Three Hours One Friday!

cross-78000_640And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

Luke 23:44-45

Luke 23:45 is an interesting verse. It describes what happened as Jesus hangs on the cross. In one verse, that is often simply overlooked, Luke describes what happened to Christ and what happened for his followers.

The Darkness- We often hear that God turned the lights off so that he would not have to look at His Son who had taken upon him the sins of the world. That might be so. But maybe these three hours of darkness, from twelve noon till three o’clock, was the expression of the imposing of judgment upon the lonely, outcast Sufferer. It was three hours of Jesus being alone with God. His dealings with men were finished, now he is dealing with God alone, with God for men. He is under the judgment of God and the wrath of God is being poured out on His Son. So as this transaction between God and Jesus takes place, the sun was darkened.

The Veil- With one bold stroke Luke unites two great phenomena of that hour. While this darkness covered Jerusalem, the veil in the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn into, from the top to the bottom. What a wondrous combination. Darkness for him, and a rent veil for you and me! Darkness for him, light for us; exclusion for him, access for the sinner; judgment for him, freedom for us; suffering for him, salvation for us.

That’s what happened on a Friday long ago and it’s effects still thunder in the world today.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Easter

Passion Week Thursday!

Maundy ThursdayIn the final week of Jesus Christ, Thursday would be his final day of freedom (Remember the Jewish Thursday would run from sundown Wednesday to sundown Thursday). Friday he will go from one mock trial to another and be crucified. So knowing that the next day you will put to death, how do you spend the day before? Jesus spends it in a very selfless fashion.

He Eats With His Disciples. The last supper in the upper room will be the last time that Jesus and his disciples will be together before the cross. It is during this supper that Jesus reveals there is a betrayer among his disciples.

He Washes the Feet of His Disciples. We are reminded that salvation is an ongoing process. While there is an initial cleansing, there must be daily cleansings as well. Sanctification is the on going process of our salvation. It is amazing that Jesus serves His disciples this way and even more amazing that He serves the one He knows will betray him. Jesus here serves as an example to us, that we should service one another.

He Prays For His Disciples. We can read the prayer of Christ on Thursday in John 17. The prayer is mainly a prayer concerning his disciples, both current disciples and future disciples. He prays that the Father may be with His disciples in the absence of Christ.

His final day before being betrayed, arrested, and crucified is spent preparing His disciples for their life and ministry without him. These 11 are going to carry out the mission that Christ came to purchase. He will send them the Holy Spirit and they will spread the Good News around the world. On Thursday, Jesus is focused on his disciples.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Easter

A King’s Wrath!

daniel1In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar issued a command that was binding on every citizen in the Babylonian empire. The command was that each person was to worship an image of gold the king had commissioned made. Three young Hebrew men refused to comply to the command. They had good reason to resist but in the end they were in open rebellion to the command of the king. Their disobedience to the word of the king enraged Nebuchadnezzar. His wrath was kindled against these three rebels. The king determined that his wrath would be poured out upon these three by heating a furnace seven times hotter than it had ever been heated before , have them thrown in, and let them feel the wrath of an angry and disrespected king.

As the king looks in the furnace, fully expecting the three burning and in pain, he sees four instead of three. The fourth, he says, looks like the Son of God. The three were brought out of the furnace and they were completely unharmed. No burns, no singed hair, no smell of smoke, and the ropes that confined them burned away. It is clear that the presence of this forth individual protected the three from the wrath of the king. It is recorded that the three Hebrews came out of the furnace but it never does mention the fourth man coming out.

What a wonderful picture this is of the salvation of those who trust Jesus Christ. It is only through Christ we are spared the awful wrath of the King in which we have offended and rebelled. We are unharmed while Jesus receives the full force of the wrath intended for us. We are made free while he hangs on the cross enduring the punishment meant for us. We live and are not crushed by the wrath of God because the fourth man, Jesus Christ was crushed in our place.

Obedience!

obedienceThe Bible is full of imperatives. Biblical imperatives demand something from God’s people. All of God’s demands are always applicable for everyone everywhere. The commands of God are binding on God’s people, not as criteria for salvation but as guidelines for sanctification.

Therefore, keeping the divine demands of Scripture assumes a prior relationship between divine sovereign and human subjects. The children of God are to fulfill their responsibility to obey, because they already are the children of God by faith in Christ. In other words, God’s people don’t obey to be children but because they are His children.

Our sanctifying obedience rests on two vital truths. The first is The Power of the Holy Spirit. Our obedience is through faith and is dependent on God’s grace, for it recognizes that only through the power of the Spirit can obedience to divine demands be possible or be pleasing to God. Paul tells us in Romans 11:36, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Without the power of the Spirit of God doing these things in us, there would be no obedience. The second is The Provision of the Son. Our obedience also acknowledges that failures occur at a remarkably alarming rate. But the provision of forgiveness is available in Jesus Christ. It is the power of God that accomplishes any obedience in us and it is the provision of God in the Son, Jesus Christ, that not only forgives our failures but also accomplishes our obedience through the perfection of Jesus Christ.

It is when these two truths become progressively clearer do we progressively become like Christ in the work of sanctification.

Heaven Is For Real!

Heaven_is_for_Real_1It seems, I always come across as the bad guy and the kill joy. I try not to be but I rarely succeed. I had a conversation with an 8th grade student who wanted to talk about the upcoming film, Heaven Is For Real.” I came across very badly because I told her the truth. And when you tell the truth, you are the bad guy and the kill joy.

The book, Heaven Is For Real” has sold more than 7 million copies. It is the supposedly true story of a four-year old boy who went to heaven. In heaven, he got a halo and wings that turned out to be too small for him. He claims to have sat on Jesus’ lap while angels sang to him. He met the Holy Spirit whom he describes as “kinda blue.” The tale of this little journey to heaven and back is full of things that are not in the Bible and other things that are contrary to the Bible.

This book and the many others like it, are an attack on the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible tells us a lot about heaven and it tells us all that God wants us to know about heaven. However, to the undiscerning church in America, Scripture is simply not enough. We read these books and watch these movies when we have the Word of God. It is amazing!

There is no one in the Bible taken to heaven. No one! Four men received visions of heaven, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John, but not one person was taken physically to heaven. In fact the Bible speaks to this in John 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

If you read “Heaven Is For Real” or any of the other end-time books, you will discover that their version of heaven is all about their glory and not for the glory of God. All things are to bring glory to him and I would guess heaven especially would be about his glory and not ours.

So yes, I told her the truth and yes, I was seen as the bad guy and the kill joy. The truth seems to have that effect on people.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Heaven

Commitment!

Church-membershipFrom time to time I want to highlight the importance and the meaning of church membership. In my opinion, this is a subject that is horribly misunderstood in American churches. 9 Marks is one of the most profitable resources to moving the church back to it’s Biblical roots.

In one sense, we become part of the body of Christ the moment we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In another sense, we become part of the body of Christ the moment we commit to a particular body. So in a very real sense being a Christian means being joined to a local church.

Church membership is not simply a record of a box we once checked. It’s not a sentimental feeling. It is not an expression of affection toward a particular place. It’s not an expression of loyalty or disloyalty toward parents. It should be a reflection of a living commitment to a group of people.

The practice of church membership occurs when Christians grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular local church, we are telling the pastor and other members not just that we commit to them, but that we commit to them in gathering, giving, prayer, and service. We are telling them to expect certain things from us and to hold us accountable if we don’t follow through. Joining a church is an act of saying, “I am now your responsibility, and you are my responsibility.” Biblical membership means taking responsibility. It is seen in our mutual obligations to each other. The church is a body in which all parts care for one another.

Those members who are not faithful or who shirk their responsibility as members confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian. Since membership is the church’s corporate endorsement of a person’s salvation, we do them no favors by ignoring their lack of commitment.

We must continually be reminded of each member’s commitment to the life of the church.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Church

Deathbed Repentance?

Three-Crosses-on-Kreuzberg-Mountain-Bavaria-GermanyI was thinking today about deathbed repentance. In the Bible, I can only find one example of deathbed repentance, the thief on the cross. As he was dying, the thief asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. In the final minutes of his life, he acknowledged Jesus as his heavenly King. Jesus assured the thief that “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

What we have to acknowledge is that Biblically this is the exception and not the norm. One example in the whole Bible would not make this a normal occurrence. Did it happen? Yes! Is it normative? No! The danger is to take an exception and make it the norm. I know we want to cling to any hope we can for our loved ones but much of what is called deathbed repentance is in reality a last resort effort in hope of some supernatural healing and longer life.

I would say that the God who saves, can save anyone at anytime at his choosing. Certainly, God can save people on their deathbed. But the thrust of Scripture commands us to repent NOW! Repeatedly we are told to “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” We are told “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” We are told to “seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”

The danger, as I see it, is depending on the opportunity to repent on your deathbed. The idea is to live your life the way you want to and at the end you’ll repent, be saved, and go to heaven. I would strongly caution you against that for a couple of reasons. First, you might not get a deathbed. You might die suddenly without an opportunity to repent. Secondly, you can’t repent unless the Father grant you repentance and draw you to himself. There are no guarantees that God will do that on your deathbed.

Can we be saved on our deathbed? Yes, but I think it is a rare occurrence and not the normal event we see so often today. Remember, repentance is more than verbalizing a few words; it is a change of mind that only God can grant. Instead, obey the Bible, repent today, and strive to live your life in obedience to His Word and pleasing to him.

As  Laurence Sterne wrote, “Whatever stress some may lay on it, a death-bed repentance is but a weak and slender plank to trust our all on.”

 

Impressive Introductions!

doctorateIf we were asked to introduce a person to a crowd, we would find the most impressive accomplishments of that particular person in an effort to impress the crowd and gain their interest. We glory in great achievements and accolades that men think are important. We love the certificates, awards, and titles put before and after our names. We are impressed and attracted by all that.

In John 3, we see a very prominent person come to Jesus. Nicodemus, was a ruler of the Jews, he was a prominent member of a organization called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a council consisting of seventy-one men that included priests, elders, and teachers of the law. The leader was the high priest of Israel himself. They were actively involved in religious issues that often extended to civil matters and sometimes to criminal matters. Nicodemus was a teacher in a land full of teachers. He was a Pharisee, the most pious and religious group of his day.

Religion had bestowed its honors and degrees on Doctor Nicodemus. He had risen through the ranks, and religion had honored him. He received respected and reverence any place he went. Life would have been very good in Jerusalem for a man of Nicodemus’ prestige.

But God saw Nicodemus differently than his colleagues did. God saw him differently than the crowds saw him. When God introduces Nicodemus in Scripture, he simply states, “There was a man….” Simply a man. The robes did not impress God. The titles did not impress God. The degrees did not impress God. The prayers did not impress God. The sermons did not impress God. God said, “There was a man…”

And as the conversation progressed, we see that God saw Nicodemus as a blind, impotent, halt, withered, spiritually lost man. God saw him as no differently than he saw anyone else—sinners in need of a Savior. The night of the meeting of Nicodemus and Jesus, Nicodemus was not the impressive one, Jesus was. This man stands in the presence of the Son of God.

The truth of the matter is simple. No matter who we are, where we are, or how important the world may see us, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. We all must be born from above if we are going to see and enter into the Kingdom of God. Don’t let the world’s view of you, blind you to this essential reality.

Online Streaming Cautions!

Church-Online_wide_tA door has opened for us to stream our services live on the Internet. While this is an exciting addition to our outreach, I feel there are some cautionary thoughts to mention. Let me begin with what our church online is not and then what it is.

Our online services are not home campuses. It is not an alternative to coming to church. The Bible commands us to gather in a physical place. Obedience to that command is important because we all need to be in a physical community and the community needs us as well. Church is not designed to be just one person behind a computer screen. Church is to be about a community of believers singing, praying, worshipping, serving, loving, forgiving, and providing for one another in a personal and physical setting. That requires a physical gathering. We are not to neglect the assembling of ourselves together.

What is the online streaming of our services ultimate goal? There will be times when you are ill or a child is ill and you are not physically able to come to church. There are shut-ins who cannot come to church. There may be times when you are providentially hindered from coming to church. There may be times when you are out of town and can’t easily find a church to attend. There may be those you know that don’t attend church and you could recommend that they watch our services to hear the gospel. These are all reasons why we are online streaming our services.

The bottom line is that the online services will be there if you can’t be here. If it is impossible for you to be at Lakeview, the online streaming will be there for you. And we trust that God may use it in a way that would bring glory and honor to his name. You can access the online services by going to http://www.lakeviewbaptist.net and clicking the “Watch Live” button.

The God Of Second Chances?

2nd ChanceAccording to a survey taken by Lifeway, 84% of Americans believe that God is a God of second chances. There are books stating that and there have been countless sermons stating the same. Maybe you have gotten some degree of comfort from hearing that God is a God of second chances. There are two problems with it, the first is the Bible never says it and the second is that the Bible never presents it as a principle.

I see two immediate dangers from believing that God is a God of second chances. The first is that it lays emphasis on us. It normally goes like this. Someone has failed. They failed to obey a command or failed to do what they should and they are told not to get discouraged because God is a God of second, third, and an infinite number of chances. In other words, pick up and try again. And don’t worry about failure, God is a forgiving God and he will give you another chance. So you are thinking right now, “Yeah, so what is wrong with that?” We’ll get to it in just a minute.

The second danger I see is that it breeds a try harder–do better mentality. God is a God of second chances so I want to make good on my second chance. As a result, we live our lives trying to do better, trying to make good on the new opportunity, trying as hard as we can to make it right. We make the effort to erase the previous failures. If you do not see the problem yet, let me spell it out for you.

The true gospel does not offer us second chances. It just doesn’t. There are no do-overs, no mulligans, and no second chances. We had one chance to get it right and we blew it. And you don’t get another chance to do it better. In fact, if you had unlimited chances, you would fail every single time. More chances would not help us at all. But the fact is that you don’t get another chance. It’s over. It’s done. It’s finished. We’ve all failed and we all deserve to be punished. The gospel is not about a God of second chances, it is about a God who did what we failed to do. It’s not that He gives us a chance to make things right, but that He came and made things right. You don’t need a second chance, you need someone to come and do it for you and Jesus did just that.

You can flail around in the water if you want to but all your splashing around won’t keep you from drowning. You don’t need a another chance to take a swimming class. You don’t need another chance to learn to hold your breath longer, you need a someone to dive in, grab hold of you, swim you to shore, and do CPR on you. You need a savior and Jesus is the savior.

While you are trying to make good on your second, third, forth, fifth, ect. chance, you are not trusting, resting, or relying on Jesus Christ. Quit fighting and cry out to Jesus to save you. Quit trying and rest in what Jesus Christ has accomplished.