What We Believe: The Holy Spirit

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From the Grace Bible Church Constitution:

We believe in the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all believers, sealing them before God in the certainty of their salvation, enlightening them to the will and word of God, and in cooperation with their obedience, producing in them a life marked by a godly, Christ-like character. We believe that the Holy Spirit bestows unique gifts of ability to all believers, enabling them to accomplish ministries of service, which would be impossible to do without His enablement.  (John 14:16, 26, Rom 8:16, Gal 4:6; 5:22-25, Rom 12:6-8)

Three Great Blessings of the Holy Spirit

I.          He COMFORTS disciples. John 14:15-18

A.        He would be given by God at the request of Jesus, to those who love and obey Jesus 16

14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  

            B.        He would be unknown by the world, but known by them 17

17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

            C.        He would comfort and care for them in Jesus’ stead 18

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

II.         He CLARIFIES Jesus’ word to His followers John 14:25-26

14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

III.        He CONVICTS the world.  John 16:8-11

A.        He convicts of sin 8-9

8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;

Restated: The reason unbelief is the greatest sin is not because of the severity of immorality of unbelief, but that unbelief is THE primary sin that will insure that a human will spend in eternity in hell. 

Cross-ref:  John 3 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. = To not believe in Jesus is considered in itself a sin, a mark of guilt, and is cited as proof that the unbelieving person loves his/her sin, and not the righteous Savior, Jesus Christ.

Cross-ref: John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. = belief in Jesus is what saves, and brings a person from death to life!

Cross-ref: (Jesus to the Pharisees) John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” = It is belief in Jesus that saves!

Dr. Earl Radmacher:  “This is the sin of unbelief.  There will never be a person in hell because of being drunken or immoral, but only for failure to believe in Jesus Christ who pardons all our sins.”

B.        He would convict the world of righteousness 10

10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;

Note: It does NOT say that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of its UNrighteousenss, but simply of “righteousness.”  The Holy Spirit convicts the world of the genuineness of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the certainty that salvation from sin can only come through His, perfect righteousness. From Blaise Pascal,

Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness.

C.         He would convict the world of judgment 11

11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

Restated: The Holy Spirit convicts those who do not believe in Jesus Christ of the certainty that should they continue to follow the example and lead of Satan, they will follow him into hell one day. But how does the world know that this judgment has truly been passed on Satan? = The testimony of Jesus and the apostles, and the historicity of the resurrection provide valid testimony that Satan has been judged, in fulfillment of Scripture (cf. Gen 3:15).

APPLICATION:  How does this truth stand up to the inevitable challenges we’ll face on Monday morning?

1.         Because His Spirit comforts, we will always find the Spirit of Jesus present in our deepest doubts and heartaches in life.  When we hurt, suffer, experience troubles, etc., we can confidently look into our pain and know that the loving, tenderhearted Spirit of God can be found in our pain, and will bring comfort to us.

2.         Because His Spirit clarifies, we must trust and obey what God says to us in His Word. We can trust that on a very basic, consistent level, as we open up God’s Word with the confidence of His Spirit’s illumination and guidance—we will not only understand its meaning, but will also be led to other Scriptures that will give us further guidance and answers for life.

3.         Because His Spirit convicts the world, we must confidently speak to our friends and neighbors of sin and unbelief, of the perfectly righteous sacrifice for sin made on our behalf by Jesus, and of certainly of future judgment. As we speak, we can have the astounding confidence that the Spirit of God Himself will empower our words, and will increase their impact and success in the very souls of those with whom we speak!

What We Believe: Salvation Acts 10:38-43

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Chapter 10 in the book of Acts is a major turning point, and has been called “the Gentile Pentecost.”  Up to now, the gospel salvation has been primarily limited to Jews, half-Jews (the Samaritans).  With the events of the conversion of Cornelius, that salvation is well on its way to Rome, and the rest of the Gentile world, and to us today in Portland, Oregon (at least to those of us who are not of a Jewish background.)  Peter’s message to this Italian military commander was centered on the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the astounding opportunity that now exists for forgiveness to all who trust in Jesus’ death on their behalf.

Big Idea:  Salvation begins and ends with the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I.          Jesus lived a beautiful life on earth 38-39a

38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem.

II.         He was crucified 39a

They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

III.        He was raised alive from the grave 40-42

40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Henry H. Halley (1874-1965) “As a Man, He lived the most strangely Beautiful Life ever known.  He was the Kindest, Tenderest, Gentlest, most Patient, most Sympathetic man that ever lived.  He Loved people.  He hated to see people in trouble.  He loved to Forgive.  He loved to Help.  He wrought marvelous miracles to feed hungry people.  For relieving the suffering he forgot to take food for himself.  Multitudes, weary, pain-ridden, and heart-sick, came to Him, and found healing and relief.  It is said of Him, and of no other, that if all the deeds of Kindness that He did were written, the world would not contain the book.  That is the kind of man Jesus was.  That is the kind of Person God is.  Then, He died, on the Cross, to take away the Sin of the world, to become the Redeemer and Savior of men…The Most Important Decision any one is ever called on to make is to Settle, in his/her heart, is to settle once for all, the matter of his/her Attitude toward Christ.  On that depends everything.”

IV.       In believing in Him, we find forgiveness of our sins. 43

43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

Believe = (pisteuo = believe, trust) = to believe that something is true, and therefore, worthy of trust.

Application: What about us today at Grace Bible Church ?

1.         One day both the living and the dead will be judged for their sins.

2.         Those who have trusted Jesus to save them from the judgment of their sins will not be judged for their sins.

From our church constitution:  We believe the single condition by which a person can be saved from his/her sin, declared righteous in the eyes of God, and receive the promise of eternal life is belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on their behalf. (John 3:16; 5:24, Rom 5:1; 10:13, 1 Tim 2:5)   We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church. Therefore, we neither offer nor suggest any means of salvation, hope, or truly sustainable improvement of human conditions other than faith alone in Jesus Christ.

3.         Therefore, trust in the death of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will be forgiven, and will receive eternal life!

What We Believe: Man (Part 2): Our Tragic Fall: Genesis 3

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Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution)

We believe that human beings bear the image of God, retained despite the utter ruin and lost condition of the entire race.  We believe that apart from the divinely provided gift of salvation in Jesus Christ all people are truly and rightfully lost and eternally alienated from God.  (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23; 5:14-15) We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

–Last week “Our Magnificent Beginning”…but, something has gone very wrong!

–This week, “Our Tragic Fall”

I.          Our EXPERIENCE of sin 1-6

A.                 We are tempted to doubt God’s Word, His Power, His Goodness

B.                 We are tempted to operate by our own sight, not His word.

C.                 We hurt those closest to us in the process  

II.         The EXPOSURE of our sin 7-13

A.                 First, we are ashamed, aware of weakness, failure, vulnerability

B.                 Then we hide from others around us

C.                 Then we hide from God, escaping into creation itself

D.                 Finally, we blame others rather than confess our sin

III.        The EFFECTS of our sin. 14-24

A.                 Humanity now has a terrible, personal enemy: Satan 14-15

B.                 Women: Pain in childbirth/childbirth process, tensions in our most intimate, marriage relationships 16

C.                 Man: lifelong struggle against a cursed creation, finally ending in death. 17-19

Illustration: Do we really deserve this???!!! = It’s not only a matter of deserving, it’s a matter of inheriting: A “crack” baby has never taken drugs, has never decided to smoke crack, and yet is born an addict, and born with a deeply seated desire and craving for cocaine—through no fault of his/her own, but because of the sins of the mother.  In the same way, we are born with a craving for sin, placed into us by our historic parents, and we experience varying degrees of the horror of being born into the condition of fallen humanity. (Dr. Robert Smith, Jr)

IV.       The RESPONSE of God to our tragic fall 20-24

A.                 He gives a sense of hope: They didn’t die, could actually plan for a future—of life!  20

B.                 He covers over shame: by the death of an innocent animal, God covered over their shame 21

Note: the marvelous spiritual transaction of sacrifice is foreshadowed here, as the Lord God takes the life of an “innocent” animal to create a covering regarding the shame of fallen humans.      

C.                 He limited human evil by restricting access to eternal life 22-24

I may feel that it would be a very good, acceptable thing for me, or for those I love—to live forever.  But imagine this…what kind of world would result if the likes of Adolph Hitler, or Josef Stalin, or any other of the most murderous, evil men of history, had been granted unlimited life!

1.               Tree of life = eating its fruit would secure eternal life

2.               Cherubim = angelic creature associated in Scripture with the magnificent, unapproachable holiness of God

–Exo 25   18 “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 “Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. 20 “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. 21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.

3.               Flaming sword = symbolizing God’s wrathful judgment of all sin

–Rom 1 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

–Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

CONCLUSION:

Question: Can we ever really get back to God?  Rooted deep in the human psyche is the desire to return to a place of safety, life, health, origin, but how human beings hate the truth that both the holiness of God and His wrath against our sin forever bar the way to such life!

We are stardust.
Billion year old carbon.
We are golden..
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. (Joni Mitchell, Woodstock)

Answer: The only way back to God is on the back of the crucified and resurrected God, the Lord Jesus Christ…

1.         Christ went out of paradise to bring home those who are banned from paradise.

–Eph 4 8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

2.         Christ became human, lived a perfect holy life, and thus gained the right to command the Cherubim to stand aside and allow entrance to Him and all who belong to Him.

–Phil 2:5-8: “taking the very nature of a bondservant, being found as a man…”

–John 1:  “…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

3.         Christ received the full measure of God’s wrath on sinners, as a substitute.  The flaming, ever-turning sword finally drew blood, the blood of the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  The wrath of God was spent on His Son, and we are allowed return!

–Isa 53   5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.  8…who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?  10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Application: (…from the Grace Bible Church Statement of Beliefs):

Therefore, respecting the image of God in every person, we strive to introduce every person to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that every person might escape the eternal punishment due for their sins.

What We Believe: Man (Part One): Our Magnificent Beginning

Click here, to hear our sermon in the series, What We Believe at Grace Bible Church.

Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution)

We believe that human beings bear the image of God, retained despite the utter ruin and lost condition of the entire race.  We believe that apart from the divinely provided gift of salvation in Jesus Christ all people are truly and rightfully lost and eternally alienated from God.  (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23; 5:14-15) We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

Three things that Genesis teaches us, about us

I.          Our Creation:  Personal, Immediate, Distinct

A.        Humans were created by a Personal God, not an impersonal process.

B.        The first two human were created at once as human beings—they did not develop into human beings over time.

Evolution: All life arose from earlier, different life forms that developed over a very long period of time.

Theistic evolution: proposes that God’s method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve.

C.        The first humans were created differently than everything else that God created—and differently from one another!

1.         Adam, the man: skillfully formed from the dust, made alive by the breath of God. 2:7

2.         Eve, the woman: fashioned by God using flesh and bone from (unconscious!) Adam’s side.

Fashion = Ba’nah = to build, as a house, city, wall, etc.  God was not “shaping” a new species, as when He created Adam; he was creating the female gender of the species, out of “human” material, not dust.

Note: Adam had nothing to do with his wife’s creation, other than submitting himself for God to use to create the woman.  Men are not to act as if they possessed the rights of a Creator/Master over women, or as if they stood in a position between God and their wives.

II.         Our Occupation: We relate to all creation as God’s image bearers.  1:26-28  

A.        We all bear the image of God.

What is the image of God?  We bear the image, and express it.  Aspects to consider…

Substantive:  The image of God is simply found in all humans.  It has been put there; an evidence and presence of the divine, in every human being.  (cf. James 3:9)

Relational: The image of God is expressed primarily in the human ability to relate, to form and maintain promise-keeping, loving relationships with others.

Functional: The image of God is primarily expressed by what we do, how we act, what we achieve, etc.  This view would say, “In the same way Adam expressed the image of God in naming animals and caring for the Garden of Eden, so we express this image in caring for our environment, getting along, improving the world, etc.” (Gen 1:26-28)

B.        We bear God’s image in our responsibility to manage and care for the natural world around us.

III.        Our Relations: Humans were created to live in healthy relationships

A.        God created Eve to form community with Adam 2:18-23

B.        God instituted marriage, and so set down the principles for how human                             beings are to treat each other. 2:24-25

CONCLUSION: How does this passage inform us today at Grace Bible Church ?

1.         We are spiritual, created to relate to God as much as to people.

The unique, astounding way that we were created tells us that God loves us, and desires relationship with us—there is no other creature that has been granted such a privilege and position.

2.         We are vocational beings, called to treat creation a certain way.

The responsibility that God has placed on humans to care for the creation that He made for them tells us that how we live in the present world matters as much to God as having us join Him in the world to come.

3.         We are relational beings, needing to give and receive from a community.

The meticulous attention and effort that God invested in creating both Adam and Eve, and the institution of marriage, tells us that we were created to live in healthy, respectful community with each other, from marriage, to family, to the surrounding culture.

Application: Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution): conclusion…

Therefore, respecting the image of God in every person, we strive to introduce every person to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that every person might escape the eternal punishment due for their sins.

Commissioners Award Recipient: Our Own Rodney Haven!

DSCF4409Congratulations to Rodney Haven, who was recognized this week for his enthusiasm, professionalism, and excellence on the job by Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard, who honored Rodney with the Commissioner’s Award!  One of the ways that humans bear the image of God is through our work: how we invest our days and hours to sustain ourselves, to contribute to the world around us, and to live lives that please God.  Rodney, THANK YOU for your example to us and our beloved neighbors!

Here is a GREAT short video regarding Rodney’s job. 

And here is a great article that Willamette Week posted a couple of years ago about Rodney’s incredible, infectious optimism in the face of a very challenging job!

Here is an entry from Commissioner Leonard’s blog regarding the award.

Here is the official recognition of Rodney receiving the award.

Here’s Rodney giving a tour of one of the “loos” that he cleans for the city of Portland, with Commissioner Leonard looking on. I like this picture because the Commissioner’s genuine smile suggests to me that he, like Grace Bible Church, finds Rodney’s optimism and contentment to be absolutely refreshing! Thank you, Rodney! (Pastor Ken)