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The Active Obedience of Christ

Christ as Mediator entered the federal relation in which Adam stood in the state of integrity, in order to merit eternal life for the sinner. This constitutes the active obedience of Christ, consisting in all that Christ did to observe the law in its federal aspect, as the condition for obtaining eternal life…. Christ merits more for sinners than the forgiveness of sins. According to Gal. 4:4,5 they are through Christ set free from the law as the condition of life, are adopted to be sons of God, and as sons are also heirs of eternal life, Gal. 4:7. All this is conditioned primarily on the active obedience of Christ. Through Christ the righteousness of faith is substituted for the righteousness of the law, Rom. 10:3,4.

[I]f Christ suffered only the penalty imposed on man, those who shared in the fruits of His work would have been left exactly where Adam was before he fell… still confronted with the task of obtaining eternal life in the way of obedience.

(Adapted from Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, 380-381)



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What We Do in Secret

Author: Bob Kauflin, Categories: Devotions, —Leading a Congregation, —Worship and Life, Tags: Hypocrisy

via What We Do in Secret.

Leading an Effective Bible Study

I. Personal Preparation:

  1. Pray: Ask God to help you understand the passage.
  2. Know what you are teaching: Always begin studying the passage on your own.
    1. Read the whole paragraph, chapter or the entire book at least 3 times. Use different versions of the Bible. [Compare and contrast] (e.g. NASB (literal), NIV (dynamic), NLT (free))
    2. Read the background of the book is a MUST. (You may use the “Study Bible” book’s  introduction)
      1. i.      Identify the author and the audience
      2. ii.      Identify socio-cultural background
      3. iii.      Identify the purpose of the book
      4. iv.      Identify how the passage’s idea relates to the purpose of the book
      5. Identifying the main idea of the passage.
      6. Use Bible Dictionary: Biblical terms, names, places and ideas.
  3. Know your materials: Read the BS material and guide questions. Interact with it based on your own study of the passage. Conflicting thoughts may arise, therefore study the passage further or ask your pastor to resolve the issue. (Principle: Make sure you are convinced on what you are teaching.)
  4. Personalize it: Carefully study the guide questions. Spend time in meditation and reflection as you consider how to respond.
  5. Expect the unexpected queries: Write your thoughts and responses in each question; this will help you express your understanding of the passage clearly.
  6. Application: Consider how you can apply the Scripture to our present day living. (What does this have to do with me?)
  7. Teaching is learning: You may consider the week’s lesson to be part of your devotion for the entire week. Personalizing the lesson will give more impact to leading your group. You are hitting two birds in one stone.

II. Leading the Study:

  1. Begin with a prayer.
  2. Be creative in starting a Bible Study. The first minute will set the tone of your group’s interest.
  3. Open the group for discussion, but be discerning in entertaining questions.  Be reminded of the following:
    1. Focus on the topic
    2. Maintain confidentiality within the group
    3. Listen attentively, maintain eye-contact and give everyone a chance to talk.
    4. Pray for each other.
  4. Avoid answering the guide questions yourself; instead lead them to the answer.
  5. Do not be uncomfortable in silence. Silence help people think and digest thoughts.
  6. Acknowledge all contributions.
  7. Don’t be afraid of hard questions. If you do not know the answer, tell them honestly that you need to check it out and give a reply the following meeting. Make sure to do your homework. (Common Temptation: Giving an unsure answer)
  8. At the end of the Bible discussion you may want to allow the group members to meditate or challenge them with applications.
  9. Conclude your time together with conversational prayer, praying for your group’s struggles and their families. Pray for them individually. (If group is small, it is encouraged that you pray for them by name.)

This material is adopted from “A Life Guide Bible Study” notes for leaders by Vineyard Books with some additional personal inputs.

Happy Reformation Day

“Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation, on this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 Theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors.” 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day

Burning Heart 2008 – Bethany Church, Cebu City

Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly

When I read about prosperity-preaching churches, my response is: “If I were not on the inside of Christianity, I wouldn’t want in.” In other words, if this is the message of Jesus, no thank you.Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and deadly. It’s deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he said things like: “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). And it’s deadly because the desire to be rich plunges “people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). So here is my plea to preachers of the gospel.

1. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that makes it harder for people to get into heaven.

Jesus said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” His disciples were astonished, as many in the “prosperity” movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher by saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They respond in disbelief: “Then who can be saved?” Jesus says, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).

My question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry focus that makes it harder for people to enter heaven?

2. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that kindles suicidal desires in people.

Paul said, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” But then he warned against the desire to be rich. And by implication, he warned against preachers who stir up the desire to be rich instead of helping people get rid of it. He warned, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

So my question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry that encourages people to pierce themselves with many pangs and plunge themselves into ruin and destruction?

3. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that encourages vulnerability to moth and rust.

Jesus warns against the effort to lay up treasures on earth. That is, he tells us to be givers, not keepers. “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” (Matthew 6:19).

Yes, we all keep something. But given the built-in tendency toward greed in all of us, why would we take the focus off Jesus and turn it upside down?

4. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that makes hard work a means of amassing wealth.

Paul said we should not steal. The alternative was hard work with our own hands. But the main purpose was not merely to hoard or even to have. The purpose was “to have togive.” “Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give to him who is in need” (Ephesians 4:28). This is not a justification for being rich in order to give more. It is a call to make more and keep less so you can give more. There is no reason why a person who makes $200,000 should live any differently from the way a person who makes $80,000 lives. Find a wartime lifestyle; cap your expenditures; then give the rest away.

Why would you want to encourage people to think that they should possess wealth in order to be a lavish giver? Why not encourage them to keep their lives more simple and be an even more lavish giver? Would that not add to their generosity a strong testimony that Christ, and not possessions, is their treasure?

5. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that promotes less faith in the promises of God to be for us what money can’t be.

The reason the writer to the Hebrews tells us to be content with what we have is that the opposite implies less faith in the promises of God. He says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

If the Bible tells us that being content with what we have honors the promise of God never to forsake us, why would we want to teach people to want to be rich?

6. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that contributes to your people being choked to death.

Jesus warns that the word of God, which is meant to give us life, can be choked off from any effectiveness by riches. He says it is like a seed that grows up among thorns that choke it to death: “They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the . . . riches . . . of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14).

Why would we want to encourage people to pursue the very thing that Jesus warns will choke us to death?

7. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that takes the seasoning out of the salt and puts the light under a basket.

What is it about Christians that makes them the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It is not wealth. The desire for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks just like the world. It does not offer the world anything different from what it already believes in. The great tragedy of prosperity-preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply sees a reflection of itself. And if it works, they will buy it.

The context of Jesus’ saying shows us what the salt and light are. They are the joyful willingness to suffering for Christ. Here is what Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:11-14).

What will make the world taste (the salt) and see (the light) of Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way they do. Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. This is inexplicable on human terms. This is supernatural. But to attract people with promises of prosperity is simply natural. It is not the message of Jesus. It is not what he died to achieve.

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email:mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Love, Courtship and Sex: Question and Answer #2

IF A BOY AND A GIRL WILL BE IN A RELATIONSHIP IN THEIR GRADE SCHOOL, DOES THIS MEAN THAT THEY ARE GETTING READY TO GET MARRIED?

– Definitely not. What I mean when I said that “you only start dating and courting when you are ready to get married” is when you are already old enough, capable enough to start a family. Remember, that marriage is a sacred one. We cannot treat it as a “Bahay-bahayan” or in bisaya if I am correct is “balay-balayan”. You will only be ready in marriage if you already have a stable job that could support a family, you are matured enough to handle a married life, you should be at the right age, in accordance to the family code of the Philippines, and (not or) if you already prayed for it. Therefore, I would suggest to you that you should not get into a relationship unless you are old enough. Being in grade school, I would say that you are still very young to be in love. What you are feeling is only “Puppy love”. If you will get into a relationship, of course the feeling of being cared for and of being in love is indeed very very good, however, that feelings will not last and when the time comes that you will be separating, you or the other person will still not escape the pain of being broken hearted. In other words, the relationship will definitely not last because it’s too premature yet the pain will be as painful as you have been maturely in love. In any case, especially if you are a girl, many boys will have a hard time respecting you. Having many relationships during your youth will somehow jeopardize your respectability as a Christian woman.

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