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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

The last thing I want to bring out here is the imperative that first shows up in John 13, right after Jesus washed the disciples feet. He tells them:

John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

This phrase ‘one another’ as applied to the church shows up 39 times in 36 verses in the New Testament. I have included the full listing here. Twice in the last week, I have sat with a group of believers and read these aloud. I would recommend that you do the same. You can do it alone, but I think it is striking as you hear others read them as well.

Clearly the 25 times that love in mentioned in these verses is inescapable, but you will be surprised by what other “one anothers” you see repeated.

Don’t miss this wealth of godly treasure.

John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

2 John 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

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OK, how could we possibly obey even a portion of these 39 instructions if we are not sharing our lives with others?

I am not talking about going to Church on Sunday either. I am talking about living in community. Getting together with others. Sharing life, hopes, dreams, fears, successes and failures.

Each of us in Christ need to be in relationship with others who are walking out their faith. Sometimes pulling them along, and sometimes being dragged forward ourselves. No Christian has arrived at the place where he or she no longer needs the body. Christian life does not work the way it is supposed to when we walk alone.

Believe me, I have messed this up more than once in my life. Many of you reading this can probably point out specific times you have seem me do it. I have allowed rigid doctrines or personal preferences or even hurts or slights to separate me from people God was using to speak into my life.

Which one or ones jumped off the page for you today?

Ben NelsonWalk in love today!

Ben

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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

I am so glad you asked! For your three "WHY"s I will give you three outstanding purposes the Church serves, both in the life of the believer and in the plans of God. Here they are in no particular order.

Equipping the Saints

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:11-16

Here we have a description of the gifts of Christ. This “He” points specifically to Jesus rather than to the Holy Spirit, which is interesting in itself. The Spiritual gifts as detailed in other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Romans 12:6-8 manifest in activities that the Spirit empowered Christian might “do,” whereas these gifts in Ephesians 4 speak more of a positional gifting.

I take the time to mention this, because the evangelist mentioned above certainly does evangelism, but moreover, his roll in the body of Christ is to equip others to do the work of evangelism. The Pastor not only shepherds the flock, but trains others and gives them the tools they need to walk out the life of a sheep.

God assembles local bodies and gives gifts to these bodies for our equipping.

Check out the language here –
equipping the saints for the work of service
attain to the unity of the faith
attain to … knowledge of the Son of God
attain to … a mature man
grow up in all aspects into Him
growth of the body
building itself in love

This is one of the main reasons we join together with other believers. These people are in part a fulfillment of His precious and magnificent promises which help us to become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that our lusts bring to the table.

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

House of Prayer

When Jesus dumped the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling, he said:

And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." Mark 11:17 NASB

When He spoke of the physical temple, it was a type of the true temple of God – His people. This is another function of the body of Christ. We are to pray for one another, and pray for those not yet in Christ, the world, and the coming of the kingdom on Earth as in Heaven.

Mission

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20

This passage is often called the Great Commission. We have looked at what the Church does within its own doors, but the great work of the Church is the mission Christ gave us. When the scripture says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” the ‘Go’ here is better understood ‘as you go’ or ‘as you carry on with your activities.’ The real command in the commission is ‘make disciples.’

Sometimes we Christians get our rolls reversed. Jesus told us that He would ‘build the Church.’ His instruction to us is to ‘make disciples.’ Notice He does not tell us to make converts. Rather we are to make disciples. A disciple is a learner under discipline, a student, a follower. Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In summary, the purpose of this One True Church comes down to this, that all men might know Him and be conformed to His image. [Tweet This]

We equip those in Christ to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers (whom we have equipped)
We go into the harvest and make followers
We equip those followers to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest...

Well – you get the idea.

Thanks so much for coming.

Ben NelsonI hope these studies on the Church are an encouragement to you.

See you again soon.

Ben

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Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

Ordinances of the Church

An ordinance of the Church would be some practice that Jesus himself told His followers to continue. Here are Jesus’ instructions:

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." - Luke 22:19

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20

And we see that in the book of Acts the early Church followed this pattern:

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:41-42

There is another institution which Christ demonstrated to the disciples, and told them to carry forward, but the church as a rule does not practice this with the same regularity, though it is a beautiful picture of what it means to be in Christ.

You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. - John 13:13-15

Both baptism and communion are clear pictures of Christ’s death.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:3-4

Communion demonstrates our partaking in His body and blood, becoming one with Him, as he prayed in John 17.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. - John 17:20-21

Foot washing demonstrates that as Christ laid down His life for us, we are to lay down our lives, our rights and privilege for the body of Christ.

Ben NelsonThanks again for stopping in.

Walk in light today!

Ben

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[No, I'm not talking about the two lovely ladies in my home Church, Grace M. and Faith G.]

We have been looking at this entry from my church home’s statement of faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

We have been working through some questions to investigate this statement. You can look back at where we have been thus far here and here. The meat of this statement can be separated into three main topics.

1)    Salvation is a free gift, not earned or deserved.
2)    Salvation comes through faith.
3)    Salvation is secure.

Check this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

This well-known verse states that I can’t save myself. Clearly, I need a Savior.

Today, let’s take some time here and define terms.

Grace

The simplest definition I know for grace is Jesus. Perhaps you have heard the acrostic definition: G.R.A.C.E - God's riches at Christ's expense.

Grace is God’s favor expressed toward one who doesn't deserve it. To be clear here, when I say God’s favor, I am talking about that sozo we detailed on Monday. It is the abundant life Jesus promised. The grace of God is a life, saved, healed, delivered, and free, culminating in an eternity in the arms of the one who created you and loves your soul. We may or may not experience all of it here and now, but I keep pressing into that full life.

Lest I get in trouble here – there is another side of a life filled with grace. The above description is a description of the inner life of grace. From the outside, it might just look like all hell broke loose and was aimed directly at you. Paul describes his grace filled life a couple of times, and if I didn’t know what was on his insides, I would pass on abundant life, thank you very much.

It is in fact grace that gave him the ability to face that which God put before him, and grace that supplied him with the ‘equipment’ he needed to face it.

And when there is failing, or falling, or missing the mark in life, it is grace on all sides keeping us secure.

I can’t earn grace by good works.
I can’t buy grace through sacrifice.
I can’t win grace through perseverance.
I can only access grace by faith.

What is faith and how do I ‘get me some?’

Faith

To investigate faith, let’s first head to the Bible:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ... And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB

The above two verses come from Hebrews 11. [I might need to expand my top 10 list because this one is on it for sure.] Hebrews 11 marches right through the History of faith, reminding us of those who have gone before us, and how they responded to God’s call on their life.

From these verses I understand that faith is a knowing that God exists and is involved in the lives of men and women. He wants to be sought and rewards seekers. Remember Jesus simple instructions in the Sermon on the Mount? – Ask, Seek, Knock – [Matthew 7:7] That’s what faith looks like.

We can see faith in the calling of Matthew the tax collector in Luke 5:27-28. He was at work one day, and up walks Jesus and says, “Follow Me,” and Matthew just left it all there and followed.

Faith is demonstrated when there are:

A Call
Belief
Obedience

We can see it even more clearly depicted in Peter’s water-walking experience in Matthew 14:28-29.

At the outset Peter lacked faith. So Peter asks Jesus to call him. Jesus did – “Come!” Then Peter headed right out toward Jesus.

Peter asked for a call.
Jesus called Peter to come.
Peter believed he could.
Peter obeyed the call of Jesus.

Throughout  Hebrews 11, God’s great hall of faith, you see men and women who responded to the call of God on their life.

You may have noticed that I am combining belief and obedience to come up with faith. Many would tell you that believing the right ‘religious facts’ is all that God requires. That is, in fact, one of the most dangerous things about a course like ‘Foundations.’ Folks begin to think that because they believe the right facts about God, the right creed, they are in a good place.

In our class on the second birth we talked at length about fact that Jesus’ call was to confess, repent and believe. Am I now mixing in works – obedience – with these first three?

Works of righteousness do us no good. As a matter of fact, obedience to the law for the sake of achieving some sort of ‘worthiness’ can only end in death.

Believing alone, and by that I mean having the right ideas about religion, does us no good, and again can only end in death.

Faith, saving faith, must have the three elements we see above, a call, belief, and obedience.

Since “without faith it is impossible to please God” (from Hebrews 11:6) I want to take you to one more passage to demonstrate this pattern.

Romans 10, where last time we looked at TNT – (Romans 10:9-10) actually takes us through this same process of call, believe, obey. Check it out:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

... for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:9, 13-15 NASB

You see – there must be preaching of the word, in order for people to hear the Savior call out to them – ‘Come and follow Me’ – so that they can believe and ‘Call upon the name of the Lord.’

Next we must understand that faith is not something we manufacture, it is a gift from God given to every man.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. - Romans 12:3 NASB

Faith is a gift from God, which is given in the hearing of His word spoken to man’s heart.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 NASB

It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for ‘word’ is not ‘logos’ but ‘rhema’ – not written word but spoken word. We must hear the voice of Jesus calling across the water, like Peter did – ‘Come.’

Are you ready to get out of the boat? C’mon – let’s go for a walk!

Thanks for coming by today.

Ben NelsonPerhaps next time I will actually get to question three.

Until then, I remain,

Your brother Ben

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Foundations

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I am helping to teach a new class we are offering at Pascack Bible Church, my church home. We are going though the Church’s statement of faith and teaching those who are new to the faith, or new to the Church, and even those who have been in the faith for many years and want a refresher.

Foundations are so important. As Jesus said:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. - Matthew 7:24

As you can see here, foundations are not simply head knowledge, but a good foundation is actually putting into action those things that we hear. These foundational principals are so important for our transformation; I think it would do every follower of Christ good to look at these on a regular basis.

So as I prepare to teach these classes, I thought it appropriate to share here these wonderful principles with my brothers and sisters here.

Salvation

From the PBC Statement of Faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

As we walk though our statement of faith we find great importance is placed on Salvation. This is the third week in a row we are focusing on Christ’s work, beginning with the second birth, then redemption, and today salvation. At first glance I thought these three were essentially one topic, simply expressed three different ways, but as I study them out and look at the scriptures underlying this points in our statement of faith I can see the wisdom in looking at our great salvation from these three perspectives.

Today (and this week in blog-land) I will be digging around this idea of salvation. And as with the second birth series a couple weeks back, I would like to start with a few questions that spring to mind as I look at the above statement.

1)    What is salvation?
2)    From what do we need saving?
3)    How do I get faith, if I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it?
4)    What must I do to be saved?
5)    Can I lose my salvation?

And one bonus question

6)    Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

Today we’ll attack question 1

What is Salvation?

The word salvation and it’s verb form ‘to save’ or ‘saved’ come from one of the richest words in the biblical Greek, σῴζω, pronounced sōzō.

You might ask, ‘What makes a word rich Ben?’

I’m glad you asked. I consider this word ‘rich’ because it is used in many contexts to demonstrate its many facets. One way to understand a word’s depth when you are not a scholar, (like me, that is to say I am not) is to look at how the scholars have translated this word in various translations of the Bible. This is where great tools like blueletterbible.org and biblegateway.com are invaluable.

Let’s dive in and see how this word sozo (I will use this form for this study) is used in various contexts.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21 NASB

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well. - Matthew 9:22 NASB

And Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. - Mark 10:52 NASB

and begged Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live." - Mark 5:23 NKJV

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! - 2 Timothy 4:18 NKJV

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12 NKJV

This wonderful word, sozo is used in reference to salvation from sin, but it is so much more. Sozo is about saving the whole man. Yes, God’s main design in sending Jesus was to restore – sozo – our relationship with Him, to remove that which separated us from Him. But as was so aptly demonstrated in the earthly ministry of Jesus, God was also interested in restoring man to wholeness, body soul and spirit.

My focus for the rest of the week will be on God’s ultimate work of salvation in our life, but I wanted to bring out the richness of His wonderful salvation.

Probably my favorite sozo verse is

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. - Hebrews 7:25 NKJV

I love that phrase – save to the uttermost!

How great is our God!

Ben NelsonCome back tomorrow and we will pick this up again.

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

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