Yesterday was the third week of our series called Pray exploring the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. The message yesterday was that we should be praying as servants of the King (you can listen to it here). Praying in this way includes praying for God’s will to be done in our lives. Yesterday I offered five things that it takes to pray this difficult prayer. Here they are:
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that you know better than me. I know that you know what is best for me. I know that you see all things and that you know all things. And I know that your plan is perfect. So let your will be done in my life.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that you are King. I know that you desire that I obey and follow you even when it is difficult. And I know that I am not in control of my life; you are. So let your will be done in my life.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
—Luke 22:41-42 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. And I know that you ready and willing to answer my prayer. I know that your Word tells me your will. And I know that you promise to answer according to your will. So let your will be done in my life.”
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
—1 John 5:14 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. Yet, I know that with you a thousand years is like a day. I know that you will answer according to your perfect will and timing. I know that your answer will come as I wait and watch for it. So let your will be done in my life.”
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
—Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
“Lord you have heard my prayer. And I know that you hear and are near to me. I know that you know what I need even before I ask you. And I know that your comfort gives me peace as I pray. So let your will be done in my life.”
…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.
—Philippians 4:5-7 (ESV)
“There is a special corner of hell reserved for religious wine drinkers.”
“It is a sin not to drink; you’re going against the freedom you have in Christ.”
Both of these statements are real. The first one is from a book (thankfully, I’ve forgotten the title) and the second from a friend of mine. And both statements show how Christians can hold two extremely different views concerning alcohol. In this past Sunday’s sermon on Ephesians 5:15-21 (you can listen here), I spent some time speaking on the issue of alcohol. Since the main point of the passage was walking in wisdom and not alcohol, I was brief. Yet, it is good for us as Christians to think biblically about such an issue and to do so carefully and humbly. In my sermon, I set forth three guiding principles that we should have toward alcohol:
1. Some Christians should never drink either because of their past, their conscience, or their devotion to God.
2. Some Christians can drink to the glory of God when doing so in moderation and with concern for others.
3. All Christians should be extremely cautious with the issue of alcohol.
Because of limited time, I couldn’t go too in depth with each principle. It is my goal over the next three post to unpack each one, provide a biblical basis for each principle, and give some practical suggestions. Let’s look now to the first principle:
Some Christians should never drink either because of their past, their conscience, or their devotion to God.
While the Bible does say that wine is a good gift that God has given to gladden the heart of man (Psalm 104:14-15), this doesn’t mean that everyone should drink. In fact there are some very good reason why some people should never let a drop of it touch their tongue.
First, someone who has struggled with a past of drunkenness should never drink alcohol. The Bible has some very harsh things to say about drunkenness. Drunkards have no place in God’s Kingdom (1 Cor 6:10). Drunkards have no place in the church (1 Cor 5:11). God’s curse is upon drunkards (Isa 5:11). God is clearly not pleased with someone who is habitually drunk. Now there is more than enough grace in Christ to forgive a drunk. But those of us who have been saved by Jesus should seek to put away absolutely everything in our life that doesn’t please God – including drunkenness. If you have struggled in the past with getting drunk – even if it was last weekend – then you should never drink. Why would you want to keep doing something that will more than likely lead you fall into something that God hates? Would you encourage an unmarried couple who is struggling with sexual immorality to continue laying with each other on the couch in the dark at 2 in morning? No. Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,” (Mark 9:43). For some Christians the best thing they could do for their souls is to cut alcohol completely out of their lives. If you have a past of falling into drunkenness, then you should serve your soul and never drink.
Second, another reason why some Christians should never drink is their own consciences. One of the reasons why this issue is so difficult and touchy is that it falls under the category of conscience in the Bible. The Bible has no ultimate command to abstain from drinking. There is also no command to drink. In fact Paul would say that in issue like this, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind,” (Rom 14:5). And some people are fully convinced that it would be a sin against God for them to drink alcohol. If this is where your conscience is set, then you should never drink. You should never let anyone pressure you into doing it. You should never do it to fit in socially. You should never feel ashamed to tell someone you don’t drink. If in you heart and mind drinking alcohol is disobedience to God, then you should never violate you conscience.
Third, another reason why some Christians should never drink is out of devotion to God. The fact that God gives us good gifts to enjoy is clear in the Bible. Yet, the Bible also points us to people who give up these gifts for their devotion to God. Paul gave up marriage to be devoted to the Lord and his mission (1 Cor 7:6-7). When we fast, we give up food for a time of prayer to grow in our devotion to God (Matt 6:18). Giving up alcohol out of a desire to be more devoted is a good thing. Part of the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6, was abstaining from alcohol (Num 6:2). John the Baptist had taken this vow to be devoted to God and God’s purpose for his life (Luke 1:15). If abstaining is something that you believe will help your devotion to the Lord, then by all means abstain. Don’t let someone convince you that you’re being unreasonable. Don’t let someone convince you that your being legalistic. Don’t let someone convince you that your missing out. No one who gives up anything to gain more of God is missing out.
This past Sunday at Christ Fellowship I preached on Ephesians 5:15-21 (you can listen here). In verse 18, Paul commands us not get drunk, but to be filled with the Spirit. Drunkenness is a huge issue for many, especially college students. I know that this issue probably hits home either to you or someone close to you.
Kevin DeYoung, who is a pastor and writer, wrote a wonderful article back in August at the beginning of the school year. He looks at the dangers of drinking and offers five responses that we as Christian should have toward alcohol. This is a very good treatment of the subject. Here is a snippet:
“On the former, students thinking of alcohol as “liquid courage.” It makes them more fun, more adventurous, less tied to inhibitions. On the latter, drinking is seen as a convenient way of avoiding personal responsibility. The sober girl who hooks up with a complete stranger might be considered a slut. But if she’s drunk, then it’s not really a mark on her character; she just had a few too many. Likewise, many students feel justified if they miss class or perform poorly because of a hangover. No matter what people tell them about the possible dangers of drinking, getting drunk, for many college students, is the best way to have fun. And whatever negative consequences may come, these are thought to reflect on the alcohol not on the individual.”
I strongly encourage you to read it. You can read it here. I am also going to be posting some articles here this week on the topic of alcohol to help us think and act biblically concerning this issue. Please take advantage of these articles. Read them thought fully and carefully. Let them be a blessing to you or someone you know.
About a year and half ago, I posted a collage of all the sermon and bible study artwork since Christ Fellowship began in 2009. I have complied another collage of the artwork since that time. Also I put together a collage of odds and ends artwork, most of which were announcement slides. It is always humbling to look back at something like this and be reminded of all the great things that God has done for our church. He is faithful indeed. Enjoy.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Yet simply calling something a rose does not make it one.
This is the problem with many of the modern day cults that claim to be Christian groups. They may claim to be Christian. They may be have the word ‘Christian’ in their name. But at a closer look you can see that they simply are not. Here is a list of some of the major teachings about Jesus from some of these groups and why what they teach doesn’t smell as sweet as true Christianity.
1. Was Jesus Created?
Jesus is the literal “son of God”.
He was the first spirit baby created.
He and Satan were brothers.
2. Jehovah’s Witness
“Since all created things had a beginning, there was a time when God was alone. Countless ages ago, however, God became a Creator. Who was his first creation? The last book of the Bible identifies Jesus as “the beginning of the creation by God.” Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” … Yes, Jesus was the only one directly created by God himself.”
3. The Bible does not teach that Jesus was created.
Revelation 3:14 means that Jesus is the source of all creation, not the first thing created.
Colossians 1:15,16 means that he is first in order of important – the firstborn of creation.
John 1:3 says that there is nothing that has been made that was not made by Jesus (this would include himself!).
2. Is Jesus God?
1. Jehovah’s Witness
“Jesus never claimed to be God. Everything he said about himself indicates that he did not consider himself equal to God in any way—not in power, not in knowledge, not in age. In every period of his existence, whether in heaven or on earth, his speech and conduct reflect subordination to God. God is always the superior, Jesus the lesser one who was created by God.”
2. Christian Science
“Do you believe that Jesus is the same as God? No. But Christian Scientists do believe that Jesus stands alone in his mission and purpose as the promised Messiah. Christian Science teaches that Jesus embodied the divinity of God but that he himself was not Deity—in keeping with Jesus’ own words that he was not the Father, and that God, the Father, alone should be worshiped.”
3. The Bible claims that Jesus is God.
He is prayed to (2 Corinthians 12:8).
He forgives sins (Mark 2:1-12).
He fulfills OT passages that are clearly about YHWY, the God of Israel (Mark 1:3; Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:14).
He is called God (John 20:28; Titus 2:13).
He affirms to others that he is God (John 8:58-59).
He is worshiped by men and angels (Matthew 14:32-33; Revelation 5).
3. Is Jesus Our Only Hope?
1. Both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons
Salvation is through Christ, but also involves participation in the organization, obedience to the organization’s practices and rules.
Jesus is the greatest spirit-filled human teacher that ever lived; yet salvation is for everyone of every religion and faith.
3. The Bible clearly claims that Jesus Christ is our only hope.
Salvation is in no other name (Acts 4:17).
I am the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father, but through me (John 14:6).
There is one God and one mediator between God and men – the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5).
In a couple of weeks, Christ Fellowship will host a marriage seminar called “Strengthening Your Marriage” with Brandon Porter. Brandon is a very wise pastor and a man who loves to counsel people through using the Bible. So we have asked him to come and speak wisdom into our congregation about the topic of marriage.
So you might be thinking, should I go to that seminar at Christ Fellowship on January 28?
Well, I am glad you ask because there are certain people that this seminar is for?
1) Married Couples- We desire every married couple in our church to be a part of this event. It doesn’t matter if you have been married for 50 years or 50 hours, we can all be blessed by searching the Bible to see what God wants in our marriage.
2) Engaged Couples- What a great way to prepare for your marriage. There will be times in the seminar to ask questions and maybe to even here from other married couples. Take this Saturday night to help lay a foundation for the rest of your life.
3) Church Leaders and Their Wives- A man who can’t lead his family, cannot lead the church. We want leaders in our churches who are first leaders of their homes. That’s why I am excited about this seminar, I desire my marriage to be a great example in the kingdom.
4) Single People - For some people, maybe a candidate for marriage is not even on the radar. However, every decision that you make today is laying the foundation for your future marriage. The way you handle your responsibilities, the way you lead the people around you, and even the way you strive for purity is laying a foundation for your future marriage. Come to the seminar and receive wisdom that will help you in the future.
5) People in Community with Married Couples- Lastly, we need people in the church who can speak love and truth to one another (Ephesians 4). So if you are in community with other married couples come and receive wisdom from God’s Word. Our prayer is that the wisdom we receive will help us be wise counselors to fellow believers around us.
Well, I guess that covers about everyone. So I will see you January 28th at 3:00 pm and feel free to bring some friends.