you do an about-face. You say, “I was wrong. I take back what I said.” So they said, “Luther, here's your choice. You're going to be condemned, or you can recant. Which will you do?”

 

Luther felt these things very deeply, and he said, “Would you give me an evening to pray about what I’ll say. They said, “Yes, you may have an evening.” So, Luther went back to his room. Luther played earnestly, “God what should I do”? And through that evening of prayer and counsel with friends, he came back the next day and he stood before... now, put yourself in his shoes. Could you do this? He stood before the emperor and the might of the empire, and he was asked once again, “Luther, will you recant?” I want you to hear his response:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. May God help me. Amen.

 

When Luther said this, the fury of the empire came down upon him. He was excommunicated from the church. He was branded a heretic, and it was decreed that anyone who would take Luther's life would not be held liable for doing so. Fortunately for Luther, he had a confidant who was one of the princes of Germany, and he stole Luther away and hid him in a castle in a place called Wartburg. There, hidden away in the castle in Wartburg, Luther furiously, not angrily, but busily, set about translating the Bible into the common language of the people. The first German Bible was then published, and from it courage arose in Europe, and the first English translation by a man named Tyndale was published, and it set about a great renewal in the church, what’s known to history as the Great Reformation. 

 

Luther Stands as a colossal figure of history because of this principle, and I'm going to give it to you in two words: Sola scriptura. Sola scriptura. You see, this month, every Sunday, we're going to take a different bedrock principle of our church, and we're going to teach upon it. The first of them is this one, Sola scriptura, that is translated “only scripture.” No decree of man, no church council, no pastor can dictate anything that supersedes or takes precedence over God's revealed word. Do you want to know why Istrouma Baptist Church is a vibrant and growing church today? I'm going to tell you why. One of the primary reasons is because we stand upon this principle, sola scriptura; only God's word reigns supreme over our conscience and our faith.

 

I want to convince you of this same principle. That’s my goal this morning. To do so, I'm going to ask you to turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Let’s stand to our feet as a sign of our respect for God's word, and we’ll read these two verses: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated.  

 

My wife and I were on vacation last week, and we thank you for giving us some days off. We traveled to Virginia where our children and grandchildren live. We had a great time hugging all those grandkid’s necks and just being with them. I want to thank Brad who preached in my absence last week. I heard he did a great job, and I thank you, Brad, for preaching God's word faithfully. But as we were on that trip and returning, my wife saw a church sign and it said this, “Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions.” I like that. Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions. We're at the time of New Year's resolutions, right? Everybody's got a New Year's resolution, whatever it is; lose weight, learn to play the guitar, whatever your New Year's resolution is. Could I just challenge you to this: Have a daily devotional. Daily time in the word of God because the word of God, sola scriptura, is our daily meat. It's our food. Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I want to motivate you to this, all right? Not just to daily devotion, but to a lifetime of living out the principles of God's word. I'm going to do it in three headings. First of all, I'm going to talk to you about the production of scripture – how did it come to be? Number two, I'm going to talk to you about the practicality of scripture. And finally, I'm going to talk to you about the purpose of scripture. All right; let’s take these up. 

 

Number one, the production of scripture. How did it happen that we've come to hold in our hands this precious book here and now? I'm going to give it to you in these two words: inspiration and then implications. Inspiration and implications. “Inspiration,” what do I mean? I mean that God has given us this book by inspiration. Now the word often translated here “inspiration” is in the Greek language a very interesting word. In fact, it's a word that only appears once in all of the Bible. One time. It doesn't even occur in secular Greek literature of that day. It's a word that Paul coined. That is, Paul created this word. It didn't exist. The reason it's so unique it is because it is describing a process that is unique. The word is this: theopneustos. Theopneustos. It’s a compound word. It's got two parts to it. The first part is theos. Theos is the Greek word for God. Some of you knew that. We get our English word “theology,” the study of God, from theos. From the word theopneustos we get the root of our English word “pneumatic,” like a tire that's filled with air; that's a pneumatic tire, it’s an air-filled tire. Or “pneumonia,” when your lungs – you don't have enough respiration. It's the whole idea of breath or wind. So theopneustos is the wind of God. The breath of God. That's what is meant when it says “inspiration.” It is literally, all scripture is theopneustos; it is breathed out by God. Folks, this is phenomenal! No wonder he coined the term. There’s no other book like this book. 

 

You know, sometimes we use the word “inspired” very casually. Like you hear a beautiful song and you're like, “Oh man, that was inspired.” Handel's “Messiah” – people will say, “That was inspired.” Or maybe you read a book; let’s say Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love,” and you’re like, “Oh man, that book’s inspired!” Could I just say to you? There is no other book, there is no other song, there is no other sermon. You say “Pastor Jeff, what a sermon, he was inspired today.” Not like this. I depend upon God and I ask him to help me and fill me, but the words that I say are not perfect. God's word is perfect. I seek to be faithful to it, but I can be mistaken. Church councils can be mistaken. Popes can be mistaken. But this book, never mistaken. Why? Because it’s breathed out by God. Here's what the Bible says of the Lord in Numbers 23:19: “God is not man, that he should lie…”  We all lie. God doesn’t lie. 

 

In Titus 1:2, God is described as the one who never lies. God can’t lie. 

 

Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” 

 

If God can't lie and these are his words, guess what? There’s no lie in this book. There’s no untruth. That's why we call it inerrant; infallible. It is perfect. It is God's word, and you can take it to the bank. Listen, people may lie to you. People may break their contracts with you. But God will never lie to you, and his word will always prove faithful. Take it to the bank. That's the inspiration.

 

Secondly, what are the implications of this? “Okay, big deal; this is God's inspired word. What's the significance of that?” Glad you asked. Let me give you a couple of the significances of this inspiration. Number one, it's true, and that's what I was just talking about. This book is true. But secondly, it is timeless. Psalm 119:89 says “Forever O Lord your word is established in the heavens.” That is, God's word will never change. It was relevant when Jesus trod this earth. It was relevant when Abraham lived. It was relevant when Jesus and the apostles lived, and friends, it's just as relevant today. It is timeless. “Forever O Lord your word is fixed or established in the heavens.” It will never change, and I'm so glad. This book is more relevant to your life than the newspaper that you picked up off your doorstep when you came out this morning. And by the way, nowadays, the newspaper that you get on your doorstep is already out of date. You know, you’d better look at your feed on your cell phone, right, to get the most recent story as it breaks. I want to tell you something. This book is more up-to-date than your news feed on your cell phone. It is timeless.

 

Listen, this is important. You young people listen to me. We’re living in a day where they talk about the “information overload.” Have you heard that phrase? I’ve talked to you before about what's called the “knowledge doubling curve.” Remember Buckminster Fuller, that scientist who said that from the dawn of humanity to the year 1900, human knowledge would double about every 100 years. Every once in a while you'd have an invention. The Chinese would invent fireworks. Then several hundred years later Gutenberg would invent the printing press. So knowledge grew very incrementally. But he said that when you get to the year 1900, when modernity is kicking in, knowledge begins to double every 25 years. Then you come up into the 1980s when he published his book, he said that knowledge was doubling every 12 months, every year. So every hundred years, every twenty-five years, every year. They say that now, with the Internet, and AI, artificial intelligence, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours.

 

Now, an unintended effect of the doubling of knowledge is what's called the “half-life of knowledge.” Now, stick with me on this. I'm going somewhere! Listen. The half-life of knowledge. I've got some nursing students in here. I've got some medical doctors in here, so you can back me up on this. They say that when you go to medical school and you graduate, within 24 months half of what you learned in medical school is obsolete. You're an engineering student; they say that within a matter of a very scant few years, half of what you learned in engineering will be obsolete. Think about software developers. With software, there is the initial version, typically Version 0. Then V1.0, V2.0 etc. as updates and upgrades are needed.  But look here: there’s no Bible 2.0, nor need there be. There's not going to be a Bible 10, and do you know why? Because this is inspired. God breathed it out. And because it's so, it's true and it is timeless. Because of divine inspiration there is no date of expiration!  And all God's people said [“Amen”]. Doggone Right! Doggone Right. That's the production of scripture. 

 

Now, number two, the practicality of scripture. Young people, listen to me. I'm an old fellow now, and I've learned some things across the years, and I'm going to help you. I'm not going to charge you tuition or anything. This book that I hold in my hand is practical. You say, “Man, I don’t want to listen to a sermon. That's boring. That has nothing to do with how I live.” Nothing could be further from the truth. You're not going to watch a television program; you’re not going to Netflix something (Is “Netflix a verb?). You’re not going to watch something on Netflix that's more pertinent to your life or more practical than what I am teaching you this morning and every other Sunday as far as that goes. I'm the most relevant media in your life, if I could say that; someone who faithfully teaches the word of God, and I hope that I do. And your Sunday School teachers, your small group leaders, your Bible study leaders, because they're giving you the inspired word of God, and it's practical. He says that this inspired word is profitable. I love that word. It means useful. It means valuable. This is useful, this is valuable, this is practical, all right? And he gives us four ways in which it is practical. Watch this. Four ways it’s practical: for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Now, watch. Instruction is positive. “Here's what you ought to believe.” Reproof is negative. That's like, “Oops, you've got it wrong there; let me reprove you. Correction is also negative. And then the last word, training in righteousness is positive. So it's positive, negative, negative, positive. Do you see that? Those four characteristics are actually two pairs. The positive and negative first go together, and then the third and fourth, negative and positive, they go together. It’s what’s called in scripture a “chiasm.” Those two pairs go together. The first two pertain to our beliefs. The Bible gives us instruction as to what we ought to believe, and it reproves us when we believe anything different from that. But it's not just our beliefs that we get from the Bible. It ought to govern our behavior, and that's the last couplet. For correction; that is, when I’m off the path, and I’m behaving as I ought not, the word of God corrects me. And then it trains me in right conduct, righteousness, right living, making it practical. 

 

Let me give you a word picture that I think will help you. Every little boy's dream – let me help you with next year’s Christmas list, all right? Moms, dads, listen. You want to get your son a gift he’ll like? Get him a Swiss Army Knife if he's never had one. How many of you have ever had a Swiss Army Knife? Would you raise your hand up? Swiss Army Knife – there's nothing cooler in the world. The reason it's cool is because it's so practical. You've got a magnifying glass. You've got scissors. You've got tweezers. You've got a ruler. You've got a saw –  you can saw off a little branch. It's even got a hidden toothpick, did y'all know this? It’s pretty nasty; you can use that toothpick and put it back in the knife. That’s funny! Swiss Army Knife. But it's practical. 

 

The Bible is your spiritual Swiss Army Knife. It instructs you. It reproves you. It corrects you. It trains you in righteousness. For some of you, you're not into Swiss Army Knives. Let me just use this illustration. This is a smartphone. This is the Millennials’ Swiss Army Knife, right here. Have you ever thought about what a smartphone can do? It's crazy! It's a phone. It's an alarm clock. It's a stopwatch. It's a calendar. It's a secretary. I can speak into this, and it will transcribe in written form what I say. I can text. I can email. When we were driving from Virginia to Louisiana, I didn't have to worry about where to turn. This is a guide for me. I could go on; you get the idea. I know you love your smartphone. You wouldn't dream of going anywhere without your smartphone. You lose it, and you’d start having hives – “where’s my smartphone?” You wake up; it's the first thing you consult. It’s the last thing; you put yourself to sleep scrolling through Instagram picks. Hey, don't go anywhere without God's word. Hide it in your heart. Daily devotional in it. Live it. It is practical.

 

Now, to the end. The purpose of it. I’ll just give you these two. It helps us become mature. Do you know why a lot of people in church are immature? Because they don't know the word of God. You become mature, the Bible says, speaking the truth in love. We are to grow up into him who is the head. How do you grow up? You get the word of God in you, and then, not only will you be mature, you’ll minister. You’ll serve.

 

Our ministries grow out of our knowledge of the word of God. And, oh, the ministry that God wants to do through your life. You’re some of the most gifted, dedicated people I know, and as you imbibe the truth of God's word you're going to be equipped and strengthened to find your place in ministry, and conduct it.

 

We're going to conclude this morning by celebrating the Lord's Supper. I’m going to tell you one last story. There was once a ship in the British Royal Navy. It was called The Bounty. It had a captain who was very demanding; some say cruel, even. They were sailing in the South Pacific, and they happened into the Tahiti Islands. They set down their anchor, and they lived there in Tahiti for a period of time. The sailors, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. They’d come from cold, wet England, and here they are in balmy Tahiti. Palm trees swaying. Gentle breeze. Beautiful island women. The sailors reveled; they loved being in those islands. 

 

The captain finally had had enough, and he said, “All right, we're going to get on board, and we're going to leave. We're going to go about our duties.” Some of the sailors decided they would mutiny; that is, turn on the captain, and they did. They put the captain and some of the senior officers into one of those rowboats, like a lifeboat on the ship, and they sent them away. They commandeered the ship. They put on board the ship a couple of dozen Tahiti people, many of them women, and these sailors sailed off into the ocean blue with these beautiful Tahiti women. They ended up finding a small remote island called Pitcairn Island. You can look it up. Pitcairn Island. They sailed into the bay of this beautiful tropical island. They took off everything of value from the ship, and they burned the ship so that they would never be discovered, they hoped. Because, look, if you mutiny against the Royal British Navy, it's a capital offense, so they're hiding for their lives. There, they think they've died and gone to the Garden of Eden. They are living ungodly lives. They discovered how to make alcohol from one of the plants on the island, and they're drinking, and they’re being sexually immoral. 

 

But as the years go by, their Garden of Eden does what the first Garden of Eden did. It goes south. The men become jealous, fighting over the women. Many of the men are killed. Finally, there's only one British man still living. A number of Tahiti women are living. Now, they’ve fathered many children; kind of a colony there. The man is distraught. He sees the ruin and chaos about him, and he's searching through the things that they got off the ship, and he discovers a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. He begins to study the word of God, and he becomes convicted of his sin and his need to repent and get right with God and get saved. And he does. Then he takes that same word of God, and he begins to teach the women he once abused, and the children. 

 

Many years go by. In 1808, an American ship happened upon that island. They went there. They needed water, and they landed on the island. They discovered these people; now listen. Where there had once been warring and violence and crimes, there was peace. There wasn't a jail on the island. There wasn't a need for one. And the people were all Christian. How did that happen? Two words: sola scriptura, God's word transformed their lives. God intends that nothing less happen with us. He wants to transform us by his word. Do you know the primary way we’re transformed? Here I’m coming to the end. Jesus said to those who heard him; he said, “You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to know scripture. You've got to know me.” He is the focal point of scripture. Do you know Christ? If not, this day, surrender your life to him, he who died on the cross, shed his blood, his body was broken for us. He arose from the dead so that we might be forgiven and transformed.

 

Let's stand with our heads bowed.

 

[Prayer]

 

[Lord’s Supper] 



 

Direct download: IBC__20200105.mp3
Category:Solas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Sola Scriptura

Sermon Series: Solas

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Ginn, Lead Pastor

10:45 AM Sermon January 5, 2020

 

 

 

Outline:

 

  1. The production of scripture

All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16a).

 

  1.    Its inspiration

 

  1. Its implications

   

           

  1. The practicality of scripture

And profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16b).

 

  1. Our beliefs

 

  1.    Our behaviors

       

 

  1. The purpose of scripture

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

           

  1. Our maturity

 

  1. Our ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a towering figure in the history of Christianity whose name you need to know. His name is Martin Luther. I want to tell you a little bit about his story. Martin Luther was born back in the 1400s, more than 500 years ago, and he was a very devout young man. He loved the Lord, and as a result, he eventually became a monk, a priest, even a professor of theology. As those callings demand, he was a student of the scripture. He loved the word of God and he voraciously and ardently studied it. In the course of studying the Bible, the scripture, he became concerned about the discrepancy, or the chasm, that existed between what the scriptures taught and what the dominant church of that age was doing. He saw errors, he believed, and he saw abuses. I'll mention one. There was the practice back in those days of selling indulgences. Let me explain this. An indulgence was a forgiveness of sins. You've done something wrong and you want to be forgiven. Well, the church taught at that time that they had the power to forgive sin, and if you would give an offering, you could, by means of that offering, purchase an indulgence.  There was a guy who was traveling around Europe selling these indulgences. His name was Tetzel, and he had a little song that he sang, and it roughly went like this: “When the coin into the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

 

In other words, if you’ll give an offering big enough, your mother who’s suffering in purgatory can get out. Luther was troubled, to put it lightly, by these things because you don't see any of that in the Bible. It’s like, “Where do you get this, and why are you teaching that?” He viewed it as abusing the people. He said if the pope wants to build a new building in Rome, why doesn't he just do it out of his own treasury? He's fabulously wealthy. Why is he doing it on the backs of the peasants? So, Luther was upset. 

 

I will say, Luther loved the church, and Luther wasn't looking to be a rebel or to rebel or to get out of the church. He wanted to reform it. He wanted a renewal. He wanted to take the church back to its origins, to its roots in scripture. So, he set about one day to write down some of his concerns. He did them, and when they were numbered, they were 95 in number. They are known to history by this phrase, “The 95 Theses.” You know what a thesis is, like a thesis statement in your term paper, or you write a thesis for your master's degree. The plural form of thesis is “theses.” 95 theses. There were 95 points of concern, and he took those 95 theses that he'd written out and he nailed to the door of the church where he was like the parish priest. I know that sounds like he was defacing the property; he was not. In those days, the church door functioned like a bulletin board, and if you wanted to announce something, you could tack it to the church door and it would be seen by all. So, he tacked to the door of the church his points of concern. He sent out an invitation. He said, “If you want to discuss these things, then I want to invite you to a dialogue. Let’s talk about these things, and if there needs to be change, let's make the changes.

 

Well, it caused a furor all across Europe because the church was in league with the Holy Roman Emperor. And they held the reins of power and wealth, and Luther was like a bee in the bonnet. It caused a furor. Word got all the way to Rome about what Luther had done, and so the pope initiated a church council, called together leaders from across the empire, and the emperor himself sat presiding over this gathering. They were going to discuss the points of concern that Luther had raised, and Luther had raised many significant theological points of concern. At stake was Luther's life. You know, in our culture today, it’s hard to appreciate this because in our day if we have different viewpoints, it's no big deal. It's no skin off your nose. You believe one thing, I believe another; we just live in peace with one another. We have religious liberty. It wasn't so in those days. If you took issue with the church, you would face the wrath of the empire, and Luther’s life was at stake; certainly his career and livelihood. So he was on trial, and as the trial grew to its climax, Luther was asked if he would recant what he had written. To recant means you do an about-face. You say, “I was wrong. I take back what I said.” So they said, “Luther, here's your choice. You're going to be condemned, or you can recant. Which will you do?”

 

Luther felt these things very deeply, and he said, “Would you give me an evening to pray about what I’ll say. They said, “Yes, you may have an evening.” So, Luther went back to his room. Luther played earnestly, “God what should I do”? And through that evening of prayer and counsel with friends, he came back the next day and he stood before... now, put yourself in his shoes. Could you do this? He stood before the emperor and the might of the empire, and he was asked once again, “Luther, will you recant?” I want you to hear his response:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. May God help me. Amen.

 

When Luther said this, the fury of the empire came down upon him. He was excommunicated from the church. He was branded a heretic, and it was decreed that anyone who would take Luther's life would not be held liable for doing so. Fortunately for Luther, he had a confidant who was one of the princes of Germany, and he stole Luther away and hid him in a castle in a place called Wartburg. There, hidden away in the castle in Wartburg, Luther furiously, not angrily, but busily, set about translating the Bible into the common language of the people. The first German Bible was then published, and from it courage arose in Europe, and the first English translation by a man named Tyndale was published, and it set about a great renewal in the church, what’s known to history as the Great Reformation. 

 

Luther Stands as a colossal figure of history because of this principle, and I'm going to give it to you in two words: Sola scriptura. Sola scriptura. You see, this month, every Sunday, we're going to take a different bedrock principle of our church, and we're going to teach upon it. The first of them is this one, Sola scriptura, that is translated “only scripture.” No decree of man, no church council, no pastor can dictate anything that supersedes or takes precedence over God's revealed word. Do you want to know why Istrouma Baptist Church is a vibrant and growing church today? I'm going to tell you why. One of the primary reasons is because we stand upon this principle, sola scriptura; only God's word reigns supreme over our conscience and our faith.

 

I want to convince you of this same principle. That’s my goal this morning. To do so, I'm going to ask you to turn in your Bible to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Let’s stand to our feet as a sign of our respect for God's word, and we’ll read these two verses: 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

 

Let’s pray. 

 

[Prayer]

 

Please be seated.  

 

My wife and I were on vacation last week, and we thank you for giving us some days off. We traveled to Virginia where our children and grandchildren live. We had a great time hugging all those grandkid’s necks and just being with them. I want to thank Brad who preached in my absence last week. I heard he did a great job, and I thank you, Brad, for preaching God's word faithfully. But as we were on that trip and returning, my wife saw a church sign and it said this, “Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions.” I like that. Daily devotions are better than yearly resolutions. We're at the time of New Year's resolutions, right? Everybody's got a New Year's resolution, whatever it is; lose weight, learn to play the guitar, whatever your New Year's resolution is. Could I just challenge you to this: Have a daily devotional. Daily time in the word of God because the word of God, sola scriptura, is our daily meat. It's our food. Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I want to motivate you to this, all right? Not just to daily devotion, but to a lifetime of living out the principles of God's word. I'm going to do it in three headings. First of all, I'm going to talk to you about the production of scripture – how did it come to be? Number two, I'm going to talk to you about the practicality of scripture. And finally, I'm going to talk to you about the purpose of scripture. All right; let’s take these up. 

 

Number one, the production of scripture. How did it happen that we've come to hold in our hands this precious book here and now? I'm going to give it to you in these two words: inspiration and then implications. Inspiration and implications. “Inspiration,” what do I mean? I mean that God has given us this book by inspiration. Now the word often translated here “inspiration” is in the Greek language a very interesting word. In fact, it's a word that only appears once in all of the Bible. One time. It doesn't even occur in secular Greek literature of that day. It's a word that Paul coined. That is, Paul created this word. It didn't exist. The reason it's so unique it is because it is describing a process that is unique. The word is this: theopneustos. Theopneustos. It’s a compound word. It's got two parts to it. The first part is theos. Theos is the Greek word for God. Some of you knew that. We get our English word “theology,” the study of God, from theos. From the word theopneustos we get the root of our English word “pneumatic,” like a tire that's filled with air; that's a pneumatic tire, it’s an air-filled tire. Or “pneumonia,” when your lungs – you don't have enough respiration. It's the whole idea of breath or wind. So theopneustos is the wind of God. The breath of God. That's what is meant when it says “inspiration.” It is literally, all scripture is theopneustos; it is breathed out by God. Folks, this is phenomenal! No wonder he coined the term. There’s no other book like this book. 

 

You know, sometimes we use the word “inspired” very casually. Like you hear a beautiful song and you're like, “Oh man, that was inspired.” Handel's “Messiah” – people will say, “That was inspired.” Or maybe you read a book; let’s say Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love,” and you’re like, “Oh man, that book’s inspired!” Could I just say to you? There is no other book, there is no other song, there is no other sermon. You say “Pastor Jeff, what a sermon, he was inspired today.” Not like this. I depend upon God and I ask him to help me and fill me, but the words that I say are not perfect. God's word is perfect. I seek to be faithful to it, but I can be mistaken. Church councils can be mistaken. Popes can be mistaken. But this book, never mistaken. Why? Because it’s breathed out by God. Here's what the Bible says of the Lord in Numbers 23:19: “God is not man, that he should lie…”  We all lie. God doesn’t lie. 

 

In Titus 1:2, God is described as the one who never lies. God can’t lie. 

 

Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” 

 

If God can't lie and these are his words, guess what? There’s no lie in this book. There’s no untruth. That's why we call it inerrant; infallible. It is perfect. It is God's word, and you can take it to the bank. Listen, people may lie to you. People may break their contracts with you. But God will never lie to you, and his word will always prove faithful. Take it to the bank. That's the inspiration.

 

Secondly, what are the implications of this? “Okay, big deal; this is God's inspired word. What's the significance of that?” Glad you asked. Let me give you a couple of the significances of this inspiration. Number one, it's true, and that's what I was just talking about. This book is true. But secondly, it is timeless. Psalm 119:89 says “Forever O Lord your word is established in the heavens.” That is, God's word will never change. It was relevant when Jesus trod this earth. It was relevant when Abraham lived. It was relevant when Jesus and the apostles lived, and friends, it's just as relevant today. It is timeless. “Forever O Lord your word is fixed or established in the heavens.” It will never change, and I'm so glad. This book is more relevant to your life than the newspaper that you picked up off your doorstep when you came out this morning. And by the way, nowadays, the newspaper that you get on your doorstep is already out of date. You know, you’d better look at your feed on your cell phone, right, to get the most recent story as it breaks. I want to tell you something. This book is more up-to-date than your news feed on your cell phone. It is timeless.

 

Listen, this is important. You young people listen to me. We’re living in a day where they talk about the “information overload.” Have you heard that phrase? I’ve talked to you before about what's called the “knowledge doubling curve.” Remember Buckminster Fuller, that scientist who said that from the dawn of humanity to the year 1900, human knowledge would double about every 100 years. Every once in a while you'd have an invention. The Chinese would invent fireworks. Then several hundred years later Gutenberg would invent the printing press. So knowledge grew very incrementally. But he said that when you get to the year 1900, when modernity is kicking in, knowledge begins to double every 25 years. Then you come up into the 1980s when he published his book, he said that knowledge was doubling every 12 months, every year. So every hundred years, every twenty-five years, every year. They say that now, with the Internet, and AI, artificial intelligence, human knowledge is doubling every 12 hours.

 

Now, an unintended effect of the doubling of knowledge is what's called the “half-life of knowledge.” Now, stick with me on this. I'm going somewhere! Listen. The half-life of knowledge. I've got some nursing students in here. I've got some medical doctors in here, so you can back me up on this. They say that when you go to medical school and you graduate, within 24 months half of what you learned in medical school is obsolete. You're an engineering student; they say that within a matter of a very scant few years, half of what you learned in engineering will be obsolete. Think about software developers. With software, there is the initial version, typically Version 0. Then V1.0, V2.0 etc. as updates and upgrades are needed.  But look here: there’s no Bible 2.0, nor need there be. There's not going to be a Bible 10, and do you know why? Because this is inspired. God breathed it out. And because it's so, it's true and it is timeless. Because of divine inspiration there is no date of expiration!  And all God's people said [“Amen”]. Doggone Right! Doggone Right. That's the production of scripture. 

 

Now, number two, the practicality of scripture. Young people, listen to me. I'm an old fellow now, and I've learned some things across the years, and I'm going to help you. I'm not going to charge you tuition or anything. This book that I hold in my hand is practical. You say, “Man, I don’t want to listen to a sermon. That's boring. That has nothing to do with how I live.” Nothing could be further from the truth. You're not going to watch a television program; you’re not going to Netflix something (Is “Netflix a verb?). You’re not going to watch something on Netflix that's more pertinent to your life or more practical than what I am teaching you this morning and every other Sunday as far as that goes. I'm the most relevant media in your life, if I could say that; someone who faithfully teaches the word of God, and I hope that I do. And your Sunday School teachers, your small group leaders, your Bible study leaders, because they're giving you the inspired word of God, and it's practical. He says that this inspired word is profitable. I love that word. It means useful. It means valuable. This is useful, this is valuable, this is practical, all right? And he gives us four ways in which it is practical. Watch this. Four ways it’s practical: for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Now, watch. Instruction is positive. “Here's what you ought to believe.” Reproof is negative. That's like, “Oops, you've got it wrong there; let me reprove you. Correction is also negative. And then the last word, training in righteousness is positive. So it's positive, negative, negative, positive. Do you see that? Those four characteristics are actually two pairs. The positive and negative first go together, and then the third and fourth, negative and positive, they go together. It’s what’s called in scripture a “chiasm.” Those two pairs go together. The first two pertain to our beliefs. The Bible gives us instruction as to what we ought to believe, and it reproves us when we believe anything different from that. But it's not just our beliefs that we get from the Bible. It ought to govern our behavior, and that's the last couplet. For correction; that is, when I’m off the path, and I’m behaving as I ought not, the word of God corrects me. And then it trains me in right conduct, righteousness, right living, making it practical. 

 

Let me give you a word picture that I think will help you. Every little boy's dream – let me help you with next year’s Christmas list, all right? Moms, dads, listen. You want to get your son a gift he’ll like? Get him a Swiss Army Knife if he's never had one. How many of you have ever had a Swiss Army Knife? Would you raise your hand up? Swiss Army Knife – there's nothing cooler in the world. The reason it's cool is because it's so practical. You've got a magnifying glass. You've got scissors. You've got tweezers. You've got a ruler. You've got a saw –  you can saw off a little branch. It's even got a hidden toothpick, did y'all know this? It’s pretty nasty; you can use that toothpick and put it back in the knife. That’s funny! Swiss Army Knife. But it's practical. 

 

The Bible is your spiritual Swiss Army Knife. It instructs you. It reproves you. It corrects you. It trains you in righteousness. For some of you, you're not into Swiss Army Knives. Let me just use this illustration. This is a smartphone. This is the Millennials’ Swiss Army Knife, right here. Have you ever thought about what a smartphone can do? It's crazy! It's a phone. It's an alarm clock. It's a stopwatch. It's a calendar. It's a secretary. I can speak into this, and it will transcribe in written form what I say. I can text. I can email. When we were driving from Virginia to Louisiana, I didn't have to worry about where to turn. This is a guide for me. I could go on; you get the idea. I know you love your smartphone. You wouldn't dream of going anywhere without your smartphone. You lose it, and you’d start having hives – “where’s my smartphone?” You wake up; it's the first thing you consult. It’s the last thing; you put yourself to sleep scrolling through Instagram picks. Hey, don't go anywhere without God's word. Hide it in your heart. Daily devotional in it. Live it. It is practical.

 

Now, to the end. The purpose of it. I’ll just give you these two. It helps us become mature. Do you know why a lot of people in church are immature? Because they don't know the word of God. You become mature, the Bible says, speaking the truth in love. We are to grow up into him who is the head. How do you grow up? You get the word of God in you, and then, not only will you be mature, you’ll minister. You’ll serve.

 

Our ministries grow out of our knowledge of the word of God. And, oh, the ministry that God wants to do through your life. You’re some of the most gifted, dedicated people I know, and as you imbibe the truth of God's word you're going to be equipped and strengthened to find your place in ministry, and conduct it.

 

We're going to conclude this morning by celebrating the Lord's Supper. I’m going to tell you one last story. There was once a ship in the British Royal Navy. It was called The Bounty. It had a captain who was very demanding; some say cruel, even. They were sailing in the South Pacific, and they happened into the Tahiti Islands. They set down their anchor, and they lived there in Tahiti for a period of time. The sailors, they thought they’d died and gone to heaven. They’d come from cold, wet England, and here they are in balmy Tahiti. Palm trees swaying. Gentle breeze. Beautiful island women. The sailors reveled; they loved being in those islands. 

 

The captain finally had had enough, and he said, “All right, we're going to get on board, and we're going to leave. We're going to go about our duties.” Some of the sailors decided they would mutiny; that is, turn on the captain, and they did. They put the captain and some of the senior officers into one of those rowboats, like a lifeboat on the ship, and they sent them away. They commandeered the ship. They put on board the ship a couple of dozen Tahiti people, many of them women, and these sailors sailed off into the ocean blue with these beautiful Tahiti women. They ended up finding a small remote island called Pitcairn Island. You can look it up. Pitcairn Island. They sailed into the bay of this beautiful tropical island. They took off everything of value from the ship, and they burned the ship so that they would never be discovered, they hoped. Because, look, if you mutiny against the Royal British Navy, it's a capital offense, so they're hiding for their lives. There, they think they've died and gone to the Garden of Eden. They are living ungodly lives. They discovered how to make alcohol from one of the plants on the island, and they're drinking, and they’re being sexually immoral. 

 

But as the years go by, their Garden of Eden does what the first Garden of Eden did. It goes south. The men become jealous, fighting over the women. Many of the men are killed. Finally, there's only one British man still living. A number of Tahiti women are living. Now, they’ve fathered many children; kind of a colony there. The man is distraught. He sees the ruin and chaos about him, and he's searching through the things that they got off the ship, and he discovers a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. He begins to study the word of God, and he becomes convicted of his sin and his need to repent and get right with God and get saved. And he does. Then he takes that same word of God, and he begins to teach the women he once abused, and the children. 

 

Many years go by. In 1808, an American ship happened upon that island. They went there. They needed water, and they landed on the island. They discovered these people; now listen. Where there had once been warring and violence and crimes, there was peace. There wasn't a jail on the island. There wasn't a need for one. And the people were all Christian. How did that happen? Two words: sola scriptura, God's word transformed their lives. God intends that nothing less happen with us. He wants to transform us by his word. Do you know the primary way we’re transformed? Here I’m coming to the end. Jesus said to those who heard him; he said, “You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to know scripture. You've got to know me.” He is the focal point of scripture. Do you know Christ? If not, this day, surrender your life to him, he who died on the cross, shed his blood, his body was broken for us. He arose from the dead so that we might be forgiven and transformed.

 

Let's stand with our heads bowed.

 

[Prayer]

 

[Lord’s Supper] 



 

Direct download: 01.__Sola_Scriptura.__Transcript_Only.pdf
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Istrouma en Español

 

Solas

“Solo Scriptura”

 

2 Timoteo 3.16-17

 

  1. La procedencia de las Escrituras.

 

Toda la Escritura es inspirada por Dios…” (2 Tim. 3: 16a)

  1. Su inspiración
  2. Sus implicaciones

 

  1. La practicidad de las Escrituras.

 

“…y útil para enseñar, para reprender, para corregir y para instruir en la justiciar” (2 Tim. 3: 16b).

  1. Nuestra creencia
  2. Nuestro comportamiento

 

  1. El propósito de la escritura.

 

A fin de que los siervos de Dios estén plenamente capacitados para toda buena obra” (2 Tim. 3:17).

 

  1. Nuestra madurez
  2. Nuestro ministerio

 

 

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Category:Light of the World -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Category:Light of the World -- posted at: 4:00pm EDT

Without light we couldn’t live.  Sunlight sustains life.  It brings us lots of benefits, some of which you might not be aware.  I came across an article this week that lists 5 wide-ranging benefits of natural light.  Caveat: the article was written by a company that sells skylights!  Anyway, here are some excerpts from their list.

 

It helps with learning.  Artificial light could actually be damaging students’ academic progress. Comparative studies of schools in both Sweden and the United States show that students absorb and process information faster when they receive ample natural light. One study found that students whose schools used natural lighting progressed 20% faster on standardized math tests and 26% faster on reading tests than students who learn under artificial light.

 

It helps with business.  Having natural light in a retail store has been shown to improve sales. A case study found that, on average, facilities that had natural light had sales numbers up to 6% higher than facilities with artificial lighting. Another study, conducted by Walmart discovered that the same product, when displayed under natural light, would consistently outsell an identical item in a non-daylit section of the store.

 

It helps our health. Moderate exposure to sunlight helps improve visual health and aid in the prevention of medical conditions including seasonal affective disorder, pre-diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and some autoimmune diseases. Natural light is so beneficial that workplaces who integrate it experience a decrease in employee sick days of up to 6.5%.

 

Natural light has a lot of benefits.  This was not an exhaustive list.  The sun lights our world and brings us good.

 

But this Sunday I want to focus on spiritual light.  There is a spiritual sun (and, by the way, he is the creator of the physical sun)!  Malachi 4:2b speaks of him.  The prophet foretells that “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”

 

Who is this “sun of righteousness?”  He is the light of the world—Jesus! In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  Oh the good that comes to those who embrace and dwell in his light!

 

Join us for Christmas at Istrouma this Sunday as we continue our series, “The Light of the World.”

 

The Light of the World

John 8:12

 

  1. An incredible claim

 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (8:12a).

 

  1. Jesus will deliver you

 

  1. Jesus will direct you

 

 

  1. An inevitable consequence

 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (8:12b).

 

  1. There is a requirement

 

  1. There is a result

 

  1. An important choice

 

13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” . . . 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”

(8:13-32).

 

  1. We can reject him
  2. We can receive him
Direct download: IBC_20191222.mp3
Category:Light of the World -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191222.mp3
Category:Luz del Mundo -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

People around the world celebrate Christmas in unique ways. 

 

In the Philippines the “Giant Lantern Festival” is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern.

 

In Iceland for the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 “tricksy” troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. They are called the “Yule Lads.” For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones. Clad in traditional Icelandic costume, these fellas are pretty mischievous.

 

Italian children believe that their Christmas gifts are delivered, not by St. Nick, but by a kind, old witch named “La Befana” who uses her broom to clean untidy houses. Legend has it that Befana was cleaning her house, when the Three Wise Men knocked on her door asking for directions to reach the stables where Baby Jesus had just been born. She didn’t know, but she kindly provided them with accommodation for the night. In the morning the Three Wise Men invited her to accompany them on their journey. Too absorbed in her household work, she refused, but regretted it almost instantly. Befana wrapped a present and tried to catch up with the Tree Wise Men, but got lost and is still trying to find the way. So, every year, during the Christmas season, she leaves presents to children in her search for Baby Jesus.

 

Some of these practices may seem strange to us but we have our own hodge-podge of customs in the US--Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and mistletoe!

               

How ought we to celebrate Christmas? I have good news. We have a model in a kind, wise, and, likely, elderly man. His name is Simeon. His story is recorded in Luke 2:25-35. He shows us how we ought to celebrate God’s greatest gift both at Christmas as well as every day.  He walked with God.  He worshipped God.  And he witnessed for God.

 

Join us for Christmas at Istrouma this Sunday as we continue our series, “The Light of the World.”

 

The Light of the World

“Christmas Made Simple”

John 1:1-14

 

  1. Jesus Is Life

 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (1:4-5).

 

 

 

  1. Jesus Is Light

 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (1:4-5).

 (2:28-30).

 

 

 

  1. Jesus Is Lord

 

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it  (1:4-5).

 

Direct download: IBC_20191215.mp3
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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191208a.mp3
Category:Luz del Mundo -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191208b.mp3
Category:Luz del Mundo -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

People around the world celebrate Christmas in unique ways. 

 

In the Philippines the “Giant Lantern Festival” is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando – the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe. Eleven villages take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern.

 

In Iceland for the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 “tricksy” troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. They are called the “Yule Lads.” For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones. Clad in traditional Icelandic costume, these fellas are pretty mischievous.

 

Italian children believe that their Christmas gifts are delivered, not by St. Nick, but by a kind, old witch named “La Befana” who uses her broom to clean untidy houses. Legend has it that Befana was cleaning her house, when the Three Wise Men knocked on her door asking for directions to reach the stables where Baby Jesus had just been born. She didn’t know, but she kindly provided them with accommodation for the night. In the morning the Three Wise Men invited her to accompany them on their journey. Too absorbed in her household work, she refused, but regretted it almost instantly. Befana wrapped a present and tried to catch up with the Tree Wise Men, but got lost and is still trying to find the way. So, every year, during the Christmas season, she leaves presents to children in her search for Baby Jesus.

 

Some of these practices may seem strange to us but we have our own hodge-podge of customs in the US--Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and mistletoe!

               

How ought we to celebrate Christmas? I have good news. We have a model in a kind, wise, and, likely, elderly man. His name is Simeon. His story is recorded in Luke 2:25-35. He shows us how we ought to celebrate God’s greatest gift both at Christmas as well as every day.  He walked with God.  He worshipped God.  And he witnessed for God.

 

Join us for Christmas at Istrouma this Sunday as we continue our series, “The Light of the World.”

 

The Light of the World

“How to Celebrate Christmas”

Luke 2:25-35

 

  1. Walk with God

 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him (2:25).

 

  1. Be saved

 

  1. Be spirit-led

 

  1. Worship God

 

He took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation (2:28-30).

 

  1. Through song

 

  1. Through surrender

 

  1. Witness for God

 

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (2:34-35).

 

  1. We can reject him
  2. We can receive him
Direct download: IBC_20191208.mp3
Category:Light of the World -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

The Light of the World

“Operation Christmas”

Isaiah 9:1-7

 

  1. Is about light

 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone (9:2).

 

  1. For an unexpected people

 

  1. For an unexpected place

 

 

  1. Is about liberty

 

You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire (9:3-5).

 

  1. Rooted in a conquest

 

  1. Resulting in a celebration

 

 

  1. Is about lordship

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (9:6-7).

 

  1. Bow at his throne
  2. Believe in his traits
Direct download: IBC_20191201.mp3
Category:Operation Christmas -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

A Wisconsin bus driver is being hailed as a hero after she rescued two siblings found wandering in the snow during last week’s cold snap. Nicole Chamberlain said she found a 6-year-old boy and his 2-year-old sister in Waukesha, not properly dressed for the cold. At the time the temperature was 18 degrees, according to local news reports. The girl was only wearing a T-shirt, boots and her diaper.

 

Bus surveillance video shows Chamberlain scoop up the girl and put the two on the bus for warmth. Chamberlain wrapped her coat around the girl. "I said, 'What's going on?' and they said, 'We're looking for grandma.' I said, 'Come with me, I'm gonna put you on the warm bus, and I'll help you find grandma.' And so they came with me," Chamberlain said. "I picked them up and put them on my bus and called the police."

 

Police said the kids' grandmother was watching them but when she went in the basement for a moment, they headed outside to look for her. Within minutes, the grateful grandmother arrived at the bus and explained to police that the two had wandered away from home.

 

Chamberlain said she was glad her bus route took her past the right place at the right time. "If that were to happen to my children, I would hope that there would be somebody, a decent human being, that would stop and help my kids," she said. Police said they were not recommending charges in the case.

 

All’s well that ends well.  Those wandering children were found and brought back home.  Somebody was watching out for them!

 

Little children are not the only ones who wander.  And frigid cold is not the only threat.

 

God is a good, good father who keeps watch over his children. He doesn’t want us to wander and be lost. For that reason he sent his son to be the savior of the world.  For that same reason he sends those of us who have been rescued to bring back home those who wander.

 

He calls us to “watch out for wanderers!” That will be our theme this Sunday at Istrouma as we focus on James 5:19-20. Be sure to join us! 

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Watch out for Wanderers!”

James 5:19-20

 

  1. A temptation to avoid

 

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth . . . (5:19a).

 

  1. There is universal guilt

 

  1. There is unlimited grace

 

 

  1. A task to accept

 

. . . and someone brings him back (5:19b).

 

  1. God is recruiting workers

 

  1. God is restoring wanderers

 

 

  1. A truth to announce

 

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (5:20).

 

  1. There is joy in service
  2. There is joy in salvation
Direct download: IBC_20191117.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191117.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

One of the most exuberant and engaging TV personalities of recent memory was Steve Irwin—the “crocodile hunter.”  He was an Australian who grew up, literally, in a zoo that his parents operated.  When he was six-years-old, he got his first python.  By the time he was nine, he wrestled his first croc.  He loved wildlife and was an advocate for them.

 

When he was 44-years-old he was snorkeling in chest-high water.  His crew was filming a stingray.  Normally stingrays are described as docile but they do have a venomous barb at the end of their tail. When threatened it is a formidable weapon.  Something must have spooked the stingray because it began thrusting its tail wildly. 

 

Steve was hit in his heart.  Within a few short minutes he died.

 

There is so much irony in his death.  He loved animals and advocated for them.  He was young and vibrant.  Death by a stingray injury is very, very rare. 

 

But the story of Steve Irwin reminds us of how fragile and fleeting life is. We never know when our time will come or how it will end.

 

How, then, ought we to face the future?  That will be our theme this Sunday at Istrouma as we focus on James 4:13-17. Be sure to join us! 

Direct download: IBC_20191110.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

I’m sure it comes as no newsflash, but we are living in a war-torn world.

 

Think of the serious conflicts that rage globally. Hotspots include: Turkey and Syria, India and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and the list goes on. Not only are there are conflicts between nations, there are conflicts within nations—places like Venezuela and Hong Kong. In fact, it might be easier to list the countries that don’t have war than those that do. Recently the Institute for Economics and Peace evaluated 162 countries. Only 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.

 

It’s bad enough to have conflict within the league of nations, but how bad is it when it erupts in Little League?! On June 15, 2019, a baseball game for 7-year-olds in Lakewood, Colorado descended into chaos when parents disagreed over a decision made by the 13-year-old umpire.  Spectators captured video of a shocking brawl that ensued. Authorities ultimately issued citations for disorderly conduct to twelve adults. Crazy!

 

Let me get more personal still.  What about your family?  What about your own heart?  Are you at peace?

 

This coming Sunday at Istrouma we will focus on James 4:1-10. There God gives us a prescription for peace.  We’ll see the sources of conflicts, the seriousness of conflicts, and the solution to conflicts. Be sure to join us!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“A Prescription for Peace”

James 4:1-10

 

  1. The sources of sinful conflict

 

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? (4:1a)

 

  1. We are self-centered

 

  1. We are self-sufficient

 

 

  1. The seriousness of sinful conflict

 

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a firend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4:4-5).

 

  1. We become adulterers to God

 

  1. We become adversaries to God

 

 

  1. The solution to sinful conflict

 

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (4:6-7).

 

  1. God offers a present
  2. God orders a prescription
Direct download: IBC_20191103.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191103.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_20191027.mp3
Category:Go Global -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191027.mp3
Category:Llamados a las misiones -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

If you were given one wish, for what would you ask? A lot of money? Fame? A long life?

 

I heard about a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. They were both about 50 years old.  As they strolled along the beach, the husband accidentally kicked over a bottle hidden in the sand.  A genie emerged. “You can each have one wish,” she said.

 

The wife made her wish first. “I would like a luxurious trip around the world with my husband.” Suddenly there appeared in her hand two tickets for just such an adventure.

 

Now it was the husbands turn. “Well,” said the husband, with a mischievous look on his face, “I wish my wife were 25 years younger than I am.” The words were barely out of his mouth when, poof, he became 75 years old!

 

The reality is that, if you lack wisdom, even wishes that come true can become curses. Above all else we need wisdom! If you’re going to “make a wish,” wish for wisdom! Pray rightly for it and God will grant it!

 

This Sunday at Istrouma we will focus on James 3:13-18 and what God says there about wisdom. Be sure to join us!  It’ll be better for you than a trip around the world!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Wish for Wisdom!”   

James 3:13-18

 

  1. Different origins of wisdom

 

This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic (3:15)

 

  1. There’s a wisdom from heaven

 

  1. There’s a wisdom from hell

 

 

  1. Different operations of wisdom

 

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (3:16-17).

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that is selfish

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that is spiritual

 

 

  1. Different outcomes of wisdom

 

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (3:18).

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that produces rebellion
  2. There’s a wisdom that produces righteousness
Direct download: IBC_20191020.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Las dos Sabidurias!

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191020.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Stick out your tongue.”

 

That’s the typical instruction you get when you go for a doctor’s visit, right?  Have you ever wondered why? It’s because your tongue tells a lot about you. From anemia, to autoimmune diseases, to allergies, to vitamin deficiencies, to hygiene, to hydration, the tongue can be a good indicator of your physical health.

               

Did you know that your tongue can also be a good indicator of your spiritual health?  The words that we say (or fail to say) are a telltale sign of the condition of our hearts. Jesus knew this full well. Listen to what he said in Luke 6:45, especially the final phrase, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Our tongue is a window through which we can see the health of our heart.

               

This coming Sunday morning we’ll allow the Great Physician to take a good, long, hard look at our tongues—at the words we speak and the heart that prompts them. We’ll be in James 3:1-12 for a message entitled, “Tame the Tongue.” Be sure to join us!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Tame the Tongue!”   

James 3:1-12

 

  1. The paradox of the tongue

 

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  (3:5)

 

  1. It is small

 

  1. It is strong

 

 

  1. The potential of the tongue

 

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God (3:9).

 

  1. It can help

 

  1. It can harm

 

 

  1. The problem of the tongue

 

But no human being can tame the tongue (3:8a).

 

  1. James states the problem
  2. Jesus solves the problem
Direct download: IBC_20191013.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

!Controlando la lengua!

 

"A ver... saque la lengua, por favor...."
Es lo primero que dice el doctor cuando llegamos a su consultorio.
Es porque en nuestra lengua dice mucho de nosotros! Es un indicador de nuestra salud, enfermedades, deficiencias vitamínicas, higiene, hidratación, etc. Pero, ¿sabes que la lengua también puede ser un indicador de nuestra salud espiritual? Las palabras que decimos y aún las que no decimos revelan lo que hay en nuestro corazón (Lucas 6.45 "... de la abundancia del corazón, habla la boca") Este domingo no se pierda este tema de la serie "Espiritualidad Practica" desde el libro de Santiago en la Biblia.

 

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191013.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_20191006.mp3
Category:One Another Sunday -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Quien esta en el control?

 

El Apóstol Pablo desde la cárcel, motiva a sus lectores alegrarse. ¿No es esto contradictorio? como alguien inocente y privado de su libertad. Nos anima a estar contentos.
¿Dónde encontró Pablo la fuerza para hacerlo?
Lo sabremos este domingo, 9:15am.
Todos invitados!!!

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20191006.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In the great flood of 2016, over 140,000 homes flooded.  A governmental organization was formed to offer help to those persons affected by the floods.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated for that purpose.  Extensive efforts were made to get people to apply for grants.

 

Approximately 50,000 homeowners applied for help.  That means that, in very round numbers, only a little more than one-third of those adversely affected by the flood applied for grants.  Why so few?  Perhaps some didn’t think that they needed the help.  Perhaps some were unaware of the offer.  It is likely that some did not believe that the offer would produce any genuine help. 

 

But I, for one, believed (or at least I was desperate)! Granted, my faith was small and wavering, but I knew we had a need. I also knew monies had been allotted.  So here’s the way my thinking went: perhaps, if I apply, I may get help; but if I don’t apply, I know I won’t get any help.  So, I matched my wavering faith with concrete actions—I applied.  In fact, that small seed of faith gave birth to my actions.  You could say that the “works” of filling out the applications and engaging in the process were the evidence and the product of my “faith.” 

 

A faith that will not complete the application accomplishes nothing.  In fact any such “faith” is dead.  It is false. 

 

Genuine faith works.  Authentic faith acts.

 

In the end, we were blessed with a grant that helped us restore our home.  In a manner of speaking, faith secured grace.  And we are grateful!

               

That may not be a perfect illustration of the relationship between salvation, faith and works, but it is along the lines of what the Apostle James argues in chapter 2 verses 14-26 of his namesake epistle. He insists that faith without works is dead.  It does not save.  To the contrary, the only kind of faith that saves is the kind that works!

 

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we continue our sermon series through the epistle of James in a message entitled, “Don’t Be Fooled by False Faith!”

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Don’t Be Fooled by False Faith”   

James 2:14-26

 

  1. Dead faith

 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14-17).

 

  1. Dead faith is announced

 

  1. Dead faith is alone

 

  1. Demonic faith

 

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (2:19)

 

  1. Demons have faith

 

  1. Demons have feelings

 

 

  1. Dynamic faith

 

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (2:21-26).

 

  1. Dynamic faith serves
  2. Dynamic faith saves
Direct download: IBC_20190929.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190929.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Micha Caiting

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20190922.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190922.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Many of you will remember that, some time ago, we received counterfeit bills in the offering plate at Istrouma! They’re pictured here. You have to look pretty close to see the telltale signs of inauthenticity.

 

When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty audacious to give an offering to the Lord that’s fake. 

 

But, let’s be honest, we’re more than capable of doing so, aren’t we?  Oh, we wouldn’t dare to drop a counterfeit bill into the offering plate (after all, you can go to jail for a stunt like that). But when, in the process of worship, our hearts are far from him, we’re equally guilty of trying to “pass a counterfeit.”

 

I’ve kept those bills as a pointed reminder that God hates hypocrisy. He simply wants us to be the real deal.

 

The truth is that it’s possible, not only to have counterfeits show up in the plate, counterfeits can show up in the pews as well!  I’m not talking about counterfeit currency; I’m talking about counterfeit Christians.

 

It is possible to have all the outward religious trappings of Christianity—songs, offerings, prayers—without an ounce of inward reality.  God’s word warns against this ever-present danger in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  It is bad when you’re deceived by someone; it is worse still when you are deceived by yourself! 

 

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we continue our sermon series through the epistle of James in a message entitled, “Be the Real Deal!”  Let’s cut out the counterfeit!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Be the Real Deal”   

James 1:19-27

 

  1. Accept the word

 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (1:19-21).

 

  1. Requirements for receiving the word

 

  1. Result of receiving the word

 

 

  1. Apply the word

 

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (1:22-25).

 

  1. Listen to the word

 

  1. Live the word

 

 

  1. Authenticate the word

 

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (1:26-27).

 

  1. Examine your communication
  2. Examine your compassion
  3. Examine your character
Direct download: IBC_20190915a.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

When I was in graduate school in Memphis many moons ago, a friend of mine and I decided to take a spring break trip. We planned to travel to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee to do a multi-day hiking and camping trek in the “backcountry.”  For weeks in advance we planned our trail itinerary—how many miles we would cover in a day and where we would camp each evening.  Our schedule was aggressive but we felt that we could do it.

-

The national park required that a ranger sign off on our plan.  The ranger assigned to our case looked over our plan and promptly denied it.  She said that it was out of the question.  Too ambitious.  She implied that we were incapable of doing what we’d outlined—that the demands of the backcountry at that pace might even put us into danger.  We were ticked!

-

We insisted that we see her supervisor.  He looked over our plan and—to add insult to injury—he completely agreed with her!  Our choice was simple: cut back on the itinerary per their suggestions or tuck tail and head back home.  We reluctantly bowed to their demands. 

-

Once we got out into the back country and came face-to-face with the challenges of the trail, we realized pretty quickly that she was right!  We even said that, if we ever got back to civilization, we ought to return to the park headquarters and thank her! 

-

Turns out she knew better than we did.  We were novices and inexperienced.  We desperately needed the wisdom of someone who knew well both the beauty and the dangers of the trail.

-

Life is a lot like that Smoky Mountain wilderness.  We are on a trek through life and we desperately need the wisdom of one who knows the trail.  The good news is that, not only do we have a guide who knows the trail, he created it and us!  

-

The New Testament book of James is like a trail guide for life.  It makes the spiritual practical.  By the inspiration of God’s Spirit, James brings God’s truth to where the rubber hits the road or, should I say, to where the boots hit the trail.

-

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we hit the trail with James as our guide!

James: Practical Spirituality

“God’s Trail Guide for Life”   

James 1:1-18 

  1. Trials on the trail 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (1:2-4).

  1. Trials are certain
    1. Trials are constructive 
  1. Temptations on the trail

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (1:13-15).

  1. Know their origin 
    1. Know their outcome
  1. Truth for the trail

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (1:16-18).

  1. Our good God is faithful
  1. Our good God is family
Direct download: IBC_20190908.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

La guia de Dios para la Vida.

 
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190908.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Dwane Pitre

Direct download: IBC_20190901.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190901.mp3
Category:Cultura Contraria -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Christian Anders

Direct download: IBC_20190825.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Major Brent Taylor was a remarkable man and is an American hero.  The father of seven and mayor of North Ogden, Utah was on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan with the National Guard when he was killed on November 3, 2018.  Part of what made his death so painful was that it was an “insider attack.” 

 

An insider attack refers to an incident where the shooter is wearing an Allied uniform.  He is supposed to be on the same team, pursuing the same objectives, but his actions betray the cause and wreak untold havoc.  Since 2008 US forces have suffered 355 casualties due to insider attacks.  Nothing is more dangerous or demoralizing than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

Jesus knew this full well. He gave us this stark warning for the spiritual battle that rages all around us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  He knows that “insider attacks” are a constant threat against which we should we eternally vigilant.  Deception is a favorite strategy of the Enemy of our souls.

 

This Sunday we will expose this spiritual danger for what it is.  We will equip ourselves for the battles that await.  Join us at Istrouma as we continue our study through Jesus’ matchless Sermon on the Mount.

 

Culture Flip

“The Danger of Deception”   

Matthew 7:15-23

 

  1. False prophets

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. . . . 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:15-19).

 

    1. Their façade
    2. Their fruit
    3. Their future
  1. Futile profession

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven . . . 22 On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” 23 And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23).

 

    1. Their words
    2. Their works
  1. Faithful pattern

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

 

  1. Their words
  2. Their works
Direct download: IBC_20190818.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

On January 5, 1975 Frank and Sylvia Manley were traveling along a broad highway in the state of Tasmania in Australia.  Darkness began to fall and fog blanketed the area.  But the highway was smooth and they were at ease assuming that the road that they were on would ultimately lead them to their desired destination. 

 

Their route brought them to the Derwent River.  A high bridge spanned it.  As they neared its apex, Sylvia sensed that something was wrong.  The street lights that lined the roadway as well as the white lines that bordered their lane all suddenly disappeared ahead.  She screamed in fear.  Frank stomped on the brakes and as their car skidded toward an abrupt stop, its front wheels suddenly dropped.  The frame of the car slammed to the roadbed finally arresting their forward progress.  The car seemed to teeter.  Its headlights shone into the swirling waters of the Derwent. 

 

The Manleys realized at that moment that several sections of the bridge were simply gone.  They carefully and quickly slid out of their car.  In the lane next to them a station wagon, driven by Murray Ling, came to a stop just before the brink; however, another vehicle behind them could not brake in time.  It bumped into the Lings’ vehicle pushing its front wheels over the edge too.  Ling, his wife, and their two small children escaped.

 

Not everyone was as fortunate.  The bridge collapse was caused by a wayward cargo ship that slammed into its supporting piers.  The falling spans hit the ship and sank it with the loss of seven crew members.  Four cars, unaware of the abyss that had opened, plunged over the precipice into the river below.  Five occupants of those vehicles died that night.

 

It’s a stark reminder that not every road leads home.  The way may be broad and easy, but the important thing is not our comfort; the essential thing is to get home.

 

Choose your route carefully.

 

If this is good advice for earthly routes, how much more so for those that lead to eternal destinies.  Jesus speaks directly to this priority in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

 

Join us this Sunday at Istrouma as we take to heart these words of Jesus from our ongoing study of the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Culture Flip

“Doors, Directions, and Destinies”   

Matthew 7:13-14

 

  1. Two doors

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide . . . that leads to destruction, and . . . the gate is narrow . . . that leads to life . . .” (From Matt. 7:13-14)

 

    1. There is a wide gate
    2. There is a narrow gate
  1. Two directions

“Enter by the narrow gate. For . . . the way is easy that leads to destruction, and . . . the way is hard that leads to life . . .” (From Matt. 7:13-14).

 

    1. There is an easy way
    2. There is a hard way
  1. Two destinies

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14).

 

  1. There is a destiny of destruction
  2. There is a destiny of life
Direct download: IBC_20190811.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Mount Everest is the world’s tallest peak.  It is remote, rugged and foreboding.  Over three hundred climbers have died in pursuit of its peak and many of their bodies still lie frozen where they fell.  Given these facts, something quite surprising happened this summer.  There was a traffic jam on Everest!

 

Due to weather, typically only a few weeks in May are suitable for the ascent.  This year, bad conditions reduced that window of time to a few days.  For that reason, hundreds of climbers attempted the summit on the same day.  Because there is a single rope that lines the last leg of the journey, it became terribly congested and torturously slow.  In the so-called “death zone” of altitude, that is a recipe for disaster.  Eleven climbers died during this season’s window.

 

One of the saddest cases in Everest lore is that of a British climber named David Sharpe.  He was an experienced mountaineer.  He decided that he would try a solo summit without the aid of supplemental oxygen.  On his way down he stopped.  Not all of the reasons for his pause are known.  What is known is that 40 different climbers passed him on the trail.  Though they saw his distress, no one rendered aid.  All were too focused on their agenda. 

 

Oh, that at least one of the climbers would have known and applied the “Golden Rule” that Jesus gave us!  You know it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Had someone done for David what they surely would have wanted someone else to have done for them, he likely would have lived to climb another day.

 

Commentator William Barclay long ago said that the Golden Rule is the “Mount Everest” of Jesus’ teachings.  It is needed both on the mountain top and in the valleys of life.  Join us this Sunday at Istrouma as we unpack its meaning and encourage one another to apply it to life.

 

Culture Flip

“The Golden Rule”   

Matthew 7:12

 

  1. The roots of the Golden Rule

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12a).

 

    1. Good God
    2. Good gifts
  1. The requirementof the Golden Rule

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12b).

 

    1. It is positive
    2. It is proactive
  1. The reason for the Golden Rule

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,for this is the Law and the Prophets”(7:12c).

 

  1. It simplifies
  2. It saves
Direct download: IBC_20190804.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Two weeks ago Hurricane Barry threatened South Louisiana with the potential for historic floods.  The waters in the Gulf of Mexico were unusually warm which typically energizes a storm.  The tropical storm was inching northward slowly which meant that any rains would likely be prolonged and drenching.  The Mississippi River was already above flood stage even before Barry’s landfall. 

 

Everything was set up for it to be another “perfect” storm that would devastate our area. 

 

But then something really unexpected occurred.  A “dry air mass” materialized and covered Louisiana.  It became a virtual storm wall that held Hurricane Barry’s torrential rains at bay.  The catastrophic floods predicted for our area never arrived. 

 

Meteorologists were left scratching their heads at this unusual phenomenon.  What happened? 

 

Let me offer an explanation: God’s people prayed and, in response, God stilled the storm (it wouldn’t be the first time).  In anticipation of the storm, one weatherman had tweeted, in effect, that our best hope was prayer—and he was right!

 

Someone might counter, “But didn’t God’s people pray in 2016 when the flood waters ravaged our area?”  Yes.  Of course we prayed back then too.  And God answered those prayers as well, though not, perhaps, as we expected or hoped.  Though he did not hold back the waters, he brought us through them—and he taught us through them!  Both experiences worked together for our good and his glory!

 

The important thing is that, by prayer, we fellowship with God.  By prayer we partner with him in the ushering in of his kingdom and are molded more into his image.

 

More than once in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus impresses on his disciples—upon us—the privilege and power of prayer!  This Sunday we’ll look at the “big a.s.k.” that he instructs us to make—ask, seek, knock.  Join us!

 

Culture Flip

“Ask”   

Matthew 7:7-11

 

  1. An invitation to pray

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (7:7).

 

    1. Synonymous commands
    2. Sequential commands
  1. An incentiveto pray

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (7:7-8).

 

    1. Guaranteed promise
    2. General principle
  1. An illustrationof prayer

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!(7:9-11).

 

  1. Simple comparison 
  2. Stark contrast
Direct download: IBC_20190728.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

There is a Bible verse that our culture at-large loves!  Even folks that may not be committed to Jesus as Lord are likely to embrace it.  They may not know a lot of the Bible, but it’s likely that they’ll know this verse and can probably even quote it.

 

Intrigued? 

 

Here it is: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

 

Why, do you suppose, it’s such a favorite?  What about us, what about our culture, and what about that particular verse makes it so popular?

 

A clue might be found in the results of a survey that was recently conducted.  Young adults aged 18 to 40 in the US were asked, “What is the greatest virtue?”  You might expect the top answer to be love, or integrity, or humility.  But it was none of these.

 

The number one response was autonomy.  Autonomy says, “I will do whatever I want. Nobody can tell me what to do or what not to do.” 

 

Coming in as a close runner-up was tolerance.  Tolerance has traditionally said, “Let’s allow for differing opinions or permissible behaviors, even if we disagree.”  But now, that traditional definition has morphed to a new stance that says, “Not only must you allow for what I do in my autonomy, you must approve of it.”  If you don’t, let’s face it; you’re a hater.  You’re intolerant.  And, in our day, that just might be the worst sin of all! 

 

These two “virtues” have joined forces.  Together they have become a battering ram for behaviors and choices that, frankly, fly in the face of what God has designed and decreed. 

 

Yet this is where Matthew 7:1 comes in so handy.  If an action or an attitude is called into question, that particular Bible verse is often trotted out as a foolproof defense: “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

 

Is that a legitimate use of those words of Jesus?  Are we not to “judge” anything, at any time, in any sense?  How are we to understand rightly and apply these words of Jesus?

 

We’ll try to answer those questions this coming Sunday morning at Istrouma.  By doing so, we’ll learn how to live better in community with one another under the loving Lordship of Jesus. 

 

If you can’t be with us in person, join us on Istrouma Baptist Church’s Facebook livestream or at www.istrouma.org.  Messages are also archived there and can be watched at any time.

 

 Culture Flip

“Jesus on Judgment”   

Matthew 7:1-6

 

  1. A nuanced command

Judge not, that you be not judged(7:1).

 

    1. Jesus gives us an imperative
    2. Jesus gives us an incentive
  1. A needed counsel

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye (7:2-5).

 

    1. Be tender
    2. Be tough
  1. A necessary caution

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you(7:6).

 

  1. Be wise about helping
  2. Be warned about helping

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20190721.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

 Put on Your Life Preserver   

Isaiah 43:1-2 and 21

 

  1. We will suffer

Whenyou pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; whenyou walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (43:2).

 

  1. We will survive

“When you pass throughthe waters, I will be with you; and throughthe rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk throughfire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (43:2).

 

 

  1. We will shine

“. . . the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (43:21).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20190714.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jeff Williams

 

Stop Worrying Start Living

Matthew 6:25-34

Worry means to be TORN in two

What does worry do to us?
    CONSUMES
    ISOLATES
    Makes us INEFFECTIVE

It’s not about the WHAT and the WHY...it’s about the WHO

 

Is Jesus enough?
Will He do it for me?

 

Isaiah 49:16
Romans 8:32

Philippians 4:6

Live today. Don’t live in regret of past or fear of the future

Direct download: IBC_20190707.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Long ago Egypt was a world power.  The rulers of that ancient land had immense wealth.  At their deaths, every effort was made to take their possessions with them into eternity.  Huge pyramids and mausoleums were built and stocked with riches and supplies.

 

But as the centuries slipped by, grave robbers desecrated these sites.  Some 60 years before the time of Christ, a Greek author named Diodorus Siculus visited the tombs of the Valley of the Kings [slide].  He wrote, “We found nothing there except the results of pillage and destruction.”  The pharaohs had not taken their riches with them; thieves had broken in and stolen their treasures.

 

It was then a tremendous surprise when, in 1922, an expedition uncovered the long-lost tomb of a boy ruler—King Tut [slide].  For some 3,000 years his resting place was undisturbed.  What did the archeologists discover upon entry?  In actuality, Tut had taken nothing with him into eternity.  Everything was still there—oils, perfumes, toys from his childhood, precious jewelry, statues of gold and ivory—thousands of items.  In all, the appraisal of the treasures of his tomb are at three-quarters of a billion dollars.  His solid-gold coffin alone is estimated to be worth $13 million!

 

One stark lesson we can learn from the pyramids is that you can’t take your treasures with you.  Yet, Jesus makes it clear that, while we can’t take our treasures with us, we can send them on ahead!  He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

 

This will be our focus on Sunday at Istrouma as we continue learning from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Join us!

 

Culture Flip

“Treasure Your Treasure”

Matthew 6:19-24

 

  1. You need a safe location

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustdestroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also(6:19-21).

 

    1. You can have treasures on earth
    2. You can have treasures in eternity
  1. You need a security light

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness(6:22-23).

 

    1. Adopt a singular focus
    2. Avoid a split focus
  1. You need a supreme loyalty

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money(6:24).

 

  1. A divided loyalty is impossible
  2. A decisive loyalty is imperative
Direct download: IBC_20190630.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

One of the greatest atrocities of World War II occurred in the Russian metropolis of Leningrad.  The Nazi army besieged the massive city cutting off supply routes.  “Leningrad must die of starvation,” Hitler declared in a speech at Munich on November 8, 1941.  Estimates are that more than 1.5 million people starved to death across the 900 days of the siege for lack of adequate food.

 

One group of Russians who starved was particularly noteworthy.  They were botanists and scientists who worked in a seed bank called the “Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry.”  They barricaded themselves in the vaults of that facility with rooms full of rice, corn, oates, and potatoes.  They did so to protect the “seeds” from the hungry citizens and marauding Germans.  They had the food resources to live at their fingertips but died of starvation.

 

I suppose you would class it a heroic tragedy.  It was heroic that they died to preserve seeds for a better day; but it was tragic that they died unnecessarily.  They had untapped resources within reach. 

 

Could it be that we have all the resources that we need within reach, yet suffer for lack of them?  Absolutely!  Prayer is such a resource!  It puts heaven’s supplies at our disposal but so often we do not take advantage of them.  We do not pray as we ought!  Someone has rightly said, “Nothing is outside the reach of prayer except that which is outside the will of God.”

 

Jesus wants us to avail ourselves of heaven’s supplies.  God forbid that we fail to have what is needed because we have failed to pray.  What a tragedy that would be! 

 

This Sunday morning we will look at a “primer on prayer” as Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:5-15.  Join us at Istrouma!

 

Culture Flip

“A Primer on Prayer”

Matthew 6:5-15

 

  1. Jesus challenges our motivations
    1. By alluding to our duty
    2. By alluding to our devotion
    1. By eliminating pagan thinking
    2. By embracing proper theology
  2. Jesus corrects our mindset
    1. By emphasizing the recipient
    2. By enumerating the requests
  3. Jesus communicates a model

 

Direct download: IBC_20190623.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT