Every Wednesday, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Enjoy coffee and Bible study with Pastor Kerry and the residents at Oak Estates!
"(17) I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (18) For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people."
Throughout the ages the church has been bombarded with false teaching, and it's still prevalent today. Since the only way to combat error is with truth, the church must be grounded in the Scriptures to avoid falling victim to deception.
The church needs an accurate view of Jesus. To hold firmly to the truth of the gospel, we must have a solid understanding of who Christ is. Though some claim Jesus was a teacher or a prophet, Scripture says He was fully God, who created everything and came to earth to save mankind from condemnation (John 1:1-13). Others argue that there are many ways to God. However, reconciliation with Him requires that sin's penalty be paid in full by one who is sinless. Only Jesus, the perfect Son o Man, could meet God's requirement. Therefore, no one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6).
The church must also affirm true doctrine. False teachers can be very persuasive and lead listeners into wrong thinking, confusion, and discouragement. In contrast, true doctrine strengthens and encourages believers by assuring them that salvation is by God's grace through faith in Christ alone; it is not gained or maintained by their performance (Ephesians 2:8-9). Those who belong to Jesus need never fear condemnation because the penalty for their sins has been paid (Romans 8:1). Everyone who is born again has an imperishable inheritance, which is reserved in heaven and protected by divine power through faith until God reveals it (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Can you discern false teaching? The only way to guard yourself and your church is to be firmly grounded in God's Word.
"(38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Our heavenly Father wants us to know how much He loves and cares for us. He has made this clear through...
Revelation of Himself. In Scripture, we learn that the Creator made us in His image and has a purpose for our life. We also discover that sin has separated us from the Lord, but He has a solution to our problem.
Provision of a Savior. We were trapped by our sinful nature and unable to free ourselves. That left us helpless and lost, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Worse still, we were under a sentence of eternal death - separation from the Lord forever. Because of our Father's great love for mankind, He sent His only Son to bear the penalty we deserved and to give us eternal life (Romans 6:23). Jesus rescued us from slavery to sin and reconciled us to the Father. What we could never do for ourselves, He did for us. His provision is free to us but costly to Him.
Adoption of believers. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we become children of God. There's no longer a separation between Him and us; instead of enemies, we are family. His indwelling Holy Spirit serves as both evidence that we belong to God and assurance of His unending love.
The heavenly Father's care for us shines brightly through the cross at Calvary - it was because of love that He sent Jesus Christ to earth to died in our place (1 John 4:9-10). Once we accept the gift of salvation through Christ, nothing can separate us from God's love. What a comfort that is in times of need.
"So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (23) But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."
Have you ever had to take a stand against a barrage of opposing opinions in order to be true to Christ? Or has a group of friends or coworkers ever wanted to cut corners or participate in a sinful activity - and you were the only one saying no? When the godly voice is outnumbered, it can be challenging to speak up for righteousness.
We all have convictions that define who we are and determine our lifestyle and choices. We make like to think that these are a private matter, but in reality, they are constantly on display for all to see. That's because we live them out each day without words and actions.
Since convictions have a powerful influence, we should examine what our are saying about us. Are they leading us to a righteous life in accordance with God's will, or are they so weak that our life is dominated by the old fleshly nature?
God has given us principles from His Word to guide, perfect, and help us lead godly lives. These standards are like guardrails that keep us from veering off track when temptations beckon. By holding firmly to these convictions, we follow a path that fits our identity in Christ. Instead of going along with the crowd, we're to walk in God's will and abstain from the sins that surround us in the world.
The time to establish our convictions is before we face temptations, not in the midst of them. We need solid, immovable biblical principles to shape what we believe and how we live.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
"(14) For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (15) And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."
If someone asked if your life is centered on Christ, how would you respond? Oftentimes a Christ-centered life is equated with going to church, giving, praying, reading the Bible, and talking to other people about Jesus. However, did you know that even if you do every one of these things, it's still possible to live a life that is controlled by self rather than Christ?
This is because our motives may be self-centered. Religious activities can be done for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with our love for Jesus. We could be seeking to relieve feelings of guilt or to make ourselves feel better or look more righteous. Perhaps we read the Bible to quickly find a verse that affirms us. Or prayer might be our attempt to get God to do what we want.
The answer is not to give up on these good activities but to shift our focus to Christ and what He desires. Our battle with self is one that will continue as long as we live in these earthly bodies. That's why Paul tells us to "lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted," and to "put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24).
A Christ-centered life is fueled by love for the Savior, which flows from increasing knowledge of Him. And we learn to know Jesus more intimately through reading, praying, and quietly abiding in His presence. As Christ increases in our mind and heart, we'll discover that our self-focus decreases and He becomes the delight of our lives.
"(9) For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building. (10) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. (11) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. (14) If what has been build survives, the builder will receive a reward. (15) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved - even though only as one escaping through the flames."
Have you ever seen an elaborate, masterfully crafted sandcastle? That's one of the most delightful experiences of a trip to the beach. The best builders are painstaking in every detail as they craft these beautiful works of art. The towers are straight, the windows are even, and sometimes the outline of individual bricks can be seen on each wall. The end result is often stunning, rivaling the elegance of homes in the wealthiest neighborhoods of the world.
But for all a sandcastle's splendor, its hours are numbered. From the moment the first grain of sand is set in place, the miniature building is on its way to oblivion. Within hours the details are destroyed by wind, rain, and the incoming tide. There is simply no future for a house of sand.
Sometimes believers' likes are like sandcastles. Even though everything looks perfect on the outside, their life's pursuits and activities will be revealed as worthless in the fire of God's judgment. Although their eternal destiny is secure, they will suffer the loss of heavenly rewards because they used inferior building materials.
The most important thing in life is to make sure we have the right foundation. Church attendance, ministry work, discipleship programs, or community service are no substitute for the rock-solid foundation of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We also need to build our life with faithful, obedient service to the Lord. The goal is not to have the most impressive-looking life in this world but to build one that demonstrates our devotion to the Savior who died to rescue us.