Summary, Part 4 (final) B. THE OPEN DENIAL OF GODâS EXISTENCE IS SUFFICIENT TO MAKE SOMEONE A FOOL [42:30]. Heart atheism is no less wicked than mouth atheism. Practical atheism is a life that does not demonstrate a saving faith. Three points from PSALM 14, to be further expounded next time: 1. The atheist's faith, or the "Fool's Creedâ; 2. The moral schizophrenia of denial; 3. The inevitability of the mistreatment of Godâs people.
Summary, Part 3 2. THE BRAZEN FOLLY OF ATHEISM EXPLAINED [25:45]. Unbelief is not committed to truth, but to lies. Moral neutrality is not possible in a fallen world. We suppress the truth in unrighteousness (ROMANS 1:18). PSALM 10:3-7, 11 â the denier canât stop thinking about God. THE TWO TAPROOTS OF ATHEISM: a. THE CARNAL PRIDE OF WICKED MEN (verses 4, 11) [29:30]. In denying God, the atheist tries to create a blind God. Note the irony of verse 11. Jonathan Edwards echoes ROMANS 2:2-3: all that keeps the wicked out of Hell is Godâs good pleasure. Nichols: the wicked dare God to damn them every moment. b. THE CARNAL DESIRES OF WICKED MEN [34:40]. Greed is covetousness, which is ultimately idolatry. To justify our wickedness, we must deny God. He hates that sweetness in the mouth becomes bitterness in the belly: that sin becomes judgment. The greatest deniers tend to be the most carnal people, shouting down even Godâs most basic commandments. Nichols: disbelief doesnât start in the head, but in the heart. People donât come to Christ because they love their sin. JOHN 3:19-21 â Do we bring our deeds to darkness or light?
Summary, Part 2 Folly in the heart becomes the folly of the lips. Our outward lives are the reflection of our inward thoughts. A. THE OPEN DENIAL OF GOD'S EXISTENCE IS HIGH-HANDED MORAL FOOLISHNESS [9:30]. In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster defines a fool as one who lives without reason. Using Scripture, Webster defined a fool as a wicked, depraved person who acts contrary to his moral deportment, who prefers trifling pleasures to the service of God. Stephen Charnock cites a root word signifying the extinction of life in plants and animals. Foolishness is an abuse of reason; it is not a lack of reason, but a lack of grace in using that reason. Foolishness concerns moral degeneracy, not mental capacity. 1. THE BRAZEN FOLLY OF ATHEISM DISPLAYED [14:10]. Charnock displays this in four points: (a) Denying the universal understanding that there is a God. False religions are menâs attempts to appease Him (ROMANS 1). (b) Denying the general revelation (ROMANS 1:19-20). (c) Denying the operations of conscience. Notice how atheists target Christianity. (d) Denying the special revelation: that of extraordinary judgments (natural disasters), miracles, and prophecies.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] We return to the ninth part of this series, and open: Part IV: THE DENIAL OF GOD'S EXISTENCE [begins at 3:45 of the audio]. In LUKE 12:16-21, we hear of the man who stored his treasures for his future. Of course this isn't unwise, but the man rested his entire hope on those stored goods to keep him in the future. He didn't know the number of his days, and hadn't committed his soul to rightness with God. PSALM 14:1-5 talks of the fool who says in his heart that there is no God. It is the fool, not the wise man, who thinks this. This passage gives us six points to consider: A. Denial of God's existence is high-handed moral foolishness; B. Denial in the heart is enough to make one a fool; C. Denial breeds great wickedness in life; D. Denial is the tragic folly of all men in Adam; E. Denial makes men hostile to God's people and prayerless before God; F. Denial leaves the wicked vulnerable to a condemning conscience. We will consider the first two points today.
Summary, Part 4 (final) 3. WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE CHRISTâS AMBASSADORS TO THE WORLD [40:55]. Our proper attitude is to love our enemies, and 2 CORINTHIANS 5:9-11, 17-21 lays out the essentials: (a) we must know the Lord savingly (verse 17); (b) Christ has entrusted us as new creatures to a mission as His ambassadors and committed to us a message of salvation to this lost world (verses 18-19); (c) we are to plead with those in the world to flee from the wrath to come by believing the gospel so that they can be reconciled to God (verses 20-21). The terror of the Lord is a gospel motive. One day, grace will end and accounting will begin. God did for us what we canât do for ourselves, and weâre to tell of what He has done. Itâs as simple as that.
Summary, Part 3 2. WE MUST NEITHER LOVE NOR SEEK FRIENDSHIP WITH THIS WORLD [31:20]. 1 JOHN 2:15-17, JAMES 4:4 â for John, a Christian cannot truly love God and love the world; for James, friendship with the world is spiritual adultery. The one who loves the world makes himself Godâs enemy; God is either everything to us or nothing to us. We must consider a couple of questions about the world: what is it that we must neither love nor seek friendship with, and what does it mean to love or seek friendship with it? In Scripture, âworldâ carries three different senses: its material reality, humankind, and its powers and principalities: the spirit that causes it to oppose the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, weâre most concerned with the latter sense. Our second responsibility to the world flows naturally and inevitably out of our first; we do not seek the worldâs praise because it doesnât praise Christ. Christ must always be between us and the unsaved. If they canât suffer Him, then we canât suffer them. The church today needs a new infusion of this conviction. GALATIANS 6:14 â our only glory is the cross; it is incompatible with the worldâs interests.
Summary, Part 2 2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5 â the nature of our warfare. Too many churches forget this, and thus donât edify their flocks spiritually. Christ fed the masses, but then also preached to them. Our identity in Christ defines our mission in this world. Our objective is not to transform the culture, but to save souls; culture can be transformed without a soul being saved (e.g. Constantine). There is too much history of the church using the gospel for impure ends. That the church is not a part of this world, but is rather the light of the world, means that it must not adopt or attempt to sanctify the worldâs fads and fashions, its music, or its entertainment. 1 CORINTHIANS 1:17-21, 3:19, 2 CORINTHIANS 4:2 â Paul sternly warns us against surrendering the gospel to this philosophy of this world since the worldâs so-called wisdom robs it of its message of purity and power (COLOSSIANS 2:8). Further, we should be wary of the world, since the world has no love for Christians. JOHN 15:18-19 â the world hates Christ, and so it rejects us. Christ called us out. We are not to use the worldâs methods to bring the gospel. We canât be faithful to Christ and to menâs souls. We must remember Jamesâ statement about pure religion (JAMES 1:27).
Summary, Part 1 In this fifth message of this series, we continue with how, II. OUR EXPERIENCE OF GODâS FAITHFULNESS REMINDS US OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A CHURCH, and move on to how, C. WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TO THIS WORLD [starting at 2:25 of the audio]. Salvation is not glorification. After weâre saved, weâre still here, still fallen, but being sanctified. What are these responsibilities? Today we consider three: 1. WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO NOT RECKON OURSELVES A PART OF THIS WORLD [4:05]. JOHN 17:14, 7:7 â Christians are people of the word, not the world. JOHN 18:36 â we do not meet the world on its terms, but on Christâs (cf. MATTHEW 26:52, PHILIPPIANS 3:20). Because we are free from the enslaving influence of the world, we are to be âthose who use the world, as though [we] did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing awayâ (1 CORINTHIANS 7:31). Our principles and practices are higher because they are holy. Our kingdom is spiritual and eternal; the world is material and passing away. Our weapons are spiritual, not carnal (cf. EPHESIANS 6:12). As solders of Christ, as warrior-members of the church militant, we are forbidden from getting entangled in the affairs of this world.
Summary, Part 5 (final) (g) Do you esteem your brethren above everyone else? What would a private detective report about our interaction with each other? Consider some infinitives describing the brethrenâs interactions: to esteem, to admonish, to encourage, to clothe ourselves in humility, to serve, to be hospitable, to confess our sins, to pray for, to not complain against, to not lie to, to stimulate to love and good deeds, to seek after that which is good for, to live in peace with, to build up, to comfort, to bear with, to forgive, to highly regard, to be subject to, to care for, to be kind to, to accept, to be of the same mind with, to be devoted to, to give preference to, and especially to love. (h) Do we focus on our earthly interests instead of our brotherhood in Christ? (i) Do we welcome the loving admonishments of our brethren? 2. WE MUST ENCOURAGE OUR BRETHREN TO PERSEVERE IN HOPE DURING THIS DAY OF SMALL THINGS [40:37]. We must not think much of our churchâs smallness. Small churches can do great things. Seeing the same faces each week is a source of encouragement, not discouragement. A correlation of size and love isnât necessary, certainly not biblically. Remember Jesusâ admonition to Peter: never mind the fate of a betraying disciple; just follow Me (JOHN 21:20-23).
Summary, Part 4 THE DEADLIEST CANCERS TO A CHURCH ATTACKS ITS UNITY, AND FROM THERE ATTACKS ITS HOPE [26:30]. How do we avoid this? 1. WE MUST DEEPEN OUR BROTHERLY AFFECTION AND OUR ESTEEM FOR ONE ANOTHER [27:25]. Some questions for us to consider: (a) Do we love our brethren more than ourselves? (b) Does our love for each other advertise our genuine affection and esteem for each other? (c) Can we express our genuine love for each other without being self-conscious? (d) Do we pray for our brethren, and do we let them know? (e) Do we look forward to worshipping with them each Lordâs Day? Our joys on the Lordâs Day are foretastes of perfect, constant fellowship in Heaven. (f) Do we interact outside of church at all? The pagans noted this, even though they didnât go into churches.
Summary, Part 3 WHAT DO THESE OBSERVATIONS ASSUME ABOUT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ONE ANOTHER AS CHRISTIANS? 1. IT MEANS THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANâAS ONE WHO IS IN VITAL UNION WITH CHRISTâIS TO DEMONSTRATE THAT UNION BY FORMALLY UNITING WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS IN UNION WITH CHRIST [17:45]. Providence Reformed Baptist Church would disintegrate without this unity. The American spirit of crass individualism is a threat to this unity and is found nowhere in the New Testament. The book of ACTS consistently illustrates new Christians joining a local church. 2. THIS INDIVIDUALISTIC SPIRIT MAKES IT EASY FOR SINNING AND UNREPENTANT, PROFESSING CHRISTIANS TO EVADE CORPORATE CORRECTIVE CHURCH DISCIPLINE. [22:00]. 3. GOD DOES NOT SAVE US ONLY TO LEAVE US ALONE TO MAKE IT TO HEAVEN ON OUR OWN [22:30]. He recruits us to join the heavenly army on earth to one day march into the heavenly kingdom above. Churches usually die not for a want of provision, but for a want of biblical mission. Biblical love begets financial commitment. Christ died and shed His blood to remove our individual sin and the churchâs corporate sins. The latter couldnât happen if Christianity were an individualistic affair.
Summary, Part 2 4. APOSTOLIC ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE CHURCH PRESUME THE CORPORATE UNITY AND VISIBLE COMMUNITY OF CHRISTIANS [9:52]. Members are members of a body, all in their roles to make the body function as a whole. The church is a temple: living stones cemented together. These image make it impossible to argue for isolationism. 5. THE BIBLE IS ADDRESSED NOT SO MUCH TO INDIVIDUALS AS IT IS TO GODâS COVENANT COMMUNITY [11:13]. The epistles werenât written to individuals. Even the pastoral epistles are relevant to every Christian. 6. THE LANGUAGE OF REDEMPTION IS LARGELY THE LANGUAGE OF A REDEEMED COMMUNITY [12:36]. EPHESIANS 5:25: Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for her. (cf. MATTHEW 20:28, ACTS 20:28, 1 TIMOTHY 2:6, REVELATIONS 5:9, 1 PETER 2:9). GALATIANS 2:20 doesnât negate this. 7. MANY COMMANDS IN THE BIBLE SIMPLY CANNOT BE OBEYED IN ISOLATION FROM COMMUNION WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS [14:46]. Some examples: EPHESIANS 4:3: perseverance is preserving the unity of the body; COLOSSIANS 3:16: observance of corporate admonishment and worship; 1 CORINTHIANS 11:24: the Lordâs Table is a corporate ordinance; EXODUS 20:8-11: cessation from ordinary employments, and holy convocation.
Summary, Part 1 Last week, we opened the second point in this series: II. OUR EXPERIENCE OF GODâS FAITHFULNESS REMINDS US OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A CHURCH, beginning with A. WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TO GOD. In this fourth message in this series, we consider how B. WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TO ONE ANOTHER [starting at 2:15 of the audio]. One obvious sign of maturity is a growing awareness that we are not just individuals, but also members of a community. This includes our families, neighborhoods, schools, and culture. For the Christian, this also includes Christ and His body. This conviction comes from the teaching of the Bible. Itâs on every page, explicitly or implicitly. ON BIBLICAL DOCTRINE ON THE FAMILY: 1. WE LEARN FROM THE VERY FIRST FAMILY THAT WE ARE OUR BROTHERâS KEEPER [6:35]. A lesson in Abel and Josephâs stories is that we do have duties to others, at the very least a duty to respect them. 2. THE SECOND GREAT COMMANDMENT REQUIRES US TO LOVE OTHERS AS WE LOVE OURSELVES [8:08]. We cannot do this as isolationists. 3. GODâS COVENANT PEOPLE WERE SAVED FIRST AS A FAMILY, AND THEN AS A NATION [8:43]. His people arenât individual pilgrims, but a family on pilgrimage together. The church is called a holy nation (1 PETER 2:9).
Summary, Part 3 (final) There is also no such thing as a thoroughly carnal Christian. Olympic athletes donât just strive to be part of the team; they strive to win a gold medal (1 CORINTHIANS 9:26). If all you want is to have a jog, you donât need to enter a race. Half-hearted holiness doesnât exist any more than a carnal Christian. The King James translation calls us âa peculiar peopleâ (1 PETER 2:9). We are called to be salt and light. To be a Christian is to be different and unique. If youâre not living in ROMANS 7 or TITUS 2, there is no Heaven promised you. JAMES 1:22-25 refers to the Bible as a mirror, and explains what disobedient people do with it if they donât like what they see. 1 JOHN 3:1-3: the world doesnât see (understand) us because it doesnât know Him, just as we will not see Christ as He is until we become as He is in glory. Until then, we live by faith. Carnality was our past, perfection is our future, but purificationâ-having the hope of seeing Christâ-is our present.
Summary, Part 2 2. TO GROW IN OUR KNOWLEDGE OF AND OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF CHRIST [12:00]. The first point does not negate this point: we cannot love and follow a Christ we donât know. In fact, the better we know Him, the more we love Him and the more weâre willing to follow Him. JOHN 14:15: âIf ye love me, keep my commandments.â Obedience means to place ourselves at oneâs disposal. If weâre not obedient to Christ, how are we of use to Him? JOHN 14:31: Jesus showed His love to the Father by obeying Him: love was the motive, and obedience was the result. Warm feelings without principled obedience is counterfeit love. Christ doesnât just want our hearts and lips, but our hands and feet. 3. TO MORTIFY OUR SINS AND TO GROW IN THE GRACES OF CHRIST [18:35]. We cannot follow our lusts and our Lord at the same time; we cannot resurrect the sins for which Christ died. âHappy are the holyâ does not mean âholy are the happy.â TITUS 2:11-14: what Godâs saving grace looks like, and how it is maintained. There is no such thing as Christian perfectionism. The Christian will always struggle with sin in this life (ROMANS 7), but he perseveres to the end (1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27). We are sanctified in this life, but not glorified until after death.
Summary, Part 1 LUKE 12:42-48: The endowment of the Lordâs blessings are proportional to the responsibilities He will expect to be met. He who knows not the Lord or His will and violates it shall receive chastisement, but he who does know the Lord and His will and violates it shall receive greater chastisement. In the first two messages of this series, we examined how I. OUR CONTINUED EXISTENCE AS A CHURCH BEARS ELOQUENT WITNESS TO GODâS FAITHFULNESS. In this third message, we move on to consider that, II. OUR EXPERIENCE OF GODâS FAITHFULNESS REMINDS US OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A CHURCH [starting at 4:05 of the audio].. Among them, A. WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TO GOD [5:25]. Among those, 1. TO NOT FORSAKE OUR FIRST LOVE, BUT RATHER NURTURE AND DEEPEN OUR LOVE TO CHRIST [5:45]. Though we treasure doctrine, we must beware Ephesusâ folly (REVELATION 2:4) and not leave the love of He who is behind it. We donât want to be sacramentalists, formalists, or cold doctrinarians; we want to nurture and deepen our love for Jesus Christ. We must spend time in His word and among His people, and meditating on His truth.
Summary, Part 4 (final) But we know that the Lord will not let us fall back into the world, and so we learn to trust Him in very dark times. 2. IN REPENTANCE. How did sin go from being a joy to being sour in our bellies after being sweet in our mouths? How did it go from being a character flaw to a horrifying death sentence? Because God is at work in us, making us hate something so native to us. 3. IN GOSPEL OBEDIENCE. We donât work for our salvation, but we work out our salvation. How did our disobedience become something so shameful and troubling to our conscience? Because God is at work in us; this is what it means to walk in the Spirit. If you know these things about yourself, you have assurance that God is working in you. HOW DO WE PROGRESS MORE? 1. READ HIS WORD. We canât learn His will if we donât take instruction on it. 2. SEEK TO KNOW THE LORD, WHOSE WILL WAS TO DO HIS FATHERâS WILL. His deft use of the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, protected Him from the devil himself. The word was so in His heart that He is the living word. 3. SEEK GODâS FACE CONTINUALLY IN THE SPIRIT OF GRATEFUL PRAYER. Paul couldn't have been so confident in the Philippian church without faithful, persevering, passionate prayer (PHILIPPIANS 1:3-4). Jacob would not let the angel go without a blessing (GENESIS 32:26).
Summary, Part 3 PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13: obedience had worked itself into the fabric of those members; they were not just in allegiance with Paul, but with God. Verse 13 is the confirmation of Godâs promise to finish His work in His people. No church is perfect, and the Philippian church was no exception. It had its trials, yet Paul believed that God would work in them to work out (not âforâ) their salvation in fear and trembling, that He would work them out into the image of His Son. Spiritual progress is never easy; weâre fallen as long as weâre not glorified. But can we gauge where we are versus where we were when we were saved? We come to understand that satisfaction is the door to spiritual rot. As long as weâre alive on earth, we will be a work in progress. The sin in our heart looked much smaller when we were saved than it does now. By itself, that seems like regress. But from the eternal perspective, weâre seeing the largeness of our sin because weâre seeing the largeness of the holy God Who hates it. THREE WAYS THAT GOD PROGRESSES US: 1. IN FAITH. What did God see in us that He would save us? The ability to magnify His own glory, to turn a lump of coal into a diamond. We see things darkly now; we walk by faith because we donât see things in their clarity, especially when we feel forsaken.
Summary, Part 2 Many times, He has provided when the bills came due. We are also a church of regular tithers. A recent statistic indicated that only three percent of professing Christians tithe their income. If our church were representative of that, it would not survive. Yet our few are regular, generous givers. This kind of giving reflects Christâs own sacrifice, and it glorifies God to the world. C: WEâVE WITNESSED GODâS FAITHFULNESS IN PROGRESSING US IN THE WAY THAT LEADS TO LIFE. He has preserved us individually and as a body. We donât want to just be preserved and provided for; without progress, we can still become stagnant. That would lead to a survivalist mode that forsakes any sort of vision for the future. REVELATION 3:1c is the last thing we want to hear about our church. We donât just want to live in Christ, but to grow in Him as well. The body is only as strong as the individual parts. PHILIPPIANS 1:6: Paul was there for the beginning of the Philippian church (ACTS 16). It was small and insignificant at its beginning, and here Paul is telling them that God would finish the work He started. The church itself may not exist anymore, but the living stones that made up that church saw that promise come to pass.
Summary, Part 1 Last week, we discussed that I. OUR CONTINUED EXISTENCE AS A CHURCH BEARS ELOQUENT WITNESS TO GODâS FAITHFULNESS, and covered A: WEâVE WITNESSED GODâS FAITHFULNESS IN PRESERVING US AMIDST NUMEROUS DIFFICULT PROVIDENCES. This week, we continue with B: WEâVE WITNESSED GODâS FAITHFULNESS IN PROVIDING OUR MATERIAL AND TEMPORAL NEEDS. LUKE 18:29-30: the disciples were considering the possibility that they were on a foolâs errand. They had left everything behind to follow Jesus. But Jesus declared to them that even in this life, He will replace manifold what we have left behind for our faith. He replaces our unbelieving friends and family with the brethren. He replaces unbelieving guidance with holy guidance. HOW HAS GOD PROVIDED FOR OUR CHURCH? 1. WITH OUR MEETING PLACE. The congregation had to rent and move around a lot until 2000, when He gave us the chance to buy our building at a very affordable price. That was with the help of the previous congregation, and friends who helped provide the funds. 2. WITH OUR ABILITY TO PAY THE BILLS. Weâre small, and so it is difficult for us to stay afloat at times. Even when the red line was near, we have kept it at bay. God has raised up a sister church and friendly brethren who have been generous to us.