Category Archives: Training Courses

Training courses are curriculum developed in the mission field by active ministers and provided free-of-cost to anyone that has need. These courses can be used as in-home Bible studies or for Church training.

The New Man: The Miracle of Regeneration

I have recently seen the necessity to think and speak rightly about the miracle of regeneration; for the slightest derivation in our thinking and speaking about this subject can lead to traumatizing spiritual maladies in our personal relationship with Christ.

Because of this I felt compelled to begin a series in our church on the topic of being “born again”.

I can’t ignore the reality that so many Christians today are perilously besieged by Satan’s lies on this subject; many in the Church today believe that it is normal for divorce rates, fornication, adultery, racism, and abortion to be as prevalent within the Church as it is in the world- nothing could be farther from the truth! But Satan’s attack is not one dimensional. Unfortunately, many Christians, seeing this deception for what it is, have been besieged by another one of Satan’s lies about regeneration; namely, that it is impossible to sin once you become born again.

What I have recognized during this series is just how much discipline is required to think and speak rightly on this subject. It is remarkable just how easily influenced our belief’s on this subject are by the various trends and currents of today’s events: but we must not be so easily tossed to and fro by every wind and wave of doubt. We must believe what God has promised with all our heart and mind!

THE MIRACLE OF REGENERATION

There’s a trend today to divorce the moral teachings of Jesus from our desperate need for atonement. As Oswald Chambers put it, “people talk pleasant, patronizing things about Jesus’ teachings while they ignore His cross. But the teaching of Jesus apart from His atonement simply adds an ideal that leads to our despair. What is the good of telling me that only “the pure in heart shall see God” when I am impure? Or of telling me to love my enemies when I hate them? I may keep these thoughts down, but the spirit is still there. Does jesus Christ make it easier? He makes it a hundredfold more difficult! The purity God demands is impossible unless we can be remade from within, and that is what Jesus Christ undertakes to do through the Atonement.” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

We must understand something about the moral imperative of God’s law that has been placed on the heart of all mankind: God’s moral requirement of humanity does not make itself weak to those who are weak, nor does it palliative our shortcomings; it does not take into account our heredity, infirmities, or cultural disadvantages. God’s moral requirement upon humanity requires that we be absolutely moral because God created us as moral beings. This is what separates us from animals; we feel moral indignation over transgressions and injustices that they simply cannot entertain in their animal senses.

But, through sin, death has separated us from our Creator and thus fractured in us what it means to be fully human. And as soon as we realize our human brokenness and inability to attain to God’s standard, we begin to equivocate: “of course God won’t demand it; of course God will make allowances”. But, as Oswald Chambers wrote, “God’s laws are not watered down to suit anyone; if God did that He would cease to be God. The moral law never alters for the noblest or the weakest; it remains abidingly and eternally the same.” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

ROMANS 2:11-12, 15 (MEV) “for there is no partiality with God. As many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, while their conflicting thoughts either accuse or excuse them.” (see also Romans 3:23).

There is no human being that does not have some remnant of a moral imperative within them that makes them say “I ought to do this”, or “I should not do this”. This remnant of the human moral fiber exists in every person, even in the most degraded human specimen, and the Bible tells us exactly how it got there- it comes from God (Genesis 1:27).

Oswald Chambers wrote, “the modern tendency is to leave God out and make the moral standard whatever is most useful to people” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1). Nothing has changed since his time in the late 1800’s.

The prevailing moral thinking today says that morality has evolved by human beings for the benefit of humanity- the greatest good to the greatest number- but nothing could be farther from the moral reality each of us experiences on a day to day basis. A thing is not “moral” simply because it benefits the greatest number of people, a thing is moral because God is behind it! This is why philosophies of eugenics are so abominable to the human conscience; only a human conscience that has been seared beyond human recognition finds the rational practice of eugenics to be “moral”.

However, our problem is that we find in our brokenness this disposition: “I ought to do this, but I won’t; I shouldn’t do this, but I will.” This universal human problem removes from the realm of possibility all moral philosophies that teach us that we can simply “teach people what is right and they will do it”- they simply will not. The Scripture tells us our problem, that “we are carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:14-15). Fittingly this discourse in Scripture ends with the despairing cry “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) But the human spirit revives at the revelation “I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord! There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 7:25- 8:1).

Again, Oswald Chambers nails it; “what we need is a power that will enable us to do what we know is right! We at say, ‘Oh, I won’t count this time’, but every bit of moral wrong is counted by God. The moral law exerts neither coercion nor tolerates compromise. ‘For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all’ (James 2:10). Once we realize this we see why it was necessary for Jesus Christ to come. The redemption is the reality that alters our inability into ability!” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

The law of God is “the great equalizer”; everyone comes to it clothed and beautified by their wonderful accomplishments of pride, and everyone flees from it naked, bruised, and bloodied! Some flee from God’s law and quickly redress themselves in their vain accomplishments and pride; others, hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, humbly kneel before their creator with a broken and contrite heart. The former flee into eternal damnation, the latter kneel into everlasting life and are raised into newness of life and clothed in the white garments of Jesus Christ!

Jesus did not come to make things easier, as some preachers erroneously claim, He came to supernaturally lift us onto another plane! Remember Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus goes behind the law to the heart of our very disposition. As it is written, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, for I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

As Oswald Chambers wrote, “The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount penetrates our very heart and soul! Jesus didn’t simply say, ‘you shall not do certain things’, rather He demands that we have such a condition of heart that we do not even desire them! Every thought and imagination of heart and mind is to be utterly pure!”

We must make absolutely certain that we do not err in our thinking and be led to believe that “salvation” is at all separate from “atonement”: the purity God demands is impossible unless we can be remade from within, and that is exactly what Jesus Christ undertakes to do through the atonement!

Jesus didn’t come to tell people that they “ought to be holy”- everyone of us has already been born of a moral fiber and intuitively knows that there is an “ought” to which we are accountable- He came to put us in the place where we can be holy. This is the miracle of regeneration, and it is where humanity stumbles the most because it is out of our control. I can intellectually acknowledge various truths and realities; I can perform various sacred sacraments like baptism and the Lord’s Supper; but I cannot lift myself out of the fractured state of separation from God and place myself onto the high plane of justified fellowship with my Creator in true and unending holiness! That is the one thing I simply cannot do on my own.

Read Hebrews 9:14 (MEV), “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

What is fractured in our carnal condition is restored in the regeneration of Christ. Though every human being has a moral conscience, only those who are “born of water and spirit” have clean consciences. The carnal man’s conscience is fractured; it is not complete because he has been separated from God through sin. But the new man’s conscience is restored because he is in Christ Jesus and walking according to the Holy Spirit who now miraculously abides within him.

Therefore it is not a question of first applying Jesus’ teachings to your actual life and then trying to live them out, but rather, it is a question of applying them to your relationship with Him; then as you keep your soul open towards Him, He works in you to bear then fruits of your new life!

When we read “blessed are the poor in spirit”, this is not to say that we then attempt to become paupers towards the world! There are enough mortally poor in spirit souls in the world as it is. Rather, it is to say that we must become utterly poor in spirit before our God; then will we the “kingdom of heaven be ours”. Likewise with out mourning, meekness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity. Such teachings of Christ must first be applied to our relationship with God before they can be realized in our walk upon this earth.

Therefore the best expression for us is found in Psalm 139:23: ‘Search me, O God’; I cannot make my own heart pure, I cannot alter my heredity, I cannot alter the dress of my mind; ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart.’ That is the poverty of spirit Jesus has blessed; if you are in that condition, He says the kingdom of heaven is yours! Why? Because God gives teh almighty gift of salvation from sin to paupers; He gives the Holy Spirit to them who ask as those who are destitute (Luke 11:13).

Introducing New 1st Timothy Discipleship Coursework

I’m thrilled to be introducing our new discipleship coursework on 1st Timothy!  

This guide takes an in-depth, Bible intensive, look at the book of 1st Timothy.  It is designed for personal use to be completed over 16+ weeks of study and prayer under the mentorship of a pastor.

Go to our coursework page to download the free PDF.

 

INTEGRITY OF THE SCRIPTURES

What has happened to the preaching of the Word of God with integrity?  It seems that sound doctrine and Biblical study has been replaced with Google-searching a phrase to make your own point.    

I saw a sermon from a man who used the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 to say that “Jesus was a capitalist”.  He used verses 15 and 16 to serve as the substance of the parable which teaches “investment” and so on and so forth.

Jesus opens the meaning of this parable to us plainly in verses 14, 29 & 30.  This parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven (v14) and God’s giving and taking away of gifts to men (v29) and the punishment of the unprofitable servant (v30).  Certainly one could preach a great wealth of revelation from the depths of these parables, I do not deny that, but the wealth of these revelations will certainly be within the context of its plainer meaning.

It’s not my intention to pick apart this teaching and show why I don’t believe this parable has anything at all to do with political systems of men, nor to teach about what this parable means.  Rather, I wanted to go from this example of scripture-theft into the topic of Biblical study.

So I want to offer some suggestions for sound study of the Word of God.

Studying the Word of God

Everything I’m going to say is predicated on the believer spending quality time in the Word and in prayer.  Unless we are acquainted with the voice of the Holy Spirit, we will always be dependent on teachers of men and become subject to error.

Understanding these principles, I now want to give some suggestions on Biblical study:

1.   Read or listen to a letter or book of the Bible straight through.

The Word of God was presented to us by the Holy Spirit as a whole; each letter was divinely inspired as it is written to compose and embody truth precisely as He wished to declare it.  The early disciples gave specific attention to the “public reading of scripture”.  That is why I believe that the best practice to begin study of the scriptures is to read or listen through the whole book first until you’re able to know the primary purposes of the letter.  I think it’s a very fruitful practice for churches to do this in their public reading of the scripture.

During this time the Holy Spirit has been present to reveal and teach a great deal to me because this is a time when it is just the plain word of God being spoken; there are no hindrances of man-made doctrines.

This is a time when you will be able to see the context of a given book as a whole.  There are some books where the context is clear and others where it is vague or more difficult to see, but the structure of the book will still become clear in this practice.

When you understand the flow to a book, such as the book of Romans, you will have anchors for understanding its finer parts.  Reading and listening to a whole book of the Bible (I suggest both reading and listening) may be a new practice, but the clarity it brings is refreshing and enlightening!

2.   Learn to rightly divide the scriptures. 

Everyone has heard about “context” and how important it is to understanding the Bible; we rely upon context when trying to make important financial decisions, we depend on it for our daily communication with friends, family, and coworkers, and we instinctual look for context when trying to understand a difficult statement or set of directions, yet, for some reason, it is often one of the first principles of Biblical integrity that is tossed out the window at the earliest sign of inconvenience.

Context is the surrounding influences upon the passage being read; passages can either be directly linked through immediate context, or indirectly linked through sub-contexts.  One passage may be in context of God’s judgment, but it may have a sub-context that relates to His divine sovereignty.

This is why I encourage brothers (especially younger brothers) to nurture a broad perspective of the scriptures first because this will help protect them from the temptation of trying to take scripture out of context to suit their own whims.

When talking about “context”, we are talking about “rightly dividing the Word”: this is done through careful study and revelation of God’s Word.  Consider 1st Corinthians 2 as it pertains to our ability to rightly divide God’s Word and understand its spiritual principles; the scriptures cannot be rightly divided unless you are first been born of the Spirit and have crucified your flesh with Christ; wherever the carnal nature exerts influence upon our interpretation of the scripture, we are sure to go astray.

Once we have a broad understand of God’s word, we should then begin to dig deeper and learn the various contexts in which different passages interact with one another; for example, when we read Romans 7:13-25, can we identify its context and associate it with the scriptures that can help us understand it properly?  In this example, most people read this passage by itself, completely removed from chapters 5-8.  What is the result?  Most people use this passage to justify the co-existence of bondage to sin in the believers life (which is diametrically opposed to not only its immediate context, but the whole context of salvation in Christ).

This is why chapter and verse markings, though very useful, are not always accurate indicators of context, nor are they meant to be.  The gospels are not so difficult to mark up, but books like Romans and Revelation can be very difficult, and there are some places where I believe the chapter and verse markings have contributed to misunderstandings because many people stop at the chapter and mentally start over at the next.

3.   Learn to spend your time in prayer and always ask the Lord to teach you.

The scriptures themselves tell us that the Spirit will be our teacher, yet how many times do we wait upon the Lord to be our teacher?

There is no specific time frame for prayer.  I expect you will probably have seasons when you are praying more than others, though prayer should never cease to be a constant in your life.

But in understanding the Word of God, it’s most critical that you have the faith and patience to ask God to teach you the meaning of the scriptures.  Quite often when people have questions about the Bible they will jump to Google or a “trusted commentary”.  Learning to regurgitate or parrot other ministers of God is not equivalent to receiving a knowledge of the truth; there are great men of God, and they may be used by God to reveal things to you initially, or strengthen truths within you, but the true growth of the Christian is in the process that happens when the Holy Spirit teaches something to you and implants it deeply within your heart.

This is why it’s one of my goals in teaching to bring as accurately as possible to those I preach to the Word of God so that the Holy Spirit will move in the heart of faith to plant the Word and bring the increase.  Thus says the Lord, “one plants, one waters, but the increase is the Lord’s”.  If you rely on man for the increase in maturity in your soul, you will be found lacking because that is the Lord’s.

4.   Learn to cross-reference.

This is a very close cousin to #2.

Learning how scriptures from all across God’s word interact with one another is called “cross-referencing”.  Cross-referencing provides the steps that allow you to descend deeper into God’s word without breaking the revelation His word has for us.

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone improperly cross-reference one passage with another only to find themselves in a total dead-end.  They completely “missed the meaning” of the passage.  That is what I call “breaking revelation”; inserting meaning that was not contained in that passage will dull your understanding of what it is trying to say.

Here’s an example: sometimes someone will receive genuine heart-enlightening revelation of one part of the character and nature of God, such as His sovereignty, so, in their exuberance, they will then begin to try and force every scripture through the lens of that revelation.  If someone does this without first having learned how to understand context (what we talked about in #2), it is possible to break revelation by doing this (1 John 1:7, for example, would be related to God’s sovereignty, but as a sub-context; the immediate contexts there are fellowship, faithfulness, and sanctification).

Another example can be found when someone reads a book of doctrine written by another man and they are so impressed by what a man said that they begin to use that lens to interpret all scripture, whether or not that was God’s intended purpose for what they are reading.  Of the two examples, this is by far the worst and most destructive case.

So it is important for us to learn how the scripture relates with itself.

5.   Iron sharpens Iron.

This is where fellowship is a critical tool in Bible study.  Do you have a brother or sister that is a sound man or woman of God that can help sharpen you and to whom you are willing to listen, even when you’re confronted?

You are in dangerous waters when you have no one that you can receive correction from and help sharpen your understanding of God’s word with.  Please understand I’m not saying you will never find yourself in this position (I have), but, if you do find yourself in this position, be on guard, for you are in dangerous waters filled with snares of pride, arrogance, and bitterness.  Though there are legitimate times when you are in a position where no one is able to exhort, admonish, teach, correct, or rebuke you, these are times when you should be on your highest guard and they are times when you need to be praying that Godly fellowship will be added to you so that you receive from the body what God intended every joint to supply.

I’d only like to mention that it has not been my personal experience that debate serves to fulfill this function.  Perhaps it is to each his own, but, in my experience, and in everything I can see from the scriptures that teaches us about spiritual fellowship, debating with a brother is not healthy.  Usually that is when people get entrenched in their positions, or the debate becomes intellectual/academic and very little good comes from either of those practices because the Word of God did not come to us either from the intellect or academia, and there’s no indication that has changed.

6.   Perseverance is key to running this race.

“There are many hard things” in the scriptures to understand (2 Peter 3:16).  Do not be discouraged, for even the apostle Peter recognized this fact.  Through responsible diligence taken to ensure the integrity of your doctrine and patience, the Lord will reveal all things to you in good time.

I’ve found that, just as with prayer, there are seasons in my life where I am immersed in daily scripture reading even more than other times.  Although this should be a constant in your life, just as prayer is, there may be times when you are even more immersed in it than others.  It is part of the grace of God that you grow in His knowledge and learn to discern with righteous discernment.

Therefore, persevere in your study of the scriptures and do not quit.  If you need rest from a certain study, rest elsewhere in the scriptures.  If the book of Daniel overwhelms you, rest in another book, and perhaps God will draw you again to Daniel later after you’ve received a missing part of the foundation that you needed to understand Daniel.

Once while reading in 1st Kings I began to get bogged down in chapters 5-7 (the procedures and dimensions of the Temple and other buildings that Solomon built).  I almost gave up because I just wasn’t getting anything out of it.  I thought perhaps of taking my own advice above and started to go over to Daniel to read, but the Holy Spirit did not give me any peace about that.

So the next day I returned again to 1st Kings and prayed for God’s help in studying the scriptures and by His grace He revealed something in which a deep sense of awe and speechlessness came over me!  I was floored.

Persevere in your study and do not give up, for the Lord reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him!

7.   Not only hearers of the Word, but Doers of the Word. 

One of the worst habits you can involve yourself in is the habit of hearing the Word but not immediately going out and doing it.  This is one of my biggest concerns with seminaries today because many of them involve their students in study of great quantities of scripture, yet, without involving them in very much practice of the scriptures.

What does the scripture say about becoming hearers and not doers of the word?  James 1:21-25 provides us an understanding that those who are hearers only, and not doers, have deceived themselves and become forgetful of what kind of man (that is, a new creation) that he is to be.

The danger in reading the word and not doing it is great; you will deceive yourself and you will forget your sanctification by which you were saved in Christ Jesus.

I’ve heard it rightly pointed out that there is a troubling lack of obedience to the Word in young pastors today; and that goes equally for those who are not pastors.  If you want to spare yourself from the deadly forces we see at work today, ensure that what you read in the Bible translates into obedience in your life.

You need to pursue scriptures until they translate into transformation and obedience in your life through the Holy Spirit!  Immerse yourself in the scriptures and you will find that you are washed clean by the “washing of the water of the word”.  By the way, that is a glorious subject to study if you want to study what it means to be “washed by the water of the Word”.

It’s my hope that these suggestions will be of benefit to my brethren; I hope that we will all receive a true knowledge of the Truth and be able to discern righteously.

Grace and peace, Amen!