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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


Religiopolitical is a word that combines religious and political deception. The problem with this kind of deception is that it is difficult to catch. For Pluckrose and Lindsay, the answer to Critical Theory is Secularism – separation of church and state (Cynical Theories, 263). For Fea, voting for Donald Trump was considered the lesser of two evils for many evangelicals (Believe Me, 195). For some Independent Baptists, the preachers led services where they equated God and Country. In each of these cases, there is a particular view of Jesus that is both inconsistent with the scripture and insufficient.

There are four positions that often characterize people:

  • Fideist – base belief on their emotional experience without sound logic or truth.
  • Traditionalist – base belief on their experience or religious traditions taught by men.
  • Theorist – base their experience on a worldview that begins with some kind of identity: gender, racial, or economic class.
  • Rationalist – base belief on an intellectual grasp of God, Christ, the Bible before they will believe.

These positions too are deceptive because of their assumptions about Jesus Christ—his sufficiency and completeness. When the way we determine right/wrong, good/bad, or saved/unsaved begins with something other than the faithful, redemptive, scriptural exposition of Christ’s evident purpose and work in history, we are left with volatility, instability, uncertainty and joylessness.

Use God’s Dictionary over Wikipedia (1 John 3:4)

Before John gives the command to not allow anyone to deceive them, he establishes what is truth by defining sin as lawlessness. This definition confirms that there is no sinless perfection regardless of what the false teachers are saying. We do not get the right to add or take away from the definition of sin. Let God’s word define sin for you, as opposed to our culture or even other “Christians.”

Think Clearly About Jesus and His Work Before Throwing a Tantrum (1 John 3:5-6)

John wants his readers to think clearly and let emotion follow rather than allow emotion to lead them thoughtlessly. Emotions, especially when they are tied to relationships, can lead us down a path of deception. The remedy is to begin with God’s clear, well-ordered truth. Of the four types of people I mentioned at the beginning, three of them need to see and hear this:

  • the Fideist who errs towards faith without reason.
  • the Theorist who is led by his/her own experience rather than objective reason.
  • the Traditionalist who has been taught many preferences without sound reason.

Recognize the Mountain So That You Know the Mole Hill (1 John 3:7-8)

The mountain of Christ’s work should keep all other things within this life in perspective:

1. Christian, all loss, suffering, difficulty or trials must be understood within God’s greater, providential purposes. We can find assurance in the fact that God has come to destroy sin and will come to complete what He has begun.

2. Christian, understanding Christ’s purpose gives confidence for our mission. There are people living under the blindness of the devil, and the only truth that can destroy this is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preach the gospel to someone who is lost in sin!

3. Soul who is still in unbelief, there is only one cosmic champion who has come, and you are either with him or against him. Repent of your sin and receive Jesus as your Lord today!

There is only one cosmic champion who has come, and you are either with him or against him.

Believe That the Life of the Snake-crusher Within You Is More Powerful Than Sin (1 John 3:9)

Those who are truly in relationship with God cannot continue in sin because they have a divine nature within them. Christians are new creatures who will increasingly live with power over sin. Avoiding deception requires, not ultimate confidence in my reason but rather confidence in God’s seminal and continuing work in me.

Know That Closet Christians Only Exist Where We Believe in a Closet Christ (1 John 3:10)

This was a problem for the false teachers, but John makes a point that just as Jesus was manifested, so too will his followers be manifested. True Christians are not only those who don’t sin, but they are also those who live out righteousness. True Christians are not those who wait back for someone to be loving to them, but they proactively love their brethren.

True Christians are not those who wait back for someone to be loving to them, but they proactively love their brethren.

ONLY the clear, scriptural, redemptive exposition of Christ’s historical purpose and work can give us confidence and joyful assurance. Let no man deceive you!

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


Any truth claim must be examined to determine if belief in that truth claim will cause me to not believe in the fullness of who Jesus Christ is.

For example, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” Any truth claim that says there are other ways to the Father is a claim that would call me away from believing in the fullness of who Jesus is.

The truth claims of secular humanists call you to believe in the goodness and sufficiency of mankind. The truth claims of conservative fear-mongers call you to fear men over fear of God. The truth claims of Social Justice celebrity warriors call you to believe in their reality or truth based on their experience. To fully accept what they are saying and implying, we would not be able to accept the fullness of the objective truth of Jesus. We mustn’t be confused by all of the voices around us. We must allow the scripture to tell us if we are born again and to give us discernment about those who are not born again.

When Someone Is Born Again, They Are Not Invisible (1 John 2:28-29)

The Holy Spirit’s teaching is clear. (v.28)

When there is genuine trust in Jesus Christ, one of the evidences is that the Holy Spirit indwells you, not only bringing new life, but also recharging and sustaining that life with the same electrifying message: Jesus is the Christ.

The Holy Spirit’s lesson is visible in the life of a true Christian. (v.29)

Those who are truly born of God manifest righteous living, a visible birthmark, because of their true knowledge of the righteous One.

The visible evidence of the new birth:

  • Eliminates nominal, changeless Christianity.
  • Eliminates cheapened evangelism.
  • Confirms the role of the Christian church affirming or un-affirming Christian professions.

When Someone Is Born Again, They Do Not Remain Stagnant [there is humble, hope-filled growth] (1 John 3:1)

The new birth is to be an overwhelming reality.

Christianity is not just a set of theological truths, but there is the felt reality that follows these truths. Do you sense the privilege of this great love?

The love of the Father is a humbling reality.

It is a love that is bestowed upon us by God. We do not earn or deserve it. Do you feel humility in your soul—a humility that is produced by an unmerited love?

There is a distinct [lack of] relationship between a child of God and the world.

There is a distinct difference between Jesus who lived a life in the world but who was not in relation to the world. Jesus was not in harmonious relationship with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, nor the pride in one’s status or possessions. In like manner, there is a distinct demarcation between Jesus’ brethren and the world.

Future hope is seen in current progress. (1 John 3:2-3)

We are not only called the sons of God, but this is a true, present identity. Those who have this hope pursue holiness. They seek to live a dedicated life.

The visible evidence of the new birth:

  • Eliminates angry, loveless Christianity.
  • Eliminates pompous, haughty, non-humble Christianity.
  • Confirms hope-filled, progressive Christlikeness.

Proof of life is evident in what you currently believe and how you are currently progressing. According to the scripture, are you a child of God? Christian, when you hear of God’s love, when the Holy Spirit confirms again within your heart that Jesus is the Christ, when you battle to live a holy, sanctified life, when you find yourself like the lone one out in a world that is motived by fornication, covetousness, and image—your assurance should receive a boost. These are the visible birthmarks of the sons of God.

Is your identity based on the truth of scripture or on a cultural teaching?

If you are a child of God, are you observing these evidences and finding confidence in Christ’s work in you? Are you committed to a local body for accountability? How has the hope of Jesus’ return shaped your life? What righteousness is evident in your life? Is your identity based on the truth of scripture or on a cultural teaching? Do you love Jesus? Do you love one another?

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


There are Christians who are attempting to find assurance in what they think is Jesus pure and simple, but they keep having these experiences that seem to jolt their confidence. I believe one of the reasons this happens is because of the subtle “allure” of other truth claims. These claims have elements of truth in them, and Christians often don’t realize when they begin to add these assertions they are hearing to Jesus Christ. Christianity then becomes a sort of mixture of stories they know about Jesus mixed with solutions they are hearing from their information sources.

John helps us to know what the truth is: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)

“Jesus is the Christ” has serious implications. It means that:

  • God has become flesh.
  • There is someone who can adequately deal with our sins.
  • We can have eternal life.
  • The Bible has been fulfilled.
  • There is a clear answer for sin/life/right and wrong.

Who Jesus is, as presented in scripture, needs no support system from a political party or from any other worldview; yet there are Christians who unwittingly have sought for confidence and joyful assurance based on conservative politics or Theory-based teaching. It is imperative that we take our eyes off of men who are changing the truth of Jesus Christ or who are calling for us to trust in what they are saying. We must abide in the truth of Jesus Christ alone for confidence.

Who Jesus is, as presented in scripture, needs no support system from a political party or from any other worldview.

This Truth Is Active (1 John 2:18-19)

  • Shows who is on the dark side (v. 18)
  • Shows that the timer is ticking down (v. 18)
  • Shows that only those who stay in the body are really
    in the light (v. 19)

This Truth Has No Knock-off Brands—Only a Single Source (1 John 2:20)

John gives assurance to the believers by drawing their attention to the single, exclusive Source of this truth—the Holy One. God has given His people the Holy Spirit so that they might know all things, which in this context means that they would know all things necessary for denying the liars.

This Truth Will Not Allow Add-ons (1 John 2:21-23)

The truth that John is calling the people to confidence in needs no add-ons, updates, or modifications. What God has said in sending his Son is complete. To deny what God has said in sending Jesus, the Logos, is to deny the Father (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus is the absolute truth of God, and Jesus is absolutely sufficient as the Savior.

This Truth Requires Proper Application (1 John 2:24-27)

John gives the command to allow what they had heard from the beginning to remain in them (v. 24). We have competing truth claims that are subtly calling for our faith. It is not that they are telling us to stop believing in Jesus, but they are morphing our belief in Jesus. This evolution leads us to be people who speak the right thing but believe something else.

John answers how to consistently and rightly apply this truth in the final two verses (vv. 26-27). First, the New Testament apostolic writings must be read and believed. Second, we must listen to what God’s Spirit through these writings teaches us. Third, the message from the Spirit is clear: “Remain with faith in the sufficiency of Jesus” [to the exclusion of all others] and not with faith in the sufficiency of Trump or Theory.

Trump says, “Make America Great Again.” Theory says, “American history is tainted and needs to be revised.” The Father says, “I promise eternal life to all those who are in the Son.” Which one of these provides true, lasting confidence? What other truth claims have you allowed to be mixed with Jesus?

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


We all have to find a way to deal with the reality of the past, the temptations of the present, and the planning for the future.

One way that this is being dealt with in our society is by what has been called the “Cancel Culture,” which “calls for punishment of celebrities, artists, athletes, and other prominent individuals who have spoken against Social Justice [capital letters intentional], often unwittingly…” (Pluckrose & Lindsay, Cynical Theories, 222). The goal of the “Cancel Culture” may be observed in the practice: “This chilling practice often involves the utter destruction of someone’s career and reputation for something she might have said decades ago, or as a teenager” (222).

There are clearly past injustices that should be identified, but where do we go after identification? How does the gospel shape our approach to this? The gospel of Jesus Christ honestly acknowledges the past, deals with our sins, and gives us a clear path forward with confidence. This again is why 1 John is so helpful in a day like today. What John is doing here is confirming the Christians and clarifying the way forward. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can be joyfully confident in who we are and how we are to live.

Please Know Why You Should Be Joyfully Confident (1 John 2:12-14)

John wants his hearers to know why he is writing and to find assurance through this writing. John is encouraging these believers whose confidence in the truth has been shaken:

  • Your sins are forgiven! (v. 12)
  • You have known Jesus! (v. 13)
  • You have overcome Satan! (v. 13)
  • You know God (Father)! (v. 13)
  • You know Jesus (incarnate Word)! (v. 14)
  • You’re overcoming Satan in the strength of the Word! (v. 14)

Please Know How You Should Love and Live (1 John 2:15-17)

The command of the passage is clear, and John is going to give two reasons why Christians must not love the world:

  • You cannot love the Father and the world (v. 15).

By world, John must be referring to the darkness before mentioned — a sinful power within this age. He outlines the world this way: lust of the flesh (sexual immorality mentally, emotionally, physically; gluttony); lust of the eyes (covetousness, consumerism, materialism, love of money, looking that leads to unbridled wanting); pride of life (personal status [based on things, knowledge, accomplishments], one-up syndrome).

  • The will of God is eternal, but the world is not eternal (vv. 16-17).

The Christian should be marked by the reality of eternity. There is a future that is far better than the present. Because this is true, we have a proper perspective on this world. Because we know that the eternal is real and that this world is passing away, we war against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

The Christian should be marked by the reality of eternity.

The cancel culture and political conservatism cannot offer you true forgiveness or a clear path forward. What the gospel offers is true forgiveness in Jesus Christ and a clear path forward — don’t love the world. The cancel culture and political conservatism can help point out what is wrong, but only the Lord can show how deeply wrong the sin is, deal with the sin completely, and give us a clear path forward. Christians may KNOW that they are forgiven through Jesus Christ, and they may KNOW how to love and live.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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BY RODNEY HEDGE

 

Think of the feeling you get when you walk into a church for the first time. Facility cleanliness, smiling faces at the front door, and clearly marked signage is what we and many would call a good first impression. But in reality, a good first impression is more than a great looking facility, friendliness, and organization. While all of these things are obviously important in making a good first impression to our visitors, “first impressions” are really more about a church’s culture. The culture about which I am speaking is a culture of hospitality. While our guests do judge a book by its cover, they also get a certain “vibe” from the people within the church walls. The major questions we should be asking ourselves are what “vibe” are we emitting? Are we hospitable? Are we loving? 

As believers, we should be reflecting the character of God. God’s character naturally creates a culture of hospitality and grace.

As believers, we should be reflecting the character of God. God’s character naturally creates a culture of hospitality and grace. He is hospitable and gracious. One of the most striking examples of this type of hospitality is found in Acts 9. It is in this passage that we see Saul, a murdering religious zealot who came to trust Jesus, attempting to join Jesus’ disciples. Unfortunately, the disciples rejected him. But then we see in Acts 9:27 that Barnabas took Saul and welcomed him into the group. He loved Paul with a godly hospitality that emulated grace and acceptance. This act of love made Barnabas an advocate for acceptance in the local church. Barnabas advocated for Paul, worked with him, and ministered alongside him. It was Barnabas’s acceptance of an otherwise rejected person from outside the local church that allowed Paul to become the most prolific writer in the New Testament. I would challenge you to read Acts 9 and see Saul’s conversion, acceptance in the church, and continued service for the glory of God.  

So how does this New Testament story tie in with “first impressions”? A presentable building alleviates distractions and demonstrates our stewardship with what God has given us. Smiling faces show a welcoming spirit and our joy in serving Christ. But Barnabasstyle hospitality and love go much deeper in seeing a visitor return to church. This type of hospitality is not only relegated to a team of people. Each individual in the local church is given the opportunity to demonstrate this type of hospitality by modeling the character of God in seeking the outsider with hospitable grace, love, and acceptance.

Barnabasstyle hospitality and love go much deeper in seeing a visitor return to church.

What are some ways that we can model godly hospitality?

  • Seek out people at church you do not know. This gets them past a smile at the door and into the life of a disciple of Jesus. 
  • Invite them into your group of friends. This widens their relationships in the church on their first visit. Be intentional in having conversations that include them. 
  • Get their contact information and take it upon yourself to follow up with them. This is not a business transaction! Their spiritual welfare could be at stake, and you have the answer they need! 

Reflecting the character of God in gracious and loving hospitality endears guests to ourselves as we communicate Jesus to them (Prov. 11:30). Each person who enters the doors of our ministry is an opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s gracious and loving hospitality. The collateral we gain at the beginning of those relationships allows you and the church as a whole to speak more gospel truth into their lives.  

Be a Barnabas. 


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BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

Murray, Iain H. Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994.

Who should read this?

  • If you are a member of Grace Baptist Church and value the truth of independent, fundamental Christianity, then you should read this book.
  • If you are not afraid of the truth, then you should read this book.
  • If all you have grown up knowing is revivals that involve camp meetings, altar calls, and emotional stirrings, then you should read this book.

Murray does a phenomenal job presenting a clear difference between revival and revivalism. Though the details in the early part of his book are a bit tedious, the narratives become increasingly engaging. By the conclusion, readers are left wondering how they could have missed all of this truth.

Rather than presenting a full-length book review, here are my ten reasons why you should consider reading Revival and Revivalism:

Discipline

Though the details are a bit tedious, Murray does present narratives which support his assertion–that revivalism has marred American Evangelicalism. Read this because of the discipline that tedious details can help you develop. The details matter.

History

Most people I know have an incomplete understanding of Christian history. They know a “Trail of Blood” history, but they do not know a complete history–especially about Christianity in America.

Credibility

Murray cites an extensive number of credible sources, including letters, journals and much more. When an author writes and cites an abundant number of sources, some sympathetic to his cause and others not so sympathetic, this adds credibility to his argument.

Old & New

It confirms that #OldTime religion has nothing to do with hollering, shouting, or rip and snort preaching. #OldTime religion that we now know in the current camp meeting scene is actually new, and there were Christians sounding the alarm in the 1800s about what we now see in the style of camp meetings held today.

Altar Calls

It confirms that the Charles Finney movement was characterized by manipulative tactics such as altar calls and loud noises for scare tactics. What people consider as part of historical Christianity (i.e., altar calls) had their beginnings 1700+ years after Christianity began, and these tactics were largely viewed as manipulative.

Anti-intellectualism

It gives a history of when anti-intellectualism became popular and how this led to the honorary doctorate era (my words). By anti-intellectualism, I mean that doctrinally rich studies were viewed as unnecessary. This view led to preaching that was largely unsound in doctrine.

Unity

It shows the unity that existed until the Finney-ite movement. The Charles Finney movement was largely responsible for much of the division within established churches of the era. In addition, there was unity cross-denominationally before Finney’s preaching ministry.

Salvation Theology

The study of salvation is called Soteriology, and it is fundamental theologically. Murray shows what the dominant view of salvation was and how this was impacted during the years of 1750-1858.  This change is a deadly one and often characterized within the modern “camp meeting” culture.

Camp Meetings

Murray shows where camp meetings came from and that they were born out of necessity in that time.

Revival

It shows that the modern day IFB [Independent Fundamental Baptists] revivalists are nothing close to the true, historical revival preachers in America–showing a divergence during the 2nd Great Awakening. The revivalists were professionals in the pulpit, known for their rhetoric and ability to manipulate the emotions of the hearers. Today, the lineage of the revivalists is not hard to find in the modern Evangelist/Tent Meeting scene.

In addition, Murray’s presentation of the historical, theological truth helps to guide us in what we should be looking for in true revival.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


In the time of John, there was a group of people, later termed Gnostics, who taught that our souls were pure and like a prisoner trapped inside the body. For them, it was inconceivable to think that God would have a physical body, because they considered the material, physical world to be evil—including the body. Thus, for them, salvation was through a secret knowledge—gnosis. They viewed the physical body as a prison which malevolently trapped the “divine spark” within humanity (Pearson, Ancient Gnosticism, 12–14).

Today, there is a new form of Gnosticism. While Christians have a moral obligation to get to know their culture around them, this is not what Social Justice Scholarship is teaching, nor is this the tone of what is being communicated. Social Justice Scholarship teaches: (1) those who are oppressed have access to experience-based knowledge that others do not, (2) epistemic violence is repressing this knowledge or not making an effort to know this knowledge, (3) those who do not have this knowledge are simply ignorant, and (4) experience-based knowledge (emotion included) is superior to evidence-based (scientific-method) or reason-based forms of knowing.

As Christians, we should not find our confidence and assurance in fleeting philosophies or worldviews of the day. True love as highlighted by Jesus is the mark of true believers. Are you marked by this true love?

True love as highlighted by Jesus is the mark of true believers.

Let the True Light Manifest Who Is Keeping the Old Command (1 John 2:7)

The command to love is an old command biblically (Leviticus 19:18). John told these “Brethren,” these loved ones, this command when he first came to them. Notice that there is something new (1 John 2:8). First, the true expression of love is found in you and in Jesus Christ. This is one of the evidences that you know you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, “the darkness is past” is actually active and should be read as the darkness is passing away.  In terms of world history, the coming of Jesus has brought about a new time. Jesus has dealt a definitive death blow to the prince of darkness — Satan. Third, and more personal to these beloved people, the true expression of Christlike love is now more clearly seen because it has exposed those who have left. Sometimes, it is difficult to see the difference between Christlike love and hatred because hatred has many disguises. You must always see that the measure of true Christian love is Jesus Christ the true Light (John 13:34).

Let the True Light Distinguish What Is Love and Hate (1 John 2:9-11)

John is pointing out that one of the confusing things that can lead to a lack of confidence is that people say one thing about their love, but their love actually looks like hate and not truly Christlike. The person who loves has reason to be confident because the light has been turned on in their life. The person who has been changed by the love of Jesus can see clearly, and they are not hopelessly offended by another. Is the kind of forgiveness you offer a Christlike forgiveness that has been extended to you? Also, the person under the power of darkness stumbles over a lot. This is a blindness that happens even though their eyes are wide open, similar to Haman’s blindness in the story of Esther. They just can’t see the real problem. They are blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4).

If you were deceived or blind to true love, how would you even know it? It is the blindness of sin, and it is evident by hatred that is exposed by Christlike love. True love is what has been expressed in the Person of Jesus Christ, and what finds expression in those who have eternal life. There are many things we do not know, but true love has manifested himself in perfect, physical manner. Have you received the love of God in the Person of Jesus Christ?

It is not a secret knowledge that saves us. It is not experiencing what others have experienced that gives us confidence. Confident assurance for joyful living is in the evident love of Christ to us and through us.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


We must be able to give clear, objective truth.

In our culture, it is becoming increasingly accepted that a person’s oppressed identity is the better source of truth rather than reason and evidence:

“Social Justice scholarship takes umbrage with anything that foregrounds reasons and evidence as the way to know what is true…demands ‘epistemic justice’ …it means…lived experiences, emotions, and cultural traditions of minority groups… [should be] given privilege over reasons and evidence-based knowledge.” (Pluckrose & Lindsay, Cynical Theories, 187).

For this worldview, “Identity creates truth.” In the scripture though, we are given a different pattern. Notice that 1 John 2:1-2 shows how Jesus Christ is the Advocate and Propitiation for sinful men. Our identity is that we are sinful people who have a sufficient Savior.

You Can Be 100% Sure That You Have Eternal Life (1 John 2:3)

There were some things that had happened in the life of the Christians that caused them to lack assurance as to whether they had the truth—whether they had eternal life. John assures them that what is being written is so they might know that they actually know the Lord. What is the evidence that you know the Lord? It is obedience to his commandments. You will have to test whether you have eternal life or not based on your present obedience to the Lord’s commandments—commandments both of heart and of life; commandments towards God and towards your fellow brethren. Therefore, we must be committed to the scriptures wherein we learn his commandments.

The Bible Tells Us the Truth About Eternal Life, Even If How We Feel May Be Different (1 John 2:4)

We often tell ourselves lies, so we need God’s word to help us see the lies we tell ourselves and to help us see if others are lying about themselves. We must believe what the scripture says about us over what we say about us. There are some professing Christians whose hearts are so bitter and cold, full of hatred and unforgiveness; this ongoing pattern is disobedient to the commandments of God and shows that they do NOT have eternal life (James 1:26). There are some Christians who feel tremendously insecure wondering if they have eternal life, but their life shows an increasing pattern of obedience to the Lord—their desires for him, love for the brethren, giving of themselves for the body—these patterns prove that they do have eternal life (James 1:22-25). The source for your confidence must not be you. Scripture is the true reflection.

The source for your confidence must not be you. Scripture is the true reflection.

The Lord Gives You the Love to Lovingly Obey Him (1 John 2:5)

It is not mere obedience that proves you have eternal life; it is loving obedience that proves you have eternal life. A true believer both loves and obeys God because God has made this possible through the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. You should decide whether you will trust in the effectual working of God or in yourself. Trusting in yourself to live the Christian life is pride. Trusting in the Lord for the strength to obey requires a God-given humility, which means that we should be more committed to seeking the Lord through prayer.

You Should Obey Like Jesus Obeyed the Father (1 John 2:6)

In the Christian life, we often get our eyes on everyone else and off of our Leader, Jesus Christ. We are so concerned with the disobedience of other people that we forget we are to walk as Jesus Christ walked. Read the words of Jesus in John 4:34, 6:38, and 17:4. Read about the obedience of Jesus in Hebrews 5:8. Intentional study of the life and ministry of Jesus should be a part of our life.

When someone receives eternal life, they repent of sin and believe on Jesus as Lord. Jesus becomes their Master, and their lives should increasingly look like their Master’s. Who is the Lord of your life? Your Christian life should not be characterized by defiance or rebellion but by submission. We need to be people who are learning obedience from Jesus. The evidence of obedience proves your identity. You and I don’t create truth because of our identity.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance

BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 


Everyone has a standpoint. How do you think of your experiences?

One of the alternative ways of thinking within the Critical Theory worldview is called Standpoint Theory: “the belief that knowledge comes from the lived experience of different identity groups, who are differently positioned in society and thus see different aspects of it” (Pluckrose & Lindsay, Cynical Theories, 78). There are two assumptions in Standpoint Theory: (1) oppressed people have a standpoint that is more authoritative and fuller, and (2) privileged people are blinded from knowledge that oppressed people have (194).

Typically, if we want assurance or confidence, we will tend to lean upon our experience or standpoint, but the standpoint of the Bible is the exact opposite and teaches us that we are utterly sinful people. If we will have confidence, it will not be by pride in our own experiences.We must be honest with our sinfulness if we will have assurance in our lives.

God Is the Standard for an Absolute Standpoint (1 John 1:5)

There are two important truths to note about the meaning of the phrase God is light: God is the Source of life (1 John 1:3-4; Ephesians 2:1), and he is perfect. He is perfectly righteous (always perfect in justice); he is perfect Truth (anything that does not conform to his nature is false); he is perfectly moral (perfect in love and care for his own creatures and his own Person). If you want to have a proper evaluation of who you are, your standpoint or experience, we do not need to begin with ourselves but with God.

Standpoint Theory Is Exposed Before the God Who Is Light (1 John 1:6-2:2)

There are three “if we say” statements that reveal there are religious people within the church denying that they have sin (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). To deny the sinfulness of our existence generally is not consistent with any form of perceived reality. There is evil in the world because the evil is inside of mankind. Some men and women are better at hiding it from one another than others. The sooner we realize that our best is not compared to one another but to the very nature of the God who is light, the quicker we will realize that we do not meet up to His standard—we are utterly sinful in our thoughts, our desires, our words, our deeds, etc.

Only One Standpoint Can Lead to Absolute Certainty (1 John 1:7, 9, 2:1-2)

One of the major problems with Standpoint Theory is that it makes an ultimate standard of the experience of the oppressed, whereas the Bible makes God the ultimate standard. If you use your experience as the basis of your argument, you have the wrong starting point; and this starting point will not be effective with someone who believes in Standpoint Theory because your experience is what actually blinds you to what they say is true.

Our standpoint, based on the scriptures, is that we are all sinners before God but that we have a sufficient Savior. We desperately need Jesus, because we are insufficient before God. Jesus is sufficient for the full payment for our sins. We don’t have to add our work, our experience, our credentials, our anything to the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is exclusive—sufficiency is of Jesus alone. If you have to add to him, then he is not sufficient. Confident living cannot result from a theology that denies our sinfulness. Assurance can only be found through a theology that begins with a perfect God and exposes our sinfulness; consequently, we accept our sinfulness and fully cast ourselves on the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ.

We should be cautious about our own experience as the ground of objective truth. We are sinners in need of a Savior regardless of what side of history we are on—oppressor or oppressed. Our theology must never lessen the utter sinfulness of both unbelieving people and believing people. We are more sinful than we ever thought, but Jesus is more sufficient than we would have ever dreamed.

We are more sinful than we ever thought, but Jesus is more sufficient than we would have ever dreamed.

Read the full transcript of the sermon here.


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BY MAX FERNANDEZ

 

We believe that we should be a ministry committed to the highest level of Christian education possible.

Since Middletown Christian Schools is a ministry, spirituality is the most fundamental value and really the only value that matters. This means that we can let academic excellence and physical development take a back seat to this primary pursuit. This is lie number one. Yep! This is a lie! While the spiritual nature of our warfare must be maintained, it is absolutely foolish to think that in some way all other matters are NOT spiritual, though they are termed differently. There is nothing in the lives of believers that is not spiritual in one sense or another. Even our bodies belong to the Lord (I Corinthians 6).

Since Middletown Christian Schools is a ministry, this fact allows us the right to not expect the absolute best academic training. This is lie number two. Actually, what typically happens here is that we tend to put this as secondary to the spiritual because of a wrong “ladder” mentality that we use for most things! Again, for the believer all things are spiritual, including work in the academic field. This means that academic pursuits inside of the classroom need to be the absolute best. Testing scores by grade should be taken seriously. Teachers whose students are not meeting minimum requirements should take this matter of utmost importance. Disruptions to the learning environment are not casual. “Ahh,” you say, “Pastor, now you have really gone crazy.” Nope. The fact is that excellence in academics is not the final purpose; but rather, achieving God’s glory through the grace-motivated pursuit of excellence in academics is the primary purpose. Don’t slouch in the classroom, because your work in the classroom is your spiritual worship to the Lord. Do give all you have to ensure the classroom environment is prepared and ready for learning. This is your spiritual worship to the Lord. Work to minimize mistakes. This is your spiritual worship to the Lord!

Since Middletown Christian Schools is a ministry, this allows us the ease of not expecting higher levels of physical activity. This is lie number three. We tend to force a dichotomy between athletics and academics. Worse still, we tend to see a greater gulf between spiritual activity and physical activity.  Granted, we see the idolatry of athletics in our society, but we also see the idolatry of material possessions and money. The point that needs to be restated here is that the physical maturity of the students is for a primary purpose. Can you guess what that is? Yep! The physical maturing of students is for the glory of God, their Creator! What this means is that MCS should strive to be the best in every area that seeks the development of the student physically.

It is time we stop forcing dichotomies that cover up wrong understandings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When everything is said and done, the students we accept, the teachers we hire, the curriculum we select, the accreditation we pursue, the ministry we offer, the hours we give, the decisions we make, the grading we do, the discipline we dispense are all for the glory of God! So, pursue God’s glorification by your undivided commitment to the spiritual, academic, and physical development of each child!


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